It was morning at the Whitlow’s. The silence of the house had been broken with the shrill ring of an alarm clock. Stirring in her bed, Julie’s eyes flashed open. She listened as the alarm clock rang somewhere in the house. With a groan, she sat up, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. Her bedsheets lay tangled around her legs as she wished the shrill noise to stop. Suddenly, it did. She could hear her father cursing from his bedroom. A small smile played on Julie’s lips as she lay back down. None of the Whitlow’s were morning people. Every morning it was the same. The alarm clock would ring, it would take Julie’s father a few minutes to shut it off. He’d curse or mutter to himself before heading to take a shower. Julie would lie back on her pillow and stare blankly at the ceiling.
Today was no different. She could hear the shower start to run, and with a sleepy yawn, she slid out of her bed and over to the window. It was another beautiful day outside, bright with puffy white clouds in an endless blue sky. She could hear birds chirping from the trees overhead. Somewhere down the block, she could hear a lawnmower. It was just another typical morning in West Valley. She moved away from the window, crossed her bedroom and walked out into the hallway. Megan’s door was closed. As she made her way for the kitchen, Julie knocked on her younger sister’s door like she did every morning. She heard a grunt in response from behind the closed door, so she knew Megan was slowly waking up. Once in the kitchen, Julie made her way over to the fridge on bare feet. She stifled a yawn as she pulled the fridge open, peering inside. A low grumble of hunger emanated from her stomach as she finally decided on yogurt, pulling the container out and fixing herself a bowl.
She sat down at the kitchen island, stirring her spoon lazily in the bowl before bringing it to her mouth. She glanced around the kitchen. If there was any moment of the day where she missed her mother the most, it was at breakfast. The whole family would sit together over a fancy breakfast that her mother had prepared, like poached eggs or homemade parfait. And they would bond, joking around and talking about their plans for the day. But that was two years ago, right before her mother experienced a sudden depression and left her family to fend for themselves. Since she was the eldest daughter, Julie had to step up and take on a motherly role for Megan, and help her father out with whatever needed to be done around the house. Julie even had to drop out of university, where she was studying law.
Even though it was two years later, Julie expected to see her mother walk into the kitchen, a smile on her face. But she always had to remind herself that her mom wasn’t coming back. She barely kept in contact, only calling when there was a birthday. Julie looked up when she heard footsteps, watching her father enter the kitchen. She took in his appearance. Jeans, a shirt and a checkered blazer. A small smile played on Julie’s lips as her father sat down next to her. She hadn’t seen her father that dressed up in what seemed like a long while. He caught her staring, and looked down at himself.
“What is it? Does my outfit clash? Should I have worn a tie?” her father asked her.
A small laugh escaped Julie’s lips. “No. I’m just not used to seeing you look all spiffy.” she told her father.
He chuckled in response. “Well you know I have that meeting with Police Chief Morgan this morning.” he explained to his daughter. He had taken a two year leave of absence once his wife walked out on them, but was asked to return to the police force due to the murder of Felicia Talley two weeks earlier. The police force wanted their best officers and detectives working on the case, and they had approached Harrison to return, which he had accepted. From what Julie knew, there were no suspects and there was no evidence as to who had commited such a horrible crime. It troubled her, tugging at the back of her subconscious. Stabbed in the eye, what a way to go. It’s like something out of a slasher flick. Julie thought to herself, biting gently on her bottom lip. She snapped out of hertroubled thoughts, realizing her father had asked her something, waiting for her response.
“Sorry dad, I spaced out. What did you say?” Julie asked him with an arched eyebrow.
“You know Fallon McQueen, right? Well apparently she went by the police station yesterday. And she said she thinks the Talley girl’s death has something to do with Brandon Covington.” Julie’s father revealed, a frown creasing his forehead.
