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He would have used an under-cover car but figured it might draw too much attention so he placed a call to the local cab company and while they waited, talked the situation through.

“He’s been pretty damn busy,” Craig pointed out. “Cassy’s car wouldn’t start, and Maggy’s died a couple blocks from the house, it’s why we walked home.  When did he have the opportunity?  We have a guy staking out the front of the house for Christ sake and they all can’t be incompetent!”

“I’ll call everyone in individually tomorrow, find out if they were distracted for any length of time and by what!”  Max’s next call was to the impound yard with explicit instructions.

Arriving at Maggy’s home, Craig wandered, taking in her abode.   It struck him as modern, inviting feminine but not frilly.  Mostly, it was welcoming.  The furniture although modern in design, was comfortable, easy. The light airy accents added zip but weren’t difficult on the eye.

Meanwhile, Maggy made coffee and pulled some ready-made dough from the freezer.  Cassy suddenly remembered her drops, “Oh my god, my drops are in the fridge at home.”  Craig offered to get promising he’d be back before the coffee was made.

Jogging all the way to Cassy’s, he investigated all the doors and windows. The front and side doors were secure.  The overhead light above the glass patio door was out and the glass nearly cut. Using his shirt to unlock it, he entered carefully heading directly to the fridge and after pulling out the drops, hurried back outside.

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“Jesus, this guy is a piece of work!” Craig said.  “Where the hell is he getting his information?  It’s personal.  No one on the outside could possibly know about your allergy to bees.”

“I don’t know, but it could have killed me.  I carry an eppy pen but I’d need someone else to administer it.  I can’t go back inside until it’s fumigated and I’m damn sure they’re all dead.”

“I hate to say it, Myerson, but you got what you wanted.  He’s directing his attention at you whether his intent was immobilizing or killing you, that puts him in the crazy department.  Attempted murder or killing a cop pulls a heavy penalty,”  Craig said with a sigh.  “And he’s up to two now, so what does that say?”

“That he means business and he won’t stop and that I’ve ruffled his feathers, more than a little,”  Myserson remarked.

“Max, this is way too serious and all too horrifyingly real.  What if we hadn’t been late?”

“Then I would be in serious trouble. This begs the question, does anyone else have any life-threatening allergies he could use against us?”

“I’m deadly allergic to penicillin and I don’t carry an eppy pen because the only times I need worry is if I’m sick.  It’s a matter of record,” Maggy answered.

They mutually decided to head to Maggy’s until they knew it was safe to reenter the house.  Before leaving Max walked over to the officer posted in the undercover car.  “Keep your eyes peeled.  Once it’s been fumigated, do a walk through and call me on my cell.”

 

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Cassandra unlocked the front door and entered the room and hearing a strange buzzing sound said, “What is that?”  They all stopped and listened.  “Out, get out!”  Myerson pulled them out the door and slammed it shut behind him.  “Jesus H. Christ!  He’s been here, while we were out.”

“How?  When?  There was a cop out front!”

“Get animal control on the horn, pronto.  Wait here!” he said rushing toward the undercover car.  Jackson saw him coming.

“What’s up?”

“Did you see anybody enter the house?”

“No, there wasn’t any movement after the others left.  Nothing.  Why?”

“It’s ok, Jackson, he went the back way, got in the house.”

“Shit!”

“Stay put, keep your eyes open.  He hasn’t given up yet.”

“Max, what the hell is going on?”  Cassandra asked.

“Bees.”

“Bees?”

“Yeah, bees.  Your house is swarming with them.”

“How did he get in?”

“Through the back door I imagine because the officer didn’t notice anyone out front.  We have to wait until it’s clear.  I’m allergic, deadly allergic.”

 

 

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“Why not, it does a body good!” Cassandra said with a grin. Locking Maggy’s car they started out on foot, hoping a short walk would clear their heads. Before long, they’d made a complete circle around the town and stopped into the Esso gas station for some mocha coffees.

Meanwhile, the tall lanky man who thought himself above everyone else both in intellect and physical prowess, had other plans.   They would have found the cars by now.  It was going to cost to fix that engine, funny what a simple thing like a little sugar in the gas tank could do to a car.

