Life had carried on, slowly dragging itself back into it's futile attempt at 'reality'.
I got a new job at the cafe by my house. ‘Early Lunch’ was the name, and its long hours were a welcome distraction from thinking about ‘him’.
I had managed to push his memory to the back of my mind, refused to think about him. It didn’t mean I loved him any less, or even any more. But I owed it to myself to find some resolve.
I’d heard on the news that Zack Grange was still at large. Every time his face appeared on screen, everytime I noticed the brown 'Grange' on my chest, my fear grew more intense. It washed over me in tidal waves. When I saw the ugly purple scar across my stomach, I had to swallow back bile.
Yet I still got up.
Within a month I’d witnessed Ed’s civil partnership with his new husband, James. Seeing them both so happy gave me hope that I ould maybe just survive.
Mary hadn’t left my side, even hung crosses around by bedroom.
“For crying out loud Mary, crosses won’t stop an axe man.”
“But the Lord will protect you now.” I let her have her view. It was better than her baby sitting me all of the time.
I’d grown my hair longer too; it was well past my chest now. I’d considered cutting it all off, hating the memories it held in there.
Now, on my way home to work, Ed called again. Talk about familiar memories, ey.
“Erin, you’re coming to James’ and I’s party tonight, it’s going to be fabulous.” I smiled at Ed. He’d done his best to get me out of the stupor I was in, and a brilliant job at that.
“I’ll be there. I finish at 7, so I’ll come straight there.”
“It’s a date.” He hung up, and I pulled my coat together to shield myself from the bitter wind.
The sky was dark and moody, possibly from an oncoming storm. Just what I needed!
The welcoming bell rang as I hurried inside the door.
“Erin! You work far too much!” The cafe owner, Darius, was probably one of the kindest men I had ever met. He reminded me of Anne, and I could tell that if they met, they’d be a hit.
“It all pays off, couldn’t leave you alone now could I?”
“You are a star.” I smiled as I tried on my apron, ready to start the tedious 9 hour shift.
The hours flicked by as table after table had their orders taken, drank and ate, and then left.
“How does somewhere so small get so busy?”
Darius mentioned something about it being the best cafe in the world, and how that has something to do with it.
The buzz of his Greek accent soon faded into the distance as dozens of camera men and women burst through the doors.
Lights were flashing in my eyes, blinding me and Darius. Camera crews had haunted me since I left the hospital.
“Leave, all of you!”
“Have you any news on Zack Grange?”
“Stockholm, do you confess your blood lust?”
“Do you think he will come for you?”
“Are you scared?”
My mind spun, caught in the headlights of these reporters. Did these people have a soul? They seemed to be a rare commodity these days.
My head continued to spin as Darius pulled me out back. I gripped onto the chair for support, feeling my forehead sweat.
I could barely make out the spinning walls when I fell flat on my back, the world around me drowning in its own fear.
I couldn't face the fact that I was running out of time.
“Erin? Erin wake up, come on.” I opened my eyes to see Ed and Darius around me, their faces right by mine.
“I’m fine, was just a little...”
“Come on, let’s get you back.” Ed began to pick me up.
“James is waiting in the car.”
“And Janine is coming to cover your shift, you go and rest child.” Darius patted my back as Ed helped me through the shocked customers to James’ car.
James opened the door for us, concern etched onto his features. He was a nice looking man, very pretty and trimmed.
“Let’s get her back to ours; this girl needs a Cosmo about now.”
I listened to the sound of music on their radio, hearing them banter about this, that and the other. It was all perfectly normal to them.
Inside their house I paced the front room. I couldn’t help but wonder what was going on with Erik, if he too was worried about Zack. Then I slammed down the brick wall on him.
We were all in danger, Ed, Mary, Me, Erik... Even Jamie. We couldn’t act like sitting ducks, unaware of the problems at hand.
“Ants in your pants?” Ed smiled, handing me the alcohol. I downed it in seconds, the burn of the vodka numbing my throat.
“I need out.”
“What?” Ed placed his drink down.
“Zack. I know he's coming. What if he comes Ed?” My voice raised several octaves, I was sure only dogs could hear it.
“Don’t be afraid. He won’t get a chance.”
James came into the front room with the house phone in his hand.
“Got a call for you Erin, its Mary.” My chest flattened in relief.
"Come to Oblisk tonight if you need the next step." I was about to label a wrong number, when the voice caught my attention.
James and Ed were leaning in, concerned.
Oblisk was a classy Hotel in town. By classy, I mean 'way out of my league'.
"Who is this?"
"As if you forgot the Sparrow." My chest filled with air. I knew exactly who Sparrow was.
"I've got to go guys. thanks for the drink."
"On your own?"
"I've got to cope sometime, right?"
They hugged me goodbye as I braced myself for the bitter wind. What did he want to tell me? the next step wans't giving much away, and I doubt he met with ex-assassins for brunch.
I turned the next corner onto the beginning of the high street, barely glancing at the staring shoppers. What did it matter to me, the look of pity in their eyes?
I saw Oblisk grinning down at me, daring me to get in. The doormen looked unconvinced by my scruffy hair and waitress outfit.
"She's with me Gents." Andrew Walsh hooked my arm and took me inside.
"Long time no see Erin. I must say, I've seen you look..."
"Don't say, worse?"
"Yes. Worse. But I'm not here for idle chit chat. You must know why I came?"
"To order this over-priced wine?" honestly, fifty pound a glass was taking the mick.
"No, to tell you your next step."
"I have it. It's to carry on working-"
"And be hunted like a dog? He is out there, watching you Erin. Watching you, me, Erik," He noticed me flinch when he said his name,"and he won't stop until he gets what he wants."
"Tell me, tell me what I can do?"
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