Short Snippet Saturday

Part of this is a repeat, but here's part of Chapter Two from The Assassin.

The next morning, my best friend, Mia, was waiting for me outside of my apartment. “Bye, Dad,” I said as I walked to the hall to meet her. She was standing there, frantic about her hair. It was light blonde, almost white. Mia always debated with herself on whether to wear her hair down or up.
            “Hey,” I said. I slung my backpack over my shoulder and headed for the elevator. I lived on the twelfth floor, so the stairs were a bit much in the morning.
            “Did you hear about that murder last night?” she asked. Murders in New York weren’t big news, but Mia was fascinated by them, and I could see her becoming a lawyer, or a police officer.
            “Mia,” I said as I stepped into the elevator. “Murders happen on a regular basis.”
            “But, this one was in the building next to mine!” she cried.
            That was true, it was. I should have known better than anyone else. That murder would forever have a bad memory in my mind. Someone had beaten me to the job.
            Killing wasn’t something I was proud of; I didn’t take joy in it. It was sick, but something made me do it. As long as I could remember, I’d been the Assassin. It had all started as a big misunderstanding, but, before I knew it, it was too late to just quit.
            “Cassie, are you even listening to me?” Mia asked. “Cassie Dreandry, are you there?” No doubt she was mad that I’d zoned off, but that murder had just bugged me. Why would someone else be there to kill him?
            “What?” I asked. I tried to hide my annoyance.
            “If that man was killed in the building next to mine, it could mean my building is next. What if I’m next?”
            “Mia, I’m sure you won’t be next,” I said. I was going to kill my best friend; that would just be stupid. Sure, she was being annoying, but she was still my best friend.
            We stepped out into the lobby and into the crazy New York morning. People were running down the street, trying to catch cabs. Some were riding bikes, and some opted to walk. Mia and I were the ones that walked; it was about half a mile to our school.
            We ducked against the cold, winter wind that lingered from the river just in front of my building. “That’s it. When we get to school, I am putting my hair up. It’s got to be a disaster now.”
            I managed to stop myself from rolling my eyes at her. “I saw that, Cassie,” she said. “You think hair is so unimportant, just throw it up in a pony tail and leave it at that, but you should invest more time in your hair. It’s too pretty to wear up all the time. It’s that pretty color, a strawberry blonde. I mean, you’ve got blonde hair, and brown, and red. You’ve got all the colors, and you just insist on wearing it up all the time. Why?”
            This time, I let the eye roll slip. She would just never understand that it was easier to keep it up and out of the way.
            “I saw that,” she said.
            “You were supposed to.” We crossed the street, dodging taxis and cyclists. I looked over my shoulder one last time as a precaution and stopped. There was a man, hiding out in front of the local bakery. He seemed closed to the world, but for some reason I remembered him.
            He saw me looking at him, and suddenly he was walking towards us.
            “Mia, let’s go,” I said.  I grabbed her arm and started pacing down the street, forcing myself not to turn around and look at the man. He already knew that I’d seen him, that much was obvious. If I stopped to look at him again, he’d catch us, in fact, he could have already been closing in on us now.
            “Cassie, why is that man following us? And why are we running from him?” Mia asked. There was no doubt in my mind that if something bad happened to me, she’d meet a similar fate.
            “I don’t know, but you know, it’s New York, and with a face like that, we’d be better off staying away from him, right?” I said in an attempt to make a joke out of the situation.
            “Cassie, that’s not funny. That man could be a stalker, or a rapist, or even worse. What if he’s a murderer?”
            That man was a murderer.
            He was the murderer that had been there, last night, at my murder scene. He’d stolen my victim.
            “Cassie, why did you stop? If we’re running from him-”
            I grabbed her hand and darted down the street, running into people talking on their phones and spilling their coffee.
            We finally made it to the school where I knew we’d be safe. At least until school got out later in the day, but I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to worry about him being there. If he was like anyone else, he’d get tired of waiting it out.
            But, if he wasn’t like anyone else, then I’d be in a lot of trouble once school let out.
            Mia went off to her first class and I sat down on the bench to try and figure out what had just happened. There was no way that man knew me, he hadn’t even seen me last night. It had to just be a coincidence, even if the feeling in my gut said otherwise.
            If it had been merely a coincidence, what was I supposed to do now? Just act like I didn’t know anything? That wouldn’t work though. He had to have seen the panic on my face. The recognition on it.  He had to know that I had been there the night before. Why else would he follow me to school?
            I looked out of the front doors at school to see him walking around the front. He had balding blond hair, combed back to make it seem like he wasn’t bald, just thinning. He was in dark jeans and a denim jacket. He had his hands shoved in his pocket and he was walking back and forth, looking like he was debating the idea of going inside to find me. He couldn’t be more than a few inches taller than I was, but I couldn’t be sure unless I stood right next to him.
            Breathe, breathe, breathe, I told myself. But, the simple act seemed impossible while that man stood out there.
            I forced myself to take a deep breath and stood up. I grabbed my backpack and headed down the hallway to English. I sat down in my seat and waited for class to begin.


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