The Obsession Page 99

“Oh, really?”

Not yet settled, but getting there, he picked up his beer again. “I’ve got a sense about when a woman’s going to be willing. But if you believed all that crap all the way through, this wouldn’t have turned into a thing.”

“It wasn’t supposed to.”

“A lot of good things happen by accident. If Charles Goodyear hadn’t been clumsy, we wouldn’t have vulcanized rubber.”


“Weatherproof rubber—tires, for instance, as in Goodyear. He was trying to figure out how to make rubber weatherproof, dropped this experiment on a stove by accident, and there you go, he made weatherproof rubber.”

Baffled, she rubbed her aching temple. “I’ve completely lost the point.”

“Not everything has to be planned to work out. Maybe we both figured we’d bang it out a few times and move on, but we didn’t. And it’s working out all right.”

The sound of her own laughter surprised her. “Wow, Xander, my heart’s fluttering from that romantic description. It’s like a sonnet.”

Yeah, he realized, he was settling again. “You want romance? I could bring you flowers.”

“I don’t have anything to put them in.” She sighed. “I don’t need romance, and I don’t know what I’d do with it. I like knowing my feet are solid on the ground. And they haven’t been, not consistently, since I saw this house. Today . . . the funeral. It hit so hard because it reminded me, again, of all the people my father hurt. Not just the women he killed, but the people who loved them.”

“I’d have been sorry you found her no matter what, but I was a hell of a lot sorrier knowing what it would bring back. Have you talked to your brother, your uncles about it?”

“No. No, why bring it back for them? I wasn’t going to talk to anyone about it. Not about what it brought back.”

“It’s yours to tell, or not. You’d find good friends in Kevin and Jenny. Not trusting that? It’s a disservice to them, and to you.”

“That’s what Chief Winston said to me, about telling you. That same word. Disservice.”

“Do you want to tell me what else he said?”

“I knew as soon as he drove up.”

She closed her eyes, let herself feel the dog at her feet, the man beside her.

“The world just fell out from under me. Just dropped away. I’d expected it—he’d do a background run on me because I found the body. But the world dropped away. He was straightforward, and he was kind. He said he wouldn’t tell anyone else, that he hadn’t and wouldn’t. I’ve never been around anyone but family who knew. Or if it came out, I left before things changed.”

“Left before you knew if they’d change or not?”

“Maybe that’s true, but I’ve been through those changes, and they’re awful. They steal everything,” she said quietly, “and crush you.”

“I’m sitting here having a beer like I’d hoped to do since I closed the garage. There’s a hot meal keeping warm in the oven, a nice sunset right out there. Nothing changed or needs to. You’ll get used to it.”

Nothing needed to change. Could that be true? Was it really possible?

“Maybe we can just sit here for a while longer, until I get used to it.”

“That works for me.”

Hours later, when all but the bars shut down for the night, and the streets in town went quiet, with pools of light from streetlamps shimmering against the dark, he watched and waited.

He’d taken the time to study the routine along the main street with its shops and restaurants. To study the women who closed up those shops, or walked home from their job as line cook or waitress.

He had his mind on the pretty young blonde, but he wouldn’t be picky. At least three young ones worked the late shift at the pizzeria.

He’d take his pick—but the pretty young blonde? She was top choice.

He’d left the camper at the campground a good twelve miles away, all legally set up.

And if they only knew what he’d done inside that home away from home. Just the idea made him want to chuckle.

But the excitement grew, a hot ball in the belly, when the rear door of the restaurant opened.

The hot little blonde, just as he’d hoped.

And all alone.

He slipped out of the car, on the dark edge of the lot, with the rag he’d soaked with chloroform held down at his side.

He liked using chloroform, going old-school. It put them out—no muss, no fuss—even if it tended to make them a little sick. It just added to the process.

She walked along, firm, young tits bouncing some, tight young ass swaying. He glanced back toward the restaurant, making sure no one else came out, started to make his move.

And headlights sliced over the lot, had him jumping back into the shadows. The little blonde waited for the car to turn toward her, then opened the passenger door.

“Thanks, Dad.”

“No problem, honey.”

He wanted to kick something, beat something, when his desire drove off, left him yearning and hot.

Tears actually gathered in the corners of his eyes. Then the door opened again.

Two more came out. He saw them in the light above the door, heard their voices, their laughter as they talked.

Then one of the boys came out. He and the younger of the women linked hands, strolled off together.

The young girl turned around, walked backward. “Have fun tomorrow! Drive safe.”

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