Careful little eyes an a.., p.26
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       Careful little eyes: An addictive, horrifying serial killer thriller (7th Street Crew Book 4), p.26

           Willow Rose
 
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  “Come on, Mable,” Ava groaned, annoyed. She felt the fur on the dog’s back. It was getting very matted again. Ava sighed. It was an impossible task.

  “Like shoveling snow while it is still snowing,” she mumbled, even though she had never shoveled snow in her entire life. She grabbed the brush again, just as her son Damien ran through the door to the bathroom with a very agitated look in his eyes.

  “Someone new is moving in! I just saw the moving truck drive up the road. It parked in front of that empty house across the street from us. Maybe they have kids, Mom. Do you think they have kids?”

  Ava looked up at her son and smiled. She knew he wasn’t very thrilled about the house they had moved to. The neighborhood, Snug Harbor, had many kids, just not on their street. There was a seventeen year-old boy at the end of the cul-de-sac in one of the more expensive houses, but that was all. His best friend Liam lived several streets away.

  “Well, they just might,” Ava said, and let go of the dog. She wasn’t getting any further with her fur for now and had no more time today. Tim was going to be home soon from work and she had to start dinner.

  Ava stood up and brushed cut-off dog hairs off her pants. As she saw them fall to the bathroom tiles one after the other and end in a pile, she suddenly was happy that her dog didn’t shed.

  “Come see, Mommy. Come!”

  “One second. I have to get the broom and sweep up all that hair,” Ava said, but her son wouldn’t wait.

  “Do that later,” he said and pulled her arm.

  She gave in and followed him to the kitchen window, where he pointed at the house across the street. “Look at the big moving truck. They must have a lot of stuff!” he exclaimed in excitement.

  Ava was just as glad to see that someone was actually moving into that house. It had been empty for a very long time, their realtor told them, and the bushes were completely overgrown, covering most of the entrance. The house needed a paint job and some general restoration to match the rest of the houses on the street. Maybe that would happen now. It was an eyesore for Ava to have to look at every day. This was definitely good news. Tim was going to be happy about it too. He needed something to cheer him up a little. He had been so down lately, ever since he saved that woman from the river. It was almost like he blamed himself for her ending up in a coma, when what he really did was save her from drowning. Ava didn’t understand this sulkiness of his. And now the past few days he had been working on that case of Mr. Chambers’ death. It seemed to be bothering him more than usual. Maybe it was just the fact that they believed he might have been murdered. It wasn’t very often they handled murder cases in Cocoa Beach. Maybe there wasn’t more to it than that. She just couldn’t escape the feeling that there was. That something else was bothering him.

  Ava watched as the movers brought out couches and lamps and plants that looked like they were made of plastic. Along came some rugs and a bed and a dresser with a mirror. So far, no children’s furniture. But it was still early. It could come.

  More lamps were followed by big vases and more rugs. Then a recliner and another couch, with floral fabric.

  Wait a minute. This is all old people’s furniture.

  Ava exhaled and looked at her son, who was still staring out at the truck with great excitement. Should she tell him now or simply let him discover it on his own? It wasn’t an easy choice to make.

  “How about I make a lasagna for dinner, huh?” she asked, knowing it was his favorite dish.

  Chapter Thirteen

  Tim was tired as he drove onto his street. It had been a couple of very long days since they pulled Mr. Chambers’ body out of the river. Tim had worked all week on the case, and they still weren’t even close to finding out who shot Mr. Chambers in the head and threw him in the water. They had found nothing in the Tesla. Not even a fingerprint or a hair from whoever drove it away from the bridge. They had tried to piece together the past hours of his life and found out that he had dropped off his kid at the rec center in Satellite Beach at nine in the morning. The last time he was seen was inside of Wells Fargo, where he withdrew ten thousand dollars. The bank teller told us he was with someone she believed might have been his mother, but his mother died three years ago and had no close relationship with Mr. Chambers, according to Mrs. Chambers.

  Now they were waiting to get the surveillance footage from the bank to go through it to see whom the woman was. Earlier today, when Tim was interviewing her, the teller had described the woman as old, short and plump, with rosy cheeks and a gentle look in her eyes. And a little too much sunscreen on the tip of her nose. It was a description that had made the hairs on Tim’s neck rise.

  “She looked like a typical grandmother,” the teller had added.

  All Tim needed now was to go home and forget about everything in the presence of his beloved family. He wanted to kiss Ava, eat dinner, and then kick back with a beer in front of the game. He didn’t want to think about the case or any old women with or without sunscreen on their noses.

  “You’re way too stressed out, Tim,” he mumbled to himself, as he spotted his house through the windshield. How he loved their house and neighborhood. It was a good place to grow old with the love of his life.

  Everything is good, Tim. You’ve done well for yourself. Stop expecting bad things to happen. Life is good.

