By Nadya Somoe
Read part 1 here
Sierra licked milky froth from her upper lip, then bit down on it, chewing it lightly before releasing it as she leaned forward to put her now tepid cup of latte back on a tiny table she shared with her lanky, muscular boyfriend, Riley shared, who sat slouched in his chair.
They were sitting in front of a chic cafe with tables jutting out onto the sidewalk of an equally elegant street. Sierra leaned back in her chair and tried to relax, but an argument she’d just had with a beggar had upset her.
“Relax baby, it was nothing,” Riley said, sitting up in his chair and reaching across the table for her hand as if he could read her mind.
But Sierra reflexively withdrew her hand. Like her hair standing on end and the fear sitting like a stone in her chest. To save the situation from an embarrassing situation, she pretended to have reached for her phone.
“I forgot I had to make a call, excuse me for a moment,” she said, standing up quickly.
It was all fake, but Sierra actually dialed a number as she walked a few feet from the cafe.
“Hello,” it was Daniel, her husband.
“Uh, hello!” Sierra tried to sound cheery, but his tone made fear tingle and burn inside her.
“How is your sister?” his voice had its usual mean sharpness.
Sierra winced. She wasn’t happy about lying to him, but she had already tangled herself in the most intricate web of stories she had spun for so long, she couldn’t unravel it now if she wanted to. Daniel would never divorce her or let her leave him. Besides, she thought as she steadied her voice to spit out the torrent of lies on the tip of her tongue, it was he who had turned her marriage into a sham with his affairs. And now there was Ruby, his current secretary and latest love interest.
“She’s fine, I actually just left her to do some shopping…” Her eyes scanned the street for a shop while her mind went blank, “Sia’s Jewelers,” she continued quickly, “I am home soon.” Her palms were sweaty and her voice was breathless from her fast beating heart as Daniel hung up before she could finish. Something was wrong.
Startled, Sierra spun around and saw the same beggar who had come to their table earlier that morning. He was still wrapped in a hood that was pulled so low over his face that the shadow it cast rendered him unrecognizable. It was impossible to estimate his height or weight as he was bent over and wrapped in layers of sturdy cloaks and shawls.
“Get out of here, he’s going to ki…” Gilbert, the hooded man, said quietly, but his words were cut short when Riley appeared out of nowhere and threw him to the ground. Gilbert, a private investigator, had been hired by Daniel to follow Sierra and he had just secretly snapped a picture of her and Riley arm in arm in the cafe when he approached her on the pretext of begging.
“Is that guy bothering you again?” Riley stared up at a horrified Sierra, but she was already turning on her heels and running down the street to her parked car. “What the…Sierra!” he called after her, but she was already climbing into her car.
The road had come to a standstill. Nothing exciting ever happens here, besides, it was not fashionable for high society here to be openly interested in other people’s affairs. You had to be blase. But this, the cloaked bully who roared when he was attacked by a handsome young man who also yelled at a beautiful woman who appeared to be fleeing to her car in red-soled stiletto heels, her face in sheer fear. It caught everyone’s attention.
Traffic was scarce on this street as sleek cars with blacked-out windows pulled away, picking up men and women in big sunglasses to maintain anonymity, leaving the street and sidewalks free for the affluent crowd to promenade, shop and lounge enjoyment.
Sierra’s hands were shaking as she tried to put the key in the ignition, failing twice before her car came to life. Daniel knew it. Which meant she was living on borrowed time. Panic and adrenaline restricted her breathing, causing her to gasp unevenly as she put the car in reverse and hit the gas pedal. But as she swerved onto the normally empty road, a nondescript car appeared as if by magic, going so fast it was a gray speck, kicking up a gust of wind as it passed and slamming into Sierra’s car so hard it was thrown into the air ; then he disappeared into the distance, leaving only his reinforced, tattered bumper without a license plate.
It’s like the moment is frozen in time. For a few moments there was dead silence save for the echo of the impact of metal on metal. Then screams punctuated by shouts filled the air. Gilbert and Riley watched in horror, with the former taking his chance to escape, running down the street and dodging into an alley while Riley stared in shock at his girlfriend’s mangled car, now a fireball.