The tinkle of breaking glass
wakened her. She shot up, heard thumps and thuds, a small spitting sound that
brought back Frank’s murder. Wide awake now, she grabbed her coat from the end
of the bed, jammed her arms in, and jerked the shoulder strap of her purse over
her head. Afraid to turn on the light, she fumbled in the dark for her shoes. Where the hell were they?
Another pop, more noise—she
hesitated for an instant, then picked up Frank’s ashes, and edged to the door.
Over the wild thrumming of her heart, she listened to the noise in the next
room. A fight.
She eased the door open enough to
see out. In the faint light from the other room, she couldn’t see either
Corelli or Love, but a blanket lay in a heap on the floor beside the sofa. They
must both be in the bedroom. The fire escape was outside that window. She
guessed someone broke in there, and whoever slept on the sofa jumped up to help
Low voices, breathless and
intense, came from the bedroom. Corelli and Love. They must have subdued the
intruder—or intruders. She heard Corelli asking for help. On the phone, she
Someone had betrayed them. Again.
This couldn’t go on.
She eased around the perimeter of
the room, avoiding the second bedroom. The apartment door was out of the
question. It would take her five minutes to undo the locks—they’d been no help
anyway. She sneaked around the edge of the living room to the rain-streaked window
and pushed the drapes aside. The latch opened, and to her surprise, the sash
lifted easily with little noise.
Madeleine leaned out. The fire
escape ran fairly close below the window. She scrambled over the sill and, wrapping
one arm around the urn, lowered herself out the window. Gathering her courage,
she let go and dropped to the steps. The metal treads were like ice under her
bare feet. She looked down. The fire escape stopped well above the ground, but
someone had parked an SUV under it. It must be the intruders’. She started down
but halted. What if someone stayed in the car, a guard or a driver?
The alley below
glistened in the rain. Puddles shone here and there in shallow depressions, and
water dripped off the metal frame. Madeleine gritted her teeth and made her way
along the fire escape until she was beneath the broken window of the apartment.
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