Rating/Warning(s)/Note(s): T, Homeless Bella
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Tabitha caught my eye. She had seen my photos of Bella, wearing this coat even, and obviously recognized the possibility as well. "Is he all right?" the teenager who had jumped on the homeless person asked. "Dude, I'm sorry. I honestly thought there were only leaves there."
"It's all right, we'll take care of him," Tabitha answered, her eyes darting to mine. "We were watching, you didn't do anything wrong."
"Man, I'm sorry," the kid continued, obviously concerned, leaning toward the person he had landed on. The homeless person was shaking and mumbled something, the voice wasn't one I knew. Bella's voice had been clear and light, this one was rough and deep. All the hope drained out of me as quickly as it had come. After all, I'd only seen the back of this person. Brown, wavy hair wasn't all that uncommon. The coat was probably stolen, or she could have traded it for food or safety.
Shaking my head I turned to the kid. "It's all right, Tabitha will take care of him. If you're okay, why don't you return to your friends and have some more fun?"
"If you're sure, man. I don't want to, like, leave the scene or anything." He was really torn, looking down where Tabitha was talking with the guy, glancing over his shoulder to where his friends had circled around.
"Don't worry about it," I answered. "Tabitha is with the FBI, and if she says you're in the clear, then you are." He seemed very happy to hear that, and gave me a smiling nod. With another 'I'm really sorry, man,' he took off to join his friends, raking the leaves into bigger piles, after inspecting them for bodies.
When I turned back Tabitha had him on his feet and was walking away. "Hey," I called, rushing after them, but she stopped me.
"Edward, why don't you get some food, lots of food," she said, pointing to the street vendor and giving me a significant look. My hand found the vial of syrup of ipecac in my pocket, making me shudder at what was coming, but I turned to follow directions. I was pretty sure she had said 'lots of food' because the guy was hungry. Thankfully I had enough cash on me to purchase about a half dozen hot dogs.
My eyes had followed them into my building, so I figured Tabitha was just taking him to my apartment to clean up and be fed. It was probably for the best, we could have him get warm and sleep safely at least one night, I supposed.
After paying the vendor it was a whole different problem trying to carry the food, complete with condiments. I certainly didn't want to get grilled onions on my best suit, but he didn't have a tray or anything. Finally we decided it would be easier for me to just purchase extra buns, the homeless guy could eat them, and those were placed into my arms with the loaded dogs placed on top. A napkin covered everything and was tucked in, a thin layer of protection against flying out of my arms.
I knew I should rush up to help Tabitha, but the shock of disappointment I had felt when it wasn't Bella's voice caused my feet to drag. That and I didn't want to drop the hot dogs. It was difficult enough to press the button for the elevator while ignoring the chuckles of our doorman.
During the ride I imagined what I would do if it had been her. Certainly I wouldn't take her home, as that would be the most dangerous place for her. My parent's house was out, as I was pretty sure it was bugged as well. I had no cash on me, so hotels were out as well, the first thing people track is credit card statements.
When the door of the elevator opened I noticed that Tabitha had left the front door slightly ajar. I groaned in relief, opening that with my arms full would be impossible. But then I kicked it open, yelling her name. That was when the shock set in.
My apartment was in shambles. Looking around I spotted my roommate, who had her finger to her lips. "Looks like you've been hit by a burglar," she said, waving me into the room. "Either that or a poltergeist has taken a sudden dislike to you."
"Is anything missing?" I asked, trying to see where the homeless man was at, a trickle of fear running down my spine.
"Not that I can see," she said, pointing to the bathroom. "Why don't you put those down? I'm going to need some help cleaning this up. You can tell me if you can't find anything as we go."
Raising my eyebrow at her instructions I did as I was directed, carefully making sure they didn't all just roll out of the buns onto the floor. Surveying the damage it seemed as if every drawer had been opened and dumped, every cabinet was emptied. Whatever they were looking for I knew they didn't find it. All my incriminating data was kept on a flash drive in my pocket. That would either damn me or save me, but first they had to find the drive.
"Why would they ransack my place and not take anything?" I asked, trying to remain calm as my stomach roiled. I wouldn't be needing that syrup after all, it wouldn't take much for my stomach to revolt.
Tabitha just shook her head at my question, leaving me thinking as we straightened. They were becoming more brazen, making my skin crawl as I thought about what they might do next. They obviously had no boundaries now, no pretense of civility, how could I fight them and find Bella as well?
The water down the hall shut off, causing both Tabitha and I to look up from what we were doing. "I guess Jacob's done with his shower," she said, looking at me pointedly.
"That's the homeless guy's name?" I asked. "I hadn't heard."
She nodded. "I'm just going to see if he needs anything. I gave him some of your old clothes, I didn't think you would mind." I waved her off, freeing her to walk to the kitchen to retrieve the hot dogs. "I'm going to bring these to him."
"All right," I shrugged, and I could see from the corner of my eye that she was looking at me oddly. I shrugged again and went back to cleaning.
The front room was almost set to rights when a knock came on the door. It was now past midnight, and I froze wondering who it could be. I feared it was Mr. Slovak, or worse, but didn't know if I should risk the door without Tabitha's gun trained on it.
As I stood frozen two things happened at once. The unlocked front door swung wide, revealing that it was indeed Mr. Slovak, and he was pointing a gun down the hall where the homeless guy had appeared. Only, it wasn't a guy, it was my Bella.
Remember to have me on author alert! I'll soon be posting under #4 of this series. Also, I'm running low on time, so might not post as often as five days a week. I'll try, but no promises. It might be more like three. Sorry.
Have a happy and safe Halloween!