Kade was gone by time we woke up the next morning and Ghost wasn’t willing to give any details of where he had disappeared to or when. He was lucky that I was still tired so I didn’t press it. My guess was that Kade had gone home to sleep in his own bed after his adventures in saving our butts last night. I’d give him a few more hours of sleep then go pounding on his apartment door to see if I could weasel more information out of him. It wasn’t likely, but worth a try.
Ghost dropped me off first, and I got the impression from the sly smile on Sam’s face she wasn’t all that upset about it. I think she liked the idea of spending some time alone with him. Even after all we had been through, Sam couldn’t resist an attractive man and Ghost was definitely attractive. Lucky for me he didn’t affect my senses in the same fashion Kade did.
I had just walked (okay, tripped) into the building foyer when Mrs. K emerged from Kade’s apartment.
I tried not to flinch at the obnoxiously tight outfit she wore so early in the morning, but I will admit I probably failed. (I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I’m not that good of an actress.)
With her hair twisted up in a messy knot, today’s monstrosity of an outfit consisted of far too tight black yoga pants that left nothing to the imagination. Thankfully it was covered in part by an overstretched grey t-shirt that clung to every curve, nook and cranny. Her makeup was loudly garish as usual, done eighties style with blue eye shadow up to her eyebrows and thickly penciled eyeliner. Her cheeks were clown red, sweeping from the front of her cheek bones all the way to her ears. The entire look washed out her fair complexion completely, giving her a look that screamed Bozo’s mom.
“Hey Mrs. K,” I said with what I hoped was a friendly smile and not one that conveyed I was afraid her bad taste would rub off on me if I stepped too close. “Haven’t seen you in a while. You look good. Apparently jail suits you well.”
She laughed and waved me off. “Oh, that was nothing. You should have seen me in the seventies. A real flower-power-independent-wasn’t-taking-shit-from-anyone type of gal. If I wasn’t getting locked up every other day for some random reason or another, then something wasn’t right,” she said with a grin.
I smiled and nodded, praying she wouldn’t elaborate any more than that.
“Kade told me what happened a couple weeks ago and how you went all Incredible Hulk on him and two cops. And as weird as it is to say after that description, it really means a lot to me that you defended me like that.”
She smiled and pulled me into a warm embrace, crushing the air out of my lungs.
“I would never let anyone hurt you,” she said into my ear as she rocked me back and forth.
I bit back tears, whether from the lack of oxygen or the fact I was getting all emotionally choked up, I wasn’t sure. Mrs. K was not exactly what I would envision for the motherly type, but then again, neither was my own mother. But the simple fact that she said just the right thing and had done what I would not have been brazen enough to do meant more to me then I could ever accurately describe.
After a moment, she thankfully let me go, wiping her own eyes causally as though she was hoping that I wouldn’t notice the fact she too was a little emotional after our little exchange, which for us was completely outside our normal interactions.
“I take it you and Kade kissed and made up,” I said, thinking of something to break the ice.
She looked at me and frowned.
“I hadn’t realized that the two of you had become friends,” I said, motioning towards Kade’s apartment.
She looked over her shoulder than back to me, laughing and waving me off.
“Like hell. Don’t get me wrong, that man could certainly butter my biscuit any day of the week and twice on Sundays, but we are not friends,” she replied.
“Oh,” I replied awkwardly. “I just figured you two were being civil now since you just left his apartment.”
Again, she gave me a weird look.
“Bart is out of town and asked me to pick up the keys,” she replied.
Bart was our landlord, and I remembered that from time to time Mrs. K would do odd favors for him around the building.
“Picking up the keys?” I asked quizzically.
She nodded. “The painters are coming in tomorrow to repaint before the new tenant moves in so he asked me to pick up the keys so that I could let them in.”
“A new tenant? Where’s Kade?”
“Is that his name?” she asked in a rather snarky way.
I resisted rolling my eyes.
“Yes,” I said simply instead.
She shrugged and brushed off invisible lint on her shirt. “He moved out yesterday from what I understand.”
“Yesterday,” I said surprised.
How the hell could he have had time to move out yesterday when he was off saving my ass (again)?
“Seems rather suddenly,” I said, probing for info but trying to appear as if I wasn’t.
She shrugged again. “Moving company showed up yesterday while he was out and left the keys on the counter. He may have been a hoodlum, but he left the place spotless. You can’t even tell he was there.”
I couldn’t wrap my mind around what she was telling me. After bodies, bogeymen, henchmen, explosions, and gunfire she was telling me that Kade had time to pack up his apartment and basically disappear like a thief in the night. It didn’t make sense.
“Are you okay sweetie?” Mrs. K asked me with a concerned furrow in her brow. “You seem upset.”
Upset? The guy I was lusting after, the guy that had saved my ass (sadly on more than one occasion), had just disappeared without saying a word.
I tried to recover quickly.
“No, I’m fine,” I said, brushing off her comment with a pathetic laugh. “I just wasn’t aware he was moving.”
