The boy laid down on the smoke-scented sofa as if asleep, listening to the conversation between the two adults whispering harshly to each other. The boy opened his eyes to the dim light of the living room and remained still. He could hear the two hissing at one another in the kitchen, not far from where he was. The boy strained to listen to the hushed voices as he lay there, pretending to sleep.

"You still owe him money, how are we going to afford paying him back and paying the rent at the same time!" hissed the woman.

"I said don't worry about it, I'll have the money when he comes," whispered the man calmly.

"Where you gonna get that money, huh? Are you gonna borrow some money from somebody else?" she said.

"Listen, I talked with the boss and he agreed on me coming in at night to get some extra money. I'll have the pay by the end of the week."

"How much is that gonna get us? We still gotta pay the rent and I don't think working at a department store his gonna help us that much," the woman sighed.

"We're doing our best, and that's all that matters. We can get through this, I know we can. We juss gotta work a little harder and have faith. God will be with us," assured the man.

"I hope so. Are you going to work tonight?" she asked.

"Yeah, I'll be back by three in the morning and then I gotta go back by eight," he sighed.

"We better have that money soon, I don't think he wants to wait anymore. What if he comes demanding for the money and we don't have it? Oh, no!" cried the woman.

"Shhhh, we'll give him everything we got and-

"What if he hurts my baby? What if he kidnaps him until we have the rest!" The woman stood up and began to pace back and forth in the kitchen.

"He won't do that, trust me," said the man.

"But I'm gonna be at work and so are you! Romeo has to spend two hours alone in the apartment after school!" hissed the woman.

"We can get someone to watch-

"We can't afford to pay a baby sitter, Carl! We just can't," the woman plopped down on the chair and sighed.

"He'll be fine, he knows better than to talk to strangers," said the man in his usually calm voice.

"I don't like that man, Carl. He's sick," hissed the woman.

"We'll talk about this in the morning, I gotta go to work," the man rose from his chair and carefully walked towards the boy on the sofa.

"Is he awake? I hope we didn't wake him up," whispered the woman.

Romeo quickly closed his eyes and pretended to be asleep.

"No, he's still sleeping," whispered the man.

Romeo felt hands slide under him and lift him easily in the air. Romeo opened his eyes to see the man carrying him to his room.

"Daddy?" asked the little boy, rubbing his eyes as if he just awoke.

"Shhh, go back to sleep," whispered the man.

"I can't go back to sleep," said the boy in a hushed voice. The man placed Romeo gently on the large bed and pulled the white blanket over him with care.

"Are you going somewhere?" asked the boy, watching his father straighten his sheet.

"Yeah, daddy's gotta go to work for a while," said the man. He sat on the side of the bed next to Romeo, smiling at the little boy.


"Because daddy needs some more money, but don't worry I'll be back soon," said the man gently to the boy as he stroked his head.

"Okay," sighed the boy. The man smiled and reached for his pocket. He pulled out a wrapped stick of licorice and held it in front of the boy.

"Candy!" cried the boy. He reached for the licorice but the man pulled it away.

"Eat this when I get back, okay?" The man smiled and placed it on the nightstand beside the boy.

"But why can't I eat it now?" complained the boy.

"Promise me you'll eat it when I get back."

The boy thought for a moment and finally agreed.

The man kissed the boy on the forehead and quietly walked out of the room.

"Is he sleeping?" asked the woman waiting outside of the door.

"Yeah. Well I'm gonna go to work now, I'll be back at three," the man kissed the woman and grabbed his coat and walked out of the door.

The boy heard the door shut and got up. He looked at the licorice sitting on the table and felt his mouth water. Then he remembered he had to wait until his father came back from work. He looked at the licorice and then at the door. He couldn't wait until then. The boy reached for the licorice.

The man stepped out of the old elevator and sighed. When was he going to sleep? When is he going to have time to spend with his family? A life like this didn't suit him; he could never live like this no matter how hard he tried. One day he will get a good job and provide for his family and give them the things they want and need, but for now he had no choice. He remembered it was only for a week or until he gets enough money to pay him back. The tired man sighed as he opened the door and stepped outside in the night. A few dim lights lined the street, just enough for him to see and for him to be seen. Suddenly the man heard footsteps behind him.

The little boy slowly grabbed the candy off from the table, careful not to make a sound. He held the candy in his little hands, suddenly feeling guilty. He promised his father he would eat it when he came back, but who knows how long that would be. Then the part of him that wanted to eat it urged him to eat it anyway. He wouldn't get made at him, right? The boy began to unwrap the licorice.

The man heard the footsteps getting louder. Fear began to rise in his chest, causing him to break into a sweat. The man quickened his pace to a power walk while his eyes darted back and forth for the source of the footsteps. He could hear them echo through the quiet street, magnifying his fear. The footsteps began to quicken and the man began to panic. The footsteps were right behind him.

Carefully, the boy pulled off the wrap on the candy. Inch by inch he tore the paper off, revealing a red licorice stick. His mouth began to water as more of the stick was revealed. He gently placed the wrap on the table, making sure it didn't make a crinkling sound. The boy held up the candy and smiled, licking his lips.

The man spun around and pulled out a small knife from his jacket pocket. His eyes darted all around, but found nothing. All he could see was darkness and dim streetlights. The man sighed and slowly placed the knife back into his pocket. He figured it was just his imagination playing tricks on him and he slowly turned back around. Suddenly he saw piercing eyes staring back at him.

