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The Gift (Part Two)

More than once her gaze was drawn to an intriguing couple about three quarters of the way down the car. They had their heads close together, like lovers, hers on his shoulder, his tilted down to look into her eyes. His arm was tossed over her shoulders in an easy intimacy Jocelyn envied. His hair was dark as midnight, shining blue in the cheap fluorescent light. His partner’s was a fiery cap of red that billowed around his forearm. Jocelyn used the couple as a focal point to keep her guard from slipping again and when she finally exited the train, she thanked them both silently before trudging the last blocks to home, tears falling unabashedly. She didn’t notice or sense the figure trailing behind.

Hours later, after a long, hot bath and a soothing dinner of grilled cheese and soup, Jocelyn slid into the comfort of bed with a favorite book. She was determined to chase away the last of the shadows before succumbing to what she hoped would be a cleansing rest. Just as she felt herself relaxing, a sound pulled her attention. Waiting a moment, she shook it off and went back to her story. A few lines later she heard it again, but louder.

“Jocelyn.”  Her name moved on the breeze outside her window so faintly, Jocelyn thought maybe it was just a trick of nature that made it sound like her name was being whispered to her through the dark winter night. She deliberately turned back to the words in her hands.

“Jocelyn.”  No whisper, no mistake, no trick of nature. She wasn’t hearing the wind slide over glass, wood and brick. The rich masculine timber of the voice calling her name resonated inside her mind. Instinctually, Jocelyn knew it was the one whose mind had overtaken hers on the train. The murderer. The book fell to her lap, bounced, skidded and fell off the duvet, landing with a hard thud on the room’s wood floor. She jumped and gasped. 

“Jocelyn. Come to the window. I’m here.” Her hand gripped the covers as she struggled with warring instincts to flee and to look. It was a battle curiosity easily won.

“No.”  She whispered out loud even as she rose from the bed and crossed to the windows.  She peeked out the curtain and saw what she always saw: the house across the street whose front lawn was always littered with toys; the home that adjoined it and in contrast was always pristinely neat; and an old gnarled tree that begged to be climbed. She felt foolish. As the edges of her mouth slid up into a self-mocking grin, she heard, “Beautiful Jocelyn” reverberate inside her mind.

Her gaze lowered and standing in the shadow of the tree stood the man from the train, the one who was so intensely involved with the red head.  Jocelyn knew it was him even though she could see even less of him now than she could on the train. Suddenly it occurred to her that the woman he’d been with is whose blood Jocelyn had tasted.

Whose death Jocelyn had experienced, and been aroused by, both against her own will.



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