Excerpt: A Whisper In Time

Excerpt: A Whisper In Time

Book 2: Whisper Falls Series

The screams of a baby roused me from a light sleep. I pushed up from my shady spot under a tree and checked the position of the sun. Mark would be home soon. I had best go inside, bathe, and change into fresh clothes.

The knob of the back door refused to turn. I frowned in concentration. Had I locked myself out?

I tried again. It was indeed locked, and I had no key. There were numerous doors to this house. Perhaps one of them was open.

It took very few moments to discover that every door was locked.

I tried the garage last. It had a keypad that could raise the garage door, if only I could remember the correct numbers. Mark said that the numbers changed each month and reflected a special occasion. What was the holiday for September? Had it not occurred this Sunday?

9-1-1. Yes, that had to be it. I pressed the three buttons.

Nothing happened.

I tried again. There was no difference. Perhaps I should abandon the keypad. There might be a window left open.

I walked to the midpoint of the driveway and assessed the distance from the ground to the studio apartment. I had left a dormer window undone to allow in fresh air, but the pitch of the roof and the lack of trees would make climbing to that window most difficult.

A vehicle rolled behind me on the lane and stopped. A car door shut slowly with a deep ker-thunk. I glanced over my shoulder. A man in a dark uniform approached. He must be a member of law enforcement. An unfortunate circumstance.

“Hello,” I said, clasping my hands before me. “Are you a police officer?”

“I am,” he said, his voice clipped. “Who are you?”

“Susanna. How may I help you?”

“I was about to ask you the same thing.”

Were there not crimes to manage in this city? My problem seemed entirely too mundane to concern the police. “I cannot get into the house.”

“Why not?”

“It’s locked, and the keypad doesn’t work.”

“Ah. Do you know the combination?”

“Apparently not, else I should be inside now.”

His gaze narrowed. “Is this your house?”

“No, indeed. It belongs to the Lewis family, but I do sleep here.”

“Where do you sleep?”

“In the space over the garage.”

“Miss, I’ll need to see some ID.”

“I do not have any.”

“Is your ID in the space over the garage too?”

Had he not heard me? “I have no identification card. The government will not give me one.” I shook my head. America was far too concerned with identification.

“Miss, why don’t you come with me?” He caught my elbow and tried to tug me down the driveway.

“Pardon me, sir,” I said, pulling my arm from his grasp. “It isn’t proper for you to touch me so.”

He reached for me again. “Okay, that’s enough–“

“Hey,” a voice shouted.

“Merciful heavens,” I said. “There is Mark. Perhaps he can explain matters to you.”

Mark braked to a stop behind me. “What’s going on here?”

“Who are you?” the police officer asked.

“Mark Lewis. I live here.” He nodded toward me. “So does Susanna.”

“She lives here?”

“Mark, truly, that is too strong a statement. Your parents–“

“Shut up, Susanna.” He frowned at the officer. “Is there a problem?”

“We received an alert. I’m here to check on it.”

I was glad that Mark had come. He seemed far better prepared to address the police officer’s questions than I. Yet I didn’t think the lack of courtesy was warranted. “I’m locked out,” I explained to Mark.

“Did you try the keypad?”

I nodded. “I couldn’t get it to work.”

Mark closed his eyes, released a tight breath, and opened them again. “I apologize, Officer. This is just a big mistake. Susanna is new to the city and doesn’t understand how things work. But she does live at this house, and I have the key code. We’re good.” With that, he took out his phone, tapped out four numbers on its surface, and the garage door opened.

Mark asked me to hold onto his bike as he and the officer made their way back down the driveway. Out came the wondrous identification card that consumed this century. A few moments passed and the vehicle sped away. Mark walked back to me, took his bike, and proceeded to put it away. He remained silent throughout.

I walked past him, into the house, and up to the apartment. Ten minutes passed before I heard his tread on the stairs. There was a light rap on the door before he entered.

“What happened this afternoon?”

“I sat in your mother’s garden. I didn’t realize the door had locked behind me.”

“Don’t you know the code?”

“A rather foolish question, is it not? Had I known it, none of the remainder would’ve happened.” I did nothing to hide my frown. This first encounter with a law enforcement officer had been an unpleasant experience. Mark’s impatience was not helpful. “I thought it might be your Patriot Day but it–“

“Did you try 9-1-1?” At my nod, he groaned. “That’s for emergencies.”

“I am certain you mentioned it at one point.”

“Yeah, as in never use that code unless you have an emergency.” He shook his head. “Granddad’s birthday is September twenty-sixth. That’s the code.” He crossed the room and slumped onto the couch beside me. “Why did you go outside at all?”

“I had some hopeful news. It needed space to breathe.”

He exhaled noisily and then shifted to meet my gaze, his lips relaxing into a smile. “Okay, babe. Tell me your hopeful news.”