 He knew there was an undercover cop car out front, but where there was a will, there was a way.  The other cop was gone, the time was right.  He hopped two fences crossed three back yards and entered her house.  He sliced the glass in a neat arc around the sliding glass door lock and carefully slid his hand inside to open and unlock the door.  No alarms if you unlocked the door.  He left the door wide open to ensure an easy escape in case someone came home.  Placing the jar on the counter, he carefully removed the lid rolled it onto its side.  Turning around he hurried out the door. Don’t mess with the master.

 Myerson arrived minutes before the others. Craig called him on the cell phone and explained where they were and said they’d be home shortly. Myerson got out of the car and would have gone inside but noticing them walking toward him, he stopped and waited.  It saved his life.

“Sorry, we didn’t bring one for you.  Didn’t know when you’d be back.”

“No problem, I picked one up on the way out.”

 

Blindsided 137

“There’s a Colt, Fontain, Richardson, Masters all this year.”

“They were relatives of locals I believe,” Maggy added.

“Yep, it says so right there.”

As they searched through the obit columns month by month, they were surprised and saddened at the number of people they had known peripherally at least that had passed away. The reasons were just as sad and varied from car accidents to natural causes to cancer.  Few of the names they’d searched had come into direct contact with Cassandra in a meaningful way.  Dog-headed stubbornness kept them at it for hours.  Finally, with a short list in hand, Craig called it.  “Man, that’s it for me.  I’m gonna phone my mother tonight, make sure she knows I’m thinking about her. This crap has made me completely introspective.”

“I guess death has a way of doing that!” Maggy agreed.

“I think we need to lighten up.  Anyone interested in taking a drive?”

“Let’s hop in my jalopy,” Cassandra said, “it hasn’t been moved in a while.”  So they grabbed their gear and headed outside.  Cassandra handed the keys to Craig and they piled in.  It stubbornly refused to start.  After fiddling around under the hood, Craig informed them he didn’t’ know what the problem was and they ended up taking Maggy’s car instead.

Maggy hopped in the driver’s seat and started the car.  They were a couple of blocks from the house when Craig asked how old the car was.  “Practically new, I bought it two years ago, why?”

“It’s sluggish, real sluggish.”  No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the car died.  “Well, we’re not having much luck in the automobile department.  I guess we go back to the house, unless you feel like taking a walk.”

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“Yeah, a foursome.”

“Oh god, don’t remind me, I‘d forgotten about that.”

“I don’t remember what they looked like, much less their names or where they were from.”

“Somewhere in Spain, wasn’t it?”  Maggy recalled, “I’m pretty sure they moved on and rather quickly when they didn’t get what they wanted from us.”

“I don’t remember anything else during that trip, do you?”

“Nope, that was the only weird thing about it, everything else was pretty spectacular.”

“Ok, here’s a list from this past year.  Do you know any of these people, Cassy, Maggy?”

“Let’s see.  Mrs. Marsden – worked at the Insurance Company and was simply spectacular at her job – would help anyone with anything.  I think her husband is a total jerk, but that’s just me.”

“Mr. Bert Harcourt – Harcourt, Harcourt, no, don’t recall that name.  Garland.  Wasn’t that Jeremy’s mother?”  Cassy asked.

“Yes, it was, sad really.  The whole family was beset with problems.  First Jeremy’s mother, hit and run, then his sister, got cancer, then his older brother had a heart attack and that left Jeremy and his new wife.  I hear they are expecting, finally.  Been trying for a couple of years to have a baby and it just didn’t mesh. Apparently she has to take it easy, and it’s been touch and go, but so far so good.” Maggy related the story with a somber note in her voice.

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“Jesus h christ, that opens a multitude of possibilities, a whole damn town-full!”  Max dropped his head in his hands considering the ramifications.

“I have to talk to the locals, see if anyone lost a close significant other recently, someone that didn’t take it well, and someone who knows you.”

“I’ll be as quick but I have to look at the files personally and correlate any new possibilities with the info already in my head.”

Max pulled Cassandra close and holding her head between both hands, dragged her close to kiss her long and hard.  “That’s for both of us.”

“Craig, let’s take a look on line; bring up the North Island Gazette, see if we can access the obit files and how far back they go.”

“That list I just gave you, goes back eight years, to the beginning of college.  Let’s see if we can find anything here that might put us on the right track,” Cassy commented excitedly.  They crowded around the computer so they could all see. “The thing is, anyone in Hardy that could be involved, wouldn’t have known me either growing up or through college, so I’m not sure this helps us much.”

