EXPOSURE

Parental Advisory Rating: L & AC

Break out those V-Chips, everyone!

Credits:

Created, Produced, Directed and Written:

XWPFanatic, TNovan and Tonya Muir

 

Episode Thirteen: Torch Song Trilogy

Looking down at the timer, I drop my head a little, ten more minutes. Christ, I’m not sure why I’m on a treadmill at this hour of the morning. I have the day off and some part of me told me that an early trip to the gym would be good. I need to hurt that part of me.

No, what I need to do is learn to relax. Right. Like that’ll happen anytime soon.

I look up at the TV screen and see that it’s tuned to my station. The early morning anchors are delivering the news. The new guy, Jack Towne, isn’t half bad, but the woman has to go. Jesus. Fake breasts, fake nose, fake chin, and not a damn bit of brain stem activity taking place. The volume is down so as not to interfere with the music playing through the gym. They do have the closed captioning on, though, and I read as I continue my walk to nowhere on the treadmill.

The mourning news. That’s what I call the early broadcast because they routinely just recap all the murders which took place the night before. True to form, No Brain is introducing a segment on a body found on the beach. Another young woman, mid-twenties, petite, attractive and blonde.

Jesus. This is what, number two or three?

The police aren’t confirming it publicly, but our sources tell us it’s the work of a single killer. Apparently, he likes blondes. All of the victims were raped before their death. But, other than the victims’ physical characteristics and the rapes, the cops aren’t acknowledging any other similarities.

I sigh, thanking God I’m not a homicide cop. My job is hard enough as it is. I’d hate to get yanked out of bed in the middle of the night to go look at dead bodies all of the time.

I glance to my left as a very attractive woman steps onto the treadmill there. She looks over and smiles at me, setting her timer so the machine comes to life.

Oh, she could make me come to life too.

Tall, lean, dark hair down to her very shapely ass, toned in all the right spots. Oh God! I drop my head as I look to the timer again.

Seven more minutes.

"Excuse me?"

I look over to my newly arrived companion. She grins a little as she looks to me with almost shy reserve. "Yes?"

"You’re Kelsey Stanton, aren’t you?"

"Last time I got my driver’s license that’s what they told me." I smile back.

"I hope you don’t mind, I just wanted to tell you that I unh…well," she takes a deep breath and shakes her head a bit, "I really admire the work you do."

"Thank you. I appreciate that. We do try."

"You manage to get yourself in some pretty interesting situations."

Oh, if you only knew.

"Yeah, well, my field director/shooter has a real knack for getting us into trouble." I can’t help but laugh a little, as my mind runs quickly through all the stories Harper and I have done in just over two months together.

"Do you enjoy it? Doing those kinds of stories would scare me senseless."

"I don’t know if enjoy is the right word. I always enjoy living through them. Are you in the field?"

"Oh no, not me." She shakes her head again as she extends her hand. "I’m sorry, I’m Susan Hamilton." She has soft hands, but a firm grip. "I’m a doctor. Pediatrician."

"Nice to meet you." Very nice, actually.

I notice she holds my hand just a tick longer than necessary, before releasing it and gripping the rails of the treadmill. I recognize that white-knuckle death grip.

Four minutes left.

I’m not sure why my hand reaches out and adds another ten minutes, but it does. Oh hell, I know perfectly well why I did it.

Have I lost my mind? I’m imagining things here, most likely. I do not need to get laid that badly.

Like hell I don’t. I was willing to sleep with Harper. This can’t be any worse.

I spend another few minutes chatting with her and trying to get a better feel for my chances here. God, it’s been a long time since I’ve done this. But you know some of the things that Harper said in Omaha made sense. How long can I go on fooling myself?

My extra ten minutes pass pretty quickly. I step off, taking my towel and wiping down my face and neck, and I head over to the juice bar for a bottle of water. As I take a seat, I continue to watch her in the mirror. I notice she’s glancing my direction with a little grin too. This could be good.

Susan and I end up having breakfast together. She is absolutely delightful. I really enjoying talking with a normal, sane, rational human being.

Funny, I didn’t notice before, she has blue eyes. I shake my head as an image starts to take form. No. I refuse to let this be ruined by her.

"Listen." I put my mug down and hope I’m not about to make a complete fool of myself here. I lean forward a bit, resting my elbows on the table. "I have tickets to the symphony tonight. If you’re not busy…"

"I’d love too," she answers before I can even finish the sentence. "Maybe dinner before or drinks after? Or both, if we’re feeling daring."

