Olivia Cosgrove couldn’t believe her plan had backfired. She just wanted her husband Edwin in jail, not dead. They were being investigated for tax evasion. So to save her own hide, Olivia had betrayed Edwin. She couldn’t spend her time in jail. She had gone to the police, and she had lied to them. It had been so easy, and they had actually believed her. She pretended to have no idea what had been going on for all those years. How Edwin had lied on their taxes. All the police needed was proof, which Olivia had. She had brought along the documents and had handed them over without a second thought. All she had to do was shed a few tears, look upset, and they had fallen for it. She had applauded herself for being so believable.
But now, four days later, she was returning home from Edwin’s funeral. The long black limo had dropped her off in front of her house and had driven off down the street. Through the sunglasses covering her face, she peered up at the house before her. She was alone now. Her daughter Skye had been killed, and now so had her husband. After she had left the police station, Olivia had gone to the country club to get a massage. She remembered Edwin calling and interrupting her relaxing moment. She had confessed to him about what she had done. She had told him to run, which he had listened and tried to do. But the West Valley killer had other plans for him. He had gotten as far as the front porch before the killer appeared.
They had killed Edwin. Stabbing him in the heart and leaving him on the front porch to die. When returning home an hour or so later, it was like deja vu for Olivia all over again. It reminded her of when Skye had been murdered. Parking the car in front of the house, Olivia had jumped out from the driver side, not bothering to close the car door. She saw the police cars surrounding the house, their blue and red lights flashing. Police men were swarming the front lawn. She knew something had happened. It was like a block of ice had settled in her stomach. She had tried to approach but was stopped by some officers. She had explained that she lived there. That’s when they had broke the news about what had happened to Edwin. Olivia couldn’t believe it.
It had all seemed like a bad dream. She had ticked her gaze to the front porch and had seen the body bag lying on the ground. The occupied body bag. Eyes wide, Olivia had let out a cry of shock. This is not happening! she had thought to herself. She had felt faint, an officer seizing her by the elbow to keep her upright. He had stayed by her side while the Coroner had wheeled the body bag down to his van. Once the path was clear, Olivia had been lead back to the house. The officer had told her to be careful where she stepped, as the front porch had been splattered with Edwin’s blood. Olivia snapped back to the present, making her way down the walkway towards the house. Her heels clicked against the pavement as she headed up the porch steps, pulling out her house keys.
The front porch had been cleaned but still had a lingering coppery smell of blood. Olivia sniffled as she slid the key into the lock, turning it and pulling open the front door. Silence within with the house. She stepped inside, closing the door and locking it behind her. She took off her hat, her gloves and her sunglasses, placing them down on the entryway table. I need a drink. she thought to herself as she made her way into the kitchen. She stopped and looked over at a spot on the floor. That’s where she had found Skye, a knife stabbed into her eye. The tears came hard and fast as Olivia began to cry. She covered her face with her hands, sobs racking her body as she stood in the middle of the kitchen. Minutes passed before her eyes were finally dry.
Olivia wiped her tear stained cheeks as she went over to a cupboard and pulled it open. She reached inside and pulled out a glass. Closing the cupboard, she rummaged through the kitchen until she found a bottle of scotch. She poured it into the glass and took a long chug of the liquid. Per her request, there was no gathering after the service. She just wanted to be alone. Her thoughts were swirling inside her mind like a tornado. She couldn’t help but feel guilty and partly responsible for her husband’s murder. Sure, she had no idea who or when the killer would strike next. However, maybe Edwin would have still been alive if she hadn’t betrayed him. She flashed back to that day. She had gone back to the police station to answer some routine questions.
They had asked her if Edwin had any enemies. If there was someone out there holding a grudge against him. They had a feeling it was the work of the West Valley killer, they just wanted to be thorough and approach the crime from every angle. Olivia had answered as truthfully as she could. She was also certain that Edwin had been murdered by the killer. She snapped back to attention, standing in the kitchen. She poured herself another glass of scotch and downed that one as well. She looked down at the label on the bottle. It was Edwin’s favorite kind. He’d never drink it again, Olivia realized. She let out another sniffle before putting the bottle back where it belonged and placing the glass into the sink. She turned and made her way out of the kitchen and into the living room.
After the police station, she had gone to the hospital. She had to go identify Edwin’s body. She had taken the elevator down to the basement where the morgue was. She had felt like she was in a horror movie as she walked down the dimly lit corridor, her footsteps echoing off the walls. It was Edwin, the morgue attendant had pulled back the sheet so she could see. She had let out a shriek of grief. The attendant had told her he would give her a few minutes to be alone with the body. She had stood there, trying to stay upright on shaking knees. And she had asked for Edwin to forgive her. She knew he couldn’t hear her. But she had to say it. Yet in her back of her mind, she knew all the money they had was hers. And all the money that Edwin had left in his will would also go to her.
She had gone to see the family lawyer the following day. He had told Olivia she would have to wait a month before she could get the money. That was fine by her. She had more than enough money to last her more than a month. With all of it coming in, she probably wouldn’t have to work another day of her life. That was somewhat of a comfort to her. Heading across the living room floor, she sat down on the couch. She was tempted to turn on the television, but decided against it. There had been too much talking at the funeral, too many people offering her their sympathies. She needed some peace and quiet. A deep sigh escaped her lips as she leaned back against the soft couch cushion. That’s when suddenly, the doorbell rang.
Who could that be? she thought to herself as she got to her feet. She made her way into the entryway and over to the front door. She peered through the glass, saw who was standing on the other side. A frown creased her face as she unlocked the door and pulled it open.
“What are YOU doing here?” she asked.
