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The sun barely splashed the city with radiant gold when Nicole woke up from her slumber. All night long she tossed and turned, thinking about who could be next in the string of murders. She checked her phone, and, despite her firm warning, Danny called her. Eight times with 6 voice messages. She groaned and tossed her cell onto the bed before getting up. “Wow. Grouchy and hardheaded. I sure can pick ‘em, eh?”

Her thoughts on Danny soon faded, as she had more pressing matter to attend to. She had to figure out how on earth she can get some form of protection for herself, since no one around her believes her—all but Violet. However, she can’t take her words for truth anymore: She found out Violet’s a pathological liar, and the argument she had with Gina was possibly an act to make Nicole feel better. It didn’t matter, since her mind was elsewhere, and still is.

Nicole made sure she didn’t listen to the voice messages, so she instantly erased them in one quick swipe. “What a lowlife. I’m ending it when I see him later today,” she thought to herself. Again, she put her thoughts on Danny and his lackluster emotions behind her for now and dialed the tip hotline number a news reporter recited after last night’s live press conference. “I sure hope this will work,” she said.

“Miami Dade, this is Karly. How may I help you?”
“Hello, I would like to keep my identity private, if that’s alright?”
“You’d like to make an anonymous tip?”
“Wha? No, I…I would like to have some protection for myself. I’ve heard about the “Rich City Slayer” all over the news, and I’m very worried about what would happen next.”
“I see, and I understand your worry, Ma’am.” Wow. Thanks for making me feel old, lady.
“Why don’t you come by the precinct, and ask for Detective Donnie Wahlberg. He’ll help you with what you’re looking for.”
Elated, she thanked the receptionist and hung up.

Nicole threw on a few things and stood in front of the long mirror attached to the back of her door. Not bad, she thought before setting on a pair of shades, hoping they’ll disguise her well enough. She suddenly felt a rush of empathy for herself and who she’s become: the adult film life has its share of ups and downs, but at the end of the day, she still wanted out of that life. She thought of going back to school after the ruckus about the Rich City Slayer dies down, or at least until he’s in cuffs, rotting in a cell for the rest of his life.

She decided to walk since the precinct is only 5 blocks away—she could use the extra exercise, not that she needed it; walks always cleared her head. A smile crept up on her face once her mind started to clear. “Much better,” she said to herself as she continued to make her way down the street. Upon crossing, she didn’t hear the commotion down the road as she had on her earbuds. There were cars honking and pedestrians shouting obscenities to a wacky driver. “Watch where you’re goin’! Open your fuckin’ eyes!” The driver did not stop, and kept going, blazing like a bat out of hell down the street, approaching and unsuspecting Nicole. She turned left and the moment and stopped dead in the middle of the street, frozen. She put her arms up and screamed; before the car ended her life, she was tackled down on the other side of the street. Someone saved her. Someone actually cared for her.

“Whoa! Fucking idiot!! Are you alright?” Nicole grunted and sat up on her hands, shaking her head. “Wh…what the hell…?” still winded, she didn’t look up to see who was hovering over her. The second she did, she was instantly met with the familiar shimmering pair of blue eyes. “Are you alright, Nicole?”

“Joe McIntyre?” “Yeah…a—are you hurt?” His eyes searched for any trauma on her person, and sighed with a smile when he found nothing. “Th—thanks…” Joey’s hands sat upon her shoulders, his eyes smoldering as he looked upon her once again. “Let me help you up,” he told her, but she tried to resist. “No, I’m fine,” as she tried to get up, her foot slipped and he captures her into his arms.

“This…was all I wanted…Darling Nikki…you make me do this.”

Joey sat her up, smiling once again. “We have to stop meeting like this,” he said. “You got that right,” Nicole said with a chuckle. “You live around here?” “Well, no…I come around this part of town every once in a while—there’s this real nice all day breakfast restaurant I love dining at. Would it be too forward if I asked you to join me in a cup of coffee?”

“That oughta do it for now.”

“Thank you for the invite, Joe, but…I have somewhere I need to be right now. Maybe some other time?”
“I hope so,” he told her, slipping his hands into his jacket pockets. “I don’t want to keep you. Just be careful out here—New York drivers tend to go nuts during the weekends, no matter the time.”

