For three days he did not leave his apartment. His mind enveloped in darkness, he lay in bed for long stretches. Other times he sat at the computer working on his next step. He would not allow himself to think about the cigar box. One day he would burn it.
On the fourth day when he woke up he knew it was time. He went to his favourite café for breakfast, stopping to buy a newspaper on the way. He searched the main section. He had been relegated to page six. It was nothing more than a rehash of his work and a reiteration by the police that they had found nothing new. Then his eyes hit the last line. The head of the investigation was working on a new theory.
He put the paper down and took a bite of his scrambled eggs. A new theory. Wondering what that might be took a sip of coffee and looked around the café. There was nothing of interest. Why then did he have the familiar tingling sensation? It soon became apparent. A woman came through the door just as he took another sip. He almost choked on it. Maria was in the room.
It has to be a sign, he thought. What were the chances she would wander into his favourite café? He had never seen her in here before. They were a fair distance from the bakery he had spotted her in. As she looked around for a place to sit her eyes lit on him for a brief moment. He held his breath, not daring to look her in the eye. She showed no sign of recognition and kept looking around the room until she saw a table that suited her. She sat down with her back to him, much to his relief.
He finished up and left, not wanting to take the chance she would see him again. Now though, he had a problem. It might not have been wise to give in to the urge to talk to her that day outside the bakery. What if she did remember him when he made his move? He would have to use a gambit that would make it seem coincidental if she did. Meanwhile the time was right to case the house. He knew where she was for at least the next half hour, all the time he needed.
He drove to her house and parked across the street. The usual leafy suburban paradise, no surprises. He watched the street for several minutes but nothing was happening. Everyone was out and about. He got out and walked across the street, keeping an eye on the houses on either side. He walked up the driveway and around to the back door. Donning his gloves he studied the lock, then got out his picks. He was inside in less than half a minute.
He worked fast, memorizing the layout of the house. He was about to leave when he decided to go to the bedroom. It was his habit to let that room be a surprise for when he went to work on them, but he had a strong urge to see the object he knew would be hanging above the bed. He opened the door and peeked in. The bed was directly opposite the door and he let his eyes move up the wall. There it was. Oh what a grand one it was. An ornate, detailed crucifix, finer than any he had ever seen. It was what he had expected since the moment he had seen her. It was all going to be just grand.
He closed the door and left the house. Tomorrow was going to be very good indeed.
Part 7 Tomorrow