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24

Fleeced

It didnt take long for Janey to find herself standing outside the old brownstone that Ben Carney had lived in for thirty years. After his divorce, Ben had wanted to live closer to the club. Hed been thrilled to find an apartment just a few blocks south of the club, within walking distance of his home away from home.

Janey took a deep breath and pushed the buzzer labeled CARNEY. She waited. The air felt raw, and she shivered underneath her beige wool coat. She looked up and down the street. There was no one around. Janey pulled out the keys and let herself into the vestibule where the mailboxes were located. She could see that the one marked CARNEY had mail in it.

So far, so good, she thought. She unlocked the second door, stepped inside, shut the door behind her, and hurried up the staircase. Bens apartment was on the second floor at the top of the stairs.

Janey stopped at Bens door, unlocked it quickly, and pushed it open. It rumbled slightly. She ducked into the apartment, bolted the door behind her, and breathed a sigh of relief. I cant believe Im doing this, she thought.

The whole place was eerily quiet. Even though the apartment was neat, it seemed to Janey to have a neglected, sad air, as though it knew the owner wasnt coming back. Just yesterday she had been here bringing food

And now Im coming to take it away! Janey pushed the thought from her mind and went down the hallway into the kitchen. It was big and old-fashioned, with a small butlers pantry/closet off to one side. Janey placed her thermal carrying case on the floor next to the refrigerator, opened the door, and proceeded to empty the refrigerator of her home-cooked meal. Her chicken, potatoes, vegetables, stuffing, and pie safely tucked in her case, she opened the freezer to see what else she might salvage. Janey laughed. A Tupperware container full of lasagna. She grabbed it and bent down to place it on top of the vegetables.

Suddenly she felt a presence. In an instant a hand came from behind and sprayed her eyes with Mace.

Aaaah! Janey cried as she struggled with her attacker. But her eyes were burning, and she was thrown completely off balance. Within seconds she had been pushed into the tiny, dark closet, with the door slammed shut and locked behind her.

Let me out! she cried as she banged on the impossibly heavy door. But it was no use. She knew whoever threw her in here wasnt going to let her out. She was lucky they hadnt really hurt her.

She sank to the floor in the near darkness, just a sliver of light from the kitchen filtering in from the crack under the door. The reality of what had just happened started to hit her. Oh my God! she thought. This is humiliating! How can I ever live this down? If Im ever rescued, Thomas will surely dump me! As her tears started to flow, she decided that if she did get out, Mrs. Buckland could cook for herself from now on.


| Fleeced | c