  As he approached the house, he saw something big parked on the other side of the street.

  A moving truck? That’s nice. Finally, someone is moving into that abandoned old house. Oh, I hope they have kids. That would be a huge game changer for Damien. It would mean the world to us all. Maybe we could even be friends with the parents? We could use some new friends.

  Joyfully, Tim drove up to his driveway and parked the car, while staring at the moving truck, where the movers were carrying out furniture and rugs. Lots of rugs, old Persian lookalike style rugs.

  “Who has that many rugs?” he said to himself and got out of the car. “And floral couches?”

  Tim slammed the car door and walked up to the entrance. He opened the door. “Honey, I’m home!”

  “Dad! Dad!” Damien yelled from the kitchen.

  Life is good.

  Tim walked in and spotted his son by the window, pressing his nose against it. “You think they have kids, Dad? Do you?”

  Tim looked at Ava, who was chopping onions and sobbing. Onions always did that to her. “I don’t know, son,” Tim said with a shrug. He went to kiss Ava.

  “It doesn’t really look like they do,” Ava whispered.

  “That’s what I was thinking,” Tim said, and went for a beer in the fridge. He was going to wait till after dinner, but since dinner wasn’t ready yet, he thought he could drink one right away. He sure needed it. He couldn’t escape that eerie feeling in the bottom of his stomach. It had been there for a long time now. Since the day he pulled that triathlete out of the river. It was like he was just waiting for something terrible to happen, like his entire life was on a direct course for disaster. What was it his grandmother always called it? Oh, yeah—it felt like it was all Going to Hell in a Handbasket.

  Chapter Fourteen

  “Maybe we should take them a welcome basket or a bottle of wine once they’re settled in.”

  Ava took a bite of the hot lasagna, burnt her tongue slightly, and drank some water. She looked at her husband. He looked at her too, but it didn’t feel like he really saw her. There was something in his eyes, a distance, that she didn’t like. What was going on with him lately? Was it just the case? Or was it something else? A mid-life crisis? She sure hoped not. For one, it was a little early, he was only thirty. Second, she really didn’t want to have to deal with all that stuff and just prayed he wouldn’t fall for the temptation of having an affair.

  “What do you think, Tim?”

  “What was that?” he asked, chewing. He drank some of his beer.

  That was another thing. He didn’t usually drink beer before or during dinner. Every now and then, he would gr
ab one after dinner in front of the TV, but not every day like now, and never before they ate like today.

  “I was asking if you wanted to give the new neighbors something, you know to welcome them to the neighborhood.”

  He shrugged. “No one gave us anything.”

  “True. But that doesn’t mean we can’t,” she said. “They are, after all, going to live right across the street from us.”

  He shrugged again, then sipped his beer. He didn’t seem to care much. “If you feel like it.”

  He finished his plate, then got up without a word and walked to the living room. Ava could hear the TV being turned on. Some game it sounded like. She turned to Damien.

  “You want some more?”

  He shook his head. “No. Can I go outside and play?”

  Ava smiled. She loved that her son spent so much time outside. Living in a condo before always made it hard for her to get him to go out. There was nowhere to go, except for the pool area, and she would have to be there to keep an eye on him for that. Now they lived on a dead-end road where hardly any cars drove by, and it was perfectly safe for him to play in their front yard or even bike in the street.

  “Sure. Put your plate in the dishwasher first, though.”

  Damien jumped up, did as he was told, then ran outside. Ava cleaned the table while watching him through the window. He was sitting on the swing Tim had put up in the big magnolia tree. He looked towards their new neighbors. The movers seemed like they were done now and packing up. Still no sign of the people going to live there. Maybe they were already in the house?

  Curiosity was about to eat Ava up, when suddenly an old light blue Cadillac drove up the street and parked in the driveway. Out jumped two old ladies, who seemed amazingly agile for their age. They spotted Damien on the swing and waved eagerly.

  “That’s nice,” Ava said. “At least they seem to like kids.”

  “What was that?” Tim had entered the kitchen to get a new beer and walked up behind her.

  “I was just talking about the new neighbors,” Ava said. “They seem friendly. No kids, though.”

  “Aw, that’s too bad. Damien could use someone a little closer. So far he’s only made friends with that odd kid, what’s his name…the chubby one…”

  “Liam.”

  “That’s right, Lisping Liam. He is so annoying and lives two streets away. It would be great to have someone a little closer, and more normal.”

  “I fear these two old ladies won’t provide him with that, unless they have grandchildren.”

  Tim sounded like he was choking on his beer. He spurted and coughed.

  “Are you all right?” Ava asked and looked at him. His face had turned red and his eyes were big and wide.

  “Two what?”

  “Two old ladies,” Ava said. “I just saw them drive up. They waved to Damien, then went into the house.”

