“We’ve got it, Baptiste.” Hunter held up his hand and walked over to the box.
I turned away as he lifted it.
“No letter with mine this time?” Hunter asked.
“No.” Baptiste shook his head. “But the signature Brokenhearted is on the greeting card sent to Zola.”
My words came out shaky. “Why did he send this?”
“You want it raw?” Hunter asked.
“He wants you to understand that he knows you’re not in your apartment anymore. And that he can touch you anywhere and, in any place, no matter who’s around you.”
“Yes.” Baptiste added, “He wants you to know that he sees you.”
A shiver of fear rushed through me.
Hunter came my way and pulled me into a hug. “Don’t worry about this. I’m done playing with this guy. I’m on it, Zola.”
I leaned my head against his sculpted chest. “Thank you.”
“Get some sleep, Zola.” He moved away. “I’m going to talk to the hotel’s security. A video or someone had to have caught him. Security here is high class. We’ve got him.”
“I hope so.”
“We do.” He walked off, but his gaze lingered on me for a little as if he didn’t want to leave. “Baptiste will be here.”
“I’ll watch out for her.” Baptiste placed the top back on the box. “First, I’ll sage this place, and then we can have some special tea.”
“Don’t give her your special tea, please. She has to get up in the morning.”
“It soothes the soul.” Baptiste shrugged.
“It also gets the average person fucked up. Just stick to the sage.”
I raised my eyebrows. “The sage?”
Hunter walked off. “Baptiste is a bit eccentric.”
“No.” Baptiste shook his head. “I’m respectful to the spirits and the need for balance in our world.”
“O-kay.” I watched Hunter walk away, nervous about being away from him. He’d only been back in my life less than a day, and I’d already become addicted to his attention. It was always that way. I hated being out of his presence.
With him, I would be safe. I had no fear, when he was around. No worries hit me. I knew deep in my heart that he would protect me with his life.
Suddenly, I remembered something he’d told me long ago.
“Trust me.” Hunter touched my chin and lifted my view to him. “One day, you will be kissed by someone who will die for you.”
I touched my lips, feeling the heat of our kiss on my flesh.
You were right, Hunter. You were definitely right.
Baptiste held a small bushel of white sage in his hands. Copper thread wound around it. He set the light to the tip. Flames rose. And then, Baptiste blew the fire away. Smoke replaced the blaze, rising into the air in swirls, filling the space in an herby scent. Calm settled along my shoulders.
Hunter took the box and went to talk to security.
I hugged myself and sat on the couch, waiting for his return. A soft blue blanket lay over my legs.
Baptiste turned on the fireplace. “How are you?”
“Fine.” I shifted my view to the flames, wishing I could throw these past moments with the stalker in the fire too.
Baptiste chanted something in another language. I assumed it was French but wasn’t sure. After a few minutes, he turned my way.
“Don’t worry.” Baptiste slowly waved the burning sage throughout the air, leaving a trail of white smoke in his path. “Don’t worry at all, Zola. It will all be over soon.”
“Hunter will find him.”
“He will.” Baptiste nodded. “And I’ll help. It’s the least I can do for him, when he’s done so much for me.”
I smiled. “You two are good friends?”
“We met in boot camp and had a few duty stations together. I’m probably the oldest friend Hunter has, besides your brother.”
I wondered how much Baptiste knew of Hunter and my past. “And now you two work together?”
“Yes. When he started his security company, I was the first person to join.”
“Every day must be an action-packed adventure.”
“And then there are the many days when you’re just babysitting a spoiled asshole. Excuse my French.”
“Working with Hunter has been some of the best times in my life, but…I plan to retire soon, right after we find out about this stalker.”
“Why are you going to retire, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“I lost my wife.” He stared at the burning safe as if the smoke would shift into her face.
“Don’t be. It’s the cycle of our story.”
“Her and I have had many lives, and throughout it all, we always found each other. My wife has been my husband in a prior life. And before that, we were lesbians. Another time, we were male lovers caught in the rapture of our confusion. We died because of that love.” He sat down, right across from me on the other couch, twirling the sage from side to side in his hand. “And before that, we were bears with little cubs in an ancient mountain. And before that, we were stars that burned for thousands of years. And before that, we’d merged as an iceberg. We were cold, ice. And we were warm. And we were desire. And flesh. And animal.”