The drive home was long, but Sandra felt as if she should only be pulling out of the grocery store lot instead of into the underground parking of her apartment building. She was in what could only be described as a quasi-trance state, thinking about anything and everything that could go right or wrong with this.
Her life had been far too normal for far too long for this to be happening to her. But it was happening. And she wasn't normal. It would be too easy for her to slip back into her past life doing this, and she contemplated not meeting Garith tonight at all. That wasn't an option, of course, because no amount of willpower alone would stop whoever wanted her dead. She would meet him, regardless of his intentions and whether or not it would send her spiralling backward into a life she had hoped was in the past.
Time passed quickly once she was at home, and the first time she looked at the clock it read 22:00, only an hour before her meeting with Garith. Sandra's gaze shifted from the clock to her own naked form reflected by a Queene Anne vanity mirror. What she saw was exactly what she felt; a beautiful woman, and one with something more sinister than skeletons in her closet. And not only in her closet, but they were everywhere; under the bed, behind the mahogany bureau, and in darkness of the deep storage room waiting ever so patiently for their chance to surge out from these places and reclaim her life.
Her eyes fell to her navel where a small, barely perceptible scar existed. The scar marked where the implant that Garith had her fitted for was surgically installed. It was long ago removed at her request, but she couldn't help but think that she should have kept it. If she knew Garith as well as she thought she did, it would come in useful before this was over.
When she and he parted, it hadn't been a requirement that she give the implant back. Her own paranoia had led her to believe that it might have some sort of tracking functionality. In hindsight, it was a stupid decision. Garith had no problem finding her anyway.
She searched the mess of clothes strewn about her bedroom floor and managed to find a pair of jeans and tank top that weren't wrinkled. She slipped into them, looked into the mirror again, then headed out the front door.
Paranoia had got to her again in the underground parking garage. Her own quiet footsteps and the barely audible sound of her jeans rubbing together at the thigh were the only sounds, and there was no movement anywhere inside that she could see, but she felt a presence. Something always just out of her line of sight, or something hiding in one of the many deep shadows that plagued this place. She walked hurriedly to her car, got in, and locked the door.
After almost bumping three other automobiles in her haste, and waiting for what must have been the slowest garage door ever to exist to finish its cycle, she sped out of the underground parking and began making her way to the Dollar Dragon.
The sky had faded to a deep blue, though the street lights provided sufficient light for her to see the Dollar Dragon lot was vacant but for a small lime-green coupe parked across two stalls. It was something Garith would never drive, though not because it was a hideous creation but because Garith would have no use for it. The car belonged to someone else, and the car would remain there until discovered by police. She knew this because she saw a familiar glow of a color indescribable on the far side of the car; the driver was as good as dead. Sandra arrived early as she always has, and Garith had arrived even earlier.