Monday, June 22, 2015

QUEEN OF HARTS - Chapter Two

The Serial Killer

Water. She’ll just stick with water.”
“Okay, Mom.” With an indignant snort at her best friend, Mickey grinned at the thoroughly perplexed young man. “I’ll just stick with water,” she echoed dryly.
The waiter placed a heaping plate of super nachos with beef down between them and walked off, scratching his head. That’s not a figure of speech. The poor guy was literally scratching his head in confusion.
Mel pointed a threatening finger in Mickey’s face. “You,” she snarled, “are absolutely forbidden from ever drinking again.”
You don’t even have to say it. The alcohol ban has already been reinstated.
Mickey shrugged nonchalantly, scooping up a cheese-laden tortilla chip and shoving it in her mouth. “Don’t you think that you’re kind of overreacting?” she asked between bites.
“I’m overreacting?” Mel exploded, flailing her arms about, much to Mickey’s dismay. “Aren’t you underreacting?”
Mickey winced, motioning desperately for her friend to keep her voice down. “Shh!”
Mel narrowed her eyes and growled through gritted teeth, “He could have been a serial killer, you know.”
What’s with the whole serial killer reference? The trend really seems to be catching on.
Rolling her eyes, Mickey couldn't help but smile as she said, “He was the furthest thing from a serial killer.”
Mel gave an exasperated sigh and popped a nacho in her mouth. “True,” she agreed, happily crunching away. “He sounds like the perfect gentleman, actually.”
“He was.”
More like just perfect all together. Well, minus the obvious, of course…
“Do you think that his twin brother is single?”
“No idea.”
That part still felt sort of surreal. And a little bit ironic. And a heck of a lot unfair. Somehow, it seemed very wrong for an exact copy of him to be walking around. Like the Earth had fallen off of its axis and thrown the universe out of balance…
“Maybe we can snag a two-for-one deal.”
Pushing aside the irrational thought process, Mickey smirked at her friend. “Maybe you should just ask your boyfriend if he’d let you pay full price.”
Mel pouted dramatically. “Must you always cramp my style?”
Saturdays at 7:00 PM. Their weekly dinner ritual. Mel’s boyfriend was MIA tonight, as he was working out of town for the next few weeks.
They had been able to snag a table in the back corner of Paraiso, their favorite Mexican restaurant. Which was no easy feat on a Saturday evening. Their food had taken forever to come, but that had given Mickey ample time to tell Mel all about her morning before their waiter returned.
Her morning with Cale Windermere. Her morning in his fan-freakin’-tastic mansion of a condo.
As it turned out, Cale and his twin brother ran an extremely prominent building company, which had been responsible for the majority of Seattle’s executive condominiums. Executive, as in posh and ridiculously expensive. And yes, that impressive list included the building in which he lived. Mickey was surprised by how humble, hesitant and almost shy he was when speaking about his professional success.
His building was thirty-three glorious stories high of four standard units per floor, with the exception of the top three floors, which were luxury penthouses. Cale reluctantly admitted that his suite was indeed the entire top floor, complete with private elevator access.
Mickey couldn’t help but notice his obvious discomfort as she gushed over his condo. He was constantly shifting in his wheelchair, fidgeting with the push rims and looking at down at his legs, as if they could save him somehow.
I wonder why it makes him so uneasy?
In return, Mickey shared with him about how a childhood fascination with her grandpa’s old SLR had led to her career as a photojournalist for the local newspaper. “Consider yourself very fortunate that I don’t have my camera with me today, Mr. Windermere,” she joked. Well, half-joked.
Okay, I’m not joking at all. Gimme my camera and I’d walk away with enough photos to process this place as the crime scene of a double homicide.
Note to self: explore possible career as a bona fide CSI.
Shaking his head, Cale looked genuinely grateful to have escaped a potential photo shoot.
“So, are you going to give me a tour of your incredible pad? Or must I resort to snooping?”
“My tour guide skills are a bit rusty,” Cale laughed. “So, you’d actually be doing me a favor.”
