Danielle quickly extricated herself from twisted sheets and blankets and ran to her door. As she yanked it open, her father went racing by and sprinted down the stairs, jumping them three at a time. Only then did Danielle realize the annoying beeps were actually coming from the doorbell. Whoever had been relentlessly pushing the doorbell had just started pounding on their door. Anja lunged past Danielle, almost knocking her over, and chased after Peter.
Without thinking, Danielle bounded down the stairs after her father and dog. By the time she reached the first floor, Peter had already opened the door. A policeman filled the opening, his nose just inches from where the door had been. Silver streetlight glowed behind him, casting him in silhouette. But enough light from their entryway shone on his face that Danielle recognized him at once. It was the same officer from the crime scene earlier that day. Anja must have also recognized him, too, because she dropped her head down, spread out her stance, bared her glimmering teeth and growled so low it rumbled.
Peter was startled by Anja’s growling almost as much as by the policeman stepping into their house. His mouth still open to speak to the officer, Peter twisted his head to shush the dog. But before Peter could say anything, Anja launched herself at the man. At the same moment, the officer abruptly flung his bare hands out at Peter, with palms out and fingers aimed at the ceiling. Even though his hands never touched him, Peter was hurled up and backward. As if in slow motion, Danielle watched in horror as her father sailed violently past her, flying through the length of the house until he crashed into the rear wall, narrowly missing the picture window looking onto the patio. The look on his face told her everything she feared. But what drew her attention was Anja impacting the policeman, chest high, with enough energy to knock him off the front step and into the grass beyond. Furious barking was quickly drowned out by an unearthly howling. Danielle’s blood ran cold.
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