Careful little eyes an a.., p.6
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       Careful little eyes: An addictive, horrifying serial killer thriller (7th Street Crew Book 4), p.6

           Willow Rose
 
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  Debra had worked many jobs, as a waitress, secretary, nursing assistant; heck, she had even at one point painted houses for a living. She had done anything she could do to survive being alone with three children. Now it was her time to enjoy life.

  “Are you all right in there?” Jack’s voice sounded through the door.

  Debra opened her eyes and took in a deep breath. How long could she keep lying to him before he grew tired of her? Would he leave her or just move on? How many rejections did he need before he gave up?

  “I’m…I’m not feeling too well,” she says. She hates lying to him. He is always so sweet, such a gentleman towards her, she can’t bear disappointing him again and again. “I think…I think I drank too much. I am so so sorry. Can you forgive me, Jack?” She pauses and listens. “Jack?”

  The silence continues for a few more seconds. Debra feels horrible.

  “No worries, honey,” he says. “Do you need help with anything? Do you need me to hold your hair up?”

  Oh, my God. He’s the sweetest man on the planet. Why does he have to be so old? Why does he have to be so ugly?

  “No, I’m okay. I’ll be out in a few minutes. Don’t worry about me.”

  “Okay,” he says.

  She hears his subdued footsteps across the carpet, then the sound of him brushing his teeth by the sink on the other side of the door, and soon after the bed creaks as he gets into it.

  Just a few minutes longer and he’ll be asleep. Just a few more.

  She stays on the floor for a little longer, then finally hears the well-known sound of Jack’s snoring. That’s another thing that is making it hard on her. He snores so loudly he wakes her up at night. She has been wondering how long after the wedding before she can move into her own room in the mansion in the Garden District, where they live. It is his house, but she has recently moved in. The house has seven bedrooms, so she figures they might as well each have one, so she can get a decent night’s sleep.

  Debra sighs, then rises to her feet and opens the door, careful to not wake up Jack. She brushes her teeth and gets dressed for the night, rubbing her eight-hundred-dollar night cream on her face, then sneaks back into the bedroom and crawls under the covers.

  Jack is sound asleep and snoring loudly. Debra looks at him and feels a shiver of disgust go through her body before she turns out the light and lays her head on the pillow in the darkness.

  She is so tired; she doesn’t even notice the figure on the balcony outside her window looking in.

  Chapter Twenty

  July 2016

  She wakes up to the sound of someone breathing very close to her ear. Debra thinks she is still dreaming and reacts by turning and mumbling in the bed. The heavy breathing in her ear continues, and soon she opens her eyes, only to look into the eyes of a hooded person standing bent over her in the bed, an axe over their shoulder.

  The person smiles. It is dark in the room, but the white teeth light up. Debra can see the contours of the face, but doesn’t recognize it. The face comes closer to hers again and whispers, “Hello, Debra.”

  Debra gasps and sits up. “W-w-hat? W-w-ho are you? W-w-what do you want? How did you get in here? Jack? Jack?”

  Jack mumbles something, then goes back to sleep.

  “JACK!”

  He wakes up with a start. “What?” he blinks his eyes, then gasps, startled, as he sees the person, not to mention the axe.

  “How did you get in here?” he asks. He removes the covers to get up, but he doesn’t make it any further before the axe whistles through the air and hits him in the side of the head, blood spurting in Debra’s face as the axe is pulled back out.

  Debra stares paralyzed at Jack, then screams as she feels the blood on her face. “Jack! JAAACK!”

  Jack reaches up a hand to the wound, sees the blood, then falls to the ground with a thud. Terrified, Debra jumps out of the bed.

  “Jaaack?”

  Jack lies lifeless on the carpet, surrounded by a pool of his own blood. It doesn’t look red in the sparse light, more black. “Oh, no, Jack. Oh, no,” she whimpers, then kneels next to him. Her heart is throbbing in her chest. She doesn’t know what to do.

  Is he dead?

