HIDER IN THE HOUSE – Episode Four
From the far side of the kitchen island, Hallie watched Thomas chop onions while her mouth watered at the thought of a full breakfast. The scent of frying bacon filled the air, mingling with the coffee aroma and now the pungent onions. After two days of sneaking crackers and peanut butter and grapes, she was starving with a capital S.
She’d never been one to shy away from a meal. Raised by an army father who’d later joined the CIA, she’d taken his long-ago advice when she’d resisted eating broccoli the first time. “You never know when you’ll have another meal, kid. You better eat up.” As was his habit, he’d followed those words of wisdom with a captivating story from his years in far-flung battles against questionable enemies. Even during childhood Hallie had suspected he greatly embellished those stories for her benefit, making what must have been the drudgery of military life seem exciting and adventurous. But whatever story he chose to tell to reinforce his words of wisdom stayed with her.
Thomas transferred the strips of perfectly browned bacon to a plate he’d covered with paper towels. After he drained most of the grease out of the pan into a small bowl, he scraped the onion from the cutting board into the pan and set it back on the burner. He lowered the heat and shook the pan to create an even layer of onion.
Not professional, but Thomas had a few chef-like moves. She liked a man who could cook. Thomas seemed to be the real deal. He took a block of cheddar cheese and began grating it until he had a good amount. The onions had softened by then, and he added a little of the bacon grease back to the pan, stirring it around before he poured in the eggs.
“Want me to toast these?” Hallie asked indicating the English muffins she’d put in the toaster.
Thomas gave the eggs a stir. “Give it a minute or two,” he said. “Butter in the fridge if you want to put that on the table.”
Hallie did. Her stomach growled longingly, tormented by the promise of food her nose was sending it.
SHOULD THOMAS WEAR GLASSES?
“Okay, you can toast those now,” he informed her. Apparently the eggs had reached a point where they became one with the toaster and all the breakfast components would unite to be ready at the same time. “And put the bacon on the table.”
“Yes, sir.” She saluted him as she walked it over.
“Not really in a position to be too cocky, are you?” he muttered.
Hallie hated that he had the upper hand. It wasn’t fair. She was in his house because she had to be. What was she going to do? She didn’t know who she could trust. Someone had killed Erin. Hallie had to assume it was because of her. As if that guilt weighing on her wasn’t enough, she was only too aware of her own precarious situation. She really needed to make nice to Thomas so he wouldn’t turn her in. Not until she was ready to be turned in. Or until she figured out who exactly had murdered Erin and why.
“Sorry.” It pained her to say it, but she did. “I haven’t really eaten these past couple of days. Low blood sugar makes me cranky.”
The muffins popped just as Thomas removed the cheese-topped eggs from the burner. He turned it off and divided the eggs onto two plates. He held them out and she added an English muffin to each. He took them to the table while she warmed their coffees and brought them over.
“Orange juice in the fridge if you want some,” he said as he sat.
Hallie joined him. They stared at each other across the small table. Like an old married couple, she thought, dividing up the tasks, dancing to each other’s beat.
“Are we saying grace?” she asked.
Thomas snorted. “That’d be a first.”
That was all the encouragement she needed. She dug into the eggs. While she chewed the first bite she helped herself to bacon and butter. Nary a crumb remained on her plate by the time she looked up to find Thomas, with his plate still half-full, looking mildly amused.
Hallie reached for her coffee. She subtly eyed the remaining slices of bacon. “Are you going to eat that?” she asked.
“I’d be afraid I might lose my hand if I try. It’s all yours.”
“Thank you,” she said in an exaggeratedly lady-like tone. She transferred the bacon to her plate. “Would you mind if I had another English muffin?”
She was sure he was trying hard not to laugh when he said, “By all means.”
She picked up her plate and munched a slice of bacon on her way to the toaster.
“So how did you get in here anyway?” Thomas asked. He leaned back in his chair and picked up his coffee. Good, Hallie thought. He’s relaxing. She had to turn him completely to her side because he wasn’t going to be happy when he learned she needed to sit tight for a couple of weeks.
“Your cleaning lady was taking out the trash. She left the garage door open.”
“And what? You just waltzed in?”
“I hardly waltzed.” Hallie bristled. Evidently, Thomas did not understand the desperateness of her situation. “I was running for my life.”
He inclined his head as if in agreement, but he still looked too skeptical for Hallie’s liking.
“And then what?”
The English muffins popped and Hallie walked back to the table with them. She concentrated on spreading an even layer of butter on each before she answered. “I hid under the bed,” she said simply. She took a satisfying bite of muffin and watched Thomas absorb this information.
He leaned forward and crossed his arms on the table, his eyes boring into her. “Let me get this straight. You’ve been living under my bed. For two days.”
She lifted a shoulder and let it drop. “Well, I wasn’t under the bed the whole time. Only when you were here.”
His eyes narrowed. “You were in my bedroom? You were watching me?”
“Unh-unh. No. I wasn’t watching you. I couldn’t from where I was. Not that I would have,” she assured him. He didn’t look at all reassured. “All I ever saw of you were your feet. They’re very nice, by the way.”
Thomas appeared dumb-founded. “I don’t believe this. You’ve been in my house for two days and I never picked up on it. How is that possible?”
“I was very quiet.”
“I don’t believe his,” Thomas repeated. “So when I left…”
“I had the run of the place.” Hallie grinned just to mess with him. “I memorized your bank account number, your passwords, the settings on your TV—”
©Barbara Meyers 2019
Hider in the House is a work in progress I’m sharing with readers as I’m writing it. This material is copyrighted and is not to be copied but these blog posts may be shared.
ABOUT HIDER IN THE HOUSE EPISODES: I started this “story” in 2017 and then I got distracted by other writing projects. I unearthed it yesterday and wrote 2000 more words. I never intended to write it as a book, but…maybe I will. Someday. Right now it’s only on my blog. Should I keep working on it? Let me know in the comments. If you want to read the earlier episodes you can find them here:
HIDER IN THE HOUSE EPISODES ON BLOG: