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Killer Excerpt for LEFT TO DIE

Zebra Books
July 2008, ISBN: 1420102761

Genre: Romantic Suspense
(Part of the Montana "To Die" series - Book 1)

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Naked, I stand at the window.

Alone.

Waiting.

While sand slips oh, so slowly through the hour glass.

The coming night was near, shadows playing darkly. A hollow wind, keening and savage, cuts through the canyons with the promise of death upon its breath. I hear its plaintive cry from deep in the cabin.

It wants me, I thought. It wants her.

It’s as hungry as I am.

Good!

Feeling the ache, the low, insistent pulse, I peer through the window panes glazed in ice, frosted with blowing snow.

Naked branches of the lonely trees rattle and dance, like skeletal arms raised in supplication to the heavens.

As if God were interested.

I feel the urge to step outside, the tug of the cold tempting me to languish in the caress of frigid gusts upon my bare skin.

But it is too soon.

I'm not going to let myself fall victim to that easy enticement. The timing just isn’t right. Not yet.

I have to be patient.

Because she is coming.

Unfailingly and without any inkling as to her fate, she is drawing near. I feel it.

And everything has to be perfect.

“Come on,” I whisper quietly and feel that sensual twitch deep inside at the thought of her: lightly tanned skin, some freckles, wide hazel eyes and untamed hair a deep brown that shines red in the fire-light. “Come the fuck on.”

The knowledge that she will soon appear causes my blood to race, my mind to fire with images of what is to come. I can almost taste her, feel the texture of her skin as she quivers at my touch. In my mind’s eye I watch her pupils dilate until her eyes are nearly black with fear and a dark, unwelcome desire.

Oh, she will want me.

She will beg for more of me.

And I’ll give her what she wants: what she fears.

Her last conscious thoughts will be of me.

But not yet . . . I have to hold back.

Tamping down those vibrant, exhilarating fantasies, I decide to savor them later. When the timing is right.

With one last glance at the window, I walk to the table near the fire, sit in the smooth wooden chair and feel the varnish against my bare skin. When my body is unfettered by clothes my mind is sharper. Clearer.

I study my maps carefully. Using a magnifying glass, charting my course. The worn, marked pages are spread upon the plank table near the kerosene lantern glowing softly. Scattered upon the scarred planks are the astrological charts, birth certificates and recent clippings of the deaths that no one will ever trace to me. In the articles those beautiful releases of souls are described as brutal slayings, the work of a psychopath.

Reporters, like the police, are idiots.

I can't help but smile at all their wasted efforts.

The authorities are morons.

Cretins.

Fools who are so easily toyed with.

Burning wood crackled in the grate, anxious flames devouring the mossy chunks of oak and pine, the scent of wood smoke heavy in my nostrils as I reread the stories about the “victims”, tales that have been carefully construed by the stupid cops to ensure that no details they want to keep from the public have slipped into the articles. They have worked diligently to make certain a few clues as to what really happened up on the ridge won’t be available to the general populace for fear a nutcase will claim to be the killer.

Then, the short-staffed Sheriff’s Department will have to sort it all out and spend valuable hours dealing with the fraud. Officers will have to expose him or her to be just some whack job trying to get his or her fifteen minutes of fame or infamy. The department will lose a lot of time uncovering the false murderer, a lunatic pretender who in no way can understand the divinity nor the complexity of the painstakingly executed sacrifices.

Sorry, imbeciles.

You’ll have to find some other killer to emulate.

“Killer.” The word tastes bitter. As did “criminal” or “psycho”. Because what I do isn’t a crime, not just a “killing”, not some psychotic whim, but a necessity . . . a calling. However those who are unenlightened will never understand. What I’ve done, what I will do again, is misunderstood.

So be it.

A window rattles against a gust of wind and I feel a sudden chill slithering down my spine. Glancing up from my work to the icy panes, I see fluttering flakes of snow in the steely day beyond.

Feeling the storm seeping through the cracks in the walls, the cold air kissing my skin, I envision her again.

Beautiful bitch.

Soon you will be mine.

God and the Fates are on my side.

I lick my lips as a thrill steals through my bloodstream. Turning back to the table, I see her picture. In black and white, the surroundings out of focus, her features clear and crisp.

In the glossy photograph, she appears happy, though, of course, her smile is a frail facade. She looks almost flirtatious.

A lie.

As I stare deeply into her eyes, I detect a shadow, a small frisson of darkness that betrays her fear.

In that fragile moment when the camera captures her, she senses that her life is far from what it seems.

And yet she can’t possibly comprehend the truth. Little does she know what is about to happen; that her fate

has already been sealed, that she will soon join the others . . .

Carefully I read the charts once more. The stars are in the right position, the groundwork has been done and December with its cold, stinging kiss will soon be here.

As will she.

She will arrive before the turn of the calendar’s page.

Closing my eyes I imagine our meeting.

Her chilled flesh will press against mine. Her skin will have the salty taste of fear, her cheeks even more so with the tracks of tears.

A frisson of expectation sizzles through my blood.

I glance down at the photograph again.

So clear.

So sharp.

So ready.

“Soon,” I whisper, not saying her name aloud, not wanting to hear it echo through the rafters. “Very soon.”

My groin tightens in expectancy.

Winter and Death are about to meet.