  “Call for help,” she says, even though she knows the person with the axe has no intention of obeying. “Why?” she says, crying, regretting not having treated Jack better, not being a better wife to him. “Why would you do this to him?”

  The figure with the axe tilts their head and looks at her. “Why, I am certainly not doing anything to him. I am doing something to you.”

  Not understanding, Debra looks up. “What?”

  The figure comes closer, axe held in position. “You,” the figure says and points a finger at her. She feels like she is face to face with the Grim Reaper. It’s like the person is floating when coming very fast closer to her, the axe held high in the air. Or are her eyes deceiving her? Has death come for her so early?

  I am not ready to die. Not yet. Please, not yet.

  Debra weeps and cries. “Please,” she says, looking at the axe above her head. “Please. I beg you. Spare my life. Take him. Take Jack, but spare me. I am a mother and a grandmother. They need me.”

  The Grim Reaper laughs a deep and hollow laugh. “No one needs you, Debra. NO ONE!”

  “Yes, they do. Yes, they do…pleeeaaase. Don’t kill me yet. I’ll be good. I promise. I promise I’ll be good to everyone.”

  “A little late for that, don’t you think?”

  “It’s never too late. Spare my life and I’ll show you.”

  The Grim Reaper lets the axe come down slightly. Debra sees it and feels hopeful. Maybe she could, after all, talk herself out of this? Just like she had talked herself out of every other trouble in her miserable life.

  “I promise you. I’ll be the Good Samaritan. I’ll take care of everyone who needs it.”

  The Grim Reaper doesn’t say anything. The silence is giving Debra hope. Until the second the Grim Reaper starts to laugh again.

  “The Good Samaritan. You don’t even begin to understand what that means.”

  Debra’s heart throbs as she sees the axe being lifted once again, then come down fast towards her face. The last thing she hears is the sound of her own skull cracking.

  Chapter Twenty-One

  July 2016

  I can’t sleep. Of course I can’t. Who would be able to? Well, except for Joey, I think and look at him, in his bed next to mine, sleeping like a baby. I envy his ability to put away all the worry and simply fall into a deep sleep. I haven’t been able to sleep properly for three months. Whenever I try, my mind goes wandering, and all the possible scenarios come to life in my mind. My doctor has prescribed me something, and in the beginning I took the sleeping pills, but then I decided I had to stop. I slept well at night, but felt drowsy during the day. I couldn’t sedate myself through all this. I needed to be alert at all times; I needed to be on top and if that meant not sleeping well, then so be it. Besides, I didn’t want to not be able to sleep without medicine once this is all over. I feel very strongly about that.

  I listen to the many sounds of the night, the cars in the streets, a couple of sirens, Joey snoring, then look at the clock on my phone. It is only one. Still enough time to get some hours in.

  I think about Blake. Of course I do. I wonder where he is with my boy right now. Is he treating him properly? Is he feeding him? Is Salter suffering? Is he in pain? Does he miss his mother?

  Well, of course he does. But is he afraid? I can’t stand the thought and try to stop myself. I close my eyes and try to force myself to sleep. It doesn’t work. No matter how much I try to empty my mind, new thoughts just pop up, new worries. I keep seeing Blake’s face, the way I saw him earlier in the day, staring at that girl. I don’t like the way he looked at her. He is definitely up to something. I sigh. I can’t believe I am in the same town as my son and still I can’t hold him in my arms. Once I get him back, I am never letting go of him again. No matter h
ow much he squeals and squirms. He will be kissed and held tight.

  I chuckle at the thought of how he no longer wants me to kiss him in front of his friends. All of a sudden, all the small things that usually annoy me about him become the most endearing things I can think of. What I wouldn’t give to hear him whine again. To hear him cry or yell at me.

  Sleep, Mary. You’ve got to sleep.

  I don’t. Instead, I grab my phone and start to go through my picture gallery. I look at all my photos of Salter, one after the other, then laugh, and later I cry. Salty tears are running into my mouth.

