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Myerson chose Maggy’s car, figuring it would give him an easy target to follow.

The sun was setting but it was warm still. They wandered for a while and it was evident they were all feeling the strain.  Everyone began relaxing once they lit a fire in one of the available covered pits provided.  Joking and laughing and ribbing each other, as one would expect from close personal friends, they played it up.  It didn’t take much coaxing and before long they were paired off and huddling together.  One thing led to another and Myerson leaned close and said, “Ready or not,” before moving in to take Cassy in his arms.  He leaned her over and kissed her breathless.  Ordinarily Cassy would have hesitated at public overtures, but she instantly gave as good as she got.  Before long, the shoe was on the other foot, and it was Myerson that looked, if momentarily agog.

God, he thought, his insides turned to mush.  Under the pretext of stoking the fire, he rose and grabbed a long stick to move the glowing embers around and stacking more wood in the pit until a large sized bonfire burned brightly.

Moving back to Cassy, he said, “Now where were we?”

Their antagonist watched from across the park behind the arena.  His binoculars trained on them, he cursed aloud. “God damn!  What the hell is going on?  She was never like that before. Without thinking, he turned the engine over and was about to drive by, when a police car rolled up.

 “Sir, you need assistance?” the unwitting officer asked getting out of his vehicle.

“No.  I pulled in, and the engine died.  I guess I must have flooded it, but it’s alright now.”

“Ok, then, move along sir.”  The officer watched until he did. Because he had moved on without fuss, and because his story seemed logical, Parker wouldn’t bother writing up a report. He stood for a moment, staring up at a full and glorious moon. That always meant trouble, a long night and it was just beginning. Then he got back into his squad car for a quick tour of the beach.

Blindsided 82

“I’ll be back after I check on her.”

“Oh, by the way, what is my scenario in this little play of yours?”

“Play it by ear and do whatever feels right.”

“Thanks,” she said before leaving to join Cassy.

“Who the hell does he think he is anyway?”  Cassandra muttered to herself.

Maggy smiled.  “Hey, I just want to change into something warmer.  You ok?”

“Yes, I’m fine!” Cassandra nearly barked. “Sorry.  Sorry.  I don’t mean to take this out on you.”

“It’s ok.  I’m not offended.  I think it’s interesting.”

“What’s interesting?”

“You.  Myerson.”

“What do you mean?”  Cassandra asked in puzzlement.

“I think you protest too much.  I think, you should let nature take its course and find out where it leads. It could be very gratifying, and illuminating.”

“Doubtful!”  Cassy responded.

She’d been fighting this growing attraction to Myerson from the first.  He was easy on the eye, strong, determined, smart and apparently, very good at his job. She wasn’t sure she was ready for another relationship.

Patrick had all but worn her out.  He had been so demanding, possessive and controlling.  It had taken everything out of her and she had cautiously avoided getting into another relationship since.

Besides, her life was here.  His wasn’t.  She wasn’t sure she would welcome that kind of a change right now.  She wasn’t in charge of anything, and the last thing she wanted was to give up what little control she had to another man.  Even if he was as sexy as Myerson, or as delightfully funny, or had the sexiest eyes she’d ever seen.  Damn him! She thought.

Meanwhile, Max was filling Craig in on the plan and what he hoped would transpire.

 

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“I suppose that doesn’t mean much,” Cassandra retorted.  “We don’t have any real evidence, do we?”

“Exactly,” Myerson acknowledged.

“Even if it is him, we need more.  We need hard proof we can take into a court of law and put the son of a bitch away for a good long time.”

“So, what’s the plan then?” Craig asked, his eyes never leaving Max’s face.

“Continue as is.  If it is him, he’ll respond one of two ways; he’ll back off, and possibly leave town, because he knows we’re looking at him, or, it’ll force his hand. Either way, we’ll know.  On the off chance it isn’t him, no harm no fowl.  And whoever the real perp is, that person will be forced to move.  Probably make them more relaxed feeling we’re looking in the wrong direction.  No matter what happens, we need to remain vigilant.  Suspect everyone, presume nothing.”

“I think it’s about time we were seen around town, perhaps a walk along Storey’s Beach,” he announced. “We’ll stick to the grassy areas around the ball diamond, where it’s easier for Cassy to move around,” he suggested quickly.

“Cassy, we’re going to call on those latent acting skills now,” he informed her.  “I want you to act loverly.”  Moving closer he grinned, “Think you can do that?”

Slightly miffed and in a very off hand manner she replied, “Of course I can.  I doubt you can keep up.”  She rose smartly from the table.  “I’m going to change.”

She would have marched upstairs if her vision were better, but since it wasn’t, all she could muster up was an exaggeratedly dignified exit.

“You do that on purpose,” Maggy muttered.

“What?”  Max asked quietly.

“Goad her.”