Stephanie Workman frowned. She was still dressed in her outfit she wore to the funeral. “Easy there, tiger. I come in peace.” she told Olivia.
“I just saw you at the funeral.” Olivia pointed out.
“And I didn’t really get a chance to talk to you.” Stephanie replied. “I wanted to see how you’re doing.” she said with a soft gaze.
“My daughter is dead. Now so is my husband. How do you think I’m doing?” Olivia replied sarcastically with a sneer.
“Can you stop being a thundering bitch for two seconds? Do I need to remind you my husband was also murdered?” Stephanie asked.
“At least you still have your kids. I have no one.” Olivia replied softly.
“Maybe if you lost your my shit don’t stink attitude, we could be friends.” Stephanie said.
Olivia thought about it. She peered at Stephanie with narrowed eyes.
“So? Do you call a truce?” Stephanie asked, arching her eyebrow.
A deep sigh of defeat escaped Olivia’s lips. “Come on in.” she said, stepping aside so Stephanie could make her way into the house.
With a smile, Stephanie headed inside the house. Olivia hesitated for a moment before following her in, closing the door behind her.
Dawn was glad to finally be home. She had just returned from Edwin Cosgrove’s funeral. She had gone upstairs to her bedroom, changed out of her black apparel and into something more comfortable. She descended the stairs to the main floor of the house. She couldn’t believe Edwin was dead. She had just seen him the day before his murder. She had run into him at the hardware store. She had been there to pick up some new light bulbs when she had spotted him looking over some lawn mowers. Dawn had expected for Olivia to pop out, but she hadn’t. Edwin was alone, which is why Dawn had walked over and spoke to him. He had seemed kind of distracted, a nervous glint in his eyes. Dawn had heard the rumors about how the Cosgrove’s were having some kind of money trouble.
She wondered if it was actually true, and had considered asking Edwin. She decided against it. It wasn’t any of her business. She didn’t want to upset him if it was true. So they had stood around talking for a few minutes before Edwin had to go. The following day, she had been asleep in bed when her phone had rang. It had woken her up, and she had grumbled to herself as she fumbled for the phone. She had seen on the screen that it was Darcy calling. A frown had creased her face, she wondered why Darcy was calling at such an early hour. It had been a little bit before eight in the morning. Once she had answered the phone, that’s when Darcy had told her the news. Edwin had been killed, and it looked like to be the work of the West Valley killer.
Dawn had been shocked. She couldn’t believe it was Edwin who was the killer’s latest victim. After the phone call, she had gone to tell her brother Michael and his girlfriend Claire the news. They were just as shocked as she was. She had tried to call Olivia, but the other woman had never answered her phone. Darcy had called back just yesterday to tell Dawn the funeral would be that day. Charlie and Finn had stayed home while she, Michael and Claire had gone to pay their respects. She couldn’t help but feel bad for Olivia. In a way, she knew what she was going through. Dawn’s own mother Regina, had been one of the killer’s victims. Only Edwin hadn’t been killed as gruesomely. He had been stabbed, while Regina had been decapitated.
A slow, icy cold shiver of fear snaked down Dawn’s spine as she thought about it. It was her mother’s fault for what had happened to Brandon Covington when he was a child. Dawn still couldn’t believe her mother was Mayor Covington’s mistress. It was something she couldn’t quite wrap her head around. She thought she knew her mother, she never suspected the skeleton’s she had in her closet. The secrets she never told. Dawn had found out by accident. She had found the box of letters packed away in storage. She had never gone back to read the rest of the letters since her mother’s death. But now, since time had passed, she felt like she should take another look at them. Who knew what else she would discover.
She listened carefully. Charlie and Finn were playing out in the backyard as usual. Michael and Claire had gone to grab something to eat after the funeral. Now would be the perfect time for Dawn to head down to the basement. She took a deep breath and headed over to the basement stairs. She descended the steps until she reached the floor. The basement had been turned into an apartment for her brother and his girlfriend. But at the back of the apartment were a few doors. There was the bathroom, some closets, and a storage room. Dawn made her way over to the last door, unlocking it before pulling it open. She peered inside the storage room. There were boxes, a jukebox, and a baby’s crib which had first belonged to Charlie before it was handed down to Finn.
And many other things. But right now, she was interested in what was in the boxes. She remembered which box it was, the one by the door. She went over to it, bending down and opening the flaps. What’s that? she thought to herself as she pulled out a picture. She hadn’t realized it was in there. It was a picture of Brandon Covington as a child. Why did her mother have a picture of him? Dawn looked down at the picture once more. Brandon looked so normal, smiling widely at the camera. It must have been taken before his parents had died. Before he had been committed to Sherwood Sanitarium. A deep frown creased Dawn’s forehead as she put the picture aside. She reached her hand back into the box and pulled out a letter.
She began to read;
I had the most wonderful time at dinner.
Spending time with you makes me the most happiest I’ve ever been.
It’s a wonderful contrast to my retched wife.
I could never talk to her about the things you and I talk about.
She isn’t as interesting as you.
As you know, she is rather basic.
I love your mind and the way you think.
You have the most wonderful sense of humor and your voice is like music to my ears.
I do wish things were different, however.
If only I had married you in the first place.
Then perhaps we wouldn’t have had to keep the baby a secret.
It hurts me more than you know, but I wish we could keep our baby girl.
But as we discussed, we are giving her to the orphanage in a week.
Perhaps one day we will be reunited with her.
All my love, Stuart.
