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"So, where are you now?" he asked.

"On my way out of town," she answered. "I'm sorry, but I promised Kevin that I wouldn't tell anyone where I was going."

"I understand. A very prudent precaution. I thank you for calling me, anyway. Your latest experiences have confirmed something I suspected yesterday. Take care of yourself, Caroline, and I will do what I can here."

He hung up.

Caroline stared at the phone for a moment, before returning to her previous seat.

What did Victor suspect? And what could the aristocratic blind man possibly do to stop her stalker? Glen seemed to think his boss was capable of helping her. Maybe he had some very good connections with some very resourceful people. She just didn't know.

It was three a.m. when her father picked her up from the airport. As she watched the street lights pass by, she hoped that Kevin's fishing trip would go well.

By the time Caroline had awaken in her old room, Nadine and Steve had arrived, and the whole family was in the living room waiting for her. No one felt up to cooking this morning, so a breakfast of orange juice and pastries was set out on the table. After assuring everyone that she was fine at the moment, she grabbed a bear claw and a glass of juice.

Her family let her finish the danish, before asking for the whole story. She started with Tom's death and ended with the dagger thrown at Kevin. She even told them about the music and the voice she heard in the dark. Nadine gave a shudder.

"Sounds like something supernatural," she said.

Caroline shrugged her shoulders and grabbed another pastry. "Either that or I'm losing my mind," she replied.

"Well, you're home now," stated Steve. "He can't get you here."

Caroline wasn't too sure about that.

The rest of Saturday was spent lounging in the backyard sipping lemonade, while her father grilled the fatted hamburgers and hot dogs. Her mother talked about her quilting club, Nadine talked about the students she was teaching in summer school, and Steve told Caroline about his plans for building a solid oak roll-top desk.

Caroline sighed happily as she relaxed in a lawn chair. She felt safe at her childhood home, far from her stalker's haunts. A black bird sat on a tree limb above, watching her. She smiled at it. It cocked its head to the side and chirped. She returned her attention to her family.

That evening, after Nadine and Steve had left, Caroline decided to treat herself to a soothing bubble bath. She hummed happily to herself as the scent of gardinas surrounded her. Finally, she drained the tub and stood up.

Pulling back the shower curtain to reach her towel, she was distracted by a flash of red. There, hanging on the hook that had been holding her bath robe, was a red, slinky, silk evening gown.

Caroline choked in shock and drew the curtain close.

This couldn't be happening. It was all in her mind....It was all in her mind....

Hold fast to this thought, she slowly opened the curtain again. The dress was gone and her robe was again on the hook. She quickly dried and robed herself. Back in her room, she pulled on a sweatsuit and huddled under her blanket.

"Caroline, are you okay?" asked her mother from the doorway.

"Yes, Mom," she lied, "I'm just very tired."

"Alright, dear," she said. "Sleep well."

Amazingly, Caroline did sleep well. So well, in fact, that her mother had to shake her awake.

"Oh, hi Mom," she mumbled sleepily.

"Caroline, he followed you!" Her mother's voice had a shrill edge on it.

"Huh?"

She sat up in bed and rubbed her eyes. Laying next to her was a red long-stem rose, with a piece of parchment tied to it by a red ribbon. She removed the note and read it, with her mother looking over her shoulder.

Next to you, my love, is where I should be.

"What are you going to do?" her mother asked.

"Go back to Dallas," Caroline answered.

"But, why?"

"Because this guy's a fruitcake and I don't want any daggers flying at my family," she explained. "The Dallas police are already working on the case. Why drag in anyone else?"

Her brother-in-law, Steve, wasn't convinced by Caroline's logic to return.

"Families should stick together in crisises," he insisted. "If this guy's as crazy as you believe, you shouldn't be alone in another city so far away."

"I'm not going to endanger my family," she stated, "and that's that."

"Not a chance!" exploded Steve. He turned around and addressed the air. "Listen! You sick bastard! Leave my wife's sister alone or I'll make sure you'll never send another rose to anyone!"

Out of nowhere, a flaming dagger flew pass Steve, barely missing him. As it hit the wall, the flames exhausted themselves, while deep, maniacal laughter filled the room.

Caroline grabbed the phone.

"Does anyone know the phone number for a taxi?"

Monday morning found Caroline back in Dallas, in Kevin's office. They found an apartment to put her up in, and assigned Officer Helen Dawson to her. A quick call to her boss and arrangements were made for a temporary leave from work.

That afternoon Caroline and Officer Dawson went to a local book store to pick up something for Caroline to read during her confinement. They returned to the apartment and settled themselves down in the living room. A quarter to four, the phone rang. Officer Dawson answered it.

"Dawson, here." She made noises of agreement for several minutes. "Right. I'll keep an eye out for anything unusual. Talk to you later."

"What was that about?" Caroline asked.

The police woman grimaced, "One of the maintenance men was found dead in your apartment, today. So far, this creep has committed two attempted murders, and at least two actual murders, if Detective Lewis' suspicions are correct."

"So, now my apartment's a crime scene. Which maintenance guy was it?"

"Jack Adams. Someone came up from behind and hit him at the base of his skull."

Caroline winced at the mental image of Jack's death. Then she slowly shook her head as tears started to trickle from her eyes. Officer Dawson came over and patted her shoulder.

"It's not right," she told the policewoman.

"Murder rarely is."

"But why me? Why did this psycho choose me?"

"I couldn't really tell you. Maybe you resemble someone they knew. Maybe he's someone you came across once and you said something nice when no one else would." Dawson shrugged. "Or maybe he just picked your name out of the phonebook."

