Page 8

She started to argue, but since they came from the same egg, she knew exactly how stubborn he was. As long as he wasn’t hurt, she could wait.

“Fine, I’ll see you then.”


Calista critically assessed herself in the mirror before heading out the door. She had decided on black palazzo pants and a green embellished v-neck sweater to match her eyes.

Thursday’s were fast becoming her favorite day of the week. Amber, Sarah, and Lexi were friends she’d had since grade school. Over the years they’d been a support and lifeline. Rachel was the only one missing from the equation. Neither of them had sisters so growing up the five of them had been inseparable.

Amber was tall and blonde with a pixie haircut that always looked model perfect. Somehow she managed to stay on top of all the latest fashions, juggle a multitude of men, and run a chic restaurant in downtown Charlotte.

Sarah was a business developer for a multi-million dollar construction company and had brought in more business in the past two years than her predecessor had in six. She was petite with stick-straight coffee-colored hair. They were all the same age, but without any makeup on Sara looked to be about twenty years old.

In Calista’s opinion Lexi was the most beautiful person she knew, on the inside and outside. She was also petite like Sarah but she had thick, silky black hair that fell just below her shoulders. Lexi was adopted and had been brought to the States from South Korea when she was just six months old. She worked at a center for delinquent children in addition to volunteering her services as a translator at the police department.

When Calista arrived at the Wine Bar she was thankful her friends had already secured a table in an obscure corner. It’s not that many people took notice of her in Charlotte, but it was always nice to be a little out of the way.

Three hours later the four women were finishing their fourth bottle of wine when Amber interrupted the conversation. “All right, Calista, I have a present for you.”

“Is it a man?” Lexi giggled, slightly tipsy from her third glass of wine.

“Yes, it is.” Amber lifted a perfect blonde brow and smiled.

“What?” All three of them said in unison.

“You heard me right. You haven’t been on a date in who knows how long and I’m fixing that.”

“Look, I appreciate the help…”

“I think it’s a great idea,” Sarah chimed in. “Seriously, how long has it been since you’ve had sex?”

Calista choked on her Cabernet, and fought the heat rushing to her cheeks. “My sex life is just fine.”

In truth, it wasn’t fine. It was non-existent.

“No, your sex life is sad. Actually, I don’t even think I can call it sad when it doesn’t exist.” Sarah laughed and took another sip.

Calista looked over at Lexi expecting her full support but found none.

Lexi shrugged. “Sorry, Cal. I think they’re right. We understand how hard it’s been for you to develop a relationship with your schedule, but now you don’t have any more excuses. You’re going to be staying put for a while so it couldn’t hurt to see what’s out there. It doesn’t have to be anything intense. You could just meet the guy for coffee or drinks.”

“When was your last real relationship?” Amber asked before she could respond to Lexi.

“I don’t know if I would call it relationship, but the last guy I dated was right after Rachel died.”

They all became silent and if it had been possible, she would have kicked her own butt. Why had she said that?

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to be a downer. Wow, I can’t believe it’s really been that long.” Calista frowned and did the math in her head.

Right after Rachel was killed she started dating a guitarist in a band doing a world tour. They hit a lot of the same major cities at the same time, so it worked for them. At least she thought it worked until she surprised him one night after one of his shows and found him in bed with two groupies barely old enough to vote. Not surprisingly, she hadn’t even cared. He was just a way to pass the time and numb the pain while she tried not to think about her dead friend.

“I should have known better than to date a guitarist. Especially after you warned me, Lexi.” She grinned at her friend and the seriousness of the moment shattered.

“Okay, I’ll do it.” Calista sighed in an over exaggerated manner. “Two and a half years is a long time to be celibate.”

“Good, I’ll be right back.” Amber jumped up and winked over her shoulder as she disappeared into the growing crowd.

A weight settled in her stomach. She glanced over at Sarah and Lexi. “What does she mean, she’ll be right back?”

Both women shrugged, obviously not in on Amber’s little scheme.

Ten seconds later Amber walked back to their table with a very attractive, rugged-looking man in tow. The man was a good head taller than Calista and had a very commanding presence. His sandy-colored hair was a little too long on the sides and she could tell his tan face was from being outdoors a lot. The suit he wore was obviously expensive, but he looked like he’d be more comfortable on a surfboard than in the board room. Not exactly her type, but she’d make an exception.