It was then that Mickey noticed a dull buzzing sound, emanating from the hallway. It was so muffled that she really had to strain to hear it. “Um, isn’t that your phone ringing?”
Shit.” Cale’s handsome features suddenly became contorted with a mixture of alarm and dread, as he abruptly pushed away from the table, sending his coffee mug shattering to the floor. At Mickey’s startled gasp, he paused and met her eyes apologetically. “Sorry, Mickey. I really have to take that.”
The buzzing ceased and another wave of panic crossed over his face.
Mickey waved her hands, indicating that he should go. “Please, do whatever you need to.”
“Thanks,” he muttered and spun to wheel down the hallway.
A few seconds later, he was zipping across the living room floor at an alarming speed, mumbling into the phone wedged between his shoulder and ear, “I know. I know. Fuck. I know,” as he disappeared into the bedroom.
All righty then…
As she went to the kitchen and searched the cabinets for a roll of paper towel, Mickey could hear arguing accompanied by a few loud groans, followed by silence with the occasional grunt. She had carefully gathered all of the ceramic shards and was wiping up the last trace of spilled coffee when he reemerged.
Having changed into black dress pants, still undone, and some very expensive-looking dress shoes, Cale was tugging his white undershirt down.
Yep, nice abs.
Slipping his second arm into a crisp, powder blue dress shirt, he began to do up the buttons with one hand, whilst propelling a wheel with his other. “You don’t have to clean that up, Mickey.”
“I don’t mind,” she insisted gently and scurried over to locate the trash bin underneath the sink.
Mickey stood awkwardly in the kitchen, watching as Cale gripped the push rim with his left hand and leaned towards it, haphazardly tucking in half of the shirt with his right hand. His legs swayed oddly throughout the endeavor.
They don’t help out very much, do they?
She was becoming increasingly convinced that they didn’t help out at all, actually. Repeating the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for shirt tuckage on the other side, he quickly fastened his slacks.
Cale was threading a black leather belt through the pant loops, when he said, in a strained voice, “I hate to cut this short, Mickey, but I have to get going.”
“It’s okay,” she murmured, hoping that he couldn’t detect the hint of disappointment coming through in her voice. “I understand.”
“I’ll drop you off at your car on the way. Is it parked where I found you last night?”
Drop me off? He must have a chauffeur.
“Um, no. My friend drove us yesterday.”
“Oh.” Frowning, Cale fastened his belt and then swung a scarlet tie around the back of his neck. “I’ll drive you home then.”
How does he drive?
“No, that’s all right. I’m going to call a cab.”
“No.” He was fumbling to tie the knot. “I said that I’d drive you.”
A stubborn streak, I see…
Mickey stepped forward and knelt down in front of Cale, reaching for his hands.
Nice hands. Very, very nice hands.
“Here, let me help you. This is my specialty after all.” She offered him a comforting smile and asked, “Single?”
“P-pardon me?”
He was clearly caught off guard by the question and boy, was it ever a satisfying feeling.
Good job on making him squirm a bit, Mickey.
Not that it could even begin to balance out the ridiculous amounts of squirming, which she’d already done. But it was a notable victory, nonetheless.
“Single?” she repeated suggestively, pausing for maximum efficacy. “Or double?”
“Oh.” He blinked a lush set of lashes, taking a moment to comprehend her question. “Double, please.”
The professional choice. I figured as much. Ooh. Nice tie…
As she expertly manipulated the narrow strip of red silk, Cale lowered his hands and began absently strumming his fingertips against the push rims of his wheelchair. It didn’t convey a message of impatience, but rather, it simply seemed as if he wasn’t accustomed to not doing anything.
Or receiving help.
Bam. A perfect double Windsor knot. Done in less than thirty seconds. That deserves a pat on the back. Maybe even a round of applause.
“All done,” she whispered, gently smoothing down his shirt lapels with her palms.
“Thank you.” Their eyes met and he murmured softly, “Do you live nearby? I’ll drive you home.”
