It was getting close to sunset, but there was no sun to be seen; the sky was fading from gray to black. The driver of a black Cadillac Escalade parked off the side of Route 5 took notice of a red Kia Soul as it passed him heading toward Glenville. He casually started his vehicle, checked for other traffic, and followed.
The Kia turned into a shopping center just before the merge onto Route 33 up to the college. It was the only chain grocery store in Glenville, so either it or the sandwich shop next door was the most likely destination. The Escalade’s driver turned into the other side of the lot and inched along for a moment, waiting to get a better look at the Kia’s owner. He noted the Glenville State College parking sticker.
The woman who emerged was young, taller than average but on the thin side, and pleasant-looking enough. Her clothes looked more expensive than how most locals were dressed and certainly nothing a young lady would wear for visiting a prison. He had seen enough, at least enough to ask her a carefully worded question. With luck, the answer would be all the confirmation he’d need.
It just wouldn’t be so lucky for her.
The driver surveyed the parking lot; the fewer witnesses the better, and he certainly didn’t want to see any authorities. The young woman seemed to be looking for something in her purse, so the opportunity presented itself.
He loved this part, the first meeting. It was such a simple thing for him, practiced to perfection. No one ever saw him coming nor was ever prepared for him. This was the moment he savored, before something new would be his.
After circling the outside of the lot, the driver pulled up across from the young woman at a non-threatening distance, the better for her to trust and approach him on her own. It wasn’t like he was driving a windowless van or that he looked inbred. Everything about the way he presented himself was clean and professional with the air of success. Why wouldn’t anyone trust him?
The driver adjusted his Wayfarer sunglasses and lowered his window.
“Excuse me? Young lady?”
She looked up, enticed by his voice. For a moment, he watched her eyes as she sized up both driver and vehicle, and he could tell that she instantly trusted him. The poor girl couldn’t have made it easier.
Shouldering her purse as she walked up to the driver’s window, she seemed eager to help. “Are you lost?”
The driver picked up his computer tablet from the passenger’s seat, a prop for the ruse. “I’m looking for a place called Cedarcrest Sanctum. It’s a nursing home, and I have an appointment with the administrator there….”
“Louisa?” the girl foolishly confirmed.
“Is that what she’s calling herself these days?”
The driver pulled his sunglasses down to look the young lady directly in the eyes. He could see her demeanor changing as it struck her that she had already said too much, suspecting the danger she was in. He delighted in being recognized for the predator he was, but he still needed to close the trap to give himself the time he needed to work.
“Get into my vehicle,” he commanded her.
Her will dissolved as the words reached her ears coupled with the compulsion of his gaze. She had become his, a plaything that would obey and indulge his every whim. She absently walked around to the passenger’s side door, opened it, seated herself, and closed the door.