“Again, thanks…” she picked up her purse and walked past him without giving a second look.

Well, maybe just one. Nicole almost lost her life several minutes ago, and blue eyes saved her. She soon started feeling guilty for thinking he was a bit creepy weeks ago. She walked back over to Joe and stood in front of him. “You saved my life. I don’t know how to repay you.”
“Just having the opportunity to bask in your presence again is reward enough, Nicole. Thank you.”

She couldn’t help but blush. She isn’t use to compliments outside of her line of work; it was a breath of fresh air, and she very much needed it. Nicole reached up and touched his face, smiling. “You know what? I may not know you, but I like that.” “Like what?” “Your smile. Life would mean a lot more if you would smile every once in a while. It can’t hurt.”

“You’re right.” They shared a moment of silence as they looked upon one another. “Well, I gotta get going,” she said, breaking the silence. “Yeah…I’ll see you around…” Nicole smiled at him again before walking away.

Every step I’ve taken. Every move I’ve made. Every kill. It’s all your fault. I don’t want anyone near you but me. You’ll soon see, Darling Nikki. Soon.

“Hello, I’m here to see Detective Wahlberg?” Nicole made it to the precinct without a hitch or a broken back. She watched as the receptionist picked up the phone and requested the detective to come down. “He’ll be with you shortly, why don’t you have a seat?” she said with a smile. Nik sat down and waited for the Detective’s arrival. It didn’t take long for him to come downstairs, and it seemed that his day didn’t start off well. “This better be good, Karly,” he said with an intimidating glare towards her. “Um, excuse me,” Nicole stood up and made her way over to Detective Wahlberg, half smiling. He looked her up and down, then turned back to his files in hand. “What do you want?”

This was a bad idea.

“Um…I came down here looking for you, because…well…I need protection.” He turns to her, his eyebrows raised. “Protection? From who? Did you witness a murder?” “Well, not exactly, but—“

“Then, I can’t help you,” Wahlberg said in a huff before walking towards the records office.

“Please!” Her cry stopped him dead in his tracks and turned to face her again, this time with a more listening ear. “You’ve got to help me. I don’t know what to do. I…I saw the press conference you and your partner held last night, and…I’m afraid the killer will strike again. You see, he killed my friend Abigail Schall, and…I’m afraid more of my friends and colleagues will be next,” she finished, looking down at her feet.

Donnie gave Nicole a closer look. “Are you Nikki Delight?” Sighing, she replied, “Yes. But please, call me Nicole. Will you help me? Please?” He felt more sympathetic to her, not because she’s a well known adult movie star, as the genre is his second niche next to police work, but because he could tell she was scared shitless. Since they had no leads in the case, and the fact she knew Abby Schall personally, it was only crucial to protect Nik. “I’ll do it.” With a light-hearted smile, she thanked Donnie. “What do I do next?”

“Well, you can come to my office later today, and sign some paperwork. Detective Knight oversees that department for the time being, but since he’s out sick, Officer Schultz will handle that for you,” he said to her, his eyes softening at her worry.

“I see. Is he alright?” “Well, I think he’s doing just fine.” Nicole’s eyes looked over at the entrance of Donnie’s office and found Detective Knight leaning against the doorframe, smiling. “Jordan, the hell are you doing here? I thought you were staying i—“ “All I needed was a night’s rest and a hot cup of joe. I feel great now, but thanks for your concern,” he winked at him, much to Donnie’s chagrin. “You never shut off, do you?”

“Not on your life,” Jordan finished before Donnie made his exit.

Jordan walked around the desk and sat down across from Nicole, hands folded, a smile on his face. For a brief moment, she couldn’t help but notice the glow of life around him. Just last night, he was barely enthusiastic, broken down and sad, but today, his spirits were high. She liked that. She hoped to meet THIS Detective Knight face to face—in a way, it was comforting for her, and she only just met him.

“So…you will help me, right?”
“I will. Tell me what’s going on. I’m all ears,” he said, leaning closer to her, this time with a serious gaze. It’s game time.