“Maggy, have you thought any more about our trip?”

“I am.  I was thinking about those two guys we met at the museum.  We called them gentleman as I recall, then gave them the bums rush when they got too personal.”

“That’s right.  Gentlemen, right! They had the persona down pat, but they became pretty miserable when we put the brakes on and explained we weren’t interested in what they had to offer.”

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“That was a fab trip, wasn’t it?”  Maggy began reminiscing and Max listened as intently as did Craig.

They ate pancakes, bacon and eggs, enjoyed another cup of coffee before Cassy went to the upstairs hall closet.  Her albums were there.  Dragging out a couple of boxes, Max quickly took them from her and they returned to the dining room table.

“That’s strange.  There are several missing albums.  Remember those pictures I took of the boat ride – on the tour around Paris?  We thought that couple looked so cute, so romantic?”

“The only reason they stood out was because she was so tiny and he was so tall and he kept picking her up and holding her so she could look in his eyes.  It was so darn cute.”

“I didn’t move them and I can’t imagine why anyone else would want them.  It is weird is all!  I wonder if I still have the negatives somewhere, I could have them re-developed.”

“Perhaps our mystery man helped himself,” Maggy suggested.

“Why would a trip to England and France be of any interest to him?” she asked aloud.

“It’s probably a long shot but those negatives could be useful and it couldn’t hurt,” Max agreed.

“I was down earlier and I overheard you, Max.  That’s what started me thinking about anything and everything that might be applicable, no matter how remote.  I want an end to this so I’m willing to try anything.”

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“Morning everyone.”

“Look at you, sleepy head,” Maggy quickly acknowledged.

“Max didn’t fill you in?”

“Sort of,” she said looking at Max for direction.

Pouring a coffee, Cassy asked, “What happened with that list you were looking into, Max?  Anything stand as viable?”

“We’re still investigating, Cassy, not quite done yet. We’re conducting a more in depth follow up on where these guys are.”

“Well, I have a few more names to add to the list,” she stated as she handed over the name’s she’d remembered.

Max read the names and said, “Any of these people stand out to you?”

“Not really.  Most were too self-absorbed – we all were in college, we were young.”

“Maggy, I was thinking about our trip to England and was wondering whether you remember any incidents that might be important.”

“I’m pulling at strings I guess.  I went over the trip in my head.  Other than an a spectacular time enjoying the sights, I don’t recall anyone behaving obnoxiously or threateningly for that matter.”

“I have photos somewhere.  I should check the hall closet and see if I can find them.  It might jog my memory.  But you, on the other hand have such a spectacular memory, I wondered if anything jumped out at you.”

 

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The trip down memory lane brought back some pretty heart-warming memories.

They shared secrets, watched each other’s backs, ran interference when necessary and generally supported each other, in everything.  Maggy was like a sister, the sister she’d never had and always yearned for.  The current situation was just such an instance – Maggy was here for her – as she would have been for Maggy had the situation been reversed.

She’d been involved in two relationships in college, but neither lasted since neither had provided what she sought.   Admittedly she’d been pretty single minded getting her degree and starting a business being top priorities.  She’d been closer to Jason Waters than Mark Withers but she couldn’t visualize either one becoming obsessed with her.  They were much too self-absorbed for that.

Martin Bennet had been her latest and probably her longest involvement.  They’d separated because they were too incompatible in nature for their relationship to work.  He was too conscious of being politically correct , while she’d felt less bound by social niceties.  Although she adhered to the important things, she was less moved by what others thought of her than he was.  It crippled who he was and could be.  His business interests took him to the States and Europe and he’d been furious when she wouldn’t drop what she was doing to go with him.  The relationship had ended when she wouldn’t subjugate her life for his.

Max had this list of individuals and she’d have to ask what he’d discovered, but she would add the other names too.  Then she’d talk over their trip to England with Maggy and see if that elicited anything new.

Cassandra felt good, at least it was proactive and movement in the right direction.  She showered, dressed and joined the others, her list in hand.

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Maggy worked freelance allowing her different options such as travel if she wished, working in an office or at home.  She wasn’t ready for the worry and responsibility that came with owning a business, and that was ok.

They ended up in Port Hardy, together, because Cassy had scouted out the location in advance, done all the leg work for a business and figured it could fly. Since Maggy was free to work from any location, and she loved the area too the decision was made.