Smiling a lopsided grin, he said, “Yeah, who can resist, she’s so adorable when she’s miffed.”

“Just be careful you don’t out-do yourself,” she warned.

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Myerson sure as hell hoped so because Bertrand was the only likely suspect so far.  He looked good for it, but time would tell.  If he was the guy, he had covered his tracks so far, and well.

Myerson got back to Cassandra’s about 6:00 o’clock.  He phoned ahead and said he was bringing dinner.  He picked up steaks, salad, potato salad and dessert.  When he arrived, they were relaxing around the table as a bottle of Reisling sat breathing.

“Hey, hope you’re hungry, I brought enough to feed an army!”   He smirked then went to retrieve the plates and cutlery while Maggy brought out wine glasses, coffee mugs and napkins.

“How did it go?”  Maggy asked, concerned.

“Good progress,” Max then asked, “Mind if we wait until after dinner?”

They talked about sports, how the blue jays were doing and which was the better hockey team invoking a lively debate.

Pushing his plate away, he said, “Does the name Bertrand mean anything to anyone?” Max asked almost nonchalantly.

“Bertrand.  Bertrand.  I don’t think so,” Maggy said after turning the name over in her mind.

Max explained beginning with a general description – where the guy worked, what he thought about the likelihood that this could be their man.

Craig asked, “He on file anywhere, for anything?”

“No, he’s flown under the radar, inconspicuously.  He has a rep as a loner, but most describe him as off, even scary.  Women in particular don’t have anything nice to say about him and his attitude. Even a few men told me he gives off weird vibes.  There is a pact among a few women and two men I know of so far, that if he becomes bothersome they need only call.  Whether he’s our guy or not remains to be seen, but he’s under surveillance as we speak.”

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“How do you know her?”

“We met once, at a party.  Pretty lady.  I like pretty ladies.”

“Are you into threatening pretty ladies, when you don’t get your way, Bertrand?”

“What the fu…”

Myerson got in his face.  “I asked you a question, MR. Bertrand.” He emphasized the point by stabbing his finger in Bertrand’s chest.

“NO!” Bertrand pushed back.  “I don’t!  Don’t need to.  The ladies are only too willing.”

“Not what I hear.”

“Why, what do you hear?”  Bertrand asked bravado evident in his voice and eyes.

“I hear you get aggressive and pushy with the ladies and they don’t much like it.  In fact, I hear you’re an unwelcome addition to our community, Mr. Bertrand.  If I hear any more stories, I’ll be back.”

“Fuck you,” he said under his breath before heading back up the pole.

Myerson figured Bertrand for a pushy, mouthy arrogant asshole, but was he the one after Cassandra?  Inside the car, he called Jason Marks and told him where to find Bertrand.  “He’s working, Marks, so keep a low profile, but don’t you lose him, you got it?”

“No, sir!” Marks answered immediately.  “You can count on me, sir,” he promised.

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“Whatever you do, don’t approach him, or talk to him.  Most importantly, don’t threaten him.  Whoever he is, it sounds like he’s a loose cannon and he could be aggressive and definitely dangerous.  If you see him hanging around her, call me, immediately.”

“I’ll do some investigating into this guy.  This is on a need to know bases.  So far, you’re the only one outside a small circle of individuals who knows anything at all and I want to keep it that way. Don’t even tell your closest associates.  Here’s my number.  You can reach me any time.”

“And thanks, I appreciate your help.” Myerson hopped in the car and instantly contacted his immediate superior for assistance in obtaining a list of local phone company workers and their contact information.  Hopefully it was a solid lead.

Before he’d reached Cassandra’s he already had a list of names and was tracking them down.  He found out who was on shift and talked to those first, then the off-duty workers next.  It was 4:30 by the time he tracked him down.

“Mr. Bertrand.”

“Yah, who’s asking?”

Holding out his badge, Myerson gave his name.  “Would you come down here a minute?  We need to talk!” He said firmly.

Bertrand slid down the telephone pole, one of the few remaining in town, and confronted Myerson somewhat cockily.  “Ok, I’m here, what’s so urgent?”

“Do you know Cassandra Jeffrey’s?”

“Yeah, somewhat.  Why?”

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“You can count on it…”  Shawna felt inordinately guilty.  She went back over the conversations she’d had regarding Cassandra and couldn’t remember having slipped up. She’d memorized the script and had adhered to it very strictly.  She couldn’t help but wonder what had happened.  Something or Myerson wouldn’t have come to the store.

Shawna’s thoughts were cut short as a customer came in, so she tabled it until later deciding to talk with Kevin about their mutual ‘friend’ and warn him.

Myerson looked to see what information they had on Kevin Barrister and headed over to his metal shop.

“Kevin Barrister?” he held up his badge.

“Yeah.  What’s this about?”

