I watched Sarah’s friends for thirty minutes. Whatever Tall Guy’s name was, I didn’t care because I didn’t like him. He was into my niece. There was no doubt about it. It was in the way he sat opposite her, and when she talked to Macy or Caroline, he’d simply stare and smile and practically drool.
Stare all you want, Tall Boy. ’Cause that’s all you’re ever going to do.
Twenty minutes later, Sarah scooted out of her booth. So did Macy and Caroline.
But hell, so did Tall Guy and the other two guys with them.
So, I stood too.
Good detectives didn’t let their suspects out of sight.
Where are they heading?
My eyes followed them to the corner where it looked like there was another room. From where I sat, I could see pinball machines and a Pac-Man machine.
Game room. Okay, that is public enough.
When they entered the room, I adjusted my cap and walked to the corner, where I could spy through the glass window. Call me the new Spy Guy.
I rested against the doorframe and peered in. There were a slew of teenagers and little kids in there. I’d never been here before, so I hadn’t known a game room in a pizza joint was even a thing.
Macy, Sarah, and Tall Guy were in the far corner. Sarah was playing Pac-Man, and she jumped every time she passed a level. She killed it at this game. I should know. I was the one who had taught her how to play.
I froze when Tall Guy leaned in closer. His hip rested on the game, and whatever he’d said was making Sarah laugh. Again.
My fists clenched at my sides, and every muscle in my body tightened.
What the hell was he saying that was so damn hilarious that he could make the girl who hardly laughed at comedy shows laugh?
How the hell can she play when you’re basically in front of the screen, idiot?
Then, his hand grazed her hip. And shit, that was where Spy Guy’s Spidey senses kicked the fuck in.
I’m telling your dad, I practically singsonged in my head. It almost could be followed up by, Na-na-na-na boo-boo.
Immature, I knew, but this was what I was saying. No one, not even my family, ever listened to what I was saying.
I took out my phone and snapped a picture. Yes, I was going to tell Daddy because this shit needed to stop.
“What are you doing?” A sharp voice cut through the air.
And I turned around and was shocked at the beautiful, short brunette in front of me.
It didn’t take more than a nanosecond to see how this looked. I was tongue-tied, and my phone was out, pointed at the kids. This did not look good.
Little Miss Beautiful was so not happy to see me.
Me, on the other hand … I couldn’t stop staring at her.
You only heard about these creeps on the news, or when you read about their latest victims. I’d never in my life seen one live in action. It was as if tiny spiders crawled over every inch of my body. And I’d never wanted to punch anyone in my life as badly as I did this man in front of me. Not even my ex-boyfriend.
“What are you doing?” I shouted. Because, hell yeah, everyone in this restaurant should hear what I was about to say.
I’d been watching this guy for the last forty-five minutes, staring at my students from across the room. When he’d started following them, I wasn’t having it.
He had his phone out and had taken a picture of my students. I wouldn’t let this get any further than that.
My nostrils flared, and my whole body flamed with fury. “I want to know why you are taking pictures of children.”
His eyes flickered to our surroundings and to the kids playing in the room. “It’s not what you think.” His brown eyes bulged, and he shook his head so hard that I was afraid he’d dislocate something.
Well-fitted jeans. A Cubs T-shirt that clung to his chest, showing casing his arms. And a Cubs hat. He looked alarmingly normal, good-looking even. But so had Ted Bundy and look at how many women he’d killed.
I popped out a hip. “It’s exactly what I think.”
Everyone’s attention was on us. The huge family at the far end of the room, the older couple in the corner, the group of teenagers just inside the game room.
“Give me your phone.” I held my hand out as my whole body tensed.
“I will not.” He jerked back, looking at me like I was the crazy one.
Gah! I wanted to punch his face and use my kickboxing skills so damn bad.
“Delete that picture.” My voice increased with mounting rage as I stared him down.
He grabbed my arm and leaned in, speaking in a low tone, “Lower your voice, and I’ll explain.”
I shrugged him off and reeled back. “Get your filthy hands off me.”
This had gone far enough. Even if he deleted the picture, these type of men were repeat offenders. He needed help or jail time.
“I’m calling the cops.”
“What? No!” He panicked, gripping my elbow with more force this time.
“Get off me, jerkface! Now, I’m going to charge you with battery.” My eyes blazed fire, and it took all my composure to stay put and not go postal. I reached for my phone in my purse and dialed.
“Nine-one-one,” the female operator answered.
“I’d like to report a crime,” I said shakily, my rage getting to me.
Crazy Guy’s eyes went wide. “Woman, what are you doing?”
“Yes, I’m at Jack’s Pizza Place at the mall. I witnessed this older male stalk these children, walk in, and follow them to a table where he could spy. He watched them for forty-five minutes before he followed them to the game room where he took a picture of the kids.”
Crazy Guy flinched as if my words had hurt him.
“Was there physical harm done to the children?” the operator asked.
I scrunched my face, and my voice lowered into the receiver. “Uh, no. But he took their picture.”
“Taking pictures is not against the law, ma’am. Are they your children?”
“No,” I spat out. This operator grated on my nerves. “They’re not. I’m their teacher, and for your information, I think you’re wrong.”
Crazy Guy clasped his hand over his head. “You’re their teacher.”
I ignored him. “Well, I want to press charges for assault then.”
“Assault?” He threw up both hands. “How the hell did I assault you?”
“You grabbed me despite my protests—twice.” I lifted my nose and shot him a look. “Assault.”