Sunday, February 14, 2016
FINDING MR. WRIGHT
(short horror for Valentine's Day, from Sirens Call WiHM 2014)
“What were you thinking?” My inner voice chastens as I hear footsteps approaching behind me.
Shit! I had decided to take a shortcut, through the alleyway behind the University’s parking garage, because I was late getting off work and didn’t want to miss my bus. The ominous clouds moving rapidly across a darkening sky had reinforced the decision. I second guess myself, now. After all, the police never found whoever had been killing those students during my senior year.
What if it’s the killer is behind me, right now?
I reach into my purse, searching with one hand for my container of mace, when I hear a familiar voice.
“Well, hello, Ginger.”
The chill that runs up my spine has nothing to do with the cold front approaching. I whirl around to find Professor Joshua Wright grinning at me. I’d had an enormous crush on him during my time at college.
I probably wasn’t the only one, either. He was so freaking hot, with those piercing green eyes and that mass of coppery waves.
“Professor Wright!” The squeaky enthusiasm I hear in my voice makes heat crawl up my neck, so I’m thankful that my face is already stained from the bitter February winds.
Chuckling, he suggests, “Why don’t you call me Josh now, Ginger. You’re not my student anymore.” Something in his voice makes me wonder…
“Well, this is unexpected.” My Inner Voice exclaims, and moves her eyebrows up and down in a suggestive manner.
I frown unintentionally.
“I’m sorry, did I startle you?” he asks.
I quickly turn up the corners of my lips, forcing a smile. “A little. I thought someone was following me.”
“You can never be too cautious.” The tall structures surrounding us are now blocking out what little light remains. I shiver. “What brings you to the campus?”
“I was on my way home from work. I was afraid I might miss my bus.” Uncomfortable under the scrutiny of his penetrating gaze, I wrap my arms tightly around my torso, tugging at the sleeves of my jacket.
“So, you’re working in the area, Ginger?”
I blush a little again. “I snagged an internship at the city paper, guess they got tired of my pestering.”
“You always could be quite persistent, if memory serves.” His pale green eyes hold an odd expression that I can’t decipher.
We walk side by side towards the front, where a small coffee shop and a bookstore sit.
“May I buy you a cup?” Josh nods towards the quaint building.
I had already missed the 5:45 bus, and there wouldn’t be another for forty minutes.
“Sure.” I reply, sounding a little too breathless. My inner voice lets out an exasperated sigh. I want to stick my tongue out at her.
He pushes the door, holding it open for me. We enter the cozy little shop, the rich aroma of coffee filling my nostrils. Josh asks me what I’d like, so I order a tall vanilla latte.
“Make sure you don’t sound overeager.”
“Quiet,” I mutter under my breath as Josh’s long fingers wrap around our steaming cups.
“What was that?” he asked me as he turned around.
“Nothing.” Beaming up at him, I try to hide my irritation. I am wishing my inner voice would shut the hell up.
We take a seat at one of the small, intimate tables. I like that he pulls a chair out for me. When I’d been in his class, I often felt there might be a vibe between us. I didn’t think it had all been in my head. One particular day; he’d petitioned me to stay after class. We were discussing an assignment when he’d covered my hand with his; assuring me I had a promising future in journalism.
After that, it seemed like he avoided me. I’d hoped it was because he was a consummate professional, and not due to any lack of interest. Besides, at that point, everyone was distracted by those campus murders.
Miss inner voice was going on about something, but I chose to ignore her as I hung on Josh’s every word.
We talk for quite a while, and before I realize it, I miss the later bus. I glance nervously at my phone.
Josh notices. “Why don’t you let me drive you home?”
A lightning bolt streaks through the dismal nightfall, silencing my protests. What am I going to do? Walk home?
“A ride could be good.” I couldn’t dispute the obvious.
As we head back towards the garage, he grabs my hand. The contact sends little electric sparks through me.
We step inside the elevator, and it groans as it makes its way to the top floor. My heart is thumping wildly at the close proximity. He smells of pine and ice; it is a heady combination
He keeps hold of my hand as we walk over to his small black sports car.
Instead of opening the door, he unexpectedly wraps his strong arms around my waist, pulling me tightly against him.
“I may be out of line, Ginger, but I’ve thought about doing this since I first laid eyes on you.”
“If he only knew what we’ve been thinking….”
I ignore my inner voice as Josh’s lips descend on mine. When we pull apart, we are both breathing hard.
The air between us is filled with the type of tension resulting from long harbored feelings, and the ride to the West End seemed to take an eternity.
“Would you like to come up for a nightcap?” I ask when he stops in front of my apartment building. I feel a yearning radiating from deep within.
A sharp intake of his breath was all the answer I…we… needed.
I fumble with my keys before his long fingers envelope mine and easily slide the key into the lock.
For an instance, it’s as if those sexy hands transform into claws, causing me to shudder.
“You’re cold,” he breathes into my ear. “I’ll have to warm you up.”
I am a ball of nerves as inner voice whispers, “He could be the one.”
“Inside,” Josh commands. “You’re freezing.”
He’s apparently a little bossy. I’m not sure how I feel about this new revelation. He was never like that in class. I am confused by what my inner voice has said. What does she mean? The one to marry? Could she mean…he could be the campus killer? What did she mean?
I was thrilled and terrified all at once.
Josh pushes me down on the couch, slipping his hands under my t-shirt. The seductress inside me was busy doing a happy dance when my inner self splashes some cold water in my face.
And I realize that the three girls and one boy that had been murdered, had all been his students at some point.
I push him away. He looks at me, puzzled. My mouth turns dry.
Flustered, I offer, “Would you like some wine?”
“Uh, sure,” he answers.
I nod my understanding as I stumble into the kitchen. I begin rummaging through the fridge. I have an unopened bottle in there somewhere.
Before going back into the living room, I slip a knife out of my butcher’s block and wrap it in a clean kitchen towel. I leave it on the coffee table as Josh takes the glass of wine I offer.
“I’m sorry, am I moving too fast?”
I offer a small smile. “A little.”
I sit next to him. He drapes an arm over my shoulder as he sips the wine. His eyes take on a glassy look.
“Can’t it wait?” I ask.
“But we’ve waited so long already, baby.” His words slur slightly. I reach for the towel, feeling for the handle of the knife.
“Yes, Professor, it has been a long time.” I agree.
“Now!” Inner voice demands.
I look into those green eyes one last time before I plunge the knife into victim number five.