She nodded. “Bart said it was rather sudden, especially since his rent was paid up for another three months. He told Bart to keep the cash and let the moving people in. You know Bart. He saw dollar signs and immediately leased out the apartment to double his income for a few months. Smart play actually, because if I had been your friend, I would have asked for my money back, especially since he didn’t sign a lease.”
I nodded, barely hearing what she was saying…until a thought popped in my head.
“Do you know when it was he moved in? I mean, I know he’s been here a couple of months, but I don’t remember exactly when he moved in?” I asked.
She stared up at the ceiling thoughtfully.
“If I recall correctly, he rented the place about five months ago, but he didn’t move in right away. Moved in maybe three or four months ago. Bart commented on how it seemed strange someone would pay for an apartment and not move into for a while but considering the type of shady character he appeared to be, it doesn’t surprise me much really,” she replied.
I nodded. “I barely know him but I’m finding that nothing really surprises me about him anymore.”
She gave me an odd look and I knew an interrogation was on the horizon.
“Well, I better get upstairs and get some rest,” I said, pointing over my shoulder to my apartment, as though she didn’t know where the hell I lived. “Sam and I had a long night and I didn’t catch enough zzz’s. I’m dead on my feet.”
She gave me a pathetic smile but thankfully didn’t ask any further questions as I suddenly turned on my heel and started climbing up the stairs.
I made it to the first landing before I leaned over the railing and called out to Mrs. K just as she was making her way toward the front door.
She turned back to me.
“You don’t happen to know what Kade’s last name was, do you?” I asked hopefully.
She chewed her bottom lip for a second, looking thoughtful.
“No,” she finally said. “Now that you mention it, I don’t think Bart knew either. Your friend paid in cash so I don’t think Bart asked many questions. And since he didn’t pose any problems while he was here, his last name wasn’t an issue.”
It seemed rather odd that Bart would rent out an apartment to someone he didn’t know and certainly didn’t have a last name for, but then again, Bart was overly greedy so when cash speaks, he doesn’t ask questions.
“Thanks Mrs. K,” I said and jogged up the steps.
Home sweet home, I thought as I reached my front door. I hesitated for a moment, almost afraid to enter since I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially when you consider the circumstances I had left it in.
I opened the door slowly, prepared for the worse. Thankfully everything looked perfectly normal. Not a single thing out of place.
I flipped on every light switch within my reach and peeked around every corner and in every closet. My heart threatened to jump out of my chest with every glance, but thankfully I found no bogeymen hiding or jumping out of the shadows.
So far so good. Now to check the back, where Deathly Blond had tried to shoot me in the shower.
Chewing my bottom lip nervously, I made my way to the back of the apartment, heading towards the bathroom. Once again I started to feel nervous, almost afraid, to see the aftermath of Kade and Deathly Blonds struggle. No doubt it was going to be a mess and I didn’t know if I had the stomach to clean it up. It may be easier to just move.
I made my way through my bedroom and into the bathroom.
What I found shocked me more than I thought it would.
The bathroom door was bare any bullet holes and so was the shower. The shower curtain hung perfectly off to the right, my towels were folded and neatly stacked on the shelf, my random toiletries were aligned neatly on the bathroom counter, and most surprisingly, there was not a single trace of blood. It was immaculate, as though nothing life threatening had occurred here. Someone had cleaned everything up and set the room back to its original state.
Kade and the cleanup crew he had called from his apartment immediately came to mind.
The fear and tension I had been feeling melted away and I sagged against the wall in relief. I was grateful beyond words for what was clearly not a little favor. I had been dreading seeing the carnage and I was beyond ecstatic that I could live in ignorant bliss of what really happened here.
I backed out of the bathroom and sat on the bed, laying back with a yawn and debating the merits of a shower before trying to get more sleep. In all honesty, it seemed like a lot of work and considering I barely had any energy as it was, I scrapped the idea and grabbed a pillow, tucking it under my head.
I yawned again and rolled onto my side, pulling my legs into the fetal position. I sighed in contentment, enjoying the feel of my overstuffed bed and comfy pillow.
Oh sleep. How I love thee.
I was almost asleep when the soft crinkle of what sounded like paper caught my attention.
I stopped moving, listening again for the sound. I didn’t know where it came from and since I didn’t hear it again I went back to snuggling with my pillow and heard it again.
I sat up, moving my pillow aside and found a crumbled piece of paper underneath.
I sat up, sleepiness forgotten in place of curiosity.
I unfolded the piece paper and smirked at the hastily written note.
Next time Princess, beware of strange neighbors. – K
I shook my head and smiled. For someone so impersonal, this little gesture spoke volumes.
I laid back on my pillow, wondering if I would ever know who Kade really was or if I would ever see him again. Common sense told me that it wasn’t likely considering what little I knew of him, but then again, my common sense and I are rarely on speaking terms.
I read the note over and over again until I finally drifted off and dreamt about my mysteriously dangerous and overly sexy ex-neighbor Kade (Last Name Unknown).
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