The first thing Lenny did was double check the parking lot. Trish’s white Honda Civic was nowhere in site.

From there he drove to the exit and cruised through a convenience store parking lot, the one he knew she filled up at. She wasn’t there either.

Then he took the interstate to Carrows where, Wendal, Trish’s manager told him she’d picked up her check and quit–left him shorthanded.

Wendal was disappointed in Trish, but he told Lenny he’d take her back if she showed up. Lenny told him he’d tell her.

From Carrows, he jumped on the interstate. He checked the gas stations and convenience stores on the last three exits and then headed out of town.

The hostess led him to a table for one, which he refused, asking for a booth instead. He ordered pinot noir before dinner, and cabernet sauvignon with rack of lamb in mustard sauce, spicey cucumber salad and grilled carrots with purple potatoes.

He sipped his pinot while he watched the couple in the booth to right of him, hoping he would have time for desert.

Lenny timed himself according to Trish’s itinerary…rather, the itinerary he presumed she was going by.

For instance, he knew she didn’t like to drive at night so he estimated where she’d be on her route about thirty minutes before the sun went down.

And he called her–an embarrassing amount of times.

It always went straight voice mail.

Until finally she answered.

Ranger sat in the atrium next to the water fountain with a Stoli/cranberry straight up and watched the heavy, wood-carved door to Sullivan’s Cove.

He didn’t read. He didn’t piddle with his phone. He just watched.

Finally the couple came out.

He mirrored them, walking with them side by side, if not for the atrium wall. They approached the elevator at the same time. He stumbled into them while simultaneously, stealthily jabbing the man in the stomach with the needle of the syringe. The man doubled over as the door opened and they spilled into the elevator.

“Sorry about that,” he said.

The man backed into a corner of the elevator. He gasped, his eyes wide, his face confused. The woman draped her arms around him.

“Drew! What’s the matter?”

“Is he okay?”

“I don’t know. You must have knocked his breath out!”

“Oh my gosh! Do you want to go to your floor or…”

The man was gulping as if he couldn’t catch his breath.

“No! Open the door.”

He pushed the button and the elevator door opened. He bolted into the lobby. “I’ll notify the front desk, ” he said.

But he didn’t. He walked out the revolving doors which led to the parking lot instead. Quickly.

But not too quickly.

Lenny wheeled the serving cart quietly to Trish’s side of the bed. He unwrapped the cellophane covering the water and juice glasses and peeked under the cloches.

Soft scrambled eggs, link sausage and a single pancake. No syrup. Tomato on the side. A pot of black coffee. Check, check, check and check.

He sat on the edge of the bed and watched Trish sleep. The nasty beginnings of a purple bruise was visible on her upper arm, just below her bare shoulder. Already, he could make out faint finger marks. 

Nausea gripped the pit of his stomach. Disgust mixed with caustic bile scorched his throat.

But he couldn’t wait for her to sleep any longer.

He placed his hand gently on her hip and shook it.