The dark purple sky loomed overhead as I pulled into the alley behind her city townhouse. I took a deep breath and put my head down on the steering wheel. I tried to slap some sense into this impossible situation. It was so... so out of character, against almost everything I understood, against my whole life up to half an hour ago.
That was it. I couldn't carry this through. I couldn't do it.
My head snapped up. The yellow, glowing window in front of my car watched me. Waited on my next move.
Adrianne needed me. I had to do it.
I opened the car door, my feet hitting gravel. The cold air enveloped me, stabbing my lungs. I strode to her door with determination, pounding on it then wrenching it open. Adrianne looked up from the kitchen table where she had been reading. Her little face morphed from fear into surprise, questions forming on her lips.
"Claudia -- !!"
"Get your things," I barked. "Pack anything incriminating, anything your friends will need." I winced. It had come out harsher than I meant.
My voice softened, "The police are coming, Adrianne. They found out."
Her confusion deepened at my mention of her "friends". It mixed for an instant with disbelief, then finally was brushed away in the desperation of the moment. We sprinted upstairs, cleaning out the few boxes of contraband, stuffing the contents into a backpack.
Our heads popped up at the scream of sirens and blaring lights playing across the wall. We tore towards the staircase, but when someone pummelled Adrianne's front door, we veered into the back room. Outside, angry voices shouted.
The house shuddered as the front door exploded and steel-toed boots tore into the downstairs. We froze. I turned to the back window and threw it open. We were in luck -- a rhododendron below would break our fall. The drop wasn't much further than the climbing wall at Basic Training, and I had survived that.
I straddled the windowsill, then turned to see her frozen in fear. I'd forgotten that she was afraid of heights. I grabbed her arm, and she whimpered. Feet thundered on the stairs. I bear-hugged her and threw myself backwards out the window.
We rolled out of the bush just as the door upstairs was thrown open. I dragged her upright and we ran for the back fence. A silhouette appeared at the window, weapon drawn. Adrianne staggered towards the car but I jerked her away.
"They'll hear," I hissed.
We scaled the fence, she somewhat slower, I thanking God that I'd only recently left the Armed Services. We dropped down the other side. I ducked down a side street, sprinting just slow enough for Adrianne to keep up.