“You had a discussion with Shawna Dickson recently regarding a man you described as ‘bad news’.”

“Yeah, what of it?”

“What can you tell me about him?”

“I don’t know much really.  He’s bad news, that’s for sure.  He came to town about six months ago as I recall.  He’s showed up at a couple of parties I attended and he comes across as cold, calculating and definitely a loner.”

“The women at the grocery store asked me for assistance when he was there, because he was badgering them.  They say he’s something else.”

“Do you know his name, or where he lives?”

“It’s Bertrand or Bertram or something along those lines.  You might get in touch with the phone company.  I heard that’s who he works for.”

“Thanks for the assistance, Kevin.  If he should contact you, let me know, immediately.  Keep an eye on Shawna, too, if you can.  Your friends, right?”

“Yes, we are.  I’d like more, but there you are.”

“Keep an eye on her when you can.  I’ve got an undercover officer watching the store, but in her off hours, it would be helpful if you hung out or gave her a call to make sure she’s ok.”

“What is this about?” he asked, walking up to Myerson.  “What’s going on?”

“I can’t give you details, it’s an ongoing investigation but it’s urgent and involves Cassandra Jeffreys.  My concern is that Shawna could become collateral damage in the process.”

“You think this guy’s dangerous?”

“Can’t say for sure.  I’m looking into it.”

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“A few days ago, we circulated a picture.  Do you have a copy?”

“Yes, it’s right here, under the counter.”

“Take another look at it, Shawna, tell me what you see.”

“You think this is the guy?” her eyes widened.

“Can’t say for sure, but I can’t rule him out either.”

“I don’t know.  It could be him, there’s something familiar about this guy though – the hair and eyes are wrong.  I couldn’t explain what they should be, but I know this isn’t right.”

“This guy, I figure he’d just gotten off work or something.  He was wearing a tool belt. He seemed very proper, which is why he caught my attention.  That and the fact I’d seen him before and I couldn’t figure out what he was doing here.”

“Thanks, Shawna.”

“Has something happened?” When it became obvious he wasn’t going to elaborate she added, “Tell Cassandra, everything’s going according to plan and the new stock is a hit so she’ll need to re-order sooner than she expected.”

“I’ll pass that information along.”

“Oh, and one more thing, Shawna, were you aware that Cassandra had moved back home?”

“No, I wasn’t.”

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Every detail you can remember.  Start a list and beside each name in point form, what the conversation related to.  It’ll help jog your memory.”

He watched her closely as she thought about conversations she’d had with visitors and patrons alike.  “Well, there have been three or four reps, who wanted to get in contact with her about the new season lines.  I gave them the number she asked me to use.”

Shawna wrote down a dozen or so names following his instructions.  Hmm, he was right, it did help make remembering easier and more detailed. A blush suddenly covered her cheeks and noting it, he immediately asked, “What?  Something just came to you.  No matter what it is or how insignificant it may seem, I need to know, Shawna.”

“There was this guy a couple of days back. He was kind’a cute so I asked around about him.”

“What did you say to him, Shawna?  What did he ask?”

“He was making time, or trying to, and then he suddenly backed off.  He said he thought I was the owner and when I explained she’d taken time off, he said was looking for the hardware store, which is what part of this building was originally, before Cassandra rented the space.”

“I talked to Kevin Barrister, a friend of mine, who is acquainted with him. He was at this party that we attended at Christmas.  Kevin told me he was a loner and a freak.  He said no matter how cute I thought he was, he was bad news.”

“I need Kevin’s name and phone number,” Myerson stated emphatically.  Shawna wrote it at the bottom of the list.

“What’s happened, is Cassy ok?  I haven’t heard from her in a few days.”

“She’s fine,” he responded without expanding; the less she knew, the better off for her and Cassandra.  The less knowledge she had, the less likely she’d inadvertently let something important slip.

“If this guy shows up again, or contacts you or Kevin, or anyone else you’re familiar with, let me know immediately.” he admonished.

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“He’s manipulative, conniving, but charismatic, Cassy, and possibly charmed someone into giving him what he wants.  They probably did so innocently.”

“I need to get on this, start tracking from our end, find out where the leak is!” he informed them.

“Thing is, this info isn’t something Cassy, Maggy or any of their friends acquaintances or residents of Port Hardy would have.  It directly relates to you and me Craig.”

“Stay with the ladies, I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

Turning back to Craig he asked, “Who knew you were coming here and why?”

“My commanding officer of course, since he had to ok the transfer and even he didn’t have all the details.  Not that he would expound on them if he did.”

“Ok, I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

His first visit was to Cassandra’s shop.  He waited until Shawna was free and cornered her.  “Shawna, how are you?”

“I’m fine.  It’s been pretty busy lately.”

“Anyone shown up asking questions?”

“Not that I can think of,” she replied thoughtfully.

