Last time the man who called himself John Roberts was here, he waited until her back was to him. Then he took the pen off the counter and slid it into his pocket. Later, he sat in his car in the darkened parking lot, and he slid the pen along his lips. Between them. Thinking of Gabie. And of Gabie’s fingers and lips.
“You know what I like,” he says, thinking that Gabie doesn’t know the half of it.
Her eyes have dark circles under them, as if she hasn’t been sleeping well. With any other girl - on Kayla, for instance - it would make her look less pretty. But with Gabie, the shadows just make her brown eyes look darker and more mysterious. He could lose himself in them. He could just look and look at her.
“Well, I know you’re a vegetarian,” she says. “And that you’ll probably want a root beer to go with them.”
“Right again.” Everyone knows that he doesn’t eat meat. It was one of the reasons he called in the order that he did the night he called himself John Roberts. Three large Meat Monsters meant the authorities were probably looking for more than one guy. Guys who liked lots of meat. They weren’t looking for one quiet vegetarian guy with round glasses.
“And to eat here?” she says, enjoying their game. Thinking that she’s winning it. But she doesn’t even know about the real game they are about to play.
Behind her, the cooler door opens, and one of the guys who works at Pete’s emerges carrying a stainless steel container full of pale grated cheese. Hearing him kick the door closed, Gabie turns with a smile.
It’s the sight of that smile - fuller and somehow realer than the smile she gave him - that makes the man who called himself John Roberts a little bit annoyed with her. He is the customer. She should be giving him her full attention. But instead she is nearly flirting with this boy, this, this lout, and right in front of him, and that makes him want to hurt her, if only a little bit.
“I’m sorry about your friend,” he says. “Kayla Cutler. Have they found her body yet?”
Gabie’s face goes pale and she bites her lip. She looks even more pretty, if that’s possible.
“No.” She gives her head a shake, her bangs falling in her eyes. “No.”
He feels the grin welling up in him. She has no idea. She has no idea that Kayla is alive, at least as long as he allows her to be.
She has no idea that Kayla will have to die to make room for her.