Authors: Suzanne Rock,Lauren Hawkeye
“What is it?”
He closed the door and ran his hand over his face. “It looks like we have company.”
? What do you mean?” Liv started toward the door, but Nayo grabbed her arm, stopping her.
“They found us.”
She frowned. Nayo had been such a great lover, so kind and generous, but as soon as it was over, Liv could almost see him pulling inside of himself. She wasn’t sure if she liked this harder Nayo, or what to make of him.
“Let me see.” She pulled her arm out of his grasp and cracked open the door just in time to see a two cops hand a piece of paper over to the clerk behind the counter.
“Have you seen them?”
“Sure, these two have been on the news.”
“We mean in person. Have they been at the store?”
She wrinkled her nose at the pictures. “Do you think that they are responsible for all of the bombings?” she asked.
“We can’t be sure, but witnesses matching the man’s description have been seen at the other two sites this morning.”
“Oh my.” The clerk put her hand to her chest. “Why would someone do such a thing?”
“He’s Muslim, ma’am. I’m guessing he was politically driven, and is probably part of one of those radical groups.”
Liv stared in shock.
She only knew about the one at Black Towers.
“Is the woman involved?”
“We don’t know. At first she was a suspect, but after talking with her coworkers, we are starting to think she might have been taken hostage. Either way, both of them should be considered armed and dangerous.”
“That’s horrible,” the clerk said as she crossed herself.
The cop pointed to the paper in her hand. “Look at them again. This is really important.
She frowned. “The picture is so grainy.”
“That’s because it was taken by a security camera.”
She nodded. “I think—yeah, they’ve been in here. I remember because they looked real suspicious. The man seemed to drag the woman along behind him. It was obvious she didn’t want to be in here.” She pointed in Liv’s direction. “They went in the back to try on clothes.”
One cop glanced in Liv’s direction. She yelped and quickly closed the door.
“Hey!” the strong, masculine voice of the police officer carried through the wall. “Stop right there. We want to ask you a few questions.”
“I think they saw me,” she said. “What do I do?”
Nayo locked the door. “Help me move this.” He took one end of the couch and Liv took the other. They half-carried, half-dragged the thing in front of the door.
“That should hold them for a few minutes.”
“Yeah, but you’ve managed to lock us inside. There’s nowhere to run.”
He scratched his head and glanced around the room. “Up there.”
“You have to be kidding,” she said, looking at the small, open window.
“Do you have a better idea?”
She didn’t. “I’m not that tall. How do I get up there?”
He moved underneath the window and cupped his hands. “I’ll lift you.”
“But what about you?”
“I can handle myself.”
A loud knocking could be heard on the door. “Open up, it’s the police.”
“Come on.” Nayo shook his hands. “It’s only a matter of time before they get through.”
Liv hurried over and placed her foot in his hands. Nayo lifted her easily. Pushing the window open wide enough so she could get through? Not so easy.
“You can’t escape.” The cop’s voice was loud and ominous through the door. “Backup is on its way.”
Liv finally got the window open and wiggled her way through. Thank goodness they were only on the first floor. She scaled down the wall head-first and placed her hands on the pavement. Dragging her feet, she crumpled into a crouched position.
Within seconds, Nayo crouched down beside her.
“How did you do that?”
“Get out of that window so easily. I’m half your size and I swear that thing was trying to eat me alive.”
He flashed her a half smile. “Years of experience.” He grabbed her hand. “This way.”
As they walked down the alley and snuck around to the door of the thrift shop, Liv’s head spun with all of the new information.
There had been three bomb threats that morning, one at Black Towers. An Arab man, possibly Nayo, had been present at all three.
Nayo had told her that he had “years of experience” climbing out of windows.
Was Nayo part of that crazy radical movement, the one who hated all Americans? Their erotic interlude in the changing room suggested otherwise. Then again, it was quite possible that he was using her.
One thing was for certain: she knew nothing about this man. He could be a killer, a suicide bomber, or any number of horrible things.