“What about the store, has anyone been asking questions about Cassandra, or her whereabouts?” he asked directly.

“Several people have, why?”

“Names, Shawna, I want names,  what it pertained to how it relates.”

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Carefully opening the envelope with a handkerchief, he was shocked at the pictures he found inside.  ”God damn!”

“Max, what is it?”

“Well if he didn’t know who I was before, I assume he does now and it was real quick work. Craig, get on the horn, call headquarters and have them station protection for your family,” and looking down at the photos in his hand, he continued, “and mine.”

“Max, your scaring me, what is it, who are these pictures of?”  Cassandra beseeched.

“It’s my mother and Craig’s aunt.”

“How could he obtain that information?”

“Damn difficult to hack our files, our techs are some of the best, they’d have noticed immediately.  That or he has connections and he’s used them.  So, he’s watching closely.”

Pulling his cell out of his pocket, he moved out of range of the others.  When he was finished, he said, “They are on it.  Tech’s are interviewing everyone and going over all logs emails and phone calls to determine the methods he used to get inside information.  They’re looking for bugs.”

“God, I can’t see how it could be a leak on our end!” Craig said, voicing his own concerns.

“Whether it was or wasn’t, I can’t rule out the possibility, but it’s doubtful.  However, he got the info, he came up with the right answers.”

“Who would do such a thing?”

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“Now you’re here, the party can begin,” Craig quipped.

“Right on.”

“Here, Cassy, allow me.”  Myerson took the kettle from unresisting hands prepared to make tea.  “Where do I find the makings?”

“Bags are in the cupboard above the stove,” Maggy told him.

“Listen, do you think anyone will get back to sleep tonight?” she asked.

“Doubtful,” Cassandra replied. “In which case, why don’t we make an early breakfast and coffee instead?”

“Sounds like a plan,” Cassy agreed appreciatively.  Before long the sun was shining brightly, and well fed, they took turns showering and changing.  Cassy decided to inspect their handiwork on the flowers outside.  Myerson was right behind her.

“Cassy, wait!” he ordered.

Having preceded her out to the front steps, he found an envelope laying on the stoop.  “Inside,” he commanded, “now!”  Half pulling half leading her, they hurried around the back and entered the way they’d come.

“He’s been here, wanted to rub it in our faces,” Max said.

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Max continued filling him in on the details he’d refused to outline to anyone else; the less people who knew the better.

They returned inside and an intensely fun game of Canasta began.  After playing for awhile, Cassy called it, she was done.  Her eyes couldn’t handle any more, intent on retiring for the night. “I’ll join you shortly, Cassandra,” Myerson promised.

Myerson would monitor the top floor, and Garrison the first floor.  They would use a series of whistles to communicate. “I know, very high tech, but it works without alerting outsiders,” he grinned at both women.

When Cassandra was tucked in, her trusty knight at her side, Myerson made his rounds.  The house was quiet.  Once completed, he settled onto his make-shift bed and watched Cassandra.  Although their acquaintance was short, she’d made an impression.  She had guts, smarts, determination; all qualities he admired.  He found her quiet elegance and style just as appealing.

He allowed himself to doze, he was instantly awake the moment she got up.  “Everything ok?” he asked concerned, hopping up to join her.

“Yes, fine, my eyes are really bothering me.  I need to use the night-time cream.  It means I won’t be able to see much and I hate it, but it’s essential, so Dr. Jamison says.”

“Need anything?”

“Actually, I was thinking of making some tea.  Care to join me?  It means you’ll have to literally be my guide because it’s impossible to see with this stuff in my eyes.”

“Absolutely on both counts.”

Glancing at his watch, he noted it was five twenty-five. Placing an arm firmly around her shoulders he helped her down the stairs and into the kitchen.  She claimed she was ok making tea and he completed a quick sweep before joining her. Craig was already up and at Myerson’s questioning look declared, “Nothing to report so far.”

Hearing the movement downstairs, a sleepy Maggy dressed in a bright pink robe and slippers, joined them.  “Hey were you going to party without me?”

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The outdoor garden next to the dining room was in good shape, requiring a little water but was, all in all, in-tact.  The other gardens hadn’t fared as well and Cassandra went to the shed and grabbed bone meal, fertilizer and the nozzle for the hose.  Together, they restored order in the rest of the area before heading out front.  The urns, bordering the front perimeter required little tender loving care so were quickly taken care of.  A good mowing would put the lawn in order and Myerson took that task on finishing as dusk settled upon them.  “Not a bad day’s work.”  Myerson said.  “I now see why people get into gardening.  It’s relaxing and fun, with the right person.”  He walked to her side and wrapped an arm around her shoulders.

“Game on?”  Cassandra asked.

“Your back, he’s back, guaranteed.”

