Death ends a life, not a relationship. It was a saying Darcy had heard before. Only she wasn’t quit sure from where. Had it been in a movie she had watched? Or in a book she had read? Or maybe it was something she had seen on the internet? On this particular day, that saying had resonated over and over in her mind. It was six days after her father’s untimely death. Tomorrow would have been a week. He had been murdered, yet another of the killer’s victims. A week ago, if you would have asked Darcy if she had any idea that her father was going to be killed, she would have told you no. The killer, whoever it was, was fixated on her, not on her family. Her parents didn’t even live in the town of West Valley. Sure, they came to visit every once in a while and on special occasions.
However, there were never any signs that the killer had his, or her sights set on Roy and Tess Adkins. Even if they would have been threatened, which the killer had the tendency to do before murdering people, Darcy was sure she would have heard about it. It wasn’t something to take lightly. So many people had died. Darcy herself had almost been killed. She’d never forget that night of her engagement party. It was something that would be forever burned into her memory. A soft sigh escaped her lips as she stepped up onto the curb in front of her home. It was her first day back at work, she was done for the day. More like Jane sent me home early. she thought to herself. Darcy hadn’t been able to focus on work. How could she, when she had just lost her father?
She felt like she was in a daze, and Jane must have noticed as well. After all, it had been just two days since her father’s funeral. Two days since she had realized she would never see her father again. Maybe it had been too soon for her to return to work. But Darcy also needed a distraction. If she kept dwelling on her father’s murder, she felt like she would go insane. Plus, she had to look after her mother. Who was inconsolable. Darcy wished she could say something to make her mother feel better, but she knew there was nothing she could do. She felt helpless. It was a feeling everyone in town knew too well when someone they cared for was murdered by the killer. Darcy glanced up at her home once again. Her mother was inside, she was staying with Darcy and Campbell for the time being.
Tess Adkins was in no shape to be alone right now. Darcy was the only family she had left. First, her young daughter had died many years ago, and now her husband. Nicole’s death had been a tragic accident, not before everyone had thought Darcy had killed her sister. But that was not the case. Darcy couldn’t even remember that long ago. It had happened when she was five years old. With her heels clicking on the walkway, she headed up for the house. She had walked to work that morning, another beautiful sunny day. The sun still shone in the sky even though Darcy’s mood was a harsh contrast. She was trying to keep it together, even though inside her it felt like a storm was brewing. She was trying to keep a brave face, for her mother’s sake. Not that Campbell wasn’t plenty worried as well, he was.
He should run away from me, since death seems to follow me wherever I go. Darcy thought to herself with a frown as she fished out her keys. She was scared for his safety as well. Even though he insisted he could take care of himself. It was such a male thing to say, even though many men had also fallen victim to the killer. Her father was a man, yet he was older, so he probably didn’t put up much of a fight. It was something the detective had told her and her mother while investigating his murder. Her poor father was defenseless, and was most probably killed before even realizing what was happening. Darcy blinked back tears thinking about it, sticking the key in the lock. She unlocked the front door, pushing it open and stepping inside as she did so.
Darcy noticed the house was quiet. A slight feeling of unease wrapped itself around her. Campbell was at work, she knew that. But where was her mother? Darcy closed and locked the front door behind her as she stepped into the living room. Empty. No sign of her mother. Did she step out? Darcy thought to herself as she made her way out of the living room and into the kitchen. Also empty. Darcy made her way over to the backdoor, in case her mother was out in the backyard. But the backdoor was locked tight. Darcy called out for her mother. No reply. With a deep sigh, she headed out of the kitchen and into the hallway. She peered up the stairs to the second floor of the house before ascending. Reaching the second floor landing, Darcy made her way over to the guest bedroom where her mother was staying in.
The door was closed. Reaching out, Darcy gripped the doorknob and turned, pushing the door open. There was her mother. Lying on the bed on top of the covers in her street clothes, her shoes off. Darcy let out a sigh of relief. She’s taking a nap. she thought to herself. She couldn’t help the sheepish smile that played on the corner of her lips. Stepping out into the hallway, she closed the door behind her. She made her way into her own bedroom, kicking off her six inch heels. She went over to the standing mirror, staring at her reflection. You could tell she was still in mourning, gone were the bright colors she usually wore, replaced with black clothing. She made her way out of the bedroom, down the stairs and to the main floor of the house. In the living room, she pulled out a book before sitting down on the couch.
Darcy wasn’t sure how much time had passed, but soon she found herself looking up from her book when she heard someone calling her name. For a moment she thought it was her mother, who had woken up from her nap. She was surprised to see it was Campbell, who had returned home from work. She hadn’t even heard him come in.
“Earth to Darcy. Come in Darcy!” he said to her, a twinkle in his eye.
Darcy put the book down, giving Campbell her full attention. “Sorry. I guess this book is better than I thought, I couldn’t put it down.” she told him sheepishly.
“You’re home earlier than usual.” Campbell pointed out. He was usually the first one home between the two of them.
“I finished early. I was worried about my mom.” Darcy replied, not telling him the whole truth. It would only make him worry more.
“Where is she?” Campbell asked curiously.
“She’s upstairs, taking a nap.” Darcy explained.
“How is she doing? I heard her during the middle of the night, crying.” he replied with a frown creasing his forehead.
“She’s not taking it so well. I’m really worried about her.” Darcy replied.
“And how about you? How are you doing?” he asked her.
Don’t cry. she thought to herself. She tried to keep a brave face. “I can’t believe he’s gone.” she revealed.
“Whoever this sick freak is, they will get caught.” Campbell tried reassuring her.
Darcy heard the uncertainty in his voice. Yet she nodded in reply. “I hope so. Whoever it is, they’re now messing with my family.” she explained.
“And no one messes with the Adkins family.” a voice said from the doorway.
