SHADOW

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CHAPTER 40

BEFORE GOING TO his home, Parker took Julie to a cozy restaurant in a high-end shopping mall up in town where they unwound for a couple of hours, had some ice creams and snacks to lighten the mood.

The ambience was positively energetic, with pop music serenading the shoppers and diners and passersby. But it all added up to making Julie feel better presently, getting her mind off the stalker episode back at the lingerie store.

The time was almost 8 p.m. when Kamil Parker opened the door to his home and ushered Julie into the living room with a smug smile on his face, spreading out his arms proudly as he encouraged her to kick off her shoes and feel at home.

“Because for the rest of the evening,” he said, “we’ll be all by ourselves, no one to bother us.”

She raised her brows and eyed him curiously. “Really? Not even your parents?”

“Outta town tonight, coming in tomorrow,” he announced, feeling like a hero.

“Oh, I see,” Julie remarked casually. Then lowering her stare slyly, she folded her hands across her chest and said, “And you’re sure I won’t find any girl lurking around somewhere?”

He raised both his hands in mock surrender, grinning. “Search me, J.”

She smiled thinly, letting her bag slip onto the chair beside her as she moved up against him, edging into his broad chest. “Now, that’s so reassuring, Kamil.” And she kissed him, pulled back to taste her lips and said, “So what’s the plan for the rest of the evening, Lover Boy?”

With his hands still wrapped around her waist and a lustful grin on his face, he said, “Well, let’s see. There’s food, lots of champagne I can borrow from my dad’s shelve, and I’m sure he won’t mind. Then there’s also good music to set the mood.”

She smiled in a sultry manner, looking at him. “The mood?”

Parker paused for a moment. Then his smile broadened.

They didn’t hit the bed upstairs before the smooching and moaning began in earnest. They both seemed like they were on fire and nothing could matter at that point. Nothing could douse the flame of their rising lust; they had to do it, had to consummate their passions like the sex-starved teenagers they were.

And then–

Julie froze in utter surprise when she felt the familiar wetness down her thighs.

Oh, no! Not now! Bad timing–

By this time she was down to her thin, lacey underpants and he was already fondling her small breasts, crawling all over her; kissing and caressing her, oblivious that the fun was about to be cut short. Then he noticed how suddenly frigid she’d become.

“What?” he asked quietly.

She paused, knowing how hard he was going to take it when she told him. She did, anyway, and Kamil Parker almost exploded with disbelief.

“No way!” he swore. “That’s cruel!” He, too, was already down to his boxers, and the fire was raging in his belly.

Julie chuckled lightly, seeing how pathetic he looked. Then she shrugged, kissed him kindly on his lips and then got up from the bed with a gentle sigh. “I need to go clean myself up,” she told him, and added, “Cheer up, Kamil.”

Parker climbed off the bed, fussing like a little boy. “Damn!” he swore again. He walked her to the bathroom door and stepped aside for her to go in and sort herself out. Julie hesitated, staring at him standing in front of the open door.

“Will you?” she asked uncertainly, hinting at some privacy.

Parker sulked some more before stepping back so she could shut the door. “It’s not fair,” he called out good naturedly. “You owe me.”

She laughed. “I know. It’ll only be on for a few days, Kamil. You can wait, can’t you?”

“Uh…I’m not sure about that, really.”

Julie laughed again, knowing he was only playing with her. She took a minute to clean herself up, stuff herself with some tissue paper because she had no sanitary pad at hand, and then she straightened out her jeans. Then she got in front of the mirror to check out her appearance, to make sure her makeup and hair were all in order, only for her to start suddenly and shrink back, a scream rising in her throat that died down as soon as it got to her lips.

Rather than her own reflection at first, what she saw in the darkened mirror was a grotesque, dreadful image that instantly filled her with horror. But it was there only for a split second, vanishing before she could start to comprehend.