Julie knew the story of Brandon Covington. In high school, she and her friends would scare themselves silly talking about the story. They would even make up their own stories about Brandon. Like how he wandered the streets of West Valley at night, looking for victims. Or how he would hide in people’s closets at night, and if you got up during the night, he would pull you into the closet and kill you. Or how he was hiding out in the basement of West Valley high, roaming the halls at night. Julie had even scared Megan with those stories in the past. Watching in secret glee at her younger sister’s fear. Some nights, Megan would sneak into Julie’s bedroom. Explain that she was too scared to sleep alone, and climb into bed with her older sister. Their mother would get so annoyed with Julie. She would retaliate by explaining it was just a story. But now, sitting in the kitchen with her father, the name sent a slow icy cold shiver of fear snaking down her spine.
“Sure, I know Fallon. I have no idea why she would say the murder is connected to Brandon Covington, though.” Julie told her father with a slight shrug of her shoulders.
“I don’t think they took her seriously. They believe Brandon wouldn’t return here. What do you think?” her father asked her curiously.
“I think… Fallon and Felicia were close, so Fallon is probably just trying to deal with what happened, in her own way. I think she’s trying to find someone to put the blame on.” Julie explained before taking another spoonful of yogurt. Her father nodded in agreement before ticking his gaze over to the clock.
“I’m going to be late if I don’t leave now.” he explained with wide eyes before getting up to his feet. He turned back and looked at her. “Make sure Megan gets to school on time, and don’t forget to pick up the dry cleaning. It should be ready by noon.” he told her before giving her a smile and a small wave, making his way out of the house.
Wishing she was still in school, Julie got up, brough the bowl over to the sink and rinsed it out before she made her way across the kitchen floor and made her way down the hallway. She stopped at Megan’s bedroom door. It was still closed. With a sigh, she raised her hand and knocked. She waited a few moments. Silence from inside the room. Julie rolled her eyes in annoyance. Either her younger sister was still sleeping, ignoring her, or she wasn’t in the bedroom at all. Julie lowered her hand, wrapped it around the doorknob, turned and pushed the door open before entering the room. Megan stood in the middle of the bedroom, glaring at Julie behind heavy eyeliner.
“Didn’t you hear me knocking?” Julie asked.
Megan shrugged. “I heard. Question is, did I care?” she replied, puttering around her room, tidying it up.
Julie rolled her eyes. “Great. What a nice way to start the morning.” she told her sister before continuing. “Dad wanted me to make sure you get to school in time.” she told Megan, who scoffed lightly in reply.
“And how is that different from any other morning?” Megan said sarcastically with a cocked eyebrow in her sister’s direction. Before Julie could answer, Megan pushed her way past her, stepping into the hallway and making her way down the stairs. Julie stood in the bedroom for a moment before she hurried after her sister. She took the stairs two at a time until reaching the main foyer of the house. Megan seemed extra agitated this morning, more than usual. She held back asking her sister what was wrong. It would only make things worse. She decided to change the subject.
“Are you going to be home late again today? What happened yesterday? And why did Charlie Olsen walk you home?” Julie asked her sister, who rolled her eyes in annoyance.
“It’s too early for this shit. But if you must know, I had detention yesterday.” Megan revealed before continuing. “I was walking home near the football field and got beaned on the head with a football. A football that Charlie Olsen threw. So he just walked me home because he felt bad!” she told Julie.
That’s the second time this month she gets detention. Julie thought to herself, pursing her lips. The first time, Megan had been caught smoking in the girl’s restroom. Someone had complained, and the principal himself, Mr. Lemphry, had walked in on her flicking ash across the floor. Their father wasn’t happy when Megan had to explain why he had to go over to the school to meet with the principal. Megan had been let off pretty easy. Detention after school, and she had to write a three thousand word paper about the dangers of smoking. At home, their father searched Megan’s room for more cigarettes, but found none. He punished her by confiscating her cellphone for a week. He had confided in Julie, expressing his worry about Megan. Julie reassured him that her younger sister was just rebelling, she was at that age.
“You had detention again?” Julie asked her sister.