Campbell and Darcy turned to see Tess standing there. She had woken up from her nap. Darcy wondered how long she had been standing there. “Mom! You’re up.” she said, flashing her mother a small smile.
“My Roy is gone. Forever.” Tess replied, ignoring her daughter.
“How about you sit down with us? We could watch some television or something?” Campbell asked. She ignored him as well.
“This killer, this BASTARD took my husband. Well he’s not going to take me. Not without a fight.” Tess said, her eyes cold as ice.
“Mom. I think you should sit down.” Darcy said, worry glinting in her eyes.
“I don’t want to sit down!” Tess snapped, finally ticking her attention to her daughter. Darcy flinched at her mother’s outburst.
“Okay. Fine, don’t sit down.” Darcy said, glancing at Campbell, who was frowning.
“What I want is to find this monster who killed my Roy!” Tess explained.
“So do we, mom. So do we.” Darcy said, turning away so her mother wouldn’t see the tears that threatened to cascade down her cheeks.
Julie sat at the computer, typing feverishly. The day had started like any other day. She had been woken up by the shrill ring of her alarm clock. Once she had turned it off, she had stared up at the ceiling for a few minutes before dragging herself out of bed. After hopping into the shower and getting dressed for the day, she had made her way down to the kitchen. The house was quiet. She wasn’t sure where Megan, or her mother had gone. She had shrugged to herself, not too worried. It was common for Julie to wake up to an empty house. The Whitlow women were independent. They had their own lives. Whether it was Megan going to high school, Christy going to work at Surge, or Julie herself who was taking art classes to pass the time before she headed back to university in the fall.
I’ve also been busy with Aiden. Julie thought to herself, a small smile forming on the corner of her lips. They had been dating for a few months now, and things were still going great. They really clicked, there was a connection between them. Julie liked him a lot, she could see herself spending the rest of her life with him. It was something she kept to herself, she didn’t want to freak him out. Even though she was sure he felt the same way about her. Sometimes, guys could have mood swings just as bad as girls did. Say the wrong thing, and their ego could shatter like it was something fragile. So far, that hadn’t happened with Aiden. He had enough self-confidence, which was something that Julie liked in a guy. She had dated here and there, but felt like Aiden was different than the other guys she had met before.
After making herself some breakfast, Julie had received a phone call from Meredith Dupree. The other girl had asked if she had wanted to go grab some ice cream and do some shopping at the mall. Despite living in West Valley for a while now, Julie didn’t really get to spend that much time with Meredith. It could be fun to get to know each other better. Julie had agreed, telling Meredith she would meet her at the ice cream parlor. Cleaning up what had remained of her breakfast, Julie had gotten her purse before heading out into the sunshine. Birds twittered happily as she had locked up the house and made her way down to the sidewalk. It was another beautiful summer day, hot but with a light breeze that Julie didn’t mind walking over to the ice cream parlor.
Once she had arrived at her destination, Julie saw that Meredith was already there waiting. The other girl had been able to grab a table outside in the shade. Sitting down and making herself comfortable, Julie and Meredith talked. They talked about everything. From what movies they liked, to Roy Adkins murder. Julie had been to Darcy’s father’s funeral. She and Darcy had become good friends months before. She and Fallon had helped Darcy and her mother set up the funeral. They had consoled their friend, who couldn’t believe that her father was gone. It had hit close to home for Julie. Her father had also been killed by the West Valley killer. The first killer, Scott. she had thought to herself. It hurt less thinking about her father, that didn’t mean that she still didn’t miss him terribly. She thought about him every day.
Once they had finished with their ice cream, Meredith had driven them over to the mall. Julie wasn’t looking for something in particular, but Meredith was looking for a new dress. So they went from store to store, talking and getting to know each other. Passing a bag store, Julie had seen a purse in the display window that had caught her eye. So the two girls went in, Julie walking out with a purchase. Strolling the hallways of the mall, she saw people she recognized. Wendy and Derek, who were holding hands as they window shopped. She saw Stephanie Workman and her son Quintin going into the toy store. Beth Myers, who was dressed a bit too provocatively for shopping. Julie and Meredith had shared a look between each other.
They didn’t know Beth personally, but they wondered what kind of lifestyle she lead to always be dressed like a streetwalker. Shaking their heads, they had continued shopping. Soon enough, Meredith had found her dress. A light, summery frock with a floral pattern. They had headed out of the mall and back to Meredith’s car. She dropped Julie off in front of her home. Thanking her, Julie had made her way up the walkway to the front door. Unlocking it, she had stepped inside the quiet house. She closed and locked the door behind her as she put down the shopping bag. She had wandered into the living room, deciding to check her emails. She had sat down at the desk, booting up the computer. Soon she clicked on the web browser, pulling up her email account.
That’s when she had seen there was a new email from the law department at the university. What is this? Julie thought to herself as she clicked on the email. She read it. Her eyes widening slightly in surprise. It was a case study, to which she had to answer. If she gave all the right information, it would guarantee her a spot in one of the law classes. Sure, it was too early to be sending this, but Julie figured there were a lot of people signing up for the class. So making herself as comfortable as she could in the computer chair, Julie read the case study. Not just once, but twice. And then she got to work, typing her response, her fingers flying quickly over the keyboard as she did so. She barely took a break, time passing as she focused on her writing.
“What you got there?” a voice said from behind Julie.
Julie jumped in her seat, letting out a small cry. She turned to look to see her mother standing there. “Mom! Where did you come out of?” she asked.
“The front door. I’m done work for the day. Ellie came to take over.” her mother explained.
Julie nodded, turning back to the computer. “It’s a case study. From the university.” she explained, motioning to the computer screen.
“But classes haven’t even started yet.” her mother replied. Even though she was busy, Christy always seemed to know what was going on in her daughters’ lives.