Her breath catching in her throat, Dawn lowered the letter in her hand. She couldn’t believe what she had just read. She placed the letter back inside the box as she blinked away the tears that threatened to overflow from her eyes. No. It can’t be. Can it? she thought to herself. She thought maybe she had read the letter wrong. But she knew she hadn’t. Another secret had been revealed. Mayor Covington and her mother had a child together. A girl. Somewhere out there, Dawn had a half sister. She couldn’t believe it, didn’t want to. But it was all right there in the letter. Clapping her hand over her mouth, Dawn let out a small whimper. She felt as if she had been kicked in the stomach. She sucked in a shaky breath.
Should she tell Michael about what she had found out? How would he react when he found out they had a sister? How would Dawn explain it to her boys. Charlie, Finn. Grandma had a kid with a killer’s father. she imagined herself saying. She could just picture the look on their faces. Shaking her head, Dawn turned and headed out of the storage room. She closed the light and the door behind her. She leaned against the closed door, closing her eyes tight. How could she have confronted her mother if she had still been alive? There would have been tears and shouting, she was sure of it. What would her father have said? He had died years ago. Would he have divorced his wife? Would he have forgiven her? Dawn opened her eyes and hurried across the floor and over to the stairs.
She headed up the stairs, reaching the main floor of the house as she closed the basement door behind her. She made her way into the kitchen, going over to the window. There was Charlie, running laps around the backyard. But she didn’t see Finn. Suddenly, the back door opened, Dawn turned to see Finn enter. He looked up at her curiously.
“Mommy, are you okay?” he asked.
Don’t let him see you upset. she thought to herself as she gathered up the courage to smile. “Everything is great, kiddo. Are you having fun with your brother?” she asked.
“Yes! But I’m thirsty. Can I have some apple juice?” Finn asked her.
“One apple juice, coming right up!” she told him as she made her way to the fridge.
“Mommy?” Finn called out from behind her.
“What is it, sweetheart?” Dawn asked as she turned to face him.
“Are you SURE you’re okay?” he asked, concern glinting in his eyes.
“I’m…fine. Don’t worry about me.” she said, turning her back to him as a few stray tears slid down her cheeks.
Jillyan didn’t want to be out and about, but her sister Amy had insisted. She had told her not to worry, that she would be fine. She had told Jillyan to go get some fresh air. Amy was going to get a nap in before the doctor came to do yet another test. It was four days later, and Amy was still in the hospital. Jillyan was worried, she couldn’t help it, no matter what her sister told her. She had the best doctors trying to figure out what was going on with the baby. So far, they had no news. Just how long is she going to be stuck in the hospital for? Jillyan thought to herself as she stepped through the automatic doors and out into the sunlight. An ambulance zoomed past from where she stood, it’s siren wailing loudly.
Jillyan jumped at the sudden noise, startled. The sound reminded her of that day, four days earlier. She had been at Karina Muniz’s house when her phone had rang. It had been Amy on the other end of the line. Jillyan could hear the worry in her sister’s tone of voice. Amy had told her to come home, that something was happening. Before she could ask what, she could hear Amy yelling on the other end of the line. It still rang clearly in Jillyan’s ears. A yell of pain, mixed with panic. And then there had been a loud clunk, as if the phone had been dropped. Jillyan’s blood had run cold as she called out to her sister, clutching the phone to her ear. There had been no response from Amy as Jillyan had hurried to find Mrs. Muniz.
Karina’s mother had driven her home, driving quickly through the streets of West Valley until pulling to a stop in front of the house. Mrs. Muniz had wanted to stay, so Jillyan had told her to wait in the car. She had hurried up the front walkway, pulling out her keys and unlocking the front door. Bursting into the house, she had gone room to room until she stepped into the kitchen. There, on the floor unconscious, was Amy. Jillyan had felt like she had been kicked in the stomach as she had knelt down by her sister. She yelled at her to wake up, gently shaking her by the shoulders. Amy’s eyes had remained closed as Jillyan had pulled out her cellphone and dialed for an ambulance. Then she had ran back outside, telling Mrs. Muniz what had happened. Her friend’s mother had hopped out of the car and stayed with her until the ambulance had arrived.
Jillyan remembered hearing the sirens coming from a distance. Soon, an ambulance and a police cruiser had come screeching to a stop in front of the house. For a brief moment, she had wondered why the police had come as well. Perhaps they had thought it had something to do with the West Valley killer. Jillyan had lead the way back inside the house and into the kitchen where Amy lay. They had invaded the room, checking Amy’s blood pressure and listening to her heart as they placed her down on a gurney. Jillyan ran alongside, a bundle of nerves as they exited the house and over the ambulance. Jillyan vaguely remembered thanking Mrs. Muniz for staying with her as she had hopped into the back of the ambulance.
She wasn’t leaving her sister’s side. It had been in the back of the ambulance that Amy’s eyes had fluttered, and then had finally opened. She took in the scene around her, a terrified look in her eyes. She winced in pain, clutching her belly. There’s something wrong with the baby. Jillyan had thought to herself. She had held Amy’s hand as they raced for the hospital. They were there in no time, wheeling Amy through the emergency room until they had her enclosed in a private area. Jillyan had waited outside, pacing back and forth under the humming lights overhead. She had pulled out her phone and had called their mother. Gail Rayburn had let out a cry of surprise when Jillyan had told her what had happened.
Her mother had insisted she wanted to come to West Valley. But Jillyan had talked her out of it. Gail was in a wheelchair, and it wasn’t easy for her to travel. Jillyan promised to be by Amy’s side at all times. She promised she would call and update her mother when there was more news. She didn’t want to put more stress on her mother than she already had. So Jillyan had kept her promise, she had stayed in the hospital for those four days. Now outside, she blinked against the rays of sun in her eyes. It was another warm day, it felt good against her exposed skin. Jillyan pulled out her phone as she walked slowly down the sidewalk, looking down at the screen. She had at least twelve unread text messages from Hanna, and six from Karina.
