Christina stepped back wiping tears from her cheeks. “Don’t tell mom! She’ll worry if she knows I’m upset.” Paul smiled, ‘like mother like daughter’.
“I think the telling should be yours, Christina. She needs to know that her life matters to you and perhaps she’ll be less inclined to take unnecessary risks.”
“I know, that thought crossed my mind too. I could see her offering herself up as bait just to catch this creep. I’m afraid of, more than anything.”
“I’m watching her closely, Christina. I won’t allow her to do that. We have the situation under control. We pushed the process along, further and earlier to force his hand. She’s completely surrounded by law enforcement, whether she realises it or not and she can’t make a move we won’t know about. Should this creep get close enough, we’ll take him down.”
“Thanks, Paul. I appreciate that more than I can say.” Paul smiled warmly before adding, “We have you covered too, Christina, and Andrew. I won’t let anything harm you.”
“I know you’ll do your best Paul. And by the way, I think your good for mom. I’m glad you came into our lives. I see good things for you two. More, I want good things for you two. Mom deserves someone special, who cares about her. She hasn’t had that, probably never if I’m honest.”
“She has you, Christina.”
“I know, but I meant on the romantic side of things. Gives me hope too.”
As conversations went, this was as touching and encouraging as it gets, Paul thought. One hurdle down. Now, if only Andrew felt the same, it would be a real bonus.
Eilea walked in toward the end of the conversation and heard Christina’s remarks about her and Paul and what she’d observed regarding her mom’s needs.
Wrapping her arms around him from behind, she hugged him close. “Perceptive, isn’t she?”
Turning, Paul agreed. “She does you proud, Eilea. Incredibly observant, she cares about her family, and is moved deeply by your current situation.”
“I’ve felt honoured on more than one occasion by each of them. I’m not sure I can take credit for it, as they are individuals who have made choices. Good choices so far. I take comfort in knowing I may have assisted with a guiding hand, but they are now young adults and the choices and decisions they make are their own.”
“Well, I beg to differ. I’ve seen young people act out and commit unspeakable acts of cruelty, steal, lie, cheat raised by caring parents and others that practically raised themselves because their parents were indifferent, uncaring, or too involved with their career to consider the results to a child. At some point, it is about individual choices, but I really believe they copy your outlook actions and expectations more than make choices. Eventually, they feel comfortable and strong enough to make them by themselves.”
Eilea sighed contentedly. “She’s right about one thing, you are not only important to me, but I didn’t realise exactly what was missing until I met you. You’re pretty special.” She sealed the thought with a heart-stopping kiss that set him back on his heels.
Christina snagged Paul early the following morning. “Can we talk for a minute?”
“Sure, Christina, what’s up?”
“I thought I’d check into the mind-set if that’s possible of the perp. I don’t get it.”
“Ok, go on,” Paul urged.
“According to what I’ve found, there are four types of stalkers.
The Rejected stalker – is a result of a breakdown in a close relationship (usually but not limited to sexual partners) and can include family members, close friends or others
The initial motivation is – either attempting to reconcile the relationship, or to exact revenge for a perceived rejection.” She went on to list them as:
- ” described as ambivalent about the victim, sometimes appear to want the relationship back, are clearly angry and want revenge on the victim.
- some protracted stalking becomes a substitute for the past relationship as it allows the stalker to continue to feel close to the victim
- and is the stalker’s attempt at salvaging their damage self-esteem
Ok, I get that.”
“And?” Paul urged.
“The next kind are rejected stalkers ambivalent toward victims.
- sometimes clearly angry out for revenge
- sometimes to help them feel close to the victim
- in other times to salvage their damaged self-esteem
“Another is the intimacy seeking stalker and arises from loneliness and lack of close a confidante. Their victims are usually strangers or acquaintances in a stalker’s desire for a relationship.
- Frequently their behaviour is fuelled by a severe mental illness
- revolving around delusional beliefs about the victim, like a perceived relationship (even when none exists)
- to establish an emotional connection and an intimate relationship. The stalking is maintained by the gratification that comes from the belief that they are closely linked to another person.
- their talking is described as a way of getting a date or short term relationship
- they stalk for brief periods but
- they are blind or indifferent about a victim’s distress
- relattable to cognitive limitations or poor social skills
- usually male and victims are usually female strangers he’s sexually interested in
- stalking usually initiated to gain sexual gratification (e.g., voyeurism targeting a single victim over time)
- also used to obtain information about a victim as a precursor to sexual assault
- the stalking is both instrumental and also gratifying because it gives them the sense of power and control they get from targeting an unsuspecting victim”
“So far so good,” Paul said.
“The Incompetent Suitor stalks out of loneliness, lust and can target strangers or acquaintances.
And lastly the Predatory stalker which arises from deviant social practices and interests.
“I’ve been studying these “types” for awhile. It seems to me this guy has crossed over, if I’m reading this correctly. He doesn’t seem to fit into any particular category. He’s been stalking mom for months, sent the letters, photos, etc. He hasn’t approached her and doesn’t seem like he’ll quit. He’s moved into threatening and physically hurting those close to her. My question is, is this possible?”
