Floored(3)By: Melanie Harlow
I tried the handle. Locked.
Exhaling in relief, I walked to the back of my townhouse, through the small front room and dining room into the kitchen.
Which was where I panicked.
Because the back door was open.
Frantically, I scanned the kitchen counters, my breath trapped in my lungs.
My purse was gone.
My computer was gone.
My iPad was gone.
My phone was gone.
For a few moments, I stood blinking in disbelief, like maybe there was some mistake and I’d somehow simply misplaced the items. But all the power cords and chargers were there, and I knew I’d plugged my phone in after hanging up with that mother earlier. It didn’t take long before reality sank in—I’d forgotten to lock the door. Someone had been in here and stolen my things.
Someone could still be in here.
Too stunned and scared to even make a sound, I bolted back through the dining room and front room and right up the stairs to my bedroom, where (at my mother’s insistence) I had an actual land line phone.
I locked the door and dialed 911, gave the dispatcher my address and a rundown—leaving out the part about showering with Brad Pitt—and told her I was staying put until the cops checked the entire house and told me it was safe to come out.
I forgot about the Box of Sexy.
It was that kind of day.
I waited under my covers the entire time the police were checking the house, about twenty minutes. I had the phone under there with me, and I called both Mia and Coco, but neither of them answered their phones. I left messages, telling them what happened and begging both of them to call me back. I would’ve called my mother, but she’d left this morning for a twelve-day religious pilgrimage to Spain. I should have gone with her, like she wanted me to. Now God is punishing me! He knows I have unholy thoughts about Brad Pitt (a married man!) and now I have to pay for it!
A knock sounded on my locked bedroom door, making me jump.
“Ma’am? We’ve checked the house. There’s no one here.” The officer’s voice was deep and reassuring. “When you’re ready, we’d like to speak with you. We’ll wait in the kitchen.”
I peeked out from the covers, eyeing the door suspiciously. “How do I know you’re really the police and not the intruder?”
“Well, you could open the door and take a look at me in uniform.”
“No way. Slide your badge under the door or something.” That’s what they did in the movies, right?
“Come on, Erin. Open the door.”
“No. And how do you know my name?”
“The police department has all kinds of useful information, like who lives where. Either that or I’m psychic.”
I made a face at the door. Did I know this guy? His voice was familiar somehow, but I couldn’t think of who it could be. “I’m not in the mood for jokes.”
“You never did have much of a sense of humor. Now come on out and see me in uniform. I think you’ll be impressed. The ladies usually are.”
My jaw dropped. Who on earth was this? Curiosity got the better of me, and I threw the covers off and jumped out of bed. In front of the door I paused for a second, my hand on the handle, thinking that if it was a scary hairy madman I’d be ready to give him a great big grand battement to the balls. Then I turned the handle and yanked it open.
The crazy thing was, he was so handsome I had the fleeting thought this whole burglary thing was a hoax and this “cop” was actually a stripper. For a second I just stared at him, half expecting him to rip open his shirt at the chest and start gyrating.
Confession: I really, really wished he would. (For a couple of reasons.)
But he didn’t.
“Have I changed that much, Red?”
It hit me. “Oh my God. Charlie Dwyer. You’re a cop?”
He smiled, and if he hadn’t been such a turd when we were younger, I might have melted right there at his feet. As it was, I could only shake my head in disbelief at this nightmare—not only had more than two thousand dollars’ worth of electronics been stolen from my townhouse while I was upstairs getting myself off, but here to protect me was the bully next door who’d kidnapped my hamster for ransom and held up my charity lemonade stand with a Taser. And he was drop-dead gorgeous! Where was the justice in the world?