Home > Hidden Away (KGI #3)(14)

Hidden Away (KGI #3)(14)
Author: Maya Banks

After the second cup, she was jittery from the double jolt of caffeine and anxious to be off. She slid out of her chair, careful to tuck her laptop into her bag and then exited the front of the shop to cross the street to the bookstore. It was two doors down from the market with only a fishing supply shop to separate them.

When she entered, she was instantly assailed by the smell of old books. She sniffed appreciatively and went to the shelves to browse the selection. An older lady with a warm smile waved from her chair behind the register and Sarah offered a brief acknowledgment before turning back to the shelf in front of her.

It was easy to get lost in books. It was more than an hour later when she realized how long she’d been there picking over the titles. She looked ruefully at the dozen or so books she’d stacked to the side and decided it was enough for now. It would give her a good excuse to return when she’d finished them.

She hauled her loot to the register and plunked them down in front of the woman.

“Hi there, you like to read, I see,” the woman said cheerfully. “Most folks who come through here just pick up one or two. Beach reads they call them. If you ask me, any book is good for the beach.”

Sarah smiled. “I do enjoy books. I don’t think these will last me long, but they’re all I can carry with me right now.”

“I’m Martine,” the woman said, extending her hand.

“I’m ... Sarah.”

“Well, Sarah, it’s very nice to meet another book lover. When you’re done with these, you can bring them back in. I’ll give you credit toward more book purchases.”

“Thank you, I will.”

Martine rang up the books and Sarah paid her in cash. Then Martine placed the books in a plastic grocery store bag and handed it over to Sarah. Sarah juggled her laptop bag, hauling it farther over her shoulder, and took the sack from the shop owner. With a wave, she headed back outside.

Just the little bit of human interaction warmed Sarah on the inside. She needed this. Needed to connect to other people, even in a superficial way. Head down, she turned the corner of the bookshop into the small alley that separated the store from its neighbor. The DVD rental place was behind the market. She’d make a quick stop, pick up a few movies and then she’d be set for entertainment for the next several days. Between the times she spent watching her neighbor, that is.

She was so absorbed in her thoughts that she didn’t see the person in front of her until she ran smack into the man. She bounced off as adrenaline spiked in her veins. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

Before she could react, the dull gleam of a knife flashed in her face and the strap from her bag carrying her laptop nearly wrenched her shoulder from its socket. She dropped the bag of books and grabbed the strap before her assailant could wrest it free.

She pulled and stumbled back, and came face to face with a grubby-looking man who looked to be in his early twenties. He was unwashed and unshaven and her nostrils flared at the overwhelming smell of body odor.

“Give me the bag,” he ordered in clipped English.

He gripped her hair and yanked, pulling her closer to him—and to the knife he held barely an inch in front of her nose.

She couldn’t lose her laptop. Her whole life was in that laptop. Panic and hysteria rose and slammed through her veins with the force of a cement truck.


The exclamation rose in her throat and was forced out before she could think better of it.

The hand tightened in her hair and then she was slammed against the outside wall of the shop with enough force to knock the breath from her and make her eyes water. The man grabbed clumsily for her bag, and the knife wavered in her vision. Taking advantage of his lapse, she grabbed his wrist and knocked the knife from his hand.

And suddenly she was free. She stood against the wall, shaking violently, not comprehending what had just happened. She watched in disbelief as her neighbor, seemingly appearing out of nowhere, let out a snarl of rage as he smashed his fist into the face of her attacker.

The noise attracted onlookers. Several gathered at the end of the alley and a moment later, the constable ran down to intervene. It was over almost as soon as it began. Her attacker lay bleeding on the ground, begging pitifully for mercy. Her neighbor hauled him up and shoved him in the direction of the approaching constable. Then he turned to Sarah, concern etched on his brow.

“Hey, are you okay?”

He moved closer and gripped her shoulders. She flinched and tried to move away, but he held tight as he stared into her eyes.

“I-I’m fine.”

“Did he hurt you?” he demanded.

She shook her head and to her consternation, her teeth started to clink together like ice tumbling into a glass.

He touched her cheek, then pushed back the hair that had fallen over her eyes. She glanced away to see the constable putting her attacker in handcuffs. “He had a knife.” She pointed to the ground, where it had fallen.

Her neighbor bent and retrieved the knife, holding it up as he inspected it in the sunlight. Then he frowned and handed it over to the constable.

“You’ve gone too far this time, Didier,” the constable snapped at her attacker.

Sarah frowned and pushed herself around her neighbor. “What do you mean? Do you know this man?”

The constable sighed. “He’s a troublemaker. I’ve picked him up a few times, but he’s never resorted to violence. He’s a petty thief.”

Heat suffused her cheeks. “He threatened me! I hope you’ll keep him locked up this time so he doesn’t terrorize others.”

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