Nico sat against the far wall, hugging his knees and keeping an eye on the woman in his bed. It wasn’t her beauty that held him captive; it was the gun in her hand that kept him submissive and unmoving. He was tired, but how could he sleep with someone invading his life like that? Did she know who he was? Was he her target? Nico counted the hours until it was time to get up, pretend to get ready for work, and escape. But then a thought occurred to him. Just because he had to get up and resume his life, it didn’t mean she would leave. Maybe she wanted to kidnap him? But then she wouldn’t sleep on his bed; they would be long gone. He wanted to groan but was afraid to wake the stranger on his bed. The entire situation was unpredictable. Uncertain. He didn’t like that. He loved his routines and his structured life. He needed them to continue his inconspicuous life. A stranger entering his life in the middle of the night was not his idea of routine. It was a sure way to chaos and mayhem. Nico rolled his eyes and got up. It was time to man up and face the situation. His glasses lay on his nightstand, and he fumbled for them in the near dark.
The rustling close to her head woke Lily up. Disoriented in a strange place, she sat up and pointed the gun at the stranger staring at her. She saw his pale face and how his Adam’s apple moved when gulped. The tension was visible in the protruding tendons on his neck, but there was also defiance in his stance.
“What were you doing?” She asked, making sure that her voice held enough venom to keep the man from trying anything stupid. Then again, he could have easily overpowered her in her sleep. She coursed again, throwing her legs off the bed. One foot touched the hardwood floor, the other foot felt skin and bones against her sole; she had set her foot on his. It took all her strength not to cringe and maintain her stoic and powerful façade.
“Glasses. I need them,” Nico stuttered, pulling away from Lily.
“Lights!” She ordered, and he just nodded in the near-dark, doing as he was told.
“Time?” Lily demanded.
“5:30. Please lady, I don’t want any trouble. Just, please leave so that I can go to work. Please?” The man was brave yet agitated. Lily smiled to herself, an easy victim.
“Sorry, no work for you today, Stutter,” Lily laughed. No way she could let him go now. Not when he had seen her up close. Who knew what he decided to do with the sparse information he had. And worse: what if he recognized her?
Nico sighed; he hated his stutter, which was most prominent when he was nervous or tired. With the armed woman pointing her gun at him early in the morning, he was both. “My name is Nico. May I get dressed, please?”
“Very polite. Get dressed, and we will plan our next steps over breakfast. I hope you have coffee.” Lily stood. She wasn’t concerned about the man trying anything on her, not at the moment. She had good people skills and trusted her, feeling that she was safe for now. The thought reoccurred to her that if he had wanted to overwhelm her, he would have done so by now. She scolded herself for the rookie mistakes she was amassing, but she had not prepared for this situation, and improvisation while tired was not her forte.
Lily searched through the man’s drawers to find a fresh t-shirt to wear as if she was in her own home. Nico felt his ears swallowed with heat as this strange woman rummaged through his personal belongings. He was sure she was judging his underwear and clothes. She didn’t say anything and kept a straight face all the time. And the weapon was glued to her hand too.
Waiting for his uninvited guest to follow him, Nico stood in the door. He turned his body to give her a moment of privacy to switch shirts. Lily retook hold of the gun she had put on the dresser while changing and trotted behind the man, who kept checking if she was still behind him. She kept a close eye on him and was almost disappointed when they reached the kitchen, and he had not attempted to run away. He got busy with breakfast, and Lily took a look around the living area. There was a large shelf filled with books. She had read some of them too. His music collection was small, but here too, she saw similarities between the albums he owned and the music she had on the app on her phone. She had dropped her phone when she ran from Giuseppe’s minions; it was the only way Giu was unable to track her down.
Lily kept looking around, exploring the pictures of the young man. In some photographs, he was with friends. Some were of other people, memories of parties, but one particular photo made her stop in her motions. Lily looked from the picture in front of her to the man handling a skillet in the kitchen. It couldn’t be. She examined the photo a little closer. Her host stood between an older couple, his parents, presumably. But they were not your usual John and Jane Doe. Far from it. Lily had hit the jackpot. With a devious smile and a plan forming in her mind, she joined Stutter, who was preparing her breakfast. He had offered his name before, but she had not cared nor listened.
“I am Lily. Sorry for the inconvenience.” She said sweetly, waving around in the general direction of the apartment and the kitchen. Lily put her gun next to an empty plate Nico had set out for her on the breakfast bar. She grabbed the steaming mug in front of her. “Milk?” she asked, and Nico pushed a small jug in her direction.
“Nico,” he offered again.
“You meant to say Richard Nicolas Weller Jr, didn’t you?” Lily smiled knowingly. “You are the only son of one of the wealthiest men in this city. Quite a dump you are living in.” She took a sip of her coffee and waited for a reaction. Nico forgot to breathe; he was busted. His father had warned him that this would happen if he lived a normal life without security details taking care of him. But Nico had been stubborn. And after a decade of living an untroubled private life, he had felt safe and untouchable. “You are my ticket out of my predicament,” Lily added, one hand on her gun again, her finger tapping the barrel seemingly absentmindedly.
Nico admitted defeat. Who would have guessed that he would invite trouble in through his bedroom window in the middle of the night? That it was a woman with legs for days and a smile to kill for was part of the irony that accompanied most of his existence.
“What do you want?” Nico stuttered.
“Money, Stutter. Easy as cake. And your daddy will give me what I need, or his sole heir will not survive this chance encounter,” Lily informed Nico and took a slice of buttered toast from a plate in front of her with a self-sufficient grin.