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First pages

Chapter 1

“Who are you?” asked the tiny, pale, brunette child, looking intently into the unnerving eyes of the mysterious, dark-haired stranger.

“It doesn’t matter,” the man quickly replied.

The gaunt, mysterious man stood less than a foot in front of the girl; his shadowed face towering ominously above as she desperately tried to maintain eye contact. The man stood easily over six feet tall, his bony body generously covered by a long, black overcoat, which descended nearly to his boot-covered ankles.

A slight breeze brushed across the two, from right to left, as they quietly stood beneath the pallid moonlight of the star-filled, country, night sky. This weary wind was covered by a constant chirping of nearby crickets to provide the only other sound the young girl’s evolving ears could interpret.

“It’s so weird,” uttered the child, as she took her eyes off of the man for the first time since he’d begun speaking to her.

“What is?” asked the man.

“I could’ve sworn there were other people around here just a second ago.”

Beneath the deepened, fog of shadow which covered his face, the man made a silent, short-lived sneer, which quickly morphed into an equally curious grin before returning to normal.

“No,” the man carefully replied. “It’s just us. We’ve been alone out here this entire time.”

The child glanced back up to the man’s face to see his eerie, green eyes glaring back down at her diminutive frame once more. The edge of cover provided by the porch of the man’s modest shack successfully shielded him from most of the sobering verity of the moon’s light, wrapping his well-covered body in a shroud of mystery and secrecy.

However, the man’s beaming, green eyes could not be hidden; they shined like two repressed stars which finally found the sky, glowing with a core of seething, raw emotion from behind a cover of patience and deception.

“I’m kind of surprised,” admitted the man in a continued, unblinking stare.

“About what?” asked the girl.

“The darkness…it doesn’t seem to scare you.”

“I’ve been living in the dark my entire life. Why would it scare me?”

“I admire your strength. You’re not like the others. But you really should be scared this time.”

“What are you talking about?” snapped the child in a sudden spurt of heated concern. “Why should I be scared?”

“You don’t get it, do you?” asked the man with a quick shake of his head.

The girl simply looked back into the man’s growing, green eyes, silent, with a slight tremble she could not hide.

“I’m saying…you’re standing in your grave.”

The man’s words tore beneath the girl’s flesh, crawling fast through her warming blood, before touching her heart and branding an instant mark of truth she could not deny. Swiftly she turned to her back to lay her shaky, brown eyes upon the huge, darkened trunk of a massive, oak tree.

“What?” snapped the girl in shock. “But I was just on the porch…”

In that same instant, she noticed just in front of the tree, a sizeable, rectangular hole in the ground, just at her feet. At the end of the hole, sat the unmistakable, darkened silhouette of a tall, wooden stake. A name was hastily scratched onto its front in florid, white chalk. A sudden streak of lightning made the name on the stake shockingly clear to the girl.

“That’s my name,” she uttered with visibly trembling lips.

An abrupt downpour of rain followed the quick clap of thunder off in the distance, almost as if on cue. The girl snapped to her back once more in a fluster, laying her eyes upon the architect of her demise. He was now covered in a heavy, black hood and robe which descended to the rain-soaked soil.

Swiftly, the man lunged for the tiny seven year-old, grabbing her by the arms, as her heels teetered on the edge of the imposing, darkened hole behind her. Finally, the man’s entire face was visible to the girl; a gruesome, revolting visage, the shade of the soil beneath their feet and the crumbling complexion of a rotting corpse.

His green eyes had turned completely black, as he held them no more than two inches away from her clinched, fearful face.

“Time to die, ya little bitch!” screamed the man in a menacing, ruthless tone she had not heard from him until that moment.

With all of the determination, all of the spirit the girl could muster, she began to resist, fighting the man with everything she had. But one misstep caused her to slip and lose her delicate footing at the hole’s edge, as the man simultaneously relinquished his grip. The man’s abominable face had returned to shadow and his demeanor had fallen back to stoic silence, as he watched her fall into the darkness.

The child let out the scream of her life; more full of terror and despair than any before it. Suddenly, everything went black for the little girl; no more fear, no more thoughts, no more pain. It lasted for all of a fleeting instant, as she awoke to very different surroundings.

Immediately, everything came flooding back to her mind; all of her memories, all of her pain, all of her triumphs. A brief lifetime of knowledge and experience brought her back to reality, as she drew a deep gasp before uttering a sobering sentence of relief.

“It was all just a dream.”

Slowly, the young woman composed herself, as she sat up in her comfortable queen-size.

“Damn,” she whispered with a chuckle. “That shit was crazy.”

With a deep, disinclined breath, she pulled back her heavy sheets and made her way out of the darkened bedroom. She’d shut her bedroom door, which quickly gave her pause. She could not remember what would have made her do such a thing; especially during the summer time.

Then, the moment she emerged into her narrow, carpeted hallway, it all came back to her. A lingering odor of Pine-Sol in the air reminded her that she’d mopped her bathroom and kitchen floors just before she turned in. A single, overhead, hallway light had been left on, which worked out perfectly for the woman, as she was still slightly disoriented.

A mere ten footsteps and a right turn was all it took for her to arrive at the opened door to the bathroom in her modest, Maryland apartment. A quick flick of her left wrist brought light into the darkened room and her reflection in the mirror now in front of her. Carefully and silently she stared into the mirror; suddenly severed from the storm of thought which had clouded her consciousness from the moment she’d opened her eyes.

The healthy, athletic frame of a fully-developed, adult female appeared before her. Her upper half was garbed in a loose, comfortable, gray, short-sleeved undershirt, which descended down to her upper thigh. Her smooth, toned legs were partially covered by a pair of black and white, checkered boxers, which ended about six inches above her knees.

Her straight, dark hair plummeted to her sculpted, yet covered shoulders; pleasing to the sight of most and exquisite to the touch of only a few. A heated, furious yearning burned behind her coffee-shaded corneas. Slowly, she shut her broken, brown eyes, before grabbing the bottoms of her gray undershirt, leisurely lifting it over her head and throwing it to the smooth, reflective floor beneath her bare feet.

As she reopened her eyes with the same careful caution as before, she gazed upon a bitter, painful reality, no less conspicuous than the last time she’d looked. A set of swelling, blue bruises showed up and down the young woman’s right, rib cage, making their presence felt all over her grimacing expression.

With a stinging sigh, the young woman rested her hands against the corners of her meager, cream-shaded sink, before dropping her face to the auburn and burgundy, linoleum floor and shaking her head twice.

“It’s two-thirty in the morning,” uttered the woman, her head still tilted downward. “Dammit, can I at least get a good night sleep without feeling more pain?”

A swift flick of the woman’s right wrist and light was gone in the bathroom, as she departed back to her bedroom, hoping there would be no more nightmares.

Chapter 2

The next morning, she emerged from her room, fully-dressed and ready to get an early start on what she’d assumed would be a full, busy, Sunday. The young woman had only been living in the apartment for about six months, yet everything had become a faceless, mundane routine to her already. She did not even remember shutting her front door when she left, but like so many other days, the young woman knew the task had been completed.

Besides, she was in such a rush, she was not about to turn around and go back to check. Easily and effortlessly, she made her way down two, short sets of unremarkable, white steps before bowling through the front door of her building like a wild animal hunting its prey on the Serengeti.

The picturesque, sunny, cyan sky, the chirping of a couple of birds from the building’s roof, even the formal greeting of a passer-by; none of it elicited a reaction from the woman, as she methodically marched down the winding, white sidewalk. A lone man, tan in both clothing and complexion, approached the young lady from her right side. He carried a sizeable, slim tool in his right hand, which she quickly identified to be a weed whacker, as he got closer.

The man crossed behind her to a particular set of overgrown shrubs at her left, before throwing on a pair of transparent, safety goggles and confirming his identity as a contracted worker. Though the man’s presence grabbed her attention, the young woman regarded him without response. She was used to the process; the constant endeavor, the vigilance.

To her, everything in life had a purpose, a reason for being. Over the years, she’d perfected her talent of being able to discern the purpose of everything and everyone she encountered. Always, was she thinking, plotting, even when she was not trying. It was second nature to her at this point, as much a part of her as her fingers or feet.

She made her way past the planted parodies of a true country life she’d experienced as a child and secretly longed for again. Her striking, brown eyes gravitated toward a black, Nissan Altima coupe in the modest, faded parcel of parking. With the press of a button she was in her car and ready to go like countless time before.

Twenty minutes later, a scruffy, white-haired, waxen man began walking to the front door of his generously proportioned, Bethesda home.

“Who is it?” hollered the man, as he tripped over the third and final step leading from the soft, carpeted floor of his living room to the mahogany, hardwood floor of his foyer.

After three seconds, the man realized the person outside was not going to answer him, inciting the growth of a slight smirk across the bottom half of his pimple-ridden, pale face. Swiftly and surely, the man swung his sizeable, auburn-shaded door open to lay his salient, sapphire eyes upon a dark-haired, fair-skinned, woman decked in a familiar burgundy and gold football jersey.

“Grace!” shouted the man in a jovial, playful tone.

“Phil!” she shouted back in the same whimsical, lively manner. “How the hell are ya doing, you pale asshole?!”

The two clasped their arms around one another in a massively overemphasized bear hug, where Grace’s boot-covered feet lifted nearly five inches from the ground.

“I’m doing great, ya little, brunette bitch!”

The two made their way under a gaudy, glass and crystal chandelier, across the hardwood foyer, toward the familiar sound of a football game already playing in the living room.

“Who’s here?” she asked.

“Justin, Patrick and Jackson,” replied Phil.

“Oh shit,” she uttered with a chuckle. “Did Jackson get his--”

“Yes,” interjected Phil. “Don’t bust his balls about it, Grace. I mean, really.”

“Don’t worry,” she quickly declared. “I’m not gonna mess with him…much.”

“Grace,” snapped Phil with a sudden stop, just before the three steps.

“He had a prostate exam,” she snapped in the same quickness. “You really think I’m gonna let something like that go? Fuck no!”

Phil simply glared back at her for a brief instant, before shaking his head twice. The two turned to continue their progress into the living room, before another abrupt stop from Phil.

“What?” asked Grace. “What is it now?”

“Grace,” began Phil in a much more slow and subdued tone than he had used up to that point.

“Uh-oh,” uttered Grace with a slow, sullen roll of her pretty, brown eyes. “I know that tone, Phil. The last time you used it, you admitted you’d dropped my phone in the toilet at Greta’s party.”

“It’s nothing like that,” began Phil carefully. “I was just wondering…that thing at the park…was it really a ten year-old kid?”

Immediately, Grace turned away from Phil and began down the steps, before being grabbed by her left wrist at the bottom step.

“What?” she heatedly snapped. “You know I can’t talk about that. Besides, I come here to get away from work. I don’t bring that shit with me.”

“Everybody’s talking about it,” declared Phil, in an overt attempt to keep his voice down. “The guys and I were talking about it just before you got here.”

Grace remained silent, dropping her stony glare from Phil’s deep, blue eyes, to his bone-shaded slacks.

“It was a child who was killed, wasn’t it? And in a place like--”

“Look, I really don’t know. I haven’t even been into work in three days.”

“What? Why?”

“I broke two ribs outside a club in Baltimore.”

Phil gave the beautiful, young woman a quick glance over, before meeting her eyes with his own once more. The crew-neck, collar of a white t-shirt showed across the opened, v-neck, front of her jersey. She wore a pair of tight, faded, blue jeans and burgundy boots which matched the jersey perfectly.

“Before you ask, it had nothing to do with the case. I was just out grabbing a drink after work. In hindsight, maybe I should have gone to an Applebees or a sports bar or something, but it is what it is.”

“And what happened?” asked Phil in a near monotone inflection.