“If I give exactly what they’re looking for, it’ll guarantee me a spot in a class.” Julie explained.
“Oh, that’s great! I know you were looking forward to getting back into law.” her mother replied.
“But life got in the way.” Julie replied.
Her mother ticked her gaze down to the floor. “That was my fault. I don’t know why, but I just had to get away from all this.” her mother said, swooping her arm around.
“You don’t need to apologize. I forgave you a while ago.” Julie replied, giving her mother a reassuring smile.
“I’m glad you did. And you did a great job at holding the family together. Your father would be proud, rest his soul.” Christy said with a sad smile on her lips.
“Even though he didn’t say it, I think he hoped you would come back.” Julie explained. Maybe then we could have been a family like we once were. she thought to herself, glancing over to her mother.
“And now we’ll never know.” Christy replied softly.
With sadness reflecting in her eyes, she turned and walked out of the room. Julie watched her mother go, a soft sigh escaping from between her lips.
No new breakthrough in the murder of Roy Adkins. said the reporter on the television screen. That piece of information didn’t come as a surprise to Joanna Stanton. It seemed that whenever she turned on WVNC, they were always talking about the murders. And how the killer had yet to be caught. Sitting on the couch, a slow ice cold shiver of fear snaked down Joanna’s spine. For she was home alone. Barry had gone off to work for the day. He wasn’t due home for another few hours. Travis and Carly had gone off together, which was nice. The siblings usually got along fine, but they didn’t really spend that much time together. From what Carly had explained to her mother, they had gone over to Hanna Workman’s house. That was fine by Joanna. She knew Stephanie Workman, she actually liked her.
Stephanie wasn’t as high maintenance as Olivia Cosgrove, for example. Sure, they were both just as rich, but Stephanie didn’t let it get to her head as much as Olivia did. Edwin Cosgrove had been killed recently, and rumor had it that Olivia was going to receive a ridiculous amount of money because of it. She’d be the richest woman in town, all that money her’s for the taking. Something about that is suspicious. Joanna thought to herself with a frown creasing her pretty face. It made her wonder, could Olivia have had something to do with her husband’s death? Probably not, the police had said Edwin had been the victim of the West Valley killer, like many other people in the small town. It was probably just a coincidence, considering last she had heard, Edwin and Olivia had been questioned about some kind of problem on their taxes.
Tax evasion? Joanna couldn’t help but think to herself. She didn’t know why she thought of that, it just popped up in her mind. She knew quite a bit about it. There had been show about it on television not that long ago. She and Barry had been channel surfing that night and had come across a special about it. They had watched, interested. Thinking about it now, she wouldn’t have put it past the Cosgroves. Money seemed to be very important to them. More important than keeping their own family together. Joanna had heard about the death of their teenage daughter. It had happened before the Stantons had moved to town. Skye’s killer, whoever it was, was still out there. Joanna couldn’t even begin to imagine what Olivia and Edwin had gone through, their only child murdered.
Had Brandon Covington killed Skye and then Edwin as well? Joanna had heard the story. It had filled her with dread. It was like something you would see in a horror movie. A crazy killer returns to his home town to murder the people living there. Joanna glanced behind her shoulder as she sat on the couch. Expecting to see someone looming over her, a knife in hand. But the space behind her was empty. She let out a soft sigh. Even though it was daylight and she was safely inside her own home, Joanna couldn’t help but feel uneasy. Maybe I should get out of the house for a bit. she thought to herself. She got up from the couch, turning off the television as she did so. She made her way out of the living room and into the foyer. She went over to her purse, taking out her keys and some money which she put in her skirt pocket.
She stepped outside, closing the front door and locking it behind her. Birds chirped happily above. Off in the distance, a dog barked excitedly. With no real destination in mind, Joanna began walking down the sidewalk. A car drove past, someone honking at her. She looked to see it was Amy Rayburn driving, who had her younger sister in the passenger seat. Joanna waved back and kept going, stepping around a child’s hopscotch sketch on the sidewalk. It was an elaborate sketch, whoever had drawn it had taken great pride in it. It brought a small smile to Joanna’s lips. She remembered when Carly was younger, around eight, nine years old. Her daughter loved playing hopscotch. Not just with her friends, but by herself as well. Joanna had joined in a few times as well.
Carly was a teenager now, she was no longer interested in childhood games. She was more into boys, hanging out with her friends, and clothes. Same went for Travis. He was into girls, video games, and sports. And getting into trouble. That had started a few years ago. And it had ended just recently when he had messed with the wrong people. Joanna would never forget finding her son in an alley, beaten to a bloody pulp. It was something she never wanted to experience again. Travis’ broken face flashed through her memory. Joanna shook her head, willing it away. He was doing better now, and he had been able to keep himself out of trouble for a few months and counting. Joanna kept walking, letting the sun warm her exposed skin. Soon, the sounds of downtown met her ears.
Joanna looked around. Sure enough, she found herself downtown. It was kind of slow at this certain hour of the day. She walked by Darcy and Jane’s new store. Through the window, she could see Jane puttering around, working on several clothing displays at the same time. Joanna was glad that Darcy had a new store. She remembered how devastated the other girl had been when her store had burned down to the ground. Joanna had seen it on the news. The killer, whoever it was, liked to target Darcy. Yet she lived another day. Was it fate? Or did the killer not want her dead just yet? If I was Darcy, I would be so terrified. Joanna thought to herself. Darcy’s father had been the killer’s latest victim. Had it been intentional or had Roy Adkins been at the wrong place at the wrong time? Had the killer seen it as an opportunity to torment Darcy even more?