“You mentioned that you were a Sheikh—”
He held up his finger, cutting off her words. “There’s more of them out there.”
She sniffled as the pollen in the air tickled her nose. “Out where?”
He led her close to the side of the building and peeked around the corner. After a long moment, he turned to face her.
“There’s six more cops outside that front door.”
She widened her eyes. “Are they all looking for us?”
“Probably.” He glanced over his shoulder at them again. “I think that we can sneak by them, but we’ll have to be very quiet.”
“What if I don’t want to sneak by them?” When he scowled, she sniffled and hurried to continue. “We’re innocent, so there’s nothing to hide. This is all just a big misunderstanding . . . isn’t it?”
Nayo steeled his jaw and turned his attention back toward the police out front. “Stay close and try not to make any noise.”
Before she could question him again, he dragged her out onto the sidewalk and behind one of the police cruisers.
“Did you see anything?” one of the police officers asked through his radio.
“Negative. We have them cornered though. Pete’s almost through the door.”
“Just be careful. They may be armed.”
Liv felt the sneeze build inside of her. Oh no, not here. . . She glanced over at Nayo, who tightened his grip on her hand.
“Come on,” he whispered.
They started to tiptoe away, but with each step, the sneeze built in her nose. She held her breath, then pinched her nose until her eyes watered, but it was no use. She couldn’t hold it in any longer.
“What was that?” the cop asked, turning around.
“Run.” Nayo dragged her to her feet and pulled her down the sidewalk.
“There they are!” the cop shouted to the others as Liv ran with Nayo down the sidewalk.
“No, don’t go that way.”
“It’s a dead end. Here.” She dragged him down a side street. When that street ended, Nayo took charge, pulling her in down the sidewalk to the left. As they ran, the sound of the officers fell farther and farther behind them.
“Where are we going?” she asked after a few moments.
“But I need allergy meds.” She sniffled as another sneeze built in her chest.
“You don’t understand. My meds are in my desk at work. If I don’t take them. . .”Ah-choo!”
“We can’t go back to your desk.”
“To a convenience store, then.”
“In case you didn’t notice, we’re being chased by cops.”
“We can just talk to them—”
“No.” He pulled her down one side street, then another.
“God damn it, woman.”
“Stop, or I’ll shoot.” Two cops materialized from behind a building.
Nayo jumped behind a car and dragged Liv along with him as gunshots rang out in the air.
“They’re shooting at us!” Liv said.
“But I’m innocent!”
“Me too.” He dragged her from one car to another, narrowly missing the bullets flying in every direction.
“In here,” Liv said as she tugged on his arm.
“What are you doing?”
“Getting some medicine.” She reached up, opened the door beside her and slipped inside.
The convenience store was empty save a lone clerk, who was stocking the shelves in the back. Liv sniffled as she quietly made her way down the aisles toward the allergy medicine.
“We need to get out of here,” Nayo grumbled from behind her.
“In a minute.” She reached up and grabbed her favorite brand off the shelf.
“Can we go now?” Nayo whispered as he poked his head around the aisle.
She read the back to make sure she had the right dosage. “Yeah, this is it.”
“Good.” He made his way back to the door.
“Wait!” She hurried up to him and grabbed his arm. “What are you doing?”
“But I have to pay for it.”
“If that guy sees you, then we’re as good as caught.”
The front door swung open and two police officers stepped inside.
“Is anyone in here?” One of them asked.
“Get back.” Nayo lead her down the aisle, back the opposite way they had come.
“Oh, hello officer,” the clerk said, making his way to the front.
“What do we do now?” Liv asked.
“There has to be an employee entrance in back,” Nayo said as he took her arm. “Let’s go.”
“Wait a minute.” She fished around in her purse and pulled out a few bills. Ignoring Nayo’s surprised expression, she tossed them on the pharmacy counter.
“For the medicine,” she explained. “I’m not a thief.”
Nayo rolled his eyes and motioned to the back. Together they wove their way around the counter, through a small storage area, and out a back door into an alley.
Liv fumbled with her allergy medication as Nayo lead her down first one side street, then two. “Where are we going?” she finally asked.
