Authors: Shane Morgan
Clear. I looked inside the closet.
Seeing that it was also free of intruders, I slipped out of my room and went
down the hall to the bathroom.
No one was there.
entirely too many movies. What would I have done if there
I meandered back to the living room and
plopped down on the couch, then began to feel around the packet. Anxious about
what was inside, I finally tore off the seal and emptied the contents on the
coffee table. There was a silver necklace with a leaf pendant and matching
earrings, just like the bracelet he’d sent me at the office.
What’s with this guy and his gifts? What
a waste of money
Setting them aside with the rose, I
unfolded the note. I was nervous but still eager to read it nonetheless.
I didn’t mean to scare you.
I thought you’d be flattered by how much I wanted you.
Please don’t let my invasion push you into his arms.
No one knows how to treat you better than me, Bristol.
Not even that cop.
If you let him in, I’ll be very upset.
I started to hyperventilate. It was a
threat. I knew I should call Mason and tell him. Pulling out my cellphone and
the card that he’d given me, I began putting in his number.
An urgent knock at the door startled me,
so much that the phone almost fell from my hand. I swiveled and peered over my
shoulder at the door.
Nervously, I yelled, “Who is it?”
My anxiety simmered—a little. I rose
from the couch and treaded to the door, opening it without unfastening the
chain. “What do you want?” I barked.
Tyler glared at the chain. “Come on,
Bristol. Let me in.”
“No,” I hissed. “Go away.”
He looked down for a beat. When he
lifted his head again, he seemed so sad. His shoulders sagged as if he was out of
hope. I was tempted to let him in, but my senses defeated the feelings I had
“The cops questioned me,” he said.
“Someone broke into your apartment? Bristol, you shouldn’t stay here alone.”
“I’m fine,” I told him, acting tough.
Truthfully, it was hard to ignore the butterflies that were dancing in my
stomach. “Look, I have to finish something for work tomorrow so…” I started to
shut the door.
“Wait, Bristol.” Tyler stuck his hand
inside to stop me.
“What is it?” My tone was biting.
“I just want to talk. Can you please
open the door? I feel silly like this.” He touched the chain.
Sighing, I unfastened it and opened the
door wider. “You’re not coming inside.”
He stepped forward and stood in the
Tyler stayed quiet for a while, staring
at me without speaking. I didn’t know how much more I could take so I asked
again, “What do you want?”
“It’s not just about me cheating,” he
replied. “We were having trouble before that.”
I backed away as Tyler tried to touch my
arm. “Are you seriously trying to justify your actions?”
,” he drawled. “What I did was
terrible and I’ll spend every single day of my life making it up to you if you
give me the chance. I’m just saying, there’s more we need to work on.”
He was right. The communication had
died. We were barely spending time together. Still, I doubted there was
anything left to work on. Trust was gone, and I didn’t want to make the effort
anymore. I had no energy left.
Tyler brushed my cheek with the back of
his hand. It sent sparks all over me, only the feeling wasn’t the same as what
I’d experienced before when we’d first started dating. It felt subtle, like it
was wearing out.
I moved his hand away and said, “I don’t
want to go back.”
He sighed. “Bristol, please. I’m sorry.
sorry. Please give me another chance.”
“You have to leave,” I told him, looking
,” I cut him off.
Backing into the hallway, Tyler stood in
one spot. When I finally met his gaze I saw that he was studying me. I started
to close the door. He muttered “I love you” right before I shut it in his face.
Fastening the chain, I turned and leaned
my back against the door. I thought I would break down and cry again, but I
didn’t. To my surprise, I felt even more contented in my decision to end things
I was truly moving on.
For the next week,
I busied myself with plans for the upcoming fundraiser and tried to keep Tyler
and my admirer off my mind.
Greg Wilcox had been stopping by the office
to discuss the event with everyone. The fundraiser was two weeks away now, and
he wanted me to sit in on meetings to help come up with interesting ways to
draw out more donors. It was a test to see how well I could perform, and I was
happy for the distraction.