Joanna had gone to the funeral. She had shed tears for Darcy and her mother, who seemed inconsolable standing by the coffin. The lid had been closed. Roy had been killed in a grisly manner. His own daughter had found him stripped of all his clothes, a cleaver in his skull. It had happened the night of an event that Jane and Darcy had thrown for their new company. Why does it seem like all the special occasions end in tragedy in this town? Joanna thought to herself with a frown. The townspeople should have been able to still live their lives. To celebrate special occasions without having to worry about it turning into a funeral. It was like the killer didn’t want the people of West Valley to be happy. He, or she, wanted them to be miserable. Joanna didn’t see that as fair.
Don’t try to rationalize a psycho’s behavior. Joanna scolded herself. The shimmering light of crystals caught her attention. She went over to the window, looking in to the display of different colored crystals. They were beautiful, they way they caught the light. They would look great on top of the fireplace mantle. Turning away from the window, Joanna made her way inside the store, pushing the door open. The bell above the door rang, signaling her presence. The clerk behind the counter looked up from the magazine she was reading. She looked surprised that someone had even thought of coming into the store. She gave Joanna a brief explanation about each crystal before going to pick up the one that had caught her attention. It was supposed to bring positive energy into whichever room it was placed in.
“Nothing wrong with positive energy. Especially in this town.” Joanna explained, looking at the crystal in the clerk’s hand.
“You’re right. These murders need to stop.” the clerk replied with a nervous chuckle.
“They really do. Thanks.” Joanna said with a small smile as she took the bag and turned away.
The crystal was a bit heavier than it looked. Joanna pushed open the door and stepped back out into the sunshine. Humming softly to herself, she decided it was time to head back home. At least she had gotten out of the house for a little while. It was safer during the day time, even though the killer didn’t really stick to a certain hour to strike. He, or she, could be out there right now, watching Joanna as she made her way down the sidewalk. Maybe the killer was the guy she just walked past. She turned, a deep frown creasing her face as she watched him walking away without any idea that her eyes were on him. She watched him for another few moments before he turned the corner, disappearing from sight. Joanna kept moving, looking both ways before she crossed the street.
That’s when she heard the commotion. At the next corner. People were hurrying over to a newsstand. She could hear the excited cries. What’s going on over there? Joanna thought to herself. She found herself moving, hurrying down the sidewalk. What was so interesting? She saw someone pull out a newspaper, looking down at the front page with wide eyes. For a moment, Joanna thought someone else had died. A block of ice settled itself in her stomach. The newspaper was being passed around. Joanna’s pulse quickened as she waited for the newspaper to reach her hands. After what seemed like an eternity, the newspaper was finally in her clutches. She held it tightly in her hands as she looked down at the front page. The block of ice in her stomach melted. A look of relief glinted in her eyes.
IS THIS BRANDON COVINGTON? announced the headline on the newspaper. There was a sketch of a man, he seemed in his early thirties, with wavy curls and dark eyes, his mouth a thin slash in his face. There was something familiar about the man’s face. Joanna just couldn’t put her finger on it. Had she seen this man before? Possibly. But where? In West Valley? Was it someone she had come across before? And now that they had his picture, did that mean they were going to catch him? Did that mean the murders would eventually stop? She couldn’t wait to tell her family. For the first time in a long while, Joanna felt hopeful.
Fallon felt helpless as she hung up the phone. She had spent a good thirty minutes talking to Darcy. She had called to check up on her friend, to see how she was doing. Darcy sounded like she was trying to keep it together. Not just for her sake, but for the sake of her mother as well. Fallon flashed back to that night of the event. She was inside sitting at her table with the rest of the guests when she had heard the screaming. It was coming from outside, a voice she knew all too well. It was Darcy, her screams shrill and urgent. Fallon was on her feet and running out the door without a second thought. Stepping out into the night, she followed the sound of the screams to the side of the building. There was Darcy, kneeling in the grass, sobbing over her father’s dead body.
Fallon knew Roy Adkins was dead before she even got a good look at him. There was no way that Darcy was crying like that for no reason. Fallon had sucked in a deep breath and had dropped to her friend’s side. She looked down at the body, her stomach rolling in response. Roy had a cleaver in his skull, and he had been stripped of his clothes. Only his cellphone was left on him. Fallon had thought it was probably the killer’s way for Darcy to find her father’s body. She had helped Darcy get to her feet, trying to get her friend to focus on her. They couldn’t just keep looking at the dead body. Suddenly, there had been another scream, louder than Darcy’s. Both girls had turned to see Tess standing behind them, her hands pressed against the sides of her face as she kept screaming.
To this day, Tess’ screams still echoed in Fallon’s ears. She’d never forget the look on the older woman’s face as she looked past them, focusing on her husband’s dead body. Fallon had stolen a glance at Darcy, who had tears cascading down her cheeks like a waterfall. She didn’t stop her mother from running and dropping down next to Roy’s limp body. Tess’ screams got louder when she saw how her husband had been killed. Screams of horror mixed with grief. She held his limp hand in hers. Begging him to wake up. Fallon looked away, it was all too much for her. More people began to arrive, hearing the commotion. Campbell was first, his eyes widening in surprise as he took in the scene before him. Darcy saw him, flying into his arms for comfort.
Campbell had held her tight as she sobbed into his shoulder. Taking a deep breath, Fallon had walked away, pulling out her phone. She had dialed the police. She couldn’t exactly remember what she had said to the operator, but she knew the police were right on their way. Minutes later, two squad cars were pulling up, their blue and red lights illuminating the night sky. Behind them came the black Coroner’s van. Had she said someone had been killed? Or had they just assumed? Fallon couldn’t remember. Everything happened in a blur. Soon enough, Roy’s body was being wheeled into the van, Tess following beside the gurney. She wasn’t allowed to go along with them, that’s what the police cruiser was for. Tess, Darcy and Campbell got into the cruiser and drove off towards the hospital.
