Rayne leaves the Sergeant’s home shortly after her phone call with Kevin, her exit a bit awkward as she has no real excuse. Her drive home is short, but she drives slowly trying to think through all that has occured. Once again she has regrets--she lost her temper and let her guard down--but whatever the Sergeant had planned, it wasn’t connected with his sister, and in that at least he seemed sincere.
With her rental home in sight, she pulls up to the curb and gets out. She places her key in the lock and looks behind her before she opens the door. As this talk of vampires and Federal agents has made her paranoid and as she enters the house she gets the oddest feeling that the danger is not outside, but in.
As Rayne closes the door, a living room light illuminates, a female voice she recognises all too well speaks in a tone of amusement, “My blind grandma could of beaten you home. I might suggest asking your landlord to put in better locks,” she says while stepping out for Rayne to see her.
Rayne nearly shrieks in surprise, her hand going over her mouth to stop the sound when she realizes who is in her home. Immediately her fear is replaced by anger...then fear kicks in again. Trying to keep her voice steady she looks at the woman with apprehension. “Agent Nichols...what are you doing here?” she asks, failing to hide the tremor.
Pam smiles and with a giggle, “Well, right now I'm standing, I crack myself up sometimes,” followed with a more serious tone, “thought we might have some girl talk,” she says nodding at a piece of paper taped to the inside door. When Rayne takes and looks at it, she sees the front page of a college application, the highlighted name the Gazette owner's son. Pam smiles allowing Rayne to absorb the paper.
‘She is doing it again,’ Rayne thinks, ’using other people to get to me’. She wonders what it is she is supposed to do...or not do...this time. “I don’t get it...now what?”
In a light hearted tone, “Oh, just was wondering what I might insert in the kids NCIC record, perhaps that he is on a watch list, give him a drug conviction, I could make it so the only education the kid could get is through Rocco's School of Typewriter Repair. Just think about this when you write your next story. Sheesh, Davy spoiled all my fun with lil Kevin, here I had it all set up where he would of been put in a cell with Bubba the Bald Headed Biker or anyone similar, leak that the kid was an informant…” she starts to lightly laugh, “...then ringie ringie it's wedding bells for Kevie. Think of the blog story the kid would have after that,” she teases, watching with an amused look on her face.
Rayne sighs. “Okay..okay. Just stop it! You’ve already made your point back at your brother’s house. No stories of federal agents or monsters or whatever. I get it. Just leave my friends out of this.” She walks further into the home and puts her purse and keys on the table. “Is there anything else...or are you leaving now?” She turns to look at Pam, hoping she is not pressing her luck.
Lightheartedly Pam casually says,“Yea, the wine in the fridge isn't my brand, next time I look around, I can bring you some great wine…” followed by a serious tone in her voice, “What's with you and Dave? I have not seen him take interest in a woman since Kathy. I don't ever want to see him hurt like that again,” she states, folding her arms across her chest.
The look Rayne gets on her face as Pam speaks is utter confusion. “I don’t know what you are talking about. There is nothing between us. I don’t even like him...and I doubt he likes me either. ..and even if there was something, the only way I could hurt him like that would be to die...and that would work out well for you.” She gives Pam a disgusted look then stops herself. “No...wait. What is the punishment for this one? Are you going to hurt another one of my friends...because I don’t have any family for you to kill. But you know that don’t you? You’re a sick, twisted…” then Rayne stops herself, worried she may already have said too much.
Pam simply laughs. “Dave doesn't like you? Okay Ray Charles, you convince yourself of that, and I appreciate the compliment you gave me, though I am far more than sick and twisted.” She looks to Rayne for a moment, “...and yea, I know all about you. Kinda disappointed in my lil brother though, when he did a check on you, he stopped with the whole ethical invasion of privacy when I offered to look deeper. Tell you what to show there are no hard feelings, I'll frame Jeff Masters for something that would get him destroyed. Seriously though, Rayne Masters just wouldn't be a cool name, Summers is cooler. What ya say, want me to destroy that ass for leaving ya?” she adds, a rather excited look on her expression.
Rayne shakes her head, “No...just leave him out of this. I ruined enough lives back there. Let him have his.” If this same question had been posed three years ago she would have jumped on it, but time has allowed her to forgive him in her own way. Mostly, she is beginning to fear for everyone in her life. This woman is truly insane and with Rayne in her line of fire, she isn’t going to be able to do anything that goes against the rules.
Pam lets out a sigh. “You sound as bad as Dave… Pam… don't blow up that car, Pam, don't do this or that. He doesn't have a clue. He says he wants to protect the sheep … yea … should call em citizens… but he is silly with his stupid morals. Hey, I'm rambling, huh. So miss National Inquirer, you want to know anything that Davy might eventually spill to you? He had that droopy crusader look when I left. Oh yea, tell him he should grow that Army cut out, that is so yuch. You could use a tanning booth yourself, perhaps some blonde streaks through… wait, questions, yea, did you have any?”