They were so close that their noses were almost touching. The electricity in the air was palpable. Mickey almost leaned in. Almost. Instead, she leaned away uncomfortably. “Um. No. I actually live in Arlington.”
Cale furrowed his brow, and she could practically see the gears turning inside his head as he considered the lengthy commute.
“Don’t even think about offering to drive me,” she growled, in her best effort at a threatening tone. “You happen to have a very important meeting with some very important people.”
Insert failed attempt at a stern face here.
“And you’re incredibly late.”
“What makes you say that?” he asked, raising his eyebrows in child-like innocence. “It’s Saturday. Maybe I’m late for a wedding.”
“Hm. Let’s see. Light blue shirt. Red tie.” Following a few strategic hums and haws, she stated with utmost confidence, “You’re not showing up to any weddings in that power combo.”
“Well, I’ll be damned,” he muttered under his breath with an abrupt laugh, looking slightly mystified and mostly impressed by her deductive reasoning.
With a proud smile, Mickey gave the necktie one final tug for good measure before standing up to inspect her handiwork. “And besides…”
God, he looks so damn sexy.
“I would be highly offended if you didn’t show off my world-renowned tie-tying skills.”
Ah. There’s that laugh again.
Followed by a relieved sigh. “Your purse and shoes are in the closet. I’ll call a cab for you.”
“Thanks, but I can do that myself,” she insisted, skipping over to the closet by the entrance to retrieve her belongings.
“I’ll write the address down then.”
“Don’t bother killing trees. I’ll just read the front of your building.” She swallowed a giggle and quickly slipped into her ballet flats. “The only thing that I need you to do is go knock ’em dead.”
“Here.” Cale had wheeled up to her and was holding out a business card.
She took it from him, wordlessly.
“Just in case you ever need rescuing again.” Cale pushed the elevator button and winked playfully. “Or maybe another coffee.”
Did he just ask me out? No. I think that he just asked me to ask him. Is that like a double negative?
It felt like an eternity before the elevator door opened and Mickey slowly backed into it, never once breaking eye contact. Mostly because she was a deer in the headlights. And those poor buggers never blinked.
Grinning that dangerously charming grin, Cale leaned in after her, reaching an arm around to push the L button. “Just go straight out. You can’t get lost.”
“T-thank you.” Return of the stammer.
“So, are you going to call him?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Why not? You seem to have a bit of a crush, Mickey.”
“You know that I don’t call guys, Mel.”
“Yeah, because that’s worked so well for you in the past,” Mel scoffed, rolling her eyes. She stared at her friend for a long moment before quietly asking, “Are you sure it’s not because of the wheelchair?”
“I don’t know,” Mickey answered honestly. “Wouldn’t it bother you?”
Mel shrugged and opted to skip the question all together. “What do you think happened to him anyways?”
“No clue.”
“Are you sure that he can’t move his legs at all?”
“Didn’t look like it.”
“Do you think that it still works?”
“You know…it.”
Mickey didn’t like where this was going. “It what?” she asked, feigning ignorance.
“His woo hoo.”
Woo hoo?
She giggled. “How the heck would I know?”
“You spent the night with him.”
“Um, were you not listening to me at all?”
Mel looked pensive for a moment and then humpfed. “Well, that’s a real shame.”
“What is?”
“Chances are good that it doesn’t work anymore. I mean, if it did, he would’ve tried to use it, right?”
I can only assume that she’s still referring to his woo hoo.
“He didn’t use his mouth for anything either.”
Very disappointing.
“And that seemed to work just fine.”
“Hand over his business card.”
Mickey raised a skeptical brow at the pointed grabbing gestures. “Why?”
“Because I want to see it.”
Fishing the coveted item out of her purse, Mickey reluctantly passed it over to Mel, who started to type something into her phone. “Hey, wait!”
“Relax.” Mel swatted her friend’s hand away. “I’m not calling him. Just doing a little research, that’s all.”
“Great.” Pouting, Mickey reached for another nacho. “Now, we’re a couple of legitimate creeps.”
“Nah. Just one of us is.”
