Her hand clasps mine. It feels like a slab of ice. Somehow I sense a shiver going through her spine, as if she’s been caught in the middle of some secret plot, as if she expects to pay the price, and pay it dearly.
The restaurant is already locked up for the night. The lights—those hanging over the dining tables and those fixed over the kitchen counters—have been off for quite a while. The wax candle, up on the tablecloth, has relinquished its last whiff of smoke hours ago. If anyone tries to peek in through the glass window, nothing can be spotted but a reflection of the empty parking lot, layered over a forest of wood legs, as the chairs have been turned upside down over all the other tables in preparation for sweeping the floor.
Who can it be, out there? Can he guess, somehow, that we’re cowering here, in the darkest corner?
“Let me in,” someone repeats, on the other side.
This time, despite the way sound is transformed when traveling through wood, I recognize his voice. I run to the door and—just to be on the safe side—put my ear against it. “Michael?”
“Yes, sweetheart,” he says. “It’s me.”
With a sigh of relief, I crack the door open for him.
“Where’s Browny?” I ask, not only because I need to know that my golden retriever is in a safe place but also because with him comes trouble. If my dog is here—with that surveillance device on his tail—then we’ll need to mind what we say. We’ll have to talk in code.
“I left him at your place.” Michael gives me a quick peck on my forehead. “Not to worry.”
Glancing at Karishma, whose face is still pale, he adds, “Sorry to pop in at such a late hour. Hope my knocking didn’t scare you.”
She shakes her head, no.
“I was getting worried about Ash.” He locks the restaurant door from the inside. “It’s just, I had to make sure both of you are OK.”
She gives him a faint smile, but her fingers continue to tremble. I wrap them in mine.
A minute later, her warmth is back.
“Just ignore me.” Michael picks up her cup and mine. “I’ll be over there, washing dishes. You go back to your conversation.”
Karishma gathers herself, with some effort, to her feet. “Why don’t you sit down? I’ll make some more Chai for all three of us.”
The narrator, Heather Jane Hogan, does an excellent job. Her voice has the perfect amount of excitement. I liked her portrayal of the various characters' voices.
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