“No,” Rayne replies simply, then reconsiders. “Unless you want to tell me what the hell is going on. Because I’m not going to stop looking into it, even if I can’t write about it.”
Pam simply giggles again while in thought. Her tone goes low and cold, “Oh girlfriend, trust me, you want to keep your pretty head in the sand on this one. The truly worst thing that could happen is finding what you are looking for. These things are supernatural. TV calls em vampires but hollywood gets it all wrong. They can drink holy water while sunning on the beach. No girlfriend, you really don't want to look for what you are looking for. Would hate for Dave to lose someone he seems to like.”
It is Rayne’s turn to giggle, although hers is more of a nervous variety. “Vampires...never thought I would hear that world said with a straight face.” Even though she has thought the same thing, she never really believed it. She shakes her head then in confusion over Pam’s last words in regards to her brother. “So does that mean you want me to have a relationship with Dave now? ‘Cause I swear you were telling me to leave him alone before. I just want to be sure...in case you decide to knock off someone...or something.”
She looks to Rayne, “Just because I said he would be hurt if something happened to you, don't mistake that for me telling you to see him. He is my baby brother, I just want him to be happy, he is holding on to Kathy's memory. Anyway, I have places to go, things to kill, who knows, we might have girl talk again sometime. Oh yea, your receptionist Carla, she is embezzling from the paper. Was going to have FBI drag her from her desk tomorrow. That is the one I didn't plant. Anyway, I will leave the paper alone, use that tidbit or don't, up to you girlfriend. Toodles again.” Then Pam casually walks out the door.
As the door closes, Rayne lets out a deep breath. She has never been so happy to see someone leave. The woman was bat-shit crazy, leaving Rayne afraid what she was going to do..or say...next. ‘Certifiable,’ she thinks, trying to decide how she is going to handle all the new rules. She begins by calling the editor and leaving a message asking for a few weeks leave, claiming she is having some issues at home and needs some time off. She also hints at the issue with Carla without going into any details. Next she types out a text to Sergeant Nichols.
“Your sister was here at my house...and I think we need to talk...again. Tomorrow.”
She sets her phone down wondering if she is doing the right thing, then dismisses the thought. She can’t risk having anyone else hurt, and Agent Nichols seems to take too much enjoyment in it not to take her seriously. She is just opening her tablet when her front door opens again and she just about falls out of her chair when she starts.
“Hey doll...steady there,” Kevin says, a playful tone on his face until he sees hers. “Hey, you alright? Kinda looks like you saw a ghost.” At his words, Rayne’s eyes mist up and he reaches over to hug her awkwardly. “Now now...I...geez Rayne, don’t you go and cry on me. I have nothing but good news. It’ll cheer you up.”
Rayne lets him hold her for a few moments before she wiggles free and wipes at her eyes. “I’m sorry...bad day. I’m just glad to see you are all right.”
Kevin looks at her oddly. “Why wouldn’t I be? Just a little car ride...in the back of a cruiser...so cool. Can’t wait to blog it!”
Rayne offers a smile, his energy and good mood infectious. “Could I ask you something?” she says, then continues without waiting for his response. “The guy at the Red Cross...did you get a look at him?”
“Old news Ray, but yeah. He was a gangly dude. Real tall with long black hair. Real greasy looking, like he hadn’t washed it in weeks, but combed out and thin, but not really balding. Oddest thing was his eyes...I would have sworn they glowed all silver like but it must have been a trick of the light cuz only animals have eyes like that. Right?”
Once Rayne confirms with a nod he continues. “He was dressed all in black, like a suit or something. Real wrinkled and old looking. I really didn’t get a good look at his features..other than those creepy eyes, but he wasn’t good looking or ugly. Kinda..I don’t know...normal...average.” He shrugs then sits down in the chair next to hers. “But enough about that...tell me what has you so sad?”
Rayne tells him an abbreviated version of her day, leaving out the part where he was set up but mentioning the threats made against her. She confirms the fact that Agent Nichols was the person threatening since there is already a connection between the Fed and him. When she gets to the end of her tale, she omits the almost kiss and the return visit of the agent. All through it, Kevin nods and grunts, most likely filing away the information for his blog.
“Tell you what Ray, we should go out tonight. Pick up a burger and cruise the town. We might even see our stalker.” He winks at her, hoping for a yes, but not surprised when she turns him down.
“I’m too tired. Think I’m going to try to get some sleep and look at everything with fresh eyes tomorrow. Ask me again...okay?”
Kevin nods. “You got it doll,” he responds as he pushes a stray strand of hair from her forehead. “You could use the sleep. Got those dark bags under your eyes again. Kinda look like you lost some weight too. Sure you are okay?”
Rayne merely nods at him then gives him a brief hug. “Sure am...just tired and a bit off. I’ll be better tomorrow.”