Not wanting to be that foolish fiction female, the one that doesn’t call the cops when they should, I’d called Sinful Sterling as soon as the shock had worn off, which was after I’d dashed into the house, slammed and locked the door behind me, and dropped the note on my kitchen counter as though it carried the plague. Sinful didn’t answer, so a detailed voicemail it was. Okay, maybe not detailed, exactly, as much as it was frantic. Whatever.
Careful not to touch the note again, I pinned it down on the counter with an empty glass, and then paced around the kitchen for a while. Finally, I ran upstairs to grab a quick shower. For some reason, I just felt dirty after the morning’s bizarre events, and I figured the hot water would be soothing. Slipping into a pair of well-worn jeans and a loose-fitting tank top, I was trying to decide whether I should start working on my date-night makeup or call Fred to cancel, when the doorbell rang.
“You changed,” stated Sterling after I opened the door. Suspicion dripped from every word. I stared at him in confusion. He looked rumpled, hot, and smelled vaguely of pipe smoke. Odd, I was pretty sure he didn’t smoke. Wait, what did he say?
“Um, yeah. I’ve got a date tonight, although I’ll probably cancel, and I didn’t really want to go in the first place, but, warm water is soothing, so there’s that, and besides, I just felt…gross after everything that’s happened today.” I was rambling. His expression softened slightly, and he looked sympathetic. Then he closed up, and his eyes got hard. “May I come in?” That was odd. What did I say?
“Yes. Please. I’m a little freaked out.” After he stepped in, I closed the door, locked it, and checked the porch through the peephole. Turning back to Sinful, I caught a glimpse of confusion on his face. “The note is in here.” I gestured toward the kitchen, and he nodded for me to lead the way.
“What the hell, Persephone?” he exclaimed, after running into me. I’d stopped when I realized we had a problem. A big problem. I turned to face him.
“Sterling, it’s gone. It’s gone! He’s been in my house!” Sinful’s grip on my arms was hard, and he shook me slightly.
“Persephone, slow down. Take a breath. Look at me. Look at me, now.” Slowly, I met his gaze, as a tear slid down my cheek. “What’s going on?”
“I don’t know. I swear, I don’t know. But Sterling, the note was right there.” I pointed to the counter. “The glass was holding it down. You can see the glitter on the counter. It was there when I went upstairs.” Eyes squeezed shut, I whispered, “Someone was in my house. While I showered. He was here.” Freaked out did not even begin to describe my mental state right now. Sterling’s arms came around me, and suddenly I was sobbing into his shoulder. After a few minutes, he managed to ease me onto a kitchen stool, and handed me a paper napkin from the counter. I snuffled into it for a minute. He laid his palm on my cheek, his thumb wiping the wetness from under my eye. Sterling took a deep breath, and I knew I wasn’t going to like what he had to say next.
“Persephone, I have to ask. Is there any proof that the note existed? All I see is glitter, and that’s a problem.” Closing my eyes, I counted to ten, and then twenty. “Look at me, please.” One deep, shuddering breath later, I met his gaze.
“I know you have to ask Sterling. I also know I don’t have to like it. Yes, there is proof.” I pulled my phone out of my back pocket, and opened the gallery application. “You can scroll through them yourself,” I said, and handed him the device. He kept my hand in his for an extra second as he took the phone, and then he began swiping through the last few photos.
After I’d put the glass on the note, I’d taken a few photos—one of the whole note, and a couple close-ups of the letters. The note would become evidence, and I wanted time to study it. My phone was with me in the bathroom while I showered, because I used it to play music. Who knew those photos would become the only proof of the note’s existence? More important, who was determined to make it disappear?