I didn’t question joining him under the umbrella even though it put me well within reach of his free hand. What was he going to do, manhandle me to the car I was going to willingly? Seemed funny. If there was anything giving away his feelings, it was his white-knuckled grip on the umbrella handle. Though we said nothing, the continuous sound of the rain provided enough noise to keep us from having to fill an uncomfortable silence.
I hadn’t considered what would happen when it got this far.
I thought I would find him. I thought I would introduce myself. I thought I would even follow him for a day or two after he brushed me off before going on to whatever the rest of my life was.
Then he opened the car door for me. Late model BMW, black. The kind of car you looked at and looked past. Just like Phillip himself, the guy who disappears in a crowd.
Safety rules say you never go anywhere with a stranger without notifying someone of where you’re going and who you’re going with. Except I had no one to tell. Or at least, no one who would do more than note it down on a piece of paper and forget about it for a week. By the time they followed up, I could have been rotting in a ditch three days.
I settled into the black leather seat.
If Phillip noticed my hesitation, he didn’t comment. I needed a plan. Sammy O, the reporter who helped me track him down, told me not to pursue it.
Let it go. Your parents are dead and he’s dangerous. Nothing good will come out of this.
Maybe that was true. Maybe not.
Sitting in the seat waiting on Phillip to get in, I stared out into the sheeting rain and forced myself to consider what would happen now. Phillip would get into the car. He would drive me somewhere, maybe his home on Colorado, maybe somewhere else. No matter where we ended up, I was going to be at a disadvantage, even with the pistol I had tucked away under my left arm. He had height, reach, and weight on his side. I had, maybe, the element of surprise.
Phillip tucked the umbrella behind the seat and then studied me as he put the keys in the ignition.
“How old are you now?” he asked.
“You don’t know–“
“No, I don’t.”
The car started with a simple yet satisfying thrum and he backed out of the parking space.
“Why don’t you?”
“You overestimate your importance in my life, Amanda. I suppose that’s what I ought to call you.”
The rain had turned into a distant sound like being on the wrong side of an airport listening for planes. I chose not to concentrate on it, but instead strained to hear something in his voice that sounded like humanity.
“The press painted you as the one who got away. Painted you as heroic. Made you important,” he continued. “However, I wasn’t even aware of you until I took a stroll through your home and found the door with your name on it decorated in stars and ribbons. Your mother’s doing, I don’t doubt. By then, you had already disappeared into the night and I went about my business as usual.”
His delivery chilled. I wondered what it would feel like to be so unattached.
The radio suddenly sputtered static and he jabbed the power button. What had he been listening to in here?
“21. My birthday was in April.”
“Ah.” His only comment.
“Why?” The cramp in my stomach told me I didn’t really want the answer.
“I don’t kill children.”
All around us, the rain washed away evidence of our passing.