The police officers that remained had revealed they were going to ask some of them questions. Fallon was more worried about her friend. She wiped her eyes, surprised to find tears flowing down her cheeks. A hand touched her shoulder, she had turned around to see Jane standing behind her. She had looked shaken. As if she couldn’t believe what had happened. You’ll get used to it. Fallon had thought to herself. Only she didn’t tell Jane that. She already looked like she was ready to jump out of her skin. So all Fallon could do was offer a sympathetic smile. She had been about to say something when a police officer walked up to her. That was something she was used to as well. It hadn’t been the first time she had been questioned about a murder, and Fallon had a feeling it definitely wouldn’t be the last.
When will these murders stop? Fallon thought to herself with a frown creasing her pretty face. She made her way over to the fridge, pulling out a pitcher of lemonade. Finding a glass, she poured herself a drink and took a sip. She was home alone at the moment. Naomi had gone off with Warren somewhere, and Gwen was gone for a few days, she had gone to visit her parents. Fallon felt a bit uneasy about being alone, but it didn’t bother her as much as she thought it would. She took another sip of lemonade, drumming her fingernails on the countertop as she did so. She looked out the kitchen window, an idea coming to mind. She gulped the rest of her lemonade down as she put the glass into the sink. She’d clean it up later. She made her way out of the kitchen, heading for the stairs.
A few minutes later she descended from the top floor of the house. Dressed in a bathing suit. She had realized it had been a while since she had lounged by the pool. Making her way over to the backdoor, she unlocked it, pulling it open and stepping outside. It was the perfect weather to sit by the pool, maybe even go for a swim. She closed the backdoor behind her as she headed across the concrete on her flip-flops. She went over to a lawn chair, sitting down and sliding on her sunglasses as she did so. She tilted her head towards the sun, letting its rays warm her face. A small smile of contempt played on her lips. With all the craziness, Fallon didn’t get to enjoy quiet moments like this. It was rare that anyone did.
Fallon focused on the calm blue waves of the swimming pool. Which is why she snapped to attention when she heard someone speak. A male voice.
“Want some company?” asked the voice.
Fallon turned to see Derek Vance standing on the other side of the fence. She knew Derek. He wasn’t a stranger. She smiled.
“Come on in!” she told him.
Derek pushed open the gate, walking in with his usual swagger. Fallon noticed he was alone.
“Did you lose Wendy?” she asked with a giggle. He and his girlfriend were almost inseparable.
Derek laughed. “No, she and Isabel went for drinks. I can’t do the day drinking thing. Would you have guessed?” he asked.
Fallon shook her head. “It’s not for everyone. I wouldn’t be able to do it either.” she explained.
“I guess that’s something we have in common!” he told her with a grin. His eyes ticked over her, taking in her appearance in her bathing suit.
Did he just check me out? What about Wendy? Fallon thought to herself. She and Wendy were as different as night and day. Wendy was a bombshell, blonde with big cat-like blue eyes and always dressed in revealing clothing. Fallon was the opposite of that. She was more on the demure side, no revealing clothes for her. Sure she had a good sense of style, you could still look good and not have to leave much to the imagination.
“So what brings you to the neck of my woods?” Fallon asked curiously.
Derek shrugged. “I was just out for a walk.” he replied. “Did you happen to see the newspaper today?” he asked her.
Fallon shook her head. “They used to bring it here to the house but I cancelled it, you can just check it online.” she told him.
“There’s a sketch. It’s on the front page.” he told her.
“A sketch of what?” she asked.
“Of Brandon Covington, apparently.” Derek replied.
Fallon was not expecting that. Her eyes widened behind her sunglasses. She sat up straighter. “Of Brandon?” she repeated.
Derek nodded. “I guess it’s like a sketch of what he could possibly look like now.” he explained.
“Holy crap!” Fallon yelled, jumping to her feet. She pulled out her phone.
“I’m surprised you didn’t hear about it by now.” Derek told her.
“I have to call Darcy. Right away!” Fallon replied, clutching the phone as she hurried away.
Hanna knew exactly what day it was. She knew the moment she had woken up that morning. It was a day she could never forget, even when she was old and grey. A sense of sadness had settled over her as she showered, got dressed, and had breakfast. Her mother had the day off, and she had planned to spend the day with her children. She and Quintin were out of the house, Stephanie had asked Hanna to join them, but she had politely declined. Her mother had shrugged and was out the door a few minutes later, Quintin in tow. Hanna hadn’t been in the mood to join them. It didn’t even seem like her mother realized something was bothering her. Her mother was good with dates, but she probably didn’t realize what today was. She probably thought Hanna was just being moody, acting like a typical teenager.
After finishing breakfast Hanna had headed back up to her bedroom. Pulling out a photo album from her bookshelf and sitting down on the still unmade bed. She looked at the photos, turning the pages with a sad smile playing on her lips. It had been a while since she had last looked at those pictures. She remembered the moments they were taken very clearly, as if they had been taken yesterday. The newer ones were from a year ago, but some dated back to when she was a child. A deep sigh had escaped Hanna’s lips as she looked at the pictures. The ringing of her phone had snapped her back to attention. She had given it a weird look, sometimes you never knew who was on the other end of the line. She had felt better once she picked up the phone and saw it was Lauryn Wiley calling, and not UNKOWN NUMBER.
She had answered the call, trying to sound cheerful. It didn’t seem to work because Lauryn knew right away something was wrong. So she had invited Hanna to spend the day with her. It had taken some pleading, but Hanna had finally agreed. Leaving a note for her mother and locking up the house, Hanna had walked over to Lauryn’s. Her house wasn’t that far, just a few streets away. Lauryn’s parents were both doctors, her house was huge for just three people living there. It was a bit more larger than Hanna’s house, but it was nothing to get jealous over. She and Lauryn had been friends for a few years now, they got along well and never competed against each other. So they had spent a few hours lounging by the pool, drinking lemonade, gossiping and diving into the pool when it got too hot.
