Few days later, as I was about to leave my apartment, I noticed Johan’s figure in the dark waiting for me, which was no surprise. He had been doing this almost every night since our date; he usually came by when I left for my yoga class at gym and walked me to there. I wasn’t sure why he did it; besides, we hardly spoke anything other than ramblings about the weather and other futile attempts at breaking the ice. If there were something I sucked at more than I sucked at anything else, it was socializing with adults and my guess was that this was something Johan and I had in common.
“You didn’t go to your yoga class yesterday.” He said.
“You know, I could just give you my number.” I told him.
“It wouldn’t be as suspenseful knowing exactly when to meet you” he replied.
He might be sexy, but he also gives me the creeps for some reason. “Johan….” I started with a tone of uncertainty in my voice. But before I could form a sentence he surprised me by putting my hands in his.
“You’re still afraid of me. The things I want to do to you are far from harmful you know” he said with a mischievous grin.
“It depends on one’s point of view” I said and I tried hard not to sound annoyed. I mean, we hardly know each other and he thinks he can ‘do’ things to me?
“Alyssa…” he was looking at me like the cat looks at her prey and he was slowly moving dangerously close to me. Our lips touched and soon the kiss became intense.
“I… I… well… we…” I suddenly stepped back.
“Now you sound like your friend.” He said.
“…What?…” It took me a while before I realized he was referring to Shani and the fact that when he caught us outside of his residence she was completely unable to utter anything more than scattered syllabes.
He didn’t reply. Instead he grabbed me and started kissing me again.
I felt… numb. My body felt numb, my mind felt numb. The sensation of the kiss was incredible. He was irresistible. Yet, something inside me wanted to scream.
“Ahem” a man’s voice put an end to our encounter. “I don’t believe you have introduced me to the lovely lady you’re about to devour.”
I shyly turned to face the man and I noticed he had the same tattoo as Johan on his neck. He was a tall, blonde, gorgeous-looking guy with unusually pale skin who had an aristocratic air of another era. Behind him, some random guy who, I momentarily thought, he might have taken a picture with his mobile but I suppose he was probably just trying to call somebody.
“Ah, Vasily.” Johan nodded to the blonde man. He turned to me again. “Alyssa, Vasily is a close friend of mine.”
“Nice to meet you. So, you two are stalking romantic interests together?” I said half-joking half-serious.
“Alyssa… A pleasure.” Vasily whispered as he drew so close to me that I could feel his breath. Hell, it seemed as if I could even feel his heartbeat! Do these guys not know about personal space?
“What do you think Vasily?” asked Johan.
“Mmmm… very interesting indeed.” he replied while examining me closely. What was he examining, really?
“I … need to go to the drugstore now, it’ll close. Uh… yeah. Nice to meet you. Bye!” I mumbled and walked away in terror. Johan called my name, but I pretended not to have heard. Oh, but I could hear. I heard Vasily saying to Johan: “Fantastic! Unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.”
Oh poo… What is this all about? Who are these people?
I went to the drugstore and stayed there as much as I could. I called Frank but he was busy, woohooing with some girl whose name he did not recall. Then I called Kennie who was thankfully home, and asked him to check whether Vasily and Johan had left. He offered to come and pick me up with his car and I gladly accepted. Fear is not a feeling I experience often. So when I do, I know it’s probably a bad idea to ignore it.
I didn’t see Johan again since that night.
Three days later, right after school, I had an appointment with Chris Wilson at his office to discuss about the aftermath of Ray’s disappearance. About police officers acting strange and shadows watching me. I was nervous from the very moment I woke up. For some reason, I wanted him to have a good impression of me and not to think I was paranoid. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to talk to him about it.
I took a deep breath and I knocked on the door of his office. Chris opened it with a warm smile that made his whole face glow.
“No space T-shirts?” he joked and we laughed. Kind of embarrassed, I couldn’t think of a clever line to say in response; I could only hope that I didn’t look like a beet with feet, for I was sure my face had now a wonderful shade of red.
“Alyssa, this is my partner, Nick Taylor. Please have a seat.” he nodded for me to use the chair in front of his desk as he introduced me to his partner.
Nick Taylor’s face was a familiar one, but I couldn’t remember why. I was sure I had seen him somewhere and, in fact, it must have been recently.
“Nice to meet you!” I said jovially as I took my seat, still raking my brain to figure out where I’d seen him. Taylor, merely nodded in response. Huh, so much for good manners, I thought.
“So you wanted to talk to me about……?” Chris said still wearing his warm smile.
I took the time to put my thoughts into a consistent order, and I explained to him my doubts about the intentions of the police officers, as well as the constant feeling of being watched that I had.
“Alyssa, that is especially interesting. I’m glad you decided to tell me.” Chris said.
“Huh?… Really?” I asked in confusion. The more thought I had been putting into it these last few days, the more silly my conspiracy theories felt to me. But he found it especially interesting?…
“I’ll be honest with you. I don’t think that what happened was an accident and what you just said, strengthens my theory.” he continued.
“And what would your theory be, if you don’t mind me asking?” I asked, my eyes sparkling with interest.
“You were attacked in that pyramid. They wanted Ray.” he replied.
“Who would want Ray? He was… is… an ordinary guy; a simple waiter at a simple restaurant who minded his own business. Not to mention he was on a different continent in which he had no acquaintances, when he got …uh… lost…” I responded in surprise. That didn’t make any sense… or did it? …
“I don’t know the motivation nor do I have a full list of suspects yet. But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that all his belongings were stolen as well.” he explained.
“A full list? But you do have suspects?” now I was even more triggered to find out what it was that Chris was thinking.
“And you can’t think of anybody, right?!” Taylor, who had seemingly been working on his computer until now, suddenly burst upon our conversation. His tone was so sarcastic and accusatory that I almost felt guilty of having done something I didn’t even know about!
“Excuse me?!” I almost yelled, hardly containing my irritation.
“How well do you know Frank Mayer?” Chris asked me calmly, ignoring his partner.
“Well enough to know he has nothing to do with it!” I blurted out.
“I’ve done a little research on him. And then I called him here and we had a conversation” Chris said.
“You spoke with Frank? Why?” Frank never told me Chris had contacted him.
“Do you know he was in Egypt on the same days as you were?” Chris inquired with his eyes gazing at me skeptically.
That was devastating. However, I retained my composure and successfully held back the tears of confusion, anger and frustration that were forming in my eyes. “… I … didn’t know. But, being a sales representative of an international company, he had to travel a lot, especially in North Africa and the Middle East; he was assigned to those countries.” I said.
“Uh, huh.” Chris nodded to show me he already knew about it. “Anyway, Alyssa, I’ll contact you soon. I might need you to do something for me.” Chris said as he got up from his chair to see me to the door.
We said our goodbyes and I went outside to wait for the elevator. I could hear Chris and Nick discussing, so I couldn’t help but, uhm, accidentally overhear their conversation.
“Don’t look at me like that. She’s not on my list of suspects, Nick.” I heard Chris saying.
“Ugh, right. Just don’t let a pretty face fool you.” Nick replied.
I thought I heard footsteps approaching the door so I sprinted to the elevator.