“I took the bus from Los Angeles to Sacramento. At the station I saw an old chum of my brother’s from High School. He said he’d give me a ride, but then he got fresh. I wasn’t going to, you know, I have cash to pay for gas. I’m not… so he dumped me here. I figured if I walked…”
“Get in. You’ll be safe. I promise,” he said. It had just started to rain. “I have a house by the lake. You can stay the night. Where are you going?”
“Reno,” she told him. “I have a teaching job waiting for me. It starts in two weeks.”
He found out she’d left a short abusive marriage. Out of the fire into the frying pan. She was too trusting of people, all bright eyed and perky, even after being left on the side of the road by a creepy pervert.
“I’m Val,” he said holding out his hand.
“Eve,” she said. “Your hand is colder than mine. You’re freezing.”
He smiled. She felt safe for the first time in a long time.
“Val. I like that. Is it short for Valentino?”
“I like that better,” said Eve.
They drove for another half hour to a large cabin by the edge of a lake. Cabin was an understatement, this was a 3,000 square foot luxury home.
“Go change,” Val told her. “I have something to show you.”
She went into one of the bedrooms, feeling as if she’d been there before.
When Eve returned, in drawstring pajama pants and a comfy sweatshirt, she found Val sitting on the couch in the main living area with his laptop on the coffee table in front of him. A glass of red wine was in his hand.
“I feel better. Thanks for picking me up again,” said Eve, as she sat down next to Val.
“It’s what I do Eve. Did anyone else pick you up this week?”
“A couple from San Francisco picked me up on Thursday. I had them drop me off in Truckee. Oh and last Saturday a trucker picked me up. He was hauling a load of furniture to Salt Lake City. I went all the way to Reno with him. Nice guy. He told me about his wedding plans. What did you want to tell me?”
Val turned to the laptop. “Your body was found last week by some Cal Trans workers getting the road ready for winter. They found your suitcase. There were also two other young women, both killed and dumped within a couple weeks of you. Both disappeared from the Sacramento Gray Hound station in October of 1987.”
“What about Tom?”
“Tom Turner was arrested last night. He wallet was found under the body of one of the other women. He’d also kept souvenirs. Your purse and heart shaped locket were found in his house.”
“Wow. I didn’t know about the others. Oh Val. Thank God it is over. What happened to the other two women?”
“They didn’t stay,” Val said turning back to the computer. “After the bodies were found reports came in of a hitchhiker in a red leather jacket, with long blonde hair. She’d been seen on the highway for the past thirty years.”
“You know, I don’t remember when I go out at night. Not until they drop me off.”
“I know Eve. It’s ok.”
“I’m glad they arrested the sick bastard.”
“So am I. If you’d told me his name earlier I would have taken care of him myself.”
“I didn’t remember it until now. Val, do you think I’ll go out again?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you think I’ll move on? I guess see the light?”
“I can’t answer that, but you know you can stay here as long as you want.”
“I saw some other ghosts out tonight. They’re so lost.”
“Donner Party folks?”
“How’d you know.”
“They’re always out there.”
“What if you go away? Will I have to wonder around with them?”
“I won’t go away. I’ll always be here for you Eve.”
“Lucky me being picked up by a Vampire.”
Val smiled. “Lucky you.”