“Micah?” The whisper slipped from my lips, sounding more like hope than surety.
He hesitated, looking back at the tall, blond man beside him.
“Not tonight, Micah,” he whispered. I don’t think he meant for me to hear, but the drizzling rain--already melting into the humid air--seemed to muffle everything else.
My feet stumbled forward, down the stone steps. “No. Wait.”
The man looked right at me and shook his head. “Not tonight.” He took Micah’s arm, trying to drag him away. “They know we’re here. Let’s go.”
But Micah didn’t move. He took a step toward me. The hard look softened, his features became more recognizable. The little boy I lost moved toward me.
“Eve?” Darion’s voice cut across the muted night. I turned and saw him skipping down the steps to me. “Security says there’s rebels in the vicinity, probably trying to get a crack at Dad before he’s made president. Come inside.”
I looked back, needing to warn Micah. His dark head, bobbing beside the lighter toned one of his friend, disappeared into the blackness.
Micah’s not dead. The discovery floated on the surface of my subconscious, unable to really sink in. For three years the eyes of a boy, pinned to the ground of our house, unable to stop Mr. Isoli’s men, haunted my thoughts. I imagined those same eyes lifeless in so many ways, yet they’d stared into mine tonight; filled with more hatred than before, but burning with passion. And alive.
“Eve? What is it? Come in. It’s dangerous tonight. The rebels are going to think Dannah’s death is an excuse to try and take control. Come in.” Darion’s hand clasped my arm. He led me, while I still stared into the blackness that swallowed Micah moments before, up the stairs and back into the house. “What was that about, Eve?” Darion shut the door behind us and turned to me, his expression filled with genuine concern.
“My brother,” I whispered. You shouldn’t have said that, Eve. Already Micah’s warning voice took over my thoughts.
“What about him?” Darion narrowed his eyes.
I blinked and bit my lip. “Nothing.” Shaking my head I moved past Darion. “Nothing. Everything feels so acute tonight, that’s all. I was thinking of him all day.” I pushed myself toward the kitchen. So much to clean up. So much to do. If Mr. Isoli has his way, he’ll relocate this entire household to the East Wing of the capital within the week.
I paused long enough to chance a look at Darion. “I’ll send David around the house to make sure everything’s locked up tight.”
Darion chuckled, but it didn’t sound right. “I’m sure security has taken care of that.”
I smiled, knowing it probably looked off as well. “Good night, Darion. Thanks for coming to look for me. It was very thoughtful.” I didn’t wait for an answer before disappearing behind the swinging doors of the kitchen.
Sunlight beamed through the floor to ceiling windows the next morning, the moisture from the night before forgotten. But memories of Micah left a fog in my mind. I tried to reconcile my 14-year-old brother with the rebel that had stood outside the side door.
I watched the gleaming metal whisk swirl round and round in the malted waffle batter. I’d made it more for Micah this morning than for anyone else. When our parents were alive, Mom made it as a treat whenever she could afford the malt. Micah would devour stacks of them as Mom tossed waffle after waffle onto his plate. Micah never gave Mom sour faces about the cheap meals she improvised then.
The doorbell rang. I jumped, remembering what that sound had signalled the night before. I pushed the batter bowl across the stainless steel counter top toward Sarah. “Get these on the griddle, Sarah.”
I wiped my hands on a towel before leaving the kitchen. Mr. Isoli preferred that I answered the door whenever possible. He liked the professional, rigid appearance it gave his household. I expected to see more men in suits, so the appearance of Mrs. Isoli’s doctor, Olivia Braga put an easy smile on my face.
“Good morning, Dr. Braga. You came even quicker than I expected. For you that’s an accomplishment.” I held out my hand to usher her into the foyer.
She stepped inside, swinging a bulging, and characteristically fashionable, designer bag at her hip. Dr. Braga beamed at me, her deep green eyes shining. “Thank you, Eve. I was in the neighborhood already. Seems last nights news caused Mrs. Shomer some anxiety. Her housekeeper called this morning, convinced Mrs. Shomer was having a heart attack.” Dr. Braga leaned over and whispered conspiratorially, “President Dannah once took her to a school prom back in the day. His death is quite a shock to her, despite his protracted illness.”
I bit back a smile. “I’m sure. I’ll stop by today and console her.” I moved forward to lead Dr. Braga up to Mrs. Isoli’s room.
“That’s very kind of you, Eve. Your company will probably heal her palpitations much quicker than anything I can recommend. How is Mrs. Isoli this morning.”
We paused at the bottom of the stairs. I shook my head, frowning. “Not well at all. She stayed up much too late last night, and pushed herself past what she should have at the party. She should’ve been in bed at 8, but I think it was past midnight before she slept.”
Dr. Braga sighed and mounted the first step. “I see. Has she eaten anything this morning?”
“Some herbal teal, ginger; but she didn’t keep it down very long.”
Dr. Braga nodded and leaned toward me again. “Between you and me, Eve, I don’t think that Mr. Isoli succeeding President Dannah will be the best thing for his wife’s health.”
I agreed, but I didn’t dare voice it.
Dr. Braga smiled, taking to the stairs again. I moved to follow. “There’s no need to show me the way, Eve,” she said. “I smell waffles, don’t I? You’re famous malted recipe? Do you think they’ll be an extra for me?”
“Of course. Stop by the kitchen before you leave.”
“I’ll make sure to.” Dr. Braga hurried up the rest of the stairs, nodding respectfully, but not stopping when she met Mr. Isoli.
“Are those waffles I smell, Eve?” he asked.
I forced a smile at his cheerful visage. I didn’t know the details, but I was certain Mr. Isoli’s friends had assured him the presidential seat the night before. “Yes, Mr. Isoli. I’ll have Sarah bring your plate into the dining room.”
He patted me on the shoulder. “Very good, Eve. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Mr. Isoli.” I watched him stroll into the dining room before hurrying back to the kitchen.
Darkness wrapped around the house, but I found myself on the side steps that night, staring out into it with hope.
What night would Micah come back to me?
Shadows paraded up and down the street, guards keeping a careful watch for rebels out to take advantage of President Dannah’s death. My fourteen year-old brother would’ve risked it to see me. I didn’t know about the 17-year-old one.
So I tried to pierce the too-warm darkness and figure out how to see Micah again.
Now that Eve knows Micah is alive, she wants to see him again. Should she risk her position and safety with the Isolis to find him? Or should she wait and hope that Micah tries to contact her?