“I’m guilty by association.”
“Well, that’s no good.”
“What? Being guilty by…” Mickey’s voice trailed off and a wave of dread washed over her, as she noticed Mel scowling at the phone.
Oh. My. God.
“Mystery Man doesn’t have Facebook.” A pause and a deeper scowl. “Or Twitter.”
That’s a heck of a lot better than finding out that he modeled nude for Playgirl. Hm. Well, actually, on second thought…
“Oh! I think that I might have found a lead.”
“A lead? What are you, a detective now?” Mickey laughed at her silly friend. “Okay, what’s your so-called lead?”
“Company website, of course!” Mel beamed with pride. “I know, I know. I’m a brilliant detective!”
Mickey snatched the business card out of her friend’s hand and flipped it over, pointing to the backside. “It’s right here, Sherlock,” she scoffed sarcastically.
“Oh, geez. I didn’t look at the back. Thanks for the help, my dear Watson.”
They simultaneously dissolved into laughter.
“Well, what do you think of him?”
Devilishly handsome and totally delicious, right?
“Dunno. There’s no photos on here.”
Mickey shrugged. “You’ll just have to take my word on it then.”
“Hm. Wait. I think that I might’ve found him.” Mel was scrolling down the page and nodded affirmatively. “Yep, I found him. Some local news story. Looks like he gave a speech for a charity event. C. Windermere, blah, blah, blah, young entrepreneur, blah, blah, blah, makes generous donation, blah, blah, blah, Seattle Children’s Hospital, blah, blah, blah, aha! A photo.” She looked thoroughly unimpressed.
“You don’t find him attractive?” Mickey shot her friend an incredulous look. “Seriously?”
“I mean, he does have a fantastic body and I guess that he is pretty cute. If you’re into that dorky, boyish type.”
“Dorky and boyish?” Mickey couldn’t help but laugh.
Cale is the furthest thing from dorky. And the only thing even remotely boyish about him is that unbelievable smile.
“I’m officially cutting off your drinks for the night, Mel.”
“I guess that his glasses do kind of suit him, in an odd sort of way…”
“He doesn’t wear glasses.” Mickey frowned and then gave a small shrug. “I suppose that he could’ve been wearing contacts…”
Mel cocked her head to one side. “And he’s…um…not in a wheelchair.”
Mickey smiled knowingly. “It’s his brother then.”
“No mention of a brother here. Looks like he’s a one-man show.”
Mickey’s frown deepened. “Well, maybe it was taken before whatever happened to him.”
“Yeah, I don’t think so.” Mel looked solemn as she slid the phone across the table. “It’s dated from last Saturday.”
What?” Mickey grabbed the phone and instantly felt a knot in the pit of her stomach. The man staring back at her was definitely not Cale. And he was definitely not in a wheelchair. She double-checked the name in the caption. Then triple-checked it.
Oh. My. God.
The man was very clean-cut with short reddish brown hair and a dusting of freckles across his nose. Mel was right about him having a fantastic body. Tall and muscular, much like what she had imagined Cale would look like if he was standing at full height.
But Mel was also right about something else. With a pair of quintessential nerd glasses, thick-rimmed and solid black, he slid easily into the category of dorky and boyish. Even though there was a strange appeal…
I get the impression that he’s a very charismatic person.
He could only pass for cute, on the best of days. He certainly could never be described as devilishly handsome by any stretch of the imagination.
“That’s not him,” she stated glumly.
“The guy’s a fraud!” Looking completely panic-stricken, Mel lowered her voice, as she hissed vehemently, “Jesus, Mickey! Do you think that he, I mean, last night…”
Mickey gave her head a firm shake. “No, I don’t think so.”
“How can you be so sure? You were blackout drunk.”
“It just wouldn’t make any sense, Mel. I mean, I initially thought that we had slept together. And it’s not as if I was complaining,” she reminded pointedly. “So, why would he try to convince me that something which did happen didn’t happen, if it actually did happen?”
Try saying that three times fast. Tongue twister central.
“Because he’s mentally insane. Which is the same reason why he’s pretending to be someone he’s not.”
“Good point.” She gestured at the phone and asked, “But why would he pretend to be this guy?”
