Stalking the Phoenix [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Karen S. Woods
eBook Category: Suspense/Thriller
eBook Description: College professor Alicia Jenkins thinks her pain is behind her, but someone from her past has found her--and wants her dead. More than that, the old enemy wants Alicia's new life totally destroyed before killing her. But like the mythical Phoenix, Alicia is stronger than she was in her previous life. Frightened? Yes, but she is a fighter. Still, how can she defeat an ememy made of shadow instead of substance? Who will believe her?
eBook Publisher: The Fiction Works, Published: http://www.fictionworks.com, 2004
Fictionwise Release Date: June 2004
6 Reader Ratings:
I parked my lovingly restored white and black 1955 Chevrolet Bel-Aire in the small parking lot adjacent to the concrete block building. Literally shaking with fear, I walked across the slick, wet, green asphalt on this stormy noon hour on the eighth day of April.
Thankfully, the rain that had come down so forcefully only minutes before was now nothing more than drizzle. But, looking at the sky, it was obvious that there was another storm coming. I thought that it was ironic that the sky so perfectly matched my situation: dark, stormy, and with threats on both horizons.
I would have, gleefully, given anything, everything, that I owned not to be facing the next few minutes. Yet, there was no help for it. I didn't see any other course of action open to me, not if I wanted to survive. Strangely enough, survival has always been important to me.
Only a few steps separated me from the side door of the white stucco covered concrete block building which housed the greater portion of the municipal government and services for this small Midwest town which the residents laughingly thought of as a City. Yet, those few steps from my car to the door seemed as though they took an eternity to accomplish.
My reflection in the glass door looked reasonably normal. Isn't it funny how appearances can be misleading? Well, maybe 'funny' is the wrong word. 'Strange' might be more appropriate. No, that doesn't quite cover it, either, does it?
As I briefly examined my imperfect reflection, I knew that any casual observer would not be able to tell that anything was in any way different with me than it had been yesterday or last week. Long dark hair wound into a secure knot on the back of my head, violet eyes, medium height, athletic figure, dressed in a dark-blue silk business suit, and carrying a briefcase: I appeared the quintessential businesswoman. The picture of cool efficiency would have been complete, if I could have only stopped the slight trembling which had been nearly constant since midnight. Looking on the outside, there was no indication that my whole world had come crashing down about my shoulders overnight.
Once inside the building, ten paces and a left turn took me into the police department. I stopped in front of a badly painted wallboard-and-glass cubicle.
A local Boy Scout troop had painted the interior of the building a year before as a volunteer effort. Frankly, I had always thought that the free labor had been worth precisely what the municipality had paid for it, if not a little less. But, I had never heard anyone voice dissatisfaction with the job that the boys had done. And I wasn't about to be the first to criticize the boys' effort.
Inside the cubicle sat Delores Kennedy, the police dispatcher, who was monitoring a myriad of considerably less-than-state-of-the-art electronic devices. Delores looked up at me, smiled, and asked kindly, "Yes, how can I help you, Alicia?"
Delores and I are both members of the Parish choir. Delores sings alto. I sing mezzo-soprano. But, I had never seen her in the blues of the municipal department's uniform.
"I..." I swallowed hard. I felt that my voice was shaking as badly as my body was. "Are either Phil Mallory or Chuck Edmunds in, Delores?"
Not that I wanted to speak with anyone about this, but, since I really had no choice, it would be far better to talk with someone whom I knew. Not that I was exactly bosom buddies with either of the officers, you understand.
Frankly, I had a difficult time envisioning a circumstance in which I could be bosom buddies with any policeman, let alone a fairly high ranking officer ... especially a high ranking police officer. There were just too many old scars from my previous dealings with the police.
Yet, I had worked with both of the officers on various social service projects over the past few years since I had relocated to Fieldsburg. Both of the men, I had found, to my great surprise, were honest and honorable. And both men were close friends of my fiancee. Phil was to be the Best Man at my upcoming wedding, and Chuck was going to be a groomsman.
I knew that I could trust either or both of them to keep the matter as confidential as possible and to protect me as much as I could be protected. The only question was whether anyone could protect me. Personally, I doubted it.
Delores Kennedy smiled at me. "I guess that you are all excited about the wedding. It's only two months away, now, right?"
"Seven weeks." Then my tone became urgent, "I really do need to talk with either Phil or Chuck. Are either of them in, please?"
The dispatcher took one long, assessing, look at me before she picked up the telephone and rapidly punched in an extension number. "Chief Mallory? Doctor Jenkins from the college is up here asking for you. She's awfully upset ... yes, sir." Delores returned her attention to me. "He'll be right out. Take a seat."
It was a matter of only two or three minutes before Phil Mallory strolled into the small lobby area. Philip Andrew Mallory is an impressive man by anyone's standards. Yet, in the dress blues of the city police, he was positively intimidating. Tall, muscular, dark hair with more than just a touch of gray at the temple, a scar--apparently a legacy from a knife wound--graced the left side of his face; this was the way that I assessed him. I would not particularly want to meet him in a dark alley, especially if he were angry and I was unarmed.
Although he often covered his rugged harshness with a cloak of kindness, Phil Mallory was one truly tough customer. I knew for a fact that he was not a man who suffered fools gladly. Yet, I had seen how kind and gentle he could be in his volunteer work with Big Brothers/Big Sisters and in the volunteer work that I did as a victim's advocate with the local Crisis Center. And he was Geoff's best friend. So, I hoped that I wasn't making too big of a mistake bringing this to him.
A major mistake at this point could cost my life; I knew that only too well. Doing nothing would cost my life. Surely, this couldn't be worse than doing nothing. Could it? I hoped that it couldn't. But, just then though, I wouldn't have sworn to it.
"Hello, Al. Missed you at the funeral ... but, you had classes this morning, didn't you?" Phil's voice was one of the better tenors ever to grace the Community Chorus. His voice, the gentleness and warmth contained there, covered me like a soothing balm.
I sighed. I had totally forgotten about the funeral of the State's Attorney who had been killed in a car accident only days earlier. Naturally, that would be a reason for Phil to be in dress blues. I felt badly for having forgotten the funeral. But, considering the morning that I had been having, I suppose that was to be expected.
"Yeah, I had classes to teach," I said, suddenly reluctant to open the matter up, yet knowing that I had no choice.
"Geoff not with you?" he asked.
I forced a smile. "Ah ... you see, that's why they promoted you, Phil ... your fine powers of observation and deduction."
"Real funny, Al. I was just going to lunch, would you like to join me?"
"It wasn't intended to be funny, Philip. This is not a social call."
"It's not?" he asked with a raised eyebrow, as he suppressed a grin. "I had hoped that you had just stopped in to say 'hello'. It's not often that gorgeous women stop in to see me."
"No, Phil. I really wish it were that simple. This is purely business--your business. I've got a problem. Could we go somewhere less public and discuss it, please?"
He looked at me with sharp assessment in his eyes before he nodded once. "Sure thing, Al. Why don't you step on back to my office?"