There simply wasn’t a single plausible reason to suggest Maggy wished her harm. It was just too preposterous to contemplate.

Ok, England!  Casting her mind back to their trip, she tried to determine if anything went down she may have forgotten.  They’d visited museums, enjoyed the theatre, shopped, even partook in excursions to outlying areas to visit interesting landmarks.  But did anything unusual happen, anything of particular note?

Although she hadn’t met anyone she had kept in touch with, she remembered Maggy had.  She’d have to ask to see whether Maggy remembered anything peculiar that happened. As far as she could recall, nothing happened personally that could be linked to the current situation.

 

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College – she’d had a few good friends, like Mable Osgood, Franklin Thompson, a minor blip having decided college life wasn’t for him – too much work, there had been Joceline Manchester, Harold Watson and Maggy, of course. Other than Maggy, she’d lost touch with the others.  There were a fringe of people they hung with occasionally, but nothing stood out as important either. They were just a bunch of college kids, having fun as time permitted.  Their group, hadn’t participated in the pranks the others had, but they weren’t averse to having a little fun either.  So although they weren’t the outcasts, they weren’t included with the “in” crowd either.  They had been accepted by everyone, probably for that very reason.

The idea of considering Maggy a suspect was completely abhorrent and the only reason she even entertained the possibility was because she’d known Maggy the longest of all her friends.  Perhaps if they put their heads together, they might generate possibilities they might not have included since no romantic interest was involved.

They’d been best friends since they’d first met in an exercise class.  It was a mutual friendship built on respect, dignity and care not to mention they were so alike in personality.  They both enjoyed a good joke, many of the same activities, likes and dislikes.  There were differences, of course.

For one, Cassandra willingly risked venturing into her own business.

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“Suggesting he was watching even then – had to be and it’s the only explanation for the timing of the damage to her eyes,” Craig immediately suggested.

“Craig, I want you to run a discreet check on hospital personnel.  It might be a long shot, but if he isn’t a hospital employee, then he might have contacts there.  He found out about her eyes from someone; Cassy hadn’t even told Maggy about it at that point.  The only people aware of the situation were the hospital staff and the doctor.”

Unbeknown to the men, Cassy had been sitting on the stairs listening.  It was eerily perfect she thought.  She had to agree, the only logical course of action, the only game plan available, was to attack again.  This time, it would be more dramatic, she was sure of it.

She quietly returned to the bedroom, she had some thinking to do.  Hopping on the bed, she grabbed a notebook and began making a list – if nothing else to occupy her mind.  But still, it could generate some possibilities they hadn’t considered.  She started with a list of the events and their occurrences adding questions along the way while creating a time line of events.

-Eyes – glass in December

-escalating injury – May

-emails – middle of May

-she learned the condition was eye sight threatening – 15th of May

-attack on her home – middle of June

-attack on Craig July 1st

-phone calls July 3rd

Ok, she needed to generate a start point – start point, start point – it could be anything, who knows how long this guy had been out there.  So, if she went back say eight years, used college as a start point, and continued up to the present, when she’d started her own business, it would cover a large majority of the new comers in her life.  Who had she met during the past eight years that was significant enough to consider?  This called for critical thinking.

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“We’re definitely on the right track, we’ve got him reacting – and if his current pattern continues, he’s going to slip up and we’ll nail his ass. I don’t think he can help himself.  Anger is over-riding judgment.  He was furious enough to attack the store in retribution, then you.”

“He hasn’t attacked Cassy, he hasn’t crossed that line.  Yet!  He’ll attack someone else though, either someone in close proximity whether a family member or someone that means something to her. He can’t let this go.”

“He may have been a step ahead of us, but I think we just cut the distance down and closed the gap.  Whatever he has planned, we had better be ready for it because he’s going to hit hard and fast.”

“He’s smart, I’ll give him that, but he’s unstable and that instability will be his undoing.  He’s lost his edge.  Difficult to say how long he’s been planning this, but my guess is, it’s been awhile.”

“Doc Jamison said that the bacteria would take several months to grow and only in optimal conditions.  Who knows how many tries it took to perfect.  Then, the ‘happy’ accident with the glass in Cassy’s eyes, and although we can’t pin that on him, it couldn’t have happened at a more opportune time.”