“Well I was just chillin’ at the bar, sippin’ on my vodka and cranberry at first, mindin’ my own business. I notice this big, linebacker-sized, black dude arguing with who I assumed to be his girl or something. He won’t let her go, even though she’s trying like hell to get away from him. This preppy looking kid about half his size tries to come over and squash it. He got decked twice across the face for his trouble and laid out on the floor in front of me. Security is on the way, but they weren’t there yet. And I see this guy raise his hand to this girl, who’s probably about five-foot three, mind you. If he had hit her, he’d have broken her in two. I yelled for him to stop and chill out first, but he pretended like he didn’t hear me. I kicked the side of his knee as hard as I could just before he hit her and brought him down to the floor. Like the second he hit the floor, he charged into me and jammed me against the bar.”

“Shit Grace!” shouted Phil.

Everyone in the living room was silent for a careful instant before a gravelly voice shouted back, “Shut up and get your ass back out here, Phil!”

“Hold your horses,” snapped Grace in a matched shout of her own.

“Oh, so she is here,” declared Jackson. “Hurry up and get your ass out here, girl.”

“Dumbass,” muttered Grace with a smile.

“Anyway, so this guy’s got me against the bar and he’s got me in a bear hug. He’s squeezing the life outta me. But my hands were free. The bartender slides me a half-empty bottle of Barcardi and I smash it over the guy’s head. Glass shards, alcohol flying everywhere, right? He loses his grip on me completely, but turned and gave me maybe the hardest shot I’ve ever taken in the gut. I fall to the floor immediately and he starts kicking and stomping away at me like I were a punching bag or something. I couldn’t do anything, but take it. But security got there pretty quickly and he was thrown out and arrested. It took four guys to do it though.”

“Sounds like you were lucky to have just two broken ribs.”

“I know, right?”

“That’s a hell of a lot better than what happened to this kid though.”

“This shit again?” snapped Gale impatiently. “Look, I haven’t heard about that yet. So, if I were you, I’d…”

“They said there was a symbol carved into his back.”

Phil’s words nearly bowled over the young woman’s consciousness with cogent sobriety.

“Granted, this is only hearsay, but I also heard he was decapitated, but with some kinda dull knife…it wasn’t quick. And his Achilles tendon was slit on each leg.”

She knew there was more and she knew Phil would keep going, but Grace could hear no more. She already knew. All she’d wanted was to escape the gruesome, shocking score of the world at its worst, if even for a little while. Yet she realized more and more, there would be no escape.

“I’ve gotta go,” she uttered, before darting across the living room for the door.

“Wait!” hollered Phil with an outstretched, opened right hand.

“No,” she replied. “This was a mistake. I…I’ve gotta go.”

With that, the door opened and shut before Phil had made it halfway across. By the time he’d opened the door, Grace was already standing in front of the passenger door of her Altima with her black smartphone at her right ear.

“Edwards,” she answered. “No, it’s fine, go ahead.”

“Grace,” hollered Phil from his open door, while leaning forward outside.

Grace lifted the index finger of her left hand with an unnerving glare his way, confirming this was not the time to speak to her.

“Say again?” she asked.

After a brief silence and twist of her tender features, she gave a weighted reply.

“Got it,” she uttered. “I’m on my way.”

Grace promptly pressed on the flat screen of her sizeable smartphone and put it away. She turned toward the car, before hearing Phil once again from behind.

“Grace,” he called. “Come back inside! Stay, at least for a little while. I won’t talk about it anymore, I promise.”

“Can’t,” she replied, while continuing to the driver’s side. “They need me at the station. Looks like I’m returning to work a day early now.”

With that, the four year-old import cranked up and screeched out of the high-end neighborhood with all speed.

Sunshine fell to clouds and daylight fell to dusk as another routine Sunday dragged on in the nation’s capital. But as the rain began to fall and false light began to flourish, a single, veiled presence lay buried in a heart of massive timber and gloomy haze.

“Here in the forest, dark and deep, I offer you eternal sleep.”