“I know as much about stalking as you do for the most part, Christina. So far your assessment is right on target. He’s crossing all kinds of boundaries and what boundaries there are don’t exist. He doesn’t or hasn’t sent any notes apologizing so I don’t think he understand what he’s doing. I also agree his goal is an intimate relationship with your mother (obviously perceived only in his mind). He’s proven dangerous and threatening.”
“I know that psychologists suggest none be treated as criminals, but for my money, when we catch this guy, he will be. He’s physically hurt you and Brandon, his threats are real, he pretended to send a bomb but couldn’t quite follow through. Whether that was fear for himself or any “imagined” concern for your mother’s welfare is debateable.
“So does that mean he’ll try to kill mom when he realises she doesn’t want him?”
“I wished I could tell you otherwise, but I figure that’s the scenario that exists, yes.”
“Then please, shoot him!”
Paul walked toward Christina and opened his farm wide and she walked toward him and fell against his chest and he felt more than heard gentle sobs. Wrapping his arms tight around her he said, “I have no intention of letting this miscreant get away, Christina. He’s a low-life criminal intent on harm.”
Eilea was on edge. It showed in jerky movements, darting glances, and hesitation. She was right to feel agitated. He was a seasoned cop and he felt the touch of nerves. Never as acutely felt as now, with Eilea and her kids involved.
They were dear to his heart. He knew when the time was right, it would broad-side him, and it had. These were his kind of people. Smart, funny, adept, able to go with the flow. It seemed he was making headway with Andrew. Christina was more relaxed around him. Whether it was because he was a cop and they required his expertise at this time, he was available, or whether because they were accepting him personally, he wasn’t entirely sure.
Still, the ruse with Eilea was working, dragging their opponent into uncharted waters, forcing his hand. It also made him more acutely aware of her as a woman and he desired her, even more, enjoyed every moment of her company. If adversity brought out the unexpected in people, showed their true colours, then he had his answer. For she was strong, determined and handling the situation well.
The end of the day, everyone was tucked up tight and he knocked on her door. After she called out, he entered and they enjoyed an uninterrupted romantic night that would stay in his memory forever. Charming, relaxed, open, giving and receiving, her romantic side knew no bounds. He lay looking down at her sleeping form feeling exceedingly touched. Eilea hadn’t allowed many close since her separation, so he felt the depth of her giving all the more.
He stroked her hair before laying down and wrapping his arms around her, feeling her snuggle close as a whisper escaped.
Eilea woke to the firm arms wrapped tightly around her and smiled before snuggling back in for a few more minutes. She was falling for this man, what’s more, she loved the idea and welcomed the thought there may be a future for them together.
Paul was astounding. He entertained, joked, teased, and he had Andrew seemed to be hitting it off with several high fives on numerous occasions. They spent several hours wandering, ate the lunch they’d brought and were returning to their vehicles when Paul suddenly grabbed her arm to stop her while holding the other arm out to stop the kids. “Hold up!”
Sitting atop their vehicle was a large gift wrapped package. They glanced at one another concern evident in their eyes. He pulled out his phone and chatted with someone before clearing all the people nearby out of harm’s way.
Suddenly cop cars were roaring to the scene, lights flashing, screeching to a halt. The parking lot was filled with cop cars followed by a bomb truck. Eilea’s gaze passed over an ever growing group of spectators lining the parking lot, cell phones at the ready to land on her kids thinking, ‘it doesn’t get any more real than this’.
Two men popped out of the truck wearing full gear and wearily approached the package. They used some sort of camera gear to examine it before backing off. Following nodding and chatting, one of the men carefully lifted the box carrying it as though it were delicate china and set it inside the back end of the truck making it impossible to see what was happening or what the package contained. Eilea held her breath expectantly.
An eternity later, Paul walked toward her with a large envelope. “Paul?”
“Thank god the box didn’t contain an incendiary device, but it did contain this. He opened the envelope with gloved hands. The note read, “Time’s Up!”
Eilea was scared and it showed. “What does that mean?”
“Not sure, could mean anything from his patience is wearing thin to one stop to the real thing. It’s anybody’s guess.”
“I don’t know, that safe house is looking pretty good at this point.”
Paul stared hard. “It’s what the bosses want, but I convinced them otherwise. With you tucked away, he’ll never get close. We’d have to move you secretly and semi- permanently. You ready for that?”
“No. I’m not! Any more than I’m want to handle this.”
Andrew piped up, “He’s doing something at least, he’s not idle, which was the goal, right?”
Eilea had to smile at her son’s optimism. “True enough, Andrew.”
“So, what now?”
“It’s game on!” Paul said. My men are in place. Although he might drop a few surprises along the way, he can’t get to you.” Taking her in his arms, he planted a huge smacking kiss on her lips before wrapping his arms around her and bending her backward in a huge arch.
The kids smirked at one another. “Yep, game on!”
The police left and they hopped into their car heading toward their next destination.
