Lila was digging in her embroidered handbag for her keys, when she looked up to see a cardboard box leaning against her front door. Shaking her head, she walked toward it. “More eBay stuff,” she grumbled. Lately Ian had been on a buying spree in a quest for the perfect Halloween outfits for them.
She reached down to pick up the box, and nearly fell over as the weight from her backpack sliding off the one shoulder almost pulled her off balance. Reaching to the ground to steady herself, her hand encountered what felt to be a flat package. She grabbed it and heaved her way up, finally using her keys to unlock the door and stumble inside.
“Oof.” She nearly face planted on the floor as she tried to avoid tripping over their cat Pearson, who sat squarely in the middle of the doorway looking peeved about having been home alone all day. Lila finally came to a halt and managed to close the door without stepping directly on Pearson before throwing herself down in a chair and putting down the assorted packages, purse, and backpack with a series of heavy thuds.
“Sorry, buddy. Got caught at work.” She addressed the cat, who decided that she had gotten the message and came over to jump in her lap and demand the attention that was his rightful due. Lila petted him absentmindedly while turning over the envelope that she’d picked up right before entering. Written in Cyrillic were a couple of words that made her blood run cold: