Chapter 18

Vince was surprised to hear music blaring behind the door and checked the number again. Yep, 2A. He knocked loudly so she’d be able to hear. Evidently she did because the volume was immediately lowered on the stereo, and she answered a few seconds later.

“Hi!” Hannah’s uncharacteristic enthusiasm and appearance proved to be an even a bigger surprise. Her hair was pulled back from her face, and she was wearing makeup, a touch of mascara and a hint of pale pink lipstick. The color had returned to her face, giving her cheeks a healthy glow. She was dressed prettily in a form-flattering rose-hued sweater and jeans. She’d dumped the Birkenstock sandals for a pair of heeled boots.

“C’mon in,” she said, holding the door open for him to enter.

Vince was confused. “Uh, didn’t you tell me over the phone you needed to get to a study group?”

Hannah dismissed the idea with a toss of her hand. “That can wait. I ordered in a pizza and dusted off the Monopoly board. I thought we could just hang out here,” she suggested brightly.

Whoa, Vince thought, staying put. Things were getting out of hand. He wasn’t angry. On the contrary, Hannah’s invitation made him feel sad. The gesture demonstrated how desperate she was for company, the level of her loneliness. The situation put him in a quandary. He wanted to be there to support her, but to stay just wouldn’t be professional. The UPD maintained strict rules about escort duty, which they’d covered during training; namely, no cavorting with the customers. Vince struggled over how to break it to her.

“Hannah …” he finally said, unable to finish the unpleasant deed.

She understood anyway, reading his pinched expression, and the smile crumbled off her face. “Never mind,” she said quietly, her voice fading along with her spirit. “I’m sorry I wasted your time.” Looking like she was about to cry, she shut the door.

Weighed down with guilt, Vince shuffled off.

Halfway down the hall, he had a change of heart. What could it hurt? Nobody would know. Besides, it wasn’t like he had any big plans for the night. He’d probably wind up playing Mortal Kombat with his roommate, Mike, a devoted gamer. Might as well make the game Monopoly.

Drawing closer to the door, he noticed the music had been turned off. He tapped twice. No answer. “Hannah?” he called out, knocking again, louder that time. She still didn’t come. “Look, Hannah, I’m sorry. Will you let me in so we can talk about it?”

Two rooms down, a frightened coed appeared, peeking at him suspiciously around the doorframe. The murder had everyone on edge. Vince suspected she might call the police. Then he’d have some explaining to do.

Not wanting to place him or Hannah in an embarrassing situation, Vince stole away down the hall. He hated to leave Hannah in such a depressed state. She seemed terribly upset.

He hoped she wouldn’t try anything foolish.

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