He laughed, "No I don't think you're crazy but definitely foolish. Most people in my profession aren't keen on outsiders knowing what they do."
They both sat in silence for a minute while she thought about his last comment. "What he means is he doesn't want someone like me knowing what he does and living to tell about it." At last she took a deep breath and asked the question that had been lurking in the forefront of her mind since she first heard his voice. "Are you going to kill me?"
He tilted his head to one side and asked, "Why would I do that?"
She swallowed and answered, "Because that's what you do. Murder people."
He sat up straight and puffed out his chest. "Please. Murder sounds so ordinary. I prefer to think of it as assassination. It's more noble."
Then he leaned forward and lowered his voice. "I'm sorry. I'm being flippant. You are right. I don't take any pleasure in it but that's my job and I'm very good at it. Does that bother you?"
She looked up at him. "No, if it did I wouldn't have sent you those presents."
He interrupted her, "That reminds me. You overpaid for them and I got the change. I put it on the kitchen counter."
She was completely confused. "I don't understand you. Why are you being so nice? You're a professional killer and I'm a threat to you. I even have a scrapbook with newspaper clippings of your exploits."
He chuckled, "I know. I found it and you can keep it if you like. I'm sure the authorities have already made the connections between those incidents."
She wondered why she was arguing but she said, "What if I go to the police with the book and tell them about you?"
He shook his head. "I don't think you will. All you'd be doing is creating trouble for yourself. They'd consider you to be my accomplice and would question you for hours. Besides, if you were going to go to the police you would've done it by now."
Again silence moved through the room and her voice was very quiet. "So what happens now?"
He waited a minute. It was as if he was having his own mental debate. At last he said, "Nothing. I just wanted to meet the woman who discovered my secret and then kept it to herself. Now I go away and leave you alone. I'm sorry if I scared or upset you."
After a short pause he continued. "Actually, I want to thank you. I thought I covered my tracks fairly well and you've been a big help in showing how I could be compromised. I hate to do it but I better change my sleeping habits. I prefer the west side so I can sleep with the window open and not have the morning sun in my eyes."
She was still coming to terms with the idea that she might live to see another sunrise. "I never realized it before but my bedroom window faces that direction too so I know what you mean. And you're not the only one who likes to be bundled in warm blankets and feel cool air on their face."
He brightened as he replied, "I gathered as much. I've been watching you and noticed the open window. You're good at keeping it locked during the day but it makes you very vulnerable at night. I invented a little gadget I carry with me that sits on the window sill. Anyone who tries to climb in gets a hefty electric shock and it wakes me up. I made one for you and it's in your bedroom. Just plug it in and the switch is on the cord. Be careful not to touch it when it's on."
The idea of someone like him taking time to ensure her safety was almost too much to fathom. She stared at him speechlessly.
After another uncomfortable silence he said, "I should be going."
There was almost a touch of sorrow in the way he said it. He stood up but she remained seated. She looked up and said, "You know all about me but I still don't know who you really are. You don't have to tell me if you don't want to but maybe your first name?"
His voice was very gentle as he answered, "Charles."
She rose from her seat, crossed the room to shake his hand as she said, "That's a good name. It's been nice to meet you Charles." Her knees were still a little unsteady as she walked him to the door. When he opened it she said, "No. There isn't."
He turned and asked, "Isn't what?"
She looked directly at him and answered, "A man in my life. Is there a woman in yours?"
Fear and anger weren't the only emotions he had repressed for far too long. He had lived alone most of his life and never regretted it before. He reached up and stroked her cheek. Their eyes were locked together and he said, "I hope there is now."
She put one hand to her cheek and let it rest on his while her other one reached past him to close the door. Then she smiled.