The woman was pregnant, very pregnant, undoubtedly close to term.
Her great, white belly stretched out pinp.r.i.c.k tight, the navel inverted like a b.u.t.ton of flesh. Was she talking to someone in the room? Her movements indicated an anxious expectation, though Fanshawe couldn't imagine why he believed this. Moreover, he couldn't believe any of what he was seeing.
How could he?
I must be dreaming, he tried to convince himself. Though nothing of the past few minutes seemed at all like a dream. The looking-gla.s.s's eyepiece felt connected to him now. As he continued to stare into the window that could only be his, the pregnant woman began to crudely caress herself, and then- The window turned pitch dark, like a candle being blown out.
Fanshawe lowered the gla.s.s; he was too afraid to look anymore. What he'd seen, or thought he'd seen, made his mind feel like it was shredding. He shoved the looking-gla.s.s back into his pocket and stalked away down the path.
I think there's something seriously wrong with me...
His eyes felt peeled open when he returned to town. Both Back and Main Streets stretched out charming and quaint as always. Only a few pa.s.sersby were about, evidently on their way to or from the tavern, or one of the late-night cafes. What bothered Fanshawe most was the vibrancy of the street lamps- Street lamps that weren't there a little while ago. But his unease toned down in a moment. He was a logical man, so there had to be a logical explanation.
Unsure steps took him back into the hotel. He crossed the near empty atrium, thought of putting the looking-gla.s.s back into the display case-though he still didn't remember ever taking it out-but changed his mind when a pair of professors loped drunkenly out of the pub. I'll put it back tomorrow, he resolved, and I better make d.a.m.n sure no one sees me. A quick glance into the pub showed him Mr. Baxter, not Abbie, idly tending the bar, but then he remembered seeing her: undressing, getting ready for bed. Yep, I'm a sc.u.mbag, all right-peeping on a girl I've got a DATE with tomorrow... He thought of stopping in to say h.e.l.lo but realized that conversation was the last thing he desired just now.
What the h.e.l.l was I seeing back there?
He hastened for the elevator, hoping Baxter hadn't noticed him. What a day. A dead body and now...this... He couldn't have gotten to his room faster; the hall's m.u.f.fled silence seemed to chase him inside like a pursuer.
The pursuer, he knew, was guilt.
Not too long ago, he'd been spying on some women on this very floor.
He locked the doo
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