The hotel looks different in the daylight. Of course, that might also be because I get to see it from the street, not the roof. For some reason I still expected police to be here, considering they would have found Torres’ body last night, but there’s not an officer in sight.
Lionel and I walk around the side of the hotel to where the fire escape is. It turns out the blackness below it yesterday is the employee parking lot. Various shiny black and silver cars are lined up along the building. A couple of city dumpsters are huddled below the fire escape. Lionel looks to me dryly.
“So, are you going to check the dumpsters or am I?”
“I’m not dumpster diving for a secret book that you won’t tell me anything about.”
“I’ll take that as a no,” Lionel says, striding to the dumpster and hoping up swiftly, using the side as leverage to propel himself up and over.
I stare at him for minute. His white blonde hair drifts around his face like dandelions in the breeze. He’s the one that got us into this mess. I don’t know why I’m still helping him. Some small part of me hopes I can be the one to find the book, that way I can peek inside and see what the big secret is.
I leave Lionel to rummage through garbage and search through the shrubbery skirting the hotel. I crouch in the grass and survey beneath the bushes, pushing branches out of the way. Nothing. I walk a few feet down and try again. Still nothing. I check the whole perimeter and frown. Nothing.
Lionel is jumping down from the dumpster as I return. “Any luck?”
I shake my head. “Nothing. Maybe it landed on a lower level of the fire escape?”
“That’s possible. I guess we’ll have to check. Here stand on my back, you’ll have to jump to bring the ladder back down.”
Lionel bends over so I can step up. Just then, voices sound nearby. The back door to the hotel begins to open.
“Quick,” Lionel grabs my sleeve and we scurry to crouch behind the nearest car. He peers through the windshield and his eyebrows knot together.
“Who is it?” I whisper.
“My buddy, Ashley and some other guy. He’s got Torres’ suitcases and he’s loading them into a car. What the hell is he doing?” Lionel wonders.
“Wouldn’t the police that those as evidence?”
“Can you hear what they’re saying?” I ask, craning my neck to get a look. Lionel pushes me back down gently by the shoulder.
“No, but I bet it’s fishy.” His gaze remains locked on his friend.
Something flashes under the car in the spot next to us. Beside the back wheel, the black book glints in the sun. You’ve got to be kidding me. Lionel remains oblivious, I can’t let him get the book just yet. I pull my ring off and drop it on the pavement.
A moment later Ashely and the guy head back inside the hotel.
We stand and Lionel looks pissed.
“Do you think we should come back later?”
“They probably won’t be coming back out for a while. Let’s check the fire escape.”
We start to head towards the escape when I pretend to realize I lost my ring.
“Oh shoot! I dropped my ring,” I say holding up my hand. “It’s probably by the car. I’ll be right back.”
Lionel tells me to hurry as I rush back to the car. I pretend to look around until I find the ring beside the book. I tuck the book into the waist of my jeans quickly, pulling my jacket down over it. Then I grab the ring and jog back over, slipping it onto my finger.
He looks bored and motions for me get on his back. After a couple of attempts, I finally reach the ladder. I hang from it for a few seconds as Lionel grabs my legs and pulls. The ladder slides down and I land lightly.
Fifteen minutes later, after an unsuccessful search, Lionel huffs and calls off the dogs.
“I have no idea where that book could be. Maybe Ashley found it? He’s clearly being shady.”
I nod. “That’s possible.”
“I might have to pay him a visit.”
“Do you want me to tag along?”
Lionel shakes his head, starting down the ladder. “No, I don’t want him seeing you.”
“Alright. We’ll I’ll head home then?”
Lionel lands with a thud on the grass. “That would be best. I’ll meet up with you later.”
I follow down after him. My sneakers slips off the last rung and I let out a yelp. Lionel reaches up to steady my legs. I jump down. “Thanks.”
He grins. “Later.”
I watch as he disappears around the corner before touching the book through my jacket. When I get home I’ll finally be able to see what the secret is.