Authors: Tallulah Grace
Red jumped the last few feet, landing at the base of the
pine tree. Looking up, he could barely see the camera’s red light blinking, but
only because he knew where to look.
“That should do it.” Folding the ladder, the grabbed the
packaging material in his free hand and headed back to Pamela’s house.
Once there, he set up his computer on the porch, checking
the feeds from each angle. Three cameras on the perimeter of the property, one
on each doorway, and three inside the house gave him nearly a complete visual
of Pamela’s place, inside and out.
“You won’t get by me next time, Chase. If indeed that’s who
you are.” Red wasn’t convinced that Chandler Chase was the man terrorizing
Pamela. It made sense, from her point of view, but he’d checked on Chase, and
the man was in LA last night at some big opening, complete with photographs.
Not to say that it was impossible that Chase was the
stalker. Conceivably, he could have flown up to Starsdale, broken into Pamela’s
house, then flown back to LA to attend the party. It was possible, but the
timing didn’t sync up with the time stamps on the photos.
“Photos can be altered,” Red said aloud, wanting to give
Pamela’s theory as much credence as possible. He didn’t find any information
about Chase’s whereabouts for the rest of the week, so he
come in and out of Starsdale, unnoticed.
Satisfied with the video feeds, he packed up the computer
and all of the packaging debris. His credit card had taken a serious hit, what
with purchasing the surveillance software, not to mention eight cameras, but it
was worth it if it helped him catch the stalker.
Glancing at his watch, Red realized how late it had become.
He’d told Pam he’d be in touch this afternoon, but time had slipped away from
Turning on a few lights inside the home, Red locked the
doors, then double checked that her car doors were locked as well. Staging the
house to look like she was home was easy. Now all they had to do was hope the
stalker showed up.
“And then Mac turned to the teacher, as innocent as can be,
and said, ‘But Mr. Samuels, I thought you wanted us to
You have to picture it, Red and Mac, standing at the counter in the lab, a box
of giant bull frogs sitting in front of them. Within seconds, every frog in the
box had escaped, turning the lab into chaos.” Pamela laughed with Chelsea as
she retold the story.
Mac, manning the grill, couldn’t help but chuckle at the
memory of Mr. Samuels’ face.
“We nearly got expelled for that one,” he added. “Thanks to
Dad, and Mr. Starling, we only had to have detention for a month, and we had to
clean up the lab for the rest of the semester.”
“I’d say you got off lightly,” Chelsea leaned back in the
swing, pushing it slowly with her toe. “The next thing you’re going to say is
that it was all Red’s idea.”
“No, it was both of ours,” Mac tossed her a grin. “Although
JB did help us catch the frogs, but he didn’t get into trouble. He had sense
enough to let us take the heat.”
“You should have seen it, Chelsea. Frogs jumping everywhere,
girls screaming, trying to get out of the room. I think most of the beakers
were broken during the melee. And poor Mr. Samuels, he was so mad at them, you
could almost see steam coming out of his ears.”
“He retired after that year, as I recall,” Mac said,
“Can you blame him? You boys were a handful, to say the
“Nah, it wasn’t us. He was just ready to quit.”
“You keep telling yourself that, MacIntyre. Between you and
Red and JB, it’s a wonder Starsdale High kept any teachers.”
“Now Pamela, you’re giving us too much credit. As I recall,
you and your friend, what was her name, Stacie, got into your share of
“Yeah, but nothing like….sorry, it’s Red.” Pamela answered
“No, I’m with Chelsea and Mac at the B&B.”
“Tell Red to come for dinner,” Chelsea interrupted.
“Did you hear that? Chelsea invited you to dinner.”
“Okay, yes. I’ll see you soon.”
“Is he coming?” Mac asked when Pamela placed the phone on
“Yes, he’s on his way. I’m surprised that I haven’t heard
from him before now.”
“He knew that you would be safe with us,” Chelsea told her.
“Which reminds me, did you ever get JB on the phone?”
“Yeah, didn’t I tell you? He’s hanging out with Artie this
weekend. They’re on watch again.” Mac chuckled.
“Maybe this time their luck will change,” Chelsea added, not
at all amused.