“Well then, is this what you want?”  Cassandra grabbed hold of his shirt and drew him closer, inching toward his lips her eyes on his.  What started out as an experimental kiss quickly changed into hot need.  Maggy popped out the front door to join them and they broke apart.  “I seem to be getting better at interrupting.  You’d almost think I had a game plan,” she smirked.

“What are we up to for entertainment?”

“I have several decks of cards.  We could try another game of canasta when the other constable arrives.”

They finished putting the garden gear away, and entered through the French doors in the dining room to set up the table as the doorbell rang.  Maggy announced, “Got it!”

Opening the door she greeted him with, “Hey.”

“Hi, Craig Garrison; and you’re Maggy?”

Maggy offered her hand, “Maggy Davidson.  Pleased to meet you.”  Once inside, she said, “I hear you’re my love interest.”

“A better assignment I couldn’t have pulled!” he responded with a broad smile ‘and how’ he thought.

“We were just about to play cards.  You interested?”  Maggy asked.

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“Ooops, sorry.”

“How are we going to arrange the sleeping situation?”

“I brought a sleeping bag and blow up mattresses, which I’ll put in Cassy’s  room.  The detective and I will take turns bunking in the front room.”

“Got ‘cha.”

“Well, the radio still works, so we can probably catch a tune or two.  “And, I brought dinner,” Maggy offered.

“This looks good.  A woman after my own heart,” he suggested, winking at her.

“What have we got here?”

“Barbecued chicken, coleslaw, macaroni salad, and donuts.”

“How did you know?” he asked.

“An educated guess!” She winked back.

Cassy had a few dishes left so they loaded them into the dishwasher then sat on the few remaining chairs around the dining room table.

“That was good.  Thanks, Maggy, my treat next time.”  Myerson offered.

“I thought I’d go and play round in the gardens for a bit.”  Cassy suggested.

“I’ll help!”  Myerson quickly offered,” But you’ll have to direct me, I know little to nothing about flowers.”

“Deal!” Cassy instantly agreed.

They were putting around in the garden, when Cassy spotted Porsche.  “Porsche, baby cat!  Come here!”  He peered about assessing the situation before hurrying to her side.  He mewed and rubbed against her, obviously as happy to see her as she was to see him.  Picking him up, she said, “Oh baby cat, I’m so happy you’re safe.”  She hugged him close, patting every piece of him she could reach.  “I was so afraid for you.”  He ate up the attention, and rubbed and licked her hands and when he’d finally had enough loving, pushed out of her arms and headed to his bowl.

Myerson smiled, “He obviously adores you.”

“I adore him too!  He’s 91 now, but he’s as agile as ever and smart as a whip.  You’ll see soon enough.”

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“It could, but then, love has its own agenda.  Don’t you think?”

“Well, I’m certainly game if you are.”

“Good, I’ll make the call.  Get it set up.”

Although she probably should have made those calls Myerson suggested, Cassy decided to head over to her home and finish up.  Maggy agreed and they set off.

“What are you going to do for furniture, Cassy?”

“I don’t think there’s any point in replacing my things yet.  It would be pointless in case he  decides to have another go on the house. Futility in action and costly.”

“Don’t you think he’s done with that little ploy?”

“No, I don’t.  I think it’s just the beginning.”

“I sure hope not, Cassy.”

“I’m so afraid he’ll turn his attention to you or my family.”

“Well you don’t have to worry about me, I’m well protected, I’m with you,” she snickered.  “And whoever Myerson comes up with.” She giggled. “Think I should have put in a request?”

Cassandra laughed, “Certainly.  Let’s see, sexy, smart, adept, good conversationalist, what else?”

“Cassy, you know me too well,” she howled.

They attacked the bedroom and upstairs bath, and were nearly done when Myerson showed up.  “Look at you!”  Cassy remarked, “Looking all sexy in that cute little get up.”

“Hey, I’m supposed to be in love, remember?  That means, relaxed look.  Don’t tell me you disapprove,” he said a pained expression upon his face.

“No, not at all.  Does the show begin now?”

“It wouldn’t hurt to practice,” he said, pulling her into his arms, “we need to look relaxed and comfortable with each other if this is to be believeable,” he explained.  Before she could reply, he kissed her slowly, deliberately, teasing, seeking, tasting. His head spun and his stomach churned.  Phew he definitely got more than he bargained for.  He noticed, when her eyes opened, they showed signs of shock as well.  Neither of them had anticipated this reaction.

“Well.”

“That was something.”

Maggy walked in and turned right back around intending a hasty exit. Ok, then.

“Maggy, you don’t have to leave.”

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“You think that will work?”

“I do.  He’ll be crazed with jealously and the need to prove himself to you.”

“Who do you suggest?” she smirked.  “I don’t have any lovers hanging around to call in on such short notice.”

“Well, then we create one.”

“If he doesn’t know I’m a cop, and it isn’t likely, I can pose as your significant other, and protect you as well.”