“Who knows?” Mel shrugged. “Although, he’s pretending to be somebody rich. I’d want to do that. Who wouldn’t?”
“True. Except that he’s not faking the rich part. Trust me.”
“Maybe he murdered the guy and assumed his life.”
A bout of nausea was threatening to overtake Mickey when her common sense kicked in. “And no one has noticed that the guy’s been missing all week?”
“Oh, yeah.” Mel furrowed her brow. “I think that you might’ve actually survived the night with a serial killer, though.”
“He didn’t try to kill me,” Mickey sighed. “He didn’t try to do anything, remember?”
“Maybe he was going to and that phone call interrupted him.”
“I don’t think that…”
I don’t think that what?
“And wasn’t he really intent on driving you home?”
“Well, yes, but…”
“What man, in his right mind, would be offering to drive a girl home when he clearly has somewhere important to be? Especially if she didn’t even put out the night before.”
You’re just chocked full of good points today, Mel.
“Heck if I know.”
“How would he be able to drive anyways, if he can’t even walk?”
“Don’t know that either.”
“Well, whatever. He really wanted to go to your place. Maybe he just didn’t want to mess up his fancy penthouse with your blood.”
My blood?” Mickey burst out laughing. “Okay, Mel. Your wild imagination is running rampant again. And that was a teensy bit too morbid, even for me.”
“Just saying.”
Maybe we should send in a CSI team to scout out his place, just to be safe.
“Doesn’t matter anyways. He doesn’t have my number. He doesn’t know where I live,” Mickey rationalized matter-of-factly. “I’m never going to see him again.”
“True enough.” Nodding, Mel finally seemed content to drop the subject. “So, where are we off to now? Bar? Club? Strippers? Underground prostitution ring?”
Mickey giggled. “How about a PG-rated movie?”
“Living on the edge.” Mel grinned wickedly as she suddenly had a light bulb moment. “Ooh! Let’s do a chick flick, since Jason’s not here to whine and complain about it.”
“Good idea. What’s playing?”
“Let me take a look.” Mel pressed the home button on her phone. “Shit! My phone’s dead.”
“All good. I’ll check for us.” Mickey waved a hand casually at her friend and then began to rummage through her purse.
Oh. My. God.
“We have a serious problem, Mel.”
“I forgot my phone.”
“At home?”
Mickey bit her lip. “Not my home.”
“You left your phone at the serial killer’s place?”
A reluctant nod.
“Where exactly?”
Slumping over to bang her head against the table, Mickey said, “I’ll give you one guess.”
“Are you sure? Didn’t you use it to call a cab?”
“No,” she grumbled. “A cab was just dropping someone else off at the front, so I hopped in.”
“How convenient.”
Mickey groaned miserably. “That’s what I thought.”
“You have a passcode lock on your phone, right?”
“That’s a relief, at least.”
“Go and cancel it, first thing in the morning.”
“And get yourself a new phone.”
“Tonight’s on me.”
Mickey never bothered to mention that her cab fare from that morning had come up to a hefty two hundred bucks even, including the tip.
Check off of the bucket list: Survive the night with a serial killer.
“Heeeeellloooooo? Earth to Mickey!”
“Sorry!” She bolted upright. “What do you need?”
A cute young man was standing in Mickey’s office, regarding her with a curious expression.
Mickey relaxed back into her chair. “Hey, Kyle.”
Kyle was a young intern who was painfully eager at only nineteen. Not to mention, he had quite the aggressive crush on her. Like an adorable kid brother who just wanted to tag along. He was always a bit awkward too, as if he hadn’t quite figured out how to control his unwieldy long limbs yet.
I’m pretty sure that he’s the offspring of Josh Groban and Mr. Peabody.
“What’s up?”
“What’s got your head in the clouds?”
A devilishly handsome mystery man named Cale Windermere. Um, no. He’s not actually Cale Windermere. And all evidence points to him being a serial killer…
“What do you mean?” Mickey asked in pure innocence.
“You’ve been distracted all morning.”
You don’t say.
“No, I haven’t.”
“Okay, then tell me what you’re doing right now,” he challenged with an amused jingle in his tone.
“Running through the edits for tomorrow’s headliner.”
At least that’s what I should’ve been doing.
She confidently waved the folder in her hand at him. “See?”
“Yeah, I see,” Kyle nodded, a goofy grin appearing on his face, “that you’re learning to read upside down.”
