The doors slammed shut behind her, but there was no time to waste checking if anyone was in pursuit. As Jessica hit the stairs, she could hear racing footsteps on the platform. Then there was some kind of crash. Please God, let that buy me some time!
The top of the stairs loomed above. Had Alanna’s boys been smart enough to post someone up there to catch her? No time to hesitate. She’d just have to hold tight to her giant shoulder bag and come out swinging.
Outside. The fresh evening air hit her at the same time she realized that no hoods lurked to grab her. But neither was there anyone to help her. Breathing raggedly, Jessica hurtled down 42nd Street, recognizing too late that she was actually moving away from her best source of help, Times Square. No time to double back, past the underground entrance that might even now be disgorging her pursuers. A glance back. A movement in the darkness? In the shrubs of Bryant Park? She couldn’t keep this pace up forever.
The Public Library loomed monstrously to her right. Yes, the library!
Putting on one more burst of speed, Jessica veered to her right onto 5th Avenue, her eyes fastening on the nearest of the library’s famous recumbent lion statues, its base cloaked in shadows. Another glance behind before the corner separated her from her pursuers’ vision, and vice-versa. Too hasty, nothing clear. And no cabs in sight to try and hop into!
Jess scrambled up the lowest, broadest portion of the stone steps leading into the library, then sank into the darkness at the statue’s base. A few quick, deep breaths were all she could afford before she had to focus on making herself undetectable to the eye and ear. All that mattered was melting into the shadows. Thank God she was wearing black, except for a white lace collar. Swiftly, her hand covered it.
…Footsteps came charging up and around the corner. Jessica couldn’t even gulp. She could only make the Deity a thousand promises for spiritual reform to get her out of this jam. And there was one message from the heart sent straight to James.
© Sharon Healy-Yang, Touchpoint Press, 2017. Do not copy or redistribute.