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Classic Round Robin

Chapter 4
Deb Fowler

Vincent jumped so fast he almost toppled the chess board he and Father were deep in thought over.

“What in the world is it, Vincent? Are you all right? You just about scared the life out of me,” Father shouted.

Trying to decide which way to run and what to do, Vincent paced the room and said, more to himself than to Father, “It’s Catherine. I have to go to her.”

Catherine, are you somewhere safe?”

“You can’t go above Vincent, not now. Can you pinpoint where Catherine is? I’ll contact a helper.”

I’m at work and she is here! There are lots of people here Vincent. I won’t take any chances!”

We’re sending a helper to check on you. He’ll be making a delivery.”

“Tell her I’ll be right there, Joe. I’m just finishing up something.” Stalling for time to try and calm her nerves, Catherine took the revolver out of her desk drawer and slipped it in her purse. ‘I must be crazy, letting a dream scare me into carrying a concealed weapon. No not a dream, but a nightmare…a nightmare that I will NOT have come true.’ She slowly turned and walked to Joe’s office.

Trying not to sound nervous as she only partially closed the door to Joe’s office, Catherine surprisingly found her voice. “Lieutenant Hunter, I understand you want to speak to me about some cold cases?”

“Well yes. I have been assigned to go over some cold cases and try to glean some new information on them. A couple of cases were ones you worked on.”

Joe poked his head through the partially open door. “Chandler, did you order breakfast, and since when did you start ordering breakfast? There’s a guy out here that says you ordered a bagel and fruit, and why didn’t you order something for me if you were ordering?”

“Breakfast…oh yes breakfast…I…uhh…yes, I did order something. Sorry. I guess…I wasn’t thinking. I’ll share with you Joe. Excuse me a moment, Lieutenant Hunter. I’ll be right back.”

Grabbing her purse, Catherine recognized the delivery man as David Mendez, a helper, standing at her desk holding a small take out bag.

“Sorry, I had to think fast, and a breakfast delivery was all I could come up with. Are you all right? I got an urgent message from Vincent. He said you might be in trouble.”

“I think I’ll be fine, David. This police officer is just sort of suspicious, and I guess I kind of panicked. Vincent picked up on it and of course couldn’t come himself.”

Catherine, are you well?”

Yes, David is here. I’m fine, and I’ll be careful.”

“Well, just to be safe, you see the cleaning lady over there? She is a helper who just happens to have a black belt in karate. The man cleaning the insides of the windows is also one of us, and I won’t be far. Don’t take any chances Catherine.” He turned to walk away. “Oh, and here’s your breakfast.”

“Thanks. I really appreciate all your help.” Catherine smiled as she handed him money for the meal she didn’t want, but she was glad David had found a quick excuse to check on her. Taking a deep breath she turned to go back to Joe’s office and was surprised to find the door closed. She slowly opened the door and peeped in. Seeing no one, she had opened the door a little farther when she heard a loud bang; and she screamed.

“My God, Chandler, you trying to give me a heart attack? You know this drawer sticks and I have to slam it,” Joe said, holding his chest.

Trying to take a few deep breaths, Catherine leaned on Joe’s desk, “I didn’t expect to see you here.”

“Who did you expect, Radcliffe? This is MY office! Are you alright? First you’re on time for work, then you order food without talking to me, and now you are screaming because I’m in my office. If we didn’t have so much work to do on the Brewster case, I’d tell you to go back home and start over!”

Catherine continued to lean on Joe’s desk and try to catch her breath.

“You’re not sick are you Chandler, because if you are going to throw up, don’t do it in my office. I don’t do vomit, can’t stand my own, much less someone else’s. Cathy, answer me. Are you OK?”

“Yes, yes, I’m fine. I guess I’m just a little jittery.”

“Well you did a good job of getting rid of Hunter, so get to work on the Brewster case.”

“I didn’t get rid of her. Where did she go?”

“Don’t have a clue Cathy. Did she have any new info on those cold cases? Here are some more files on the Brewster case.”

“Not really, Joe. No…no new info,” Catherine took the files and turned to go.

“Oh, and Cathy?”

“Yes, Joe.”

“You going to eat that food…because if you aren’t, I didn’t have breakfast either.”

Laughing, she turned and handed Joe the bag she had forgotten she still had in her hand. “You can have it, Joe. I’m not really hungry anymore.”

***

After locking her apartment door, Catherine dropped the files she brought home on the sofa and stepped out of her shoes. What a day, and thank goodness it was over. She knew Vincent would visit her as soon as it was dark enough. She had just enough time for a hot shower and to slip into some comfortable clothes.

I’ll be there soon, Catherine.”

I’ll be glad to see you.”

***

Catherine felt so safe as she sat with Vincent on the floor in front of her sofa. “The fire is nice isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is. Tell me about today.”

“I can’t tell you how shocked I was to walk in that office and see those eyes looking back at me.”

“I felt your shock.” Smiling, Vincent remembered, “I almost sent chess pieces flying across the room.”

“How does it all connect, Vincent? What connection does she have to us or to me?”

“We’ll find out Catherine. I have sent her name through the helpers both Above and Below. If there is anything to find, we will find it.”

Vincent brushed his lips across Catherine’s hair as he pulled her in closer to him, “Your hair is so soft and smells so good.” He felt her sigh as she melted into him. They both fell asleep.

As the night deepened and the fire died down, Vincent felt Catherine shiver in her sleep. He pulled a couple of pillows off the sofa and gently slipped one under Catherine’s head. He slid the other pillow under his head as he lay down on the floor beside his love and covered them both with his cloak, and they both fell into a deep sleep.

***

She saw the woman again. Everywhere she went, there that woman was. Small, slender, the woman was in the halls at work, on the street when she stopped to get her newspaper in the morning, lurking around the hot dog cart when she grabbed a bit of lunch, and even on the corner when she arrived home at night.

It was well past dark when she left work. She went to the parking garage and got in her car, tired and dispirited. The day hadn’t gone well, and all she wanted was to go home and get into a hot bath.

Her heart shot into her throat when the woman suddenly appeared in her rearview mirror, in her backseat. She screamed, but had no time to do anything else. In one shockingly fast move, the woman grabbed her hair, yanked her head back, and cut her throat. Blood spattered everywhere, all over the inside of the car, all over both of them and as things went dark, she fell over in the seat…

And she woke up.

She was shaking, sweating and crying all at the same time. What can it mean? She went to the bathroom to wash the tears from her face and saw the dark circles under her blue eyes. Why would I repeatedly dream that Catherine Chandler kills me? What can it mean, and where do I go from here? As she stumbled back to bed, Lieutenant Hunter clicked on the TV and hoped to either stay awake the rest of the night or have a dreamless sleep.