Jillyan shook her head, a smile playing on the corner of her lips. I have great friends. she thought to herself. She kept moving down the sidewalk, walking past the library. She waved to Warren Biggs’ mother, who was coming out of the building with her two granddaughters. The two little girls were pulling a wagon full of books behind them. She passed by the lounge, stopping to peer at the menu posted outside. Seeing something she liked, she headed inside. A few minutes later she stepped back outside, holding a cold drink in her hand. A strawberry and mango ice smoothie. She sucked the drink through the straw, it tasted delicious. She kept making her way down the street, occasionally taking a sip from her smoothie.
Once her drink she was done, she tossed the cup into the recycling bin that stood at each street corner. I should head back and see how Amy is doing. Jillyan thought to herself. She turned to head back the way she had came, when the ringing of her phone caught her attention. For a brief moment, she was worried. She thought it was the hospital calling. Pulling out her phone, she saw UNKNOWN flash on the screen. A frown creased Jillyan’s face as she answered the call, bringing the phone up to her ear.
“Hello?” she said.
There was a burst of static from the other end of the line which made Jillyan jump. “Hello, Jillyan.” the distorted voice said.
“Hi. Who is this?” Jillyan asked curiously.
“Someone who is worried about your sister.” the voice replied.
Jillyan frowned again. “What do you know about my sister?” she asked.
“I know she’s in the hospital. I know she should have better security. There’s a killer on the loose, after all.” the voice replied with a chuckle.
An uneasy feeling wrapped itself around Jillyan. “The killer would be insane to just walk into a crowded hospital like that. He, or she, would get caught, for sure.” she explained.
“Oh really? Because I’m already inside the building. No one suspects a thing.” the killer replied.
Jillyan’s eyes went wide. “My sister has doctors coming in and out of her room at all times.” she replied, trying to sound tough.
“Not right now she doesn’t. She’s napping. I wonder who would get to her first. You, or me?” the voice asked with an ominous chuckle.
“Leave her alone!” Jillyan cried. She turned and hurried down the sidewalk back towards the hospital.
“You better hurry. No one’s watching and I’m slipping into her room right now.” the killer revealed.
“Stop! Don’t! She’s pregnant!” Jillyan cried as she broke out into a run.
“I’m aware! But we can’t let this kid be born a bastard, can we?” the killer asked.
“Don’t hurt her!” Jillyan screamed. Her heart was pounding in her chest as she ran as fast she could.
“How should your dear sister die? An embolism? Or should I just cut out her heart with a scalpel?” the killer asked.
“Stop it!” Jillyan cried. Please let me get there in time! her mind screamed at her.
“Aww, crap. I hear the doctor coming. Darling Amy and her baby are safe, for now. Next time they might not be so lucky!” the killer said with a chuckle before hanging up.
Jillyan didn’t wait any longer. Putting her phone away, she ran as fast as she could towards the hospital.
Warren was glad to have his mother around. It felt like a great weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He felt like he could breathe again. As much as he tried to do his best raising his two little girls, he needed help. Not the help from someone who wasn’t related, like Naomi, but someone who was actually family. Colleen Biggs had moved into her son’s house a few weeks ago. She had her own room, an extra room that Warren had redecorated before her arrival. He wanted to make her feel welcome. It was the least he could do, knowing she was coming to stay in a town where murders happened regularly. Ideally, it would have been better to send Kaitlyn and Taylor away after everything they had been through at their young age.
Kaitlyn had been abducted, and Taylor had been hit by a car. However, they would be starting school soon, and Warren thought it would be hard for them to adjust if they had been sent away to live with their grandmother. So instead, she came to them. All it took was one phone call and Colleen arrived to West Valley a few days later. She had visited several times, she was familiar with the town. Only now she was there to stay. She was free to do what she wanted. She no longer worked, and she had no husband to answer to. Warren’s parents had divorced when he was just eleven years old. Then, three years later, his father had been killed in a hit and run. What had happened back then had given Warren deja vu about what had happened to Taylor just a few months before.
But now, all Warren could do was smile. He and his mother sat on the back porch, watching Kaitlyn and Taylor chase each other around. The sound of their laughter filled the backyard. Warren had to admit it was a nice sound to hear. It was like for once, they were being actual kids. There was no sadness about their mother being dead, or worry about what tragedy would strike them next. I wish Scarlett was here to see this. Warren thought to himself, his smile fading momentarily. He snapped back to attention when Kaitlyn let out a shriek of glee. She had jumped onto her sister’s back, Taylor’s skinny legs wobbling, threatening to drop them both to the ground. A laugh escaped Warren’s lips at the scene before him. He wished he had a camera to capture the moment.
Next to him, his mother chuckled, but called out a warning to her grand-daughters. It made Warren think of when he was a kid. He had gotten the idea to try and climb the tree in the backyard. So he had, climbing each branch higher and higher until he was level with the roof the house. He remembered looking down, seeing how far the ground seemed to be. He remembered how his palms were sweaty as fear wrapped itself around him. He began to climb slowly down. It was at that time that his mother had spotted him from the kitchen window. She had pulled it open and stuck her head out, calling out a warning to Warren. In that same tone of voice she had just called out to Taylor and Kaitlyn. She had startled him, and Warren had slipped. Before he knew what was happening, he felt himself falling.
