Madison dipped one hand into her purse as she stared through her windshield, green eyes scanning the darkened area between her parked car and her equally-dark apartment. This is completely ridiculous, she noted silently. But still she held her breath, her hand now wrapped securely around a slim bottle of pepper spray.
It had been less than a week since she had come home from work late one night to discover that her apartment had been broken into. Her living room window had been shattered; her television, DVD player, and two pieces of jewelry stolen – along with her apparently-poorly-hidden stash of cash that she kept on hand for emergencies. The police had yet to find the responsible party, and though she had had her window replaced and locks changed the following morning, she no longer felt safe when she came home at night.
But, at the moment, she could see no signs of activity – good or bad – so she released a breath and quickly climbed from her car. In less than a minute she had locked her Mazda and reached her front door.
Again, she paused. Her keys were poised before the lock, but she closed her eyes and leaned slightly toward the door, listening.
Okay, she told herself, moment of truth.
Sticking the key into the lock, Madison quickly entered her apartment, and once again she immediately locked the door behind herself. Then she took a moment, frozen in her tiny entry, and let her eyes sweep the portion of the apartment that she could see. Nothing in the living room seemed out of place, so she dropped her keys back into her purse and carefully made her way down the hall. Her kitchen was just as she’d left it – except for the freshly-brewed pot of coffee, which she was expecting – so she continued on. Her bathroom door was still open and the room was untouched. And then she was standing in the entry to her bedroom, and she finally allowed the relief to settle. Her bedroom was just as it should be.
Sighing heavily, Madison dropped her pepper spray into her purse as she moved into her room. “I really need to find a new place,” she mumbled, not for the first time in the past several days, as she reached up and tugged her dark, auburn hair from the messy bun it had been stuck in. She hated the idea of moving already, as she had only been living in the apartment for roughly a month, but she knew her sense of unease would plague her so long as she remained.
As she gathered a change of clothes, preparing to take a shower and wash away the seemingly-permanent smell of a small, crowded kitchen, she reflected on her situation.
Madison had moved to Darien in the beginning of April (less than a month and a half prior) in order to take over as the Head Chef at Earl’s Diner. She had acquired the position through the sheer luck of having one of the owners be an old friend of her mother’s, but that was all right with her – she thoroughly enjoyed her job. Unfortunately, her new job seemed to be the only part of her new life that was going right. She had had to live with her new bosses for nearly a week before finding this apartment, and she had agreed to take it before it was ready just so that she could have a place of her own. And then, the previous Sunday, she’d been robbed.
I almost wish I’d just been a little more patient, maybe I would’ve ended up somewhere safer. But it was too late to regret her rushed decision. At least I have tomorrow off, she reminded herself as she nudged the bathroom door shut behind her. I can spend it apartment-hunting again. That was exactly how she’d spent the second half of her Monday, as Monday was the other day she had off, but she hadn’t made any progress. She could only hope that Thursday would be different.