“Artie?” Pamela asked.
“You remember Artie Pike? He and Sue have a farm, just
outside of town.”
“Yes, I remember Artie and Sue. What are he and JB watching
“Aliens,” Chelsea said seriously, sending Mac into a fit of
“You’re joking, right?”
“Oh no, she’s dead serious,” Mac explained. “Artie swears
that, for years, he’s been visited by some kind of alien spacecraft. It just
hovers above his land, every month or so. He’s convinced JB, and this one,” Mac
nodded toward Chelsea, “that it’s real. So real, that JB sits out at night with
him, every now and again, trying to capture the thing on camera.”
“At least I don’t have a closed mind, MacIntyre Mills. Who
knows what’s out there? I’m not arrogant enough to think that we’re the only
beings in the entire universe.”
serious!” Pamela looked between Mac and
Chelsea. This was not the Starsdale she remembered.
“Oh, yeah. Just wait until they capture an image, we’ll see
who’s laughing then.” Chelsea jutted her chin at Mac.
“I don’t even know what to say to that.” Pamela grinned,
thinking of JB and Artie, sitting in a field, staring up at the sky.
“I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong,
ever comes.” Mac walked over to drop a kiss on Chelsea’s brow. “You’re very
cute when you get riled up,” he added.
“And you’re very cute when you’re being obstinate,” Chelsea
tossed back, smiling.
Pamela felt a tug of jealousy at the easy way they
interacted. She missed having playful banter with someone she loved. Missed
having the connection that so obviously entwined the two. She and Red had that,
for a time. When they weren’t screaming at each other, or tearing each other’s
A stroke of fire sparked from deep inside of her at the
thought of her and Red together. She tried not to think of it, ever. But seeing
Mac and Chelsea, so happy, it was hard not to remember the good times.
“Here you are.” Her thoughts morphed into life as Red came
around the corner of the house. “Something smells good.”
“My famous sausages, complete with corn on the cob, and
grilled potatoes. Glad you could join us, Red,” Mac greeted him.
“Thanks for the invite.” Red shook Mac’s hand, then went to
Chelsea, giving her a kiss on the cheek.
Pamela felt like an outsider all of a sudden. Red was at
home here, these were his people.
“Hi, Pam. How was your day?” Red asked, stopping to pay his
respects to Hershey.
“It was good, thanks. No calls, nothing out of the
“Glad to hear it. I was just at your house. I’ve got it
pretty well wired. Want to see?” Red pulled out his laptop, setting it up on
the table beside Pamela’s chair.
Tapping keys, Red brought up a split screen shot with eight
“The first three are positioned at the edge of the woods,
you can only see the ground at this point. These were the places where I
thought someone had been watching you.” Red paused, giving Pamela time to
assimilate what she was seeing.
“The next two are above the stoop at your front door, and at
the steps to the back porch.”
“You covered all of the living areas, plus my bedroom,” Pamela
said, jumping ahead.
“Yeah, that’s the point. He’ll have to walk through here to
get to the rest of the house. I wanted to make sure that we got a clean shot of
“Who can see this?”
“No one but me, at the moment. I’ll give you the website
address, so you can watch, too. If you like.”
“The images feed to a website? So, theoretically, anyone
with a computer could happen upon the site, see me inside my home.”
“No, you need a password to access the site. Plus, you’re
not living at home right now, Pam. No one will be able to see you.”
“I wanted to talk to you about that,” Pamela frowned,
glancing over at Mac and Chelsea. It was just as well they were there, she
could use a buffer. Red was not going to like what she had to tell him.
“My assistant, Kendra, is coming to stay with me. She’ll be
here on Monday, so I’ll stay with Sharon until then. After that, I’ll move
home, and you can station someone outside the house, if you still want to.”
“You’re not moving home,” Red raised his voice, surprised at
Pamela’s asinine plan. “You’re not safe there, not even with a hundred
“I’m as safe there as anywhere else, if you have a guard on
me. I can even get a dog, if you think that will help. You said that I
shouldn’t be alone. Well, I won’t be.” Pamela squared her shoulders, preparing
Red checked himself before diving into an argument with Pam.
