Izzy saw Renard scamper hastily down the hallway, towards the basement. She didn’t even think to wonder why that would be the first place he would run. In fact, running anywhere seemed logical at this point.
But she was okay. It took her shaken body a moment to realize this. She didn’t even have a scratch. She was more mentally injured than most anything else.
They were gone, running like the cowards they were to who knows where. But Izzy wasn’t sure if they would be back, not after this. Men like them lay low, stay underground. Involving public shootings and the authorities would thwart their entire operation. But then there was Marco, she still had him to worry about. Alas, she knew as much about his whereabouts as they did.
And there was Pierre. Is he one of them? What about Marguerite, is she in danger?
And poor little Renard, running off into the darkness. She felt horrible for dragging him into this, but he saved her life, twice. It was her turn to save him.
Renard made his way to the stairs, dodging obstacles in the dim light in his uncanny way. Still deep in thought he started up the stairs, so it should come as no surprise that he practically ran into Izzy as she was descending.
“Bonito? I…oh, you poor…” she started.
“No. Non. Nein,” Renard cut her off, “You doon’t haf to. I em a man. I shood not have run, but I em d-done.” He paused, let a tic pass, and gave his cheek a gentle slap. “I haf a tic. Thet’s why I do that.” She smiled understandingly, so he continued, “Come, there is much to do. I haf a plan.”
Izzy, surprisingly enough, was speechless as Renard led her up the steps. He called over his shoulder, “First, we haf to make you safe. You ken hide.” He grinned back at her.
In a whirl they went by her apartment, grabbed a few things and proceeded up one floor. As they neared Pierre’s door, Izzy almost protested, but Renard turned at the last moment and knocked on the door across the hall.
“Ms. Abernathy is a friend,” Renard said beaming, “Yule be safe here.”
“Sim, yes. Wait, quem? Who?” Izzy muttered, holding her pile of clothes and unmentionables (only she would and frequently did mention them) in her arms.
Renard couldn’t stop smiling with pride, “She is a friend, but your friends doon’t know who I em or who she is. You will be right heer or a meelion miles away. They’d never know.”
“Como…how do you know her, Bonito?”
“I help her wit groceries. She hass me roond for tea,” he offered with a shrug. Then the door opened. Izzy was pushed in with a quick explanation, and Renard was gone.
Ms. Abernathy, in all her spindly little frame, gathered Izzy into her arms like a sad child needing comfort. Izzy took it, with deep appreciation. She hadn’t felt this cared for since her childhood in Brazil.
Ms. Abernathy was a delightful old Englishwoman, a wizened Mary Poppins, if you will. She sat Izzy down on a pink floral love seat and began preparations for tea. Izzy sat back, tired and still feeling slightly intoxicated while Ms. Abernathy chatted on and on about what a sweet boy Renard is and the weather and all other elderly woman nonsense.
“You know, I think Renard mentioned you before, oh, it must have been you…” She chatted.
“Que? He mentioned me?” Izzy asked confused. Strange as it seemed, she had only met Renard this morning, how could he possibly have mentioned her?
“Yes, yes,” Ms. Abernathy said, pouring tea, “He always chats about the pretty girl across the hall, the dancer from South America. He’s quite infatuated, I think.”
Izzy had a look of shock, “He…he said that?”
Izzy fidgeted nervously on Ms. Abernathy’s loveseat, snapping her fingers along to the tick of the clock on the wall. Renard never came back, it had been such a long time. She had no inclination as to what his plan was, or what drastic measures he could take. There were so many risks involved in this sort of situation.
She knew she had to take action, but how? She excused herself to use the telephone and immediately rung up Marguerite, no answer. Marguerite was always home at this hour. Pierre, she must be with Pierre. She didn’t have his number, and John could be there, but she had to make sure Marguerite was out of the way.
Despite the protests of Ms. Abernathy, and Renard’s desire to have her hide, Izzy ran to Pierre’s door, knocking frantically. He answered and without a word she brushed past him to the shocked face of Marguerite.
“We have to go menina,” Izzy said, dragging her behind her.
“But…” she protested.
“I’ll explain later,” Izzy said, pushing Pierre as they ran out the door.