His palms had slapped at the tree leaves, trying to grab hold. But no such luck. He had hit the ground with a loud thud, he remembered how the noise echoed through his ears. Before he lost consciousness, he remembered hearing his mother’s short scream of surprise. When he had woken up, he was in the hospital. His parents were at his bedside. His mother had tears streaking down her face, and his father had a worried glint in his eyes. Warren had suffered a concussion and he had sprained his thumb. That was the last time he had done something that was considered stupid. Eight years old and in the hospital, it was something he didn’t want to experience again. He snapped back to the present, opening his mouth to say something. That particular day of his childhood flashing through his memory.
But Kaitlyn was already climbing down from Taylor’s back. Warren let out a sigh of relief. The girls ran over, claiming they were thirsty. Warren felt tired just looking at them. He wished he had the same type of energy they did. But he wasn’t that young anymore. Time had passed, and he was older. He wished he could be a kid again. Things had been simpler then. Colleen got to her feet, explaining she would be right back. She headed inside the house, calling the girls to join her. They scurried inside after their grandmother, leaving Warren sitting on the bench. His mind wandered, and he found himself thinking about Naomi. I made the right decision by ending things with her, right? he couldn’t help but think to himself with a frown creasing his forehead. He hadn’t spoken to her in a while.
He was keeping his distance. It was the best thing to do, for the both of them. He wondered what his mother would have thought if she knew. It was a good thing he had ended things with Naomi before Colleen came to town. Even though she had never been a fan of Scarlett either, he was sure his mother wouldn’t have approved of Naomi. And how could he have explained to his mother that it was his fault that Taylor had been hit by a car? That she had walked in on him and Naomi in a moment of passion? If she knew, Colleen would be so disappointed in him. He was surprised that Taylor hadn’t mentioned anything to her grandmother yet. Perhaps his daughter was trying to forget what had happened just like he was. Just like the townspeople were trying to do after every murder.
But it doesn’t hurt to see how Naomi is doing. Warren thought to himself as he reached for his phone. Perhaps it was a moment of weakness. But before he could pull his phone out, Taylor and Kaitlyn came back outside. They were giggling. Warren stopped in his tracks and pretended he was fixing his hair. He raised his eyebrows as his mother stepped outside carrying a tray. On it was a plate of cookies and a pitcher of lemonade. She placed the tray down on the table and passed around the plate of cookies. The girls grabbed it at the same time, swatting at their hands with a giggle. Warren reached over them and grabbed a cookie. Bringing it to his mouth while his mother poured the lemonade into four glasses. She handed one to him before settling back down next to him on the bench.
“You haven’t had my world renowned chocolate chip cookies in a while.” she told Warren with a smile.
“Not since… Scarlett was pregnant with Taylor.” Warren remembered with a smile.
“How are you holding up with Scarlett being gone?” his mother asked sympathetically.
Another frown creased Warren’s forehead. Should I tell her about Naomi? he thought to himself. No. She was asking him how he was doing. He shrugged slightly. “Some days are easier than others.” he told her.
“I know I wasn’t her biggest fan, but I’m saddened about what happened to her.” Colleen explained.
“You thought I could find better.” Warren reminded her.
“She was always so gloomy. As if it hurt her to smile. I just thought she was the exact opposite of the girls you usually liked.” Colleen replied.
“Maybe that’s why I liked her.” Warren replied. And yet you find comfort in another woman shortly after she is killed. he thought to himself. He sucked in a deep breath.
“I’m not saying this to argue. I guess what I’m saying is that there is plenty of other fish in the sea.” his mother replied.
Warren almost burst out laughing. But he played it cool. He nodded. “I know.” he told her.
“And maybe one day you’ll meet another nice girl. When you’re ready.” she explained.
He nodded, half listening. I wonder if she would like Naomi? he thought to himself. “Hey mom?” he said, turning towards her.
“Yes, dear?” she asked him, looking at him with curiosity glinting in her eyes.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF EVERLY MARTIN & JEREMY ASHFORD, flashed the words on the screen. Ruby’s heart felt heavy as the opening credits of the movie began. She sucked in a deep breath, blinking away the tears that threatened to overflow from her eyes. She had gotten home not that long ago. Before heading inside, she had checked the mail. There was nothing except for a thin package addressed to her. For a moment, she had wondered what it was. Once she was inside the safety of her home, she had opened the package. A frown had creased her pretty face. It was a DVD. And attached to the disc was a note. She read the note before she placed the disc down on the living room table. She had sat down on the couch, her eyes glinting with emotion.
It was the work print of FOLLOWING LUST. The movie that Jeremy and Everly had been working on before Everly had been murdered. They had filmed it right there in West Valley. Most of it, for Everly’s untimely death had caused delay on the production. And to be on the safe side, Jeremy had to complete the movie in Hollywood with a new actress. Everly’s part had to be recast. Jeremy had returned to West Valley once the movie was done filming. Sadly, he too had been murdered. Another victim of the West Valley killer. And it had happened moments after he had proposed to Ruby. With everything that had happened since, she had completely forgotten about the movie. But now there it was, a copy of it lying on her living room table.
She had stared at it for a few minutes. As if she couldn’t bring herself to watch it. Finally, she had put the disc in the DVD player. She had turned on the television as well before she went to sit down on the couch. Grabbing the DVD remote, she pressed play. The movie began. Ruby wrung her hands in her lap. First, the establishing shot was that of a small house in a nice neighborhood. Ruby recognized it. It was a neighbor’s house, a few blocks away from where she lived with her roommate Meredith. Ruby’s heart thudded in her chest as the next shot was that of a male’s bedroom. Sitting on the bed, in only his tight boxers, was Jeremy. He yawned sleepily, running his hand through his hair as he bent down to grab a t-shirt off the floor.
