He got up off the couch, padded in the dark down the
narrow hall to John’s room, opened the door softly, and listened. Just soft
snuffling snores. Good. He closed the
door again, listened at Michaela’s as he walked past but heard no sounds of
anguish or illness. Maybe just a siren
or a truck woke him. Of course, they were all so used to the traffic sounds of
Brooklyn that seemed unlikely. Collapsing on the couch again with a sigh, he
closed his eyes. Need some sleep.
Do I hear someone breathing?
He listened harder. So soft, but still breathing.
What the hell
should I do? Someone might be behind the curtains with a gun. No, his
curtains wouldn’t hide a three-year-old. God knew, John had tried.
The breath kind of stuttered, like a little laugh. What the hell? It came from behind his
head, closer to the front door. Damn, I
wish I had a weapon. Without moving his head, he turned his eyes toward the
coffee table. A lazy Susan that Michaela used to help serve sat in the middle.
It was made of some kind of heavy ceramic. That would have to do.
With a huge sweep of his covers, Wen sat up, sprang to
his feet, grabbed the lazy Susan in two hands and leaped forward—
—to see Peter’s eyes widen as he flattened himself
against the wall with his hands lifted to fend off his attacker.
Wen stared at his elf face and hissed, “What the hell are
you doing here?” No, wait, wrong
question. “How the hell did you get in here?”
Peter pointed at the slightly open window.
Uh, wait. Wen
walked over and looked out at the four-story drop—and the old rusty fire escape
that ran beside the window. What the
hell? He stalked back to Peter, grabbed his arm, and pulled him to the
Wen turned on a small lamp, went into the kitchenette,
grabbed their filter pitcher of water and poured two glasses, then carried them
back to the couch. He handed one to Peter. “I figure you need it after your
adventures. How the hell did you get up that fire escape without falling or
ripping the thing off the wall? Fly?”
He grinned. “I’m a good climber.”
Wen wanted to scream, and only biting his tongue kept it
at bay. “Why did you do it? I’ve asked you to help me. You’ve said no. We have
nothing else to talk about. You put yourself at risk, and you broke into my
house where my kids sleep!”
“Kids?” His cat eyes widened. “You have children?”
“Yes, they’re my younger brother and sister. I’m
responsible for them. I have to leave them alone sometimes, and now I find out
that any criminal can waltz up that fire escape and threaten them.”
“Well, not any criminal.” He gave a half grin.
“It’s not funny.”
“No. I get that. But honestly, most people would rip that
thing off the wall. I really am a good climber and it’s very high. I think you
and your kids are safe.”
Wen planted a hand on his hip. “From everyone but you.”
“Yeah.” He giggled, which despite being shocked and
furious, kind of made Wen want to smile.