Chapter 1
The Rose

Stalking has been defined as"the wilful, malicious and repeated following and harassing of another person". - Meloy, 1998

The delights of the room were few. The bed was lumpy, and the furniture didn't match. There was a picture on the wall, but it was screwed to the wall in each corner. The 'tea making facilities', of which much was made in the single page brochure, consisted of a mug, small electric kettle, and a notice to say that tea bags could be obtained from reception.

But he didn't mind. It wasn't the contents of the room that was important to him, but rather the position of it. Directly across the square, one floor below, was her apartment. And this room, uninviting though it was, offered a perfect view of her living arrangements.

So far, he was happy with them. She shared her living space, not with a man, but a cat; a small tabby that spent most of its life asleep on the back of the couch in her living room.

Soon he would join her and share her life and the dreams would no longer fade during the sunlit hours, but would be reinforced by her presence. His breath shuddered at the thought.

He glanced at his watch. Unless she was detained at work, she would be home any minute now. Today, for the first time, he had left her a gift, and he was excited, anticipating her reaction to it.

He unzipped his pants and took his place by the window, and he pressed his eye to the end of the telescope. He watched the road outside the block, and there it was; her car drove into the parking area right on time. He gave a satisfied sigh, and focussed the instrument on her apartment window and waited.

Minutes later she appeared, and he could see she was holding the rose in her hand. He had searched for hours for that flower; deep blood red, almost black petals, crystal white chiffon keeping the thorns at bay, displayed in silky obsidian wrapping. He thought of her white perfect skin, her thick black hair framing her face, blood red lips...oh god, those lips.

Soon my Sweet, those lips will brush mine!

He moaned softly and arched his back as he climaxed.


"I knew there was something wrong." Emily said. "I couldn't explain properly to you why, I just felt uneasy. Now I've been left a rose on my doorstep. On my doorstep, Hotch. Whoever this creep is, he's been right up here to my door!"

"Do you want me to come over?" he said, genuine concern in his voice. "I can check the place out for you, make sure there are no bugs, take a look at the security for you."

Emily sighed. "No, it's ok. For heaven's sake, I'm an FBI agent. This shouldn't faze me. I'm sorry to have disturbed you, Hotch. I'll see you tomorrow."

"If you are at all concerned about anything, you call straight away, and I'll be there." he said. "You will call, won't you?"

"I will, Hotch. Goodnight."

"Goodnight, and Emily..."


"I mean it. Call!"

She replaced the handset and looked at the flower. It was beautiful, there was no doubt. A little weird, maybe, wrapped in white chiffon and black paper, but very unusual. She took it to the kitchen and opened the bin, but she didn't throw it away.

So she had an admirer. Was that so bad? She took a tall straight black glass vase out of the cupboard, and unwrapped the rose. It looked nice in the vase. She made coffee, and took the vase and her drink back into her living room and put the vase on the table. She threw herself onto the couch and reached for her book, the latest Tony Hill novel. Whitechapel sat on her lap, purring contentedly.


Hotch looked at the phone for a few moments, before coming to a decision. He left his office and walked across to Dave's. He wasn't sure if he was still at work. Everyone else had gone for the evening, but like him, Dave had no one to go home for.

It was odd, he thought as he crossed the silent dark bullpen, when he did have someone to go home to, he rarely did. Now there was no one to care if he did or not, there were many opportunities to get home before Jack was in bed.

Life was perverse.

As he knocked on Dave's door, he realised that he could now think about Haley and Jack without getting that sickly knot in his stomach. Progress, he thought, sadly.

"Come in, Aaron!"

Hotch went in. "How did you know it was me?" he asked.

"You're the only other person who would still be here if he didn't have to be." Dave smiled. "Fancy a pint?"

"Sounds good." Hotch said. "I need to talk to you about something."

Later they sat in the lounge bar of a small hotel off the main drag. It was quiet, and there was no music. The bar maid was pretty without being brassy, and the air wasn't smoky. Aaron took a sip of his drink.

"Prentiss came to see me this morning." he said. Dave said nothing, but leaned forwards slightly. "She thinks she has a stalker."

"Has he threatened her?" Dave asked.

"No, and up until today, there has been no contact." Hotch said. "She said it was just a feeling. She thought someone had followed her to work four times last week, and she felt uneasy. She said herself that it sounded lame when put into words, but I told her that we would take it seriously. The police can't help."

"No." agreed Dave, "Not unless there has been an overt threat. You said, 'until today'."

"Yes." Hotch took another drink. "She called me just before we left. There was a rose on her doorstep when she got home."

"So he, if it is a he, has made contact."

"Yes, but no threat."

"Not all stalkers are harmless." Dave said. "Predatory Stalkers are the most dangerous."

"Hmm." Hotch frowned. "That's about power and control. Love Obsessional is the most common, but that can devolve into Predatory when the victim shows no interest."

Dave finished his drink. "Prentiss has been in the media lately, hasn't she?"

"After the last case she was in the papers, with a photo." Hotch said. "That is often the trigger for LO stalkers." He put his glass down. "Would you like to eat at mine tonight?"

"Thanks." Dave said. "We can get a take out!"

"Ok, and I want to do some research on stalking. If Emily has a stalker, she could be in danger."

"Reid will be able to tell us all the stats. But it would be nice to know before he tells us."

Aaron nodded in agreement, and the two men left the bar together.


She liked the flower. It was in a vase in her living room. His heart soared. His first gift to her, and she liked it. He longed to hold it against her; to prick her skin with a thorn, and see the blood deep red against the pure ivory. The rose was perfect and reflected her flawless beauty.

I love you, Emily. Soon I will tell you!

It was getting dark now. He shivered slightly as he watched the woman. She had been reading for a while now, and he desperately wanted to see what the book was so that he could read it too.

When she got up at just after ten, his heart beat so hard he thought he could hear it. She would go to bed now.

He finely focussed the telescope, and watched. She pulled the band from her hair and shook it loose; she took off her shirt and trousers and threw them in a pile by the kitchen door. She stood in the centre of the room in her underwear, and looked straight at him. He thought he was going to faint, and he moaned and shook and watched.

Oh god! Oh you are so beautiful, and you are mine! You will love me, Sweet Emily. We will always be together...

She opened her bathroom door, and for a while, she was out of his sight, although he aimed the telescope at the bathroom window, he couldn't see through the obscured glass .When she re-emerged, her hair and body were wet and he imagined how her skin would feel under his fingers, droplets of water on her body. He imagined how she would smell, pure and feminine. He cried out in his ecstasy, his hands gripping until it hurt.

Soon, My Emily. Soon...