The man’s words were coarse and hollow; spoken with a massive, guarded malevolence and scantily restrained, heinous, revulsion. He stood still through the hushed mist, covered by a long, black raincoat which descended to his ankles. His face lay covered in the generous shadow of his coat’s sizeable hood, while a straight, navy-blue beak popped through its front.

The forest was especially quiet for some reason. From crickets to birds, cats to deer, all were silent within his site of solitude. The sound of only one animal caught his ear; a human being, a female, jogging down a path nearby. Though her rhythmic, fast-paced footsteps were more than audible, it was her breathing, her panting which first caught his ear.

Though she was far away, one look through the thin fence of haze confirmed her natural beauty and firm figure. This was not a new year’s resolution she’d somehow managed to keep all this time, but a lifestyle for her. This was a part of who she was. She wore her long, blonde hair in a neat ponytail which bounced lightly from side to side with each step she took.

Around her forehead was a thin, black headband with something written along its front in white, which then man assumed to be some popular, athletic company logo. She wore a thin, white, razor-back, tank top, with an equally thin, crew-neck, short-sleeve, white t-shirt underneath. A pair of black tights covered her fit, muscular legs, while her black and white running shoes fit his paradigm of her perfectly.

“Disgusting,” he spitefully uttered. “Listen to the beast wail and whine. It is totally unhealthy. Sucking up so much of this beautiful, forest air with its endless panting and prancing. I’d kill it myself if it weren’t so disgusting.”

An entirely different series of struggling breaths could be heard behind the man, emanating from the solid, grassy ground below. The man paid these faint sounds little concern, not even turning around to see what it was. The reaching, racing breaths were not born of physical struggle, but of lasting suffering. Muffled sobs and whispered whimpering were all that the faint voice could expel.

“The day I came into this world, death began reaching out for me. It reaches out for us all.”

Slowly and methodically, the man turned to his back, toward the sorrowful sounds and heard them instantly grow in frequency and intensity. In the same casual alacrity, the man knelt down and grabbed a clump of wet, coffee-shaded soil into his right hand, staring at it intently.

“Life is such an afflicted journey. Each of us born with our own needs, cravings, compulsions. We are slaves to them; they shape us in their image and make us puppets with the illusion of free will.”

Gently and calmly, the man rubbed the moistened Earth between his opened, expert palms.

“We have no free will. We are what we are. We are monsters…except for a select few.”

The man rose quickly back to his feet, before falling to a stoic stillness under the unrelenting rain.

“It is going to be a long night,” whispered the man with a sigh. “But fear not my schönes, for I will keep you company.”

Chapter 3

A lone individual entered the silent, well of darkness from its well-lit exterior; shedding a sliver of light through the opened doorway. The shadowy silhouette of a brawny man stood motionless in the center of the single slice of light for a conscious instant, as though inhaling the moment and gripping its gravity from within.

A swift motion from the mysterious man’s left hand let out a single click and in another four seconds, the single fluorescent lighting fixture at the ceiling’s center ignited the meager, rectangular room in a gloomy bath of worn-out, yellowish light. On the faded, green, brick wall to the man’s left sat a clear, plastic box which covered a tiny, white, digital thermostat. To the left of the thermostat was a sizeable, rectangular mirror, nearly covering the remaining width of the wall itself.

The man entered the room as though he had countless times before; no hesitation, no doubt, knowing exactly where to go and what to do. Garbed in a simple, gray, dress shirt and black slacks, the man made his way for the aged, black table at the room’s center. It took no time to realize that this was not a place one would ever wish to find themselves.

The unforgiving, brick walls, the black, grill bars covering the room’s two windows, the musky, rotten stench of sweat and sorrow all confirmed a somber truth about this area. Quickly, the man picked up one of the three chairs sitting at the table and flipped it over onto its surface. The man grabbed the rear, right leg and twisted out the metal caster at its end, before placing it back down on the hard, smooth, pine-green floor.

No sooner had the chair been placed on the floor than the man sat down in it, immediately rocking from side to side with each movement of his body. A short-lived grin emerged across his shadowed, stubbly face before he lifted himself back to his feet and stepped up onto the table. No sooner had he begun to fumble with one of the lights in the fixture above the table, than the light started to flicker in an unending rhythm of foreboding angst. The man’s grin began to widen just slightly before disappearing altogether.