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“Ideally he sweeps heroically into her life and says, I’m here, lean on me, I’ll take care of you.”

“Using threatening messages, creating an aura of fear; expecting to add another layer of desperation, hoping that since she’s already feeling vulnerable, he’s increasing that vulnerability ratio, taking it to another level. That works.”

“Yeah,” Max continued, “then he tries to destroy her credit rating, making her financially dependent, or so he thought.  Fury motivates the hit on the store – goaded into action I’m positive – at witnessing our night on the beach which suggests two things.  One, he was close, witnessed the evenings activities, and two, he was so enraged so furious, he struck out blindly, without thinking.  It still worked in his mind.  Destroying her livelihood would devastate her and further compromise her financially.”

“He knows we’re involved and he was telling us that right off.  The only glitch in his campaign is he has to continue overtly, accessing her credit cards, bank account, then cutting the power, figuring at the very least it would place her in a frightening or embarrassing position.”

“Again knowing we are here.”

“Sure but all the protection in the world doesn’t alleviate fear remove vulnerability, not completely, it’s still there if not consciously, subconsciously.  He’s saying, hey, I’m still here, I haven’t gone anywhere. They can protect you, but only I can stop this, I have control.”

“When he struck out again, I was on the receiving end,” he rubbed the back of his head.

“He’s panicked and feeling frantic.  His actions have shut him out, his plan has backfired.  We’re still here.  He’s not.  All he’s able to do is contact her, listen to her voice, hear her breath.  He won’t stop now.  So what’s his next move?   My bet is he’s going to insinuate himself into her life somehow, somewhere and soon.”

“He’ll step up his game, make it more personal hoping she’ll react which is his end game,” Craig added.

Blindsided 124

Check her email will you?  I have a sneaky suspicion  he didn’t stop at phone calls.  I’m betting he moved on since she can’t ignore her email as easily as a phone.”

Craig went to the lap top on the dining room table.  Sure enough, her email was full and every bit as colourful as the phone calls.  They’d apparently begun when the phone calls ended, sometime around 3:30 in the morning according to the date and time on them.

“Now is that anyway to talk to the woman you love? Really bad form if you ask me,” Craig observed aloud.

“Surprisingly, there’s nothing over the top, which is what I had expected; pretty much more of the same as on the answering machine,” Craig observed.

“Ok, time for a quick recap: we know he’s responsible for the damage to Cassys eyes, the Doc pretty much determined that.  The goal has always been vulnerability, the more vulnerable, she is, the more likely she’ll need someone to lean on, ostensibly, him.”

“I’m more than a little surprised he didn’t take Maggy out, especially when he saw her step up.”

“I wondered about that too!” Craig agreed.

“Usually these things escalate – start small and work up – establishing he was here for her all along, proving what an upstanding guy he is.”

“I agree, but this guy has an agenda and a very specific reason for the way he does things.  The ultimate goal is having her turn to him.  He’s not physically available to her.  Why?  Is it someone she met and doesn’t trust (with good reason) is he striking out at her for something?” Myerson mulled aloud.

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Not even ten minutes later, the phone rang again.  “Hello?”

“You hung up on me.”

“Look, I don’t know who you are, but you undoubtedly have the wrong number.”

“I need to talk to you, hear your voice.  It’s been too long.” he suggested. Cassy placed the phone under a stack of pillows and flopped down. Max was sitting on the bed beside her.  She mouthed, how long, before gesturing ‘hanging up’.  Max gestured back, give it 2 minutes.  Cassy sighed, waited, then hung up.

“He could keep this up all night you know,” she remarked barely contained frustration threading her voice.

“I’ll take care of it.”  Max hustled downstairs and set the answering machine to kick in on the first ring and within seconds, the light was blinking.  He’d have his work cut out for him tomorrow.  Correction, the tech guys would.  Before heading back upstairs, he filled Craig in.

Max was up, showered and changed before Cassy woke.  A coffee in hand, he checked the answering machine.  It was full.  Busy guy, busy night.  He definitely hadn’t slept much.  It was small satisfaction, but satisfaction none the less.  Max listened.  The calls got louder and more obnoxious by the minute as disbelief turned to anger and frustration, and that’s when the obscenities began.  “Colourful, isn’t he?”  Max said aloud.

“Wow.  Haven’t heard some of that since, god, I was a teenager and trying it out,” Craig agreed.

