The woman at the front desk was all smiles this time. He returned her gesture and tried to make his end of the exchange more flirty than friendly.

As he left the office he could feel her eyes on him. He pushed the lighted down arrow button for the elevator and glanced back into the office before the heavy door closed. She had gone back to work. She reminded him of how bad he missed being in a relationship.


It was just as bad leaving Norfolk as it was trying to get in. The only interstate out was congested and riddled with road repairs. There were four working lanes and two more under construction. Traffic did, however, finally get a little better the farther away from downtown he drove. There was some breathing room at least for the next ten miles until he reached the beach traffic. As he drove past the hotel where the shooter could have been, he couldn't help the feeling of being watched again. To make matters worse he had to stop at the traffic signal directly in front of the hotel for what seemed to be five minutes. Plenty of time, he thought, for a few more stray bullets to fly.

He made it by the hotel and lived to tell about it. Pulling his Jeep around to the side parking lot of his building, he noticed the same portly man with the metal detector out on the beach. He wondered if the man ever found anything worth keeping. The strong morning sun was shining brightly on the group of bullet holes in the doorjamb. John had to pass by them on his way in. For some reason, he had no feeling about them. It was something that happened in the past and there was nothing he could do about it now. He wasn't giving up, he was just trying to free up his mind to concentrate on other things, such was finding the party responsible before the next group of holes were in him.

He dropped his briefcase in one of the empty chairs and pushed the flashing red button on his answering machine. To his surprise, the first message was from Joyce Burack, his ex-girlfriend. She sounded a lot more easy going these days as she asked what he was doing with himself. John nearly fell out of his chair when she asked if they could meet for lunch some time in the next few weeks. He was shocked. Of all the messages he hoped to get, hers wasn't even on the list. Was she just lonely or did she really want to get together and talk? He told himself not to overly analyze everything and call her back while the fire was hot. He pressed the save button.

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