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Amber Thomas

The Leather-Bound Book

July 23, 2019

Slowly, I peered around the doorway of the new pristine five-star hotel in Miami. The concierge was helping a finely dressed couple with the quietest, most well-behaved little boy I had ever seen. He must have only been about five, and he was already wearing an expensive suit and black leather shoes that just reeked of luxury. Rich people and their spoils, something I had never known. I surveyed the rest of the lobby. There was a lounge area with a flat screen TV, a dining area in back, and billiards in the room to my right. Other than a maid piling dirty dishes into a cart, there was no one in sight. I slipped passed the front desk, made a left, and stepped on to the already open elevator. How convenient. I punched floor six and began my ascent. Whipping out my cell phone, I dialed Christopher. He answered on the first ring.


“Hey,” I said. “I’m in the elevator right now.”


“Good.” His voice was husky over the phone. “You still have the key card I gave you, right?” I nodded, but quickly remembered that he couldn’t see me.


“Right?” he asked again.


“Right,” I said. “Sorry.” I facepalmed myself. How can I pull this off if I’m such an airhead?


“Okay,” Christopher’s voice called for my attention. “The book we need is bound in dark-brown leather and has a metallic clasp on the side.” I nodded. Stop doing that, I scolded myself. “Oh, just a heads up, the pages inside will appear blank because the codes require a special light to see them.”


“Got it,” I said. I pulled the key card out of my pocket with my free hand. “How did you get the key anyway?” I flipped it over in my hand, analyzing the cool plastic. Room 615.


“Let’s just say, I have connections on the inside,” he said. The elevator doors dinged and opened onto the sixth floor.


“Gotta go,” I said. “I’m here.” I hung up without giving him a chance to speak and stuck the phone back into my pocket. The hallway was long with bright lights dangling from the ceiling. I don’t know how I haven’t gotten lost yet. The whole building was enormous. Room 615, I told myself, scanning the numbers on every door. I headed farther down the hall.


“Score!” I said quietly when I found the door. A do not disturb sign dangled from the doorknob. I pulled the card key out of my pocket and swiped it until the green light on the card reader lit up. Taking a deep breath, I pushed the door open and stepped inside. It was even bigger than I expected. The bedroom was a cluttered mess with luggage, clothes, and trash piled around everywhere. I searched the room, opening drawers and looking in the large walk-in closet.


Where is it? I wanted to scream! Wait, what was that? I froze. A sound was coming from the master bathroom. What is that? I listened more carefully, straining my ears to hear the slightest pin drop. The shower! Someone was in here! How come I didn’t notice it before? Squeaks came from the bathroom as the water shut off. Suddenly, I was frozen with panic.


Should I run? Should I hide? Seeing the glint of the doorknob turning, I snapped to my senses and scrambled to fit behind the large dresser across the wall from the bed. A lady around thirty entered the room wearing a white robe and pink fluffy slippers. I held my breath. She rummaged through the clothes sprawled across the bed. Turning around, she immediately saw me and let out a scream. I laughed nervously.


“Room service?” I said, hesitantly putting on a smile.


“You don’t work here,” she glared at me. “Get out.”


“I—uh—” I stuttered. I had no idea what to tell this woman. “I just need—”


“Get out!” she shouted. She grabbed the wad of clothes that was laying on the bed and threw it at me. I ducked. Christopher was right. This lady is crazy. My eyes did one last sweep of the room, and I saw it. The leather book had been underneath the pile of clothes she just threw at me. It was now out in the open, exposed. I looked from the book to the woman. She glanced at the book, realizing the mistake she made in uncovering it. I lunged toward the bed. She was just inches away from me, but I snatched the book close to my chest and made a beeline for the door. I turned around just for a second to see her stumbling over the bed, reach for something, and aim.


Oh, great. The bang echoed in my ears. I ran through the living room, past the kitchen, and out the front door, slamming it behind me.


Well, I guess I got the right book, I thought to myself as I raced down the hall. I pushed the button for the elevator over and over again until it opened. The woman still had not come out of the room.


What is she waiting for? I slid inside the safety of the elevator and rested my head against the cool wall, just now realizing how fast my heart was beating.


“I should be paid for this,” I grumbled to myself, trying to slow my breathing. I pulled out my phone and called Christopher. “Got it. Meet me out front.”


“On my way,” his voice came through. I turned the book over in my hands. It was thinner than I had expected. It was just a plain looking book. No one expected there to be such important information inside. Finally, the elevator opened to the lobby. I walked right past the concierge, who was talking frantically on the phone, something about gunshots? I smirked and walked calmly out of the building. Christopher was parked right in front of the entrance. I trotted around to the passenger side and hopped in.


“Go,” I said. “She fired a gun.”


“Let me see the book,” he said, pulling it out of my arms. His dark brown hair flopped into his eyes as he thumbed through the book.


“Go!” I urged him, rolling my eyes. “We don’t have time for this.”


“I’m going, I’m going,” he said stepping on the gas.


“What if she calls the police?” I asked, looking behind us at the disappearing hotel.


“What would she tell them?” He looked at me. “That we stole the book she stole from us? No way.”


“That’s true,” I said. “You’re right.” I relaxed in my seat. The world zoomed past my window, but I couldn’t focus on anything. I slowly shut my eyes. We finally had the book back, and at least I could relax, for now.




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