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Instead of sleeping like I would have loved to, like I should have, I sat at my computer and adjusted one of the outside cameras, angling it at the Honda. Okay so, sure, I was letting my paranoia run rampant, but my brain kept reminding me I had a hunter's, a warrior's, instincts. I couldn't be nothing.

Damn it, I shouldn't run away from something. Anything. I pressed the zoom button, running my fingers through my loose hair, letting the familiar movements reassure me. This was what I should be doing. Take action. Do something. It felt right, good, to be trying to solve the problem, the mystery, rather than letting paranoia and anxiety control me.  

The camera I was using right now was expensive, and well worth the money. It had a phenomenal zoom. I could zoom right into the little POS sedan. Well, this much was certain, I thought to myself with pride, whoever she was, she was definitely spying on me. A caucasian woman with curly, brown hair sat in the driver's seat, her eyes intent on my townhouse.  She didn't look like a PI, she was too heavy to be a vampire. She wasn't a werewolf either because they looked very wolfie this time of night. As I watched from the safety of my office, the woman who looked like she should be working for SWAT or Special Forces never diverted her eyes from the building, as if by staring she could unearth whatever secrets the edifice contained. So, I had a secret admirer, I thought ruefully.  Now, what? 

I let the question reverberate in my mind for a few minutes, metaphorically chewing on the the words. My fingers traced my lower lip unconsciously. What to do? With a crooked smile and a little stroke of genius, I knew. I had an idea. It was going to be good. She'd never see it coming. The smile only grew broader as I stared down the poor unsuspecting woman. She picked the WRONG person. She'd pay dearly for it.



Later that night, as day began outside my sealed windows, I had trouble sleeping. Coming up with a plan to deal with my would-be stalker helped easy my anxiety but, still, something disturbed my peace. I'd first felt I was being followed in the middle of the woods, deep enough I wouldn't expect humans and yet that was undoubtedly what my stalker was.

Then, once more, at my car. There certainly hadn't been a blue Honda Civic in the dirt parking lot. I was certain of that. So, how could a human track me that far? How did she find me at home? My mind raced to conspiracy theories and accomplices, all of which I tamped down, refusing to fall back into paranoia and anxiety.

I closed my eyes and took in a deep breath. Breathe in. Breathe out. Just keep breathing nice deep breaths. In. Out.  Remembering mediation techniques I'd learned years ago, I consciously relaxed my toes and worked my way up my body, finding the little exercise more taxing than usual. After longer than I would have liked, my eyelids grew heavy and I slept a light and restless sleep.

  

She was stationed, waiting in her car. She’d checked out the entire building. During the day, of course. She wasn't stupid. There was an exit out back but the subject wouldn’t leave during the daytime. She was more concerned with who came and went from the building. She intended to find everything there was to know about this... thing. As she waited, an older man with gray hair, maybe in his sixties, walked to the car and knocked on the window. She rolled it down. “Can I help you?” she asked with a bit of pissed off in her tone.

“Well, young miss,” he said in a gruff voice, “I saw you sitting there in that car and I thought you might like some fresh baked goods and coffee while you’re stalking my residents.” He was obviously annoyed but he pulled it off like a good British butler, all polite and sarcastic. Despite the slight hunch and almost farmer boy clothing, he seemed threatening. Ironic considering her background. That and he looked like he couldn't bruise a tomato. Tomatoes aside, she half expected him to say, "If you want her, you'll have to go through me," next. She wouldn't put it past him. He just had that feel, maybe a hero complex or territoriality, she wasn't sure which.

“I’m not stalking your residents, sir. That’s the truth,” she said, never taking her eyes off his. That would be a mistake. His faded gray eyes blazed into her, confident of her lie. He was a shrewd one, all right.

 “Then what are you doing here, sitting in this car with a pair of binoculars in the passenger’s seat?” He motioned to the binoculars with a slight head nod. No point in excess movement at his advanced age. God, she hoped she never got enfeebled. She'd feel caged by her own body, unable to fulfill her purpose, worthless. The thought brought on a whole body shiver she was helpless to prevent.

She sighed, exacerbated with the third degree.  “I’m a private investigator. Someone paid me to keep an eye on Ms. Rossi in 208. I’m just doing my job.” She held up her hands on the last part as if to say, "Whatta ya gonna do?  It's out of my hands."

“Doctor.”

“What?”

“Doctor. She has an MD. She’s a doctor.”

“I didn’t know that," she said without thinking. Shit, she should have kept that little revelation to herself. At least she kept her face straight. Wouldn't want Mr. Keen Eyes to witness her mental backlashing and realize she was more a liar than he already suspected. She could still recover this. Maybe.

He scoffed, shaking his head. “And you call yourself a PI.”

“Hey, I just got on this case," she said with another full body shrug and a lot of attitude. "The only information I have so far is what was given to me by the client. I’m having my assistant run background information as we speak but I like to get a feel for things right away.” She leaned through the window and into the older man's personal space, "I'm not real big on the sitting behind a desk schtick, ya dig?" She winked at him and whipped out a conspiratorial smile.

She wouldn't have thought a person could pull off a full facial scowl but he did. Every facial muscle was involved. She almost sat there in stunned awe. She so wanted to learn that. “Stay away from Dr. Rossi. I mean it," he growled. An image of a gray wolf in full territorial display popped in her head. Yeah, he had that manner about him.

“Or what?” Another little grin. Hey, maybe she couldn't salvage the relationship, but the least she could do is keep it friendly, right? Friendly was nonthreatening. Friendly was disarming. She needed a whole buttload of disarming right now. With his face red as a turnip, Mr. Keen Eyes looked about ready to explode.

“I’ll call the cops," he replied with a glare that said she was about as welcome as jock itch. "If you don’t leave now, I’ll call the cops. I don’t want to see you here again. Do you understand?” He poked his forefinger at her with another snarl, emphasizing his point. As if he was any threat to her? She held back the riotous laughter though. That probably wouldn't win her any favor, just a lightning fast 911.

“Crystal.” She rolled up the window. So much for that…

Photo credit: Zoriah / Foter.com / CC BY-NC



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