Hanna had fun, and time went by. Looking at her watch, she decided it was time to head back home. She thanked Lauryn and headed out, her heels clicking on the sidewalk as she did so. But instead of home, something was guiding her towards the outskirts of town. As if she had no control over her legs. There was somewhere she wanted to go first. Somewhere she hadn’t been in a while. She could see her destination in the distance. The steeple of St-Gregory’s church. She walked, listening to the chirping of the birds in the trees around her as she got closer to her destination. She stopped to look both ways before she crossed the street. A few minutes later, the church loomed over her. She looked up at it, feeling a sense of unease.
She shook the feeling away. Unsure of why she felt that. She made her way across the grass. It was silent, the birds no longer chirping. The groaning of the gate as she pushed it open was the only sound that broke the silence. It seemed loud, making her jump slightly. She kept moving alongside the building until she reached her destination. She looked at the gravestones around her, they seemed to glimmer white in the late afternoon sun. She looked at the names etched on the stones, names of people she knew well. Her own father’s grave was there, she stopped briefly to place a hand on his grave, but that was not what had brought her there. She kept moving, stopping in front of a grave. The date of birth on the gravestone was today’s date. The name on the grave read SKYE COSGROVE.
Happy birthday, Skye. Hanna thought to herself. She would never forget her best friend’s birthday. Even if her best friend was dead. She had been murdered months ago, a victim of the killer’s. She would have been sixteen years old today. Hanna could just imagine the kind of extravagant party Skye would have thrown if she was still alive. She was even pretty sure her friend would have gotten a car from her parents, which they had promised her. Hanna could see herself in the passenger seat with Skye in the driver’s seat, zooming around town with the sound system blaring. It brought a small smile to Hanna’s lips. Did Skye know, wherever she was, that today was her birthday? Did she know that her own father had been recently killed? That her mother was now living it up as a very rich single woman?
Hanna had gone to visit Olivia Cosgrove many times since Skye had been killed. That was when her husband was still alive. There were rumors circulating that Olivia had Edwin killed for his money. Hanna didn’t believe a word of that. Edwin had been murdered by the West Valley killer, just like his daughter. Although Olivia did seem to be less bothered by his death than her daughter’s. Hanna decided to stay away, and she hadn’t visited Olivia anymore. She saw her around, shopping or out at the country club. She’d be polite and say hello, but wouldn’t engage in conversation with the older woman. Olivia wasn’t really a fan of Hanna’s in the first place. It was probably because Olivia and Hanna’s mother, Stephanie, were always competing against each other.
Olivia had been sympathetic towards Hanna once, when her father had been killed. And Skye had even given her a makeover. Hanna had dressed too plain, and Skye had helped her turn into more of a vixen. To this day, she hoped she made Skye proud. She was more popular and had taken over as Queen Bee. That had once been Skye’s title. She wasn’t as bitchy as Skye had been, but she did keep everyone on their toes. She had even snagged one of the most popular boys in school. Hanna wondered what Paul was up to that day. She made a mental note to call him later. It was just then that the feeling that she was being watched wrapped itself around her. Hanna turned slowly, looking around. Scanning her surroundings. She inhaled sharply, trying to stay calm. I don’t see anyone. she thought to herself.
“Is somebody there?” she called out.
No reply. An icy cold shiver of fear snaked down her spine. She knew better then to stick around. She was alone, and there didn’t seem to be any help around in case she would need it. It was time to go. She wanted to hurry, but she could seem to move slowly. As if every nerve in her body had gone numb. She was nervous. It felt like someone’s eyes were burning into her back. She made her way through the gravestones, holding onto them for support. Her pulse quickening, she made her way across the grass, back to the gate, which to her surprise had been closed. She grabbed it and pushed it open. Once again it groaned loudly, almost as if it could wake the dead. She turned to look over her shoulder, expecting to see someone running at her. The space behind her was empty.
Hanna reached the sidewalk, looking up at the church. Everything appeared normal. Why had she gotten so nervous? The sense that she was being watched had now lifted. Maybe it was the caretaker. she thought to herself with a slight frown creasing her pretty face. He took care of the grounds and the building, including the graveyard behind it. The graveyard that Hanna had come running out of. She found she could breathe easier now, and her legs felt like they were no longer made of rubber. With one quick glance over her shoulder, she kept moving. Unaware of the shadowy figure that watched from a window inside St-Gregory’s. As she headed down the sidewalk, Hanna’s phone rang. She pulled it out, looking down at the screen. A small smile formed on the corner of her lips as she answered the call.
“Am I glad to hear from you!” she said into the phone.
“And I’m glad I got a hold of you! You have to come to the country club, right away. You HAVE to see this!” Paul said from the other end of the line.
“See what?” Hanna asked curiously.
“It’s a surprise! Just hurry that sweet ass over!” Paul replied with a chuckle.
Despite being scared a few moments earlier, Hanna couldn’t help but laugh. “Fine. I’ll be right there!” she told him before hanging up.
He sounded really excited. Hanna thought to herself as she headed away from St-Gregory’s. For a moment she wished she had drove. It would be a bit of a walk to the country club. But it was a nice day so Hanna didn’t mind too much. She wondered what had Paul all riled up. The country club was somewhere for the teens of West Valley to hang out. And to hook up. Hanna had seen plenty of her peers wander off arm in arm. She had also done so with Paul. She was still surprised that he liked her. More than liked, they were going steady. And it was even better that Hanna didn’t have to fight off any girls to keep him. They all knew he was her’s, and they respected that. Almost all her friends were paired off with someone. Even Megan and Charlie had gotten back together after a rough patch.
