Felicia Nuñez saw him standing up against a building across the street from the stop where she normally got off her streetcar. With her heart suddenly pounding in her ears, she turned away from the streetcar door as it opened and sat down on one of the side-facing benches just at the front across from the driver.
As the car started up again, passing him, she caught another glimpse of him out of the corner of her eye.
Or maybe it was him. It looked very much like him. His hair maybe a little different, longer, from the last time she’d seen him in the courtroom, but the same attitude in the way he stood. He had one boot propped up against the building, his strong white arms crossed over his chest.
She knew why he was there. He was waiting. Waiting for her.
Back then she used to see him everywhere, even though her mind had known that he could not find her. She’d been in witness protection. No one even knew where she’d lived. So there was no way in reality that it could happen. And yet for a year or two, she thought she saw him every day.
This time it was exactly him. Most of the other times, whoever she saw reminded her of him --- the hair, the arms, the set of the body. But today was all him, not a collection of similar parts that, in her terror, she could imagine into the monster that he was.
At the next stop she descended out into the neighborhood and heard the streetcar’s door close behind her and then the brakes release and then the scraping sound as it moved ahead and left her standing alone at the curb.
She did not like to spend extra money and knew she could make a cup of coffee for free at home, but he might still be there lurking and if he saw her, he might, or he would…
She could not imagine.
No. She could imagine.
She went into the Starbucks and ordered a coffee --- half an hour’s work at the cleaners where she was lucky to have a job, but she needed to sit quietly and to think, and also to give him time to leave if he was really waiting there to see her.
How could he have found her?
She took a seat at the front window where she could see him if he suddenly appeared among the pedestrians passing by.
The first sip scalded her tongue and the pain seemed to break something within her. She put her paper cup down and blinked back the wave of emotion that threatened now to break over her.
Bastardo! she thought. The life-destroying bastard.
In her mind, she was eighteen again.
Excerpted from DAMAGE © Copyright 2011 by John Lescroart. Reprinted with permission by Dutton Adult. All rights reserved.