Willing herself not to think about what had happened last time she was there she set her mind on the task at hand and greeted everyone she knew as she walked into the room. She got stuck in to coordinating the event, noting that her boss was watching with approval.
The evening was going fine and she was more relaxed than she had been for days. Moving smoothly through her agenda she was glad she had come. No sign of the man from last Friday night. There was some serious networking to do.
At the end of the evening she wrapped up the proceedings and went outside to hail a cab. Shivering at the drop in temperature she gazed up and down the street but traffic was very light and there wasn’t a cab in sight. Not seeing any alternative she started walking. There was a busier street a few blocks up where you could always get a cab. Walking briskly to try to overcome the cold she couldn’t resist looking back to make sure no one was behind her. Finding the street clear she relaxed and slackened her pace a bit.
Crossing at the intersection she glanced down the side street and her heart leapt into her throat. Leaning against a lamppost and looking straight at her was the man from the pub.
Standing on the corner with her heart pounding Ellen considered her options. She couldn’t run in these heels. She turned and crossed the street keeping a brisk, but casual pace, calculating the distance to the next major street. She turned the corner and glanced back – he was following her! Strolling along, but following just the same. She prayed a taxi would come along but the street was virtually deserted.
Continuing at a quicker pace she tried to calm herself. He wouldn’t dare attack here in the open if that was what he intended. There was too much chance of someone seeing him. And yet, it was 11.30 at night. Every business was closed. She tried to remember if there was pub down this way.
Crossing the street at the next intersection she glanced behind her again. He was still coming, but seemed in no hurry. She spotted a neon sign on the side street.
Turning abruptly she hurried toward the sign. It was a Chinese restaurant and as she arrived someone turned the sign over to say they were closed. She banged frantically on the door and a waitress pulled the curtain aside and peered out at her.
Gesturing that she needed to get inside she saw the waitress shake her head and mouth the word sorry. Beside herself, Ellen screamed loud enough to be heard through the glass.
“Help! Please, help me! I’m being followed.”
The waitress hesitated and then nodded and unlocked the door. Rushing inside Ellen gushed her thanks and explained what was happening. Coming out of the kitchen the owner had overheard the story and rushed over to console her.
“Don’t worry, you’re safe in here. I can call the police if you like.”
“I don’t know if you should. He hasn’t done anything, it’s just that I saw him staring at me last Friday night in a pub and I think he’s been stalking me but I can’t be sure. I don’t know what to do.”
The owner nodded and thought for a moment.
“I’ll go outside and see if there’s anyone out there.”
Shrugging, he came back in a minute later.