Jay called before I’d even gotten home. I answered in a state of panic that bordered hysteria.
“You’re a lying bitch–”
“What the fuck are you on about, Jay?” I spat, flooring it on the highway home. I was a good twenty over the speed limit, my eyes frantically darting around in search of cops and other cars.
“I saw you leave with Dakota. If you wanted to fuck him all you had to do was tell me.”
“How could you have seen me?” I demanded, stopping at a red light. I kept my eyes on my mirrors, looking for cars to come up behind me on the empty road. “You left at four, I didn’t leave til nearly seven.”
“I stayed to help an extra hour,” he said, “and then I waited in the parking lot for you. I wanted to see you.”
“I didn’t see your car.” It was the only thing I could focus on, the fact that his car hadn’t been anywhere around mine in the parking lot, which, as far back as I’d been parked, had been damn near deserted.
“I waited in Nikkie’s car.”
The light changed, and once again, I floored it. My engine whined in protest as it accelerated. “You waited in your friend’s car for two hours to see me, after I told you I wasn’t going to see you?” My heart thundered wildly in my chest, so hard I thought I was going to vomit it up. “What the fuck is wrong with you?”
“I wanted to see you!”
“I SAID NO!”
“Leave me alone!” I hung up on him, proceeding to decline every other call from him as I finally reached the safety of the student apartments, putting a shaking smile on for the security guard as he checked my student ID and driver’s license.
Kimmy saw my face when I came in, her welcoming smile disappearing. “Piper?” I didn’t respond, just dropping my purse on the floor and heading toward her. “What happened? What’s wrong?”
The shaking wouldn’t stop, even when she wrapped her arms around me in a sturdy hug. “Jay…” I choked, tears of panic and anger spilling over. “He waited for me in the parking lot, in someone else’s car, and watched me leave work with Dakota.”
“Oh shit.” Kimmy led me to the couch and made me sit. “Are you okay? Did he try to follow you?”
“I don’t think he did,” I said, ignoring her first question. Of course I wasn’t okay.
“Let’s get some food into you,” Kimmy said, going back to the kitchen. I nodded, then began to whine as Jay called me yet again.
“Go away!” I hit decline again and shoved my phone across the coffee table, then rethought it and snatched it up again. Without a second thought, I pulled up Jay’s info and selected block caller.
Kimmy returned with a plate of food– pasta with her avocado pesto, somehow weirdly comforting right now– and sat back down beside me. “Talk to me, babycakes.”
“I’m scared,” I whispered, picking at my food. Eating was important, I knew that, but my appetite was virtually nonexistent. I shoved a forkful into my mouth and chewed, my actions mechanical.
“He can’t get you on campus,” Kimmy pointed out. “And I think if you tell Steph, she can work something out for you.”
“I’m in Narnia for the next week at least,” I said, referring to the storage and laundry area in the lower levels of the theatre. “He can’t get me there. He doesn’t work for the next two days either, so I can avoid him.”
“Good, that’s a start. That’s a very good start.”
“Yeah.” I shoveled more food into my mouth, now more because it was something to do than because I was hungry. “I just don’t understand–”
“Stalkers are heroes in their own minds,” Kimmy said, rising to go back to the kitchen, presumably to get her own food. “He’s not healthy, Piper. His mind is sick, and he’s obsessed. Don’t forget that.”
“You’re right,” I murmured. “I should have seen the signs.”
“You did.” She set a glass of water down in front of me and then returned to the kitchen. “You saw the signs and talked about them and even responded to them, pushing him away.”
“It wasn’t enough, obviously.”
With a shrug, Kimmy sat back down beside me with her own food and water. “Sometimes drastic measures must be taken when people go completely off their rocker.”
“But he has kids,” I said, imagining the repercussions of taking drastic action. “And what’s her bitch is on maternity leave. They’ll have no money to support their kids.”
“They shouldn’t have the kids to begin with.” Kimmy’s voice was flat, detached. I shuddered; she never used that tone, except with Jay. “You have empathy even when you’re being wronged, do you have any idea how strong that makes you?”
A bark of humorless laughter escaped me. “I always thought it was a glitch in my genetic makeup, but thanks.”
Kimmy brushed a hand over my hair. “Avoid Jay for awhile, block him everywhere he can see your information, and see how things go. If he escalates, report him to Steph, or a manager. Someone who can get people involved.”
“Steph’s got some security guards,” I murmured. “I’m sure they’d be willing to help.”
“Perfect.” Her arm came around me in a side hug. “You’ll be okay, Piper.”
“I hope so.”