“What?” Mickey looked at the folder in dismay.
Traitorous thing.
She grinned back and tossed it on her desk. “Busted.”
“Don’t worry. I won’t tell.”
“I know, Kyle. You’re the best.”
“Aw, Mickey.” He blushed profusely, grinning from ear to ear. “Hey! You got a new phone. I thought you said that you were planning to use the old one until it fell apart?”
I was planning to…
She looked down at her shiny new iPhone.
But I forgot it in Mystery Man’s bed and then he turned out to be Serial Killer Man, so I couldn’t get it back.
“I lost it.”
“Oh, that sucks.”
Nothing more to say on that topic.
Mickey shrugged casually. “Do you know if any deliveries came for me?”
“Not yet. Why, what’d you buy?”
“Another lens for my camera. It’s supposed to arrive today. But that’s enough about me.” She waved away the topic. “What can I do for you, Kyle?”
He blushed again. “What?”
Mickey rewarded him with a fond smile and purred, “Well, you came to talk to me, right?”
“Oh, yeah.” Kyle nervously shuffled his feet. “I’m running out real quick to that cafĂ© across the street and I was wondering if, um, I could get you anything?”
Sweet kid.
“A coffee would be great, thanks.”
“Vienna roast. Black. With a touch of vanilla powder.”
Kyle beamed at her approval, then happily bounded out of her office and down the hallway.
Mickey glanced up at the clock. 12:04 PM.
Wow. I really need to get back to work. Or even start working, for that matter…
“Hey, Mickey!” Kyle was yelling back to her. “Your package is here. Chelsea says the delivery guy’s waiting outside.”
“Okay, I’m coming!” Grabbing the nearest pen, Mickey ran down the hall to the front entrance and burst through the door, saying, “I hope you haven’t been waiting too long. I didn’t realize that I’d have to sign for…”
Oh. My. God.
“Hey there, stranger.”
Oh. My. God.
Mystery Man a.k.a. Serial Killer Man sat in front of her, in jeans and another short-sleeved polo shirt, peacock blue this time.
He must own one in every single color of the rainbow. And I’m willing to bet that he looks this scrumptious in every last one.
He had a coffee in one hand and her phone in the other. The sight of him sort of took Mickey’s breath away.
Okay. Not sort of.
“Y-you’re not m-my package.”
Wow. Epic fail of the century. Just wow.
Emerald green eyes sparkled up at her, complete with the matching lopsided grin. “I’m not your package?”
Oh. My. God.
“W-what are y-you doing here?”
Hello, stammer.
“I came to return your phone and bring you a coffee.”
“H-how did y-you find me?”
“I hired a private investigator.”
There was the deep, throaty laugh again. The one that she’d been daydreaming about all morning long.
“You told me that you worked for the local newspaper, as a photojournalist. And that you lived in Arlington. I tried channeling my inner Einstein but he was completely stumped. So, we called up Columbo and the three of us somehow managed to figure it out together.”
That was funny.
Cale held up the phone and…
Oh, crap. I guess that he’s not technically Cale, is he? He’s just a serial killer who happened to track me down at work. Serial Killer Man. SKM for short…
SKM held up the phone and coffee to Mickey. When she made no move to take them, he waggled his eyebrows. “Are you all right?”
“Y-yes.” Her eyes darted about, doing a quick survey of her surroundings.
Lots of people around. Okay, Mickey. Calm down. And stop stammering.
“Sorry,” she apologized, trying too hard to sound casual. “I’m just surprised to see you here.” Taking the phone, Mickey ignored the coffee, which SKM lowered back down to his lap.
“And I’m just surprised that you never called me to get your phone back.”
“I lost your card,” she lied flatly.
“Ah, that makes sense,” SKM said lightly with a nod, although he didn’t look convinced in the least. “Why didn’t you try calling your phone?”
“I figured that it’d be dead.”
Like I’m going to be, if Serial Killer Man gets his way…
“Right.” Still not too convinced. “Well, lucky for you I have an iPhone as well, so I did you a favor,” SKM winked, “and charged it for you.”
“Thank you.”
And thank God for passcode locks.
An amused glimmer flickered in those incredible green eyes. “Really?”
She stared at SKM, dumbfounded. “Really what?”
“Do you really want to thank me?”
To her horror, Mickey could feel herself nodding.
