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Irene looked at the stranger sitting next to her on the couch. He wasn't eating or
drinking or even looking at the hockey game. He just sat on the couch with his back upright and so stiff; he didn't seem to be enjoying himself at all. Who was he and why did Nick invite him? She didn't recall him from any of Nick's friends from school or work and he seemed odder than the others especially wearing a black cape and hood. They stared at each other for a few seconds sizing each other up. In Irene's opinion he wasn't bad looking even though his face was partly covered by the hood. Maybe, she thought if she should break the ice and start a conversation with him and he might loosen up.
"So are you excited about the game? If they win, they'll go into the playoffs."
The man didn't respond.
"Who do you think will win? I hope it's the home team."
No response again.
Jesus. What an asshole.
"I don't think he would approve of you using his name outside of polite conversation."
"What?" it startled Irene when the stranger finally spoke. Even weirder was that he
knew exactly what she was thinking. Then the stranger decided to make the first move and pulled his hood off revealing his brown hair that was brushed back in a professional
meaning expensive style. "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to come off with the condescending
attitude. My name is William." He then held out his hand to her.
Irene hesitated before she took it. "Irene," she said and quickly pulled her hand away. It didn't feel safe to her to let him hold it for too long. "So, what are you doing here? I don't recognize you from school or Nick's workplace."
"I'm here on business. To see Nick."
"It's complicated. An overdue library fines." A small smile creeped up on his face as
if it were some sort of private joke between himself and only himself. Irene slowly got up and went to the kitchen. Nick was opening a jar of salsa and pouring it into a bowl and spoke without looking up at Irene. "What's the score?"
"I think it's scoreless for now. I think." She peered over her shoulder for a second to
see William still sitting on the couch next to her cousin Christian. "Nick."
"Who's the guy sitting on the couch next to my cousin."
Nick peaked his head out of the hole space window to see the man having an animated
conversation with Christian. He seemed familiar to Nick but he couldn't recall in his memory anyone who wore a black cape and hood.
"Well?" Irene said. "Do you know him?"
"I've never seen him before in my life." Nick went back with his nacho arrangement.
"Then why did you invite him in? He could have been a serial killer."
"A serial killer. In this neighbourhood?"
"It could happen." Irene ever paranoid with strange men dressed in a hood and cloak.
"Well I didn't invite him."
"Then who?" The hairs on the back of Irene's neck prickled as if the room had dropped
a few degrees. How did he get in here, she thought.