“Come on.” Falk takes my hand from his arm and holds it in his.
“Where are we going?”
“Out of here.” He starts pulling me toward the apartment.
“Because if I see him right now, I’m going to kill him.”
Something tells me Falk isn’t exaggerating. Without any further argument, I let him take me back to the seclusion of the apartment. Once inside, he takes a long look at me before huffing a breath through his nose. I know he wants to say something, but he doesn’t speak. Instead, he turns to the kitchen, grabs a pack of cigarettes from one of the drawers, and steps out onto his balcony.
Falk smokes very rarely, usually when he’s too pissed off to speak. I’ve found that when he does decide to partake, it’s best to just leave him be until he’s returned from his adult version of time out. He usually comes back, collected and calm again.
This time, I consider following him just to make sure he isn’t planning to shoot Beck right there from the balcony. I don’t think Falk would do that—kill Beck in cold blood—but I realize I don’t really know. He doesn’t talk about himself very much, and a lot of things about him remain a mystery.
In the end, I don’t follow him. I boil water for tea instead. He usually likes that in the evenings, and I hope it will improve his mood. By the time the tea is made, he returns with a declaration.
“I’m not leaving you alone again.”
“You can’t be at my side all the time.” I hold out a cup of tea, and he takes it from me.
“Watch me.” He sits on the couch and places the mug on the coffee table.
“Other people here need your help, too,” I say as I sit beside him. “You know more than anyone about how to survive like this.”
“Chuck knows some.”
“Chuck knows because he’s watched a lot of movies.”
“Better than nothing.” Falk sits back and sips the tea. “I’m not here for everyone else. I’m here for you. There are more people now anyway—they can help.”
I almost forgot about the new people in the group.
“What do you think of the newcomers?”
“I don’t know yet,” he says. “Better than the last group.”
“The last group opened fire on Caesar before he could say hello.”
“Right. They’re better than that.”
“Aren’t you worried those guys may come back? Might find us here?”
“No,” he says, and there’s no question about it in his voice. “I’m sure they are long gone by now.”
I sigh and lean back against the couch. My mind is in turmoil, and I can’t make sense of my jumbled thoughts. I keep thinking about Beck cornering me and how I nearly froze again. What if I hadn’t gotten out of there when I did? What would he have done?
Not all men are like the ones who hurt me, and I know that, but being the only single woman in a group of men has me on edge most of the time. Now there are even more of them. More men I know nothing about. For all I know, one of them could have been in the group that assaulted me.
I shake my head slightly. The thought is ridiculous. I was assaulted in Chicago, not Atlanta. Everyone we’ve encountered has been from this area. Then again, Hudson may have known I would be changing planes here. He could have sent his connections to follow me. He said it didn’t matter where I went—he would find a way to kill me.
My jumbled thoughts continue as Falk and I prepare for bed. In the dim light of a battery-powered lamp, I stare at my reflection in the bathroom mirror and tell myself I’m being paranoid. Beck isn’t one of Hudson’s men, and he isn’t here to exact revenge. If he were, he would know exactl
y who I am and wouldn’t have asked such questions.
Even though the men in the group probably know nothing about Tyler Hudson, they’re still men. “Men with needs,” my mother would have said. They are men who may eventually get tired of their own hands. They may imbibe a bit too much of Caesar’s scotch supply and wait for the opportunity when Falk is otherwise occupied and I am alone and vulnerable.