Liz popped the final spark plug into place and stood to stretch the kinks out of her back and neck. She was surprised to find it was only a little after nine at night and was happy this was the last car of the day. A hot shower and a cold beer were calling her name.
As she went around and flipped the lights off in the shop, she stopped to take another look at the vehicle that had been dropped off earlier. Knowing she’d want to check it out first thing in the morning, Paul had parked it in the empty bay before leaving for the day. As she looked at it, she realized the dash would need to be completely dismantled in order to figure out what the problem was.
A problem for tomorrow, Liz reminded herself as she turned the music off. Even though Jimmy had locked up when he left for the day, she double-checked the front door before slipping out the back and heading up the stairs to her apartment.
Half an hour later, she stepped out of the bathroom, happy to be in her pajama pants and a tank top. She’d been listening to her stomach rumble for the last hour and knew she needed to find something to eat before indulging in the beer she pulled from the fridge. Deciding to let the food come to her, Liz went to order pizza when she realized she’d left her phone down in the garage.
Irritated, she stuffed her feet into slippers and pulled a cardigan around her shoulders before heading back downstairs. It might be summer, but the nights could still get chilly up in Maine.
She was halfway across the garage when she heard muffled voices approaching the door. What the hell? Did Paul come back to get started on that car? The old man worked harder than she did. She turned and was just about to call out when she spotted two strange men carrying a car jack and a large, red toolbox.
Liz’s heart jumped into her throat as she instantly dropped to the ground behind a car. Anger and panic warred in her chest. Had they seen her? Part of her wanted to flee; the other part wanted to confront whoever was in her garage. Before she could decide on a course of action, her attention tuned into what was being said.
“Peck! What did I tell you?! Did I not just say she lives upstairs? You gotta be fucking quiet!”
“Geez, Jonesy. You just get back into town and you’re already on my case? The toolbox is heavy. Next time you carry it.”
“Man up, will you? Damn crybaby. He’s going to be here any moment. If you wake her up and we’re discovered, both our heads are going to be on spikes.”
Liz froze in the shadows, unsure of what to do. She couldn’t call the cops until she got her phone, which was clear across the bay on the workbench. Deciding it would be better to get help some other way, she kept to the perimeter of the garage and began to circle back towards the door. She almost reached the exit when steely fingers grabbed the back of her neck.
Some deep, primal switch flipped in Liz. She clawed up at him, trying to wrench out of his grasp, but the man was too strong. Instead, he dragged her in towards the center of the room, out of the shadows and into the light.
“You idiots were supposed to be quiet.” At that last word, he tossed Liz to the ground in a heap. Instantly, she was back on her feet and vaulting towards the backdoor. Her slippers threatened to slide out from under her but she willed herself to go faster. The men shouted, their heavy boots pounding the concrete behind her.
Almost there! Her palm slammed against the door. Cool night air greeted her just before a pair of strong arms grabbed her shoulders and hauled her back into the shop. “NO!”
Liz struggled with everything she had. Desperate and trying to twist out of the man’s grasp, she screamed. Her assailant was too strong. He lifted her up and slammed her back down to the floor, knocking the breath out of her.
Shock ran through her as she came face-to-face with the man straddling her. Not even the polish and brass of his police uniform could hide the cruelty in the depths of his sneer.
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