Chapter no 37 – NATALIE

The Coworker

WHEN I DRAG myself into work the next morning, I can barely keep my eyes open.

As soon as I got home from the beach, I practically ripped my house apart, looking for something else that could incriminate me. I didn’t even know what I was looking for. A bloody glove? A woodchipper with a dismembered leg sticking out of it? Whatever it was, I didn’t find it. My house was clean.

But I still couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned in bed, intermittently looking at the clock. At three in the morning, I gave up and watched television for a while, then finally fell asleep on the couch. All in all, I got a few hours of sleep, broken up into twenty-minute chunks. I kept waking up in a cold sweat, my whole body trembling.

Needless to say, I didn’t go running first thing in the morning.

On the bright side, Detective Santoro didn’t greet me at my front door this morning. Maybe he’s finally decided I didn’t have anything to do with Dawn’s murder. Maybe he decided to believe my alibi. Except I doubt it.

On my way to my cubicle, I pass Greg Lowsky at the copy machine. Greg comes in once or twice a month to install updates on our computers or troubleshoot any tech issues. He may even know more than Caleb does

when it comes to computer stuff. Unlike the rest of us, he usually shows up in jeans and a T-shirt. And there’s usually a math or computer-related joke on his T-shirt—one I almost never get. Today his T-shirt reads, “No, I will not fix your computer.” It strikes me as a strange T-shirt for a person to wear when he is literally here to fix our computers.

Greg is nowhere near as cute as Caleb is. He’s short with a bushy beard and sort of reminds me of one of the creatures from Lord of the Rings or some other nerdy movie I never saw. And he’s almost as strange as Dawn. He once hinted that he wanted to take me to lunch, and I found a kind way to turn him down. But he still half-heartedly flirts with me whenever he comes in, even though it will never go anywhere.

“Hey, Natalie,” he says. “What’s up?”

I wonder how much Greg knows about all the drama with Dawn. He wasn’t here on the day when Santoro was grilling everyone. And as far as I know, the detective hasn’t been back. Even the Vixed bullying hashtag has died down. People on the internet lose interest quickly.

“Not much,” I say carefully. “I’m sure you heard about Dawn…”

“Oh yeah.” Greg looks down at his hands. “That’s awful. I hope they figure out who did it to her. It’s awful how you can just be in your own house and somebody can come and… well, you know…”


“I hope you’re staying safe, Natalie.”

He has no idea. But suddenly, a brilliant thought occurs to me. “Actually, I was wondering if there’s something you could help me with…”

“Of course!” His face lights up. “Anything for you, Natalie.”

I reach for my purse slung on my shoulder and pull out my phone. “Do you know how to figure out who’s been calling from a blocked number?”

“Sure. There’s an app called TrackCall that will reveal any blocked numbers.”

“Oh.” That makes sense. There’s an app for everything. “Can I use that now to find out the number of someone who called me last night?”

“Probably not. I think the app has to be installed when they make the call.”

Damn. I was hoping to figure out who used the blocked number to call me the last three nights. It’s hard to believe those calls aren’t somehow linked to this whole thing. And even if they aren’t, I’d like to know who’s harassing me.

“I’m sure if somebody is bothering you, they’ll call again.” He frowns. “If you’re worried, I’d be happy to escort you home after work today. I don’t have any plans.”

“No, that’s okay.”

“I don’t mind.”

Well, I do. Even if I didn’t have plans with Caleb, I wouldn’t want to encourage him. “I better not.” I wink at him. “I don’t want to make Julia jealous.”

Greg’s eyes widen. “Julia? Jealous?”

“Oh my God, yes.” I lower my voice. “She told me she thinks you’re really cute.”

Julia is one of our secretaries who sits near the front entrance, and she is so far out of Greg’s league, it’s not even funny. He should know that, but the way he puffs out his chest makes it clear he thinks he might have a shot. Greg kindly offers to install the app himself without insisting on escorting me anywhere again, and he even shows me how to use it. After I feel confident that I can figure out the phone number of the blocked caller, I leave Greg at the copy machine and continue on the way to my cubicle.

Dawn’s cubicle is still empty, like it’s been all week.

It’s so horrible. No, Dawn wasn’t my favorite person in the entire world, but she was sweet. There was something innocent about her, like a child. I can’t bear the thought of her being tortured at the hands of some pervert and then beaten to death.

I step past her own cubicle and into my own. I start to drop my purse on the desk when something gets my attention. Something that makes my heart skip a beat.

The tiny turtle figurine. It’s back on my desk.

No. It can’t be. It can’t be. I threw it out. Twice. I didn’t just throw it out, but I brought it all the way to the garbage in the break room. There’s absolutely no way a janitor could have thought I mistakenly threw it away and brought it back to my desk. It was a stretch last time, and now it’s an impossibility.

Somebody put this turtle on my desk on purpose. “Natalie.”

Who would do that? Who would torture me this way? It couldn’t be some random person on the street. It would have to be somebody who

works at this office who has access to my desk. Or at least, somebody who has a way to get a key to the office…


I’m vaguely aware of a sharp voice calling out my name. I turn my head, and Seth is standing behind me, a few feet away. There’s a dark look in his eyes.

“Natalie,” he says flatly. “I need to talk to you.”

“Does it have to be now?” I look back at the turtle, then back at him. “Because I—”

“Yes. Now.”

I can tell from the look on Seth’s face that he’s not messing around. What now? I can’t deal with any customer complaints right now. I’ve got much worse concerns.

“In my office,” he adds. “Fine,” I say. “Let’s go.”

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