Excerpt – The Kiss after Midnight
From The Kiss after Midnight (The Midnight Trilogy – Book 1)
Tobias stood in the middle of his living room, unable to speak. His heart was beating so fast he thought he would pass out at any minute. He looked at his phone again, and the number still displayed as unknown.
“Who’s this?” he demanded. “How do you know my name?”
“I don’t have time to explain,” the woman said, “but you have probably four minutes to do exactly as I say.”
Tobias edged toward the window, leaned against the wall and peeked outside. Four police cars had pulled up across the street from his apartment. He ducked, panting rapidly.
“Listen to me,” the woman said. “You’ve got to act now or they’ll be there before you know it.”
“What do you need me to do?”
“First of all, I need to know if you have the memory stick.”
“The what? I don’t know what you mean.”
“Okay, it’s like this. You have something a lot of people want, and they’ll kill you for it.”
“What the hell have I got?! And why are the police coming for me?”
“Stop talking and listen! … Now, I need you to look around your apartment for a memory stick. It looks like a fountain pen, but it opens in the middle and you should see a USB connector.”
“I don’t think there’s anything like that here.”
“There is. You just haven’t realized you have it yet.”
Tobias rushed to the couch, threw the cushions to the floor and searched every crevice. He lifted it up and looked underneath. “There’s nothing here.”
The woman didn’t speak for a few seconds. “Go to the bedroom.”
Tobias glanced toward the room, deep in thought, wondering who the woman was and how she knew so much about his situation.
“Don’t think,” she shouted, “just do it!”
Tobias rushed into the bedroom and emptied his drawers. Nothing. He searched behind the TV and in the wardrobe.
“You need to hurry,” the woman said. “You now have less than two minutes.”
Tobias started to breathe heavily as he imagined what the people coming for him would do. They could only be gangsters posing as police officers. He stood by the bed, trying to think of where else to look, and realized he had not checked under it.
He put the phone on the side table, crouched and lifted the bedstead. Nothing. Just then he remembered taking a silver pen from Lucas’ apartment Saturday morning, assuming it must have been his. He dashed back to the front room and rummaged through each compartment of his laptop bag before he finally saw it. A shiny silver object that looked very much like a fountain pen. He grabbed it and pulled the ends apart to expose a USB connector just as the woman had said.
He put the cell to his ear. “I’ve got it. It’s a USB stick.”
He heard the woman sigh. “You need to get out of there, but you can’t leave the building yet. You need to go to a neighbor’s place and wait there till I tell you.”
“But what am I going to tell them?”
“I don’t care. Make something up. You work on Wall Street, right? Just say anything, but you have to go now.”
Tobias dashed toward the door and moved the couch out of the way. As he reached for the handle, he paused and looked around the room, thinking about what to pack. He hurriedly put his laptop into its leather bag, grabbed his phone charger and left everything else. Slowly, he opened the door and looked down the hall in both directions. Silence. He then rushed to an apartment about ten steps away and knocked firmly. Nobody opened it, so he knocked again, this time much louder. The door opened and a dark-haired, middle-aged woman stood in front of him. He recognized her as a nurse he frequently said hello to when he’d come home from the nightclubs just as she was coming home, too. A bewildered look covered her face.
He was unable to speak. He had no idea what to say. Just then, the elevators on his floor made a sound similar to the striking of a bell. He charged into the flat, dragging her inside. She let out a mild scream before he placed his hand over her mouth and firmly closed the door.
She looked at him wide-eyed. He whispered into her ear, “I’m not going to hurt you, but please, stay quiet.”
She nodded and he eased his hand away from her mouth. He put his ear to the door and listened for footsteps. He counted at least four people walking along the corridor before all went quiet. He assumed they had reached his apartment. He heard a knock on his door, and another and another. The force with which the door was struck increased steadily. He heard someone shout something he couldn’t quite make out, but he was sure he heard his name mentioned.
His heart beat faster. He glanced at the woman seated on the floor opposite him with nothing but fear on her face. He raised his hands, trying to reassure her, before he heard the other woman’s voice on the phone again.
“What’s happening?” she said.
“They’re at my door. They’re banging on it.”
“Just stay calm. They’ll go soon.”
He glanced at the woman on the floor and edged away from the door. “What the hell is going on?” he whispered into the phone. “What are these people doing at my place?”