He wasn’t as tall as Lucky, but he was heavier. He wore a clean shirt, and
his dark hair was combed back, so slick with either water or gel that I could
see lines of scalp between the rows. He smelt like cigarette smoke and didn’t
look pleased to see me.
“Is Ruby here?” His voice was brusque and sharp.
I opened my mouth to tell him to try next door then, with a jolt,
remembered my promise. I cleared my throat. “Who?”
“Ruby. Ruby Burrell.” Irritation flitted over his features.
I deliberately kept my face blank as I shrugged. “Sorry, no one by that
name here. ” He rubbed a hand across his mouth, his dark eyes darting over my shoulder to peer inside my home. “She might be going by another name, like Ruby Coombs.”
“I don’t know any Ruby. You’ve got the wrong address.”
I tried to close the door, but his arm shot out to hold it open. He was taller
than me, and I don’t think it was accidental that he appeared to loom. “It’s
very important that I find her. I’m afraid she may be in trouble. She listed this
house as her business address. She could be going under a different first
name, too.” Again, his eyes flitted over my shoulder, as though he expected to see her hiding in the hallway. “Ruby makes dolls. She’s small with light
hair and blue eyes. She would have moved in within the last few weeks. Do
you know anyone, anyone at all, who you think matches that description?”
“No.” My mind was screaming, but I met his gaze unflinchingly. I put my
hands on the door and the wall so that he wouldn’t see them shake. “No one
else lives here. But if you ever do find this Ruby, please tell her not to use my
address. I don’t appreciate unsolicited calls.”
He puckered his lips in frustration. His dark eyes continued to search my
face, so I set my jaw and levelled a glare back at him. He released the door
and stepped back. “Fine. Sorry for taking up your time.”
I locked the door as soon as it closed and pressed my back to the cool
wood. I felt as though I’d been exposed to a fire—something dangerous,
wild, and burning within the confines of a pit, but desperate to break out.
The window beside the door overlooked the street. I tweaked the corner
of the curtain back and peered through. The man walked towards a red sports
car parked in the opposite gutter but stopped part way across the street.
Don’t come back. I won’t answer the door.
He turned towards Ruby’s mansion.
No. How? Did he see her through the window?
I scurried into the kitchen to get a better view, grabbing the wall phone as
I passed it. The curtain obscured the house’s side, so I yanked it up, not
worried if the man saw me, and leaned over the bench to get close to the
He’d stopped at the start of Marwick’s driveway, next to the mailbox.
Ruby had placed a large blue pot there the day before. He stared at it for a
long time. Then he lifted his eyes towards Ruby’s house. I poised my fingers
over the phone’s buttons, even though the police always took too long to
respond to requests about the Marwick house.
The man lingered on the driveway for close to ten minutes, not moving,
just staring. I matched his intensity with my own glare, daring him to take
even a single step onto Ruby’s private property. Finally, he spat on the
ground then turned and strode back to his car.
I only relaxed when the bright-red vehicle had disappeared past the end of
the street. I hung the phone back on its cradle and ran my hands through my
hair. I was shaking, but I didn’t know why.
Did Ruby see him? Her workroom is in the back half of the house.
I jogged to the hallway and tugged my coat on. Our street was so safe that
I normally left the door unlocked, but I deliberately pulled the bolt as I left.
Lucky crouched among the petunias hedging a house across the street. He
rose and trotted across the road as he saw me, tail quivering to signal he
wanted pats, but he came to a halt a few feet shy of the border to Marwick
House. I held out my hand to invite him forward, but he sat and curled his tail
around his feet, his big gold eyes watching me warily. I thought I heard his
grumbling growl reverberate.