"That would be very nice. Can I pick you up or would you rather meet somewhere?"

She reaches for her purse, pulling out a card and writing her home number and address on the back. "What time is the concert?" she asks as she hands me the card.

"I’m not sure. To be honest, I hadn’t planned on actually using the tickets."

"Well, tell you what," she says as she pulls her purse strap over her shoulder. "Why don’t you check and give me a call and we’ll go from there? My cell phone number is on the front."

"Great. I’ll talk to you soon."

"I’m looking forward to it, Kelsey." She gives me a wave as she heads out of the restaurant.

I flip the card slowly in my fingers after she’s left. It’s clearly her business card, giving the address of her practice and the names of the other pediatricians there. The back of the card is written in bold strokes, indicating a strong hand. I like strong hands.

Now I have to go buy symphony tickets. I sure hope they’re in town.

 

* * *

 

Dinner was very nice. The symphony was terrific. Drinks at the bar after were even better, but the bottle of wine we’re sharing now is the absolute best part of my evening. Even sitting, as we are, on opposites ends of my couch, talking and sipping the wine, this is the most relaxed I’ve been in weeks.

"I really wish you had at least let me buy dinner." Susan smiles at me over the rim of her glass.

"No, no, my treat. I had a really good time tonight. Thanks for coming out with me."

Oh boy, does the meaning of those words buzz around in my head before slamming into the proverbial mental wall.

"It was a wonderful evening, Kelsey." She slides down the sofa closing the distance between us. "Can I ask you a very personal question?"

"Oh, you can ask. Doesn’t mean I’ll answer." I sip my wine.

"Fair enough. Since you didn’t let me buy you dinner, can I at least make you breakfast?" She smiles as she waits for my answer.

She’s not pushing me, but, boy, is she leading me right into temptation.

"Look, Susan, I lead a rather complicated life." I give a little sigh. "And I don’t want you to get the wrong impression here. I have certain commitments and contractual issues…." Why I’m backpedaling now is beyond me. We did just go out on a date, after all, and were seen in public together. What we do here is certainly no worse.

She holds up her hand and nods. "I’m sure of it. I have an idea how the business works, Kelsey. Okay, let me try to simplify your life. I have to be discreet also. My partners wouldn’t think much of this and the parents of my patients would probably think even less. We’re both used to living with secrets so this could be ideal for us. I’m attracted to you. I think you’re attracted to me, and I would very much like to spend the night with you. I’m not asking for a commitment or a long-term relationship. But I do hope to see more of you."

I grin.

"Now that’s not what I meant," she teases as she moves a little closer to me. "It would be nice if we could…."

"I think we both know what you’re trying to say. Let’s not force the issues," I offer, placing my glass on the table then leaning back into the couch. She’s convinced me, but I wasn’t really a hard sell anyway. "We’ll keep it casual, right?"

"Right."

"But in the meantime there’s no reason why we can’t enjoy each other’s company to the absolute fullest."

"Exactly." She leans in and brushes her lips against mine.

Morals clause. What morals clause?

 

* * *

 

The buzzer wakes me from a very happy and sound sleep. I feel Susan’s arm wrapped around my waist and her warmth where she is curled up against my back. I know right away that it’s not my alarm. What in the hell is it? Ah hell, it’s the intercom buzzer from the lobby.

I reach out a sleepy hand and hit the button. Thank God, Erik and I had the foresight to have intercoms put in nearly every damn room of the condo. I open my eyes to find that it’s six in the morning. Oh, I’m gonna kill whoever is on the other end of this thing.

"Stanton," I say as I release the button.

"Kels, get your ass out of bed and get ready. We’ve got a story breaking."

Harper. I should have fucking known. If there was a way to ruin my bliss, she would find it. Damn!

I hit the button again as I lift to my elbow. Susan stirs behind me and rolls away with a groan. "I’ll be at least twenty minutes. Go get some coffee and I’ll meet you down front."

"Hell, Kels, be civil and let me come up. I brought you bagels and tea. I need to brief you while you get ready and I drink my coffee."

Oh why the hell not? Maybe it’ll prove to her that Omaha was an aberration.

"All right. Come on up." I release the button and get up.

Susan opens her eyes and smiles at me. "Does this happen often?"

"No, thank God," I growl a little as I pull two terry cloth robes from my closet. I slip into one and put the other on the bed. "You’re welcome to stay and go back to sleep, but if you want to get up at this ungodly hour -" I gesture to the robe.