Dropping from the table, the man swiftly strode toward the room’s exit, before pulling a set of keys from his right pocket. He used a tiny, gray key to open the clear, square box to his immediate right. In that same instant, he pressed a button on the thermostat inside. Continually, he pressed the same button until his grin finally reemerged across the bottom half of his silent surface.

With that, the man departed from the room, shutting the door behind him and leaving it covered in darkness once more. A mere four minutes passed before the heavy door was opened once more, this time much wider, enabling two people to pass through its opening. The flickering, fluorescent light cut on as the door shut behind them, covering the room in dully lit shadows and lingering obscurity.

“Have a seat,” insisted the second man, as he stopped and motioned toward the armless, black chair on the far side of the table. “How you feelin’, Mr. Rooker?”

The man casually circled around the table before having a seat in the chair that faced him.

“I’m fine,” replied the man, as he flopped down in the uncomfortable chair, nearly tipping over in the process.

The man grabbed at his wrists upon acquiring the balance in his seat that would prevent him from falling. He glanced at each of his hairy, pasty hands and wrists before dropping them both on the table in front of him.

“The case detective will be here in a couple minutes to begin. Would you like something to drink in the meantime? Maybe a water or a soda?”

The man remained silent from across the table, his face not completely conspicuous in the fluttering shadows which surrounded him.

“You’re sure you don’t want a lawyer?” added the second man cautiously.

“Yes, I’m sure,” replied the blonde-haired man, garbed in a simple, yet clean, white t-shirt.

The two men arrived at a momentary juncture of silence, seated in their chairs, their eyes wandering about the room. The detective was not a fan of uncomfortable silences and quickly ended it with his croaky, gravelly inflection.

“Can I ask you a question, Mr. Rooker?”

The stone-faced blonde remained silent in his rocky chair, simply staring back.

“What made you come back?”

The blonde’s face tangled for a short-lived instant, as he leaned forward just slightly. His apple-green eyes broke through the shimmering shadows of the meager room, along with a few natural wrinkles. This man was clearly not a youngster, yet there was a youthfulness about him; an indescribable mishmash of powerful, raw passions boiling beneath a refined surface of persistent patience and expensive experience.

The detective had seen the man’s face a few times before, yet only now did he notice his striking, green eyes. He quickly concluded that the man must have dyed his hair blonde, as it did not mesh with his eye color.

“I mean, Southern California is a pretty nice place to be. Nice weather, beautiful women, hell, I might just move out there myself when I retire.”

A grin slowly emerged over the man’s weathered visage.

“So why’d ya do it, boy?”

The word boy caught the man off-guard; however, having noticed his heavy, country accent, he figured it to be a force of habit. Suddenly the door opened again and a single individual emerged through the busy, well-lit exterior; a woman. She carried a single, white box in both hands.

The box looked like the kind one would see a person using when packing their things after being fired from their job. Yet this box had been written on heavily in black marker, leading the man to quickly conclude that she was bringing in his past case file.

“Ah, there she is,” declared the detective as he stood up from his chair. “Mr. Rooker, meet Detective Grace Edwards.”

Mr. Rooker looked up at the woman with a twisted expression formed across his face, not even attempting to hide his surprise.

“Well, I’m sure y’all got a lot to talk about, so I’ll leave y’all to it.”

With that, the detective took his leave, as Grace sat the box on the table, making certain that the marked side faced him, so he could read it. She leisurely took a seat where the other detective had been sitting just a moment ago. The two quickly reached a crossroad of silence, as the man shut the door behind him.

“Where is he?” demanded the man quickly, breaking through the short-lived stint of silence.

“Who?” she asked.

“You know who,” he snapped in the same quickness. “I know he wouldn’t miss this, another shot at me. So where is he?”

“You mean my partner? He’s on his way, shouldn’t be more than a couple minutes.”

The man leaned forward in his uneven chair, noticeably intrigued by what he had just heard.

