Mr. Hoffmann wasn’t joking when he said they would leave at dawn. Rowan had only gotten a few hours of sleep when he rudely shook her awake.
“Come on. Wake up. We must leave immediately.”
She groaned. “Are they even going to be up at this hour?”
“Of course they will be. They’re up when they need to be up and they sleep when they need to sleep.”
Rowan rolled her eyes. She had had enough of this man’s nonsense. He kept on spewing words that only worked to make her even more confused.
“Fine. Just leave my room. I need to change.”
“Oh. Okay. I’ll leave then.”
He stood outside her door as she changed. She knew this because she could hear his occasionally cough. She prayed that he wasn’t somehow peeking in on her, but from what she had already learned about his personality that was highly unlikely.
It was as though he knew what she was thinking because he called into her room. “I won’t peek. Don’t worry. The Council will know if I do and I can’t have that.
She ended up choosing one of her many pairs of blue jeans with a black t-shirt to wear to this meeting. Not exactly the best outfit to wear when meeting a group of people who call themselves the Council, but it would be good enough because everything she had that was even remotely fancy was dirty.
She opened the door when she was done.
“I’m done. Let’s go.”
Mr. Hoffmann raised his eyebrows. “Wow. You look great.”
“Really? It’s just a t-shirt and jeans. It’s nothing special.” Though that compliment creeped her out a little bit she still ended up blushing.
“Yeah I know. It’s just that I was always told I should complement a woman on what they’re wearing no matter how casual it is.” He smiled.
“That’s an outdated thing to do you know.”
“Yes really. I’m not trying to look nice so you don’t need to say anything.”
“But it did make you happy. Did it not?”
Rowan decided to ignore his question, mainly because it did make her a little bit happy when he said that and walk over to her door after grabbing her purse off the kitchen table. Gladly nothing had gone missing while she slept.
“Okay. I’ll lead the way.”
They walked through the same city streets Rowan had walked through for the past few years. She had been there since she left home to live in the city. This was a decision that she often regretted. At the time she believed that everything she could ever dream of was in the city. A good paying job, many friends who cared about the same things as her, and someone who loved her more than anyone else. She thought everything could be found here, yet when she actually moved to the city she could barely pay her living expenses. But she couldn’t move back in with her father. She didn’t want him to think less of her.
The stores were still closed. The sun had just barely risen above the horizon and already she was a good distance away from her apartment. She usually didn’t wake up before noon. She was exhausted. Normally she wouldn’t have done something so crazy like this, but she didn’t have much of a choice. Her most prized possession had been stolen away by Mr. Hoffmann and she had to get it back.
But thinking this made her start wondering about how he had known that she cared for this necklace. It’s not like she reached for it once while he was talking to her. It had actually been hidden underneath her shirt. She shivered at the thought of him reaching into her shirt to grab it off her unconscious body.
They walked up an alleyway and stopped next to a large blue dumpster. Large areas of paint had peeled away showing the red rust underneath. Mr. Hoffmann took a key out of his pocket and unlocked a door next to the dumpster. They stepped into a darkened room. Dim light shone through slits in the boarded up windows.
He walked up to a door on the far wall and knocked. A thin bar of light shone out from beneath the door.
“Rowan Winters the rememberer is here.” He announced.
“Let her in.” Another voice called.
He opened the door and beckoned her inside. When she walked in he closed the door behind her.
She now stood with a room lit by a mixture of old-fashioned torches and flashlights. It was so bright in here that Rowan had to blink a few times to get used to this new brighter light level. Across from where she stood twelve people sat in chairs. They all stared at her in interest.
“Welcome Miss Winters.” A bald man with golden eyes with slit-like pupils in the middle exclaimed. “We have been waiting a very long time for you to come.”