A Honeybun and Coffee(9)

By: Sam Cheever

Angie hung up after getting Celeste to promise that she and Petey would stay until closing time and lock up for her. She felt guilty leaving the shop to the two kids but, since they were both always looking for overtime hours she didn’t feel all that guilty. Satisfied that at least one detail was addressed satisfactorily, Angie turned back to Alastair and the problem at hand. “The thugs came back to the store looking for me. You were right, they apparently know who I am now too.”

Angie dropped her butt into a chair at her sister’s table and fought panic. Taking deep, yogic breaths to calm herself, she struggled to think.

Sniffling and looking like he needed a nap, Alastair laid a large, warm hand on her back and rubbed in gentle circles. “I’m sorry you had to get mixed up in this, Angie. Whatever it is.” He frowned.

Angie looked up at him. “You still don’t know why they want to kill you?”

Alastair pulled the chair next to her out and sat down, dropping his head into his hands. “I’ve thought about everywhere I’ve been over the last week and I’ve got nothing. I haven’t done much except work. I went to the grocery a couple of days ago, other than one woman who was way too aggressive with a cantaloupe for my taste, I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary there.”

“How about angry clients?”

Alastair lifted his red head out of his hands and focused clear blue eyes on her. She realized he was still pale and a little sweaty. With everything that had been going on she’d nearly forgotten that he was sick. But under the clammy pallor she realized he was exceptionally good looking. “Things have been good at work. The market’s strong and I’ve been making lots of money for people. I can’t think of any of my clients who would be mad enough at me to try to kill me.”

They lapsed into a thoughtful silence that lasted until Angie’s stomach rumbled insistently. She looked up and grinned at him. “You hungry?”

He laughed. “Yeah, that was my stomach rumbling.”

Angie stood up. “I’m gonna make myself a grilled cheese sandwich, you interested?”

“You got any tomato soup to go with it?”

“I’ll see what I can find.”

Twenty minutes later they sat munching grilled cheese. Alastair had cut his sandwich into inch wide strips and was dunking them in his tomato soup. Angie grinned every time he did it. He caught her grinning at him and smiled back. “My mother always served grilled cheese this way. It’s comfort food for me.” He shrugged.

Angie opened her mouth to ask him about his family when the driveway sensor went off. She jumped up and ran to the dining room of the big house, which had the only window with a clear view of the driveway. A dark blue SUV was winding its way slowly up the drive. “Dangit!”

Alastair joined her at the window. “It’s probably them. They must have good connections if they found your sister this fast.”

Angie’s heart pounded in her chest and she was suddenly afraid the grilled cheese would come back up. “We can’t get to the car.”

Alastair’s MKX was sitting in front of the garage. The SUV pulled up behind it and they watched the two thugs from the coffee shop climb out. One of them was holding a gun.

“Dangit, dangit, dangit, dangit!” Angie muttered.

Alastair grabbed her hand. “Let’s go!”

She let herself be dragged from the room but panic was making her lethargic and her reasoning functions had all but shut down. “Where are we going? They have us trapped.”

“I don’t know but we’re not just gonna sit here and wait to get shot!”

Angie gasped and tears rolled down her cheeks.

Alastair scooped up Jaws and they flew out the back door into the yard. Running as fast as he could while dragging Angie and holding his dog, Alastair crossed the big yard at a gallop and pushed through the thick line of huge evergreen trees at the back of the property. What he saw on the other side of the tree line made him curse. The neighbors apparently hadn’t trusted the tree line to keep them separate, they’d installed an eight foot high wooden fence too.

Running along between the fence and the prickly tree line, they searched for a door into the yard. After what felt like a mile they reached the corner and turned, continuing to follow the fence toward the street beyond. As they neared the street Angie heard voices behind them.

She tugged on Alastair’s hand. He nodded, “I know, I heard them. Can you run faster?”

She was already huffing and puffing. Working every day behind a counter and doing power yoga every night apparently wasn’t good training for running for your life. But she forced herself to pick up speed and, when they hit the street they saw a taxi idling at the curb.

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