Megan sneered. “Not because I was smoking, okay? So get that thought out of your head. It’s cuz I got caught giving a guy a BJ behind the school, when I was supposed to be in class.” she said. Julie’s eyes widened, almost bulging out of her head. A laugh escaped Megan’s lips. “I’m kidding! God, do you think I’m a slut? I was late yesterday morning, remember?” she told Julie. She laughed again.”You should have seen the look on your face.” she said.
“That was so not funny.” Julie told Megan. Her sister shrugged before heading for the front door. “Make sure you come home right after school!” she called out to Megan as she dissappeared out the door, closing it behind her. With a sigh, Julie went over to the front door, and locked it. She listened, silence in the house. Feeling a little on edge, Julie began to hum softly to herself as she made her way back up the stairs to her bedroom to get ready. She had a long busy day ahead of her. She was about to pull her dresser drawer open when the ringing of her cellphone startled her. She jumped, her heart pounding. She turned, grabbed the phone off the bed, and answered the call. “Hello?” she said. Silence on the other end of the line. A frown creased Julie’s pretty face. “Hello?” she repeated. Still no reply.”Is someone there?” she said into the phone. She suddenly heard something on the other end. Soft breathing. It made her hair stand on end. “Who is this?” she said, swallowing hard. Trying to sound calm. Suddenly, a soft click, and then a dial tone in her ear. Julie lowered the phone, peering at the screen before tapping her last caller list.
Flashed on her screen. With a gulp, Julie tossed her cellphone onto the bed and hurried to get ready.
Elsewhere, at the Jacks family home, Ellie sat in an armchair. She had been awaken just an hour ago, with a plethora of kisses from her son, Tyson. She had cracked one eye open, squinting against the sun that shone through the window. Looking up at her son’s cute face. He made it his duty to wake her up every day, even though she had gone to bed a mere few hours before. If she was grumpy for being awaken so suddenly, she didn’t show it. She would laugh, pull Tyson into bed with her and cuddle him. She’d run her fingers through his silky smooth hair, and gaze deep into his liquid brown eyes. If there was one thing that was perfect in her life, it was her son. She had him young, and the boy’s father was out of the picture, but she loved Tyson with every fiber of her being. She may have been tough, hotheaded and sarcastic with other people, but with her son, she found he truly brought out the best in her. To her, that was true love.
After sending him on his way to get ready for school, Ellie showered, got dressed, and made her way downstairs. She had a few hours before she had to go into work at the club. It was just one of the perks of being the owner. I also have to see how Owen’s doing. she thought to herself as she made herself a quick cup of coffee before making her way into the living room, sitting down in the arm chair. She had given Owen a job as a bartender, since he had lost his job, and had come to her for help. She felt bad for him. Two months with no job and then his wife Felicia had been brutally murdered in their own home. It was Owen’s second day, and so far he was doing fine. They had dated in high school, before drifting apart and ending up with other people. Now here she was, living with her parents, under their roof, and with a six year old child. It wasn’t exactly the outcome that Ellie was hoping for, but she did her best with what she had.
A soft smile creased the corner of Ellie’s lips as her parents, Richard and Lynn, came into the room to sit down on the couch across from her. They were both in their early sixties, married for nearly thirty years. They were both retired. Her father had been an airline pilot, and her mother had worked as an art auctioneer. They were glad to have Ellie and her son living with them. They had taken them in, no questions asked, shortly after Tyson was born. Ellie could depend on her parents. They took care of Tyson while she was at work, making sure he was fed, bathed, and staying out of trouble. He was a sweet little boy, well behaved and outgoing. He did regular kid things, such as exploring, playing on the jungle gym and playing with his toys. He had a few friends, mostly Taylor Biggs and Quintin Workman. They came over from time to time and Ellie had such a great time just watching them interact, and play. It almost made her want to have other kids. Maybe one day.