But, whenever the delivery guy stopped
in the office, my whole body would tense, wondering if he’d have a packet for
Oddly, my admirer hadn’t left me
anything since last Sunday. It was now Thursday, so maybe he’d given it a rest.
I prayed that was the case, though a
part of me feared I was wrong. At least I’d had my locks changed and a security
alarm installed on Monday, so if he snuck inside my apartment again his
perverted ass would be caught.
While I hung my head in deep
contemplation, someone squeezed my shoulder.
“Join us for lunch?” Julian asked.
“Oh wow, you’re so jumpy, Bristol,”
Looking up, I scolded him, “Can you
blame me? Someone’s been creeping me out.”
His smile vanished. “Sorry, I didn’t
mean anything by it.”
Geez. I needed to relax. “I’m sorry. The
past few days have been weird.”
“It’s okay,” he said, bumping my arm.
“So, uh, are you coming with us to lunch
then?” Julian asked again. She had a pleading look. I couldn’t refuse.
I picked up my purse and rose from the
chair. “Yes. Let’s go.”
We went to a bar and grill down the
street from the office. We ordered hand-cut fries and buffalo chicken tenders
for lunch and sat at one of the tables out on the deck. Being close to the
ocean always put me at ease.
“Have you received any more notes?”
Julian asked me as I dipped a fry in the splotch of ketchup I’d squeezed out on
“Not since Sunday,” I answered. “I hope
he’s given up.” My mind drifted to what he’d written about me getting close to Mason,
and how he’d be upset. The memory brought back the creepy-crawly feeling.
I wondered just what my admirer would do
if he got upset.
Seven zapped me out of it when he said,
“Maybe the camping trip will take your mind off everything.” He cut into the
crispy chicken on his plate.
I passed a confused look between them.
Staring at Julian, he cocked his head in
surprise. “You didn’t tell her about it?”
She eyed me as she explained, “I thought
you wouldn’t want to, with what’s been going on.”
“But what trip?” I asked again.
“Fourth of July weekend,” Seven
answered. “We wanted to take a few friends with us to Block Island.”
Julian clasped her hand over mine on top
of the table. “If you don’t want to go, I’ll stay back with you and we could—”
“No,” I interjected. “I’ll go. It’ll be
fun.” I formed a smile. “I haven’t been to Block Island in a while. I want to
Julian confirmed, “You sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure. I’m not going to let
some creeper spook me out of having fun with my friends. I’m so going.”
“Cool.” Seven nodded at me. We continued
eating. A few seconds later he asked, “So do you have any idea who’s sending
you the notes and such?”
I turned my head slowly. “None. But like
I said, it might be over.”
We finished lunch and returned to the
office. I went to use the restroom. There was no one inside and it gave me an
eerie feeling. I’d never felt that way before, until this secret admirer
I slipped into a stall and did my
business. While fixing my clothes, I heard the door open. I thought nothing of
it and was about to step out, only to freeze at the sound of loud, masculine
footsteps entering the ladies restroom.
Waves of fear crashed into me. I
remained inside the stall and bent down to try to see the feet of whoever it
was. My breath hitched when I glimpsed the black oxford lace-up shoes and blue
jeans. Not only that, but the person was standing just outside my stall.
I straightened fast.
Oh my gosh! It’s him!
My body quivered in fear. My heartbeat
increased. I felt like passing out.
“Wh-who’s there?” My voice cracked.
“What do you want?”
No answer, just heavy breathing.
“Look, if you don’t get the hell out of
here right now…I’ll scream.”
I heard his footsteps move away from the
stall. Kneeling down to look under the door, I saw that he was heading for the
exit. I waited for the bathroom door to open and close. When it did, I stepped
out of the stall cautiously and checked to make sure he was gone.
Relief flooded me seeing that no one was
there. I steadied my galloping heart.
It was him.
But what was I doing? I’d missed the
chance to see his face. I had to know.
Dashing out of the restroom, I looked up
and down the passage, uncertain of the direction in which he’d turned. I wasn’t
sure what to do next. Should I call Mason? Should I pull the fire alarm and put
the office on lockdown?