As I leave my bedroom to go meet Harper, I hear Susan get up. Oh, this should prove to be interesting.

I’m leaning against the wall with my arms crossed as the elevator doors slide open. Harper steps out with two paper bags and a newspaper tucked under her arm. The doors close and Harper’s eyes go very wide, very suddenly. I look over my shoulder to find Susan tying off her robe.

Turning back to Harper with a little smirk, I can’t resist saying, "Hope you brought enough for everyone."

 

* * *

 

"I didn’t know we had company," I mutter.

Kelsey arches her eyebrow. "We don’t, Harper. I do."

Yeah, you sure do. My eyes drift over to the open bedroom door. I imagine that I can see the disheveled sheets and smell the scent of sex. It does not improve my mood.

Sex is just sex, right? Lord knows I’ve had my share of fun-filled nights. Hell, I’ve even had more than my share. I was pretty sure up until this moment that I had taken Kelsey’s share.

Apparently not.

"Right," I say. I toss the newspaper on the coffee table and set the bags next to it, unloading the contents onto polished oak.

The other woman steps down into the main living area, smoothing the folds in her robe, and extends a hand towards me. "Hello. I’m Susan," she offers with a genuine smile.

"Harper," I respond. Suddenly, I realize she looks like ...

Well, me.

I should get some perverse pleasure from this, that Kelsey is subconsciously searching for me, but I don’t. It pisses me off instead.

You could have me, Kels. The original is always so much better than a cheap imitation. God, what was the horrible song in the seventies? I know: "Paper roses." It begins playing in my mind, "I realize the way your eyes deceived me, with tender looks that I mistook for love."

"I’m a big fan of your work," Susan continues, interrupting my thoughts and the bad music, oblivious to the tension in the room.

"Thank you." I force a smile. "But Kels is the real star." I always give credit where credit is due. I’ll be damned if I change that now. "She could get a tree stump to give a good interview."

Too bad she won’t talk to me.

Kelsey seems stunned by my praise. Slowly, she smiles her thank you. "Can I make you some tea, Susan? I’m afraid I don’t have any coffee. I’d offer you my tea, but not many people drink it with three Sweet-n-Lows."

"Count me among those people. I’ll take it with just a little cream."

Good, because I didn’t bring it for you.

With a nod, Kelsey disappears into the kitchen, leaving her night’s entertainment alone with me.

Talk about awkward.

"So," I manage, not my best opening line. I realize this is only awkward for me since Susan has no idea, I suppose, what has transpired between Kels and I. "Do you like bagels? Kelsey does ... I didn’t think to pick up anything else."

"Bagels are fine." She takes a seat on the couch, tucking the sides of the robe under shapely legs and picking up a bagel from the table. "You have an intriguing accent, Harper."

It must have slipped out in my confusion. Normally, I do all-American pretty well unless I’m trying to charm the ladies. And I don’t want to charm this one. I just want her to go away. Far away. Very far away. Very soon. "Louisiana. New Orleans."

"Really?" Susan seems delighted. "Did you grow up there?"

I squint at her, taking a sip of my coffee and feeling the liquid warm my throat. Is she flirting with me? Because if she is, I’ll kill her. Studying her open features and gentle blue eyes, I decide she’s just being polite, making small talk. "Yeah, mostly. My parents and brothers and their families are still there. How about you? Where are you from?" I can chit-chat when I have to. I don’t just grunt and scratch, despite rumors to the contrary.

"California native."

"I’m sorry."

She laughs and pats me on the knee just as Kelsey comes back in with a cup of tea.

Oh shit.

I look up expecting the explosion. I know I'd fucking explode if I walked in on this scene. Kels, on the other hand, takes a deep breath as her brows knit together for a moment.

"Scoot your ass over, Tabloid." She gives me a little smirk as she hands the mug she just brought in to Susan and inserts herself between us, giving the brunette a tender rub on her back as she does.

Does she have to be so damn smug about the whole thing?

I unfold the morning paper. On the third page, below the fold, is a story about a fire late last night. I point it out to her and let her read it silently.

"A battered women’s shelter burnt to the ground last night," she recaps for Susan when she looks up at me. Kels leans over and picks up the Styrofoam cup of tea I brought her and takes a sip.

I see the professionalism slip back into place and I know we can get through this without hurting each other. At least, I hope we can. "Right. I have a source in the fire department who says early investigation shows it’s arson."

"What?" she asks with surprise.