God, he was so beautiful. Ruby thought to herself. On the screen, Jeremy stood up, his muscled body coming into full view. Ruby stifled a sob. She had seen that body in person. Had ran her fingers down that muscular back. She grabbed the remote and fast fowarded through that part. The next part she watched was where Jeremy’s character was hitchhiking along the road, carrying a backpack. Ruby knew that location as well, it was just out on the outskirts of town by the Valley Bridge. She was so focused on the screen that she didn’t hear the front door open. Soon, someone was slipping into the room from behind her. The figure approached, getting closer. Closer. Until someone plopped down on the couch next to Ruby. A soft gasp escaped her lips as she turned with a jump.
“Meredith!” Ruby squeaked.
“What are you watching? Is that Jeremy?” Meredith replied, looking at the television screen. Unaware that she had frightened her friend.
“It’s FOLLOWING LUST. The work print version of it.” Ruby explained.
Meredith frowned. “How did you get that? Did you bootleg it?” she asked curiously.
Ruby rolled her eyes in response. “The studio sent it to me. It was in the mailbox.” she replied.
Jeremy was on the screen again. Meredith nodded, turning to look at Ruby. “Are you okay watching this?” she asked.
“He was such a good actor.” Ruby replied. There on the screen, was Everly. She stood seductively against the side of a building, smoking a cigarette. “She, on the other hand, I wonder about her skills.” she said, pointing to the screen.
A soft chuckle escaped Meredith’s lips. “She got most of her roles by sleeping with the directors.” she pointed out.
“I know. She told me. Everly had no shame.” Ruby replied.
“Here’s hoping she’s nun-like in heaven.” Meredith replied.
Ruby couldn’t help but let out a laugh. “I highly doubt that!” she said.
“Anyway. I’m off to take a shower. Enjoy the rest of the movie.” Meredith said, getting to her feet and walking out of the living room.
Ruby listened as Meredith traipsed up the stairs to the second floor of the house. She turned her attention back to the television. On the screen, was Jeremy and Everly’s love scene. Ruby shifted uncomfortably in her seat. She knew that was really them. They both didn’t like to use body doubles. Jeremy had warned her about it before he was going to shoot the scene. Ruby thought it was done tastefully, but there was something about it that made her uneasy. Perhaps it was seeing another girl with her boyfriend. Or perhaps it was because they were both dead. A sigh escaped from between Ruby’s lips. It’s just a movie. she reminded herself. But it looked so real. And Everly seemed to be actually enjoying it! Picking up the remote once again, Ruby fast forward through the scene. She’d seen enough.
Ruby felt a little better when she saw the new actress that had taken over Everly’s role as a new scene started. I know her. That’s Michelle Knighton! I didn’t know she took over Everly’s role. Ruby thought to herself. This seemed to be the climax of the movie. Jeremy and Michelle were fighting on a balcony. Michelle was swinging at him with a large butcher knife in her hand. Ruby couldn’t tell if the knife was fake or real. She hoped it was fake. Michelle went to swing the knife again when Jeremy’s character grabbed her by the arm. And swung her off the balcony. The actress screamed before she fell a great height, only to land on the windshield of a parked car below. Ruby winced as the windshield of the car shattered. She knew that was Michelle Knighton’s stunt double, but it still looked unbelievably real to her.
There was a quick shot of Michelle’s bloody face, it sent a shiver of fear down Ruby’s spine. Jeremy reappeared on the screen, breathing hard as he looked over the balcony. Ruby watched as he straightened up, the camera zooming on his big blue eyes as the screen faded to black. The movie was over. That wasn’t too bad. Ruby thought to herself as she got to her feet. She turned off the television and the DVD player. Upstairs, she could hear Meredith singing to herself from inside the shower. A small smirk played on Ruby’s lips as she made her way across the floor and into the kitchen. Her eyes glanced over at the cork board on the wall. There was a picture hanging there. It was of Jeremy and herself when she had gone to visit him on the set of FOLLOWING LUST.
They looked so happy, smiling widely into the camera. A sigh of sadness escaped Ruby’s lips. She’d never forget the times they had shared together.
What the fuck are perfect places, anyway? played the song on the radio. With sunshine pouring through the bedroom window, Isabel stood at her dresser. She stared at her reflection in the mirror as she brushed her hair. She was slightly jealous that Wendy and Derek had been invited to Darcy’s wedding dinner, and she hadn’t. Sure, she wasn’t as close to Darcy like Wendy and Derek were, but she had been invited to what was supposed to be Darcy’s original wedding day. It had seemed like the whole town had been invited to that. If only it hadn’t ended in tragedy. The ceremony had never happened. Blake Tucker had been killed, and Darcy had been abducted by the West Valley killer. Isabel would never forget that day for as long as she lived. Even if she tried, it was forever burned into her memory.
So Campbell and Darcy were trying again. They were getting married that day at city hall. And then they were having a dinner at their new home with only a few selected guests. Since Isabel wasn’t invited, she had made other plans. She was going to head over to the hospital to visit Amy Rayburn. She felt bad for her. She was having some difficulties with her pregnancy. Isabel felt like she could somewhat relate. She had a pregnancy scare a few months earlier. Luckily it was a false alarm. she thought to herself with a frown creasing her pretty face. Isabel wondered if Amy hadn’t been in the hospital, would Darcy have invited her to the wedding dinner? Probably not. They were on friendlier terms, but she didn’t think they had reached that point yet.
