Officer Brecky--Samantha, I had to remind myself--had brought us a couple books along with our meals the next day. While she was jovial and bouncy with Allison, I noticed the tension pinching her eyes and tugging at her mouth. This waiting game was either wearing on her more than I thought it would, or something was up.
The three of us ate dinner together, grouped around the small table with an extra chair from Samantha’s room while a movie played on the television. It was some sort of come-of-age, preteen type movie. Allison seemed to like it well enough, but I just couldn’t pull my mind away from my troubles long enough to even catch the main character’s name.
When she was finished eating, Allison plopped on the bed to watch the movie. Her blond hair fell around her face as she propped her chin in her hands, her legs sticking up behind her, crossed at the ankles. I envied her ability to get lost in another world at this tumultuous time.
“I think we’ll move out tomorrow,” Samantha said, breaking my thoughts.
I looked at her, the worry in her emerald eyes flooding my senses. “Why? Is something wrong?” I asked.
She shook her head a little as she stacked our paper plates at the side of the table. “Just a feeling. I always go with my gut, and my gut is saying to go.”
“Why wait?” I asked. “Why not leave now?” I didn’t want to run any more, but I didn’t want to fight either. I had had enough of both.
She looked back at me. “Better to leave when the hotel is more active. People coming and going offer protection. If Luke’s watching, he won’t do anything in public. Just remember all the precautions for tonight. My hackles are up, but I can’t pin down anything that might be a threat.”
I sighed heavily. It was going to be another sleepless night.
A thought poked at me. “Could you stay in here with us? We could take shifts sleeping? I didn’t sleep at all last night listening to every footstep in the hall and car door outside. If we’re moving again, I need to sleep.”
She nodded. “That’s a good idea. We all need to rest. We’ll do three-hour shifts. I’ll take the first one. Say ten to one?”
“Sounds good to me.”
It was only quarter after seven, but I was exhausted. I wasn’t sure I’d make it to ten.
Samantha seemed to recognize that. “Why don’t you go lay down now? I’ll get my stuff from next door, and you can rest until one.”
Without a word, I stood and shuffled to the bed with Allison. Pulling back the covers, I slipped under them and snuggled in. When Allison climbed under and snuggled up with me, I wrapped my arm over her small body. “Love you, baby,” I whispered to her, and I fell asleep.
A soft touch on my shoulder woke me. My eyes flew open, but I didn’t move. Terror scorched my veins. I could see the clock, it’s red numbers glowing in the dim light seeping from the bathroom. It was just after midnight.
“Ella,” a soft voice whispered. “Ella, we need to go.”
It was Samantha.
I sat up so fast my head spun, but I didn’t wait for it to stop before swinging my feet into action. I slipped my shoes on, then turned to wake Allison.
“Allison. Baby, you need to wake up.” I shook her gently. She stirred, but didn’t wake up. “Honey, I need you to wake up,” I said louder, closer to her ear. Her eyes fluttered open.
“Mom? What’s going on? What time is it?”
“It’s midnight, baby. Officer Brecky wants us to leave now.” How could I tell her what was going on when I didn’t even know myself?
Samantha handed me Allison’s shoes, and I helped her get them on. We gathered our bags and headed for the door.
“Wait.” Allison stopped me with a hand on my arm. “I have to go to the bathroom,” she whispered.
“Quickly,” I said.
Samantha went to the window while Allison ran into the bathroom. The only thing that told me she was peeking out was the movement of her hands. I never saw the curtains move. When she turned back at the sound of the toilet flushing, her face was stoney.
“Someone has been sitting in the parking lot all night. They’re two cars back from mine, and they haven’t gotten out of their car at all.”
What? Nobody was supposed to know where we were, but it sure sounded like someone did.
My confusion must have shown because she shook her head just a tad. “No idea,” she said. “But we need to move. I called for a taxi. We’ll leave my car here.”
The bathroom door opened, and Allison came out looking a bit more awake than when she went in. I took her hand and headed for the door. “We’ll be taking a taxi, sweetie.”
I left it at that because we were in the hall, walking at a pace that wouldn’t draw attention but would get us to the door faster than a casual stroll.
As we passed the front desk, Samantha tossed the key cards on the counter. “We’re checking out. You have everything you need,” she said as she kept walking.
The young woman sitting behind the computer just sat there gaping at us. “But, miss. You have to sign for the rooms, miss,” she called, finding her tongue as we exited through the doors.
Samantha ignored her, and I decided to keep quiet. She seemed to know what she was doing.
Sure enough, a taxi pulled up as we stepped outside. It was pale blue, and I sent up a silent prayer for small favors.
We all piled in the back seat, our bags on our laps. Samantha leaned toward the plexiglass separating us from the driver. “Sixteen-o-one Sherwood Way. In Summerville,” she said before leaning back again.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
She stared straight out the windshield. “My house.”
Okay, I thought. Why, after all this hiding, were we going somewhere that was probably well-known to the enemy? I didn’t voice my concern, however. In the past few days I had learned the value of silence. Maybe I had been wrong about Samantha, after all. Maybe she was still working for Ritter. Something in me didn’t believe that, but at the core, how well did I know this woman, really?
Still, I found myself in the position of not really having a choice at the moment. Once we stopped, I could take Allison and run if I had to. For now we were in this cab for better or worse.