“Really, you’d do that for me?” She simply couldn’t resist and he found the Cheshire grin covering her face absolutely delightful.

“Of course!  Some sacrifices are worth the risk,” he smiled.

“Seriously, Cassandra, it will work.”

“What do you suggest we do?”

“Start making appearances together, lunch here, dinner there, early morning coffee, and it wouldn’t hurt for him to see me leaving late or early.”

“Do you think that’s likely?”

“Perhaps better when you’re in your own place.”

Turning to Maggy he continued, “The plan will work better if you assist, Maggy. You prepared to stay at Cassy’s?”

“As what, a chaperone?” she laughed.

“No,” he smiled, “as a third party, and as an added distraction.”

“Sure.  What do I do?”

“We’re going to enlist the assist of another officer, from another division.”

“Won’t that seem odd if we both show up with newly acquired love interests?”

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“Perhaps a little sigh is in order,” he quipped.

Several days passed without incident; no new emails, no contact of any kind. Perhaps he’d found another unfortunate prey she thought torn between hope for herself and despair for another.  Still it was a welcome relief.

Meanwhile, he was hard at work forging her signature and nearly maxing out her credit card; systematically destroying everything that gave her independence.  When she had no money or friends left to run to, she’d be ripe for the picking.  

Maggy picked up the mail from Shawna containing a pile of letters from the store along with a few personal letters as well.

Cassy sat with a cup of coffee and together they went through the stack.  She had Maggy read them out.  “That’s not possible, Maggy.  I can’t be overdrawn, I haven’t used my Credit cards lately, except for the trips down island. This isn’t correct, there’s some kind of mistake here.”

“Yeah, like identity theft.”

“Oh my god, it’s him, it has to be.  Jesus, I need to get Myerson on the phone.”

Myerson dropped by to collected the information.  “You’ll have to contact all these creditors and a lawyer.  Have him run interference for you.  You won’t be responsible for what he’s bought, and the card companies will reimburse you.  In the meantime, it’s going to make life very difficult.  Have them issue a new number for your personal use, and if any other comes up, refuse it.”

“I was going to the house to finish up but I guess this takes precedence.”

“I’m sorry Cassandra.”

“This is so disheartening.”

“Don’t give up hope, Cassy, he’s tying the noose tighter and tighter.”

Hurt at heart she snapped, “When?”

“He’s smart, that’s a given, but he’s also getting impatient and making mistakes, so, although we don’t know what his game plan is, if we push him, he’ll crack.  He figures you’re in love with him, remember. We need to push back.  Rather, you need to push back, throw a lover in his face.”

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Some glitch in the system delayed the police and they hadn’t visited her regarding the situation.  However, when they arrived, it was to find a ruffled, feisty older lady and her nurse, only too willing to give them a description of the blatantly obvious “rapscallion” who’d shown up calling himself an insurance broker. Following an in-depth description of the incident and all that transpired, they promised to go to head-quarters the following day and meet with an artist for a composite.

The officers smiled at each other as they left; between the two tough old ladies, they probably could.  Myerson was contacted and a patrol car assigned to guard the ladies until such times as they could meet with the police artist and until further notice.

Constable Shaw received notification and phoned Myerson and explained.  As suspected, Myerson tore a strip off Shaw.  He’d expected that.  Well, at least he’d put a guard on the ladies and that simmered him down a bit.

With the artist’s rendering in hand, Myerson visited Cassy.  “Cassandra, we’ve reached phase two.”

“Now that’s a very cryptic remark!” she noted, a questioning look in her eyes.

“The perp has been to see your grandmother in Parksville; the local police just called.”

“How did that happen?” she asked alarmed.

“It’s ok, Cassandra,” he said reassuringly.  “In fact, it’s better than ok.  Both your grandmother and Mrs. Wilson have given an excellent description to the officers and an artist.  They sent a copy to me; tell me if the face seems familiar,” he suggested.

Taking the picture from him she said, “No, I can’t say it is. Perhaps Maggy might recognize him.”

“Mags.  Come see what you think!”

“I don’t know, there’s something vaguely familiar about him, but I can’t explain why.”

“He probably keeps a low profile.  He would skirt facing you directly, until he’s ready to make his move.”

“Once the description is circulated, to all your friends, relatives, acquaintances, anyone and everyone who might know who he is, will.  He won’t be able to hide.  He’s marked.”

“Dare I breathe a sigh of relief?”

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Blindsided 63

“What?”

 “Why didn’t she call me?”

 “I’m sure I don’t know, Mira.  May I call you Mira?”

“No, you may not.”

“What do I have to do?”

“Just sign these forms, and we’ll get the paper work under way so she can begin replacing her things.  Too bad about the antiques though; I doubt they are salvageable.”

