Sipping at my third coffee of the early evening, I scan the other customers in hope of finding inspiration. One man stares, the rest ignore my presence. He appears to be of college age, but not a student, wearing a leather jacket with thick, greased black hair.
"Hello," I say, smiling. No response, but he continues to stare. He looks out of place in the cafe and I wonder why he is here. Is he following me? I turn and feel a small flutter of panic in my stomach when I do not see Saul anywhere in sight. When I spin round again, the man slides into the seat opposite me and I grip the table, readying for what may come.
"Ella Thomas," he says, mouth twisting into a smile. So, either he is following me or in the very least knows who I am.
"Who wants to know?" I wink at him.
The smirk leaves his face and he pulls a photograph from inside a jacket pocket and slides it across the table towards me. It's the man I met at the bar a few weeks ago and lured to the mansion.
"Are you a cop?" I ask. I can't think of any other explanation even though he doesn't look anything like a cop.
"No, nothing like that. I need to find this man. Can you tell me where he is? My source tells me he was last seen leaving a bar with you."
Something tells me the man Mary killed must be important. Or rich. "I swear I didn't do anything to him."
Grabbing my phone, I send a text to Saul and gather my notebook and tablet. Without waiting for him to answer, I hurry towards the exit, knowing he will follow. Glancing over my shoulder, I see him a few steps behind me. I don't see Saul or the car waiting outside and run along the sidewalk, making no pretense of being casual in getting away from him.
Within moments I feel a hand grip my upper arm, stopping me and then pulling me into a dark spot against the building. The man pushes me into the wall and I can smell cheap after-shave and alcohol.
"Not such a threat outside your mansion, are you," he says.
One hand finds my phone and I dial Saul with a tap of a button while the other hand grips the knife in my purse. I make no effort to fight in his grasp and he eases his hold on me.
"Why are you looking for that man?" I ask, flicking the lever to release the switchblade.
"He was my boss. I heard he was killed by the butcher of Vegas and I had to find out for myself."
I can't help smiling that he knows me, though I'm still not sure how I feel about being called a butcher. "Would you care to join me at my mansion for a drink?"
"No, I'm not stupid like my boss. I've read about you. If I don't touch you, I'm safe." He smiles with satisfaction and takes a phone from his pocket. "I intend on having a different sort of fun with you."
"Mister, you have it all wrong," I say, giving him my best smile.
"How is that?" he asks.
"First, I didn't kill your boss. And second," I begin, taking the knife from my pocket. "Don't believe everything you read."
I swing my arm and bury the knife in his neck, stepping back to avoid the spray of blood, which spurts in thick streams onto the sidewalk. At that moment, a car screeches to a halt at the curb and I see Saul waving at me to get inside.