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Paul
 

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Paul


  Paul

  By

  Jason A. Joseph

  Paul 1st Edition

  Published by Jason A. Joseph

  Copyright © 2013 Jason A. Joseph

  No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted by any person or entity (including, but not restricted to, Google, Amazon or similar organizations), in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, scanning or by any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the Publisher.

  Cover illustration done by Lorenzo R. Carty

  Subject Matter warning

  Please note that this story contains heavy subject material and detailed portrayals of violence.

  TABLE OF CONTENTS

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Subject Matter warning

  Other Books By This Author

  CHAPTERS

  ONE

  TWO

  THREE

  FOUR

  FIVE

  CHAPTER ONE

  She was heading home from a family event on a balmy August night. Having just celebrated her twenty-first birthday, she felt as though her life was just beginning. She had only been on her own a few months, but she felt like she was doing well.

  She smiled to herself as she let herself into her apartment.

  The apartment was dark and stuffy. Nothing really seemed out of place at first glance, but she felt it. She knew that there was something wrong in her apartment. Someone was there. She had felt this unwanted presence for awhile now. All she wanted was for it to go away.

  She left the front door slightly open as she edged herself into the room quietly. If she could just get to the kitchen, she could grab a knife from the butcher block on the counter. The hairs on the back of her neck rose. As she turned around, an arm circled her from behind and a hand clapped down on her mouth, stifling the scream that had begun to escape her throat.

  She fought her attacker with all her strength; however the struggle lasted only a few minutes. Her neck snapped in one simple movement. Moments later, the unwanted visitor threw the young woman’s body on her bed and calmly walked out the front door.

  That what she deserves for ignoring me, he thought as he let the door slam behind him.

  Two Months Later

  “Brent, I think this is finally the last box!” Annalise exclaimed as she plopped the small box down on the kitchen counter. She pumped her arms in the air with excitement as she jumped up and down. This was finally the completion of several years of planning and saving. She was finally living on her own.

  “Well, I’m glad because I don’t know how much more this old body can take!” Brent placed his hand on his lower back with a mock groan.

  “You are not old! Besides, I don’t have that much stuff!” She slapped him on the arm as she walked past him to get a bottle of water from the refrigerator. He mockingly rubbed the spot where she had hit him and pretended to be in pain. She just rolled her eyes.

  Everything that was happening still seemed like a dream to her. After the car accident that nearly took her life three years before, she had had piles of medical bills that needed to be paid. Reluctantly, she had moved home with her parents and worked to pay off every cent of the bills. Some days it felt like she would never be able to be out on her own again. When it became a reality, she began dreaming of a future with a husband and children.

  Annalise breathed a satisfied breath and took a long drink from the water bottle. Life was looking good again. The piles of boxes reminded her of what she had before the accident, and the new place reminded her of the future she was now pursuing.

  “Hey, Anna! Would you like to go get a bite to eat? All this moving makes me hungry!” Brent rubbed his muscled stomach with a grin. Brent and food was a relationship that no one could ever come between. He was tall and athletic, and he could eat anything and everything set in front of him.

  “Sure, I saw a small pizza place down the block. I don’t know this city well yet, so let’s just stay close to here and explore.” Annalise felt slightly nervous moving to Chicago. Her parents lived out in the country, but she soon realized that getting around in the city was much easier when you would rather not drive. As she was moving out, her mother went on and on about the dangers of living in the city, and this made Annalise feel even more unsettled about her move. She knew she needed the change though and continued to put her fears aside.

  The pizza restaurant on the corner was the typical family-owned Italian set up that one would expect to see on television. The walls were red and white to match the checkered table cloths. The zesty smell of oregano and tomato sauce filled one’s senses as the door opened. Small families and couples crowded around tables, and their excited talk drowned out the contemporary rock music that played overhead.

  The young duo went to a quiet corner table and sat down. It was a late fall day and the breeze held a small chill to it that was difficult for them to shake off even though the restaurant was warm. They glanced at the menus that were placed in front of them by the young waitress and let the aromas and chatter of the small room drift around them. After a few minutes, they decided on a pepperoni and olive pizza.

  “You look like you’re going to burst from your excitement. Tell me, Anna Banana, how does it feel to be on your own again?” Brent’s gray eyes sparkled as he glanced at her. He had known Annalise since they were in middle school, and he was a constant source of support throughout her recovery from the accident. When she had asked him to help her move, he had felt a wave of pride surge through him. He knew she could finally be independent again.

  “It feels great! I’m so nervous being in Chicago though. My mother went on for hours about how unsafe city life is. I just don’t want to drive, and the city is perfect for public transportation.” She sipped at her soft drink as she glanced at Brent.

  “You’re going to be alright. Mothers usually think the worst about any situation when it comes to their children. Mine still asks me if I have enough underwear in my drawer!” They both laughed at Mrs. Henderson’s constant questioning of Brent. She was a true worrier, but she was the sweetest woman Annalise knew.