“All of them?” she asked, her sharp eyes missing nothing.

“It would appear so, from the claims she’s put together.”

“How did the insurance lapse?  That’s not like Cassandra.”

 “Perhaps an oversight, or perhaps something happened at the office.  I’m still investigating.”

 “I’ll call her right now.”  Mrs. Jeffreys said.

 “That won’t be necessary.  I said I’d take care of this so she didn’t have to worry about it.  Quite frankly, she didn’t want you to know.  She was concerned about your health.”

 “My health, pah!  Fit as a fiddle, I am.”

 “You do what you need to Mr. Evers.  I’ll get in touch with Cassandra later give her a piece of my mind.”

 “Well, if you’ll sign here, I’ll be on my way.”

 “Ain’t signing nothing, Mister until I talk to Cassandra.”

 “Have it your way, Mrs. Jeffreys, just thought you might want to help out so she doesn’t have to out wait the red tape.”

 “On your way, Mr. Evers.”

 “Show him the door, Mrs. Wilson.”

 “As you wish, Mrs. Jeffreys.”

 The nurse was stronger than she looked, and grabbed him by the upper arm, and dragged him toward the door.  “Let go of me you battleaxe.”

“Get out!” she said, opening the door.  He only had one choice, leave of his own volition, and save face, or allow her to throw him out. 

“You’re going to regret this!” he promised.

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Blindsided 62

He’d head down island tomorrow morning, early.  As long as she was staying at her friend’s place, he wouldn’t have the access he desired, a slight miscalculation on his part, but one that could be rectified. 

 Granny Jeffreys lived in Parksville.  He brought up Map Quest and input the address.  Ah, there she is.

 He’d dressed in a grey business suit and knocked on the door.  He was a little surprised when a nurse answered.  Nice property, probably had money.  It made sense.

“Is Mrs. Jeffreys in?”

 “Who are you?” she asked pointedly

“I’m Stan Evers from Qualified Insurance.”

 “What’s your business here, Evers?”  Nasty old bitch, it’s none of your business.

 Outwardly polite, showing no real inner emotion he continued, “Ms. Jeffreys policy is about to expire.  We have an appointment.”

 “Well she…”

“Who is it, Mrs. Wilson?”

 “He says he’s your insurance agent, says you have an appointment.”

 “No, I don’t have an appointment.  What is it you want, Mr. Evers?  You’re not my agent.”

 “Mr. Franks is ill.  I was called in as a replacement.”

 “Come in Mr. Evers and state your case.  Then I’ll decide whether to call your head office or not.”

 “Certainly.”  Tough old bird he thought.  He hadn’t counted on that.  She’d remember him he was sure of it; might have to do something about that.  Either way, he was in, and about to drop the bomb shell.

Your granddaughter, Cassandra is it, has listed you as next of kin on her insurance.” the old woman started.  “There’s been an accident with her car and her insurance is null and void.  Since you are both covered by Qualified Insurance, it is a minor technicality to add her to your coverage for the time being until we get the matter sorted out.  Her house was ransacked as well and that insurance lapsed a year ago.”

 “What?”

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Blindsided 61

He found a piece that was twelve feet long, and took it up to the counter.  “See, found it.”

The clerk rang up his purchases and he was effusive in his gratitude, buttering the simpering idiot up.  Kill them with kindness, his motto.  They never remembered the nice guys.

He’d watched, he’d observed.  He became whatever people wanted him to be.  He was the good guy; the polite guy, the quiet, unobtrusive guy, the guy that never made waves and who didn’t make life difficult for you.  In public that is. 

 Yeah, he always made his mark the same way and he got away with murder.  People let things slide for a nice guy, and remembered little about him. He’d used it before, and he’d use it again, because it worked.

 Now, on to plan B he murmured.  He couldn’t wait. He had to know.  Impatience propelled him forward and he dialed her home.  The only thing he’d left in-tact was the phone.  He had a reason for that; then he could contact her.  He rang her number.  No answer. She wasn’t there.  Well, now, where could she be?  No relative in town.  And he doubted she was at the simpering Shawna’s house.  That left Maggy.  Of course, he should have thought of her immediately. 

 A quick little trip on the way to his intended destination couldn’t hurt.  After all, she had no idea who he was yet. She would, all in his good time.

 He traveled slowly down the road, passing her driveway.  Her car wasn’t there.  She wouldn’t be driving these days, he’d seen to that.  She’d have to rely on others for now.  Soon, she’d be relying on him, and him alone.

 He made his way to her friend’s place.  Since her car was there and the lights were burning, in all likelihood, she was there too. Ok, for now. She’d be moving back home soon, and then he would make his move.  He’d watched her repair the damage.  It was sad really, but he had to make her understand, and get her attention.  She belonged to him, and him alone.  The other stuff didn’t matter.  He had money, and he’d replace everything when the time came, and she’d be thrilled he decided.  In the meantime, she’d be reaching out for him and soon.  She loved him, she wouldn’t hold out indefinitely, she couldn’t.   Cassandra, Cassy –  her name was like her, strong, beautiful, special, unique.  Uniquely his that is.

