I set my food down on the counter and flew to the back door, still locked, good. I stood there for a moment holding my breath then slowly opened the door and peeked outside. There, on the ground sat another nest of leaves. I closed the door and re-locked it, my whole body vibrated in disbelief. I wrapped my arms tightly around my chest in an attempt to stop the shakes, calm down and clear my head from the numbness that had taken over. Killer rubbed his side against my leg. I slid down the door, wrapped my arms around his big, thick, neck and I willed myself not to cry.
After a few minutes of resting my head in Killers fur, I realized he needed to go out. I needed to brave the outdoors too, the sun was setting and I needed to grab my gun and my bags out of the truck. I also needed to take pictures of the nests.
“Wait here Killer I have an idea.” I ran upstairs to get my camera before finding Killers leash and collar.
“I’m sorry to have to do this to you boy, but I want you as close to me as possible.” I secured his collar and shortened his leash. “We’re going to have to watch our step when we go out front, I want to get some pictures before the nests become disturbed.”
We managed to get back outside without causing too much damage. Killer avoided the nests and whined at the sight of them. I snagged the gun out of my backpack. Feeling a little safer I gave Killer some slack to do his business, but didn’t let go of the leash. I put the memory card back in my camera and grabbed everything I could carry out of my truck. The rest could wait until daylight. I snapped some pictures of the nests, went back inside, and proceeded to search my house, making sure it was locked down tight.
I heated my food, started a fire, and sat down on the couch before turning on my favorite zombie movie for a distraction. I also wondered where the hell my protector was. A knock on the door rattled my nerves, Max stepped inside.
“Re-lock the door behind you.” I hadn’t heard or sensed him coming up the drive. That’s how freaked out I was.
He gave me a questioning glance, sat down beside me and directed his attention to the movie.
I ignored him, the adrenaline rush from earlier faded and left me frazzled, exhausted, and in no mood for conversation.
Eventually I made my weary limbs get off the couch for coffee, pie, and a painkiller. I put my uneaten dinner in the fridge and cut two slices of pie, one for me and one for Max, who was still in silent mode. I handed him the pie and we continued to watch the movie.
I stirred the next morning in my own bed. The other side of the bed was empty, but rumpled. I glared at the dent from Max’s head lingering on the pillow. He’d slept in my bed again. What did Max not understand about sleep on the couch or go away?
I closed my eyes and stretched out; I was tempted to stay in bed for the rest of the day. I didn’t want to deal with anything. I imagined Max leaving, my home being safe again, and snuggled deeper under the blankets. The smell of coffee, eggs, and bacon awakened my senses and brought me back to reality. My stomach growled, I threw off the covers and sat up.
Apparently Max thought it necessary to take off most of my clothes last night. I planted my feet on the floor, wearing only a tee-shirt, boxers, and fluffy pink socks. I smirked, I was sleeping with the guy, without the sex, so I why should I complain.
I slipped on a robe and a moment later stepped into the solarium. Max was no longer in the house. His energy still lingered in the air, but my internal sensors told me he’d left. Curious as to who was cooking in my kitchen, I rounded the corner and almost ran into ghost boy.
“You startled me.” Ghost boy said, putting his hand over his heart. “I’m Chase.” He held out his hand to me. “I hope you don’t mind I’m here, but Max needed to run some errands and didn’t want you to be left alone.”
Great, another protector, a cute one, but nonetheless. I plastered a smile on my face. “It’s nice to finally meet you.”
“Max said you only eat fresh eggs.” He sauntered back into the kitchen. I followed him. “I know a lady who has chickens, so I brought some over, eggs not chickens. She told me to tell you that if you ever need a chicken to let me know.”
The thought of owning a live chicken or having one killed made me squeamish.
“I will, thanks.”
“I hope you’re hungry. I made breakfast, and was going up to check on you when you almost ran into me. Max says you don’t eat breakfast, but I figured I’d try anyway.”
“Breakfast sounds great.” I poured myself some coffee and wondered what else Max told Chase about me.
Chase loaded up some plates for both of us and we sat down at the guest island.
“I also took the liberty of bringing the rest of your stuff in from the truck. I set up Killer’s auto pet feeder in the solarium, and I took Killer out with me when I cleaned up the mess outside.”
“Thanks. Any idea what kind of nest sat on my doorstep?” I already liked Chase; he was boyishly cute, polite, and charming.
“No, and Max didn’t say anything. He took some pictures of those things in front of your doors and left very unhappy.”
I put my plate in the sink and refilled my coffee. “So what’s on the agenda for today?” I giggled. “Are you supposed to lock me in my room or something until Max gets back?”
“No,” Chase laughed. “Even though I think he’d be thrilled if I did. You’re the first female I’ve seen him attach himself to since I’ve known him.”
“And how long is that?”
“About five years, he likes you. I can see why.”
I raised my eyebrows. I didn’t want to go there, besides Chase didn’t know me well enough to make that particular comment.
“Well, I’ll make life easy on you, I have some work I need to get done today, so I’ll be a good girl and stay inside.”
“I appreciate your kindness.” He replied with a big grin.
“Make yourself at home.”
I found Killer in his usual spot by the fireplace and gave him a pet before heading back upstairs to get ready for the day.
After I showered and got dressed, I cleaned my room and booted up my laptop. I checked on all of my investments, putting myself in a comatose state of mind. When I started to yawn I closed the computer window I worked in and picked up my camera. I spent the next couple of hours printing the photos of my ankles, writing notes, and doing research. I couldn’t find anything about the unusual nests or the hand prints. Needing a break, I headed back downstairs for more coffee.
Chase sat on the floor with his back against the couch and Killers head lying on his legs, glued to the TV. My second favorite zombie movie held his attention. I probably could’ve snuck outside and he never would have known. I moved silently into the kitchen, refilled my coffee, and popped some popcorn. Resident Evil was just what the doctor ordered. I sat down next to Chase. Startled, he almost jumped out of his skin. His knees flew up clocking Killer in the jaw, making Killer jump too. Chase’s glazed over eyes stared at me like I was a zombie. I busted out in giggles.
“I take it you haven’t seen this episode before.” I said, hitting the pause button.
He shook his head. “No, I haven’t and you scared the crap out of me.”
“If you forgive me I’ll share my popcorn with you.”
“It’s a deal.” He dug into the popcorn.
By the time the movie ended I was itching to ask Chase a ton of questions, I also longed to go outside and walk around or go riding.
“Resident Evil is awesome, mind if I play another disk?”
“Help yourself. Any idea when Max might be back or where he went?”
“Why is he looking into this? This situation isn’t his problem.”
“He works in things like this.”
“What does that mean?”
“You like him, don’t you.”
Why did everyone always change the subject on me? I blew out a breath. “I don’t know, I’ve got more work to do,” being stuck in the house was even worse than shopping.
I sat back down in front of my laptop, lit a smoke, and put Max’s name into more than one search engine on the Internet, coming up empty. Getting depressed I closed my laptop, found a good book, and went back downstairs to hang out with Chase. We ended up watching almost all of my Resident Evil movies and eating the rest of my pie for dinner. Max never showed that night, which was a huge relief.
I left Chase absorbed in Alice’s chaos and went to bed.