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Fiction Relay – Part 6

24 October, 2012

Wow, it’s round to me again and we’re up to Part 6 already. Thank you to all my fellow Relayers for making this such fun and, just as importantly, a fascinating story. To see who else is in the relay, to read past chapters and to see how YOU can become a Relay, visit the Homepage. Otherwise, read on…


Part 6

She looked at the photo again, forcing herself to study it, to stare down those coal-black eyes. She was determined not to be intimidated by him, to let him overpower her. Not again. She reached out for the picture, challenging her own boundaries, battling her own fears, but Sam kept it from her grasp.

‘So you do know him,’ he said, his suspicions confirmed. He looked from the photo to Suzi, considered her reaction, weighed it against the knowledge of her he already had. ‘But the question is,’ he continued, ‘how do you know him? And what name do you know him by?’

Sam’s gaze stayed fixed on Suzi, waiting for a response. She tried in return to read his face, to see his intentions. She always considered herself a reliable judge of people, she had to be in the unforgiving corporate world, but from the moment he had walked into the diner and sat at her table, he had eluded her, confused her, unnerved her. Fascinated her.

‘Because he goes by several names,’ Sam said, ‘leads several lives. It seems that you don’t know him as al-Kar which is reassuring.’

‘I don’t know if I can remember,’ Suzi said quietly,  ‘It was a long time ago.’ But not long enough. Better to li. She didn’t know who this Sam was, why he was asking, what he wanted from her or from him.

Sam grinned and laughed dismissively at her attempted discretion. ‘I would have had you down as a better liar,’ Sam said, ‘someone with your past… employment… really should be harder to read.’

Suzi shifted uncomfortably, darted a quick glance towards the door, instinctively checking her route was clear in case she needed it.

‘And it really would be better if you were honest,’ Sam said with a raised eyebrow. Was that a reassuring look of safety, or was it a threat? Either way, Suzi needed to know more about him before she offered any information, before she put herself in any danger.

‘Honesty goes both ways Sam,’ she said, standing straighter, defiant, ‘I need to know why you are interested in him before I tell you any more.’

‘I understand your reticence,’ Sam replied with a sympathetic nod, ‘I really do. You only met me today, and then I turn up at your apartment. And I can only imagine what Melissa has said to you about me.’ He exhaled loudly as he considered Suzi’s request. ‘So I’ll tell you this. I am from Tampa, same as you. I knew him back there, same as you. But he isn’t in Florida anymore, and I’m trying to find where he has gone.’

Suzi felt her heartbeat quicken. Could he have come here? Did he know where she had moved on to? She had been so careful, so discreet. But if Sam knew she was, where was, maybe he knew too. ‘Are you with the police?’ she asked directly, ‘or a private detective? Or… something else?’

Sam smiled at her naïve question. He saw her fear, played on it again. ‘I’m someone who is pretty sure you don’t want him tracking you down,’ he said, ‘and I can prevent him doing that.’

All he wants is a name, Suzi thought, what can be do with a name? She looked at the floor, traced the lines between the floorboards with her toe. ‘He was called Raj,’ she said quietly, ‘that’s all I know.’ She looked up to see Sam’s stare, his unblinking, unnerving stare. He knew that she knew more, she could tell, but a name was enough. For now. ‘You’ve done the right thing,’ he said. He picked up his jacket and put it on, secreted the photo in his pocket. He steadied himself against the sofa arm as he slipped his feet into his laceless shoes, and made for the door. Suzi followed.

‘A piece of advice,’ he said as pulled at the latch and swing the door open, ‘A friendly warning you might say. I would be careful what you say around Melissa.’ This surprised Suzi. ‘About Raj you mean?’ she asked.

‘About anything,’ Sam said, ‘she isn’t what she seems.’

‘But I’ve known her for years,’ Suzi protested, ‘she’s a friend.’

‘Is she?’ Sam asked, his eyebrows raised, ‘or is she just someone who serves you in the diner? With a smile and a chat about the weekend, sure, but is she really more than that? Do you really know her?’

‘Yes I do,’ Suzi said, defending her friend and now her employer.

‘Have you ever met her outside of the diner?’ Sam asked, ‘do you even know her surname?’

Sam walked away. Suzi opened her mouth to reply, but realised that he was right.

She closed the door behind him, returned to the kitchen where her phone chirped. A message from Melissa. Suzi clicked it open.

“Thanks for your good work today,” it said, “I hope Sam didn’t put you off. Be careful what you say around him. He isn’t what he seems.”




Your turn CC



  1. TheOthers1 permalink

    Mercy this story is an ever deepening mystery. No one is who they seem in this story. I have a feeling something is about to break soon!

    I’m hoping inspiration strikes in the next few days.

  2. Delilah permalink

    Oh good grief, the suspense!

  3. Ooooh! Now Melissa is suspect! Love what you’ve done with this, TRG! 🙂 (Though, I confess, I thought we’d be going to Miami. Have to go research Tampa….)

  4. (I do like that you avoided the obvious, though.)

    • I try not to be obvious, and tampa was the first place i thought off. But i dont know anything about tampa so i dont know if saying she is from there makes assumptions about her.

  5. What leapt to mind is that Tampa must say something about the nature of who Khalid Mohammed al-Kar is, what kind of business dealings he is into, or it would give us a clue as to why Suzi is so afraid of him. Perhaps none of these matter. I’ve never lived/been to Miami (been to Orlando), but I researched it pretty well for a manuscript, a few years back. Even talked to people who’d lived there. It helped me not only with setting, but the geography and weather patterns wound up playing a role in the drama. I know next to nothing about Tampa, except that they have a pro football team, and they were the site of this year’s Republican National Convention–and because of Tampa’s location the RNC was able to avoid most of the devestation from Hurricane Issac. But this is just how I like to write. Researching an area’s geography/history/etc helps spark my story ideas. It may not be necessary for anyone else’s purposes. Besides, I’m not up next. CC is… 🙂

  6. Yeah, you seem to have a more character-driven style, and from what I’ve read of you, your MCs seem to be universally empathetic. I’m envious. I’m not as good at that, so sometimes I lean on plot-driven. I’m trying to get better at developing my characters, though….

  7. Hmmm… Nobody’s who they seem to be… I’ve never trusted that Melissa. I bet I can guess what happens to Suzi next.

  8. TheOthers1 permalink

    Tell Ted I’ll write him into a story all his own. I’m sure he’d like that.

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