| “Listen! For the last time, the jackhole cut me off and then blew out my tire!”
“With a shotgun?”
“Yeah, with a shotgun. Will my insurance cover this?”
“Tell Lieutenant Forner about the van.”
“I’ve already told you! It was a new looking grey van, there wasn’t any markings on it.”
The two men switched places and Claire leaned back, crossing her arms. “No license plate, no description of the man, not even a make and model.”
“I’m leaving. I have to go.” Claire tried to stand but she felt a firm hand on her shoulder.
“I’ll talk to you in room seven, right over there.” Claire looked up at the woman holding her still, a badge shinning on her hip. She jerked her head and the two men walked away. “Come with me, candy.”
“It’s ‘Claire’,” said Claire as she rose to follow the woman, glancing at the clock to see she had been at the station for nearly three hours.
“I know.” The blonde held open the door as she entered an office, the script read ‘Detective Edina Jackson’.
Claire looked around the minimalistic office, at a picture of the detective with a smiling man in front of what looked like an antique shop. “I’ve been in an accident before, this is different. What’s wrong?”
“You’re very perceptive. Candy?”
“I told you, it’s…oh.” Claire looked up to realize the detective was holding out a dish of jelly beans. She picked a handful and ate the yellow ones first.
“Tell me about the bumper.” Det. Jackson pulled her office chair around to sit next to Claire, watching her reaction.
Claire, however, took a moment to think. “I forgot!” her eyes lit up, “The bumper was…twisted on the right side, like it had slammed into something.”
“Where do you work, Claire?”
“Over on Builder Street, at the Grande Gallery,” responded Claire.
The woman rose and crossed to the door. “If either myself or my guys need you, we will contact you there. You’ve been very helpful.”
Claire grabbed her purse and stood, “Can you be discreet at least? I don’t need my boss thinking I’m mixed up in something.”
Det. Jackson nodded, “Thanks, candy.” The door closed quickly behind her.
Claire walked rather uncomfortably, seeing many other police staring over their paperwork as she weaved her way towards the front double doors.
“Are they going to fix the damage on your car?” Robyn reached across and took a few French fries off of Claire’s plate.
“Can you pass the ketchup? These things are terrible.” Claire uncapped it after her friend handed it over. “So far, yes. The rental car will last me awhile, but I don’t think they said more than two weeks.”
Robyn stopped eating, studying her. “Claire I’ve known you awhile and you’ve never looked like this.”
“Only eight years.” Claire glared over, “Like what?”
“Like you have a violent case of the flu and you’re being audited at the same time.”
Claire shifted around in her seat, “Ever since that car accident-”
“Excuse me, these are for you.” The waitress bent over Claire and Robyn’s table and laid two cherry limeades on new coasters with napkins.
Claire immediately slouched in her seat, “Thank you.”
Robyn popped an eyebrow up, “What? What is this for?”
“He’s here again. Damn it, he’s following me!” Claire crossed her arms, “Check the napkin, he always writes his number on the napkin. This is the third time!”
Robyn pushed the glass off the coaster and read the red ink. “Not this time.” She flipped it over for Claire to see.
“Oh this is bullshit. What is his problem?”
“Claire, calm down!”
“No, I don’t need some stalker right now.” Claire decidedly jumped out of their booth and spotted the young man’s dark curls as he was facing away at a table by the window. “What the hell is your problem?” She stomped diligently over, raising her voice so quickly the young man jumped.
“Oh no, not here.”
“Yes here, yes now. Why are you following me? I don’t want a date, I don’t want your number, and I don’t want you sending me drinks!” Claire barked, as the young man refused to make eye contact. “What are you writing?”
“No. What part of this do you not understand?”
Claire sat down. “What about it?”
The young man leaned over, watching her very carefully through his dark eyes. “It was used in a bank heist, the Second National over on-“
“I know about the robbery, who doesn’t?” Claire cut him off, “Why are you following me?”
He leaned closer to her, “I think you need to be very careful.”
“Is that a threat?”
“This has to look natural or we are going to raise eyebrows, I need you to calm down.”
“You know what? I am sick and tired of everyone telling me to calm down, I have a stalker, a busted up car, and more police officers than I know what to do with parading around my work. You need to wrap this up, quick.” Claire stood up from the table.
“I work at the station, my badge is sitting under that newspaper in front of you. I was called to your car accident and that’s where we met. I couldn’t ask you out until you were disclosed as a non-suspect in the accident. I have been trying to ask you out, you agreed to meet me at Nello’s for dinner tomorrow night. Understood?”
Claire lifted the paper enough to see the shield and dropped it. “You’re kidding.”
“Five thirty. Don’t forget. Now go back to your booth and don’t start twittering this.” He held up his blackberry, “I’ll shut any accounts you have down in less than ten minutes.”
She rubbed her right temple, “I don’t like this.”
He slid out of the seat, collecting his jacket and the paper, dropping a twenty on the table. “I don’t care. Wear something nice.”
As he walked away, Claire yelled, “You are buying me a big damn bottle of wine!” She slunk back into the seat and covered her eyes.
She jumped, previously lost in thought, as she realized someone slid back into the seat. “Hey I got the tab. What was that about? What did he say?”
“Apparently we’re going out tomorrow.”
Robyn smirked, “I thought you said-”
“Yeah, well he’s cute. Let’s get out of here.”