"Sick, huh? As if these women haven’t been through enough, right? Bastard. Probably one of their asshole husbands who did it."

"Truly." Kelsey nods. "So what are we doing this morning?"

"We’re talking to the manager of the shelter, and then to my source at the fire department."

"What happened to the women?" Susan asks suddenly.

We both turn our gaze to her.

"The article says the women were all put up at different area shelters." It’s Kelsey who answers, placing a warm hand on Susan’s knee.

"Were they all okay?"

"No deaths," Kelsey assures. "Some hospitalizations for smoke inhalation and a couple for minor burns, though."

For some reason it completely annoys me that Susan is so concerned about these women. It just smacks of insincerity, like she’s trying to one-up me.

Susan nods and says, "Well, it sounds like you two have your work cut out for you. I’m going to take a shower and then get out of your hair." With that, the brunette rises from her seat and sets down her empty mug. She gently kisses Kelsey’s temple and makes her way towards the bedroom.

I watch as Kels smiles and her eyes follow the woman across the room. There was a time when I wanted her eyes to follow me like that. I guess deep down inside I still do, but Omaha certainly fucked that up. That’ll be the last time I get hammered on whiskey.

And finding Susan here this morning didn’t help much either.

We're left alone and I suddenly feel the need to fill the silence. "So, I have an interview set up with the manager of the facility. Right now, we have an exclusive, if we get there fast enough. I want to go over some potential questions for her. If we can get -"

"I really like her," Kelsey interrupts in a soft tone.

"What?" I truly am baffled by the statement. Is she talking about the manager?

"Susan, I like her, a lot. We promised to keep it casual and that's what I need."

It’s not what you need, Kels. Don’t bother lying to yourself. "What happened to all that bullshit about your contract and appearances?" The words are out before I can stop them.

"She knows to be discreet. She needs to be as well." She fixes her gaze on me and hardens her look a bit. "You’re the one who told me I had to stop hiding from myself."

I can’t really argue with her on that one. Though I kind of had intended to be the beneficiary of her new found freedom.

"So don’t interfere."

"Kels, come on," I argue softly. She thinks this lowly of me? "Regardless of what you may think, I’m not out to hurt you."

"Why should I believe you?"

I meet her shuttered green eyes. They’re cautious and wary and I long for those moments we shared in Omaha. God, I’d like to kiss her right now. But it would only get me slapped. Or worse. "Because I’m giving you my word. And there was a time when you trusted me."

She sighs, looks down at her hands. "And you threw that in my face."

I did no such thing. I protected you and took care of you, just like I’d promised. I got you out of there alive and intact. I held you while you cried and trembled with fear. I let you eat my Twinkie. "I did not," I finally object, long explanations failing me.

"You laughed at me."

It sounds like a child’s confession and I see, for a moment, the sensitive woman I met in that closet in the compound. "Kels," I say softly, wanting to touch her but knowing it’s not welcome. "Little Roo, when did I ever laugh at you?"

"After we woke up. In my hotel room."

I think back and remember. Shit, I wasn’t laughing at her. I was laughing at the situation. I hadn’t realized at that moment she was horrified.

Horrified.

That still bugs the crap out of me. What am I? Some infectious disease? "Come on, Kels," I say sharply. "I mean, you acted like waking up naked with me was the worst thing that had ever happened in your life, that the thought of spending the night with me was repulsive."

"You’re wrong. I was confused and hung over and ..." She shakes her head as if to clear it of the thoughts that she’s having. "You showed me I was nothing. I was just another…" She pauses again and then looks to her bedroom door with a sad smile. "Just never mind, Tabloid, it doesn’t fucking matter anymore." She puts her cup down and stands up. As she brushes past me, I hear her mumble something about ‘being so damn stupid to think’, then the comment dies on her lips.

"Fine," I say quickly, raising a hand to placate her. My head is starting to hurt and this new information only makes it worse. "Let’s just get to work. Wear something friendly and feminine. You know, your lipstick lez look." It’s out of my mouth before I can stop it.

She’s standing a few feet from me, trembling with anger. "I need a shower," she mutters.

"I think it’s occupied."

"All the better." She turns quickly on her heel and disappears.

I throw myself down on the couch and finish my coffee in a huge gulp. "That went well," I tell the empty room.

***

This morning could have gone better, I realize as I lean my back against the passenger seat of the van. Jimmy is in the back, as usual, messing with equipment and muttering to himself, doing his best to avoid us at all costs. Harper is on her fourth cup of coffee already. She’s not speaking to me.

