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Charlie slammed down the phone and stared at it with a horrified look upon her face.
“What’s wrong? ” Her best friend asked with a frown. “What’s the matter, Chaz? You’re scaring me. What did he say?”“He said he’s coming for me.”“Call the cops. Now!”“And what do I tell them, eh? I don’t even know what this guy looks like or where he is right now, for that matter,” Charlie said. Then she added, “I’ll call that cop I met last night. Maybe he has a suggestion.”While Charlie dug into her huge purse for the business card of the man she’d met at Kelly’s Diner last night, her friend sneaked over to the window, drew the curtain back just a tiny crack and peered out.Charlie found the card and looked up. “You know, if he’s out there, he’ll see you.”Her friend jerked back from the window, hitting her head on the wall as she twirled around. Charlie went to the phone and dialed the number on the card.“This is Charlie,” she said to the man who answered. She heard him yawn. “Sorry, I woke you up, John, but I need some advice.”“No problem,” he said, “Tell me.”Ah, a man of few words. Charlie told him about the man who called earlier with the threat. “This is the third time he’s called,” she told John. “but this is the first time he’s threatened me outright.”“Where are you now?” John asked.“I’m at home. Are you coming over tonight?” Charlie’s gaze swung to the clock above the mantle. Midnight! “It’s kind of late.”“No, but it won’t hurt to ask the patrolling officer to pass in front of your place and have a look-see.”“Thank you.”Charlie and her friend went to bed after checking all the locks on windows and doors and for good measure Charlie locked the door of her bedroom leading off into the hall.Next morning, Charlie rose and prepared for her day at work. As she was about to sit down with her first cup of coffee, someone knocked on the front door. She peered through the side window and recognizing John, the cop, she opened the door and invited him in to share a cup of coffee.She handed him a cup and sat across from him at the kitchen table. “I haven’t heard any more from that man,” she said.“When you called for help, I made it my business to come over last night.” He took a sip from the cup. “Umm. Good coffee. As I was saying, I came over and parked about a block away and sneaked around a bit. I saw the guy watching the place, but before I could reach him, he’d fled.”“Chaz, I’m…Oh, sorry…”“Oh, Julia, this is John, the policeman I called last night,” Charlie said turning to face her friend. “He came over and saw the guy who’d threatened me, but couldn’t catch him.” Charlie turned back toward John. “What can we do to stop this madness? I am scared to leave the house. And staying here isn’t much better.”“I’ll come around from time to time,” John promised as he set down his empty cup. “If not me, then I’ll get one of the other guys to make a pass. It’s only a matter of time before we catch him.”“Thanks, John,” Julia said, “I have to go to work. It’s comforting to know someone is watching out for us.”“Care for a second cup?” Charlie asked, reluctant to see him leave. She stood and reached for his cup, listening to the sound of Julia’s car as she spun the tires leaving the driveway. She turned toward the stove.Suddenly a large hand clamped over Charlie’s mouth and nose, and her body froze, cup and coffee pot slipping from her hands. At the same time, a strong arm surrounded her waist effectively cutting off any hope of escape. As darkness overcame her, one name sounded in her mind’s ear, “John.”