Dream Man
afternoon traffic. If he thought he could rattle her with this juvenile game, he was in for a surprise; her nerves had been tested in circumstances far more dire than this, and she had survived. She had errands to run, things she would have done over the weekend if she hadn’t been overwhelmed by that night-mare vision. She didn’t let his presence stop her; if he wanted to see what she did after work, he was in for a real thrill. She stopped at the cleaners, leaving a few soiled garments, picking up the clean ones. Next stop was the library, where she returned two books. Then she went to the neighborhood grocery store. At every stop, he parked as close to her as possible, twice right beside her, and imperturbably waited until she returned. When she came out of the grocery store, he watched as she wheeled the cart, loaded with four bags, to the back of her car. She put her foot on the cart to keep it from rolling while she unlocked the trunk.
    He was out of the car and standing beside her almost before the sound of the car door slamming could alert her. Her head jerked up and he was there, as big and grim as a thunderstorm. His eyes were hidden by a pair of very dark sunglasses. Sunglasses had always made her vaguely uneasy. As before, his physical presence was as forceful as a blow. She had to restrain herself from automatically stepping back. “What do you want?” she asked in a cool, flat voice.
    He reached out one big hand and effortlessly lifted a grocery bag from the cart into the trunk. “Just helping you with the groceries.”
    “I’ve managed all my life without you, Detective, so I can manage now.”
    “It’s no problem.” The smile he gave her was both humorless and mocking. He stowed the remaining three bags in the trunk beside the first one. “Don’t bother saying thank you.”
    Marlie shrugged. “Okay.” Turning away, she unlocked the door and slid behind the wheel. The parking space in front of her was empty, meaning she didn’t have to back out; she pulled out through the space in front, leaving him to park the cart or do whatever he wished with it. She wasn’t in the mood to be gracious. She was tired, depressed, and angry.
    Worse than that, she was frightened. Not of Detective Hollister, as unpleasant as he was. Her fears were much deeper than that.
    She was afraid of the monster who had butchered Nadine Vinick.
    And she was afraid of herself.
    By the time she stopped at the second traffic light after leaving the grocery store parking lot, he was right behind her again. The man really had a talent for getting around in traffic. The sight of her house wasn’t as enticing as it usually was. She was wryly certain that its sanctuary was going to be violated by a big, grim man who seemed to have taken an immediate dislike to her. She was used to skepticism from people, but not actual dislike; his attitude wounded her a little, though she was surprised at herself for feeling that way. Detective Hollister wasn’t anything to her, so it had to be merely that it was human nature to want others to think well of oneself.
    Just as she had expected, he pulled into her driveway before she had time to cut the ignition off. He got out of the car and took off the sunglasses, tucking them into his shirt pocket. No matter how uneasy sunglasses made her, she suddenly wished he had left them on, because his hazel green eyes, caught by the last rays of the sinking sun, were hard and frighteningly intense.
    “What now?” she asked. “Or did you come all this way to help me carry in my groceries?”
    “You said you could manage them without my help,” he pointed out. “I thought we’d have a little talk.”
    Someone came out next door. She looked up and saw her neighbor, Lou, standing on the porch and staring curiously at them. Marlie waved and called out a hello. Beside her. Detective Hollister also waved.
    “Nice to see you again,” he called.
    Marlie sternly controlled her temper. Of course he had

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