Kevin and Howie each grabbed a hand and helped Amberle stand. Howie went ahead to get his shoes while Amberle leaned on Kevin's arm. Just before they got to the porch, a cat ran out of the bushes and across the yard. Amberle stood motionless when she heard the rustling of the shrubs.
"What's wrong?" Howie asked.
Amberle's face slowly brightened into a small smile. "I got away. I got away!" She looked at them, excited.
The sky had darkened enough so that the next bolt of lightening was just a flash in the corner of their eyes. Howie and Kevin looked at each other and ushered Amberle into the living room. As soon as they were all sitting down, Kevin looked at her and said, "Now, what were you saying?"
"I got away from them. The cuts, scrapes, sprained ankle, probably even some of the bruises, are from when I got away. I ran through a very dense area of woods. I was so afraid they'd catch me, but they didn't. I got away." Amberle repeated that to herself. I got away. It was such a relief to think that she wasn't as helpless as she'd thought. She spoke aloud again, "It took me a long time to get the ropes off my wrists, but as soon as I did, I ran. The door locked from the inside, so I waited until they fell asleep and ran."
"They? I thought there was just one of them." Kevin looked at Howie, a little surprised at the light in her eyes as she talked about it.
"The blonde man kidnapped me, but there was another man in the house when he took me there. He was there when I woke up."
"What did he look like?"
Amberle looked down at her hands for a moment, thinking, then glanced back up. "I don't remember. I just remember when I first woke up, there were two men in the room, but it was too dark to see their faces. That's all I remember, until I escaped."
"Don't worry about it, it'll come back to you later. Dr. Mills said you might not remember everything."
There was a loud boom and then the lights went out. Kevin and Howie got up and went to the window. Kevin pulled the drapes open, and Howie went into the kitchen and came back with two flashlights. He lit two candles and put them on the coffee table.
"That sounded like a transformer." After Amberle had spoken, she leaned over and grabbed a flashlight from the table. She had a death grip on the handle and her thumb quivered over the switch.
Howie looked at Amberle and said, "I hope not. That will take a while to fix, and the power company won't come out in the rain. But don't worry. We've got lots of candles and flashlights. Are you all right?"
"I'm fine. Actually, I like storms. I just like them more when the lights work. Please, leave them open." Kevin stopped closing the curtains when Amberle spoke.
"Are you sure?"
Amberle nodded. Kevin left them alone and went to the phone. Howie came out of the kitchen with a few bottles of water. They sat on the couch and watched the rain hit the large bay window. The palm and pine trees in the front yard bent slightly in the wind.
Kevin came back in the room, closing the mouthpiece of his cellular phone. "The power company said it would be at least 3 or 4 hours, and Brian, Nick, and A.J. are waiting out the storm at the apartment. I told them not to rush, because of the power."
"Did they finish the interview?" Howie asked.
"Yes, and they said we both had a cold. We need to come up with better excuses than that in the future."
"What do you usually say?"
"Actually, we almost always do interviews together. It's part of the job. Usually, it's not too bad. This is probably only the second or third time we had to make up an excuse."
"I think we should have told them that we just didn't feel like coming. That's pretty close to the truth."
"Howie, that would have caused an international incident in which all the pre-teens across the globe would have fainted at the realization that you are human. Do you want to be responsible for packing emergency rooms all over the world?"
"Of course not. Thanks for the reminder." Howie said dryly, responding to her sarcasm.