Weakest Lynx
about it, Lexi. You’d get your house fixed up nice like ‘Metropolitan Home.’ You could keep your own schedule, so it wouldn’t interfere with your classes. And you’d raise the resale value on your house.” Dave was ticking off the pros on his fingers.
    “Not to mention yours,” I added.
    Dave winked. “And you’d be out of this house during the day.”
    “Yeah, Dave. Across the street. I think Stalker could find me. Why doesn’t Manny clean up his own mess?”
    “Come on, if someone wanted to attack you, he’d probably knock ten feet of garbage over on himself. And Manny says he’s tried to clean up since he inherited the place last fall, but it was ingrained since birth—nothing gets thrown out at his grandparents’.” Dave tapped a finger to his head. “He has a mental block. Can’t do it.”
    “He needs therapy …” I took a deep breath in and let it go in one big exhale. “I probably need therapy, too, because I seem to be considering this.”
    I stood up, walked over to my front window, and looked across the street and down one house at the early twentieth-century standalone. The yellow paint was dim with accumulated pollution and mold, and it seemed to vomit junk out of every orifice. It should definitely star in a Hoarders TV special . No. Too big of a project. Okay, it would make a great setting for a horror flick, Nightmare on Silver Lake. I wouldn’t be too surprised if I found a body or two lost under all the trash. Or some evil creature from the bowels of the Earth.
    I turned to watch Dave closely, looking for his body language tells. I always knew when he was bluffing. “He’s really that good? Poker for heating systems?” It sounded stupid when I said it aloud.
    “He’s got a reputation.” Dave had twisted around, watching me, too. “No one on the force will play with him. No one can afford to lose that bad.”
    “Well the whole thing just makes no damned sense.” I gathered our mugs and walked them to the kitchen, calling over my shoulder, “If he’s so good, he should play for a professional to come take care of his problem.”
    Dave waited for me to come back before he answered. “Can’t. If he profits from his wins, he has to declare the gains as income. It ups his support payments, and he can barely feed himself on what he has left over now.”
    “You feel sorry for him.”
    “I feel sorry for everyone who has to look at his disaster. And I think everyone would win if you took this project on.”
    I snorted. “Saying ‘this project’ sounds very respectable and nothing like digging through ancient mouse shit. Look, I’ll think about it.” I glanced over at the poems on my wall. “Actually, dealing with someone else’s crappola seems much more appealing than dealing with my own.”
    “Speaking of your crappola, did you finish reviewing the Walmart tape I e-mailed you?”
    “Yup. Male figure, just over six feet tall, dressed in oversized jeans, baseball cap, and hoodie, placed the envelope on my truck. He walked into the frame and right back out. A five-second blip.”
    “Forensics wasn’t able to do much with enhancement.” He changed from Uncle Dave to Detective Murphy in a nanosecond—his eyes sharp and intelligent, his jaw muscles tensed. “No facial features, not even race. At least we can tell the stalker is a man.”
    “Not a lot to go on.” I pulled my hair into a ponytail so I could think. “I spent a considerable amount of time reviewing the cars near Angel’s truck. Watched each one park. It’s crazy that Walmart happened four days ago and now Stalker is comfortable enough to walk up to my frigging door. Shithead.”
    I glanced toward my front door to make sure I had thrown the bolt. Checking, checking, rechecking. I was developing OCD. The little green light from my new alarm system and the dogs’ state of sleepy calm helped me keep my blood pressure down. And Dave was here with his Glock in his shoulder holster. My Ruger was strapped

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