Alan almost didn’t notice at first. He’d just told the officers there was nothing missing when the TV caught his notice and he moved towards it. He was still talking to them absently, telling them everything still seemed to be in order as he looked around the TV and then behind it.
“Is something wrong Mr. Ryder?” one of the police asked.
“Yes-, no. I don’t know. The remote’s gone.”
“The remote controller for the TV.”
The police came back over to him. “Are you sure you didn’t lose it yourself?”
“No, I don’t think. I used it yesterday. I’m fairly certain I put it back.”
They searched for another fifteen minutes. Holly, as she watched from the open doorway, suspected that the officers were not entirely convinced it was not simply misplaced, one of them pointing out it would be a very odd item for a an obsessed fan to steal if they were only going to steal one thing.
Once the officers left, Alan told Walsh in no uncertain terms that he was going home for the day, and then taking hold of Holly, led her off to the car.
He was very quiet as they drove and Holly felt reluctant to break the silence as well. So nothing was said until they reached his driveway and entered the house. Once inside he took hold of her hand and raised it to his lips before saying,
“Thank you for being here today. It helped.”
“I’m just sorry this happened and you’re so upset.”
He shook his head. “Come on. Let me show you the systems.” He took her over to the security panel set into the wall. “There’s a second one upstairs,” he added. “The code to turn it on is 56823, that’s the code for basically everything in the house, so once you’ve memorized that it’s easy.”
By the time Alan was done showing Holly the emergency exit, the safe room with the thick heavy door and given her the codes and password if security was triggered, she felt like she was suffering from system overload.
She collapsed onto the couch and sighed. “I don’t really see how I’m going to remember all of that.”
“You’ll get the hang of it. And I’m sure won’t actually need it, but it’ll make me feel so much better if you have it.”
Alan sat down next to her.
“Alan,” she said after a pause. “Why didn’t you tell me this Robin girl was sending you letters?”
He sighed. “I didn’t want to worry you.”
“Do you really think there’s something to worry about?”
“I honestly don’t know. Since she’s hasn’t been caught it’s impossible to judge what her mental state is. I haven’t wanted to use the ‘s’ word, partly because I’ve been afraid it’ll get into the press. But I don’t like how it’s involving. She’s broken into my trailer twice now and then this last time was just, different. And that worries me.”
“The ‘s’s word? What’s that?”
“I meant stalker. I haven’t wanted to label it that yet. But the letters, the break-ins. It’s definitely something and it concerns me.”
“Well the police are on it now, so I’m sure they’ll find her, you can get a restraining order and this whole thing will be done with.”
Alan nodded. “I hope so.”
“Is there something else worrying you?” asked Holly, looking at him intently.
There was heavy pause and then Alan nodded. “Yes. There is. About your birthday party and the fact that Peter was there.”
Holly let out a small noise of annoyance before she could stop herself. “He’s my friend Alan.”
“I know. I don’t-, I’m just worried about you.”
“About me?” she asked, frowning.
“Yes. He likes you. I can tell.”
“Well I like him too. He’s been a good friend.”
“I mean he likes you in another way.”
“I know he does.” Holly ran hand across her hair.
“Yes. He told me.” Holly looped her arm through Alan’s and leaned against him. “But I don’t like him like that and he knows it. We’re just friends.”
“He was jealous at the party.”
Holly laughed. “So were you! Don’t think I didn’t notice you getting particularly affectionate to me when he showed up.”
“You’re missing the point Holly. I know you have this whole none-of-my-business attitude when it comes to what happened to his wife. But someone killed her, and it’s not a coincidence that most people think it was him!”
Holly pulled away and shifted around on the couch to face him. “What are you trying to say?”
“I’m saying he killed his wife. I’m saying he killed her because he was jealous. Everyone knows this Holly. If they found the weapon he would have been convicted. And he loves you and he’s jealous of you.”
“You can’t honestly be suggesting he might try and-” Holly stared at him. “Are you actually really worried that Peter’s going to kill me?”
“I’m saying he’s a man it would be very unwise for you to be around. At least at the moment.”
“I just can’t believe that Peter would do anything to me.”
“Well that’s probably what his wife thought too,” said Alan, before standing up abruptly and walking away.