  “When Mom found out that I was moving to the city, she searched all the newspaper articles from the past few months to see what had happened that would make me change my mind. When she saw anything mentioning a crime, she practically begged me to stay home!” She narrowed her honey brown eyes as she thought about it. The thoughts of crime made her uneasy, but she knew how to defend herself if needed. “Besides, I’m almost twenty-five and need a life of my own!”

  “Here’s to new beginnings then!” Brent held up his cup and Annalise did the same. As they tapped them together, the friends smiled happily at each other.

  He watched the young couple enter the restaurant as he ate his last bite of pizza. The brunette girl was very attractive, just how he liked them. After the disaster of his last hunt, he was ready to find another beauty to entertain him. The tough-looking guy would be difficult to get rid of, though.

  I need her. I will do anything to make her mine.

  How happy they looked together. He knew he could make her happier than that loser ever could. At that moment, he knew that he had to get to know her. If only he could just walk up and talk to her. He would soon. Just not yet. He needed to observe her a little first.

  “Can I get anything else for you, sir?” The young waitress smiled down at him. He didn’t need anything else, but if he wanted to know how to find the girl, he needed to stay around a little so that he could follow her.

  “How about a brownie with ice cream and hot fudge?” He smiled charmingly up at the woman. Eating dessert looked natural enough.

  “Be right back!” She turned back towards the kitch
en and he turned his attention back to the couple in the corner. She was like a picture! Her brunette hair was pulled back into a hair tie and her clothes were a little bit disarrayed, but he could tell that she cleaned up nicely. Her lips were a kissable pale pink and her nose a perfect little slope.

  The guy with her was good looking. Besides being athletic-looking, he had sandy blonde hair and dimples when he smiled. That would be a challenge. He watched their conversation turn from lighthearted to serious in just moments. As her lips formed a worried frown, he wanted to get up and hold her and tell her it would all work out.

  “There we go! I will get you the bill!” The perky young waitress put the plate in front of him and lightly bounced away. He scooped up a spoonful of the sweet desert and ate while he watched the couple in the corner. They had just begun to dig into their own dinner, so he knew that he would have to wait for a while to follow them.

  “Wow! This is good pizza!” Annalise giggled as Brent pulled a piece of stray cheese that had caught on her chin. She slapped his hand away. “I’m here with great company too!”

  Brent smiled at her. She was his best friend, and nothing would ever change that. Her being on her own after that terrible accident made him uneasy. He didn’t want to upset her, but he was worried about leaving her alone in the city. She didn’t need his worries to pile up with her mother’s.

  “Why are you looking at me like that? Do I have more cheese on my face?” She raised her eyebrow at him. Quickly picking up a napkin, she wiped at her chin to make sure that she had nothing else on her face.

  “Oh, no. I was just feeling a little sad about not being able to see you every day. When you were with your parents, I could just drop in and take you out whenever. Now, I have to drive at least a half hour to find you.” He shrugged off the feeling like it was no big deal and smiled.

  “You can come here anytime you want! I’ll be going to my parents’ often too. Things will change, but I think that they will be better!” Annalise wiped her fingers on the napkin next to her plate. “Are you ready to go? I’m tired and would like to shower before I go to sleep tonight. I also know that you have a long drive ahead of you.”

  They called over the waitress and had her box up the remaining pizza as Brent paid the check. They pulled on their jackets and proceeded to leave the restaurant. It had gotten dark while they were inside, and with the darkness came even more of a chill. Annalise shivered and stuffed her hands into her pockets. Brent put his arm around her to try and keep her a little warmer. They began their short walk back to her apartment.

  As they entered her apartment building, the weariness of the move fell like a brick on Annalise. She didn’t even know if she could make it through a shower before heading to bed. She stifled a yawn as they stepped into the elevator.

  “I think I should walk you to your door and leave for tonight. You look like you need to go straight to bed. I hope that you’ll be okay unpacking in the next few days. You start your new job on Monday?” Brent rambled on and on as the elevator climbed to the seventh floor.

  “Yeah, Monday. I have the weekend to unpack. Are you going to be okay driving home? You could sleep on the couch if you need to.” Annalise could tell that Brent was as sleepy as she was, and the thought of him driving that tired concerned her.

  “I’ll be fine. Just so you don’t worry, I’ll text you when I get home.” He hugged her as they stopped in front of her apartment door. “Be safe, Anna. I’ll be back in few weeks so we can spend some time together. Call me if you need anything at all.”

  “You sound like my mother. I promise I’ll be safe. You drive safely.” She smiled as she stepped inside and closed the door behind her.