And I helped with that. Hanna thought to herself proudly. Like Skye had, she had given Megan a makeover. And it had done a world of difference. She was still getting used to her surroundings, but Megan was more popular now than she had ever been. Hanna smiled, her heels clicking on the sidewalk as she did so. Heading for the country club. She wished she had worn more comfortable shoes, but she looked amazing in her chunky heeled sandals. Minutes later, she was crossing the street and stepping up onto the curb in front of the country club. She could hear laughing and splashing from the swimming pool. She could hear the grunts of people hitting tennis balls with their racquets. Hanna made her way to the entrance, pulling the door open and stepping inside.
She was blasted with icy cold air from the air conditioning. She let out a gasp and then laughed, flashing her membership card to the person behind the main desk. She could smell the chlorine from the indoor pool. She made her way to another set of doors, pushing them open and stepping outside. The doors closing behind her, she looked around for Paul. She walked by a girl in the country club’s uniform who had her back to her, thinking nothing of it. Where is he? Hanna thought to herself. She had taken a few steps when she was tapped on the shoulder. She turned around, coming face to face with her boyfriend. He had a wide smile on his face, almost as if he couldn’t contain his excitement for much longer. Hanna couldn’t help but let out a small giggle.
“I’m here. What’s so important?” she asked Paul.
“Do you notice anything different here?” Paul asked.
Hanna looked around. The country club seemed the same, the way she remembered it. “Ummm, no.” she told him.
He giggled, pointing to someone who stood by the pool. “I think you know her. Really well.” Paul replied.
Hanna frowned, looking at where he was pointing. A girl with black hair, her back to them. Hanna realized she had walked by her before. “Who is that?” she asked Paul, bringing her attention back to him.
“Go see.” he giggled.
Shaking her head, Hanna did as she was told. Heels clicking, she made her way up to the girl and tapped her on the shoulder. The other girl turned around. Staring at each other, both girls’ jaws dropped in surprise.
“What are YOU doing here?” they chimed together in unison.
“Hanna?” the other girl asked, looking like a deer in the headlights.
“Megan?” Hanna said in disbelief. She looked at the uniform Megan was wearing, her face clear of almost any makeup. “Wait, do you work here?” she asked. She looked back at Paul, who was doubled over laughing.
“It’s a long story. Basically I snuck in here one night, meeting Charlie. Only the security guard found me first. And he brought me home. I got in trouble with my mom. And as a punishment, she made me apply to work here for the rest of the summer.” Megan explained.
“No way!” Hanna couldn’t help but laugh.
“I didn’t think they would hire me, but they did.” Megan replied sheepishly.
Hanna laughed again. She was about to explain what had brought her there when there was a commotion. “Guys! Come quick! Big news!” Paul shouted over to them from the bar.
Hanna and Megan looked over at each other before hurrying to join him.
Warren kissed Naomi goodbye once more before she turned and headed out the door. Warren watched as she headed down the walkway and waited until she got into her car before he closed the door. Outside, he heard the car engine roar to life as he locked the front door. A wide smile was on his face. They had spent the last few minutes kissing by the door. Naomi was on her way out, she was headed back home to Fallon and Gwen. They had spent most of the day together. Things were going back to normal between them. All because of Warren’s mother, Colleen. Warren had found it odd when she had asked to meet Naomi. But he had agreed, and to his surprise, Colleen and Naomi had gotten along very well.
Warren had worried that it would have ended in disaster, and that was not the case at all. His mother seemed to approve of Naomi. And she had given her son some advice. To try and work things out. It was almost a year that Scarlett had been killed, and she thought it would have been good to have a female presence around. A female presence that wasn’t as elderly as she was. Warren had thought about it long and hard. What had happened to his daughters wasn’t because he was a bad father. He would do anything to protect them now that Scarlett was gone forever. But he felt like he had let them down. Kaitlyn had been kidnapped, and Taylor had been hit by a car. He had no control over what had happened to Kaitlyn, but what had happened to Taylor had been his fault.
They’re both fine now. Warren thought to himself. He could hear his daughters laughter coming from the living room. It was like music to his ears. It was summer, school was out, and they were being regular kids. They had no worries in the world. They had a father and a grandmother who cared about them very much. As did Naomi. They would keep them safe, despite the brushes with danger they had experienced at their young ages. Things were looking up for Warren as well. His mother helped him with everything she could, and he and Naomi were back on track. He wondered what Scarlett would have thought. She had known Naomi when she was alive. They weren’t exactly friends, more like acquaintances. Scarlett didn’t like the other girl much, she had thought she was kind of flaky.
Warren had thought so too at first. But then he really got to know Naomi. She wasn’t flaky at all. She was smart, caring, funny and gorgeous. The kind of girl any guy would fall for. He thought of the moment a few minutes before, where their lips were on each others. Another smile played on Warren’s face as he let out a soft sigh. Humming to himself, he made his way into the kitchen. Kaitlyn and Taylor had called Colleen into the living room for a few minutes. They were probably showing her something. Colleen had left a pot of stew on the stove. Warren went over, grabbed the wooden spoon and stirred. He wasn’t much for cooking. He wasn’t as good as a chef as his mother was. The ringing of his phone caught his attention. Switching off the stove, he slid out his phone and answered the call.
“Hello?” he said.
“Hello, Warren.” said the unfamiliar voice from the other end of the line.
“Who’s this?” Warren asked curiously.
“Someone who wants to play a game. If you agree, no one has to die. If you don’t want to play, well, you’re whole family won’t be as lucky.” the voice replied maliciously.
It’s the killer! Warren thought to himself. “You stay away from my family, you sick fuck!” he seethed into the phone.
“I will if you answer me this question.” the killer replied.
“What question?” Warren asked.
