Ten minutes after her lessons were supposed to start, Darcy sat on the worn cement steps of the grimy, red brick, three-story building that housed the dojo. The entire first floor was open, all the interior walls removed, surrounded by amber-tinted windows behind metal grillwork, so she could see across from one side to another. She saw the exercise mats, the punching bags, free weights, barbells, racks of equipment, and Roger's office tucked into one corner. However, no sign of Roger. No sign of movement on the second floor, where a dance teacher, yoga instructor, and massage therapists rented rooms. No lights on in the windows of the third story, where Roger had his apartment. She was ready to go behind the building, in the narrow alley between it and the building in back, to climb the fire escape and tap on Roger's window. Darcy didn't want to -- but what if something was wrong with Roger? What if he was sick -- so sick he was still in bed, unaware of how late in the morning it was? She couldn't imagine Roger not calling if he needed to cancel.
Ten more minutes and Darcy pushed her motorcycle around the back of the building and stood on the seat to reach the bottom rung of the fire escape ladder and climb up. The shades were rolled up over the window at the third floor landing, and the security bar across the window was firmly locked into place. There was enough sunlight splashing across the sparsely furnished apartment to see Roger wasn't there. No signs of breakfast dishes. The bathroom door was open. No movement, no signs of life.
Darcy considered climbing up to the roof and trying to force her way in through that door, but it was too close to the edge of the roof. The only way she could think of to get that door open was a running start and throwing all her weight against it. She didn't have much faith in her ability to kick hard and break the lock. She needed something hard -- maybe something sharp -- to break a lock on either the roof door or the window. A shudder worked through her at the momentary thought of using the katana Roger let her use for their workouts. While the blade could do the job, she didn't want to risk it."Moot point," she muttered, as she started down the fire escape again. The sword was inside, and she was outside, and if she could get to the sword then she wouldn't be in the predicament where she needed it, would she?