It’s the unknown that makes me jumpy, afraid of my own shadow.
The woman returns with a box wrapped in brown paper, reading a sticky attached. “Yep. I was right. The note says it’s from Mr. Williams.”
“Have you met him?” Could he be my handler?
Her brow furrows. “Dermit Williams?” I nod and she shakes her head. “No. He’s out of the country. He’s been Luke’s client for years, I believe.”
I pull the lease from my bag. “Here’s the signed paperwork I was told to bring by here. I’m assuming Mr. Williams owns my building? The lease is with Evernight.”
She shrugs. “I don’t know, but that sounds logical. I really just started a few days ago.”
She offers me her hand. “I’m Meagan, by the way. You can call me Meg.”
“Nice to meet you, Meg.” I shake her hand. “Are you new to town or just new here?”
“New to town, just like you. I got my paralegal degree in New Mexico just this month and had a job lined up with a big firm that fell through.” She holds out her hands. “So here I am.”
“Oh no. I’m sorry. Why don’t you go home?”
“Ex-boyfriend.” She crinkles her nose. “You know. Personal drama, new life. Yada yada.
Life is as perfect as a hot man in a pink hat, if you know what I mean.”
I try to picture Liam in a pink hat and she is right. It’s just wrong. I grin. “A pink hat on a hot man. I’m not going to forget that one anytime soon.”
She grins. “I aim to make a lasting impression.”
I think of Jared and my t-shirt that was so very obviously wrong with my skirt and heels.
I liked him. I like Meg. As for Liam, I downright crave that man. None of this is good. None of this is staying off the radar.
“We should do coffee,” Meg suggests, her voice snapping my gaze back to hers. “We’re both new and all. Or drinks. There are some cool spots around here for happy hour.”
“Sounds fun.” And it does, but I won’t be going any more than I will be calling to check on Chloe. I won’t be diving into the deep, dark waters of some wild river and taking others to drown with me. I’m not that selfish and I won’t let a window of weakness change that.
“You want to exchange numbers?”
“I have a new cell phone but it isn’t working right. I’ll call you and give you my number when I’m sure it’s staying as is.” I crinkle my nose. “And when I remember the number.”
“I did that last week.” She grabs a pen. “Let me give you my cell so you don’t have to call me here.” She scribbles it down and hands it over. “I already memorized mine.”
Accepting the paper, I ignore the pinch in my chest at the certainty I will never be calling her. “Thanks. It’s nice to start to know people here.”
She lifts the box. “It’s kind of heavy.”
I take it from her and frown. It won’t fit into my bag with my other things. It’s going to be a long walk back to the apartment.
It’s all I can do not to stop on the street corner and open the box, but the instant I step back out into the wind, I have this sensation of being watched. Two blocks later I still feel it and it’s driving me nuts. I tell myself it’s understandable paranoia considering everything, but I don’t remind myself again how I got past this in New York. I didn’t get past anything. I put it out of sight, and out of sight was out of mind. Not this time. This time I want answers that I hope this box holds.
Finally, I reach the apartment and with aching arms from lugging all my stuff, I walk into the hallway, drop my bag, and lock the door. Holding the box to my chest, I lean against the door and stare into the apartment, listening for anything or anyone that might be present. Eerie silence greets me, and while it should comfort me, it does not. I hate silence. I hate it with a passion. I rush forward and set the box on the table, and with my heart in my throat, I search the apartment.
I lie all the time. Why should I trust the silence?
Once I’m certain I’m alone, I sit down at the dining room table, and in the absence of a kitchen knife, I struggle with the tape and use my apartment key to cut it down the center. Note to self. I need a key ring for the single key I’m bound to lose, and silverware. I need to make a kitchen list. I start one in my mind. A couple of cheap pans. Cheap paper plates. Plasticware with a few real knives. I rip the box open and set my key aside.
Lifting the lid, I stare down at the MacBook Air with a folder on top. Well, this is certainly a surprise. I reach for the folder and flip it open. A typed note is included.
Ms. Bensen. Welcome aboard. Enclosed is a list of the properties Evernight leases on my behalf. As we discussed in our phone interview, you will need to do a weekly visual inspection to ensure they are properly maintained and email me a report.
Phone interview? I did a phone interview? I’m confused. This is a cover story. I was told not to look for a job. I keep reading.
An external check is all I need, and all properties are within a few blocks of one another in Cherry Creek. In addition, Evernight will provide you with a report on all newly listed properties in the Denver area. You will cross-reference them with public listings and send me anything that fits the criteria I’m including. Please email me when you get this so I know you are properly settled. I will have various other projects for you to undertake once I get to my location and get settled. I have limited phone connectivity, so if you have any issues you will need to email. If there is an emergency, you can reach my attorney, whose number I’m including.