His eyes opened wide. Dark. Why am I awake? He shivered. No
so-called uncles trying to slip in beside him or boys sneaking in to drop ice
in his bed.
A sound, between a scratch and a squeak,
sent the feel of that long-remembered ice down his back. Don’t move yet.
door? Too close. The window then?
Shit, the branch Andrew had freaked over.
Val’s heart slammed so hard it had to make a sound. The sheets over him
He snaked out a hand and grabbed his cell
phone. He pulled it under the covers.
Speed dial, baby.
One ring. Two. Three— “Preston.” Thanks for police reflexes.
He put his head under the covers and
whispered, “Andrew. It’s me.”
“I know. Why are you whispering? What’s
“Someone’s trying to break in, I think.”
“Shit. Jump out of bed. Yell into the
phone. Make it clear you’re talking to the police. Turn on all the lights. Now.
Val threw back the covers, grabbed for the
bedside light and flipped it on, half expecting to see some killer standing in
his room, but nobody. “Police. Get here now! Someone’s breaking into my
apartment. Hurry. Please!” He raced around the apartment, turning on every
Andrew’s voice, panting. “What do you
“Nothing. No one’s here.”
“Look out the window, but stand back in
case he has a gun.”
“No, it’s okay. Don’t do it.”
“Hell.” He sidled to the window, pulled
back the blinds and looked out. A sliver of light from his apartment shone into
the darkness outside, although darkness was relative and his street pretty much
never got more than dim. Staring between the buildings, he might have caught a
glimpse of movement below, but it could have been a cat or a shadow. “I don’t
A siren cut through the general noise of
traffic that created the background of Val’s world. Nothing unusual about
sirens, but this one got closer. Andrew was still breathing hard. Was he
running? Val looked again. “I hear the black and whites.”
“Yeah. Just pulled up in front of your
building, I think. They’ll buzz. Don’t let them in until I tell you.” The tinny
squawk of a police radio sounded in the background. Andrew seemed to be
talking. He came back on the cell. “Have they buzzed?”
The buzzer sounded.
“Yeah. Just now.”
“Okay. Let them in. I’ll be there in a
Val started to the door where the buzzer
was, stopped and laughed.
“I forgot I’m bare-assed. I’d better grab
my jeans fast. See you in a second.” Still chuckling, he hit the buzzer,
grabbed his pants from the floor and was zipping them as the police knocked on
his door. New stair speed records. He
The young female cop’s eyes widened just a
little. “Valentin Aalto?”
“I understand you had an attempted break-in?”
Two male cops in uniform stood behind her.
“I think so, but I’m not sure. Come in
while I grab a shirt.”
Her half smile said ‘not on my account’,
but she didn’t voice it. “Tell me what happened, sir.”
He pulled a long-sleeved T-shirt over his
head. “I was asleep. I’m a light sleeper. I woke up and heard a strange sound,
like a scrunching and a squeaking. I might not have thought anything about it
since I’d double-locked the door, but An— Detective Preston inspected this
apartment and suggested the limbs on the tree outside should be cut since they
hang near the apartment windows. I got worried and called him.”
“Why didn’t you dial nine-one-one?”
Val speared her with his eyes. “I’m a
dancer with the NYBT. Detective Preston is investigating the murders of
dancers. He was my first thought. Is there a problem with that?”
“Of course not.” She turned to the male
officers. “Check the tree and the area around it. The apartment window from the
outside also, although we may have to come back with a ladder. I’ll look at it
from in here.”
“No, thank you, Officer. I will.”
was Andrew a sight to make a scared dancer’s heart go pitty-pat.