This is too damn easy.

Still, I ease the door open and peer through the crack I’ve created. Only more darkness awaits me on the other side.

I wait, holding my breath again, ears straining.

Faintly I can make out movement, but it sounds like it’s coming from the floor below me.

Gathering up my courage, I open the door all the way and step out into the hallway, expecting Gabriel to jump out of the shadows at any moment.

All is quiet though as I make my way to the landing next to the stairs. No surprises. No one jumping out to scare the shit out of me.

Gripping the rail, I lean forward, watching and listening again.

A faint light comes from somewhere, illuminating some of the darkness. I can make out a living area. A couple of couches, chairs, and a big entertainment center.

No Gabriel, though.

After a couple of minutes, I decide to try my luck and quietly make my way down the stairs.

When none of the boards creak, I can’t help but wonder if this is a dream. Again, this is too damn easy. It should be harder.

I creep across the first floor and finally stumble across a door with a stream of light beaming out from beneath it.

I instantly still, listening.

Someone is moving around inside. Then I hear the unmistakable sound of a shower curtain being pulled back, followed by the sound of a faucet being turned on.

I have to assume it’s Gabriel, who else can it be?

And he’s about to take a shower. My luck couldn’t get any better tonight. I wait until I hear the shower curtain again then I quickly make my way to the front door.

My legs ache to run, to flee as fast as I can, to get the hell out of here. It’s everything I can do to force myself to walk slowly, to not to give myself away.

But once I reach the front door, all bets are off. I hastily undo the lock and yank it open.

I run out into the night.

The cold hits me, and I quickly remember I’m barefoot. The morning dew chills my feet as I run through the grass of the front yard.

My breath puffs out in white clouds in front of me, but I don’t care. I’m free. Finally free.

I can go anywhere I want.

I run all the way up the street until I reach an intersection and stop.

Left or right?

It should be an easy, simple choice, yet it’s not. I have no clue where I am. I have no clue where I’m going.

I need to reach a phone, but who the fuck am I going to call?

Panting in the cold, I start to spin in a circle, trying to figure out what to do. I can’t reach out to any of my family, not even my mother’s side of the family. Nor any of the Irish. I guess the only people I can ask for help is my friends from school…

But do I really want to drag them into this mess?

Shit.

Doing that will probably get someone killed.

What the fuck am I going to do?

I guess I can try to hide on my own…

But with what money? What identification? What car?

Fuck!

I grab at my hair, tugging and pulling on it, as I try to figure out what the hell to do.

Just as I feel like I’m going to scream in angry, helpless frustration, Lily’s words pop into my mind, unbidden and un-fucking-welcome.

Gabriel will protect you. He’s your best chance at staying alive.

Goddammit.

I hate it, but she’s right.

He might be the only person I have in the whole world…

Spinning back toward the house I just ran from, I stare at the open front door while I try to think up an alternative.

I waste precious seconds determining I have none.

It doesn’t mean I have to accept things as they are right now, though.

Making up my mind, I run back to the house, hoping I get back before he realizes what happened.

By the time I reach the open front door, my feet feel frozen and my lungs ache. Closing the door, I have to lean against it a moment to catch my breath.

I don’t have much time, though, so I straighten my shoulders and make my way to the kitchen. Steeling my resolve, I grab the biggest, sharpest knife from the block on the counter and make my way to the bathroom I passed earlier.

The light is still on and the air smells faintly of soap and water.

I try the handle, it gives easily.

Does he have something against locking the door or something?

Pushing the door open, I discover the room is not a bathroom like I expected. Rather it’s a bedroom with a bathroom attached to it.

The door to the bathroom is cracked open. Steam pours out and I can hear the water still running.

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