“Hickson,” he uttered. “Hickson is your partner?”

She remained silent, simply staring back blankly. “You have no idea who you’re workin’ with, sweetie. How the hell does someone like that even still have a job?”

She continued to stare at the man placidly, seemingly uninterested and unaffected by his words.

“What are we waiting for anyway? Weren’t we about to begin?”

“Just waiting for my partner,” she replied.

“Oh,” he began with a chuckle. “Like I said, I knew he wouldn’t miss this.”

Grace began to casually fling her idle, brown eyes about the room before letting out a slow, careless sigh.

“Ya know, they say a lot of cops are nothin’ more than thugs with badges. It’s true, you know. A lot of you guys are just one step away from being some of the worst criminals our fucked up society can come up with. Hickson’s one of those guys for sure.”

Grace let her straight, dark hair fall liberally to the shoulders of her simple, button-down, red shirt. She made the simple, yet high-end shirt look good, leaving the top two buttons at her collar open, as though prepared for a surge of warmth.

“He’s all emotion and impulse, barely got any control whatsoever. Course if I grew up in the ghetto with the rest of that crack-smokin’, gun-runnin’ garbage, I’d prolly be a little fucked up too.”

The man’s last words were louder than the rest, aimed more at the sizeable mirror behind Grace, than at the woman herself.

“You can tell him that when he gets here, Mr. Rooker.”

“The fuck do I look like?!” he shouted, even louder than before, jumping out of his chair. “I know he’s right behind that window, watching all of this!”

The surging blonde marched over to the window, before putting his hands in his pockets and shaking his head twice.

“There’s nobody there,” declared Grace with a quick roll of her pretty, brown eyes. “They got ya on a leash now, I see. That’s where you belong, Hickson. You’re just a fuckin’ wild animal and you should be treated as such!”

“I can take you outside and you can see for yourself, if you like.”

“Whatever,” he snapped, as he slowly turned and headed back for his chair.

On the other side of the glass stood two men, one of them, the brawny man in the gray, dress shirt from earlier. The other was a much older gentleman, with a shaved head and a complete black and blue suit, with an unremarkable, gray tie. The younger man stood with his arms folded across his chest in an unblinking stare, while the other stood more leisurely, with his hands comfortably in his pockets.

The older man stood around six feet tall, cream complexion, with brown eyes and a clean shaven face. It was obvious that the man had shaved his head to look more appealing; though he was due for another cut, as a plethora of brown stubble at the top of his head revealed the limited spots where he still had hair.

The other man stood around the same height, maybe an inch taller, if that. A five o’clock shadow was showing across the bottom half of his face, as the top of his head was shaved too, but for a completely different reason than the other. The top two buttons of the man’s collar were open, revealing a white, crew neck, t-shirt underneath. The man’s skin was dark and smooth, like coffee, while his body was bulky and muscular, lacking tone, yet excessive in raw, physical strength.

“Take him outside,” repeated the older man. “Why’d she even say that?”

“Don’t worry,” began the younger, darker man. “He wouldn’t have come out with her even if she’d have opened the door. This guy thinks everything he says and does through thoroughly. He’ll never risk looking like a fool under any circumstances.”


About me

I have always loved art. Anything involving creative expression naturally moves me unlike anything else. Writing is at the top of that creative expression for me. I have done many things in my life so far, from deploying overseas in military, to teaching members of law enforcement. Some of these experiences provided extra motivation for me to write this book. It would be more difficult for me not to write than the opposite because I naturally love it so much.

Q. Why do you write?
Above all else, I write to satisfy a deep-seated urge inside. Creating a story from scratch; forming it, giving it shape and letting the story begin to take on a life of its own as I tell it. That is what motivates me to write.
Q. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
This book is a crime thriller. There is no doubt about that. I wrote it to be suspenseful and exciting; however, it is the human element that makes this book truly unique. The gravity of each character's life is explored in a heart-tugging, painfully real peculiarity.

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Survival is the first priority
Coming For You
Vengeance is not a choice - it's her destiny