As soon as I stepped through the door, I knew he'd been in the flat, sitting in my chair, reading my books, drinking my wine. Was he still there? I turned on the light and furtively looked around, an interloper in my own home.
I tried the bedroom, my underwear drawer was open and had been rifled through. My best friend the stalker. I sensed him behind me a heartbeat before the knife was at my throat.
"Shhh... no sound... nice and quiet..."
I closed my eyes and tried to stay calm, feeling his breath, cool on my neck, soothing me despite the adrenaline. He was savouring the smell of my fear, and it was delicious to be his meal again.
"Missed you," he whispered in a childlike voice, and I nodded back wordlessly, still wary of the blade.
He chuckled to see this, put the knife down, then turned me around. I opened my eyes and we stared at each other for a few long moments, emotions pooling.
"Why didn't you call?" he asked, seeming dispassionate, but I knew the signs. I'd upset him, and that made me hurt on a level that nothing else compared to.
I reached out my hand, but he batted it away. "I'm so sorry," I tried, "I didn't get time, or it was too late..."
He wasn't impressed. I could have phoned anytime - he was a night owl anyway - but it had just been too difficult to bear. I needed to be with him so much, it had seemed better not to think about it.
I looked down at the ground and felt tears start to well up. He watched them fall for a while, then reached out and softly wiped them away. My heart made that peaceful snap that it did whenever something like this happened.
"Hey, it's OK," he murmured kindly, "I'm a big boy, I can take it."
That just made it worse, but I managed to steady myself and look back up into his shining forgiveness. "Did you leave me any wine?" I asked bravely.
"Eh, maybe a bit," he led me back into the living room and put on a record while I opened a new bottle. "Come on, tell me all about it," he sat on the sofa and I handed him a glass then flopped back against him.
"Oh god, it was awful..."
It was good to be home.