"So, what do I do now?"

"Wait until we find this guy and put him away. There's nothing else you can do."

Caroline went to the bathroom and washed her face. Like it or not, she knew Dawson was right.

Tuesday, Kevin showed up with Mexican food lunch. Caroline sat quietly as he and Dawson talked shop. Finally, Kevin pulled something out of his pocket. Caroline looked at the small package in terror.

"It's not what you think," Kevin told her. "It's from your blind friend. Mr. Klueva came to the station this morning to ask about you. He asked me to give this to you. Nice guy, I checked him out, and he's clean as they come. So, I decided it couldn't hurt to give it to you."

Caroline took the gift, and removed the lavender floral paper from it. Inside the box was black silk scarf. As she rubbed the cloth between her fingers, a feeling of comfort and security went through her. She brought the scarf to her face and closed her eyes. Somehow, she no longer felt alone in this.

"Real silk?" asked Kevin.

Caroline nodded and handed the scarf to Kevin, so he and Dawson could feel it.

"Wow!" whistled Dawson, as she handed the scarf back. "Now, that's what I call a gift. Does he has a girlfriend?"

"Not that I know of," answered Caroline, "I don't usually ask my clients about their love lives."

"I'm in the wrong business," the policewoman muttered.

"Come on, Helen," chided Kevin. "Would you really want to trade your badge and gun for a silk scarf?"

Dawson broke out into the smile.

"No," she admitted, "but who says a girl can't have both?"

After the laughter died down, Kevin took off and Officer Dawson found a good movie on a cable channel. Caroline tied the scarf around her neck and went back to her book. The rest of the day went quietly, as did most of Wednesday.

After dinner, Caroline decided to take a long bath. As the water became cooler, she realized that she no longer heard the television from the living room. She dried herself quickly and pulled on her clothes. As an after thought, she grabbed the black scarf and put it around her neck. Cautiously, she opened the door and looked into the bedroom.

Fear clutched her heart, as Caroline saw the bed. Instead of the Navajo print comforter that was on the bed earlier, there was a red satin one, complete with satin sheets and pillowcases.

"Officer Dawson?" she called out. No one answered.

"Helen!" Again, no answer.

Caroline ran through the apartment trying to locate the police woman, but there was no sign of her. In terror, Caroline went to the front door. Try as she may, she couldn't get it open. Suddenly, the electricity went out, and the room became lit with red candles she knew were not there earlier.

"Caroline, Caroline," rasped a voice that sounded almost familiar. "You are making this more difficult than it needs to be."

There in the doorway of the bedroom, stood a man dressed completely in scarlet. His sandy colored hair shimmered in the candle light. Caroline went cold with shock.

"Joe?" she asked in disbelief. "You're the one doing this?"

He smiled, and with a small hand gesture, produced a red rose. "Come, my love," he said, "it is time for us to be together."

Caroline tried frantically again to get the door open, as Joe crossed the room. She turned to face him. A breeze from nowhere made the scarf at her neck flutter. He stopped, his face becoming distorted with rage.

"Get rid of that!" he ordered.

Caroline covered the scarf with her hand. Once more, she felt a sense of security from it.

"Never!" she hissed.

He raised his hand to strike Caroline, when the door behind her imploded into dust. She stumbled backwards out of the apartment, and into the arms of Victor Klueva. Before she could comprehend what was happening, she was handed to Glen, as Victor entered the apartment.

"What is going on?" she whispered.

"It's an old fight," Glen told her. "Been going on for centuries."

"Centuries?"

Glen watched the two men circle each other in the apartment.

"Yeah, centuries. The guy in red has been around since the Roman Empire. Caligula is what they called him back then. Of course, he had a different name when Victor first met him."

They ducked behind a car, as light and debris came shooting out of the window. More sounds and light came from the living room. Neither Caroline nor Glen made a noise as Caligula backed out of the apartment.

"So, Caroline," he called to her, "do you have any idea whose protection you have placed yourself under?"

"She knows I mean her no harm," answered Victor, from the doorway.

"Does she really," laughed Caligula. "No harm from the brother of Vlad the Impaler?"

"He didn't become that until you twisted his mind."

Caligula sneered, "He was one of my best students, but you insisted on interfering. Just like you interfered with Anna and I."

"Anna didn't want to marry you. She was afraid of you," Victor said. "I was not going to let my sister marry a monster."

"She loved me!"

"And that was why she threw herself out of the tower when you came for her? She didn't love you any more than Caroline does now."

"And do you really think the power you traded your eyes for will defeat me?"

"It will someday," stated Victor, "but as long as I can keep another woman from suffering Anna's fate, I will be satisfied."

With that, Victor made a gesture in the air and Caligula was encased in a ball of flame. Caroline watched as he screamed in agony and then disappeared.

"Is he gone for good?" she asked, as she and Glen went over to a weary Victor. Glen supported him with a shoulder as he shook his head.

"No, he escaped at the last moment, but I can make sure he won't bother you again. Give me the scarf and your hand."

Victor muttered a few words as he encased her hand in his. Energy sparkled and surrounded her.

"There," he said. "That should protect you."

"What are you going to do now?" she asked.

"I shall rest and then I will track him down again."

"Will I still be keeping track of your investments?"

Victor smiled, "If you wish."

"I don't make a living by losing clients."

"I don't suppose you could help me invest some of my money?" asked Glen.

Caroline laughed.

"Sure, come by my office, tomorrow."

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