There was no reason to scare everyone.
My admirer had probably slipped out the emergency exit already anyway.
Deciding to return to my desk and get my
phone, I gasped as I bumped into a rock hard chest the instant I turned the
He had a puzzled expression as he
regarded me. “Are you all right, Bristol?”
“No!” I blurted without thinking. “Did
you see a guy just now wearing—” I stopped as a thought occurred. “It was you!”
Greg staggered back in horror. His jaw
dropped. “What are you talking about?”
“You’re the—” I glanced at his feet.
Greg was wearing brown loafers and dark dress pants. It couldn’t have been him.
Great. I was becoming paranoid. Had it
even been my admirer in the restroom?
Lifting my head, I noticed he still had
a mystified look. He huffed and placed his hands on his hips, “Ms. Armando,
what’s going on?”
“Um, sorry,” I muttered, apologetic.
He dipped his head and smirked. “I see.
Well it’s about to get even longer. Do you mind staying late to help me with
“The list?” I repeated, scowling.
Greg blinked, amazed at how lost I was.
“The list of invites for the fundraiser. My father and I want to make sure we
get some fat pockets to show up.”
“Oh, of course. Sure thing.”
After giving me a lopsided grin and a
gentle pat at the arm, he continued past me down the passage. I trekked back to
my desk and sank in the chair, gazing around the office.
Everyone was oblivious, preoccupied with
their tasks. My gaze connected with Julian’s across the room. She puckered her
“Are you okay?” she mouthed.
I feigned a smile and mouthed back, “I’m
Reaching for my purse, I dug around for
my cellphone, then changed my mind about calling Mason. What was the point? My
admirer was long gone by now.
After what seemed like an endless
evening of confirming with executives and inviting local business owners to the
fundraiser, Greg finally allowed me to leave for the day.
My knees wobbled as I headed toward the
parking lot at the back of the building. Silly me, I should have asked Greg or
the security guard to accompany me to my car. At least I’d taken my keys out of
my purse while in the office, so I wouldn’t have to waste time searching for
It took forever to cross the lot. The
night was dark and eerie, and the wind did nothing to ease my anxiety.
When I reached the Kia, I still had a hard
time unlocking the door. The keys rattled and I dropped them once before
finally unlocking the car. Just as I was about to slip inside, a strong hand
coiled around my waist and another covered my mouth.
I nearly pissed myself.
My screams were muffled. I squirmed and
clawed at his hand.
“Shh, babe it’s me,” the familiar raspy
He released me when I stopped
struggling. I swiveled and shoved his chest hard. “Damn it, Tyler! Don’t sneak
up on me like that.”
“Sorry,” he said, his hands up. “Relax.
I just wanted to see how you’re doing.”
“Peachy!” I turned back to the car and
Tyler held the door, keeping me from
shutting it. “Did the cops find the guy who broke into your apartment?”
“For all I know it was you,” I hissed at
“What? Bristol, we’ve been over this. I
didn’t send you any notes and I certainly didn’t break into your apartment. Why
would I do that? I have a key.”
“I don’t know, maybe you wanted to scare
the shit out of me.” I spoke in a snotty tone.
Tyler opened his mouth wide, astounded
by my accusation. He backed away from the door. “Wow. I can’t believe you. I
love you, Bristol. You know I’d never do that.”
“I don’t know what to believe anymore.
All I know is someone has a fixation on me and he’s taking it too far.”
“You should stay at my place,” he
suggested. “You’ll be safer there.”
“Excuse me?” I scoffed. “You’d love
that, wouldn’t you? I’m not going to your place ever again. Give Jen a call
He clenched his jaw, furious that I was
being stubborn. “I haven’t spoken to her since… Look, it’s only until we figure
out who it is, Bristol,” he said, his voice stern.
“I’m perfectly fine at my apartment.
aren’t figuring out anything, so just leave me alone. I’ll deal with it
I pulled the door shut and started the
car, then backed out of the parking lot, giving Tyler no chance to utter
another word. I wanted to get home, take a long shower, crawl into bed, and
forget the frigging day.