Rabbit Hole

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"Georgia! Georgia, open up!" Alex frantically slammed the flat of her palm against her friend's apartment door until it stung. She knew she was making an awful ruckus, people peering through peepholes and chain locks all across the floor, but she didn't care, panic dictating the volume and vehemence of her actions. She all but sprinted to Georgia's apartment after a harried scramble from the diner, throwing money at a cabbie and running the rest of the way when they became snared in traffic.

"Georgia Battle! Open this-" The sudden absence of wood under her palm put Alex off-kilter, making her stutter forward until she caught the doorframe.

"What in Christ's name are you screaming about?!" a very alive, very pissed-off looking Georgia barked, thunder in her scowl. It didn't escape Alex's notice the tall woman clutched a small-caliber pistol in her rock-steady right hand.

Collapsing in relief, Alex wrestled down the adrenaline giving her limbs tremors, vision blurred with moisture she barely blinked away. "You're okay," she panted hoarsely. "Oh my God, you're okay."

"I'm almost afraid to ask why you'd think otherwise," Georgia frowned, sliding the sleek black gun into its holster, eyes roving the hall.

"Those Girl Scouts are getting really bold. Tell 'em we don't want any!" Alex heard another speaker call from the apartment, piquing both her interest and anxiety. Who else was here?

"Give me a minute, Keesha!" Georgia called before dropping her voice and leaning in close to Alex. "What the hell are you doing?"

In answer, she handed Georgia her old police ID, unsurprised her friend's expression made the warp-speed jump from irritated to shocked.

"Where'd you get this?"

"Something happened," Alex panted, weak in the knees and nauseous. Swearing under her breath, Georgia grabbed her by the front of the jacket and dragged Alex inside, throwing multiple locks behind them.

From her vantage point in the entranceway, Alex gathered Georgia's apartment was roughly the same size as her own only newer. She was led into a tight living room populated by a worn leather sofa, a few articles of furniture, and bookshelves. Lots of bookshelves. So many it made the room feel more like a library than a living space, reminding Alex of Lee's home.

"Figures you come banging on my door when I'm getting my braids put back in," she muttered, drawing Alex's attention to two things: one, her friend's very asymmetrical hairstyle, and two, another woman standing next to a stool planted in the middle of Georgia's living room.

"Didn't know you were expecting company," Keesha said in the middle of tying back her white and pink interlaced braids.

"Give me a second."

"Not too long," she warned. "We gotta keep moving now that the jam's in your hair."

"How long have I been braiding my hair?" Georgia fired back by way of answer. "Grab a drink and a seat, this'll only take a second."

Alex followed her friend into a second bedroom remodeled into an office near the back of the apartment. Shutting the door, Georgia put her back against the wood, brown eyes scraping across Alex.

"My scalp isn't happy, so you've got three minutes. Where did you get this ID?"

"Marco Falconi paid me a visit," Alex explained from her boneless hunch against the desk pressing into her tailbone, head in her hands. Without having to look, Alex could feel Georgia's alarm.

"He went to your place?"

"God no." She shook her head, dragging her hands through her hair in a calming motion. "The diner near my job. He gave me this too. It's tomorrow's paper. I'm starting to think Falconi might have a foothold with The Daily."

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