Morning Ritual(2)
Author:Valerie Gaumont

    Mikewaited. Soon it would be time to move. He shifted in his seat andslowly turned his wrist to glance at his watch, taking care to makethe movement seem nonchalant in case anyone was looking. 11:15. Helooked up, eyes scanning the crowd in an almost bored gesture. Noone appeared to be watching. He reached for the folded newspaper onthe table. Maybe he should open it again. Maybe the bus was late. He resisted the urge to look again at his watch. Instead he took adeep breath and let it out in a slow measured stream. As he exhaled,the bus rounded the corner, brakes protesting loudly and pulled to astop.


    Hetook a sip of his cold coffee in order to hide his relief. The acidicmuck bit his tongue and he tried not to wince. A petite blonde in awine dark business suit stepped off the bus. Mike watched as shewalked. She moved as if her love of life could not be containedinside and her smile she gave freely to all she passed. She stoppedat the newsstand and bought a fruit juice.


    Asshe took her change, Mike slid out of his seat, tossed away his coldcoffee and newspaper and started off in her direction. He followedher down the street, close enough to keep her in view but not closeenough for her to spot him. He was good at this. Very good.


    Herhair caught bits of sun while they walked, making her glow like anangel. He sighed. Emily was perfection. All he could ever desire waswrapped up in her perfect form. A flash of sunlight caught on herhand as it moved and seemed to stay there like an earth bound star.His eyes narrowed, focusing on the one flaw, her wedding ring. Itwinked at him, taunting him. He ground his teeth. It should be hisring she wore. His. Mike felt the molten pressure building, fillinghis veins with white-hot rage.


    "Charlie,"he snarled the name like a curse, his lip curling in anger. His ragemade his vision waver and Emily became a burgundy blur. Just thethought of him made Mike ill. The man who made Emily, his perfectEmily, think she had fallen in love caused Mike's bile to rise, theacid burning in the back of his throat. He swallowed hard.

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