Isabel turned as her bedroom door opened without warning. Jeez, don’t people knock? she thought to herself. It was Wendy. She was having a hair emergency and needed Isabel to help. Rolling her eyes, Isabel searched for her hair straightener. A few minutes later, Wendy was smiling, her hair in place and looking perfect. She thanked Isabel before hurrying back of the bedroom to get dressed for the dinner. Shaking her head, Isabel made her way out of the bedroom, closing the door behind her. With Wendy and Derek headed to the dinner, she had no idea what Sasha was up to. All she knew was that the other girl wasn’t home. Reaching the front door, Isabel called out a goodbye as she pulled the door open and stepped out into the warm sunshine. She didn’t worry about locking the door behind her.
Wendy and Derek are still home. They’ll lock the door when they leave. she thought to herself. She headed down the walkway and over to the sidewalk. It was a nice day to walk. She would have taken the car if Wendy and Derek didn’t need it. So she made her way towards the hospital, her heels clicking on the blacktop as she did so. Isabel hoped Amy would be released soon. And that everything was okay with the baby. It was due to be born in just a few months. She wondered what the sex of the baby was. Amy knew, she just hadn’t revealed it yet. Isabel hoped it was a girl. She could see the baby dressed in little adorable outfits. It brought a smile to her lips. She stopped at the edge of the curb, checked both ways for cars before crossing the street over to the other side.
You could never be too careful. People getting hit by cars was common in West Valley. It had happened to Campbell, and to Taylor Biggs. And she’s just a kid. Isabel thought to herself with a frown. She headed down the sidewalk, lost in her thoughts. It was only when she heard the wail of a siren did she snap back to reality. She looked around. There was the hospital, just up ahead. She made her way towards the main entrance. That’s when an ambulance screeched up to the curb in front of the entrance. The back doors of the ambulance opened and a medic jumped out, pushing a gurney towards the doors. Right towards Isabel. Her eyes widened as she took a step aside. The medic looked over at her with annoyance glinting in his eyes.
“Main entrance is off limits until further notice. Use the side door.” he told her as he hurried past Isabel.
Really? she thought to herself. She rolled her eyes and turned, heading towards the side of the hospital. She made her way across the grass. Her eyes scanning her surroundings until she saw the door the medic meant. Isabel frowned. It didn’t look like a side entrance at all. It was a single metal door in the side of the building. An uneasy feeling crept up on her, but she kept moving. Reaching the door, Isabel pulled it open and stepped inside. The door closed shut behind her as she looked around. She was in a dimly lit stairwell. The uneasy feeling seemed to tighten itself around her. She turned back to the door, grabbed the handle, and pulled. Nothing. It didn’t budge. She tried again. It seemed like it was locked from the outside. Sucking in a deep breath, she turned and began heading up the stairwell.
I need to get out of here. she thought to herself. She reached a landing, where there was another door. With a sigh of relief she gripped the handle and pulled. Still nothing. Just like the door below, it didn’t budge. A groan of protest escaped from Isabel’s lips. She banged on the door. Listened. Nothing. She couldn’t hear anything from the other side of the door. She was turning away from the door when she did hear something. A door opening somewhere above. There was a flash of light before the stairwell went dim again. Isabel listened. Someone was heading down the steps towards her. She glanced up, and let out a shriek of surprise. Someone was peering down over the stairs at her from two floors up. Someone in a black hooded cloak, their face hidden. Isabel’s eyes widened in fear.
It’s the killer! her mind screamed at her. She whirled around, gripped the handle of the door and tugged with all her might. The door remained shut tight. A whimper of fear escaped Isabel’s lips. She glanced up as she heard the footsteps on the stairs. Slow, steady. Heading down towards her. With a small scream Isabel turned and ran back down the steps she had come up. Reaching the door she had entered through. She tried again. She pulled the handle, tried shaking it, to no avail. The sound of footsteps echoed off the stairwell, ringing in her ears. Isabel looked around, her eyes wide. There was no way out, and the killer had her cornered. She could hear their footsteps getting closer. Coming down the stairs. Her heart thudding in her chest, Isabel slipped into a dark corner of the stairwell.
What’s that? she thought to herself. It was another door, hidden in the shadows by where she stood. She tried the handle. It opened! With a shriek of relief she threw herself through the doorway. She closed the door behind her, her fingers finding the lock. She turned it, locking the door as she spun around to scan her surroundings. Her eyes widened as she clapped a hand over her mouth, stifling the scream that threatened to escape from her lips. She was in the morgue. And in front of her, on a cold metal slab, was a dead body. The body was of a stranger, a young man she had never seen before. A sheet was covering his lower body, but his torso was cut wide open. Isabel could see the white bones of his ribcage, and just behind it, his un-beating heart. Isabel thought she was going to be sick.
She whirled around, turning her back to the grisly sight. She thought she was going to lose her breakfast. But she pushed those thoughts aside as the door shuddered. The killer was trying to come in. A short scream escaped from Isabel’s lips as she moved away from the door, trying to keep her eyes off the corpse in the middle of the room. She couldn’t see another way out. She backed into a shelf, a glass jar falling to the floor and shattering. A clear liquid with a pinkish tinge spread all over the floor. Isabel had no idea what it was, but didn’t want to step in it to find out. Please get me out of here! she thought to herself, her heart thundering in her chest. Something caught her eye. It was on a metal tray. She grabbed the object, closing her hand around it. With a closer look, she realized it was a bone saw.
She held it tightly, her hand aching as she turned towards the door. Silence from the other side. Isabel frowned, taking a few uneasy steps forward. All her senses were on alert. If I’m the next victim, at least I won’t go down without a fight. she thought to herself. There was a click, and suddenly, the door on the opposite side of the room swung open. In her panic, she must have completely overlooked it. Isabel spun around and screamed. But instead of the killer standing in the doorway, it was the morgue attendant who jumped a mile into the air when he saw her standing there. He dropped the box of donuts he held in his hand. He had clearly gone off on a food run. Isabel dropped the saw, pushed past him and out the door he had come through.
