Daphne Winstead is a young, struggling accountant who specializes in forensic accounting. When she’s hired to track and catch an embezzler at a local mental health facility, she jumps at the chance, little knowing that’s she’s stumbled into something far bigger than she anticipated. Not only has she made several people in the office hate her, she’s apparently being followed.
Daphne didn’t see it follow her to the Super WalMart a few blocks from her home. She’d decided as soon as she walked outside, she needed some warmer clothing. What she had was good for cold in Mississippi. For this far north, not far from the Canadian border, it wasn’t sufficient. She didn’t have a lot to spend, but could afford a few things. Most important was a heavy coat and a pair of boots. Snow was forecast for the coming week.
After selecting her clothing, she did her grocery shopping. She was low on milk and coffee, among other things. She picked up a deli fried chicken meal for her dinner. Walking out of the store, she searched for her car, having gotten turned around in the store. She spotted it across the lot from where she stood. She’d come out a different door from the one she came in. Taking a deep breath, she struck out for her vehicle, shivering in the gathering chill. Moisture touched her face and she glanced up at the sky as she passed a dark SUV. It sat in a parking space with the motor running.
“Snow? Really?” Daphne sighed.
The windows of the SUV were tinted, but she suspected someone was inside. Paying it no mind, she loaded her groceries and put the cart in the nearby rack. Carefully, she headed home. Not used to driving in this type of weather, she was unsure of herself. Karen had grown up here, maybe she could give her some tips.
At her apartment building, Daphne carried her groceries to her apartment and unloaded them quickly. Her chicken went in the oven to crisp, the rest in the microwave. She poured herself a glass of wine and settled in the living room with her food.
Outside, the SUV sat idling in her parking lot. A large black man sat in the driver’s seat. Beside him sat the man in black leather. Dark, brooding eyes gazed up at Daphne’s window. He couldn’t see in, but that didn’t stop him from seeing her. Right now, she was probably curled up on her couch watching TV. He wasn’t sure how he knew that, but somehow it made sense.
“We gonna sit here all night?” The black man asked him.
The other man didn’t answer right away. Instead, he twirled his finger. The driver put the car in gear and pulled out of the parking lot into the gloomy storm.
“What’s this girl done? She looks totally harmless, man.”
“Then why we spending our time watching her?”
The dark haired man shrugged, shaking his head. Pinching his lower lip, he gazed out the window at the thickening snow flurries.
“Well, I need a drink, dammit,” the black man said. “I’m freezing ass.”
“You’re wearing a heavy coat, the seat’s heated and the heat’s on high,” a man in the back seat said, his British accent strong.
“Shut up, man. I’m from Florida. This is fucking cold!”
The Brit and the dark haired man chuckled. “Pussy,” they said in chorus.
The rest of the trip took place in silence. The SUV turned in at Kelley’s parking lot.
“You two go in without me. I have to make a call. Get me a coffee,” he said as they got out.
“American or Irish?” The Brit asked.
“You seriously have to ask that question, what kind of spy are you?”
Laughing, the men walked off. The dark haired man made his call and joined them a short time later.
“Feeling better?” The Brit asked.
The dark haired man shrugged as his coffee was served. Thanking the waitress with a smile, he sipped it. Hot, creamy and enough whisky to stop a horse. Closing his eyes, he let the hot, stinging beverage trickle down his throat.
“You gonna tell us what this is about?” The Brit asked calmly, sipping his scotch.
“I told you. Nothing. Don’t worry your pretty head about it, baby,” he said as if he were talking to a particularly obtuse woman.
The British man punched him in the shoulder.
“Hey! You nearly spilled my coffee!”
“Oh, precious, you’ll manage,” the British man said, batting his eyelashes.
“Y’all are a couple fruits,” the black man said sourly. “Act like girls. You two gay for each other?”
“Because you’re new to the team and don’t know us,” the British man replied quietly. “I’ll let that slide—this time. Say it again, and pieces of you will go missing.”
“You ain’t right,” the driver said. “Neither of you.”
“You don’t like it, go back to Miami,” the dark haired man said.
“St. Pete,” the black man corrected. “I can’t go back. Too damn hot.”
“Temperature?” The man in leather asked.
“Cops. One too many bodies disappeared in Alligator Ally. Got suspicious.” He shrugged.
The two white men exchanged a meaningful look. Nodding, they took a sip of their drinks in unison. The black man watched, shaking his head.
“Nope, y’all ain’t right.”
© 2014 Dellani Oakes