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Chapter 5

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Photo illustration by Samuel Hoffman, The Journal Gazette

Chapter 5

Stevie wasn't sure what time she finally fell asleep, but she must've been sleeping hard. She slept right through her phone alarm and missed two phone calls. One from her editor, Craig.

She had really hoped to go running before her errands. She walked to the window to check the weather. It looked sunny, but the wind was blowing, which meant it was probably chilly. A good day to run. She hadn't been able to run in about a week because of work and other things. Running was her major stress reliever and now she didn't even have that.

She plopped down on the sofa with her cell phone. It was her day off, but she knew when she called Craig back, the only place she would be running was into the office.

Her belly growled. She realized the last time she actually ate was at lunch yesterday. She looked at her phone: 11:30 a.m. Most people would be eating lunch now, but Stevie felt like a big bowl of cereal. She got up and walked into the kitchen and pulled a box of Cap'n Crunch out of the cabinet. She watched the little yellow squares tumble into the bowl and then went to the fridge for milk. Expired. Now you know why you're single, babe. The only way people know you exist anymore is your byline in the paper. You have got to get a life.

Stevie had to admit that writing about these murder investigations has been exciting. She has always had a love affair with hard news. And right now, that seemed to be the only love she had in her life.

She sighed and picked up her cell phone. She scrolled through her address book to Craig's name and dialed the number. She got his voice mail. Instead of leaving a message she decided she would get dressed and stop by work. She could do her errands after that, including checking out that new photography studio downtown.

She got butterflies when she thought of seeing Jason Mullen again. She didn't know why. I don't even know anything about the guy. Including whether he's married.

Stevie left her apartment and got into her car. She glanced at Crandall's apartment and saw him looking at her out the window. She waved and drove off. Weird. Doesn't that guy ever sleep?

Because it was lunchtime, the parking lot at the newspaper was somewhat empty. Stevie managed to snag a spot pretty easily. She climbed the stairs to the newsroom and dropped her bag into her chair.

As she turned to boot up her computer, she noticed a manila envelope with her name on it propped up on her keyboard. She picked it up and turned it over. No address or name.

"It was dropped off this morning," said Margie Harbour, a curly redhead who had popped up over the divider that separated her cubicle from Stevie's. "I've been dying to know what's inside. The receptionist downstairs said it was brought in by a very handsome man. What are you not telling me?"

Margie is Stevie's friend. She was one of the first people to befriend Stevie when she started at the paper. They occasionally go to lunch together, or dinner, since Stevie's schedule usually has her working at night. The two have gone shopping a few times, although Margie's fashion style needs an upgrade. She is a twentysomething but she dresses like Stevie's mother.

Stevie really likes Margie. However, Margie is married and that sort of limits certain activities.

"C'mon. Open it," Margie said, walking around the divider. She was holding a sandwich in her hand.

Stevie quickly opened the envelope. She pulled out a picture of herself. It appeared to have been taken at the Foster Park crime scene earlier that morning. She could see James standing next to her with his camera. "A suspicious character? Much cuter than the real Stevie Ray Vaughn" was scrawled across the bottom of the photo. A business card was paper clipped to the photo.

Margie craned her neck to get a better view of the picture. "What the heck is that?" She snatched the photo from Stevie's hands. "Jason Mullen. Who is that?"

"It's a photographer I met last night at the crime scene. I'm guessing he snapped a photo of me and sent it to me."

"Creepy," Margie said, returning the photo. "Is he cute?"

"Yeah. Very." Stevie felt the rush of heat fill her body as she thought about Jason staring at her through the camera lens.

"I was going to call you later today. I figured you were still sleeping," Margie said, taking a bite of her sandwich. "There's a lot of stuff that's been happening. The police have been here."

"What for?"

"Well, according to my sources, they found out where the murderer's phone calls are coming from. And, they know who the latest victim is." Margie took another bite of her sandwich.

It didn't surprise Stevie that Margie knew so much. It no doubt paid to be the newsroom's social butterfly. That must be why Craig was calling me.

"But how did they ..." Before she could finish, Craig appeared in the hallway. "Von, I'm glad you're here. Come to my office. We need to talk."

Stevie shoved the picture back into its envelope and began to walk toward Craig's office. Her errands would definitely have to wait.

By Terri Richardson, assistant managing editor for features.