note: Previously, I posted an excerpt from the story I'm writing now. Originally, I was writing in first person point of view. I changed it to third person. There were bits of the story that couldn't be told in first person.
At this point in the story, Jess is twenty-seven years old and lives in a tiny apartment in Ft. Worth, TX. She has spent all afternoon on an airplane.
She had forgotten to turn her cellphone on after leaving the airplane. Four voicemails, she noted. Several emails. Oh well, she thought as she tossed the phone back into her purse and emerged again with Mrs. Wheat's money. She wasn't in the mood to take on the world tonight. She was adopting the Titus Harper philosophy and simply shutting out all the unimportant people.
As she rounded the wall into the hallway that led to her front door, keys in her hand, her inner perception flickered. Her stomach turned and her mind sharpened to her surroundings. The darkened apartment suddenly became a very heavy weight around her, like a fog with substance. She'd had this uneasy feeling a few times before, and she had learned to recognize it for what it was. Intuition.
She stopped, turned and peered into the darkness. Something wasn't quite right with the world. Something was happening, or about to happen that wasn't on Jess's approved activity list. Maybe there was somebody in the apartment. An intruder.
She wished she had one of those apartments like you see on TV. You know the ones. They have a doorman and a security guard. Some of them have a buzzer system or a receptionist at the front desk who will call you and announce your visitor. The bottom line was, nobody got in unless somebody on the inside let them in.
Jess Harper did not live in one of those fancy, high security apartment buildings. Her security system consisted of one deadbolt and one Louisville Slugger.
That slugger was under the sofa. She used to keep it in the umbrella stand by the door, but Mrs. Wheat had convinced her to move it. She had pointed out to Jess that any intruder who came through her front door would be closer to the bat than she was. Now what good would that do her? God Bless Mrs. Wheat, but if she had left it in the umbrella stand, she would have felt a whole lot safer just now.
She forced herself to cross her living room, weaving in between her sofa, coffee table and two small conversation chairs to peer carefully down the hall. No intruder jumped out at her from the shadows. No unexpected visitor called her name from the depths of her hallway. No visible ghosts.
Across the living room, she stared hard at the curtains that covered the sliding glass doors that exited onto the deck outside. Were they moving slightly? Did she notice a bit of sway? Had somebody slipped past her and sneaked right out the sliding glass doors, virtually undetected? Or were they waiting there for her behind the curtains, ready to pounce as soon as she came near?
She sucked her fear down her throat and strode purposefully toward the doors. She was no 'fraidy cat. She swept the curtains aside with one hand and peered beyond the glass to her empty deck. The only thing out there was the long dead house plant she had killed with neglect over the summer and her bicycle chained to the railing. She jiggled the doors. Firmly latched. The tension bar that she had wedged there was still in place. Frustrated with herself, she turned away from the sliding doors and headed for her front door.
She guessed she was just being silly. Her nerves were wound up too tight from her quick trip to the nation's capitol. Even the cab ride home had frazzled her. The driver kept talking about his daughter, and how Jess looked like her, green eyes and all. He wanted to take a picture of her, to show his wife, he said, but Jess did not want her picture taken. She just wanted to go home.
She shook her creepy feeling away and took two deep breaths before reaching for the door knob. It was then that she jumped and almost peed her pants!
A heavy, demanding knock resonated through her tiny hallway. Mrs. Wheat sure as heck never knocked that loud, and she wasn't expecting anyone else.
If she stood there quietly, maybe he (and she was sure it was a he) would realize he was at the wrong apartment and go away.
"Jess!" She jumped again when his voice boomed through her nervous silence. Damn! If he knew her name, he probably had the right apartment.. She didn't know of any other Jess-es in the small building. There were only four apartments in this building- two facing each other on the second floor, two more on the first floor. Hers, 2B, was on the top, facing Mrs. Wheat's. The building was actually an old house that had been remodeled and divided into apartments. Most of the old houses on the block had been converted in much the same way. Mrs. Wheat owned this building.
"Who is it?" She called through the door impatiently, so that he would know she was no pushover wuss afraid to answer her own door.
"It's me, Jess. Let me in!" Who? She mentally ran through the very short list of men who would be so bold to knock on her door after sunset without an invitation. She was sure she didn't recognize the voice…wait…oh my god.
She fumbled with the deadbolt, unsure if she should open the door at all.
"Go away," she whispered even as the lock drew back. "Go away, go away."
The door creaked open to reveal a face she had not seen in more than ten years. He was a little bit older, a little bit scruffier, but it was a face she would recognize until the end of time.
"Cash Sawyer, just what the hell do you think you're doing here?"