While under the guise of Claire, Samantha unexpectedly bumps into a German clone by the name of Portia Obinger who is in search of her ‘scientist friend’. Unbeknownst to Sam, there is also an unstable killer on the loose…
After we had made love in bed, I was relieved when Lee finally fell asleep. He seemed content. Now all I had to do was quickly get the hell out of there before he woke up. I fished through his trousers and retrieved his keys and the cash from his wallet. I knew I had to be extremely quiet and so tiptoed as slowly as possible out of the bedroom door. It was only when I got outside that I heard Lee murmur something incoherent. I assumed he was just talking in his sleep. At least I hoped he was.
I made my way to the bank and immediately left a message for Felix. ‘We can’t part on bad terms. The last thing I want is for either of us to stay angry at each other. Or ourselves.’ I had unintentionally said this in my real accent, having completely forgotten that Stephen the bank manager might have been listening. I quickly hung up after having finished speaking, just as Stephen returned with the cash.
‘Here’s the 75K you requested, Miss Richards,’ he said in his usual friendly tone. ‘All I need you to do is sign for it, and Bob’s your uncle.’
I gladly did as I was told. Then I left the office, feeling intensely pleased with myself.
Hoping that Felix would be at his flat, I drove straight over there. I made the fatal mistake of parking Claire’s car outside the main driveway. As I hurried inside the flat and upstairs to look for Felix, little did I know that Claire’s partner Detective Ant Bell had been following me the whole time! Ant broke into the trunk of Claire’s car and found the 75K I had purposefully kept there. He shook his head in disbelief.
But I had even bigger matters to worry about. There was no Felix, but there were funeral cards which I quickly realized were for my own memorial service. I was extremely shocked and livid. ‘Felix,’ I said quietly but angrily. ‘You little shit.’
The next day, I watched my own ‘memorial service’ via binoculars, as Vincent cradled the golden urn containing Claire’s ashes. I noticed that behind the rather small congregation was a danger sign that read: PIPELINE ANCHOR.
Vincent read a handwritten eulogy from a tattered piece of paper. He was trying hard not to break down. God bless him!
I secretly called Felix on the mobile. ‘I didn’t think I’d hear from my dead foster sister again,’ he said sarcastically. ‘Anyway, is it Heaven or Hell?’
‘To be honest, I didn’t want a funeral for this very reason,’ I replied flatly.
‘Well, you have to remember that you’re not alive anymore so you don’t get to have a say about that.’
‘I’m still watching, aren’t I?’ I waved from where I was standing.
Felix chuckled, amused. ‘I dressed Vince for the gloomy occasion,’ he preened. ‘How do we look?’
‘You both match 100 percent,’ I laughed. ‘By the way, I have the money. This means the chance for you, me and Katrina to start all over.’
Vincent suddenly interrupted our phone conversation. ‘Felix, do you mind?’ he said sharply. ‘I’m trying to finish my speech. Unless you want us to go and come back.’
‘Sorry, Vince,’ Felix said quietly. Then he spotted a car, driven by a supposedly new arrival. ‘Oh god! It’s Siobhan!’
‘Siobhan?!’ I yelled, obviously freaked out. ‘Shit! No!’
I helplessly watched from a distance as our foster mother got out of her car, looking furious. And to add even more insult to injury – Katrina was with her!
I glanced at my young daughter through teary eyes. This was the first ever time I had seen my little girl in what was nearly a whole year.
Siobhan was arguing with Felix, while Katrina watched them innocently.
‘She can’t think I’m dead, Fee,’ I sobbed. ‘Katrina can’t think it’s me in that urn.’
An enraged Siobhan rushed Katrina back into the truck, then got in and drove away.
With the funeral wrapped up, I made my way back to Claire’s car. All I wanted was to drive off somewhere and cry my eyes out to release the emotional pain. But as I got in the driver’s seat, a short-haired woman scrambled into the back seat. Her hair was magenta, and she was wearing tinted shades.
The young woman sat up and glared at me. She spoke in a heavy, German accent. ‘Claire,’ she barked. ‘Why haven’t you responded to me?’
Horrified and startled, I leapt out of the car. ‘Get away from me,’ I cried, stepping back myself. ‘Who the hell are you? How did you find me?’
‘What do you mean?’ the woman said impatiently as she abruptly removed her shades. ‘Claire, it’s Portia.’
‘Holy… shit!’ I gasped. My reason for uttering this? Her face was completely identical to Claire’s and mine.
‘I brought the briefcase. With the samples,’ Portia said. ‘For your scientist friend. I was careful, like you told me to be.’