The man gasped and stumbled back a few feet. The pair of eyes slowly stepped into the dim light to reveal a familiar tired face. The whites of his eyes were red and heavy bags were visible in the dim light. The man sighed and smiled with relief.

"Man I thought you was some killer or something!" Cried the man. He laughed and walked up closer to the other man.

"What are you doing here at this time, man?" he asked, still relieved.

"Give me my money, Carl," said the other man in a low and serious voice. The man stopped smiling and felt his heart skip a beat.

"The money? I thought you was gonna get it by the end of this week!" The man laughed nervously.

"I want my money now, Carl. Give it to me," repeated the man.

"Well, actually, I don't have all of the money right now but I can get it to you by the end of this week aiight?" he said looking at the ground.

The other man pushed him and sent him flying backward.

"I ain't playin' games wit you, man! Give me my money!" yelled the man. He grabbed Carl by his shirt and pushed him against the wall.

"I waited long enough, you better give it too me or else," hissed the man. He tightened his grip on Carl's collar.

"I'll have it soon, man. I promise you'll have it by Sunday, you got my word on that, now please let me go man," gasped Carl.

"That's too late for me," said the man in a low voice. Suddenly he reached into his pocket and pulled out a knife.

Just before he was about to put the candy in his mouth, the woman opened the door and stepped inside.

"What you think your doing, boy? Its past your bedtime, go to sleep," said the woman. The boy quickly hid the candy under the covers.

"Okay, mommy," the boy plopped back down on the bed and closed his eyes. The woman smiled and closed the door and walked away. The boy opened his eyes and got back up. He pulled the candy out from under the covers and held it to his mouth.

The man held up the knife in front of Carl.

"Please I'll get the money! I'll get the money, man! Don't kill me, please," pleaded the man. Slowly he pulled out his knife from his jacket pocket without the other man noticing and concealed it in his hand.

"Put the knife down, I'll get the money," he said in a forced calm voice. He lifted his hand holding the knife slowly.

Suddenly Carl whipped out the knife from his hand and stabbed the man in the leg. The man howled in pain, holding his injured leg. Carl quickly got up and began running down the street. Fear was consuming him, making it hard to breathe as he ran as fast as he could.

The man let go of his bloody leg and reached into his pocket and pulled out a gun. Quickly, he set the gun and aimed it at the running man.

The man heard a loud boom and suddenly felt a pain in his back. He collapsed on the ground, out of breath. He could hear the man shuffling towards him with his wounded leg. He tried to get back up, but the pain in his back was too great. He reached out and tried to escape by pulling himself with his arms. It was too late. The man stood in front of him with his gun aimed directly at his head.

Romeo jumped from a loud boom near his window. He swallowed the last bite of the licorice and got out of bed. He peered down through the window to see a dark figure standing next to a dark lump on the ground. Suddenly the woman opened the door and ran to the window where the boy stood. She peered down the window and covered her face with both hands. The woman cried and grabbed the boy.

"What's going on?" asked the confused boy as he watched his mother run around the apartment grabbing things and placing them in a small suitcase.

"We have to go, baby," stuttered the woman as she zoomed back and forth. She then closed the suitcase and put her jacket on.

"Get your jacket, we're leaving," ordered the woman. He quickly grabbed his small jacket and put it on.

The woman picked up the boy with on arm and held the suitcase in the other. She quickly opened the door and jumped into the elevator.

"But what about daddy?" asked the little boy. The woman ignored the boy and wiped tears from her face.

The elevator stopped and they quickly got out. Suddenly the woman put the boy down and looked at him in the face, holding his shoulders.

"Baby, you have to be as quiet as you can. Don't say anything, okay? No matter what," whispered the woman.

The boy nodded quickly and the woman picked him up once again. Slowly, the woman opened the door and looked both ways. Nothing was in sight. As quiet as she could be, the woman stepped outside and tiptoed to the side of the apartment. Again she looked both ways. They reached the corner and suddenly the woman began to run. The boy hopped up and down in his mother's arms and buried his head in her long hair.

The sick-looking man slowly put the gun back into his pocket and walked to the apartment. He quietly opened the door and stepped into the elevator.

The woman felt panic swelling in her chest like a block of ice that was shoved down her throat. She tightened her grip on the suitcase and held her son firmly in her arms as she continued to run down the dim street.

The man quietly walked out of the elevator and headed towards the door with the number 414. Slowly, he reached for the knob and turned it, and surprisingly the door was open. He carefully opened the stepped inside, careful to not make a sound.

The apartment was dark and smelled of cigarette smoke. His eyes adjusted to the darkness and he made out a small sofa in the living room. His eyes then darted to a door and he quietly made his way towards it.

The woman didn't know where to go. She didn't have money for a hotel room and she didn't have any relatives living close by. Where could she go in the middle of the night?

The man slowly turned the knob and opened the door to see a large bed. He could make out a lump on the bed and he grinned. He walked towards the bed, his hand on his gun.

The woman stopped running to catch her breath. She was already far away from the apartment, but she still didn't feel safe. She shifted her son to her other arm and held the suitcase in the other and took off again.

The man slowly held the sheet in one hand and quickly pulled it away. Just when he was about to pull out his gun, he realized the lump was just a bunch of covers in the middle of the bed. The man growled and pounded his hand on the wall.

The woman suddenly stopped and looked around. Suddenly she noticed a familiar house beside her and she sighed with relief. It was her friend Rachel's house. She put the boy down and walked to the door, holding the boy's small hand. A bushy-haired lady appeared at the door and the woman and the boy stepped inside.

* Please review! More chapters will come soon k? Thank you for reading!