“Shelly? Shelly, are you down here,” Chan shouted through the door. “It’s locked. What is it with this place? Every door is locked.”
Mr. Ross gripped the door handle and pulled. The heavy steel door wouldn’t budge. “I’ll be back,” he said.
Chan waited and suddenly his eyes grew wide. Mr. Ross was back, and he was carrying that awful axe. “Not again,” he moaned.
“Stand back boy,” the man ordered.
Chan had no desire to be anywhere near that all-too-familiar weapon. He moved as far away as he could.
Shelly suddenly heard a loud crash on the door. “Oh my God,” she thought searching the dark. She crawled to a corner of the wall, cowering in case the demon had returned.
The axe struck again.
Shelly wondered where Allen was. Had the demon destroyed him? She had witnessed him fighting with the monster and believed he was no match for the gruesome creature. “Allen, where are you?”
The axe struck again and the door burst open.
Shelly screamed at the sight of the giant Mr. Ross, the axe in his hand, as he towered over
“Its’ okay, Shelly,” Chan said, scurrying past Mr. Ross, “You’re safe now.” He bent over her and Shelly, relieved to see the father had lowered the axe, reached up and pulled Chan toward her. Her grateful tears fell on his face and shoulder.
“Thank you,” she whimpered and kissed him on the cheek. “I was so terrified trapped down here. Thank you.” Her head rested on his shoulder, her legs still rubbery as Chan held her in his arms.
Chan found himself not wanting to let her go. As he held her he wondered how he could have wanted to hurt her. Dodd had warned him she was after their jobs and he’d be sent back to China, so he had been silent as Dodd had launched his attacks on the girl. He understood Dodd’s anger and fear, had shared them, but that wasn’t enough to try and kill her. He felt guilty he had not tried to stop Dodd as he found himself feeling tenderness for Shelly, his rival, he had not expected. “Come on, Shelly, it is okay now. I promise you, it will all be okay from now on.”
Allen had been completely spent by his efforts to fight the demon and save the girl, and had only just been able to come downstairs to check on Shelly. He was relieved to see she was okay, but surprised to see her snuggling into the Chinese boy’s shoulder. He winced at the almost inaudible sound of her lips kissing Chan’s cheek.
“Is she going to be okay,” Mr. Ross asked. “Do you need help carrying her up the stairs?”
“I can walk,” Shelly said, and leaning on Chan, managed to stand. “Thank you Chan,” she said. “Thank you for rescuing me.” She wondered where Allen was. Was he okay? She felt he was, but still didn’t trust her ability to share his emotions.
“He’s a hero, this Chinese kid,” the father said. “He saved my whole family singlehanded.”
“I didn’t,” Chan said, wishing he understood what really happened.
“He’s being modest,” Mr. Ross said. “Without him, we’d all been cooked.”
“I’m not a hero,” Chan said wanting to tell Shelly about the voice that had driven him to help, but she was smiling so warmly at him that the words failed to emerge from his mouth.
“I won’t forget your bravery,” Mr. Ross said.
“Neither will I,” Shelly murmured holding Chan’s arm.
“That’s right boy, you take all the credit,” Allen thought, wondering if Shelly was ever going to call for him. Didn’t she want to know where he was…didn’t she care if he’d survived?
“Please Shelly,” Chan said, “Let me help you up the stairs?” Shelly felt weak. “Okay, but give me a minute.”
Chan thought she was still dizzy or faint so he held her around her waist as he waited.
Shelly was searching the basement. She wanted to call Allen, to see if he was okay, but surrounded by all these people, she couldn’t risk it. “I’m ready now,” she said and with Chan’s help she pulled herself up the stairs and back into the light.
Allen watched her silently from a corner of the basement. He saw her head drop down on Chan’s shoulder, her arm nestled in his arm. He felt weak and wondered if he was going to recover this time. It didn’t matter. Shelly was safe. She had Chan to help her now. He had never thought of Chan as someone she could be interested in. Dodd, that insane mysterious character, he had been the one Allen had thought was the real threat. He had picked up Shelly’s interest in the wild-eyed Dodd, had even gotten glimpses of her desire for him…there had been no such romantic images of Chan. But there you have it, he mused, women are totally unpredictable, and Shelly, he had long ago concluded was very much a woman with needs he could never hope to satisfy. So why did he feel so jealous? Was that what he was feeling as he heard her kiss that young man’s cheek? He didn’t mind when the basement door was closed and he was left alone in the dark. It was as if he belonged here.