Frank shows Marka his journals. He suspects that whoever trashed his house was after them. Instead of leaving them where they might be found, Marka decides to take them. She figures that if no one knows they have them, they will be safe enough.
“Frank, find me a bag?”
“Sure, babe.” He grabbed a cloth grocery bag from the kitchen and she dropped the books in it before the others could see them. “I found some books to read with my Alzheimer’s group. Frank had all the classics. Mine are in storage. Thanks for letting me borrow them.” She kissed him playfully. “Now, salvage what you can of your knickers and socks and let’s head out. I’m getting chilly and I don’t like the color of the sky.”
She pointed out the window. The men gazed in unison, squinting against the light. All of them agreed that the weather looked dodgy. They had no desire to be out in a snowstorm.
Frank gathered up what he could of his clothing and carried it in grocery bags out to the car. Shay and James loaded the bags in the trunk as Frank locked the house. Marka waited in the car for the men. They bid James farewell and headed back to Sheltering Oaks.
Shay drove them to the front door and helped them unload. Marka got one of the grocery carts that were kept in the vestibule and they loaded the bags into it, taking them to their room. It was getting late and neither of them felt like cooking. Frank called for a pizza and went downstairs to pick it up. Marka gathered their clothing and decided to do a load of laundry. She carried the basket down the hall and through the sitting room at the end, heading to the laundry room at the end of the next building.
The load started, she headed back to the room and let herself in. Frank came in a few minutes later. They ate their pizza and cleaned up. Frank was making a move to kiss Marka, when his phone rang. Exasperated, he answered.
“It’s Clark. Can you meet me?”
“Cut the cloak and dagger shit. Just come to the room.”
“Shay doesn’t want that. You need to come to where our mystery man fell. We’ve got our forensics guys going over it.”
“Why? Just have them compile the data. . . .”
“Shay’s insistent. I’m on my way, I’ll pick you up in five minutes.”
“Is he trying to ruin my sex life?”
“Probably. He’s sure ruined mine.”
“I’ll be right down.” Frank hung up. “I don’t want to go,” he told Marka.
“I know. Go now, get it over with and come home. I’ll be here. I’ll finish the laundry and go to bed with a good book.”
“I’d rather you were going to bed with me.”
“Goes without saying. Don’t stay long.”
“Not any longer than I have to.”
They kissed a few moments and he left.
Marka made sure she had her key in her pocket and went to the laundry room. The lights in the sitting room had been dimmed for the night. They always left on some lights for the staff to navigate the hallways. This time, the lights were out and the double doors were closed. Those doors were always open, day and night. The only illumination peeped through the glass of the French doors from the hallways that led to two other buildings.
The hairs on Marka’s neck rose and a tingle of fear crept up and down her spine. Telling herself she was over reacting, she kept going. Her steps slowed and she had to force herself to move. Apprehension quickened her heart. A fine beading of sweat dampened her brow. Her hands shook slightly as she rubbed them on her pants. Her feet slowed further.
Deciding she would look for a light switch, she stopped at the doorway, pushed the door open and leaned into the room. Waiting for her eyes to adjust, she scanned the walls of the room, but didn’t see a light switch. There was a lamp on a table a few feet away. She could see clearly that far, but the center of the room and far wall, were nearly black. No light came in from outside.
Shuddering nervously, she took a step into the room. She stopped suddenly when an odd noise caught her attention. Listening intently, she moved closer to the lamp, reaching for it. A louder noise distracted her. Stifling a scream, she moved closer to the lamp. Marka tried to tell herself it was nothing. No one could get in after dark without clearance. Guests signed in at the desk. She was safer here than if she were in her own house—right?
Muffled movement convinced her she wasn’t alone. Taking up a nearby curio, she armed herself as best she could. Her hand crept to the lamp as she tried to get her heartbeat under control. She turned on the lamp, hopping forward with the figurine raised.
A woman screamed. A man’s voice joined the woman’s, cursing vociferously. There was a scramble of movement, a flurry of limbs as two people hurried to dress. Taken by surprise herself, Marka’s scream joined the other woman’s. She dropped her weapon. It bounced harmlessly on the carpet.
“Doc Marka?” The young man said as he pulled up his boxers.
Marka saw more of his anatomy than she wanted to. “Matthew? What the hell are you doing up here?” She turned away, noting that he was uncircumcised and well blessed.
Matthew laughed loudly. His female companion, a nurse with red hair and lavender scrubs, shushed him.
“You’ll wake the residents, Mattie!”
“What are you doing here?” Marka demanded.
Matthew pulled his shirt over his head, chuckling at Marka’s antics as she tried not to look at him. He was as well built as Frank and it was disconcerting.
© Dellani Oakes
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