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Critical Error 35

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“I want to tag along on your holiday to Long Beach.  I’m officially on the first day of my holidays and I was looking forward to doing something different for a couple of weeks.”

“Paul!” Eilea’s voice held a mixture of surprise and centure.

“I won’t take no for an answer. Having someone trained in the art of observation who has connections and can react quickly should put all of you at ease.”  He glanced reassuringly into each face.

“He’s right mom.  I would feel safer knowing that we have protection, especially for you.  Besides, if this guy thinks you’re involved with someone, he just might back off, right?”

“It doesn’t work that way with stalkers, honey.  Officer Morton told me that a stalker’s obsession cast last up to fourteen years.”

A unified cry of shock followed, “What!”

“Yeah. However, the police will be able to get a restraining order, and should he violate it, he’ll go to jail.”

“Andrew suddenly spoke up, “You definitely need to take Paul up on his offer.  I’d feel a lot more secure about our trip knowing someone’s got your back and like he said, he’s trained.”

“Paul, you’ve done it, you know, they’ll expect you to come with us now and while I certainly appreciate your considerate offer, eventually we’ll go back to our regular routine.  He may still be there, ultimately we’ll  have to face this situation alone.”

“Maybe, maybe not, but not today.”

“Ok, not today!  but . . . . but I’m nervous about becoming dependent on your strength and protection and presence for a feeling of safety because you may not always be there.  You know that and so do I!”

“I’m here now, and that’s what counts.  So, are we agreed?”

“Yes!” the kids chimed in agreement.

“Ok, ok, I give up.  You can come.” Eilea held her hands up in resignation.

“Good.  You planned on leaving tomorrow anyway.  The only difference is that now, there’ll be one extra traveling along.”

“The upside is he doesn’t know where you are, only that you’re down island, which gives you some breathing space for a time at least.  He also doesn’t know I’m a cop so he won’t be prepared for the kind of kick back and response he’ll get.”

“Ok, now that we all know the score and everyone is in agreement, why don’t you guys take your lunch and head back to the beach. I’m going to show your mother around.  Alright?”

“Alright,” the kids responded, a hint of relief in their voices.

The teens stood and walked toward the kitchen to retrieve their lunch.  Christina held back.  “Mom, I really do feel much better about this situation if Paul comes with us.  Otherwise, I would constantly be watching over my shoulder, worrying about you.”

“Christina, we’ll look after that.  You just enjoy your holiday, ok?”  Paul promised.

“I’ll try.”

“I know you can’t put this out of your mind, but try Christina, please.”  Christina hugged her mother and went to join the others.  They left in an undercurrent of chatter.

“I’m going to have another cup of coffee.”

“Actually, I was going to suggest that we take a drive to a little cafe I know of that specializes in some of the best-tasting coffee I’ve ever enjoyed.  Sound good?”

“Yeah, it does.” Her voice held less enthusiasm than yesterday.

“Eilea,  try to relax.  Take some of your own advice.  Besides, I think you should train your thoughts on something much more important.”

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