Seth tucked the envelope into his pocket and cruised home. For some reason, just having her note made him feel like a secret agent. Double oh seven, he chuckled to himself. More like double-oh-crap … I’m being followed. He glanced at his rearview mirror every few seconds but the same, non-descript dark SUV was still on his tail. Do I take them on a wild goose chase or just drive straight home? Seth’s imagination ran wild with a vast array of scenarios. The one that frightened him the most was that he might lead the killer straight to his home and that he’d harm Melanie. Instead of taking the road to his house, he veered off onto the highway. Still, the vehicle followed and Seth decided to really put his theory to the test. He got off on the next exit and headed back in the direction he’d come. Just before he took the turn that would bring him back to the coffee shop, the flashing lights came on and a police siren followed. Sonofa— a steady stream of curses flew from his mouth until a uniformed officer was standing beside Seth’s window. Another body stepped up from behind the first man; it was Bill.
“What the hell are you doing, Seth?”
“What am I doing? What are you doing? I thought the damned murderer was chasing me for crying out loud. I didn’t want to drive home because I didn’t want to lead him to Melanie.”
To Seth’s surprise, Bill started to laugh. The unexpected reaction made his blood boil.
“I’d like to know what the hell is so funny!” Seth snapped.
“I’m sorry, man,” Bill sputtered between gasps. “Here we are following you because you’re behaving suspiciously and you’re running from us to protect your wife. It just sounds like the plot of a crappy detective novel.”
“Yeah, flipping hilarious. So, what made you follow me and not Kim? I thought you told me Agent Dictator said she was a suspect.”
“What makes you think we didn’t? Not that you deserve an explanation but my partner followed her back to the morgue. Personally, I don’t want to think she’s guilty but we still have to follow every possibility. Unfortunately, she also had the means and a motive. The tracers on her phone showed she was in contact with you. Now, I don’t think you’re the killer either but if she’s sending you out to do her bidding perhaps you’re going to be the patsy. There’s always a chance you’re in cahoots but I’d like to think I can read people and I just don’t see you as the serial killer type. Either way, do yourself a favor and stay out of this, Seth. I mean it! Now go home and stay there.”
“Wait a sec … you sent your partner to follow Kim? How do we know he’s not the killer?”
“I’m gonna forget you ever said that, Seth, because my partner is the only person on this planet that I trust. He’s seen me through two divorces, the death of my parents, heck; I can’t even count the number of times I crashed on his sofa. He’s the most loyal person I know and, hands-down the best cop so don’t even think about trash-talking him. Are we clear?”
Seth muttered an apology but he had serious doubts about the partner he’d never met. After being dismissed with ‘just a warning’, Seth set off for home once he was certain he was no longer being followed. He was surprised to see Melanie’s car already parked in the garage. Fearing the worst, he raced inside only to see Mel curled up on the sofa with Malachi.
“What’s wrong, babe? Why are home so early? Are you sick? Is everything alright?”
“I think I caught the flu or whatever it is. Everyone in the office has been sick so I guess it’s my turn. My body can’t decide if it’s hot or cold. My face is on fire but I can’t stop shivering. Don’t even get me started on what happened when I tried to eat one of the doughnuts Evelyn brought in. Let’s just say, it wasn’t pretty.”
Seth brushed a kiss across Mel’s forehead but she was neither warm nor clammy. It all seemed oddly suspicious that she was home. For a brief moment, he almost forgot about the message Kim had left for him. He slipped into the bathroom and opened the envelope.
Kim’s instructions were brief. She’d given him directions to a location and what time to meet her but she had not provided any other information. Maybe I should do what Bill says, his inner voice of reason insisted.
**Please return Monday, November 10th for the exciting conclusion to Serial**