“Who is my next target?” the killer asked.
“What kind of question is that? It could be anyone!” Warren replied.
“Not just anyone. It could be someone you know. It could be your precious Naomi.” the killer explained.
“You stay away from her!” Warren seethed into the phone.
“I could be in the backseat of her car right now.” the killer giggled.
Oh god! Warren thought to himself. “Seriously, stop this.” he told the killer.
“I’m afraid I can’t. And I’m afraid time is up. Gotta go get to some killing.” the killer replied before hanging up.
Listening to the dial tone in his ear for a moment, Warren turned and ran into the living room. He had to get to Naomi right away.
Bridget hummed softly to herself as she made her way down the sidewalk. She had been at the library, and when she had stepped outside, she was surprised to see that dusk had fallen. It was a clear night with a crescent moon hanging above in the black canopy that was the sky. Even though she had gotten her makeover, she still had her interests, spending time at the library was one of them. You can’t take the nerd out of the girl. Bridget thought to herself with a small smile playing on her pretty face. She looked around, the streets were void of any life, quiet. So she hummed to herself to break the silence, coming up with a random melody in her head. A soft breeze ruffled the tree branches as her heels clicked along the pavement.
She passed by Fallon’s house, arching an eyebrow at Naomi and Warren who stood on the front porch, talking heatedly. They didn’t seem to be fighting, but Warren looked worried. Naomi was trying to reassure him about something, it seemed. They turned, noticing Bridget walking by. She smiled thinly and waved. They waved back. She kept moving down the sidewalk. I wonder what that was all about. Bridget thought to herself with a slight frown. She stopped, checking both ways of the street before crossing to the opposite curb. Her house was just around the corner. She resumed her humming, walking alongside some bushes that bordered the sidewalk. They swayed softly in the wind as she fished out her keys, making her way up the walkway towards the house.
The sound of shoes scraping the concrete caught her attention. Bridget turned around. She frowned. Where was that noise coming from? Her eyes scanned the outside surroundings of the house. There didn’t seem to be anyone there, just the light breeze that shook the bushes. Bridget noticed they were moving a little too aggressively by the wind. Is there someone in the bushes? she thought to herself. She opened her mouth to call out but couldn’t seem to find her voice. An uneasy feeling wrapped itself around her, tightening. She took a few steps backwards towards the front door. She almost tripped over her shoes, steadying herself as she took another hesitant step back, her eyes scanning the murky darkness around the house.
With the porch lights off, she couldn’t get a good view. Sucking in a deep breath, she spun around, and sprinted up the porch steps. Her hands shook nervously as she tried to stick the key inside the lock. The keys fell from her hand, hitting the porch floor. A soft whimper escaped Bridget’s lips as she bent down to grab them. She felt around with her hand until she had them in her grasp. Standing back up, she tried sticking the key in the lock once more. No luck the first time, but the second time, the door was opening. Pulling the keys out of the door, she hurried inside, closing and locking the front door behind her. A huge sigh of relief escaped her lips. I’m shaking. Bridget thought to herself with a frown. She took a few deep breaths, trying to calm herself down.
She turned, gazing out the glass in the front door. The bushes that bordered the house were now still. An icy cold shiver of fear snaked down Bridget’s spine. She tossed her keys aside and made her way into the kitchen. Her throat was so dry, she needed a glass of water. She made her way into the kitchen, turning on the lights as she did so. The house was quiet. She wasn’t sure where everyone was. She didn’t even know if she was alone. She made her way over to the fridge, pulling open the door as she did so. A few moments later she came walking out, holding a glass of water in her hands. She took a sip as she made her way into the living room. She put the glass down on the table as she sat on the couch. She sucked in another deep breath, unaware of the shadowy figure that appeared behind her.
“And where were you?” a voice asked behind her.
Bridget jumped off the couch with a small shriek, almost knocking over her glass. She turned to see Hayley standing behind her. “Hayley! You almost gave me a heart attack!” she cried.
“Jeez! Why are you so jumpy? I was in the bathroom and I heard the front door slam so loud.” Hayley explained with a frown.
“Sorry. That was me. I didn’t know if anyone was home.” Bridget said.
“Well Lilah went to see Sasha, and I think Ivy is on a date.” Hayley explained.
“And you?” Bridget asked. She didn’t really want to be left alone right now.
“I’m spending a quiet night at home. Or I was.” Hayley replied, giving Bridget a look.
“Sorry. I just got creeped out on my way home.” Bridget explained. “I’m gonna go change and maybe we could watch a movie?” she asked.
“Sure. Just nothing horror.” Hayley said with a small smile.
Bridget nodded and headed up the stairs towards her bedroom. Hayley went over and sat down on the couch. There was a few moments of silence, and then suddenly, an ear shattering scream echoed through the house. Hayley jumped up from the couch, her heart pounding. Bridget? she thought to herself. She hurried over to the stairs. Called out Bridget’s name. No reply. She called out again. Nothing. Silence. Hayley slowly ascended the stairs, making her way to the second floor landing. Bridget’s scream seemed to echo through her ears. Just down the hall, she could see Bridget’s bedroom door was slightly ajar. For a brief moment, Hayley thought she was playing a prank on her. Holding her breath, Hayley slowly made her way to the bedroom door. The light was on inside the bedroom.
“Bridget?” she said softly as she pushed open the bedroom door and stepped inside. She looked down at the ground. Her eyes widening in horror. “BRIDGET!” Hayley screamed.
Bridget lay on the bedroom floor. Still dressed in her clothes. A knife sticking out of her eye, and her throat slashed. Her body was limp. Hayley knew she was dead. Hayley screamed, her eyes ticking over to the open bedroom window. The killer had struck again. Someone else had been murdered. Hayley’s friend had been murdered. She slumped against the wall, tears streaming down her face.