“To a friend’s house.”
“What are we going to do once we get there?”
He glanced over his shoulder. “You’re full of questions, aren’t you?”
“Well, I’m just wondering, does this place have any food? I’m supposed to take my medication with food.”
“For the love of—you could have mentioned this back at the convenience store.”
“I didn’t think of it in the convenience store. I thought of it now.” Really, why was he being so obtuse?
He pulled up short and scanned the street. “Over there.”
“Over where? We’re in the back alley, there’s nothing here.”
“No, look.” Nayo pointed down the alley where a back door, the kind that only opens from the inside, was being propped open by a small crate. “I’m pretty sure that’s the emergency exit to Chez Fournil. It’s my favorite place in town to get coffee, and they have the best sweets. It must be hot in the kitchen today. Come on.”
He started to drag her down the alley. They reached the door and he peered in through the small opening. Sure enough, it was the kitchen to Le Fournil. A quick scan noted that it was empty. Stepping over the crate, they quietly made their way inside.
“Nayo, this doesn’t feel right. We shouldn’t be back here,” she whispered.
“Well, do you want some food to go with that allergy medicine or not?”
“Yes, but couldn’t we just go to the front and buy something like normal people? I already told you, I’m not a thief!”
“Sure, and while we’re at it we’ll just have a seat and sip a cup coffee while we wait for the police to show up and start shooting at us again. In case you’ve forgotten, we’re trying to keep a low profile. We can’t exactly waltz in the front door and place an order.”
“All right, point taken. But I still think we should just turn ourselves in and tell them the truth, clear up this whole mess.”
“We’ve already been shot at multiple times today, I don’t think we’d be greeted with a warm welcome. Now come on, hurry up and pick some food and let’s get out of here before someone catches us.”
“Fine. But I’m leaving money again.”
“If you must.” Nayo shook his head. Liv stuck her tongue out at him while she dug a bill out of her purse and tossed it on the counter.
“I’m not a thief!” She finally took a second to look around. “Oh. My. God. Just look at this stuff!” she exclaimed. The counters were lined with cooling racks, each filled with a different delectable looking treat. Ooey-gooey sticky buns with pecans sprinkled on top, thick fudge brownies, cupcakes with fluffy frosting piled high. Scones, breads, cheesecakes, and cookies – there was just too much to choose from. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply through her nose, letting the warm, sweet scent of cinnamon, bread dough and vanilla waft through her senses.He felt himself starting to go hard at the sounds coming out of her mouth, the look of bliss on her face. “As much as I’m enjoying listening to you moan over baked goods, you need to grab something so we can get out of here. May I recommend a cranberry scone?”
Liv’s eyes shot open, and she felt that familiar rush of embarrassment in her cheeks. “Sorry.” She blushed. Grabbing a scone, and a few cookies for good measure, she shoved the scone in her mouth and the cookies in her bag.
“OK, let’s go,” she mumbled around her scone, shoving one last cookie in her bag as they made their way to the back door, leaving the same way they came in. They were almost out the door when they heard someone yell from behind them. “Hey! Who’s there? Stop where you are!”
“There’s money on the counter!” Liv yelled over her shoulder as they cleared the door and started running down the back alley.
hey didn’t stop running
until they made it a few blocks away from the bakery, sticking to back alleys and side streets. When they finally stopped to rest, Liv placed her hands on her knees, taking in big gulps of air. “I need to start going to the gym.” She panted.
“We need to get off the streets and to my friends place, give us somewhere to think. Do you have a car?” Nayo asks.
“I wish. You’re a Sheikh, don’t you have a fancy limo driver or something that can pick us up?”
“I tried calling him already and I can’t get a hold of him. I’m worried for him. But I’ll worry more about that later, when we’re safe.” Nayo looked all around him and started walking up to cars parked along the back alley, pulling the door handle of each one as he passed by.
“What are you doing?” Liv asked.
“Getting us a car.”
“Oh no. No. no. no. We are not stealing a car. Are you crazy?”