How can someone so gorgeous possibly be a serial killer?
Um, Mickey? Ted Bundy was an attractive man, remember? And good ol’ Ted doesn’t hold a candle to this guy…
“Well, you can thank me by joining me for lunch.”
She snapped out of her stupor in a flash. “I-I can’t.”
Control that stammer, Mickey.
“I see.”
Her stomach fluttered as a look of disappointment washed across SKM’s handsome features.
Going for lunch in a public place would be safe enough…
Have you completely lost your mind? Hello? Ted Bundy? Ted freakin’ Bundy? Remember???
“I’m sorry, but I can’t. I’m swamped with work today.”
Which is actually true because I spent my entire morning daydreaming about you.
SKM raised a skeptical brow. “No lunch break?”
“I eat at my desk.”
Also true.
“Look, I appreciate the offer but I’m really swamped with deadlines today. Or else I would love to.”
Okay, that part’s a lie. Well, kind of, sort of a lie…
He shrugged indifference. “Take the coffee then, since it sounds like you’ll be needing it, and this.” SKM flashed her that devastating smile again and pulled out a business card, placing it neatly on top of the lid. “In the optimistic case that you actually did lose the other one.”
Mickey took both, willing her hands to stop trembling. They didn’t. And now, the rest of her was joining in. “T-thank you.”
“Anytime, Mickey. Anytime. I’ll let you get back to work then,” SKM said smoothly. “It was nice to see you again.”
And with that, he spun around and bounced down the curb to wheel off across the street.
It was nice to see you too…whatever your name is…
Mickey was shocked to see SKM roll up to a black GMC Denali and reach for the driver’s side door.
That’s a one-ton truck. That’s an unusually high one-ton truck.
She turned and headed back to her office.
How in the world is he going to drive that thing? How in the world is he even going to get into it?
She resisted the urge to go back and look.
“It’s almost five-thirty. Way past quitting time.”
Mickey glanced up from her computer. “Soon.”
“I’ll wait for you then.”
She flashed Kyle a guilty smile. “Okay, I lied. I’m not even close to being done here.”
Because I slacked off all day. Thinking about a certain green-eyed serial killer.
“That’s okay. I don’t mind waiting.”
Aw. What a sweetie.
“I still have at least two hours of work left. Way past your bedtime,” she teased, to which Kyle flushed and pouted. “Go home, kiddo. I’ll see you in the morning. Just lock the door for me, okay?”
Looking at the two coffee cups in front of her, Mickey frowned. The gift from Kyle sat empty and the other one remained untouched. She really needed more coffee.
It’s probably poisoned. Or roofied. Or both.
She groaned and went back to work. Coffeeless.
We desperately need to get a coffeemaker here….
She collapsed onto her desk with a huge sign of relief.
Finally done.
A glance up at the clock read 8:37 PM.
Guess I had three hours of work left, not two.
Just as Mickey was shutting down her computer, she froze…
Oh. My. God.
And felt the every hair on the back of her neck stand on end.
Oh. My. God.
Someone was knocking on the front door.
He’s come back to kill me. I’ll just pretend that I’m not here. Crap. Can’t. Lights are on…
The rapping intensified.
Oh. My. God.
Mickey looked around, searching desperately for a weapon, and grabbed her tripod off of the floor. She slowly crept down the hall, wielding it like a baseball bat.
Serial Killer Man’s shadow loomed outside the door.
Oh. My. God.
“Are you sleeping in there, Mickey?”
Let me in already!”
As Mickey ran to the door and unlocked it, her best friend stumbled through the entrance.
“Geez. It sure took you long enough! And what the hell were you going to do with that?” She was pointing at the tripod a.k.a. the baseball bat.
Holding up the white knuckled weapon, Mickey burst into laughter. “I was about to bludgeon you to death with it.”
Mel’s jaw dropped open in utter disbelief.
“I thought that you were someone else.”
Narrowing her eyes, Mel sounded highly skeptical as she asked, “Whom else were you expecting to bludgeon to death exactly?”
“Ted Bundy.”
“Excuse me?”
Mickey sighed in defeat. “Let me grab my purse and I’ll tell you all about it over a piece of cheesecake.”
And a scoop of ice cream…
Oh, heck! Just hand over the tub! Entering the Twilight Zone calls for an entire tub of ice cream.

