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   Chapter 4 4

Brownie Oxford and the Seabridge Surprise: Brownie Book 4 By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 8686

Updated: 2019-06-11 15:07

Chapter 4

Waiting was like sitting on an ant hill and I felt the squirming, wriggling need to get started. Instead, I forced myself to wait, knowing I would have a better chance of getting what I wanted if I did. While I normally tried my hardest not to think of Swift's personal relationships and everything they entailed, there were a few things I noticed about former federal agent Mike's relationship with Nicole. While he occasionally spent the night in her apartment, she never stayed over in his. Sunday, she came over mid-morning. They were only in his apartment a few minutes before leaving for Sunday brunch.

I only knew the brunch part because Nicole told me last time I dropped off my rent check.

Timing would be important. I didn't want to look as though I was lurking, but I wanted Nicole to be there so Swift would be forced to give some sort of answer. 'At least if he wants to keep his cover.'

I settled myself with my homework and tried to concentrate while I kept an ear out for Nicole's arrival. Time passed glacially slow and I nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard the elevator ding at the end of the hall. I set down my pen and notebook and crept to the judas hole. I watched and waited until Nicole passed by. I saw her pass my door and held my breath as I waited.

I didn't think she could hear me breathing on the other side of the door, but it made me feel a little less stalkery not to breath into the door while sneaking a peek into the hall to watch my neighbors. She knocked and Swift's door opened. She went inside and I expelled my breath in a whoosh. I closed my eyes and counted slowly while still listening for sounds of them leaving.

'One Mississippi, Two Mississippi…' I reached ten Mississippis and decided I waited long enough. I opened my eyes and then I opened my apartment door, stepping into the hallway. Taking a deep steadying breath, I plastered a polite smile on my face and knocked on Swift's door. A moment later the door was opened and I gave Nicole my surprised face.

I started practicing it in the mirror when Swift got to town.

"Oh, Nicole, " I said. "Sorry to interrupt, I just had a quick question for Agent…, um, Mike."

"No problem, " Nicole said with a smile. Behind her I saw Swift's lips twitch upwards in amusement. Nicole opened the door wider, stepping back to invite me in. I crossed the threshold stepping into Swift's apartment. This was my first time seeing it and I couldn't help looking around as Nicole closed the door behind me.

"Not what you expect?" Swift asked.

"I just hadn't been here since Matt and Crista…moved out, " I finished. I felt heat creep to my cheeks. Nicole frowned. I knew that as apartment manager she didn't like to talk about the fact that three serial killers lived in the building.

"It's not like he doesn't know they lived here, " I reminded her. "He did arrest them."

Nicole relaxed and shrugged. "True, " she conceded. "We've just had a few more move outs since the…incident."

I nodded. A few months prior in an attempt to flush me out, the Searchers dropped a body carved with symbols in front of the building. As Nicole was the first one to officially recognize the body, the Searchers then tried to abduct her for testing. Some of my neighbors decided this was a sign they needed a change of address.


"Ah, " I replied. "Did they ever figure out who he was and why people …left him here?"

"Not that I know of, " Nicole replied. She shuttered slightly at the memory.

"I don't think it's tied to the serial killers though, " Swift said. Nicole smiled at him.

"Not serial killer groupies?" I asked.

"Not that I can find, " he said. "Are you still thinking of moving out?"

"Moving?" Nicole said. Her smile dropped and her head snapped around so she was looking at me instead of gazing at Swift. "Not you too."

"Not unless something else happens. I have one year left after this semester and I'd hate to move then have to move again once I found a job. So as long as there are no more serial killers or dead people then I'm good."

"Like a three strike policy?" Swift asked.

"Something like that, " I replied. For a second we shared a smile that reminded me of the not so horrific times spent with Swift over the years. I reminded myself that he was t

here to drag me back to the NCS and my life as an asset and squelched the warmer feelings down, my smile dropping from my face.

"So what was it you wanted to ask? Was it about the man on the lawn?" Swift asked, his smile faded as well, replaced by a mask of polite curiosity.

"No, actually it was about storage units, " I said. "I started making extra garments for a possible web based business and I needed a place to store things so my apartment doesn't get crowded. I know you arrived a week earlier than intended and had to put your stuff into storage while waiting for the apartment to be ready. I figured any storage place you would use would be safe and wanted to see if I could get the name from you."

"Oh, " Swift said. He blinked in surprise and I had to resist the urge to congratulate myself. If I counted up the number of times I managed to surprise him on one hand I would still have fingers left over. "I'd have to look for it."

"No rush, " I told him. "Just in the next couple of weeks. I'd like to get the extra stuff out before I have to start working on my final projects for the end of the semester."

"Sure, I'll dig it up and stop by sometime this week. If I leave it later I might forget." Swift told me.

I smiled, resigned to having Swift stop by for a visit. "That would be great, thanks. And I'll let you get back to your Sunday plans."

"You are sure you aren't planning to move?" Nicole asked nervously as she walked with me back to the door.

"I'm sure, barring incidents. Have there been a lot of move outs?" I asked as she opened the door.

"We are now at half occupancy, " she confessed.

"Half?" I asked, surprised. I stepped into the hallway. "No wonder it's been so quiet. I just thought I missed everyone because my schedule is so different."

"I'm hoping it will pick up at the end of the semester, " Nicole said. "We've advertised on campus. If you happen to know anyone…"

"I'll let them know about the vacancies, " I assured her. She smiled and I went back towards my apartment as she closed the door.

"Half, " I repeated to myself as I opened my door and went into my apartment.

The building was always a quiet one and at the moment I was the only student living here. Everyone else had regular jobs. A few worked night shifts, but most of my neighbors worked the standard office hour days, leaving the building around seven thirty in the morning and returning about six in the evening. Because my schedule was so different, I never really saw that much of them. I closed and locked my apartment door, crossed the living room and moved through the dining area to reach the large window overlooking the back parking lot.

Cars were scattered throughout the lot and I tried to decide if it looked emptier than usual. I typically used the parking lot in front of the building as it was more convenient. In addition, I tried not to spend too much time looking out of this window as it fast the small cemetery filled with the Bradford Family. I didn't think either Swift or Steve managed to get video surveillance into my apartment, but by now avoiding the cemetery was becoming a habit.

Besides, I didn't want to encourage Emily.

"I'll see if the parking lot out front looks any emptier when I go to get groceries, " I told myself.

I returned to the couch and my homework. As I picked up my pen I realized I felt lighter inside after talking to Swift. I thought about it a moment and realized I was amused at asking him to pick the storage unit, possibly even as amused as he was. I avoided the trap of picking something familiar, but like avoiding looking at the cemetery, that was becoming habit.

'Maybe because it is something proactive, ' I thought as I opened my text book.

Thus far most of my dealings since running away were either designed to help me hide, like my hair and contact lenses, or a reaction to something others were doing. In the high stakes game we were playing, Swift was definitely the cat while I was the mouse. Mice scurried to avoid the cats, they didn't knock on the cat's door. I smiled to myself. I knew I wasn't really in Swift's league, but amusement felt much better than the anger, fear and worry I usually carted around.

As long as I could remember that no part of him was still even remotely my friend.

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