“It doesn’t make sense.”
“He’s proved himself to be pretty tech savvy, right?”
She slowly nodded. “Right.”
“Savvy enough to bypass my security system without me knowing until now.”
“I don’t like where I think you’re going with this.”
“What if he managed to hack into my security feeds? What if he’s turned my own damn system against me and used it to monitor me?” I crossed to her and whispered, “What if he’s watching and listening right now?”
She swallowed hard. “Oh, God.”
I ushered her into the small bathroom, where there was no recording equipment, and closed the door behind us.
She gripped my arm. “Kensey, you can’t stay here. Not anymore.”
“I know, I know.” I exhaled heavily, needing to think. Plan.
“You can stay with me.”
“If I do, he could try breaking into your home and—”
“If he turns up, we’ll go crazy on his creepy ass. He won’t find it simple to get inside, though. My building has better security than this one. There are cameras all over it because my landlord’s son is ex-military and wants her safe. He’s there a lot, doing jobs for her, and he doesn’t stand for shit.”
I closed my eyes and pressed down on my eyelids. “Sarah—”
“You’d be making the same case to me if our situations were reversed.” She rubbed my arm. “Don’t think this is a win for him. It’s not. Let’s face it, Kenz, you can do better than this building anyway. You can afford a better place now. You’ve only stayed here because you don’t like change. Well, change isn’t always bad.”
I dropped my arms to my sides and opened my eyes, knowing she was right. Blake had proven that by pushing his way into my life and shoving me out of my comfort zone.
“I say we start packing right now and then move your stuff to my place. It won’t take long, considering how frugal you are.” She planted her hands on her hips. “Either that or I move in here.”
“Then you really would be putting me in danger, and that’s not what a friend does.”
I huffed. “Fine. We pack.”
She smirked. “We pack. But first, we fuck up this security system just in case the bastard is watching.”
As Sarah predicted, the packing didn’t take long at all. Of course, it would have taken a lot longer if I’d packed like I desperately wanted to pack—carefully and neatly with plenty of tissue paper and other protective layers for my breakables. Sarah wouldn’t allow it. She hounded me like a drill Sergeant, wanting the job done fast.
I notified my landlord that I was leaving and that I’d come back for my furnishings in a couple of days. As he was hoping to sell the building to land developers as soon as possible, he was pretty pleased to hear it.
Making use of both my car and hers, Sarah and I were able to move my stuff to her building in just one trip. At that point, we sort of just slumped on her sofa. I would have unpacked but, well, the place was back to being Clutter Central and there was nowhere to actually put anything.
“It’s almost seven. What time are you going to Blake’s tonight?” Sarah asked.
My eyes widened. “Blake. Shit.”
“He plans to send Rossi to pick me up around eight. I need to let him know where I’ll be.” I whipped out my phone and called Blake.
It rang a few times before he answered, “Hey, baby.” Low music played in the background, and there was a low purring that made me think he was driving.
“Hey, I’m just calling to say that if Rossi still plans to drop me off at your apartment, he should pick me up from Sarah’s.”
“Rossi won’t be bringing you to me today,” he said. “I’m coming to pick you up myself.”
“Oh,” I said, brightening a little. “Okay.”
“I’m on my way now. What’s Sarah’s address?”
I rattled it off and then said, “See you soon.” Ending the call, I puffed out a breath.
Sarah looked at me. “How do you think he’ll take the news of yet another break-in?”
I bit my lip and looked at her, my expression grim.
She nodded. “That’s what I thought.”
A short time later, a knock came at Sarah’s door. She looked through the peephole, gave me a reassuring nod, and then opened it wide. “Hi, Blake. Come in.”
He slowly stalked inside in that self-assured way he had. His eyes instantly tracked to me, and a smile tugged at one corner of his mouth. “Hey. You ready?”
With a nod, I rose from the sofa and crossed to him.
His brow creased at the sight of the suitcase and boxes. “You moving, Sarah?”
“No,” I said, clearing my throat. “That would be me.”
He did a slow blink. “You’re moving in here? Why, what’s brought this on?”
“You need to show him,” Sarah told me.
Nodding, I pulled the envelope out of my purse and handed it to him. “These are the pictures you wanted.”
Blake reached out and took them. “The pictures he sent you?”
Blake slid the photos out of the envelope, face hardening as he skimmed through them. “Good with a camera, isn’t he? You didn’t tell me he’d drawn X’s on my face.”
Blake’s eyes flicked to mine. “What?”
“He hadn’t. They weren’t like this. Not then.”
The air thickened with a barely leashed anger. “He broke in again?”
I nodded and told him our suspicions about how Smith might have circumvented my security and, worse, even turned that system against me. “Sarah’s right, I can’t stay there. I don’t like the idea of staying with her when it could bring him to her door, but this building has better security than mine.”
Blake stared at me, tension in every line of his body. “I’ll kill him.” He glanced around, eyes taking in each and every box, and dug out his cell phone. “Greg, meet me at Applegate Apartments on Reef Street, apartment 5D … No need. It won’t take long.”
“Why does Greg need to meet us here?” I asked once he ended his call.
“He owns a SUV.”
“And it has a bigger trunk than my car has. We’ll need it to move all this.”
I felt my breathing speed up. “Where is it exactly that you want to take my stuff?”
“My place, obviously. Sarah’s security is good, yes, but mine is better. That fucker will never get in my apartment.”
I looked at him, incredulous. He couldn’t be serious. But he stared back at me, unmoving. I turned to my friend. “Sarah—”
She raised her hands, grinning. “I’ll be in the hall.”
I waited until she closed the door behind her before I calmly said, “Blake, I can’t move in with you—not even temporarily.”
“For one thing, even though you’re not asking me to officially move in with you, it’s still enough of a big deal that we’d be slamming on the acceleration pedal once again.” Not advisable. “For another thing, I gave up my apartment. Ended my tenancy. As Sarah pointed out, I’ve stayed there just because I don’t like change. I can afford something better. Safer. But I don’t know how long the apartment-hunt will take. It could be a fast process. It could be slow. In other words, if I said yes to your offer, I’d have no idea how long I’d be staying with you. And if we split, I’d be homeless.”