What to do if you discover your next door neighbor is transporting illegal aliens—that are really aliens—run like hell!
Rachel isn’t sure of what, exactly, is going on under her nose, but she’s convinced her sexy neighbor, Chance, is up to no good. The cops are no help. They’re convinced Rachel is just a nosey neighbor and it’s all her imagination. When she takes on the job of investigating herself, though, she discovers that it’s just better sometimes NOT to know what your neighbor is up to!
Word Count: 40,974
Genre: Sci-Fi/Futuristic/Fantasy Romance
Available formats: PDF, RTF, Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)
© Cover Art by Mariah LaMott, August 2013
New Concepts Publishing
Lake Park, GA 31636
This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author's imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.
Rachel wrung her hands as she sat on the cool metal bench in the waiting room of the police station. After fighting an inner battle with herself for two hours that morning, she had driven the short distance to the brick building downtown to … what? She still didn’t really know what she was going to do. Tattle on her neighbor? Ever since her neighbor had moved in she’d been feeling … suspicious. There was something not quite right about the whole situation. She didn’t know what, exactly, it was that just didn’t seem to ‘fit’, but something didn’t, and it made her uneasy.
A door hinge squeaked and a man dressed all in navy blue called out her name.
She let out a deep breath as she stood and moved towards the door that led to the back rooms. She really needed to get over her sixth grade feelings that she was being a worrywart tattletale. That was what they used to call her—as if she was the one in the wrong and she should’ve just ignored the fact that they were doing something shouldn’t! Rachel shrugged internally, trying to shake off the sense of guilt that was plaguing her and moved through the door and to the room where the detective signaled.
The chair squeaked as she sat down on the cushion and the air released from the seat, as if she’d broken wind. It rattled her. She felt her face heat with embarrassment.
“I’m Detective Orwitz. You’re here because of a neighborhood issue?” he said without looking at her, shuffling through a notebook to find an empty page.
“Well, yes,” she began and then paused. Where should she start? Should she talk about her conviction that her new neighbor that was obviously hiding something? She wasn’t sure what he was hiding, but she sensed there was something about him that he was covering up.
“First, I need your name.”
The question jolted her. Hadn’t he already called her name when she was in the waiting room? “Rachel Fuller.”
He wrote it down. “Birthday?”
She wasn’t sure why he needed that information, but she gave it to him anyway.
“Do you live alone?”
“What?” she demanded. “What does that matter when I’m here to report suspicious activity?”
“Do you have suspicious activity in your neighborhood?” he asked and sat back in his chair and finally looked at her.
“Well, yes, or else I wouldn’t be here. There is something strange going on in the neighborhood,” she began and took a breath before continuing. “It all started when this man moved in to the apartment next door. He…”
“Is he a handsome man?” Detective Orwitz asked. He wore a smirk on his face that Rachel didn’t like. Was he making fun of her?
“Well … I … I don’t know,” she stammered. Her neighbor wasn’t ugly, by any means, but was he handsome with his mysterious ways? She certainly wasn’t going to tell the police she thought her neighbor might be handsome, if he didn’t dress like such a nerd all the time.
“I imagine that he caught your attention when he moved in, seeing as how you live alone in the neighborhood,” he said and made some notes on the paper. She frowned. She didn’t remember telling him she lived alone.
And she hadn’t told him anything yet. What was he writing down?
She sat up straight and tried to read what he’d scribbled on the legal pad. He looked up and saw what she was doing and quickly moved his arm over the paper so she couldn’t read his notes.
Rachel hunched back down in to her chair. “He’s alright to look at, but I never studied him close enough to consider if he was handsome or not. But ever since…”
“But you studied him enough to know he is doing something illegal in the neighborhood?” The detective scrawled another sentence on the paper.
What was he writing? She wanted to know! “I don’t know if he’s doing anything illegal or not. I wanted to come down here and tell you about my suspicions, in case there was anything else going on and you needed to know.”
Detective Orwitz studied her and she began to feel uncomfortable. She suddenly felt like she was back in sixth grade, when the teacher told her to quit making up stories about what happened at recess. But Rachel hadn’t made up any stories. She just told the teacher what she thought she saw on the playground. She finally quit telling the teacher what she saw because no one ever believed her anyway.
Rachel shook her head and brought herself back to reality. “I just have this feeling when I see him out at night – and he’s wearing sunglasses – that something isn’t right. He looks like he’s sneaking away with something.”
“Are your TV shows on today,” the detective asked as he studied her with a smug expression?
“My shows? I don’t watch TV,” she said with defiance. Did he think she watched detective shows on TV and was trying to make up her own?
“Ooooh,” he said, as if her answer explained a lot. “What do you do then when you aren’t watching the neighborhood for suspicious people?”
Rachel felt her face heat, partly from discomfort and partly anger at the sarcasm she thought she detected in his tone. “Uh, I have things to do, you know. I work at the library and I read a lot of books—books about real life, not the fiction stories. I know what happens out in the world,” she said with bluster. Was he saying she didn’t have enough to do and was making up stories?
“How long have you worked at the library? Do you interact with people there or just the books?” The detective scribbled some more notes on to his paper and that made her angrier.
“Why are you asking me questions that don’t have anything to do with what is going on in my neighborhood? The library is across town. It has nothing to do with what is going on by my apartment. Don’t you want to know what is happening in my area?” she asked. So much for the police wanting to protect and serve those that lived in their jurisdiction! This man was simply asking irrelevant questions.
“Well, so far you’ve told me the only suspicious activity going on is that you have a new neighbor who wears his sunglasses at night. Not so suspicious to me, yet. Does he have some kind of eye or skin condition where he needs to wear these glasses?” he asked.
