Lost

By A.E. Hellstorm

Horror, Romance, Crime & mystery

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898
3 mins

Chapter 4

A young woman, around twenty-five, stood at the end of the table, looking through some documents when he entered the assigned office at eight a.m. sharp. Her long honey-blond hair had probably been neatly braided an hour ago, but now several thick strands of hair had escaped and framed her face. She was dressed bohemian-like in a seventies style with a long, flowing, dark-blue shirt and wide jeans. Carl thought of Alan Bai and his angst over Carl not being formally and properly dressed and smiled to himself. When he closed the door behind him, she looked up and came towards him with her hand raised in greeting. As he took it he couldn’t really tear his gaze away from her face.
“God, you’re beautiful.” he heard himself blurt out. Not even a second later he realized that he had said that out loud and a hot blush burnt his face. At that moment he wished for nothing else than a huge hole to open up beneath him. Her face got an amused expression.
“Why, thank you.” she said with a grin and a slight accent, which he couldn’t place. “You’re not bad-looking either.” It was as clear as crystal that she was teasing him lightly and he drew his hand through his hair several times.
“I’m… I’m sorry… I usually don’t say things like that. I didn’t mean… well, I did mean, but you’re very intelligent-looking too… I mean…” 'Good God, shut up, Carl, for everything holy in this world!' A heartily and contagious laughter found its way out of her.
“You’re sweet. I think I’ll like working with you. It’s Carl, right?” He nodded, still with hot burning cheeks. He couldn’t even remember when he had made such a fool of himself last time. Probably not since high school. “I’m Allie. And don’t worry, you didn’t offend me. On the contrary.” She winked at him, but the next second she studied his face thoroughly. “Oh wow, you’ve been through some rough times lately. I’m sorry. I won’t tease you anymore.” Her voice was suddenly full of empathy. Carl looked bewildered at her.
“How did you know?”
She just smiled. “I’m a profiler, remember? And I’m good, so trying to hide your feelings won’t really work with me. Sorry about that, but we’d better be clear about that part from the beginning.”
It felt like he couldn’t stop pulling his hand through his hair and she gave him a direct look that managed to be honest, amused and understanding at the same time.
“You’re a hurricane.” he said, almost fatigued, and she laughed.
“I’ll take that as a compliment too.” With that her voice got a more professional tone. “Anyway, let’s go over here.” To his surprise, she took him by his hand again and pulled him over to the short side of the table where all her documents were messily laid out. “How much have you been briefed?”
“Just the big picture, I’d say, not very detailed. I got this.” He handed her his thin file. She took it and quickly browsed through the few pages.
“Mhm… Yeah, there are some important details that are lacking in your report. You need much more info if you’re going to be able to help me out.” She gave his file back to him. “You probably wonder why this is now under-the-table considered a serial-killer case, am I right?”
“Yeah.”
“Okay. Take a seat.” She sat down as well and nodded at his documents. “So, just to make a few things clear first; your background is in forensic psychology and profiling, specialty child witness interviewer, right?” Carl nodded. “I’ve checked around about you since I got your report yesterday, and you have a very good reputation.” She took up a notebook and found a page. “Intelligent, highly perceptive, very empathic, great both with children and adults, usually manage to create trust with both victims and perpetrators, could become anything within the field.” She glanced up at his awkwardly blushing face and gave him a gentle smile. “Sorry, didn’t mean to embarrass you. I just want to make sure that I get the best for this case. Are you the best?”
He felt even more awkward, but managed to not scoot around on the chair.
“I’m good. Might even be among the top ten, but I usually let others decide that.”
She studied his face for some seconds, before looking down at her notes again.
“Okay.” she said eventually, apparently thinking him through. He sat unmoving on the chair beside her and didn’t really know how to feel about the situation. She seemed to be more straightforward and honest than most people he had ever worked with, and that disturbed him slightly for some reason. As the seconds ticked by and she still looked down at her notes, he suddenly felt that he really wanted to work with whatever it was that she hid from him. He drew a mental breath and looked her over.
“You’re used to working alone.” he said. “And this is a case you find difficult, otherwise you wouldn’t have asked for assistance, but you don’t want to spill anything to the wrong person. You’re not really comfortable with the situation right now, since you thought that I would be more upfront about my competence. If you have to work with someone you’d prefer that they are more outspoken than you have a feeling that I am. You’ve heard a lot of good things about me that speaks well of my ability as a profiler, but you’ve also heard some negative things, which make it hard for you to come to a decision. You thought that when we met you’d be able to make this decision immediately, but now you’re not so sure anymore and that frustrates you immensely.”
She stared at him with slightly parted lips and an almost shocked expression on her face. Then she closed her mouth for a second before giving up a friendly laugh.
“Okay, I’m impressed.” she said, smilingly. “And you’re on.” She gave him another penetrating glance. “Just as you said between the lines, I like honesty and I’m straightforward, and I’d like to have an open communication between us. If you think that I’m condescending in any way, let me know. I won’t take offense. There are too many people who think I’m looking down on them as it is. You don’t need to get in line.”
He raised an eyebrow, but smiled as he thought of the difference between this young woman and Alan Bai. He admitted to himself that he so far preferred Allie Harris.
“Deal on that.”
“Good.” Without any more hassle she returned to the report.


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