Rachel sat quietly in the corner of the coffee shop with her back to the wall. She sipped at a double espresso and nibbled on a bagel to try to calm the waves of nausea in her stomach. Was he here in this coffee shop, watching her? Two tear drops leaked from her eyes. She wiped her cheeks dry and tried to calm down with deep breaths. Deep breaths did nothing to calm the shaking inside her.
“Excuse me miss?” A lanky young man walked to her table and stared down at her.
She looked up at him without speaking.
“Is this seat taken?” He pointed to the chair to her right.
Her mom walked to the table and plopped her large purse on the table. “Sorry I’m late. Had a devil of a time finding a parking spot.”
“Are you expecting others?” The man said again, this time to her mom.
“No, please. You can have the chair.” She said and pulled the edge of the chair out for him.
“Thanks.” He lifted the chair just above the floor and took it to a table full of high school or new college students. She wasn’t sure which.
“Rachel!” She spun and looked at her mom. “Honey, you feelin’ alright? You look pale.”
“Didn’t sleep well.”
Her mom eyed her for a moment then dug a ten dollar bill out of her wallet. “I’ll be right back. I need to get my coffee. You want me to get something for you?”
“You look completely exhausted.”
“Yes, I am. I think I’m taking the day off to try and get some rest.”
“Glad to see you taking some time to yourself.” She scooted her chair up to the table. “If you’re not feelin’ well how bout you come on over to the house? Stay with your dad, Adam and me. There is nothing worse than being all alone when you don’t feel good.” She smiled and patted Rachel’s hand. “I best get up there. Coffee’s not bringing itself over here.” Her mom turned and walked over to the line in front of the counter.
Rachel wanted to tell her mom what was going on. She mouthed the words “Mom, the fratboy killer is after me.” Tears caught the words in her throat. Her body ached. Rest was what she needed. Uninterrupted sleep for more than thirty minutes at a time would do her so much good. She wiped her eyes again.
No she needed the creep caught. She needed some peace. She pushed her coffee cup away and concentrated on the people around her.
Any one of these people could be the killer. She looked around at the tables of guys in their twenty’s and thirty’s. It was close to half of the people. She turned and looked over her shoulder then quickly turned forward again. No less than eight men were looking in her direction or stole a passing glance.
Her mom walked back to the table, her coffee in a to-go cup and sleeve. “So you want to follow me home?”
“Uh, I, no. I need to swing by the office for a few things first.” Rachel tried to wipe the fatigue from her eyes. “I’ll be by in a little while.”
“Rachel, I don’t think you’re in any condition ta go drivin’ all over.”
“I’ll be there soon mom.”
Her mom hugged her, first time she’d done that in quite a while, then walked to her own car. Rachel climbed in her car and locked the doors behind her. Her body melted in to the seat. If she could close her eyes for two, maybe three, minutes she’d feel so much better. She blinked long blinks and allowed her body to soak up the moments or rest.
Her cell vibrated in her hand. She jumped and fumbled with the phone.
“You sure you don’t want me driving you?” Her mom said. Then Rachel heard to honks on a horn outside her window. “Caught you nappin’” Her mom said through the phone. She was about four car lengths from Rachel.
“I’ll see you later this afternoon, mom.” Her mom waved and slowly pulled her car on the road.
Rachel felt a little guilty for calling off but she would have been completely worthless in the office. She couldn’t concentrate on anything. She only needed to stay awake and alert for another hour and then she could rest.
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.
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