As much as he hated it, she was right. As long as she wasn’t alone, and someone
was guarding her, she
as safe at home as anywhere else.
The trouble was, she really wasn’t safe anywhere, not if
this guy was intent on harming her.
“The only way I’ll agree to your staying at home is if we
install an alarm system, and deadbolts on every door.”
Red’s quick acquiescence surprised Pam, so much so that she agreed
to his terms, before he could back pedal.
“Fine. Is there a local company I can call to take care of
it? I’ll have it done first thing Monday, if possible.”
“I can do the deadbolts, no need to pay anyone for that,”
Mac offered, glad the tension surrounding Red and Pamela seemed to dissipate.
“As for the alarm system, there’s an outfit out of Monroe that I use, I’ll give
them a call for you tomorrow.”
“Thanks, Mac,” Pamela smiled at him gratefully before
turning to Red. “There, are you satisfied now?”
“It’s a start,” Red nodded his appreciation to Mac. “But you
and I need to have a talk about personal security. At the very least you should
learn a few maneuvers, in case you’re attacked.”
“What, like stomping on his instep, if he comes up behind
me, or twisting my arms, if he grabs me head on? I’ve taken a course, Red.
Remember? You insisted when I started working such late nights in LA.”
“Oh, yeah. I remember. Well, you need a refresher course.
I’ll come to Sharon’s tomorrow, we can work on it.”
“Fine,” Pamela grudgingly agreed. “You may as well take me
to dinner at Jade’s, while you’re at it. Since Sharon is working, and now I
hear that JB will be alien-hunting, I’ll need an escort.”
“Since you asked so nicely, I’d be delighted.” Red grinned,
not at all disappointed with the turn of events.
“Now that all of that is settled, who’s ready for dinner?”
Mac asked, lightening the mood.
“I feel like I’ve been on a roller coaster all evening,”
Chelsea said as she and Mac waved goodbye to Red, Pamela, and Hershey.
“I don’t know which was worse, the tension when they were
arguing, or the tension when they weren’t,” Mac agreed, chuckling. “Red sure
has his hands full with that one.”
“Hey, it’s not one-sided! Pamela’s in a tough spot. She
needs help from someone she used to love, someone she thinks hates her.”
“I may not know a lot about what’s going on with those two,
but I can tell you one thing for certain. Red does not hate Pamela.” Mac put
his arm around his fiancée, turning her toward the house.
“Of course he doesn’t hate her, any fool can see that, just
by the way he looks at her. But Pamela believes he does, so she’s caught
between a rock and a hard place.”
“Something tells me they’ll work it out.”
“I hope so. I like her. Red needs someone in his life.”
“Let’s not get in the middle of it, okay? They need to work
this thing through on their own.”
“Why MacIntyre, I wouldn’t dream of interfering.”
“You didn’t have to drive me home. I could have waited for
Sharon.” Pamela hid a yawn behind her hand.
“I don’t mind,” Red answered, feeling completely exhausted
himself. A sleepless night, followed by a crazy day, searching for and
installing the right cameras, topped off by an evening of sparring with Pam was
enough to do him in.
“I don’t think I thanked you for installing the cameras.
“You’re welcome. If I’d have known that you were planning to
move back in, I would have installed more. Still might.”
“Oh no you won’t, Red Starling! I think having my every move
recorded while I’m in the kitchen, the living room and in my bedroom is quite
enough. Kendra is not expecting to be filmed while she’s here, I can’t imagine
how she’ll feel about it.”
“I’m sure she’ll like it about as well as you do, as anyone
would. I’m sorry, Pam, but it’s the only way I can keep an eye on things when
I’m not there. Having a guard stationed outside is well and good, but he can’t
be everywhere at once. With the alarm, and the cameras, we’ll know if someone
tries to break in, and we’ll have documented evidence of his identity.”
“That’s the only reason I’m letting them stay. Chandler has
gotten away with this for too long, it’s time to put a stop to it.”
“About that, I did some checking into Chase. Seems he was at
a party last night, in LA. I’ve seen the photos to prove it. If he was the one
at your house, then he had to have flown in, broken into you house, then flown
right back out. Also, he would have had to have taken a jet to make the flight