Lilly returned to her position on the bottom bunk. More questions swirled in her head. Different ones this time. She tried thinking up a way to escape the apartment. Evan couldn’t keep her there because she knew Eia, Echo, and Emmy would come home sometime even if something did happen to Mr. Hill. Still, Lilly realized she had to move before Evan moved her. A half hour later, Lilly’s cell phone beeped. It was charged 46%. She picked it up to see a text message from Mr. Hill, It read: Lilly, it’s me, Dad. Get the Suns or taxi 2 take u 2 Pratt, Pruitt, Swann & Co. Ask 4 Bo. Get someone 2 local jailhouse. Quickly. Am in chains. Need to be freed. Will xplain l8r. Love.
Well, this wouldn’t be too hard if only I wasn’t in chains myself, Lilly thought. She texted: OK. Got your back. She hid the phone under her leg when she heard the chain on the door clanging again. Evan Sun entered. “What are you doing?” he asked. His voice was full of suspicion.
Lilly didn’t even attempt an answer.
“I hope I didn’t frighten you into muteness,” Evan said slowly. “I really am not that kind of person. Here. You still can’t have the meal I was preparing for you, but have some Twizzlers, little one. As consolation?” He extended the plate in his hand which held four Twizzler candy sticks.
Lilly perceived the Twizzlers looked shinier than they should. “No, thanks,” she objected. “They could be dipped in Clorox for all I know. Besides, I don’t take Twizzlers from traitors.”
Evan shrugged but his eyes were seething. “Fine,” he said as if her answer had no effect on him. “When you’re starving in twenty-four hours, don’t ask for anything.” He shut the door and Lilly could hear him fastening the chain.
Lilly bolted up from the bed, donned her jacket, and paced the floor restlessly. I won’t be here an hour from now, much less twenty-four hours from now, she thought. I will not. I won’t. I should have made a dash for it when Evan opened the door. But now that wasn’t a possibility. The door was chained shut, and wouldn’t be reopened for a long time now.
She kept pacing the floor. Determination rose in her with every step. She paced past the window again. The window! It reminded Lilly of the balcony Emmy had mentioned the first night of her arrival as they sat on the sill. Lilly peered over the window sill at the balcony below. The day’s waning light allowed her to see it better. The balcony was carpeted and had a fire escape stairway about half a foot from its left side. Lilly stuffed her phone into her jacket pocket and zipped it shut. “This is it,” she whispered, climbing atop the sill. “God, a lotta help here would be nice.”
Without giving her confidence a chance to waver, Lilly swung herself over the sill, held fast, then dropped with as much control as her gymnast body could muster. It took everything in her not to scream as the air rushed past. Within seconds, Lilly landed on the balcony like a teaspoon tossed from a table. The impact was harsh and knocked the wind out of her, but wasn’t harmful otherwise. Audible gasps coming from behind her caused Lilly to get up quicker than she would have. Two ladies, dressed in bathrobes, who had been practicing yoga in front of their open balcony sliding door, now stared at her, their mouths agape. The women turned to each other in wonder and started conversing in Chinese at the same time.
“Sorry,” Lilly said breathlessly through the glass as she waved. “Carry on.” She leaned over the balcony side, caught hold of the fire stairway railing, climbed over it, and flew down the steps two at a time. Adrenaline coursed through her veins. So many things could have gone wrong in her drop, Lilly figured; but it had gone right, and now she was free.