I hadn’t meant to be vulnerable. I hadn’t meant to tell her what was bothering me. It just came out. Part of me wanted her to understand because I really am attracted to her. Not just her looks, that much is obvious. But because she’s educated and compassionate, she lives her life with carefree abandon, and has this sense of loyalty that I admire. I bet she’s good in bed, too, I admit to myself. I know it’s not her fault about our encounter. I’m a lousy drunk.

The shower was nice. Susan is a wonderful woman and I’m thrilled to have found her. I can still feel her hands on my body and in my hair. She kissed me goodbye at the elevator and whispered promises of more opportunities to come. I feel pretty good about that relationship. If only I could fix this one.

"I’m sorry I blew up this morning." I say, surprising us both. Jimmy looks up from his tinkering but then goes back to it wordlessly.

"Whatever," Harper responds shortly as she jerks the van’s steering wheel and slams on the brakes. I hear Jimmy fall onto the floor in the back.

"Christ, Harper," he glares at her. "Didja wake up on the wrong side of bed this morning?"

"We’re here," she answers, ignoring Jimmy.

"I see," I nod slowly. We’re parked outside the hotel where the shelter’s manager is staying. I feel a little tingle in my belly at the thought of the interview. I always love that feeling: the thrill of a mystery and hoping to get to the bottom of it. Today would be a perfect day if it weren’t for the black cloud hovering next to me behind the wheel.

I know I’m to blame for that, though, so I try hard not to react with my usual moodiness. I decide to be neutral and get the job done. Why is it I feel I have to protect myself by hurting her? My parents taught me well, I realize with a sinking feeling.

 

***

 

The woman contrasts with Kelsey nicely. She’s in her early fifties, tall and willowy. Still, she has the appearance of a strong woman who has survived her share of disappointments. She greets us with a gentle smile as she rubs at her eyes. "Sorry, long night," she explains and yawns, showing us into the hotel room.

Kelsey is talking with her casually as Jims and I set up. She’s trying to make the woman comfortable with her voice and mannerisms and is idly discussing the string of murders.

"Rumor is they all look alike," the woman says, shaking her head.

"I think they were all blonde. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything. We’re in California, after all," she laughs. "Most of the women who aren’t blonde here find the color in a bottle."

I hide my smirk at that statement. Kelsey is no bottle-blonde. I know that for a fact. I shake my head, trying to clear that image from my brain. I’m not gonna be looking at that view again anytime soon.

The woman agrees with Kelsey. "Still. It’s frightening to know how unsafe women are in this city. I see it every day, as I am sure you do as well."

Kelsey uses this sentiment to segue into the topic of our interview. "Which is why your work is so important, Ms. Graham. Your home offered women a safe place to recover from tragic events in their lives."

She nods solemnly and folds her hands in thought. "It’s horrible to lose that place. It was so much a part of my life and so important to the hundreds of women who have found shelter there over the years."

I catch Kelsey’s eyes and tell her in my look to back off a little. I want this on tape and we’re not quite ready. Jims finishes setting up the lights while I check the camera, and give him instructions to help soften the lightening.

She understands and touches Shirley Graham on the leg. "Let me get my mike and we’ll see if we’re ready yet."

I give Jims a nod for him to rig up our interviewee.

Kelsey comes to face me, her back to our subject. "Sorry, she warmed to the subject faster than I expected," she whispers.

"No harm done," I assure her and find myself settling the mike on her collar and dropping the wire down her shirt. I freeze and meet her eyes, realizing I have just taken a great liberty given our tenuous relationship.

She smiles slightly and reaches out to pat my side.

So I continue with the work, reaching up her shirt to find the dangling cord and trying hard not to notice the smoothness of her skin or smell her perfume. It’s a difficult task standing this close to her. Susan is lucky. I never should have laughed, I knew how insecure she was. I just thought the entire thing was so ironic. Actually, I didn’t think. Fuck. I hope some day we reach a point where we can talk this out without the need to throw insults at each other.

Kelsey settles into her seat beside the manager, smoothing her skirt and fluffing her bangs. We do a quick sound check on both of their mikes and light up. Kelsey looks at me for approval and I nod. "Let’s go."

 

* * *

I turn to the woman trying to be sympathetic and professional at the same time. It’s a hard mix to achieve, but somehow I’ve managed to do a pretty good job of getting it right over the years. "Miss Graham, I know it’s been a long night and I’d like to thank you for giving us this interview this morning."

"I wish I could say it was my pleasure. I’d much rather be getting good press for the shelter."