  Where are you, Salter? I miss you so terribly!

  I decide I have to stop torturing myself, and tell myself that I am so close now I can almost sense him, that he’ll be in my arms before I know it, that the most important thing is for me to be well rested. I put my head back on the pillow again. The light from the street lights up parts of the hotel room and creates long shadows on the wall. I think one of them looks exactly like Salter, but then decide I am being ridiculous. I close my eyes and try to fall asleep again, and this time I finally succeed.

  I dream, of course, about Salter, about us being on the beach, digging a big hole in the sand, big enough for him to fit in. He goes in and I start to cover him, but something grabs him from underneath and suddenly he is screaming while being dragged into the sand, his face soon covered. I scream and grab his hand, try to drag him back up, but whatever is pulling him is much stronger than me, and soon I can only watch as he is pulled underneath the sand and I am left alone on an empty beach screaming at the top of my lungs.

  I wake up with a start, gasping for breath.

  “Salter!”

  I pant for a few seconds when I realize I am not alone in the room. There is a figure at the end of my bed looking at me.

  It’s a little boy.

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  July 2016

  “Salter?”

  I know it is not him, but I really want it to be. My heart isn’t throbbing yet, but it is definitely beating faster.

  The boy doesn’t speak. I sit up and try to see his face, but it is hard in the darkness. “Who are you?” I ask.

  The boy doesn’t move. I blink a few times to make sure I am seeing this right. Maybe I am still dreaming? I turn on the nightlight next to my bed. I look at the boy again. Now I can see his face. I realize he is just a toddler. Can’t be more than three or four years old.

  “Are you lost from your mother?” I ask, while swinging my legs over the edge of the bed. It’s a little chilly in my I love Cocoa Beach T-shirt and shorts. The boy stares at me. He looks so serious. I worry he is lost. He is wearing an old fashioned blue one-piece jumper with deep frilled turned down collars, puffy sleeves, and lace trim on the trousers. I have never seen anything like it.

  “Are you lost, boy?” I ask and approach him. His deep brown eyes stare at me intently. He looks sad. A tear escapes his eye and rolls across his cheek. It makes me think of that famous painting, that I don’t remember the name of.

  “What’s your name?” I say, and try to not get too close, since he seems afraid of me. He doesn’t answer. He keeps looking at me, tears rolling down his cheeks. In the next second, he is crying, like really crying, weeping, wiping his eyes. I feel frustrated and have no idea how to comfort him.

  “It’s okay, little boy, we’ll find your mother.” I look at Joey for help, but he is sound asleep and doesn’t even move. How can he be sleeping this heavily? Can’t he hear the boy crying? It is just like when Salter was a baby. I would jump out of bed at the smallest sound, while a train wreck couldn’t even wake Joey.

  Suddenly, the boy stops. He looks at me, then turns on his heel and starts to walk towards the door. The door is closed and I wonder how he even got in here in the first place. He stops in front of the door and I get the feeling he is waiting for me. Like Snowflake when he needs to go.

  “Maybe you can show me where you’re staying?” I ask and hold the door open. I follow him into the hallway. I wonder what time it is, but it is still dark outside, so I’m guessing it is the middle of the night. The boy walks the long corridor with fast steps and I have to hurry to keep up with him.

  “So, are you here on vacation?” I ask. I know he probably won’t answer, but I feel like I have to keep the conversation going.

  We pass a door, then another and another. He approaches the elevators, and I wonder if he knows where he is going. I hope he didn’t come from an entirely different floor, because that would make it a lot harder.

  He continues past the elevators and I exhale, relieved. “Joey and I are here to find my little boy. He got lost from me too. We’re not together, if that’s what you’re wondering. That’s why we sleep in separate beds and…”

  The boy stops in front of a door. Then he lifts his arm and points at it, standing completely still, not making a sound.

  “What is it?” I ask. “Is this where you’re staying? Room 14237? Are your parents in there?”