Ellie didn’t have a man in her life. Ever since Gage, Tyson’s father, had walked out on her when she had told him she was pregnant. He didn’t want kids, so one day he just up and left. Ellie resented for him that. She hadn’t heard from or seen him in six years. She had focused on work, and her son, until about a year ago. Out of a whim, she decided to join a dating site. edgysingles.com, it called itself. She had gone on a few dates, but nothing that lasted. Most of the guys were not thrilled about the fact that she had a kid. So she went back to focusing on her work, and on Tyson. Maybe I’ll try again soon. she thought to herself before bringing her attention to her parents.
“Tyson should be right down, he’s brushing his teeth.” Ellie’s mother explained.
“Is he all set?” Ellie asked.
“His lunch is made, it’s in his lunchbox. The permission slip you signed about the fieldtrip to the zoo is in his bag. And he’s wearing his sneakers today because it’s gym day.” her mother answered.
“I don’t know what I would do without you guys. Thank you!” Ellie said. She stood up, and made her way into the kitchen. She was about to grab another cup of coffee when she heard the patter of feet coming down the stairs. A broad smile played on her face as she turned to reveal Tyson running into the kitchen. He was ready for school, dressed in his favorite overalls and an orange t-shirt.
“Oh boy! It’s gym day today! We’re going to play soccer!” Tyson said, excitement gleaming in his brown eyes. “I told Taylor I’ll pass her the ball! She’s never played soccer before.” he continued, jumping up and down.
“Remember to pass the ball to all your classmates.” Ellie said with a smile. Suddenly, there was a loud honk from outside. “That’s the school bus. Off you go, buddy. I’ll see you later, okay? I love you!” she said, bending down and scooping Tyson in a big hug. She straightened up, watching him grab his schoolbag, as his grandfather led him out the front door. Ellie puttered around the kitchen, going over to the fridge and pulling the door open. She pulled out a chocolate cake, closing the fridge behind her as she placed the cake down on the counter. She fixed herself a piece while her parents watched the morning news in the living room. She tuned in and out, hearing bits and pieces of the weather.
“Sunny all week….perfect beach weather….sunscreen…” the newscaster said.
That’s when the phone rang, snapping Ellie out of her daze. Her mother, who was closest to the phone, answered it. “Hello? Yes? Yes, she’s still here. A problem at the club? Oh.. I’ll tell her. Thank you.” her mother said into the phone before hanging up. “Honey, that was Clay, from the club? He said he needs you down there, right now. Something about Owen accidently setting off the fire alarm?” her mother explained with a frown. Without another word, eyes wide, Ellie hurried out of the house.
It was nearly noon when Scarlett Biggs pulled up downtown. Her car engine idling before shutting off. With a quick look at herself in the rear view mirror, she pulled the keys out of the ignition, pushed open the door and stepped out onto the street. She closed and locked the car before crossing around the back to step onto the curb. Her eyes scanning up and down Main Street. The lunch time rush was about to begin, and Scarlett was glad she had a few minutes to spare before the sidewalks would be bombarded with people. She pulled out a few coins from her pocket, feeding the parking meter. She wasn’t going to be very long, just a quick trip to Movers & Shakers, the town gym. Being a housewife, she felt like she was always doing something at home, so any opportunity to get out of the house, she took.
After her daughters, Kaitlyn and Taylor, had left for school, and her husband Warren had left for work, she had spent the whole morning doing laundry, ironing and folding clothes. After that, she had done some baking, chocolate chip cookies for her daughters’ school bake sale. Scarlett found herself growing restless, so instead of sitting down in front of the television, she got dressed in her workout clothes and headed downtown. Her husband had a membership at the gym, so she was allowed to go whenever she wanted, for free. That was one of it’s perks, since Warren was paying nearly three hundred dollars a month for his membership. When Scarlett had first heard about the price, she screeched about saving money and almost kicked Warren out of the house. He promised her it was worth it, and after she calmed down, she saw that it was. Now, she went once every week.