“Do we let her hear it?”

“Depends on whether Cassy wants to hear it or not.

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In the dim light, she nodded her head, before answering.

“Hello?  Who is it?”

“It’s me, darling.  Sorry I couldn’t be with you tonight.  Looks like you were having fun.  Imagine how much more fun it would have been with me at your side.”  Cassy laid the phone under the pillow and motioned to Max that it was him.

Picking up the receiver she said, “Man I’m so groggy, I, who the hell is this?  You got the wrong number.”

“Darling!”

“Nope, don’t know you wrong number.”

“That cuts deep, Cassandra, darling. Don’t you recognize me?”

Again she placed the receiver under the pillow.

Max had retrieved a piece of paper and pen and wrote, “Hang up.”

“Man I got’ta get some sleep,” she said, “I got’ta go.  Check the number and dial again.  Nite now,” she said in an off-hand manner.

“Well, it seems we got his attention again.  I guess the party was a smash success.”

“Probably means he’ll be calling back.  You prepared? “Max asked.

“Yeah, if he calls back, I’ll just put the phone under the pillow.  I really have to get some sleep.”

“Good plan.”

 

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Not for the first time, she wandered over to the bed, climbed in torn by emotion.  God he was so sexy with those silly pajamas and sexy lips.  He was hot!  Phew, cool down girl she admonished herself.

Max similarly realized it was becoming increasingly painful to lay in the same room with her, denying all he was feeling.  The attraction had blossomed into full-blown lust need excitement and desire.  Feelings he was desperately trying to contain.  Keeping a lid on them was questionable at best.

“Nite,” he said after she crawled in and turned out the lights.

“Goodnight Max.”

She lay there for a long time, before she finally turned over and fell asleep, thoughts of Max foremost in her mind.

Standing in his hotel room, he seethed.  How the hell was she enjoying this?  The answer was, she wasn’t. She was pretending.  He’d turned her head.  It was momentary.  Before long she’d realize that she was his.  He’d make sure of it.

 He ‘d been shocked when he’d driven by and witnessed the crowd in her place.  How the hell had she managed that on such short notice?  He thought he’d taken care of it, having hydro disconnected.  It was great she was so buoyant, it bode well for their future, but damn it, not now, now with him!

And here he was standing on the sidelines, watching, observing, when he should be the one at her side, holding her, loving her, touching her.  Well, as he couldn’t sleep, he’d make the most of it.  He’d call, let her know he was thinking about her.  Let her know he was disappointed she hadn’t thought to include him.

 He couldn’t call from a traceable number; so he hurriedly pulled on a light coat, and headed out to find the nearest phone booth to call from.  As he drove, he went over what he’d say.

 Cassy woke from a deep sleep, inclined to believe the ringing phone was part of her dream.  By the time she realized it wasn’t and had hauled herself up, it registered that this could be the perp.  Max thumped up the stairs two at a time.”

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“As they should!”  Maggy replied loyally.  “After all, you’re the company.  She’s wonderful, but still, just a stand it.”

Cassy laughed. “I doubt she’d appreciate hearing that.”

“Perhaps not, but it’s true.”

“Well, that’s the clean-up done.  I’m all for bed.  Man I am pleasantly tired.”

“Yeah, me too.  It was fun though, wasn’t it Maggy?”

“Sure was, like old times, and way overdue.  Glad we did this.”

“Nite guys.”

“Nite,” they responded in unison, although Craig accompanied her upstairs.

“How serious is that getting do you think?”  Cassy asked.

“Looks pretty serious to me.”

“Well I have to get to bed too.”

“Wait, I’ll turn out the lights, check the locks while I’m here and I’ll head up with you,” Myerson offered.

“A ok.”

Upstairs, Cassy used the bathroom first.  As she brushed her teeth, she smiled noting how neatly Max had installed his stuff alongside hers without intrusion or disruption.  God she could get used to this.  It was so appealing having him here, finding little tidbits of Max here and there.  She’d lay awake at nights, fighting with herself, yearning to take it to the next level,  invite him into her bed and then found herself drawing back wondering if this was the best course of action under the circumstance.  She wanted him there, no doubt about it, but she worried about rushing it.

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Shawna and Kevin Barrister were the last to leave.  “That was great fun, Cassy.  I really enjoyed myself.”