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“A lot tipsy, you mean!” he roared in her ear.

“Yeah, yeah ok, a lot tipsy at … well he was just here.  I wondered if you knew anything about him.”

“Enough to know you should stay away from him, Shawna.  He’s a weird one.  From all I hear he’s down-right freaky.  He puts on a good act, but when push comes to shove, he gets shoved.  He’s a loner mostly.  That’s the only time I’ve ever seen him out and about.  Once in a while at the shopping centre, where he gives the girls the eye, and the last time, they asked me to run interference.”

“He’s not good news, Shawna, stay away.  That’s my two bits.”

“Well, ok.  It’s just that he’s so darn cute.”

“Cute maybe; but still a weird, freaky, loner, and it all adds up to one thing in my book…trouble.”

“Steve, you’re too hard on people.”

“Sometimes, but I call it like I see it.”

“Thanks for the input.”

“Hey, are you up for cocktails later? The Sporty Bar, perhaps?”

“Yeah, I think I could manage it.  Say, 7:30?”

“Ok, I’ll meet you there.”

He walked around the corner and just in case she was watching, entered the hardware store and wandered around.

Hmm, she wasn’t going in to work hey?  Now why was that?  She had that greenhorn mouthy broad working for her instead.  Perhaps he was getting through to her, after all.

Next installment he thought.

“Listen, I’m looking for some clothesline, the plastic kind.”

“You’ll find it on the end of the far aisle, right at the far end of the store” the clerk informed him pointing toward the far back corner.

“Thanks.”  Smiling warmly, he pointed before asking, ”That corner?”

“Yes, that’s it.  I’ll be right with you.”

“Don’t bother, I’m sure I’ll find it.”

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Blindsided 59

“Yes, we met through a friend of mine, at his staff party.”

“Oh, that’s right.  How is he?”

“Good, I guess. He invited me along, and I was at loose ends so I decided to go. We’re not close or anything, just acquaintances really.”

“Good to know.” He smiled brilliantly at her.  “It suits you.”

“What does?”

“The store.”

“Oh, it’s not mine.  I’m just running it for a friend.  She’s on sick leave.”

“That’s too bad.”

“I was actually looking for the hardware store.  I thought it was here.”

Shawna laughed.  “It was until we opened up.”  Pointing to the corner she added, “Just over there.”

“Ah, I see.  Well, I’m glad I made a mistake.  I met you again.”

“Thanks.” A little flattery was welcome these days since she hadn’t done any partying since she’d taken over running the store.

“Yep, this is where I am.”

“I’ll have to make a point of stopping by again then.”

“Any time,” she secretly hoped he would return soon.

Interesting he thought.  She was laying low.  Where was Cassandra, he wondered.  The kid would be a great source of information.  He’d ear mark her for later use if need be.

Shawna, never one to let the grass grow under her feet, called Steven and asked what he knew about the man of interest. “Hey, Steve, you remember that guy that attended the staff party, the one I got a little bit tipsy at?”

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Blindsided 58

“I’ll take all the breaks I can get!” Cassy asserted, to which Maggy nodded affirmatively.

“I need to check in with our techy see what they have to say.”  He moved aside and called in.

“Yeah, it’s me.  You get that?  He was online, you able to trace it back?”  He paused.  “Yeah yeah, I know.”

“Myerson, hang up so I can concentrate will ya?  I’ll call ya soon as I got something. Invisible man out.”

They were far too hyped to sleep, so they sat and played cards together.  “I like your canasta, Cassy. This is fun.”

They continued to play for a couple of hours and Cassy finally had to admit defeat. “I can’t stay up, I have to get to bed.”

“Ok.  I’m leaving now anyway. I want to do some more digging before I call it a night,” Myerson informed her.

“’Nite Maggy!”  He nodded and left.

“A man of few words, hey?”

“It would seem so.”

They slept late and Cassy  woke to find Maggy watching an old movie. ”Hey! I didn’t know you liked those old soppy romances.”

“Yeah, I’m a sucker; what can I say?

Meanwhile, Shawna was having the time of her life.  She felt ‘in charge’ and though the height of pretense since it wasn’t her store, was delighted with the status she had received since she’d taken over the running of the store.

While it was still quiet, she checked the emails.  Yep he was back at it.  She forwarded the emails to Cassy, as a picture of the delightfully handsome McKenny popped into her mind and his admonishments on procedure.

Mid-morning, a man entered the store.  He was a friend of a friend, a little older than her, but not by much.  He seemed surprised to see her, “Hey, I know you, don’t I?”

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