They fell into bed with thoughts swirling in their heads about what he might do next. Paul had men in place and it was a start. He’d contacted his superiors to see how they wanted to play this. Their over-riding concern was keeping the family safe because this guy was a real loose cannon.
When they mentioned safehouses, Paul pointed out it wouldn’t assist in catching him. Hiding the family away would result in delaying the inevitable whereupon they’d return home unprotected and alone. In Paul’s estimation, the perp was quite capable of burning down the entire apartment building in order to get to Eilea or her family. They had to catch him the sooner the better.
Since he sent evidence proving he was nearby rubbing their impotence in their face, he was feeling cocky. Hopefully, too cocky. The plan was to go public, attend events, outings, whatever placed them in a position where his proximity could be noted. Once they had an idea who he was, they could take him down.
Paul and Eilea planned a number of outdoor activities they could ostensibly attend over the next few days. With an army of officers tagging along and on the sidelines others observing watching and taking pictures of anyone who showed a particular interest in any of them.
Christina was feeling better so their first trek was through Witchcraft Lake, a 45- minute hike. Surrounded by friends and dozens of visitors, they dragged their feet as they sauntered along, hoping to break away from the crowd trekking and draw the perp out.
If the perp was careful, and there was no reason to suspect otherwise, it could take considerable time to eliminate all the possibles.
Maria’s staff was holding together well, optimistic to the end. Heads held high, they continued their work as per normal. Today was D-day. Except for a select few, no one knew what the board’s decision would be. They held the fate of all the employees working at Lord’s in their hands.
Although a well-known name, their product had taken a nose-dive with the advent of the latest upcoming “upstart” as her boss called Fjord’s.
Maria had to give their advertising department credit. Although pandering to the younger market with trendy new and promising motivational speaches had managed to steal away several of Lord’s top accounts. “Reach the Unreachable” was their motto.
Lord’s catered to the experienced seasoned climbers, those with chutzpah and panache who climbed some of the noblest of peaks and conditions considered unscalable.
The marketplace had grown exponentially over the last 10 years but was currently experiencing a down-turn no one could explain therefore the market place was smaller.
All heads turned expectantly when her boss walked through the door. No one was more surprised than she at witnessing his companion. A hush fell over the entire group for standing beside her boss was none other than Damian Ranguild, head of the advertising department of the “upstart” company and bain of their existence.
As eye-candy went, he was luscious. Some women smiled coyly but his eyes continued to scan the room until his eyes met hers. She wasn’t sure whether to walk to greet him or make him suffer the walk of shame to her desk. Maria waited. Her boss’s face was flushed and he huffed and puffed behind the long ranging gate that was Ranguild.
Interesting, she thought. Standing she held out a hand. Instead of shaking hers, he held on firmly and kissed her fingertips. If he meant to surprise her, he succeeded. A knowing smile lit his face.
“I don’t mind admitting it was incredibly upsetting, seeing that!” Christina interrupted.
“Still, we’re not kids, mom. This includes us. We need to know your safe.” Laying her hands on either side of her mother’s face, she continued, “One day, I want you there to walk me down the aisle. See my first child. Play with your grands.”
“If this guy’s this fixated on you, and there’s no other way to describe the insanity, then we do everything in our power to protect you, use every skill, every tool available. Paul obviously knows his stuff. The psychology of this guy’s beyond me, but his goal, isn’t. I think Paul’s probably right on target. That doesn’t mean I’m not scared spitless, cause I am. He could take me or Andrew out for that matter, or take us hostage to get to you. He’d know you’d do anything, come instantly, move heaven and hell to get to us even trading yourself on our behalf.”
“I don’t know about Andrew, but I don’t want it to come to that. I don’t want to give him that option. I want Paul to cut his legs out from under him so he has nowhere to go, no- where to run to, and no place to hide!”
“I’m all for that, and I’ll do whatever it takes.” She looked toward Andrew for confirmation.
He nodded then added, “We’re not in the same league as this crazy, mom, we don’t know how it works, what makes them tick, but Paul’s given us a pretty good idea. I’ll do whatever he suggests to take this guy down. I mean look at it, he got to Christina and Brandon, and we had help. Imagine what he’d do if we didn’t? ”
“Outgunned outnumbered and definitely outmanouvered, I see. I’m not disagreeing with Paul. I agree with his assessment, to be honest, I just don’t want you two involved.”
“Mom, we are involved, case you haven’t noticed!” Andrew stood tall. “There’s no easy way out as I see it. We don’t know what his next move is! You said it yourself. So we need a plan. The one you two concocted is working. He’s gone off the deep end from the sound of it. Waiting in the wings isn’t on his agenda, active participant would be my take. For what it’s worth.”
Eilea wrapped an arm around each of her kids and pulled them close. “When did you two get so smart? So adept at seeing life’s realities?”
Andrew smiled, “Hell, you taught us that when we were in diapers. Right, Christina?”
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s when it started,” she snickered.
“Ok, we have a current plan, do we fine toon it, scrap it, what?”
“Oh, and don’t think I didn’t notice, liberty is over!” Eilea winked. Andrew smiled lifting his chin.