Eloise took a moment to recall everything William did to her in high school. She had purposely blocked most of the memories out, because she didn’t want to dwell on her past.
“I think the first thing that clued me in to having more than just a secret admirer was when I found notes in odd places,” she began.
“Such as?” Marcus asked, she thought about it.
“My gym locker at school. The gym lockers were separated by gender, and my admirer was sneaking the notes into the locker and between my clothes. The first time I found the note I took all my gym clothes out of my locker and washed them. I then started to carry around an extra bag to put my dirty gym clothes in. It had freaked me out that someone had touched my clothing. Sometimes I would find the notes tucked in my backpack, usually an outside pocket. I figured the person was sticking them there during class. I had four classes with William, all the main courses, math, science, history and English. He took band and I was in art class, along with learning Spanish as a second language.”
“When did you go to the police?”
“After the incident with my clothes. I spoke with our school resource officer and he told me to report it to the local police station. He told me it would give them a chance to record my statement and if other girls came to them with the same complaint, they could look closer into it. I did that and the officer who took my statement told me thank you and that there wasn’t enough for them to call this a stalker incident,” she explained, remembering the young man laughing it off.
“He’d told me it was probably a shy boy wanting to ask me to a dance or something and sent me on my way,” she added.
“When did you, Lola, get involved?”
“When I found one of the notes stuck to her bedroom window. It was a rare night for me to not be working a double shift as a waitress. Ellie was over at her friend Tina’s house and I went into her room to collect dirty laundry. Usually Ellie did her own, so I thought it would be a nice treat for her to come home to clean clothes. I saw the note taped to the window, reaching out I pulled it off and read it. I don’t remember exactly what it said, just something along the lines of missing seeing her sleeping peacefully next to her window every night,” Lola shared.
“What happened next?” Marcus asked, Eloise could see him piecing together everything with her current situation.
“I made her switch bedrooms with me, my room overlooked the parking lot and did not have a tree near it. I put up blackout curtains and we went to the police, I forced them to write up a case. We had extra patrols around our apartment building and her school, but nothing came of it. The notes were still being left, but in more creative places and then the gifts started to surface. I kept hounding the detective in charge of her case, he refused to really see it as important. He said until the stalker touched her in any way, it would be nearly impossible to pin anything on the culprit. When she was applying for schools, I encouraged her to go out of state, she went to a college in Colorado.”
“The notes stopped for the first two months of my time at college. I figured he had found someone else, a real someone to return his feelings. Then around Thanksgiving I came back to my apartment and there was a note and a little box of chocolate waiting for me. I freaked out and called my mom telling her what happened. She suggested getting the cameras, it took a little while for me to save up for one, but as soon as I had the money, I put it up. A week went by and I finally caught William on camera. I called my mom and she let me know his mother said he hadn’t applied to any colleges and had moved to Colorado for work. I stayed home one day and waited by my door. When I heard footsteps, I opened the door and there he was. I told him in no uncertain terms that I was not interested in being anything more than friends with him, and that he should find a nice girl who could love him for him. He apologized and walked away, I haven’t seen him since,” Eloise finished.
“Did you ever suspect it was William?” he asked, concern shining in his eyes.
“No, he was a nice kid. When he first arrived at our school he was picked on by others. I said hello to him and helped him find his classes. Whenever we walked past each other in the hallway I would make a point of saying hello to him, I could tell he was lonely. I worked for our local drive up, the ones where car hops come out to your car and take your order. He would come on my Friday night shifts and park in my section. I didn’t think anything of it, I always had regulars and some of them were other high school students. My best friend at the time Jenny and her boyfriend Kent would stop by on dates. Nothing William ever did set off red flags for me, until I saw him around my college, besides he never struck me as the shifter type,” she replied.
“Not all shifters fit in your idea of a shifter male. You’ve seen the difference between wolves, lions and bears. Did you ever suspect your principal of being a mountain lion?”
“No, I had no idea that Sheila was a shifter. I know coyote shifters are not as built as bears, lions or even wolves. Are there runt shifters?” she asked.
“Yes, there are always those who don’t get the preferred traits. Look at my brothers, I am the tallest and biggest of the five of us. The one thing all shifters have in common is their mate. Once they meet their mate there is no going to someone else. It sounds like he has decided you are his mate, whether or not that is true on your part doesn’t bother him,” Marcus explained.
“Then why now? I thought he’d forgotten about me or gotten over me,” she remarked.
“Sounds like he hasn’t forgotten. The pattern still fits, putting notes in odd places. Sneaking into intimate areas of your life to leave you a note. He moved to Virginia for a ‘job’ but do we really know what job he has?” Marcus asked, Joe raised his hand.
“I know he got a job working for a school system. His mother was so happy to see him working a full time job she boasted about it when she came into the restaurant,” he explained.
“Don’t suppose it is the White Valley Public Schools system?” Eloise made a guess and Joe scrunched his face in thought.
“That or Green Falls, something around that area,” he replied. Eloise paled and gripped the beanbag chair tightly in her hands.
“Fuck that bastard, why can’t he leave me alone!?” she demanded, hot angry tears streaming down her face. Marcus stood and crouched in front of her, he took her hands in his and squeezed. She couldn’t believe that William was still holding a candle for her after all these years. Thinking about it, she didn’t think she would be able to point him out in a crowd if asked. He must have changed a lot over the years for him to be walking around her town and school without her recognizing him.
“We are going to catch him and make him pay,” Marcus promised, placing a kiss on each of her hands.
“How?” she asked, her voice strained from the tears.
“When we get home, we set up a trap for him once school starts up again. I don’t think he will try anything until then, because he doesn’t have the guise of working for the school system to be around you,” he explained.
“I’ll talk to his mom and see if we can’t get a more up to date idea of what he looks like. Joe and I are flying out tomorrow night, we have plans with his family for New Year’s Eve,” her mom added. Eloise looked up to see the support of her family around her, she wouldn’t have to go through this alone. Even living far away from her mom, she had Marcus to help her along with her friends in White Valley. This time William would be put away and made to pay for his crimes, Marcus would make sure of it.
“Thank you, this has become bigger than I expected. I had hoped the stalker would go away, but now I see he won’t unless we stop him. Are you going to get Sheriff Ling involved?” she asked, looking into his eyes, she could see the look of determination in them.
“Yes, I want Cody on hand to arrest him the second he does reveal himself,” he answered, she leaned up and planted a hot fiery kiss on his lips. She needed to feel him tonight, needed to have his naked skin pressed against hers.
“I can see we need to step out. I’ll tell your mom you two wanted to talk more through your plans on how to catch William,” her mom offered, she smiled at her mother.
“Anything for my baby. I love you and you Marcus protect her with everything you have.”
“I will Lola,” he replied. She stared at him in surprise, it felt right for him to call her mom by her name.
“See you in the morning,” Joe said as they left the room. Marcus and Eloise made their way to the room they’d been sharing on the opposite side of the house.