(Bonus Content)
To be continued in Chapter Three...


  1. AWESOME!!! I can't get enough of this story.

  2. OMG I thought you meant next weekend!! It is wonderfully written. I'm a total addict already I've read the first chapter for five times and this one for two... thanks so much for writing :-)

    1. Yeah, i was soooo excited, and surprised when i saw you updated today :D

    2. Do my eyes deceive me? You’ve read the first chapter FIVE times?
      (starts to hyperventilate and grabs a paper bag…)

      Thank you.

  3. Oh my... It is super intriguing. I want more of Cale,kind of feel sorry for him here,but also,why does he feel uncomfortable speaking about his job and condo... Still want more,more,more of Cale :)

  4. More please. I'm falling for Cale the hard way :-) Please god don't let him be a serial killer lol

    1. Aww. Would you really let such a minor detail as him being a serial killer change the way you feel? :-P

  5. Loving this story! Was so happy to find an update today. Fantastic writing and I am definitely intrigued about his real story. Felt a bit bad for him in this chapter. Thanks for the update!

  6. I cracked up over reading this on the train just now (quite a show for everyone around, I guess). What a great chapter! Love it, could read tons of it and be sure it would never get boring. Thanks a lot!

    1. I entertain you…you entertain the train folk...
      Just paying it forward ;-)

  7. So cute!
    I love the mystery but don't let him get away!

  8. Wow-- this is intriguing. I like Cale so far (I love the very normal witty repartee between them) but it the mystery around his identity does seem exquisitely weird. Please keep going. I hope Cale becomes someone worth loving.

  9. Delightful! I really hope we find out soon who he really is :-)
    Thanks for sharing!

  10. Another great chapter, I love the characters, the dialogue, and the overall story! I can't wait for the next chapter!

  11. So curious!! Can't wait to find out what's up!


    A funny idea just popped into my head…
    Gonna go whip it up now...
    Because that’s how much I appreciate your comments :-)

  13. AHHH! I love this story. Please keep updating frequently. Still thinking 'C. Windemere' could be his brother?

  14. I was just wondering... maybe you can add the next chapter earlier :-)

  15. Great Story! Very intriguing characters! I also believe C. Windermere might be e.g. Christoph Windermere and is his non-identical twin brother... I love that you're updating so frequently but as it's not allowed here to have two authors post on the same day I think fridays should stay reserved for TOF (and wednesdays for TAC of course). Please don't get me wrong, you're a terrific writer and I do hope that you update pretty soon again.

    1. I’m very sorry! I had no idea that certain days were already reserved. My apologies for stepping on anyone’s toes!! It shan’t happen again!

      Would Saturdays be alright? :-)

    2. As far as I'm concerned you can update every single day :-)

    3. Aww, thank you for that.
      I shall still follow the proper schedule, but I very much appreciate your comment :-)

  16. I was just thinking - what does Mickey look like?

    1. Good question. Mickey looks like...ooh! Squirrel!!

      Soon. ;-)

  17. I can't wait to read the new chapter! Absolutely in love with the story so far!!!!!!! Please don't stop posting :)

  18. You have a marvelous sense of humor that comes through in your writing. I am so glad you are sharing this powerfully entertaining and intriguing story with us.

    1. The next time someone says I'm crazy...I'm telling them that Pepper says it's just a "marvelous sense of humor" LOL

      Thank you so much for the compliment!