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Authors: Maegan Beaumont

Tags: #Mystery, #homicide inspector, #Mystery Fiction, #victim, #san francisco, #serial killer, #Suspense, #thriller

Carved in Darkness

BOOK: Carved in Darkness
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Copyright Information

Carved in Darkness
© 2013 by Maegan Beaumont.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any matter whatsoever, including Internet usage, without written permission from Midnight Ink, except in the form of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

As the purchaser of this ebook, you are granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this ebook on screen. The text may not be otherwise reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, or recorded on any other storage device in any form or by any means.

Any unauthorized usage of the text without express written permission of the publisher is a violation of the author’s copyright and is illegal and punishable by law.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

First e-book edition © 2013

E-book ISBN: 9780738737393

Book design by Bob Gaul

Cover design by Kevin R. Brown

Editing by Nicole Nugent

Midnight Ink is an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.

Midnight Ink does not participate in, endorse, or have any authority or responsibility concerning private business arrangements between our authors and the public.

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Manufactured in the United States of America

For my parents—thank you for loving me.

ONE

Yuma, Arizona

December 22, 1998

W
AITING WAS THE WORST
part. The sporadic stretches of time between his visits—when he came and hurt her—were the hardest torture to bear. She had no idea how long she’d been in the dark. No longer trusted herself to count the days. It’d been October first when he took her. What month it was now was impossible to figure out, but if every time he raped her marked the passing of a day—every time he cut her, the passing of an hour—then she’d been locked away for centuries and everyone she loved was dead and gone.

Shifting, she felt the pull of dried blood and unhealed wounds across her skin. She couldn’t see them—the only kindness the darkness granted her—but she could feel them. Smell them. They were everywhere. Cuts, long and thin, ran the length of her spine. The inside of her thighs. Along the swell of her breasts. The soft flesh under her arms. The soles of her feet. The stench of old blood and infection mingled with the warm, revolting smell of the bucket she was forced to use as a toilet. She tried not to think about it. About what had been done to her body. About what she’d been forced to do to survive …

Sounds penetrated the dense folds of black that surrounded her.

Footsteps. Slow and measured.

Terror gripped her, forced movement into limbs no longer totally under her control. Lurching to her feet, she swayed beneath the almost impossible heaviness of her own body weight. She took a few shuffling steps, kept one hand braced against the wall, while the other hovered out in front of her.

He wanted to play.

Her hands closed on the knob and grappled with it. Her hands were encased in duct tape—wrapped round and round until her fingers were fused together and rendered useless. Without working fingers, getting the door open was difficult but not impossible. Using both hands, she gripped the knob and turned. The door unlatched and swung inward.

Step by step, she forced her legs and feet forward until she slammed into the wall opposite the door. Pressing her battered cheek against it, she dragged cleaner air into her lungs in ragged gulps.

Light glowed a dull, muted red against her lids. Instinct seized her, her brain sent the signal, tried to open her eyes even though she knew she couldn’t. Her lids wouldn’t budge—they hadn’t since she woke in the dark.

Experience told her that going right was wrong. There were stairs to the right, but they led to nothing more than a locked door. He wanted to chase her. It was his favorite game. She could feel him, standing at the base of the stairs.

Staring at her.

Her heart started its frantic kicking. It bounced around her chest, tried to claw its way up her throat. Turning left, she moved her legs as fast as they’d go, her shoulder hugging the wall to keep herself upright.

Footsteps echoed after her, slow at first but then faster and faster.

He was coming.

He reached the bottom of the stairs and smiled when the door flew open. Watched her stumble across the hall and slam into the wall in front of her. He took a deep breath—pulled the sweet smell of her blood into his chest and held it.

Even at a distance, he could feel the heat of it. The way it tingled across his skin. His mouth began to water. The need to taste her was a fire in his blood. He’d fought against the burn for years. Not because he felt like what he wanted to do to her was wrong, but because he
knew.

Eventually he’d go too far and end up killing her. Killing wasn’t the problem; the problem was the more he had of her, the more he tasted her, the less he was able to control himself. Every time he drew his knife across her skin, the urge to push the blade in just a little deeper grew stronger and stronger. Sooner or later, he was gonna snap. Wouldn’t be able to stop himself. The thought worried him. He could feel it, circling closer and closer. Not that he didn’t like killing—no, killing was fun. He’d killed lots of times. Animals, cats and rabbits mostly. A dog here and there.

Some people said animals didn’t have souls, but he knew that wasn’t true. Felt them plenty as they wriggled free of the meat
and bone that trapped them. Sometimes he had to force it out, and sometimes that slippery thing seemed almost grateful to be set free. He liked it better when they put up a fight. Liked to peel back the skin—layer by layer—until the screaming thing beneath him simply … stopped.

But his Melissa was different.

There was fight in her. More than he’d bargained for—it thrilled him beyond measure. He’d had her for eighty-two days—eighty-three, if he counted today—and she hadn’t given in. Hadn’t wriggled free.

Not yet, anyway.

She lurched forward, her gait made slow and uneven by the drugs he kept her on. Her naked body was smeared with blood he’d drawn. Covered in wounds he’d inflicted.

Beautiful. Almost too beautiful to be real. He swept his gaze over her face before it settled on her eyes and the neat row of stitches that kept them closed. He was sorry for it, not being able to see her eyes. He wanted to rip those stitches out of her lids and force her eyes open, make her look at him. Make her see him. But he couldn’t; seeing him would ruin everything.

His eyes traveled downward. The blood was freshest between her thighs. Thick and dark. Moist and warm. Seeing it killed his amusement, dried it up. The thought of nesting there—pumping himself into that slippery hole between her legs, cutting her while he did, over and over—moved him forward. He could see it. Her blood-slicked skin, marbled with his semen. His hands and cock covered in both.

Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out the KA-bar he always carried. The knife had been a gift from his father for his twelfth birthday. If he knew what he’d been using it for, his daddy wouldn’t be too happy. Thinking about it made him smile. He flicked the blade open and gripped it tight.

Looking at her always made him hungry.

He started after her, took the distance slow at first, but every inch forward pushed him harder and faster until he was nearly running. He fell on her, dragged her under, and she went down swinging and screaming.

Just how he liked it.

She hit the floor, her skull bouncing off the unforgiving pad of concrete that had only seconds before been under her feet. Her arms swung wildly, hitting him again and again.

The sound of his laughter told her he found her efforts amusing. Anger roiled around with the terror. The scream forced its way out, nothing more than a dry croak that burned her throat as she drove the flat of her foot into something soft. He grunted in pain and let go.

Suddenly free, she rolled over. Tried to crawl but couldn’t. Digging her fingers into the rough floor, she pulled—dragged herself until she had nowhere to go.

Dead end.

Pressing herself against the wall, she drew her legs to a chest that heaved and wracked with dry, wordless sobs. He’d recovered from whatever minor damage she’d managed to inflict and was standing over her. He wasn’t laughing anymore.

She heard the jerk and snap of his belt as he yanked it off. Felt the bite and hiss of his zipper as he drew it down.

Battered knees forced themselves harder into her chest. Her swollen face buried itself against her thighs.

BOOK: Carved in Darkness
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