  Brent sighed and went back to the elevator. He couldn’t get rid of the feeling that something wasn’t quite right. When they were moving, he didn’t feel it, but after dinner, the nagging fear that Annalise wasn’t safe ate at him. She was a big girl, but he still was going to check on her frequently.

  After Annalise closed the door and locked it, she leaned up against it and glanced around her new apartment. Excitement and fear flooded her emotions. She loved the thought of starting over, but she was scared that it would end up in failure. The boxes were stacked in the corners, and the furniture was arranged in a comfortable fashion around the living room. Despite her fatigue, she began imagining how she would set up her apartment.

  “I’ll start first thing tomorrow,” she promised herself as she went towards her bedroom. She showered while she waited for Brent to text her and let her know that he was home. The warm glow of the screen as she stumbled towards her bed told her he was safe. Her soft bed beckoned her. As she curled under the soft covers, she fell asleep within minutes.

  As the young couple rose to leave, he picked up his bill, paid quickly and left the restaurant before them. He wanted to follow them as soon as they left without looking suspicious. Crossing the street so that he could blend in with the foot traffic on the other side, he waited for them to come out.

  The young man put his arm around the girl as she shoved her hands into her jacket pockets. He felt his jaw clench. He wanted to be the one to put his arm around her. He sighed and walked in the same direction as they did.

  About halfway down the block, he noticed that they were getting ready to enter an apartment building. He crossed quickly as he saw them open the door. Most of these buildings were several stories tall, and if he didn’t see exactly where they went, he might lose sight of her. He wanted to know everything he could about her as soon as possible.

  Fortunately for him, they were moving slowly. He could tell they were tired by their movements. As they crossed towards the elevators, he acted like another tenant and followed them onto the elevator. The couple didn’t even notice him as he stood in the far corner.

  She doesn’t even know who I am now. She will though. She will be a perfect addition to my collection.

  “I think I should walk you to your door and leave for tonight,” the young man was saying as the doors closed behind them. The rest of the sentence couldn’t be heard as the elevator noisily jerked into motion.

  Good! They didn’t live together! That was a good sign. It would be much easier than he anticipated. Once he was able to get to know her, he would show her that he was better than that guy on her arm.

  As the elevator came to a stop on the seventh floor, he stepped out and acted like he was heading the other direction. He took a quick note of her apartment number and vowed he would be back first thing in the morning.

  CHAPTER TWO

  By the time the weekend had ended, the apartment had started to look like home for Annalise. Pictures were hung on the walls, little knick-knacks were on the shelves, and the air freshener made it smell like cinnamon apples. She had finally gone grocery shopping, and the cupboards and refrigerator were full and ready.

  She picked up the phone and called Brent.

  “Hey, buddy! How are you?” she said as he picked up.

  “I’m great, Anna. I just got off of work at the school. How are you?”

  “Just sitting here and looking at my unpacked apartment. It went from boxes to home in just two days!” she laughed into the phone.

  “Knowing you, everything is neatly in its place and there isn’t a speck of dust to be found,” he joked.

  “Oh, shush. You know I’m happy when things are clean!”

  They talked for about twenty more minutes before Brent told her he needed to go to bed. After hanging up, she sighed with relief as she sat down on the couch and glanced around. This was her home now. Tomorrow she started her new job as a secretary for a doctor’s office. Soon enough, she would fall into a comfortable routine.

  Picking up the television remote, she flipped through the channels. She finally chose to watch an episode of a crime mystery. Curling up in the corner of the couch, she let the story on the screen take over her thought process.

  Before the sun had risen the morning after the blonde guy had left, he was
out front of her apartment building. He wanted to see if she left and where she went. The darkness hid him well across the street. Coldness managed to seep in every open spot where clothing didn’t cover, but he tried to ignore it. She was the woman of his dreams, and he would do anything to get to know her.

  As the day progressed, he noticed that she stayed in more than going out. He caught a glimpse of her in the window a few times, but he was beginning to get frustrated with the fact that she wouldn’t go anywhere.

  Who stayed in all day anymore? A day as beautiful as this one, I would be taking a walk in the park!

  It soon became apparent that she had just moved in. He watched her come out of the building a few times to throw boxes away. No wonder he hadn’t seen her in this neighborhood before. If only she would leave the apartment for more than a few minutes, he might get a better feel for who she was.

  Around early evening his patience paid off. She opened the front door of the building and walked down the block. He was almost too distracted with his thoughts to notice that she was the one leaving, but once he knew it was her, he was following as discretely as possible on the other side of the street. Watching her disappear into a grocery store, he followed, acting like one of the patrons.

  With cart in hand, he acted like he was shopping as he followed her down the narrow aisles. In the store, he would be able to be a little closer to her without causing suspicion. Anytime she looked behind her, he acted like he was looking at the product on the shelf and making a selection. Fortunately for him, she didn’t seem to look back often. He wasn’t getting anything from following her through the store though. If only he could get her name, anything.

 
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