Rachel hoisted a bag on her shoulder. “I’ve been counting down for this Chicago trip. I’m going to make my MasterCard groan under the weight of my shopping spree.” She loved their fall excursion to Chicago. The weather was cooler this year than last year so they wouldn’t spend as much time peering in to shop windows as they usually. Instead they’d booked a spa day, well spa afternoon really, to get pampered before returning to the chaos leading up to the holidays.
“No you won’t. You’ll agonize all day over a few purchases, decide on one and then put it back because it’s too expensive.” Shannon held the screen door open so Rachel could lock up the house. Then they walked down to the car where Shannon already had a few bags leaning against the back tire.
“I’ve got to be smart with my money. I want to settle down in a few years and I hate stories of people getting married and having all those credit card bills.” Rachel pushed the unlock button on her key ring.
“And that is why you handle the books at the office.”
“I wouldn’t go in to business with you if I didn’t.” She raised her eyebrow in a motherly scold and set the bag down by the car. Shannon’s lack of responsibility with money was legendary. “Do you ever think about starting a family?”
“Where in the world did that come from?” Shannon put her bags next to Rachel’s.
“Thoughts pop in my head sometimes…So do you?”
“Sure I dream about it sometimes. Then I wake up screaming in a cold sweat.”
Rachel folded her arms and glared at Shannon.
“Where’d your sense of humor go?”
“I’m not trying to be funny right now. I really want to know.”
“I’d say with the right guy I’d love to start a serious relationship and maybe have a kid or two. But I haven’t found him yet so I’m not too worried about someday.”
“I wonder if I’ll recognize him when I find him.” Rachel dug her toe in the dirt.
“We’re only thirty. I have a couple more good years of freedom and I want to enjoy them without longing for something I don’t have or worrying about whether I’ll find him.” She pretended to swoon like the women in black and white western reruns.
“I wonder sometimes if I did things in the wrong order.” Rachel folded her arms across her chest. “I wonder if I should have looked for a family and then started a career.”
“It’s not what you did so why worry about it?”
“I don’t know.”
“Rachel, I know this guy’s got you freaked with the roses. I’m pretty freaked about it too. The police are watching the area and watching your house. Those other girls…” Shannon’s voice trailed off. She took a deep breath and continued. “None of them had a chance. If he wanted you dead he would have killed you.” Her eyes were intense. She touched Rachel’s shoulder. “I am not entirely convinced that it is really him. The news didn’t make any mention of him leaving flowers along the way. He left flowers on dead bodies.”
Rachel wrapped her arms around her waist and tears burned in her eyes. She wanted to believe every word of what Shannon was saying but how could she? Who could understand a crazy killer? And even if it wasn’t the guy on TV, what if it was Drew. The crazed look in his eyes as she pulled out of his driveway gave her chills.
“Rachel. You are going to be fine. We are going to Chicago. There are no white roses there. No relationship issues or any of that. There are only clothing stores and massages. Let’s go and relax.”
Rachel nodded her head in agreement and walked around the car to the back. Shannon followed her with the bags. The release latch clicked and she lifted the lid. Inside was a single white rose, with a black ribbon.
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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