A Face in the Shadow
Part I: The time of shadows
Logan stalked the red-head with his sunglass hidden eyes.
It was time to begin his pursuit.
He meandered at a safe distance from his target. He knew her path and routine. She never deviated. She’d go to her dorm now but in an hour she’d come back down the same walk and into a private study room at the library. Always the same one. In the basement past the bound periodicals and around the corner. She valued her privacy, and so did he.
The air was sticky without a whisper of breeze. A small bead of sweat tickled his cheek as it ran down. He wiped it away then slowed his pace a bit.
Up ahead his lady advanced with quick strides never making eye contact with anyone. Hopefully she’d resist just a little.
He wiped away another bead of sweat. The blond wig was hot. The human hair had been expensive but if any fibers remained the cops couldn’t tie them to him. He went to the left and in the library’s entryway. She turned right up the path to the dorms.
The blast of cold air both refreshed and chilled him. He walked past the information desk and check-out counters. Very few students visited the college’s library during the summer months. Three librarians continued their conversation without looking at him. The air smelled of rotting pages and mildew. Air didn’t flow and sounds didn’t carry here.
He went to the basement and stepped through the first set of doors. A few metal shelves lined the walls covered with periodicals that only college professors and their unfortunate students ever read. In the far corner, tucked away from view were the private study rooms. These were rooms designed for a group of students to talk without disturbing other library patrons. They were designed to muffle sounds. In the summer there was little need but she still used them. A creature of habit.
The basement was cold and slightly damp. The yellowed florescent lights created shadows in the far corner of shelves. He turned away from the periodicals and entered the microfiche room to wait. The basement was silent except for a low hum. The air conditioner must be close by. He checked his watch and waited. Five minutes until she’d arrive. The dim yellow screen of the microfiche screamed the headline “The Fratboy Killer claims second victim.”
“I’d hardly call myself a fratboy.” He dropped a nickel in the slot and clicked print. No fratboy would take the time to do all the planning he did. Behind him the door to the periodical room closed with a muffled bump followed a few moments later by the click of the study room door. He collected the articles, returned the microfiche to the drawer and wiped everything down.
No one was in the basement, no cameras on the walls. He walked to the far end and looked through the glass. On the other side she lifted a pile of books out of her bag and began to arrange them on the table. His heart thudded and he imagined for a moment how good this would be.
No, he would resist. He needed to be slow, woo her. He had to maintain control.
Alpha Mu Epsilon required it.
It would make the time with his red-haired angel so much better. He smoothed down his shirt and picked off a small piece of black lint. He was handsome. Women were usually willing to exchange small talk with him which worked to his advantage.
This woman was lovely. Long strands of hair hung down from her clip. She aroused in him the urge to steal her away and keep her. Maybe he could…
He stepped back for a moment. No. He’d planned this. Stick to the plan. When emotions took over was when mistakes were made. Bundy’s fall came when he didn’t prepare, he let one get away. Sloppiness was his downfall.
He took a deep breath and opened the door. She turned quickly.
“I’m sorry this room is occupied.” Her eyes directed him back out of the room.
“You are a vision from a renaissance master.” He’d rehearsed the greeting all week. Letting women know how attractive they were was important in the art of Romance. Women had to be lured gently at first. Let them know they are beautiful and special. Slowly they open their hearts.
“Excuse me?” Her voice faltered for a moment. Fear was good. Enough fear to keep her quiet.
He stepped in the room and closed the door behind him, never taking his eyes off of his prize. Her body straightened in response.
“That wouldn’t be wise.” He lifted his shirt enough to let her see the knife clipped to his belt.
“What do you want?” Her fingers felt around the table but there was nothing on that table strong enough to keep him from his purpose.
“What is alpha?” Tears slid down her face. Her eyes were slightly red. It ruined her creamy white skin.
“You’re trying to destroy the moment.”
He grabbed her and spun her around so she wasn’t facing him. Remember the image of her beautiful. He had to lock that image in his head. Anger squeezed him and he shoved her to the floor. She fell forward and her hair splayed out and formed a halo.
Desire consumed him afresh and he pounced on top of her and reached around to cover her mouth with his hand.
“If you’re quiet” he whispered “This will go much better for you.”
She nodded her head and he took what he’d come for. She remained nearly silent and he was only mildly distracted by the tears that ran across the back of his hand. Without standing up he reached around to his backpack and pulled out the noose. A few moments later it was over.
He rolled her over and pushed her hair away from her face. Two startling blue eyes frozen in time. A master’s statue. He slid the rope over her head and and adjusted her hair. He’d preserved her forever.
Inside the bag his hand groped around until his fingers felt the bouquet of roses. The petals were cool and soft against his skin. He pushed back the tissue paper and looked for the one he had for her.
There were thirteen roses most red, a few pink, two yellow and a single white rose. Superstition was the religion of the ignorant. He pulled out the white rose and tied a black ribbon around the stem. It moved back and forth wafting its scent. Flowers knew what it was to give, to share.
Women were very much like roses. They were things of beauty growing from something vile. The best remained pure and grew straight. And when they were most beautiful, just as the bloom began to open it was time to pick them.
And like roses once the flower was removed all that was left was an ugly, rotten stem that needed to be cut off and burned. He laid the rose across her chest with the bloom barely touching her cheek.
“This is yours, precious”
He opened her hand and placed a small golden charm in her palm then pushed her hand closed.
She was his.
Alpha Mu Epsilon.
You are reading A Face in the Shadow by Tiffany Colter.
Tiffany is a writer, speaker and writing career coach. She is a frequent contributor to print and online publications in addition to her regular marketing blog at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
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This story is copyright Tiffany Colter. 2007. It may not be copied, distributed, sold or included in any larger work without the expressed written permission of Tiffany Colter.Bloggers may comment on or link to this blog from their own blog. To link directly to this posting click the title then copy the address in the browser.