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Well, my stalker was gone. I watched on the monitor as the little blue sedan sped away, leaving Charlie, my super, in the dust. After a couple minutes went by, the phone rang. I picked up and said, “Hi, Charlie.” Thanks Charlie, I thought. Thanks. He'd never fully realize how much I appreciated what he did.

“You were right, Angi," he said, his voice rough from emotion. "She was spying on you. Not that she could see anything through those blacked-out windows of yours.” I heard the smile in his voice as he spoke, but then he sighed. “Any idea why a PI's looking into you?” The statement had a good dollop of, "Please tell me you're the good girl I've always known you to be." God, I really didn't want to break his illusions of me. Not now, not ever. He was a sweet old man and probably the only person I'd consider a friend in this fucked up life I was living.

“I have no idea,” I said, shaking my head. “I don’t know,” under my breath. Fuck, I really didn't. I knew plenty of people that would want me dead, plenty more that would try to end me if I forced their hand.  A few more might want to make me hurt, but in daylight? Not unless they wanted the sunburn from hell. And to hire a PI? In vampire society, that would be like offering your balls up on a platter and officially changing your status from male to pansy-assed little girl. Not. Gonna. Happen.

“Well, we know one thing, she didn’t stay for muffins," he said with a show of sardonic amusement.

“Muffins? You have muffins?” I beamed. Charlie made the BEST banana nut muffins in the world. “Come on up!” My voice squeaked through at least one octave as my mouth started to water against all logic. Damn Pavlov.

“I knew you’d say that," he said with a renewed smile. "I’ll be right there.”

  

I’d sent Charlie to do my dirty work because I didn’t want her to think I’d been alerted to her presence. Since I didn’t confront her, I was hoping she'd think I didn’t know the truth. I wanted her to feel at ease. I wanted her to watch me while I went about my daily routine as if nothing was happening, as if nothing was wrong. That and I couldn't go out in the daytime, so confronting her wasn't an option.  Vampires tended to avoid it when at all possible. But that was just me getting sidetracked, once again, distracting myself.

The truth was, I was on edge - a climbing the walls kind of on edge. I must have gotten sloppy. That was the only thing I could think of. The only possible scenario pinging through my head that explained how I could have gotten so totally fucked. That was no private investigator. I knew that like I knew I needed to feed once a week. It took special skills to follow me that well and only one human profession came to mind, a vampire hunter. Shit. I couldn’t see what I’d done to alert her to my presence, my identity, and it was driving me bat shit crazy. I wasn't that sloppy, damn it.

Fortunately, she was sloppy. And sloppy enough to get herself noticed in the first act. At least, I hoped it was the first act. God, what if she'd been following me for days, weeks even. If I was sloppy enough to get noticed, God only knew how long she could have been following me.

No. I shook my head. I refused to put myself through that. I grabbed another muffin Charlie had brought in and chowed down, letting a moan escape my throat. I swallowed. No. I wasn't going to let her get to me like this. It didn't matter how long she'd been on my trail. What mattered was I knew she was there and, once the advantage of surprise was lost, a human had no chance of getting me. None. A smile that would have sent chills down the spine of anyone with half a sense crossed myself face. Oh yeah, the hunt was so ON!



The sun had finally set. She was waiting outside the development with a telephoto lens. She’d changed cars in case that damn nosy super noticed her again. Yeah, didn't need THAT again. As she waited, propped up on the hood of her car, she watched as her subject got out of the house and started locking up. She followed it with the bulky lens as she pressed the button and got into her car. She continued to watch as her subject came in her direction. When it was within a street and making a left, which would lead it right past the pesky little PI, as the super knew her, she dropped the camera on the seat and popped into the car, turning the engine over and clicking the button for her four-ways, pretending she was looking over a map. When the subject passed, she waited until it made a right on the highway and, a few seconds later, she turned off the four-ways, tossed the map on top of the camera and made the same turn.

She started to panic as, even after a minute on the highway, she still hadn’t gotten visual contact with the subject. Had she somehow lost it? Maybe it had only stayed on the highway for a moment before turning on a side street? She had about decided to turn back when, finally, she saw the vehicle weaving through traffic at higher speeds than everyone else. Speeds high enough to qualify as a Nascar driver. Damn. There was no way she'd manage inconspicuous if she didn't want to lose the car.  Deciding it was better to keep up, she floored the accelerator and weaved through traffic, praying for no cops. Good thing she knew her way around high-speed driving.

After about ten minutes of weaving and speeding, the BS turning on its right blinker light and turned on a side road before quickly hitting the blinker again and turning into the parking lot of an old brick building which she passed. She pulled into a parking lot two buildings down and on the left side of the road, picking it because it seemed deserted. Pulling out the camera again, she started to take pictures of the building with the grimy windows and small lettering which could just barely be made out as “City Morgue.”

It worked at the morgue? The BS worked the night shift at the fucking morgue? Fuck, that'd figure, right? She figured she should make sure. Putting the camera down, she rifled through her bag until she found her cell phone and walked over to the pay phone at the opposite end of the parking lot. She rummaged through the pages until she found the listing for the morgue in the tattered, water-logged excuse for a directory and dialed. She was greeted with a surprisingly peppy voice that said, “City Morgue, how may I direct your call?” Wow, way too cheery for an employee at the morgue. She flashed back to the heavyset guy at the check-in that grunted, "What?" every time you disturbed the reading of his sacred comics. He'd always smelled like KFC fried chicken and armpit. This lady would probably smell like gardenias and rose petals.  Probably wore cardigans and slacks too.

“Hi. Um, I’m looking for Angelina Rossi. I’m a friend of hers.” Sound friendly, she reminded herself. Sound nice. Right, like THAT was going to happen. She was biologically incapable of nice and friendly.

“Oh, you mean Doctor Rossi?”

Full head nod. “Yes, thank you.”

“I’m sorry, she hasn’t gotten in yet.”

“But she should be in by now," she improvised. Think. Use what you know to develop a rapport with the lady. "She left her townhouse about fifteen minutes ago. It’s only like a five-minute drive with the way she drives,” she said, making fun of the BS's driving and hoping the woman took the bait. Hell, if the BS had gone any faster in that old as dirt convertible, she would have lifted off the ground.

“Don’t I know it,” the receptionist said. “I once had to ride shotgun with her in the meat wagon. Let’s just say it’s an experience I’ll not soon forget.” She paused, "Or soon repeat."

“Yeah, she isn’t exactly known for her driving.” Bet those BS reflexes came in REAL handy.

“Well, still. She hasn’t checked in yet at the front desk. You’ll have to call back later.”

“Thanks. I guess I will.” Strange. Unless the front desk was in the basement, which she doubted, that receptionist was lying her face off. One thing was certain, her BS did work at the morgue. Smart, very smart. Work where it'd most likely to be able to cover up its own messes. That definitely wasn’t the kind of forward-thinking she expected from a one year old vamp. Not in the least. Interesting.

Photo credit: ihave3kids / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND



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