During the day, when the gym wasn’t too crowded. She didn’t care to see people she knew. She liked to keep to herself, she wasn’t very social. And she didn’t have many friends. It was probably due to her upbringing in a very strict household. Her parents had stopped talking to her when she had told them about the boy she met, Warren. They didn’t talk to her after she moved in with him. Or after they got married, and had children. They hadn’t even met their granddaughters. And they never would. They both died in their sleep, a year ago. The cause, faulty wiring in their old home that broke out into a fire, which consumed the house quickly. With them still inside. Something had happened to Scarlett when she got the news. It was as if she drew back into herself. Maybe it was shock, or that she was just so traumatized she felt like she would never recover.
So by keeping busy, she distracted herself. She was a quick learner, so she got into cooking, baking, DIY repairs, gardening. She read books, magazines, surfed the web. All while running the household. She was afraid Warren would get tired of her gloominess, and leave her. So she did everything she could to keep him happy. She had her hands full with her daughters. They looked like twins, but Kaitlyn was a year older than Taylor. Taylor was a ball of energy, always on the go. Kaitlyn, on the other hand, was a mean little girl, plain and simple. She was always in trouble. Pouring glue in another girl’s hair, scribbling over a classmate’s art project, popping off the heads of Taylor’s Barbie dolls, spitting in her classmates’ drinks, picking on Taylor just because she felt like it, the list went on and on. Scarlett and Warren tried their best to discipline Kaitlyn, but they were becoming fed up with how frequently they had to do it. They had even suggested maybe sending Kaitlyn to talk to a child psychologist. But the solution had remained up in the air, and at least once a week it would cross Scarlett’s mind.
She shook those thoughts away as she made her way to the double glass doors leading into the building. She pushed them open and stepped inside, letting the doors swing shut behind her. Just as she had suspected, there weren’t many people at the gym at this time of the day. The faint smell of sweat and chlorine from the pool invaded her senses. Scarlett kept her eyes down, avoiding eye contact as she signed in at the front desk before she headed upstairs. Most of the people who were up there were at the punching bags, so Scarlett made a beeline to the treadmills. She hopped onto one, pressed a few buttons, and it whirred to life. She was starting at a brisk pace when out of the corner of her eye, she saw someone get onto the treadmill next to her.
A blonde female with a pleasant looking face. She was dressed in a flashy pink midriff baring workout outfit that showed off her lithe figure. They hadn’t personally met, but Scarlett knew the other girl was Darcy Adkins. She was the new girl in town, and she was friends with Fallon McQueen. Scarlett didn’t really know Fallon, she just saw her from time to time around the neighborhood. Warren had mentioned that he thought she was cute. With her big glasses, Scarlett thought she actually looked kind of nerdy. That’s mean. Her best friend was murdered. Scarlett thought to herself. The murder of Felicia Talley was still a shock to her. It happened with no warning. One moment the girl was alive, and the next she was found in her kitchen with a knife stabbed in her eye. There were no clues, and no suspects.
Scarlett was fairly optimistic that the West Valley police force would find the killer. It was only a matter of when. Which is why Scarlett and her family wouldn’t leave the house once night fell. It was safer to be out and about during the day. They had two little girls to worry about. Taylor and Kaitlyn didn’t even realize something was amiss. They had asked why they hadn’t gone on one of their nightly strolls like they used to do, but Scarlett had just blamed it on being too cold. The girls seemed to accept that answer, and hadn’t asked again. Warren had kept them distracted by family movie nights, game nights, and indoor picnics. The girls loved it.
“Hi.” a voice said, snapping Scarlett back to attention. It took her a moment to realize it was Darcy speaking. Scarlett sighed inwardly but turned to face the blonde with a thin smile on her lips. “I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Darcy Adkins. I’d shake your hand but it’s all sweaty at the moment.” she said with a soft chuckle.
“Hello.” Scarlett said simply.
