In the Running (Dee Lloyd) – Chapter Fourteen

Maura/Reenie and Pete spend the day working in the shop. When Matt comes home and doesn’t find them in the house, he gets worried and nearly runs the over looking for them. Pete tells Matt that he can take care of “their little refugee”, letting Matt know that he knows about her.

Pete and Matt decide that it would be better to find another place to stay for Maura/Reenie.

“You’re right,” Matt decided. “I have a key to Ryan’s place. No one would think of looking for her there.” [Well, how about Ryan?]
“Does this family make decisions for everyone they meet?” Reenie’s deadly sweet tone warned him that he had crossed an invisible line again. [Which invisible line? The one she pointed out over and over again, the one where it says in big, bold letters “Do Not Make Decisions For Me Without Me”?] “Or perhaps I’m a special case.”

Matt avoids a fight by disappearing to unload his truck with Jeff, his employee. About an hour later, he can still hear Maura/Reenie banging pots in the kitchen, so he checks his voice mail. Ryan called, the IRS are checking his activities with the agency. Bronwyn called as well, but doesn’t require a return call. And finally, there’s a call from Sandra Field, asking to call him back, which he does, because he’s afraid she recognised Maura/Reenie.
But Sandra only wants to invite him to the high school reunion, asking him, if he wants to be her second half of the couple to represent their year. Matt says he might drop by with Reenie, but that he doesn’t want to host the whole thing.

Sandra’s good-bye was unexpectedly icy. What did the woman expect? He’d tried to make it clear yesterday that he and Reenie were a couple. [Obviously, Matt is so irresistible that Sandra can’t help it, the poor woman…]
“I gather that was the good doctor.” He hadn’t heard Reenie come into the study. “Sounded to me as if she’s eager to pick up where you left off.”
He was relieved at the warmth in her smile.
“The only woman I want to boss around is you, sweetheart,” [Obviously what a relationship is like for Matt…] he hazarded as he drew her into his arms for the kiss he’d been wanting since she left their bed this morning.
“You must have a death wish,” she murmured against his mouth when they both came up for air. [Well, honey, you can pretend all you like that you don’t want to be bossed around, truth is, you act like you loved being bossed around. That’s why you and him are the perfect couple.]
She pulled away. “I came in to tell you Pete wants to see you before dinner for a short talk about the stubborn cook who appears to be your mutual problem. And to confess I overreacted this afternoon. My control button is extremely sensitive these days.” [Why did she overreact? She didn’t really say anything other than “I don’t want you to make decisions about my life without me… Which already implies a lot of control-relinquishing anyway. I don’t see her need to apologise. I really don’t.]

They go to the living room and talk with Pete over wine and beer. Maura/Reenie’s only concern is that if she goes, there won’t be a woman around to cook for Pete.

“Meals be damned!” Matt exploded. “We’re talking about keeping you alive.”
“Just listen a minute.” Reenie stared them both down. [She must be pretty cross-eyed if she can stare two people down at once.] “All the people you mentioned expect your housekeeper to be here, doing the cooking. They also expect her to be living in the apartment with Matt. If I move into an empty cottage, someone will be sure to wonder who I am and why I’m there. If you move in with me, Matt, and there are cars going in and out, that will start another group of people wondering about an unknown woman in the area. I can’t think of a better way to alert the people looking for me. Can you?” [Uhm… Maybe I’ve spent too much time living in a big city, but I really can’t follow that logic… Do all housekeepers live in the house they keep? Does none of them have a home? And is it really that much more suspicious that a woman and her boyfriend live in a house by themselves than them living in an apartment close to the boyfriend’s dad? And do people actually give their neighbours that much thought?]

Anyway, Matt agrees, but under the condition that she spends less time at the house. Pete agrees with that, which has to be the first time that father and son are of the same opinion.

“But that wasn’t the agreement.” Reenie stood by her guns. [Why? Shouldn’t she be more worried about her safety than Pete’s nutrition?] “I’m supposed to be a cook and general errand person. I get to stay here and Pete gets fresh home-cooked meals. There are lots of rooms I can retreat to if someone comes calling.”
“Why don’t we compromise?” Matt offered. “Pete gets his own breakfast and calls you if the coast is clear at lunch time. Late afternoon and dinnertime is pretty safe. Wouldn’t you say?”
Reenie gave in more easily than he’d expected. The shadows under her eyes showed strain – or perhaps her disturbed nights. Memories of those nights swept over him. They would be alone again soon. And she could sleep in tomorrow morning. [Oh yeah, perfect. “She looks so tired, I bet she doesn’t sleep enough because we have too much sex. God, sex, I’m so looking forward to tonight, when I won’t let her sleep again, because I will be too busy fucking her brains out.”]

