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“I don’t think I ever will be, not until I know that he is behind bars. I was so brave when I escaped, but I’ve been nothing but a coward since. Deb, I never told you this before but his last words to me were, ‘Don’t even think about trying to get away because I’ll hunt you down and skin you like a deer.’”
“Gross,” said Deb. “Look, I can’t pretend to understand what you went through but at some point you have to get on with your life. He’ll do it again to someone and he’ll get caught, or he’ll run away to Mexico or… I don’t know.”
After dinner, the girls walked down King Street to the newest hot spot. Le Bar had been open for only a few weeks and it was lined up round the block.
Deb grinned. “I got us into the V.I.P. lounge so we can just bypass this crowd. Thanks, kid, for making tonight special. I know it hasn’t been easy for you to go out and just do normal stuff. We won’t stay long, just a couple drinks and I’ll walk you back home.”
“Okay,” agreed Alex, trying to sound enthusiastic. “Let’s have some fun. I promised not to be a drag and it’s still your birthday for another couple of hours so let’s get this party started.”
Deb had had a few too many shots and was getting a little out of control. She had been flirting outrageously with two suits and they kept buying drinks because she told everyone it was her birthday. Alex glanced at her watch. It was late and she just wanted to be home. “Okay, princess,” she said, “The ball is over. Let’s get going before you turn into a pumpkin or throw up.” She led a reluctant Deb away from the bar and out into the warm night air.
“Not feeling so good, Alex.”
“Not surprised. Let’s grab a cab. I’ll get off at my place and he’ll take you straight home. My treat. Part of the birthday package deal.”
Outside her building, Alex waved goodbye to Deb and fumbled with her clutch to get out her keys. Her purse hit the sidewalk and everything tumbled out. She stooped down to pick up the lipstick, Swiss army knife and the highly illegal pepper spray that she always carried with her now. I just may have had a few too many glasses of wine myself, she thought, swaying slightly.
She noticed that Bill wasn’t in the lobby. His sign was up, indicating that he was on patrol for 10 minutes. Having a smoke, she figured. She opened the door to her apartment and carefully closed it and locked and bolted herself in. She left the lights switched off. There was a lot of light pouring into her apartment from the night-time illumination outside. She walked over to the floor-to-ceiling windows. She stood and watched the traffic cruising along King Street. Lots of people were out, walking to and from restaurants and theatres. She was thinking that tonight actually had been fun and that maybe, finally, —
“Hi Alex. I thought you’d never get home.”