Chapter One

August brought a heat that promised sticky nights after burning days. 

Lora walked slow, measured steps. Guided by the orange streetlights, no real destination in mind. Wandering for the sake of movement. 

It's crazy how silent suburbia is at night. The silence wrapped her in its comfort of anonymity. There were no questions, no lies. Just the gentle scraping of gravel from her footsteps as she walked farther into the city. Houses turned into apartments and stores. The lights got closer together and yet felt dimmer. 

When Lora came upon the familiar small park, she sat on a bench closest to the fountain. With no one else around, she pulled out her sketchbook. 

She'd been working on a drawing of the fountain sporadically over the summer. Whenever her feet would drive her to the bench, she'd pull out her sketchbook and try to translate what her eyes see to the paper. The fine, curved lines, the slightly worn lettering that still proudly displayed the name of the small city she lived in. 

A muffled rustle pulled her out of her smudging. She glanced to her left, towards the unusually thick bushes in between the trees. A split seconds hesitation, then she was putting everything away into her worn messenger bag. The first rule of wandering at night is to never ignore your instincts, and hers were rapidly firing off with warning signals. 

Throwing one last look over her shoulder, she started making her way back home. She wasn't aimless now; she was wary and alert. 

But somehow she missed him. He was tall, and she almost ran directly into him. Tall, dark clothes, and standing with the streetlight to his back so she couldn't make out anything discernable. 

"Come here often?" His voice was an oil slick, entirely too smooth

"Yea." She brushed passed him, discreetly checking behind her to make sure she wasn't followed. 

But he wasn't following her. It was strange. He didn't move from the spot he was in under the streetlight. He appeared to be facing her direction but she couldn't  be sure. 

She moved much more quickly towards home. 


The next morning, as she was still getting ready for work, she flipped on the news hoping they'd report a break in the ridiculous heat laying waste to the small town. 

While trying to tame her hair enough that it could be put in a bun, she was suddenly frozen. 

Body found in Ellicott Park this morning. 

Time of death is estimated between midnight and 4am. 

No witnesses. No leads. 

The wheels were turning. Could that guy have had something to do with that? Should she call the police? 

And tell them what, exactly? She saw a tall guy standing outside the park right around when someone was supposedly murdered? If that made him suspicious, it made her suspicious too. 

But she couldn't shake the feeling that he was somehow involved. 

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