Which ‘scientist friend’ was Portia referring to? What in fuck’s name was she talking about?
I felt too shaky and terrified to respond. The only thing I could think to do was order Portia to stay back.
‘I’m Portia Obinger, Claire,’ she reminded me desperately. ‘Don’t tell me you still can’t remember?’
‘Okay, I get it,’ I snapped. ‘The German whose birth certificate I came across.’
‘But you asked for it as proof, Claire.’ Portia paused halfway to take out a handkerchief and coughed up some blood, much to my horror and disgust.
‘You promised to take me to your scientist friend,’ she begged, still holding the bloody hanky.
‘I’m sorry, Portia, but I can’t help you,’ I said stiffly, getting back into the car.
Portia immediately climbed back into the back passenger’s seat. She was getting frustrated, and I could tell by her body language and facial expression. But I felt twice as frustrated. ‘Get out of the car now!’ I ordered
‘Your partner was following you,’ Portia said frostily. ‘You were the one in the black car.’
I gaped. How would she have possibly known that? Had she been spying on me?
‘The same one that flashed their lights, aren’t you?’ she continued.
Now I was starting to feel unsettled as well as even more freaked out. ‘You really need to leave,’ I said forcefully.
‘But you are police, Claire. We need you.’
Who the hell was ‘we’?
Portia peered at me carefully, still thinking that she was talking to Claire. ‘Just one. I’m a few. No family too. Who am I?’
I was puzzled. I had no idea what she meant by that. Was this supposed to be some established code?
‘I don’t know who you are,’ Portia finally said suspiciously. ‘But you are not Claire.’
Without warning, a gunshot slammed through the windshield and into Portia’s head, killing her instantly. Blood and brain matter was splattered across the back seat. There was blood and flesh all over her jacket and jeans also.
I screamed at the top of my lungs. Suddenly, another bullet winged through the car, but I managed to duck beneath the dash and narrowly avoid being hit.
As soon as the shooting stopped, I seized the opportunity to save my own life. I quickly turned on the ignition and drove away as fast as possible before the gunman could start shooting at me again.
‘Fuck!’ I screamed in panic. I sped down the road with Portia’s corpse sprawled across the back seat. Portia’s pink mobile rang through my ears. This was the last thing I needed right now. Finally, it stopped ringing, but almost immediately, my identical pink mobile started to ring with the same ringtone. Unable to ignore the connection, I answered my phone. However, I was hesitant before doing so. ‘Hello?’ I said tentatively.
I quickly screeched over to the side of the road and jumped out of the car as I answered the person on the other end. ‘Claire,’ the female voice said. ‘Where have you been?’
I paced uncontrollably as I tried to explain. ‘Long story,’ I stuttered. ‘Did you meet Portia Obinger?’ the other young woman asked. ‘I can’t seem to reach her.’
I stopped pacing and stared at Portia’s dead body. I then collapsed against hood of the car. ‘She’s dead,’ I told the other young woman hysterically. ‘Someone shot her right in front of me!’
‘Oh God!’ the other young woman gasped. ‘Are you all right, Claire?’
‘No! No of course I’m not all right!’ I yelled at her, completely devoid of any calmness and self-control. I was finally letting loose.
‘Holy shit! Then it’s true!’ the young woman exclaimed.
‘What do you mean?’ I asked, baffled.
‘That someone is killing us. That killer must have followed her from Europe.’
I kicked the car and swore in my real accent. ‘Fucking hell!’ I cried hysterically.
‘What did you say?’ the young woman on the other end asked.
‘Forget about what I just said, okay?’ I quickly glossed over it.
‘Did you get the briefcase?’ the other woman asked.
The briefcase? I tried to look in the back seat for it but Portia’s body was in the way. I nearly vomited over her appearance, so I had no choice but to back away.
‘Actually, don’t worry about the briefcase for now,’ the other woman said. What you do have to worry about, however, it getting rid of her body.’
‘But how am I going to do that?’ I asked in Claire’s accent.
‘You’re the cop, aren’t you?’ was her direct answer. Buy a shovel.’
Feeling frustrated, I opened the trunk to get a blanket out to cover Portia. ‘Make sure you get her hair and blood samples. You can do this,’ the female caller assured me.
‘Why don’t you come and lend me a helping hand?’ I suggested.
‘Believe me, I would if I could,’ the girl said sincerely. ‘Take one step at a time and you’ll be fine. I promise to call you back.’
Our conversation ended as she disconnected. That was when I started to get to work. I threw the blanket over Portia, slammed the door shut, and leaned against the car, trying my hardest to process what in fuck’s name had just happened.