© Nancy Fraser
He didn’t want familiar. He didn’t want safe. He craved something more. He wanted different. As different as the red-haired pixy who had invaded his thoughts constantly since they’d met. He told himself he hadn’t chosen the road to the left because of her, but because he needed a change. The fact that the less-used route took him right past the Patterson’s was merely a coincidence.
Liar! His ever-present and well-used conscience taunted him.
He turned right at Highgate Lane. The closer he came to Elmwood Avenue, the faster his pulse raced, the harder his heart pounded, the higher his legs pumped. Adrenalin flowed through him at an alarming rate, making him dizzy yet powerful at the same time.
Turning the last corner, he saw the Patterson’s house off in the distance. The downstairs lights were out. The upstairs apartment was nearly as dark, except for one light that shone through what Dane knew to be the kitchen window. Slowing his pace, he turned into the driveway, intending to do nothing more than circle around the yard and head back home.
That was when he heard the singing; soft, lilting notes, interrupted by breathless gasps for air. Stopping beside the porch, he lifted his head and waited for the sound to come again.
Old Beatles tunes. Hey Jude mixed with The Long and Winding Road, both slightly off-key renditions reminding him of his happy-go-lucky youth. The singing stopped abruptly, the final notes followed by a hiccup and a sneeze.
“Hello,” he called out. “Who’s up there?”
“It’s me,” a raspy voice answered, “Jessi. I’m stuck out here on the roof.”
Dane heard the distant sound of shuffling feet. A moment later, Jessi was looking down at him from the edge of Abel Patterson’s roof.
“Oh wonderful,” she said excitedly, “the cavalry’s arrived. I’m saved.”