  Chapter Fifteen

  Tim almost dropped the bottle from his hand. He stared at the house across the street from them, and that was when he saw it. Parked half in the driveway, half on the grass was an light blue 1955 Cadillac, the exact same old light blue Cadillac—still looking as brand new as it had twenty years ago. Same bumper sticker on the back with the words Rockabilly is my religion, and a picture of a skull and two Aces. The sticker hadn’t ripped or even faded in its colors.

  Tim gasped and took a couple steps backwards, feeling his forehead, wondering if he was dreaming or simply losing his mind. A crawling sensation started in his lower belly.

  “It can’t be. It can’t be…” he said, shaking his head.

  “Tim, what’s wrong?” Ava said. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

  “T-t-these ladies, the t-t-two ladies,” he stuttered. “What did they look like?”

  Ava shrugged. “I don’t know. Like ordinary old ladies. Like they could be anyone’s grandmas. They seemed nice. You should have seen the way they waved at Damien. They were truly happy to see him. Say, are you worried about them not being nice or something?”

  No. I am worried they might be made of pure evil! I’m worried they’re here to take away my son. That’s all!

  “What’s wrong with you lately, Tim?” Ava continued. “I feel like I hardly know you anymore. Talk to me, will you?”

  Tim lifted his beer and drank from it. His wife stared at him. They could hear Damien singing from the swing outside.

  “Don’t just get drunk, Tim,” Ava said angrily. “Tell me what is going on. I can’t stand not knowing. I feel like you’re hiding something from me. Are you having an affair or something? Is it that receptionist? Elle is her name, right? I see the way you look at her. Don’t you think I don’t see it.”

  Tim shook his head. “No. No. It’s nothing like that. I would never…I love you, Ava.”

  She calmed down slightly. “Then what is it?”

  “I don’t know,” he said, looking into her beautiful brown eyes. Can I tell her? Will she believe me? I have to at least try.

  “It’s those ladies,” he said and walked closer to the window. He pointed towards them with the bottle in his hand. “I think I know them. You know the story about Damien, right?”

  “Of course I do,” she said with a scoff. “I know how much it has tortured you that your best friend went missing when you were out selling cookies together. I know the entire story. You were struck by lightning and when you woke up your best friend was gone and never found again. It’s remained a mystery what happened to him. I know all that, Tim. Is it the memories that are making you act like this? But, why now? Why, Tim?”

  “I never told you the rest,” he said. “Because no one ever believed me.” He sipped his beer. The alcohol helped him calm down. At least a little. “Damien went into a house before I was struck by lightning. He never came back out again.”

  “Oh,” she said. “So he was taken by some pedophile, or what? And the police never caught the guy, is that it?”

  “No, it was worse than that. Much worse.”

  “What could be worse?” Ava said with a light chuckle.

  “Two old ladies can be worse. Two old ladies looking like your grandmother, offering you hot chocolate. These two ladies. The same two that just moved in across the street from us.”

  Ava stared at him. He had seen that look in her eyes so many times before. Partly empathetic and head slightly tilted in compassion, yet very suspicious of what he had just said. It was the same thing everyone did when he told them the story. That was why he had stopped telling it. No one believed him. They all thought being struck by lightning had confused him. Or that he had dreamt it when unconscious. How he loathed that look.

  “You don’t believe me,” he said.

  “Well, honey…”

  There we go, the tilted head again.

  “It is kind of hard to believe, don’t you think? I mean two old ladies snatching a kid like that? And now you tell me they’re back? That they’ve moved into that house over there, twenty something years later?”

  “Twenty years. It’s exactly twenty years ago in two weeks,” he corrected her.

  “So, you’re telling me you’re scared of these nice two old ladies with their chubby cheeks and poodle-hair?”

  Tim didn’t answer. He knew that from now on it didn’t matter what he told her. She wouldn’t believe him.

  “What can they do to us?” she said mockingly. “Stuff us with cookies and hot chocolate till we burst, oh, my—the horror.” Ava laughed and held her stomach. “No, no, wait I have it, they’ll give us…gasp…the terror, they’re going to give us…apples! Maybe poisoned apples. Oh, no, Tim, what are we going to do?”

  Ava laughed at her own joke. She placed a hand on Tim’s shoulder, then looked at him. “I think you’ve been a little overworked lately, honey. You’ve got to be careful with that.”

  She walked back to do the dishes while Tim finished his beer, staring at the Cadillac across the street. His heart wasn’t throbbing in his chest, but it was close.

>   The rest of the world might laugh at me, but I know who you are, ladies. And this time, I am prepared for you.

  End of Exceprt

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  Willow Rose, Careful little eyes: An addictive, horrifying serial killer thriller (7th Street Crew Book 4)

 


 

 
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