Oh, she’s done this before.

I nod as I continue. "I understand completely. Would you like to tell us what happened last night?"

"To be honest, I’m not sure. I received a call a little after ten last night that the shelter was on fire and the women staying there had been evacuated."

"I thought you were the resident manager." I glance down at my notes to confirm this fact. "Weren’t you on the property last night?"

She shifts a bit and sighs. "I was having dinner with my sister and her husband."

"Did you know at the time of the call that there had been several injuries from smoke inhalation?"

"No. I didn’t know that until I got there." She fidgets a bit more and drops her head to stare at her hands.

"There were three women hospitalized, correct?"

"Yes, unfortunately, that’s right."

"Have you had any indication from the fire department about the cause of the fire yet?" I don’t want to clue her in that it might be arson if she hasn’t heard.

"No, not yet."

"What do you think the problem was?"

"It could have been any number of thing really… We’ve had problems with the electrical wiring in the past, and our appliances are gas, so …" She shrugs, at a loss.

I notice a silent cue from Harper. "Hold that thought for a sec. I’m sorry."

Getting to my feet I wonder what could be so important that Harper has called me to her. I cross the room and incline my head, trying so hard to ignore whatever the hell kind of cologne that is she has on. Damn, it smells good. Wonder if it would mix that well with Susan’s body chemistry.

She reads the text message on her pager to me. "One of the women from the shelter died a few minutes ago." She pauses and sighs in my ear a little. That feels slightly familiar. Focus Kels, focus. "Apparently, she was asthmatic. The smoke inhalation killed her."

"Oh shit." I murmur as I look up to her. She nods and I turn to the manager.

I take a deep breath and reclaim my seat. "Miss Graham, I’m afraid I have some bad news. One of the victims of the fire died."

Her eyes go wide and she looks at me as she shakes her head just a bit. "No, that can’t be."

I reach out and take her hand. "I’m afraid so."

I look up to Harper who gives me a bittersweet smile. Okay, she’s still got a nice smile. She knows this is hard on all of us and offers her support silently. She is a damn good partner.

"That…that wasn’t suppose to happen."

Suddenly, Harper and I make eye contact again and we’re both thinking the same thing.

Oh shit!

 

***

 

I smile as I hand a copy of our tapes to the arson investigator standing in front of me in my office. Unexpected confessions are always nice. And they make great ratings, as well.

"Thank you, Ms. Kingsley." He shakes my hand. "You did a great job with this. We’ve suspected the owner of that property for some time, as other properties of his have met the same fate. We just never could pin arson on him before, never found someone working with him willing to talk."

"Until now." I smirk as I take my seat.

"Until now." He agrees, tucking the tapes into his briefcase. "Ms. Graham gave us a full confession. The owner of the property is in deep financial trouble. He’s been having his properties torched for the insurance money. He had made her promises of a new facility for her shelter, a better place for the women to stay. Her job was to get everyone out. Unfortunately for them, the torch he hired screwed up and lit the place a day early."

"So she wasn’t there and someone died."

"Right. Now they’re facing all kinds of charges. The shelter is gone and one woman is dead."

"What a waste." I sigh as I take a sip of chocolate milk. Too much fucking coffee today has my stomach in knots.

"Yes, it is. Well, thank you again." He offers while moving to my office door. "We appreciate your help in this matter."

"No problem, we appreciate the inside track on information." I wave as he leaves my office.

I lean back in my chair, sipping my milk. Glancing over to Kels’ office, I can see she’s on the phone, smiling and laughing. Making a date with my clone, I’ll bet.

Jesus, Kels, that’s so pathetic.

<fade out>

 

Scenes from Next Week’s Must Read TV:

<fade in>

My hand is shaking a bit as I retrieve the card from the box. I know what it’s gonna say before I even read it. This has gone too far. I look around trying to figure out who might have put it there as I pull the card from the box. "We belong together. Can’t you see that?"

<cut to>

"What other gifts have you received? Anything else like this?"

"No." She stands up and stretches her arms above her head. I try hard not to focus on how that accentuates her assets. "Flowers. Stuffed animals. Box of chocolates."

<cut to>

"No," she responds quickly, rising from her chair. "No, Harper, it’s not that." She runs her hand through her hair and I know she’s trying to get the courage to tell me something. "It’s just ... if this person is following me, I don’t want him to see me talking to the cops. Your friend’s been on TV with those murders and I don’t want my admirer to think I ratted on him."

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