Darcy continued. “I just moved to West Valley a few weeks ago. I opened a clothing store right next door, actually. It’s called ‘Darcy’s Closet’, you should come check it out when you have some time. There’s a month-long opening sale, if you’re interested.” she explained to Scarlett.
“When I have some time. Thanks.” Scarlett told Darcy. She stopped the machine, hopping off it. She flashed Darcy another thin smile before she made her way for the stairs. She descended, covered in a sheen of sweat. All she wanted to do was take a shower. She made her way for the woman’s locker room, pushing the door open and stepping inside as the door squeaked shut behind her. It was empty, and Scarlett’s footsteps echoed off the tiled walls as she stopped to take in her appearance in the mirror. Definitely a shower, and then home. She thought to herself. Making sure there was a fresh towel ready, she quickly disrobed and got into the nearest shower. She turned the knobs, adjusting the water temperature and let the water rain down on her. She hummed softly to herself, angling her face towards the water as steam filled up the locker room.
Scarlett was reaching for the soap when the door to the locker room squeaked open. The rushing water drowning out the sound. A black clad figure slinked into the room, the door shutting behind them. It took a few moments for their eyes to adjust against the clouds of steam hanging over the locker room. They spotted the girl in the shower, her back to the room. Oblivious that someone was inside. She was humming, a cheerful little hum. The black clad figure stepped slowly across the tiled floor. Taking their time to get to the occupied shower stall. The girl turned slightly, and the shadowy figure stopped. Had she seen them? No. She made no sign that she did. So the figure got closer, and closer. Almost to the shower now, staring at Scarlett’s naked back. And then something happened. A phone began to ring, right there in the locker room.
With a quick glance, the shadowy figure saw the ringing was coming from a phone placed on top of Scarlett’s perfectly folded workout outfit. “Ack! Hold on! I have shampoo in my eyes!” they heard Scarlett say. The black clad figure dissappeared into the cloud of steam. There was a quick blur of movement, the door swung open, letting the steam out, and then swung shut. A moment later, Scarlett stepped out of the shower. With a towel around her, the ringing of her phone had stopped. Before she could go check who had called, something caught her eye. She frowned, staring at the message written on the mirror, splashed in red.
It was a few hours later, after dinner, at the Cosgrove house. Everyone knew the Cosgroves. Edwin, kind of geeky, and snobby. He was the CEO of his own startup business. His wife, Olivia. A cheerful woman with a competitive side who was always involved in community events. Lastly, their teenage daughter, Skye. A materialistic party girl who was Queen Bee at West Valley High. She was loved, and feared by her fellow classmates. It was wise to stay on her good side, or else she could make your life a living hell. Skye was also known around town for winning Miss Teen West Valley, two years in a row. She had the mentality of a thirty year old woman, stuck in the body of a fifteen year old girl. To the common eye, it would seem as if the beauty pageant was the most important event of Skye’s year. All the winner got was a tiara, roses, an all free spa day, and her picture in the newspaper. Apparently that was good enough for Skye, the other contestants didn’t stand a chance. Pageant season was approaching, and a sense of excitement seemed to be hanging over the Cosgrove house.
Inside, Edwin and Olivia sat on the couch, making plans. Moreso, Olivia was making the plans, talking a mile a minute, and Edwin was listening to her. Or attempting to. He hated when his wife got like this.
“So, darling, this year, when Skye wins the pageant, I was thinking, how about we buy her a car?” Olivia asked, excitement shining in her eyes. Before he could even object, or answer, she kept on.
“I know what you’re thinking. She doesn’t even have her license. But she does have her permit, and she could practice with the car until the driving test.” Olivia explained.
“I was thinking more along the lines of is she mature enough?” Edwin asked with a frown creasing his forehead.
“Of course she is! Have some faith in your daughter! She’s the most mature out of all her friends. You can’t even compare her to that friend of hers, Hanna Workman. Who’s coming over in a few minutes, by the way.” Olivia revealed, rolling her eyes in annoyance.