“I’m so glad, Shawna, I have been meaning to do this for ages.  I don’t know what stopped me, but I’m thrilled we did it now.”

“Drive safely.  Take care, ok?”

“Nite.”  Shawna hugged her close.  “Talk to you tomorrow.”

“Oh, the bar is a smash hit.”

“I thought it would be.  Well I hoped so anyway.  I’m just a little disappointed I wasn’t there to see it.”

“How’s it going with Treena?”

“She’s great.  Good choice.”

“Awesome.”

“Well, g‘nite.”

Closing the door she asked, “Was it my imagination, or did Shawna seem a little distracted?”

“She did,” Maggy agreed.

“Wonder what that’s about?  Think maybe the store is too much responsibility for her?”

“No, I think she’s enjoying that part.  I’ve received lots of emails to that affect from customers.  They say she’s been very helpful, although they miss me.”

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“I’ll have to give more thought to the past and anyone that played a passing part in my life.  I can’t think of anyone that fits the bill or comes close, and might take a minute since they aren’t at the forefront of my mind.”

The day’s activities were varied.  Cassy phoned the hydro company and was told they’d received notice to disconnect.  Myerson immediately called the tech department, gave them the information hoping they could track where and when the disconnection request had originated.  Within the hour, hydro had been re-established.

Together, they dismantled the previous night’s work, removing candles and straightening up then headed out for a little physical activity, kicking a ball around in a friendly keep away game.  Cassy sat on the sidelines for the most part, although they tried to include her as much as possible, content to watch and kibitz from the sidelines.  After that, they went for a long walk at the waterfront stopping in at a few shops along the way.

Taking a detour to Precious Little Gifts, Cassy picked up the mail chatting with Shawna for a few minutes.  After that, they went to the mall to do some window shopping before buying groceries to restock the fridge.

Cassy was thinking diversion and suggested picking up extras to invite Shawna, a few of Maggy’s friends and a couple of the neighbours over for the evening.  Myerson figured it was a brilliant idea and should put spokes in the perps wheels…he wouldn’t expect her to pick up the pieces that quickly.

When the guests arrived, a party atmosphere consumed all as they danced, laughed, ate and visited, catching up on their lives. It was a great evening.  It was a bit of a juggling act as they steered the conversation away from any discussions regarding Cassy’s current situation.

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Blindsided 117

What about the rest?  In his deluded mind, they had a relationship and he saw life as though they did.  Maybe they were overlooking something or someone.  There had to be another angle here.  Could this be a failed relationship, someone in her past?  What if it weren’t a relationship she’d had but one she’d refused, turned away from?  Hmm, that was something he hadn’t considered before.  He’d talk to Myerson see about jogging Cassandra’s memory in that direction to see if there were any connections there.

When Myerson joined him the following morning, he mentioned the idea.  Myerson agreed they should take a closer look at people Cassy had been involved with.  It might be uncomfortable, but it was a lose string they hadn’t considered enough.

When she joined them later that morning, he offered her a cup of coffee, inviting her to join him at the dining room table.  “Those are awfully serious looks.  What’s up?”

“Craig, join us?”  Myerson said.

“I went over those songs,”  then explained his thoughts on the matter.  We couldn’t help but wonder at a couple of lines which could read as a relationship he thinks exists, or perhaps, that did.  So, we need to ask.  I know it may seem like an intrusion, but we really need to investigate that angle.”

“And you were worried about asking me something?”  Cassandra asked somewhat surprised.

“Well, it can be a really touchy subject for some.  If it ended amicably, no harm no foul, but if it didn’t, bringing up those old ghosts can be traumatic in itself.” Craig responded.

“Craig and I were wondering  about failed relationships, men who wanted more, but you weren’t interested, maybe from an earlier time, pre college or college.  Think about it, Cassy, see if anyone or any situation comes to mind where you were uncomfortable.”

“It’s a little embarrassing, but certainly nothing painful about it.  I still can’t imagine anyone this obsessed; even though I know it’s happening, it doesn’t make sense.”

Cassandra had no qualms about naming names.  The list wasn’t particularly long, considering how young, beautiful and smart she was.  Myerson figured it would be longer, but then she’d been a very dedicated student, focusing on creating and maintaining a livelihood.  Making her business a success was important to her. Would she be willing to add to that priority list, he wondered.  Would he?