“I don’t know! I don’t even know the man. He only moved in a few weeks ago. With very little boxes, I might add,” she said under her breath.
“You watched him move in then?” Detective Orwitz asked.
Why was he trying to make it sound like she was the one who was acting suspiciously and not her neighbor? “I was at home on the day he moved in, so yes I saw him moving boxes in to his apartment.”
“Did you call in sick to work that day just so you could watch him?” he asked and furiously scribbled notes.
“No!” she said with determination. She wrung her sweaty hands together again. This was getting her nowhere! Why had she decided to come in this morning and seek help, anyway? How were they going to help when they weren’t asking the right questions to begin with?
The detective tapped his pen on the table and thought for a minute. He seemed to be reviewing his notes, which Rachel was trying to interpret from seeing upside down.
“So, you just happened to be home and notice he only carried in a few boxes that day. Did the boxes have any peculiar marking on them? Were they labeled with anything sinister?”
There was the sarcasm again, just when she’d begun to think he was taking her seriously! “Not that I know of. I didn’t just watch him all day. I was cleaning my apartment and doing the laundry since it was my day off,” she replied, remembering what she was doing that day. Her first instinct was that her neighbor wasn’t the nerd he was trying to present himself as. He dressed like one, granted. But the competent swagger to his walk just didn’t seem to fit.
“Do you have cats in your apartment?” Orwitz asked suddenly. He stopped and glanced at her quickly as if this question was really important.
Rachel thought she heard a chair scrape outside of the interview room door. Was there somebody listening in to their interview? Rachel did have ONE cat, but she wasn’t some single crazy cat lady looking for an adventure. “Do you think my cat had something to do with this?” Rachel sat back and blinked her eyes in confusion. Why was he asking these questions?
“Probably not. How many cats do you have in your apartment?”
Rachel ground her teeth together before she answered. “Just one. Would you like her name and description, too?” she asked sarcastically.
“Sure,” he said and poised his pen, ready to write. “Fire away.”
“Humpphf!” Rachel exclaimed and slumped in her chair. She was kidding. She had only been kidding but he seriously wanted her cat’s description?
“Description of your cat?” he repeated.
“Furry. Four legs. Meows when hungry,” she answered snidely. This trip was going to be a waste of her time apparently.
“Chloe.” Were there any other cats on suspect lists, she wondered to herself? Were these policemen this crazy all the time and asking questions that didn’t have anything to do with the case they were supposed to be working on? “Can we get down to business? Don’t you want to know what else is going on in the neighborhood – the whole reason I came down here in the first place? Don’t you have a lot of suspicious activity going on with aliens and criminals in other parts of the city, too?”
“Not that I know of,” he said. “I’m just reviewing my notes here. Looks like we’re about done.”
Rachel almost went out of her mind. About done? Done? She hadn’t answered any real questions yet on the potential crimes that could be going on right next door in her neighbor’s apartment, yet he thought he had enough information? What was wrong with this man?
“Is there someone else I should talk to? Somebody who handles suspicious activity in the neighborhoods?” she ventured. Maybe this guy only asked the preliminary questions and left the other dirty work to someone else.
He stopped reading his notes and looked up at her. “I’m in charge of the suspicious activity division. Why do you ask?” he asked, raising an eyebrow. Suddenly she didn’t feel so safe in the neighborhood, especially is these were the type of cops out protecting her from crime. He wouldn’t know a crime if it bit him on the ass!
Rachel blew out a breath she didn’t know she was holding. Maybe she was the crazy one, like he was insinuating. Had she really seen her neighbor do anything that was illegal? Wearing sunglasses at night was weird, but not criminal. And the way he watched when she walked by wasn’t a crime either. It just made her skin prickle a little because she knew he was watching.
She was wondering what he was thinking and watching so closely. There were people coming to his apartment sometimes, but they looked relatively normal and came during the daytime hours. If they were criminals, would they operate in the middle of the day like that?
“No reason,” she finally answered. Maybe she was jumping the gun here and acting like a crazy cat woman after all?
“Was your neighbor home when you came down here this morning?” he asked.
Rachel shrugged. “His car was in the parking lot, but I don’t know if he walked somewhere. His car is always in the parking lot.”
“Hmmm,” he mumbled to himself. Maybe they were finally getting somewhere.
“What time do you work today? Are you going in to the library to work with books again today?” he asked. The room was starting to feel warm to her. Or else her temper was really starting to boil over and cause her to think she wasn’t chilly anymore.
Seriously. Her work schedule had nothing to do with the suspicious activity, she wanted to scream.
“I might be. What does my work schedule have to do with what might be going on? His car is home when I leave and it’s still sitting there when I return. It rarely goes anywhere on any day, night or day. Wouldn’t you like to know about his schedule and what he does?”
“Sounds like you watch him a whole lot then,” he said. “Not much else to do when you’re reading a real book?” The detective stood up and walked to the door. “I’ll be right back.”
Rachel rolled her eyes and shook her head. She should just leave. This was obviously a bad idea that was going nowhere fast.
The detective walked in with a big stack of books. “Here are…,” he started to say.
“Look, this was a bad idea. Forget I ever said anything about any suspicious activity in my neighborhood. I’m just going to go home now,” she said and stood up.
“I just went and got you some of the books we have in the back room for people who are sitting in the holding cell if you want to borrow them. Lots of good…”
“What?” she exclaimed and looked more closely at the pile he held in his hands. These weren’t books with pictures of suspects in them. They were fictional books! Of all the nerve!
“I got something for you to do while ….”