“You just don’t like her because you’re always competing against her mother, Stephanie Workman.” Edwin pointed out.
Olivia rolled her eyes once more. “It’s because she always tries to come up with these lame ideas. Ideas that have been thought of before. She doesn’t have an original thought in her body.” she explained to her husband before elaborating. “Like when I got Skye that Balenciaga bag for her fifteenth birthday. Well Stephanie ran out and got Hanna a Balenciaga bag, only the cheap imitation version of it!” she said with a sneer.
“That’s because her goofball of a husband, Frankie, doesn’t make as much money as I do.” Edwin answered proudly, his nose in the air.
A soft chuckle escaped Olivia’s lips. “Well I hope you saved up money for Skye’s car! Oh, and also, start saving up for our family trip! Once Skye is done this school year, we’ll be off to Rome for the summer! We’ll come back to West Valley speaking italian!” she said with a smile.
Meanwhile, as the sun began to set, Skye sat in the gazebo in the backyard. Playing absentmindedly with her hair. The sound of footsteps on the grass snapped her out of her daze as she turned to look at the figure entering the backyard. A thin smile played across her face.
“Took you long enough, bitch.” Skye said to Hanna Workman.
“Sorry! We had a late dinner. And then I had an argument with my mom about coming here. She’s still freaked out about the murder. She said we should have planned to hang out at a sunnier time of day.” Hanna explained.
“I think I liked your mom better when she was hitting the bottle. Getting white girl wasted at any time of the day.” Skye replied.
“That was in middle school. She’s over that. Anyway, do I have news for you!” Hanna said with excitement.
Skye looked over at her friend, her interested piqued. “Gossip away, minion.” she told Hanna.
“Well, apparently Charlie Olsen walked Megan Whitlow home last night.” Hanna said with gleaming eyes.
Skye frowned in response. “What is a Megan Whitlow?” she asked.
“You know. That THING that got caught smoking in the girls restroom?” Hanna said with a sneer on her face.
“Oh. Eww! That street urchin? But wait, I thought she was a dyke?” Skye asked.
Hanna couldn’t contain the laugh that escaped from her lips. “She was just looking at your tits that one time you got out of the gym shower. Probably wondered why hers haven’t came in yet.” she said with a snicker.
“Someone’s gotta teach that skank a lesson. Charlie Olsen is off limits. Because he’s mine.” Skye said with a huff.
Hanna frowned. “But what about Brad?” she asked. She was referring to Brad Landgraab, Skye’s boyfriend.
“What Brad doesn’t know, won’t hurt him. Besides, he lives thirty minutes away in Sunny Grove. Charlie lives just down the street.” Skye said with a devilish grin on her glossed lips.
“Wow. You’re actually going to chase after a guy?” Hanna asked, arching an eyebrow in Skye’s direction.
Skye frowned. “Oh no, sweetie. He’s going to come after me. All I gotta do is show him some attention, and he’ll be eating out of the palm of my hand.” she said with a giggle.
“Just like how you snagged Brad.” Hanna pointed out to her friend.
“Well his mom is THE Emma Landgraab. As in Emma L. Cosmetics? I couldn’t let an opportunity like that go to waste, could I? And don’t deny, bitch, you love getting the free shit I bring back for you.” Skye explained.
“I’m forever greatful! My mom’s stopped asking where I got the free makeup.” Hanna revealed.
“Okay. But your mom also needs to stop picking out your clothes, too. I mean, really? You dress like a fourty year old mormon woman. One of these days, I’m going to have to give you a makeover.” Skye explained before continuing. “Don’t you want boys to start noticing you? You can’t be a virgin by the time we graduate high school.” she said to Hanna with a grimace.
“Well we all can’t lose our virginity at twelve, like you did!” Hanna said, sticking out her tongue at Skye.
“Not so loud! My parents still think I have my V card.” Skye said, turning to look back at the house. Hoping no one heard that piece of information.