Julie caught her breath, wondering if it was her mind overreacting. Because, as she thought about, she realized with awe that the reflection she saw in the mirror, even if for a moment, was that of the person in the shade of trees that afternoon, staring at her in a way that menaced her. It was an awkward, surreal thing to experience, whether the image was a figment of her mind or not.

It was frightening and bizarre, and Julie remained rooted to the spot for a long moment, until Parker hurried into the bathroom, staring about curiously.

“What happened, J?” he asked her. “I thought I heard you scream.”

Julie hesitated before answering. “It’s nothing,” she said, but her countenance still seemed flushed. “I thought I saw something.”

“Saw something” He stepped further into the bathroom, fixing her with an amused stare. “A spider?”

She grinned nervously. “Yeah, right; very funny, Kamil.”

“A ghost, maybe?” he asked, and he laughed softly, taunting her.

She didn’t laugh. And she still looked tensed, especially when he mentioned the word, ‘ghost.’

The bathroom was suddenly envelope in total darkness, and Julie shrieked, alarmed. Then she became upset when she realized that it was Kamil Parker who’d turned off the light deliberately, to panic her. He switched the light back on, recoiling in laughter to see the stoned look on her face.

“My! You are afraid of ghosts, aren’t you?” he laughed hard. “Wish you could see the look on your face just now.”

Julie punched him on his arm, hard. “Well, it isn’t funny, Kamil!”

He laughed some more, and then tripped the switch again.

Click.

On, off.

Off, on.

“Would you stop it!” she retorted quietly.

Then the lights refused to come on. The bathroom remained in perpetual darkness. Kamil Parker clicked the switch several more times but nothing happened. He cursed, frowning. And then in a moment’s outburst, he pounded the switch with his fist, damaging it altogether.

Standing in front of him, Julie sighed in exasperation and shook her head. “Now look what you’ve done, Kamil. Damn it; you broke the switch,” she reproved him.

“Relax, J,” he said, fussing again. “I’m gonna fix it.”

In the shade of the semi-darkness that enveloped them then, Julie thought she saw an imperceptible movement behind Parker. She froze and stared hard to be sure that she wasn’t mistaken. Then she took a grave step backwards, lifting her hand to point at the wall behind him, her eyes wide in terror and her countenance instantly pale.

“What?” Parker asked impatiently.

Her voice was a thin, mortified whisper when she spoke. “There’s something…”

“Yeah, right. Got me”

He snorted, waving the thought aside casually. Then he clicked the switch again and the light caught, came on and brightened the bathroom.

“There you go,” he said. “Told you I could fix it.” He turned around to see what was there, and then he turned back to face Julie. “What was it you were saying?”

But Julie Sanderton still seemed pale and terrified, her thin breath coming in tensely as she kept staring beyond him.

“What’s up with you, Julie?” he nearly blurted

Then the light went out with a quiet spiff that startled Julie.

“Now what…,” Parker was saying, feeling exasperated, when his ears caught the sound of a low yet hideous sigh in the bathroom. He stopped and started to turn around, just as a pair of ghoulish looking hands popped out from behind, grabbed and winched him into the mirror on the wall the same way a rat might drag a morsel through a crack, his terrified, high-pitched cry abruptly ending the moment he vanished completely from sight.

Although, and quite strangely, the glass did not crack and there were no signs that a physically massive object, like a person, had gone through it, the smooth surface of the glass began to drip with blood as though from a burst pipe. Then a series of cracks began to spread quickly across the surface of the mirror like ice sheets cracking under pressure. The next instant, the mirror exploded, spewing splintered glass and a great gush of blood all over the bathroom floor and wall.

Julie seemed like she’d gone mad then, almost clawing at her own face and shrieking terribly to stir everyone in the whole neighborhood. And drenched in blood, she bolted out of the house, shrieking all the way till she got out into the street and nearly got run over by a speeding taxi.

But the driver applied the brakes just in time, and then swore in alarm, staring with disbelief at the girl on the street covered in blood when it wasn’t even Halloween yet.

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