Seeing the elevators, she ran as fast as she could. There was no more sign of the killer, and Isabel wasn’t going to stick around to find out where they could have been lurking. Once she got up to Amy’s room, she would feel safe.
Campbell. I knew from that night that you saved me,
we had something special. We’ve each had our own fair
share of tragedy, and we always dealt with it together.
Even when I was taken away from you, I never lost faith
that I would see you again. Words cannot express how
happy I am standing here, about to be your wife.
Darcy read over the paper in her hand. It sounded perfect. It said exactly what she had wanted to say to Campbell. She had written it the night before. Now, she was about to read him her vows. She was beyond excited. The day was finally here. She and Campbell were getting married. Sure they were doing it at city hall, but it was still a marriage nonetheless. Darcy stood in a back room in city hall. And she had no worries. It seemed as if a heavy weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She didn’t have to worry about people dying, or about her getting abducted. The building was crawling with security. For once, she felt safe. She knew the wedding would go on without a problem. Tucking the note away, Darcy made her way over to the door and pulled it open.
She smiled at the security guard who stood by the outside of the door. He smiled thinly back, stepping aside so she could pass. She made her way into the main room. She didn’t see Campbell yet. He was also preparing his vows. Unfortunately he had to do them that moment. Darcy shook her head lightly, a small smirk playing on her pretty face. She looked around. The only guests were her parents, and Fallon. That’s all she needed. Later on, more guests would gather back at their home. Unfortunately, Campbell had no one for his best man. It’s sad that his family isn’t alive to see us get married. Darcy thought to herself. Campbell’s parents had died years ago and his only sibling, his brother Thomas, had been killed a few months ago. One of many of Scott’s victims.
Darcy snapped back to reality when the judge came over. He asked her a few questions regarding the ceremony. He also told her that the radio was ready for when she walked down the short aisle with her father. She had chosen A THOUSAND YEARS by Christina Perri. She thought it was a beautiful song. Nodding, the judge went back to prepare. Darcy pulled out the paper again and read what she had wrote. She was sure she had memorized it correctly. If not, she could always look at the paper for help. Darcy looked around, turning to face Fallon who came up to her with a wide smile on her face. The judge was ready, she explained. Here goes. I’m about to get married! Darcy thought to herself as she went over to collect her father.
They made their way to the back of the room. Darcy heard a door open and knew that was Campbell entering from another entrance. Butterflies fluttered in her stomach as she linked her arm with her father’s. He looked over at her with a proud smile on his face. He told her she looked beautiful as the music started up. She kissed her father on the cheek and took a deep breath. It’s now or never! Darcy thought to herself as they moved slowly down the short aisle. Campbell stood by the judge, his eyes gleaming with happiness. Darcy felt like her cheeks were going to break from how wide she was smiling. A sense of joy floated around her as she reached Campbell. Her father shook Campbell’s hand and moved away. Now it was just them facing each other with the judge a few steps behind them.
“We’re here today for the marriage of Darcy Adkins and Campbell Roe.” the judge explained as the music faded away.
Campbell took in Darcy’s appearance and let out a sigh of contempt. It made Darcy smile wider. He looked very handsome himself in his tuxedo. This was how their marriage was supposed to go the first time. A wedding was a celebration, it shouldn’t have ended in tragedy. For a brief moment, Darcy thought back to being held captive. How Faye had been killed right next to her. How the other girl’s blood had splattered on the front of her other wedding dress. Darcy shook those thoughts away, clearing them from her mind. Today was a happy day, and she would only think happy thoughts. She looked past Campbell to look at their guests. Her mom was dabbing at tears on her cheeks, and her father and Fallon were grinning widely from ear to ear. Darcy smiled back at them.
Soon enough, Campbell was pulling out his vows. He read them, his voice calm and steady. What beautiful vows! Darcy thought to herself. She sniffled, tears of happiness threatening to cascade down her cheeks. She didn’t cry after all. Once Campbell was done, the judge told her it was her turn. She didn’t need her paper, she read it out all by heart. Campbell seemed to like it, his eyes shining. Then, it was time for the rings. Fallon brought those out. Campbell slipped the ring on Darcy’s finger before she did the same to him. She loved the way the band glinted off the overhead lights. She couldn’t stop staring down at it but had to snap back to reality. It was time to kiss. Campbell swooped her up and kissed her full on the lips. She kissed him back, ignoring the clapping of their guests.
Next, was the signing of some papers. We’re finally married! Darcy thought to herself as she placed the pen down. She stepped aside so Campbell could sign his signature as well. Once he was done, he held her close to him and kissed her again. They were finally husband and wife. Her parents came up to her and scooped her into a three-way hug. Once they had pulled away, Fallon was there, the two girls hugged each other tightly. Darcy shook the judge’s hand, her smile wide and bright. Once he had moved on, she hugged Campbell once more. My husband! she thought to herself. They kissed again. Campbell said he was off to the men’s room to freshen up a bit. Darcy thought that was a good idea. She felt like she needed some fresh air. Excusing herself, she walked away. She made her way through the main floor of city hall until she found the entrance.
She pushed the door open and stepped outside. The door closed behind her. She sucked in a deep breath of fresh air. Smiled widely again. She couldn’t wait to get home to greet the other guests. It was going to be so much fun. I’ll introduce myself as Mrs. Darcy Adkins-Roe. she thought to herself. Unaware that close by, she was being watched. A shadowy figure, dressed in a black hooded cloak. Studying the happy look on Darcy’s face. Soon, Darcy’s smile would turn into a scream. The killer was just biding their time.