Dixie was glad to be home, and she thought Louie was too. He was sticking to her like glue, even when she went to the bathroom. The terror he felt being chased and shaved must have been horrible. Being accosted by a crazy woman wielding a hunting knife was horrible as well.
“Who the heck chases people with a hunting knife? It was like something out of a bad horror movie,” she said to Louie. The bandage on her arm was a constant, itchy, reminder of her run in with Paulina. He looked at her with half-closed eyes and sat patiently on the edge of the bathroom sink. She looked at herself in the mirror and remembered something.
The one odd thing that she remembered was Paulina’s makeup when she attacked her. It had been almost perfect, which was saying something for a woman who had attacked a police officer, trekked through the woods, and then attacked her as well. If she wasn’t mistaken, Paulina had been wearing Beauty Maven Rosebud Pink lipstick too.
It reminded her of selfie addicts on social media. There were hundreds of women who spent most of their day chronicling everything they did on their cell phones by taking photos and videos of themselves. Was Paulina one of them, she wondered? Maybe she was chronicling the murders on her social media accounts, which would help with the investigation. It was worth mentioning to Harlan.
Dixie made her way into the kitchen and sat down at the kitchen table. She pulled her laptop out of the case and turned it on. Louie joined her and promptly walked across her keyboard.
“Louie! Stop it, buddy. You’ll mess up my computer,” Dixie said as she lifted the cat off her keyboard.
The small light at the top of the computer frame caught her attention. A horrible realization came to her, and she felt like a fool. She was the reason that Paulina had always been one step ahead of her, and the police, all along. The woman had seen everything she did, watched her vicariously through her computer, and Dixie hadn’t had a clue. At least until now.
Dixie slammed the computer shut and grabbed her cell phone.
“Officer Granger,” Harlan said, ignoring the caller ID. When he heard Dixie’s voice, he jerked to attention.
“It’s Dixie. I think I figured out how Paulina knew what we were doing, and how she found us at the cabin.”
“Really? How?” he asked, trying to suppress a yawn. His long work hours were taking a toll.
“My computer. Paulina was watching me through the camera on my computer. I never thought about it because I use it all the time. When I noticed the light on today, it jogged my memory. Remember that case a few years ago about a teenage girl who was stalked by a computer hacker? She left her laptop on in her bedroom all the time. Her stalker watched her get dressed and when she slept. It was creepy!” Dixie said, wrinkling her nose.
“Yeah, I remember. So you think that was what Paulina was doing?” Harlan asked, his eyebrows raised.
“It is worth looking into, and her social media accounts too,” Dixie said.
“I can have our tech people look at your computer to see if there are any remote access programs on it,” Harlan replied. “We also have a subpoena for Paulina’s house. I was just getting ready to go over to there.”
“If you want to pick my laptop up, it’s yours. As you know, I’m between cars right now,” Dixie said with a half-hearted laugh.
“Like I could forget,” he said. “Alright, I’ll send someone over to get it if I can’t get away myself.”
“I was hoping that you could get away,” Dixie said softly. The silence afterward was awkward, and she immediately felt like she should have kept quiet.
“I’ll see what I can do,” Harlan said quickly. “I’ll talk to you later,” and then he hung up.
“Oh boy Louie, I may have just stepped in it,” Dixie said. Louie jumped up on the kitchen counter and began to purr. “Poor little guy. Don’t worry; your fur will grow back,” she said, opening the bag of cat treats. Louie’s eyes grew large, and he tried to help her open the bag with an outstretched paw.
After Louie had settled into his old spot on the counter, Dixie made a fresh batch of sweet tea. She missed having real sweet tea during her stay at the cabin. Bottled tea was fine; it just wasn’t the same in her opinion. When she completed the task, she headed into the living room and sat down.
A big sigh escaped her as she sunk into the overstuffed couch pillows. It felt good to be home, and it was even better to be in a dust and draft-free living room. Before she had a chance to relax, the phone rang.
“Dixie, is that you?” Angie asked, her voice tinged with worry.
“Yes, it is me. I’m so tired by all of this, but at least it is over,” Dixie said.
“I sure hope so. Paulina is still in the hospital, though. I hope she’s handcuffed to the bed,” Angie said with a chuckle.
“Me too, Angie. I hope she spends the rest of her life locked up,” Dixie said, feeling spiteful. She didn’t want to be a hateful person, but Paulina had tried to kill her.
“Of course there will be a trial, and you may have to testify,” Angie said. “It might take a while to go to court, though.”
Dixie thought about that but didn’t care. It was doubtful that Paulina would get bail, so her life was no longer in any real danger.
“How do you think she knew where we were?” Angie asked. “Did the police give you any idea?”
“I’m pretty sure she was spying on me through my computer camera, and possibly my phone camera as well,” Dixie said.
“How do you figure?” Angie asked.
“Well, I saw the little camera light on my computer, but it didn’t click until this morning when Louie tried to lie down on my laptop. I use the camera when I have a conference call or when I’m talking to some of my younger customers. I must have left it on, and Paulina remotely connected to my computer,” Dixie replied.
“But how? What is she, a computer genius?” Angie asked, surprised.
“No, not a genius. Anyone can learn how to do stuff like that on the internet,” Dixie said. “If she had my email address she could have accessed my computer, learned my IP address, and practically anything else she wanted to know. The same was true about my camera phone. I feel icky just thinking about her watching me and listening in on my conversations.”
“Does the internet tell people how to make bombs?” Angie asked, her eyebrows raised.
“Unfortunately, yes, that includes bombs. Any moron can learn how to make one, including Paulina,” Dixie replied. “I hope she didn’t learn how to break out of prison online.”
“Not funny Dixie, not funny. Lord, I hope she didn’t learn anything like that. I highly doubt it, though,” Angie said, shaking her head.
“I hope not either,” Dixie said.
For a moment, she felt a small wave of panic and worried at the possibility of Paulina getting out of jail. Paulina was a stone-cold killer, though, and no jury would have mercy on someone who killed little old ladies, bombed cars, and had tried to kill a cop.