“Would you hurry up!” Debbie yelled as the doorbell rang again. Who could that possibly be? she wondered. Whoever it was, they were persistent.

“Not out the front door, you idiot! Go out the back. Do you want to get caught?” Sometimes she wondered what it was she found so appealing about this one. It was probably the attention he gave her. She didn’t care so much about the other stuff.

When she finally had him out of the house, she composed herself, put on a plastic smile and opened the front door.

“Suzy!” she said in mock surprise to the girl standing before her. “I’m so sorry, I was taking a shower and didn’t hear the doorbell.”

“It’s no problem Mrs. Andrews. I’m selling cookies. I’ve already visited everyone else on the block. Would you like to buy some?”

Something wasn’t right, but Debbie couldn’t quite put her finger on it. What was really going on here?

“Of course dear!” She played along, not wanting to give anything away.

“How many boxes would you like? Mrs. Davis up the street bought ten.”

“Oh, I don’t think I’ll need that many, “ Debbie said to her, that feeling of unease still tickling the back of her mind. “How about two?”

“I think you want more than that,” Suzy hinted.

“I do?”

“Oh yes, you most certainly do.”

It sounded like a threat. Debbie laughed nervously at the audacity of the girl before her.

“Okay, you win. I’ll take four. You’re quite the saleswoman!”

“You’ll take twenty,” Suzy said to her. Unsmiling. Matter-of-fact.

“I would like four, please,” she replied.

“Very well. Four it is.” Cold. Detached. “By the way, can you tell me what time Mr. Andrews gets home?”

Debbie’s face dropped. “W-Why would you care about a thing like that?” she asked.

“I think you know.”

“So,” she said to the darling little girl before her. The conniving, manipulative, blackmailing child standing on her front porch. Isn’t she sweet?

Debbie forced herself to smile.

“Twenty boxes. Would you like cash? Or can I write you a check?”