Holly took a step towards her cellphone when suddenly the figure appeared in the doorway. She turned towards it.
For one second she thought she must have been mistaken. Whoever had broken in wasn’t Alan’s stalker. And then it clicked. Robin. They’d both just assumed…but Robin wasn’t just a girl’s name.
The man standing in the doorway looked decidedly the worse for wear. His hair was long and scraggly. He appeared to be in his early twenties but it was a little hard to tell. His skin was blotchy and a large rash covered one half of his face. One of his hands kept tapping his left leg over and over again.
Holly froze, glancing between the man and her phone, trying to figure out the best course of action.
She was surprised to hear him say her name.
“Miss Woods?” the man repeated, his voice excited and eager.
She ran a hand across her hair. “Hello?” Hello? A stalker breaks into the house and you say hello to him?, she snapped at herself mentally.
“I’m so sorry for just coming in like this but I so wanted to meet you. You know him. You know Alan?”
“Um, well…yes?” she tried to take a small sideways step in the director of her cellphone.
“I know he’s gone,” the man began to pace excitedly. “I want to meet him but I’m scared. I’ve looked up to him for so long. He’s everything. Everything….everything anyone would want to be. An idol. And I’m just not sure I could stand it. Stand to be right there in front of him. And I know…I know…when I called this morning and I heard your voice I just knew you’d be here tonight. Away from those paparazzi. Pathetic men. Always bothering him, they don’t understand he needs to be left alone so he can create. He’s so good at creating.”
He stopped pacing and turned to her, as if expecting her to say something. She nodded weakly. “Yes he is a…good actor.”
“More than that!” he said firmly. “He helps. He volunteered at the shelter three years ago. He donates to countless charities. He is so…good.”
He was pacing again, and Holly chanced another step towards the phone.
It occurred to her how wrong they’d been in understanding those letters. They hadn’t been lovelorn notes form an obsessed fan. They were letters written to a hero, a man the writer looked up. To a deeply unhealthy degree yes, but still it wasn’t romantic love, it was respectful obsession.
None of which helped right now. This man…or boy…, as she watched him she realized he could be a young as eighteen. He’d clearly lived hard, and it made him look older, but his eyes seemed almost youthful. Whatever his age he was clearly unbalanced. She took another step.
“But you can tell me. You can tell me what he’s like. You can tell me what makes him tick. You must understand him. Deeply and personally. Because only someone who really knew him would he let marry him. And you are going to be married?” He turned on her abruptly and she froze again. “I saw the tabloids.”
“Yes,” she said simply. The shorter he responses the less chance she had to set him off.
Robin seemed to relax a little and returned to pacing. “Then you can tell me. The more I know you see, the better I can become.”
“Become?” she asked suddenly, confusion overcoming her initial plan to remain silent.
“Become like him,” he said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “He is a man. My father always said I had to learn to be a man. And Alan is. In every way. Don’t you know that?” he said, alarm in his voice. “Don’t you know what he’s-, what are you doing?”
Holly froze. Inches from her cellphone. She met Robin’s eyes. For a second they both stood there, staring at each other. His gaze then slowly slid down towards the table and landed on the phone.
It happened quickly. Robin surged forward. She leapt for the phone. Her fingers closed around it and she made a dash to the side to avoid him. She tried to change her momentum in the last second to move closer towards the hall. He changed course as well, cutting diagonally towards her.
Her subconscious assessed the situation much quicker than her thoughts did. While her mind was screaming at her to get to the hall, her subconscious saw him closing in and knew he was going to overtake her. Before she could think better of it she threw the only thing she had at hand, her cellphone, with all her force, right at his eye.
He let out a cry of pain and it briefly halted him, as he raised a hand to his face. It was just enough time for her to make it to the doorway. She glanced towards the front door, and calculated the few seconds it would take to unlock and open it. In her peripheral vision she saw Robin feet away and rejected the front door as a possible escape. She ran down the hall in the opposite direction.
She yelled inwardly as she dashed past the stairs. She should have gone up to the safe room. It was too late now. He was too close for her to backtrack. She continued down the hall. The door to Alan’s office was up ahead. She could lock the door and call for help. Further down the hall was the backdoor. If she made it out to the yard, she could run around the house towards the front gate and the guard.
She sensed rather then saw Robin gaining and that decided her. She dashed into the office and slammed the door behind her, fumbling for the key and turning it. A fraction later there was a thud against the door.
Shaking and breathing heavily, she backed into the room.
She heard yells and curses from the other side of the door, and then the nose of more thuds against it. The door shook.
Holly turned quickly towards the desk and ran towards it. She picked up the phone and reached out a hand to dial when her eyes fell on the safe.
The gun. If she could get the gun-
She frowned at the keypad. The only darn thing in the whole house Alan hadn’t given her the code for. But, then he had said 56823 was the code to almost everything in the house. The security system, the panic room, even one of his cars.
There was another, louder thud against the door, and she thought she heard wood cracking.
She knelt down in front of the safe. Her hand shook violently as she tried to press the first number.
“Come on Holly,” she snapped. “Just focus…” She entered the five digit code and held her breath. For one brief moment she thought she’d guessed wrong and then there was a click. She pulled the safe door open, rummaged through and grabbed the gun. She rose to her feet and turned, just as there was a final thud, the frame cracked and the door opened.
Automatically she raised the gun and fired.
“911, where’s your emergency?”
“Hello? I-…need help; I just…shot an intruder.”
“Where are you at mam?”
“He’s alive, I just shot him in the shoulder but there’s a lot of blood. Please, we need an ambulance quickly!”
“Please mam, you have to tell me where you’re at?”