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Craig had gone through the emails on Cassy’s lap top, putting them in order. The backup power supply would hold long enough to do some work so he continued.  As suspected, they were song lyrics.  So he went through all the lyrics he’d previously downloaded for both Police and Rod Stewart.  He went through them, underlining the lines and phrases the sicko had used so far.

Police-

Every breath you take, Every move you make, Every step you take, I’ll be watching you, Every single day, Every word you say, Every game you play, Every night you stay, I’ll be watching you, Oh can’t you see, You belong to me ,How my poor heart aches, Every step you take

Bread

Baby I’m a want you, Baby I’m a want you, Baby Im a need you, You only one I care enough to hurt about, Maybe I’ma crazy, But I just cant live without, Your lovin and affection, Givin me direction, Like a guiding light through a darkest hour, Lately I’m a prayin, You’ll be a stayin beside me, Used to be my life was just emotions passing by, Then you came along and made me laugh. And made me cry, You taught me why, Baby I’ma want you, Baby I’ma need you Oh it took so long to find you baby, Make it with you, Hey have you ever really tried, Reachin out for the other side, I may be climbing on rainbows, But baby here goes, Dreams they are for those who sleep, Life is for us to keep, And if you’re wondering, What this song is leading to I want to make it with you, I really think that we can make it girl No, you don’t know me well, In every little thing only time will tell, If you believe the things I do, And we’ll see it through, Life can be short or long, Love can be right or wrong, And if I chose the one, I’d like to help me through I’d make it with you

He found a couple of Bread songs mixed in as well.  The perp was mixing and matching as suited him.  Interesting.

That Old Feeling” (feat. Arturo Sandoval)
I saw you last night and got that old feeling
When you came in sight I got that old feeling
The moment that you danced by I felt a thrill
And when you caught my eye
My heart stood still
Once again I seemed to feel that old yearning
And I knew the spark of love was still burning
There’ll be no new romance for me
It’s foolish to start
For that old, old feeling is still in my heart
Once again I seemed to feel that old yearning
And I knew the spark of love was still burning
There’ll be no new romance for me
It’s foolish to start
For that old, old feeling is still in my heart
Still in my heart, Still in my heart

Craig agreed with Max, there was significant meaning in the songs after all. Whatever the reason, this jerk was using these particular songs to deliver his deluded message.  It wasn’t much, but it was a start.  When they found him, it would be prominently displayed.  It meant something to him, if not Cassy, it was a connection.

He settled in and started going over the words hoping to find a clue pointing up to this sick bastard’s intent.  The first lines intent was clear enough but what did he mean by (reaching out from the other side) what did that phrase pertain to?  His own train of thought made him uncomfortable since it led to the inarguable conclusion – if the creep couldn’t have her, no one would.  Or perhaps he intended ending both of them.  Or god willing, only himself.

God, they had to find this ass and soon cause no matter what, his intentions didn’t bode well for Cassy.  He was guessing but no matter what ending he referred to, it could and would be devastating to her.

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“I left a flashlight at the bottom of the stairs, so we don’t have to worry about carrying candles around.  And I put some matches beside the candle in the bathrooms.”

“That works!” Cassy applauded before suggesting, “I guess this means we have to get creative.”

“We can always play board or card games by candlelight, or cuddle in front of the fire,” Max suggested.   Happily embracing that idea, they pulled the camp chairs closer to the fire in a semi-circle.  They were comfortably relaxed when Maggy suddenly laughed eerily, “Now this is perfect!  I’m down with . . . ghost stories!”

“Thanks, Mags.  That’s just great!” Cassy whooped and then added, “My life already has a ghost in it,” and everyone laughed.

“I’ll get more wood,” Craig offered.

“I’ll help since it was my idea.”  Maggy strode to the door.

Poking him in the ribs she said, “Mwahahaha!  Don’t let the goblins get you.”

When everyone had a cup of coffee and were again settled, it wasn’t long before stories about their lives emerged.  Cassy didn’t share often, and she knew Maggy wasn’t given to this kind of indulgence and she doubted that Craig or Max did either.  Tears glistened at the touching realization that they had become their own little band of warriors and now close friends, each of them fighting the good fight, for her.  Not for the first time, Cassy delighted in and was deeply touched by the warmth and bonding of true friendship.  Consequently she wasn’t alone in feeling reluctant at ending the evening.  Tomorrow was another big day, filled with activity.