“Mia, you have good moves.” Elle said as she jumped to sit beside me on the couch.
“Me? You’re the one with the moves.” I lightly tickled her, and she giggled.
“Well, it’s way past my bed time. See you tomorrow.” Throwing her arms around me, she kissed my cheek then ran to her father. Jimmie lifted her until her lips met his, and she gave him a quick peck on the lips. “Good night, daddy!” She yelled.
“Good night, princess. Sweet dreams.” She ran up the stairs. Jimmie laughed to himself then turned to face me. “She really likes you. It’s hard for her to get attached to someone, especially females.”
“She’s a great kid, Jimmie.” I smiled.
“Thanks. Well I better go to …” He looked up at Marcus before finishing his sentence. Marcus looked concerned.
“He wants us to go in tonight.” Marcus’ expression was unreadable.
Jimmie sighed, placing his hands on his hips and lowering his head. “You’ll have to go on your own tonight, Marc. Melissa is off tonight again.” Marcus looked at me then back at Jimmie. I didn’t belong here. It felt awkward, not knowing what they were talking about.
“It’ll be done a lot faster if you are with me.” Marcus grew impatient.
“I’m sorry, Bro, but I can’t leave Elle without a babysitter.”
“I-I’m here. It’s not a problem. I can make sure she’s okay.” They both looked at me, speculating. Jimmie glanced at Marcus. They looked at each other for a long time. Finally their eyes were back on me. “Seriously, she’s in bed anyway. I’ll let her know that you guys had to run off, and if she needs anything she can come to Marc’s room.”
Jimmie pulled his brows in. “Are you sure? If it’s too much trouble …”
“No it’s fine. Go do whatever you guys have to do. If it’s faster for Marcus to get back home, I don’t mind.” I glanced at Marcus; he had a soft smile.
“Thank you, Mia. Marcus, I’ll be in the car.” Jimmie walked away. Marcus kneeled before me. He grabbed my hands with his. Looking up, his eyes were filled with distress.
“Where do you have to go?” I whispered, searching his face for an answer.
Slightly shaking his head, he pulled his brows in. He was thinking … I wish I knew what was going on in his mind. Reaching out, I placed both my hands on his cheeks and rubbed my thumbs against his cheekbones. Shutting his eyes, he sighed.
“I’ll be back soon. Thank you for watching Elle.” Leaning up, he kissed my forehead, then lowered and kissed my lips. Before I could question him any longer, he was gone.
After poking my head into the fourth bedroom, I finally found Elle’s room. She was lying in bed, knees up, and head leaning against a pillow. Her thumbs were tapping against a handheld. She looked up when I entered her room.
“Sorry to bother you. I just wanted to let you know that your father and uncle had to run out. So if you need anything, I’ll be in Marcus’ room. Are you okay?”
Placing the handheld on the nightstand, she sat up Indian style facing me. “Why do they always go out so late?” she asked.
“Does it happen a lot?” Making my way to her bed, I sat on the corner, lifting only one leg to face her.
“At least once a week. Last night Uncle Marc begged my daddy to go with him, so he could finish faster, but my babysitter, Melissa, is off this weekend. She gets one whole weekend off a month.”
“Do you know what they go do?” She shrugged. Of course she didn’t; I don’t even know why I asked her.
“Well, Elle, I’m heading to bed. If you need anything let me know. Okay?” Smiling at me, she nodded. Elle flopped back in her previous position and grabbed her handheld again.
It had been four hours since the guys left. Ever since then, I’d been pacing back and forth in the bedroom, wondering what the hell was taking them so long. Glancing at my cell phone for the twentieth time, I threw myself on the bed and stared at the ceiling. I’d been holding back from calling or texting him. It was so hard to do when I was worried sick. What were they doing?
Whatever it was I knew it was bad, and something told me it had a thing or two to do with Lou. The mere sound of that man’s voice gives me the creeps, let alone his name. I could feel Marcus’ uneasiness in his voice and posture when he talked to Lou. Jimmie and Marcus were in something way deeper than I could imagine, but I didn’t know what it was and why was it so hard to just walk away from.
“Mia?” Elle’s frightened little voice froze my thoughts. I leaned up on my elbows as she hurriedly ran over to me. Her eyes were almost in tears, and the tight grip she held on her blanket allowed me take her into my arms.
“Did you have a bad dream?” I asked as she curled up in a ball on my lap. She shook her head and looked up at me.
“No, I heard noises downstairs from the living room. I don’t think Daddy or Uncle Marc is here. Someone’s in the house.” I froze. What do I do? Taking a deep breath, I tried to hide my fear for her sake.
“It’s okay. I’m pretty sure it’s nothing. I’m going to check to see what the noise is. Lock the door behind me, and if I’m not back up in ten minutes, call the police. My cell phone is right here,” I said, pointing at the nightstand. “Do you think you could do that?” She nodded her head. “Good, it’s going to be okay. Don’t worry. I’ll be back soon,” I said, giving her a reassuring smile.
She followed me to the door, locking it behind me. I turned the knob to make sure it was secured. I couldn’t hear anything, but Elle’s room is farther down the hall near the staircase. Making my way down the hallway, I tiptoed, so that if anyone were here, he couldn’t hear me. When I reached the top of the staircase, I hesitated, waiting to hear something before making my way down.
I waited three long minutes. There was no noise, so I decided to go back to the room. I slowly turned on my toes. When I heard a loud thump, I quickly turn backed toward the stairwell. I bent to see if there was anyone at the bottom of the steps. My heart picked up its pace. I could do this; it was probably nothing. Slowly tiptoeing down the stairs, I heard a few more thumps and a voice mumbling.
At the end of the stairs, I followed the voice. When I reached the front door of Marcus’ office, I sucked in my bottom lip and bit. Taking a deep breath, not knowing what to expect, I opened the door. His office was dark, and the only light was from the lamp in the far right corner. I jumped when I saw Marcus lifting his head from behind his desk. He was slouched and lying on one arm, while the other hand held a half empty bottle of brandy.