The only experience she had with security personnel were the middle-aged, paunchy guards who came to the store to pick up money and jewelry for transport. This man was a whole different breed of animal. He moved with a quiet grace as he scanned the surroundings, taking them in, before focusing on her.
His dark brown hair was cut short and the dusting of gray at his temples lent an air or experience about him. His eyes were crystal blue and had an edge to them which left her with an impression they missed little and had seen much. For a brief moment, a flicker of appreciation appeared as he studied her. Almost instantly, the expression faded and cool analytical detachment replaced it. Morgan’s mouth went dry. She didn’t know anything about him yet but from the “don’t mess with me” aura he exuded, she’d bet he was former military, police, or both.
He extended his hand. “I’m Shawn Randall from Sonoran Security. How can I be of assistance?”
Morgan stepped forward and shook it. “Morgan Kennedy. I’m glad to meet you.”
A small smirk broke on his lips and the irony of what she had said hit her. He took her hand. Attraction and nervousness sent an adrenaline surge coursing through her. She searched his eyes, hoping for an indication he had the same reaction, but he regarded her with calm scrutiny.
I’m being studied like some insect. She pulled back and crossed her arms defensively. Taking a shaky breath, she wondered what she should say next. Just give him the facts.
She willed herself to stay calm as she explained, “I’ve got a stalker. I don’t know who he is, but this morning he vandalized my car. This afternoon, he sent flowers to my home as an apology. The police haven’t been terribly encouraging. I don’t know what to do.”
There. She said it. A Short, simple, direct reply, Morgan blinked as she fought to hold back the tears.
“Okay, let’s start from the beginning.” His voice possessed a patient, polite tone which echoed the policeman’s conversation earlier today.
Morgan gestured for Shawn to sit in a nearby chair and she sat opposite him on the sofa. She took a deep breath and began to recount the activities in detail. Shawn listened. Only when she detailed her car’s vandalism did he stop her.
“What did he take?”
Morgan stopped and tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear. “He stole some clothes out of my gym bag.”
“What kind of clothing?”
She pondered how to phrase her answer. Exactly how do you tell someone you met less than five minutes ago a stalker took your bra and panties.
“Did he take lingerie?” Shawn asked.
Morgan gulped and a heat flushed her face. “Yes. He took my bra and panties.”
Shawn nodded and sat back from the edge of his chair. “So, he has a souvenir.”
Morgan snorted a laugh, “That’s an odd way to phrase it.”
Shawn grinned. “Yeah, I know. But you have to remember today he talked to you. He made first person contact and although taking your clothes is the type of thing which will freak you out, it’s a trophy to him. What did the police say?”
“Not much, because I can’t identify this guy and unless they get a fingerprint match, I’m out of luck. Do you have any suggestions? At this point, I don’t feel safe.”
“Good,” Shawn replied.
“Excuse me?” Morgan couldn’t keep the incredulous tone out of her voice.
“Trust your instincts on this. You’re not safe.”
Morgan glanced over at Stella, whose expression mirrored Morgan’s shock. She turned back at Shawn. “This is crazy. How can I make him go away?”
“When he’s caught or, heaven forbid, when he moves on to a new victim.”
Victim. The word pinged through her mind and made her feel uneasy. She managed a retail store, staff, and one of the largest fundraisers in the metropolitan area. She helped victims, she’d never be one.
Shawn leaned forward, and Morgan detected sympathy in his demeanor and voice. “I don’t want to add fuel to the fire but here’s how goes. You didn’t know it until now, but you’ve had a stalker for some time. He’s followed you and knows your routine, what you do, and where you live. I’ve worked in the personal security business for a number of years. It happens to celebrities often. Most of their fans are harmless, but occasionally, they get stalkers too.
“Well, I’m no movie star. Why me?’
“If I had the answer to that question, I’d be rich. We aren’t dealing with a normal person here. Thanks to the fundraiser’s publicity, he’s fixated on you. In fact, not being a celebrity has worked to your disadvantage. He’s had an easy time tracking you.”
She glanced over at Stella and caught her friend’s alarmed expression. “How do I stop him?” Morgan asked.
“You start taking precautions. I have a few ground rules you’ll need to follow. Then be prepared, it’ll get worse. Maybe a lot worse. But if we’re ready, we’ll catch him and get him out of your life.”
Stella spoke up for the first time, “What does she need to do?”
Shawn cast a quick glance to Stella and returned to Morgan. “Are you hiring me?”
Morgan glanced at Stella.
“You should. This is getting out of control.” Stella urged.
She looked at Shawn. He waited for her response and a little flicker of irritation rippled through her. She glanced down and fingered the green tourmaline ring on her right finger. “Too fast,” the voice in her head warned. Her natural inclination would be to hold off and evaluate. Think things through, have a plan. But since the phone calls this morning she’d been dancing to her stalker’s tune and her first instinct was to resist. She didn’t have to do this. “No thank you” was an option. But when her stalker made his next move, then what? She pressed her lips together and took a deep breath. “Yes, I suppose I am.”