( xi )
Before opening his car door, Red nearly fainted out of hunger and exhaustion. Leila had to force him to take a break and the pair sat down at a corner booth of a greasy-spoon diner.
“My friend here will have a hamburger with fries. Mayonnaise on the side, instead of ketchup and plain water instead of soda.” Leila ordered Red’s meal. He smiled, seeing how she never forgets how he likes his burgers served.
“And for you?” The young server asked Leila with a flirtatious tone.
“Oh don’t worry about me. I’m on a juice diet.” She showed him her bottle while pushing her sunglasses harder on the bridge of her nose.
“That’s nice! I should be on a juice diet too. What’s in the bottle? Clamato?” The server started to get closer to Leila. Red snapped his finger near the server’s face to get his attention.
“That would be all. Off you go.”
“I’ll be back soon.” The server winked and left to fetch their order.
“You and your damn pheromones.” Red complained under his breath.
“Yup. That’s why I like to keep myself fed.” Leila grinned at Red while showing him her bottle. “The longer I go without it, I swear people seem to go crazy around me”
“Yeah, yeah. I know how it works. It used to drive me nuts in the beginning.”
“And then you got used to it.” Leila took another gulp from her bottle.
Red glared at the young server who was still looking at Leila with a smile.
“Well, that’s what made us good hunters, you know, before we became civilized.” Leila took the last gulp from her bottle, keeping it bottom-up until the last remaining drops fell on her crimson tongue. “This was delicious.” She wiped her mouth on her sleeve, leaving a pink smudge on her pale skin.
“I bet it was.” Red replied mockingly with a subtle hint of disgust. Red takes an old newspaper that was lying on the table and started reading, while Leila called the team stationed at the cemetery to get updates on the situation.
Red scanned the headlines fast, even read through the classifieds, but a particular article caught his eyes.
Today Mont-Gaspard’s community mourns the passing of Gabrielle Côté, 24 years old. She was survived by her mother and her younger sister, who are both holding a service at the Saint-Sauveur Parish, where she will find her final resting place alongside her father and her grandfather. She was nine months pregnant at the time of her death. The police apprehended her long-time boyfriend, who shall remain nameless. He had a restraining order to stay away 100 meters away from Miss Côté due to domestic abuse charges. Although he claims to be innocent, the mere fact that he was found inside her home with bleach and plastic sheets makes him a prime suspect for her murder…
Red sprang up from his seat and put a twenty-dollar bill on the table. “We need to move now.” He grabbed Leila’s hand and pulled out of the booth. “I just found the next lead.”
“But your food?” Leila pointed at the server bringing his tray on their way.
Red grabbed his hamburger from the plate. “Keep the change kid.”
The server smiled at Leila while they were leaving the diner, with an enthralled look on his face.