“Everyone, this is Grant.”

Introductions were quickly made and Grant subtly asked Calista to join him at the bar.

Ten minutes later she was back in her seat and had three pairs of expectant eyes staring back at her.

“Well?” Amber persisted.

“Well what? This isn’t high school.” She picked up her wine glass, swirled the crimson liquid, then took a sip. Slowly.

Lexi arched one eyebrow and Calista caved. “We’re meeting for a quick drink tomorrow evening.”

“Wait, isn’t Connor coming in tomorrow?” Sarah reminded her.

“Yes, but he won’t be in until seven. Actually, it will probably be closer to eight knowing him.” She rolled her eyes.

“So, what are you guys doing?” Amber pushed.

“Nothing special. He’s meeting me outside my building around six and we’re going to have a quick drink. That’s it.”

She wasn’t really looking forward to her quasi-date but knew she needed to start putting herself out there again. It was always hard deciding who wanted to know her for who she was and not how much money she had. But, if Amber set her up, he had to be decent.


William gripped his beer mug so hard it sloshed over the side. Calista had been close enough to reach out and touch. Of course she hadn’t even noticed him. She’d given him the exact look his mother had when she’d had boyfriends over. For a second he’d felt like that scrawny invisible teenager again. He looked over at her table in disgust as she laughed with her friends. They all looked like sluts.

He managed to tear his gaze away from her and looked up just in time to see the man she’d chosen over him leaving the bar alone. William looked at his watch and decided to take care of that problem first. He already knew where Calista lived, so that could wait. It should be easy enough to subdue the man named Grant Dixon and drag him into an alley. Though he was a few inches taller, and definitely outweighed him, William had the element of surprise. He stayed back at a reasonable distance until he saw they were coming up on an alley. He picked up his pace, the adrenaline flowing through his veins like lighting. Just a few more steps.

“Grant, wait up!”

A loud male voice from behind startled him and the man in front of him into turning around. However, William knew better than to react. He couldn’t afford to be noticed. Being invisible was the key to getting what he wanted. Grant turned back and brushed right past him. William kept walking.

He continued down the sidewalk and heard the last remnants of their conversation. They were talking about some sports team. At least he knew the man’s name. It would be easy enough to find him later and take care of him. Unfortunately the anticipation inside of him hadn’t subsided and he wasn’t going home until it did.

“Hey, baby, you looking for some company?” A woman’s voice startled him. He looked around. From the shadows of the shelter of a closed handy mart, a woman with bleach blonde hair and two-inch heeled black roots stepped out from the darkness. Her raspy voice indicated she would be older, but upon closer inspection he realized she couldn’t be more than twenty one.

Definitely a prostitute.

Fishnet stockings encased pale legs. A short denim skirt rode so low he could see her pink thongs riding up on her skinny hips. At least she was smart enough to be wearing a jacket. If she was desperate enough to work these cold streets then he’d oblige her.

He pulled out a handful of twenties. “Will this cover your company?”

Her pale green eyes lit up. “You want to get a motel? I know a place not far from here.”

He shook his head and pointed to an alley across the street. Snow was lightly falling and he wasn’t sure if she’d go for it. There weren’t many people on the streets in this cold weather, but he didn’t want to risk being seen too long out in the open with her.

She shrugged. “Sure, whatever you want, baby.”

Twenty minutes later he wiped the blood stained knife on his pants and stared into the lifeless eyes of the whore. He started to pull part of cardboard box over her then changed his mind. She was a whore. He’d let her be found like that. Panties around her ankles. Skirt pushed up to her waist.

Her vacant eyes reminded him of his dearly departed mother. Whenever he was fucking anyone, he couldn’t look at their face. Their plastered on smile of feigned pleasure always made him lose his erection. No, he liked to do them from behind. They were dogs and that’s how he treated them.

A huge dumpster provided cover to her body. She’d be found in the morning. Probably by some shop owner bringing out the trash. Pulling his trench coat tighter around him, he smiled as he walked to the entrance of the alley, and relived the moment when he’d slit her throat. She’d never even seen the knife. She was bent over, like a dog, and right before his release, he’d used the knife.