  I am suddenly struck with this eerie sensation. What if something happened to his parents? What if his mom is sick or something? Was that why he came to me in the middle of the night?

  That is when I see that the door has been left slightly ajar. The boy doesn’t go in, and I worry that he stays out because he knows what I’ll find in there.

  “Stay here,” I say and push the door open. I walk into the darkness of the suite that looks much like our own.

  “Hello?”

  Chapter Twenty-Three

  July 2016

  Nothing in this world can prepare me for what I find in there. I walk inside the bedroom and can’t see much, but I know it is blood I see. A dark mass on the light soft carpet and in the middle of it I can see a body.

  I gasp and recoil in fear. I search for a light switch and find one. The chandelier in the ceiling turns on and I can’t breathe. A woman is lying in the middle of the floor, short and plump with aged skin and visibly dyed blonde hair with dark roots. Dried blood has glued her nightdress to her body, marking out her curves. Worst of all is her face. I can hardly see her face, since it is so disfigured that it resembles more some kind of a crater than a human. It looks like her head has been chopped to pieces. Bloodstains and smears on the carpet tell me she tried to fight for her life. I see her bloody fingerprints on the bed linen and a stripe of blood as she apparently tried to drag herself across the carpet.

  The whole scene makes me want to throw up. I clasp my mouth and wonder if the woman was the boy’s mother when I hear a sound coming from behind the bed. I gasp and pull back, wondering if the killer is still there, but the groaning that follows tells me it is someone in distress.

  I walk around the woman and the bed and spot a man. His face has wounds similar to the woman’s, but not as severe. Gargling and moaning sounds are coming from his mouth.

  “Oh, my God,” I say and kneel next to him. I grab his hand in mine. His eyes are filled with blood, but I sense that he is looking at me. “I’ll call for help.”

  I get up, frantically searching for a phone, then find one and call nine-one-one. The woman on the dispatch has a hard time understanding me, since I ramble and don’t make sense, but eventually she understands and tells me they’re on their way. Then I call the front desk.

  “Someone has been killed. Please, help. There is man; he is still alive. I have called for an ambulance.”

  I hang up and hear the sirens approaching in the distance. The man is groaning again and now my heart is throbbing. I walk to him and kneel next to him, holding his hand. “Just hold on a little longer,” I say, crying helplessly. “Please, just don’t die.”

  Please, come now. Please, come and help me now. Someone. Where is that freaking ambulance!

  The man gargles and I fear he is dying on me. “Please, hold on a little longer, sir. Just a little longer, don’t die.”

  The man gargles, then stops breathing. “NO!” I yell. I press my hands on his chest trying to keep his heart beat
ing. “Don’t die. Don’t die on me!”

  The elevator dings. I hear footsteps in the corridor. They’re running. Agitated voices approach me, and seconds later, the room is filled with boots around me and I am being pulled away from the man. I am crying, helplessly sobbing, worrying that he has already died. Terrified that maybe they are too late.

  When they all concentrate on the man, I remember the boy. Someone has to take care of the poor boy. I take in a couple of deep breaths, wondering what to say to him. They must be his parents. Or grandparents? How do I explain this to him?

  Just say something. He must be frightened half to death!

  I storm out into the hallway, but find it empty. “Little boy?” I ask, realizing I don’t know his name. I look to both sides, but he is not there. “Hello? Where did you go?”

  Two paramedics come running down the corridor. “Hey, did you see a little boy out here?” I ask.

  “Ma’am, stay away,” one of them yells, and then disappears into the room and the door slams shut after him. I stay in the hallway for a little while, worried and wondering. Where did he go?

  Chapter Twenty-Four

  April 2005

  It quickly becomes a routine for them both. Every night after dinner, Robyn goes out on the porch with her sweet iced tea and sits in the porch swing. A few minutes later, Suzy joins her, throws her bike in the front yard, then sit on the swing with her. Today, Robyn has brought a glass of iced tea for her as well.

 
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