“And to lose it to an older boy, no less.” Hanna continued, giving Skye a condiscending look.
“He was experienced, okay?! Give me a break!” Skye replied. She looked up to see the sun was almost set in the sky. “So it’s saturday tomorrow. Do you wanna stay over? You’re staying over. Slumber party! Your mom won’t have to worry about you walking home in the dark. Maybe it’ll give your parents some quality time to boink since your pesky little brother was born.” Skye said with a cruel chuckle.
“Eww! I didn’t need that imagery in my head, Skye! But I’m sure it’s fine if I spend the night. Let’s go call my parents.” Hanna said. They both stood up, and headed inside the house.
The bright ball of the moon was now out in the velvet dark sky. The suburbs of West Valley were now beginning to retire for the night. Some returned from work, children were called inside by their anxious parents. It was no different at the Jacks house. After lamb chops for dinner, Ellie, her parents and her son Tyson moved over to watch the news on the big screen tv. They were all in a pleasant mood, their stomachs full after a delicious meal cooked by Ellie’s mother.
“Ellie, dear. There’s something we’d like to talk to you about.” her father spoke up, a smile on his face.
His wife looked over at him, a smile playing on her face as well.
Ellie cocked an eyebrow. “Oh god. You’re not getting divorced, are you?” she said.
Tyson looked up from where he was perched on the couch. “What’s a divorce?” he asked.
Her parents laughed in response. “I don’t think we’d be smiling if we were telling you we were getting a divorce!” her mother said, shaking her head.
“You’re doing great for yourself. You own your own business. Tyson is well behaved. We think you’re independent enough to have this house.” Ellie’s father explained.
Ellie frowned, confused. “Have this house?” she repeated.
“We want to sell you the house, dear.” Lynn told Ellie.
“But where would you go?” Ellie asked, curiosity in her eyes.
“They’re building new retirement condos in Sunny Grove. It would be perfect for just the two of us. And it’s close by, only a thirty minute drive from here.” her mother continued to explain.
“So you want to move, and let me live here with Tyson?” Ellie asked, a deep frown creasing her face.
“Exactly. But we’ll talk details in a few minutes. I forgot to water the lawn today, so I’ll go do that and we can talk some more when I come back, okay?” her father said, rising from his seat.
Crossing over to the back door, Richard pulled it open and stepped out into the warm night. He closed the door behind him, and made his way across the back deck. He could hear the television playing from inside. He smiled to himself as he made his way to the hose, it gleamed bright green in the moonlight. A soft whisper of movement by the bushes caught his attention by the corner of his eye. Stepping down from the deck, he stopped. And listened. A sound, something unfamiliar. A squirrel? he thought to himself.
His eyes scanned the darkness around him. But now, nothing moved. And he could still hear the tv playing from inside the house. “Hello?” he found himself calling out softly. No reply. He let out a sigh and kept moving, going to grab the hose.
It was ten minutes later when the back door opened once more, and Lynn stepped out onto the deck. Ellie and Tyson had changed the channel and were now laughing over a funny movie. She could hear them, and it brough a smile to her face. “Richard?” she called out to her husband as she closed the door behind her. There was no reply. “Richard? Do you need my help?” she called out again. Still no reply. She made her way across the deck. One of these days, he’s going to need a hearing aid. Lynn thought to herself, rolling her eyes in annoyance.
“Richard?” she found herself calling out again as she stepped closer to the edge of the deck. That’s when she saw the drops of red, shining bright in the moonlight. She frowned, knowing exactly what it was, as her heart began to race a little faster. Lynn took another step forward, peering over the edge of the deck. A loud gasp escaped her lips. Her knees buckled, and she struggled to stay upright.
“RICHARD!” a scream tore from her throat as she stared at the body on the grass. Badly beaten, blood everywhere. But very much dead. Her husband. A father, a grandfather. Another scream, horror mixed with sorrow, escaped Lynn’s throat, echoing through the night.