It seems like Maura/Reenie has the same thoughts, though and pretty soon they retreat to the apartment. Before they can arrive there, though, they hear the dogs bark. Usually, they run free around the marina at night, but their barking now sounds like they are still locked in (concludes Matt, the dog whisperer).
They go and check on the dogs and they really are still locked in. Usually Jeff lets them out in the evening, but he’s nowhere to be seen. Matt gets a shotgun and they go to check out the shop and the apartment, where the dog went off to, once they were released.
Suddenly a car comes down the driveway. It’s Jeff, who’s furious. Somebody called him and told him that his wife, Donna, had some kind of seizure and was in the hospital. Jeff left at once, only to find Donna after some extensive searching at home, waiting for him with dinner (like any good wife would). So Jeff came back here to let the dogs out.
Jeff and Matt go to check out the shop/apartment and Maura/Reenie goes to comfort Pete. After an hour of unsuccessful searching the premises, Jeff drives home. Matt and Maura/Reenie talk a bit more to Pete, then they go to the apartment, but they don’t reach it this time either.
Maura/Reenie is scared and thinks about leaving. Matt tells her that she can’t leave now, like this [although a few hours before, he had suggested it himself…]. Instead they had to get offensive and get to the Driftwood Lodge in search of evidence.

Maura/Reenie has the key to the Lodge in the car, Matt got a gun from the gun cabinet before and so they take off, right there and then.
They park half a mile from the Lodge and make their way there.

She could see Matt ahead of her, moving silently and stealthily along the edge of the woods beside the long driveway. He stopped suddenly and signaled her to do the same. Maura froze in her tracks and peered past him into the darkness.
She heard the sharp rasp of a cigarette lighter, then caught the acrid smell of tobacco smoke. But she could see no flash of flame. The smoker must be around the corner. Focusing on the corner, she caught sight of a dark motionless figure. Had they been spotted?
Her heart pounding, she followed Matt’s lead and shrank back into the shadow of a scraggly pine tree. The man didn’t move or even seem to be looking in their direction. She didn’t recognize him, but she rarely saw the security people who patrolled the grounds at night. [Are two (yes, there’s another one) guards really necessary? I mean, it’s a restaurant, not a jeweller… But it’s probably a remote location, and they probably have diamond desks or something…]

They make their entrance without being caught. Matt stays in the kitchen, while Maura/Reenie goes to check the marzipan in the filing cabinet.

When she pulled out the bottom drawer, it squeaked so loudly that she was sure the security guards could hear it at the other end of the complex. She listened a moment, but heard no sound from the kitchen.
The box of marzipan bars was still there! She picked it up and opened it. As far as she could see, all the top layer contained was individually wrapped candy bars. Perhaps the disk was between layers. She picked up a handful. Underneath were only more bars. Under that, only cardboard. Damn! Her disappointment was bitter. They’d been counting on the disk being there.
Suddenly, she heard the muffled thud of something heavy hitting the floor on the other side of the door. Her heart leapt to her throat. Had something happened to Matt? She doused the flashlight and, ready to use it as a club if necessary, cautiously opened the door.
“Reenie!” The harsh whisper had to be Matt’s. “Turn your light on this guy.”
She thumbed the switch on the flashlight and aimed the beam towards the whisper. Matt was bent over binding the ankles and wrists of an unconscious man with what looked like black electrical tape.

Maura/Reenie doesn’t know the guy Matt just overpowered. He carried a gun that Maura/Reenie puts in her purse. They take the box of marzipan, even though it doesn’t contain the disk and get the hell out of there, running the half mile to the car. They reach it without any problem.

“What happened back there?” she asked when she was able to breathe again.
“I think that guy was expecting somebody. In the front part of the building somewhere. Right after that metallic squawk from the filing cabinet, I heard him moving through the lobby. I guess he saw the light moving under your office door. When he reached for the knob, I put him out.”
“What did you hit him with?”
“I didn’t.” Matt didn’t seem to want to talk about it but she waited him out. “I used an unarmed combat move on him,” he mumbled. “He’s probably awake and mad as hell right now.” [This reminds me of a story where some guy in a TV show checked the security measures at airports. Therefore, he asked some military guys, if they could kill someone with a nail clipper. They said that they’d throw away the nail clipper and would do it with bare hands instead…]
She had to face it. This was not a man who was ever going to be content settling down in a cozy cottage with a cook. Pete was right. This time next year, if not before, Matt would have left the marina behind and be sailing the high seas in search of adventure. [And this is the perfect time to worry about that. Just perfect.]

They start thinking about the box of chocolates. Matt suggest that there might be something else in there, so Maura/Reenie starts tearing the wrappers off and breaks the bars in half. She doesn’t eat any of it, which is such a waste, but she finds a key to a storage facility, which has a branch a few miles up. They drive there and don’t have any problems with accessing the storage unit. Inside they find a box, containing some papers and a laptop, which has to be the one stolen from Jon.  

Happy that it was that easy, they drive home in the wee hours of the morning [I love that phrase :)].

After trudging wearily up the stairs that seemed twice as steep as usual, Reenie unlocked the sliding glass doors. Matt carried the precious carton and deposited it inside the doorway of his room before turning to Reenie.
“It’s been a long, long night, sweetheart,” Matt said, taking her in his arms.
“And you didn’t spend it sitting on a metal roof!”
Standing in the doorway, leveling a snub-nosed Smith and Wesson .38 at them, was an uncharacteristically disheveled and disgruntled Walt Ames.

Well, wasn’t that obvious?


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