House of V (Unraveled Series) (3 page)

BOOK: House of V (Unraveled Series)
6.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Derek had been gone for far too
long and had let Holston do the unspeakable. He knew that there was no way to
bring back a dead son, but he would do the next best thing; he would take what
Holston had taken from him. He would kill
and set the world back to its balance.

Derek jabbed the bottom of the
screen, breaking the plastic clips that held the screen in with small snaps. He
waited, listening to the still unmoving house, before prodding the screen out
of its place and resting it against the siding. He exhaled, cursing the fact
that a door hadn’t been unlocked.

His body, at the ripe age of
sixty-two, was starting to weaken despite his valiant efforts to stay in shape.
The hours spent at the gym swimming and lifting weights kept his body tight
enough to fit in the same pants he wore thirty years ago, a size thirty-two
waist. However it wasn’t cut out for this line of work anymore. His glory days
of theft and burglary were over, and he had settled for the last ten years into
a working-stiff just like all the other schmucks in blue-collar America.

Wearing an orange apron eight hours
a day wasn’t exactly what he had in mind when he fell for Erica, but that’s
what women do; they change men. They change what the rest of the world sees,
however they don’t change what’s deep inside. Now that Erica was gone, fallen
victim to a heart attack just over six months ago, Derek could go back to who
he was. He didn’t have to answer to anyone except himself. It had been a long
time coming.

Taking one last glance into the
quiet street behind him, he hoisted himself over the sill and maneuvered his
body through the small opening. He pulled the ski mask over his face, his
breathing heavy against the knit until he adjusted the opening over his mouth.
His boots pressed against the carpet, his footsteps making slight indents into
the cheap nylon. The police would find the small tracks of the size twelve
boots, just like a million other men in the world, but he wouldn’t leave any
other trace. He’d broken into convenience stores, pawn shops, hell, even a bank
once, and had never been captured. He wasn’t planning on getting caught, not
tonight. In and out, like the blink of an eye.

Derek needed to find Sister
Josephine, and Father
was going to help him.
He had gone to her apartment earlier that night, but she wasn’t there. Derek
had his mind set on tonight, and he was all in. There was no going back; he had
crossed the line he never wanted to go back over. Tonight was the beginning of
the end. After all, in his mind, Sister Josephine equaled
Parker. It was only an added bonus that Sister Josephine happened to be the
catalyst that started his rivalry with Holston Parker.

He thought of the newspaper article
sitting on his kitchen table back home that had given him the ingenious idea to
go after Sister Josephine instead of one of the Jones’s family members. The
still being monitored, even a year later,
thanks to the magnitude of Holston’s legacy. It was too risky to have the FBI
on his ass.

Derek had found the article on a
Catholic website dedicated to creating safe homes for abused children. Sister
was the headliner, her smiling
face plastered in the large black and white photo. According to the article,
Sister Josephine had started a program for abused children in the Appleton area
back in 2001 with the help of a young aide by the name of
Parker. However, Ms. Parker hadn’t been available for a picture. There was no
surprise there. Derek had only seen her once when she was around
five-or-six-years-old. He guessed that she wasn’t supposed to be there on the
night Derek’s world was destroyed.

He pressed through the living room
and kitchen, going to the back of the house where Father
slept. He had surveyed the outside of the house just two days ago, the layout
like most of the old Victorian homes flanking the streets of downtown
Appleton’s residential areas. With the bedroom door only a few feet away, he
stopped at the sound of a creak on the other side of the house. He waited, but
only heard the crickets outside echo through the house. He shook it off,
finding solace in the age of the rectory that surely caused the small creak.

His gloved hand pushed the door
open with silence, the door swinging in easily to see Father
pale face shining in the streamed moonlight. He lay
still in the bed, his breath raspy and labored. Derek swept closer, standing
over the bed before reaching down to cover his mouth. Father
eyes popped open, his irises flashing a moment of
pure panic and shock.

Derek kept his hand clamped over
mouth while putting his finger up to
his mouth to motion him to be quiet.

tonight can go in your favor or it could end very badly. I personally want it
to go in your favor. Would you agree?” Derek asked.

nodded his head, gasping for air between Derek’s fingers. Father brought his
white hand to his own chest and clutched at his heart.

“Good. That’s the answer I was
hoping for. I am going to release my hand as long as you agree to be quiet,”
Derek continued. “Do you agree?”

Instead of the nod Derek
anticipated, Father
eyes rolled to the back
of his head. Derek felt the priest’s breaths weaken beneath his hand. He
quickly pulled his hand away and waited for his breathing to restore, but
instead, it weakened as Father
released two
small chokes. He writhed in restlessness beneath the sheets before his body
slowed to a stop.

“Where is she?” Derek asked as
panic rushed through his veins. “Where is Sister Josephine?”

Derek shook the priest’s bony
shoulders, but he remained lifeless. It had been so fast, all just a matter of
seconds. The faint echo of a police siren sounded from the window. Derek took
three steps away from the bed, stumbling through his bedroom. This wasn’t the
way it was supposed to happen. He needed Sister Josephine, not a dead priest
and the police on high alert.

Derek turned, fled out of the room
and back out the window he came in. He fumbled to replace the screen and
sprinted down the road in the haze of the streetlamps as the sound of sirens


Sister Josephine waited for the
noise to stop, holding the statue high above her head as she crept through the
living room in her bathrobe. All she could think about was how she didn’t want
to smash her beloved crystal angel statue on the intruder’s head. It was too
delicate and meaningful for her to waste it on this vial individual. She had
received the statue as a gift from
over thirty years ago when she had graduated from the convent, and it was the
only possession that she never let out of her sight. It served as a reminder of
the guardian angel in her life.

She had already placed the call
into the Appleton police from her bedroom, thanks to a cell phone she had
finally agreed to get after speaking with Father
nurses. The police station was only a few blocks away, and it would be just a
few minutes longer. She could already hear the sirens whistling through the
opened window.

She peered out the window, looking
for any signs of the intruder, but instead, viewed the familiar vacant street,
undisturbed. The humming of crickets sang in the bushes below the window. She
moved back to the living room, looking to see if anything had been disrupted,
but the scene was the same as she remembered before she went to bed. No
cabinets open, no furniture overturned. No sign that anyone or anything was
lurking in the house, but she could have sworn she heard something. She prayed
that she was right; otherwise, she was going to get a talking to from the
police officers. They would make fun of the old woman who was hearing things.
She wasn’t
old. At least, she
didn’t think so.

Her thoughts drifted to Father. Her
long-time friend and companion had been feeling ill for the past two weeks, and
despite his insistence that he didn’t need looking after, she had moved in,
temporarily, anyway with a single suitcase and statue just a few hours ago. She
fluttered to the back of the house, walking through the already open door to
see Father
body lying motionless in his bed.
The crystal statue fell from her hands, bouncing in the plushness of the carpet
as she rushed toward him.

She shook him, desperate for his eyes to open.

She peeled back the covers to look
for any injuries, but found none.
No, not
yet, Father
. She made the sign of the cross in a quick sweep and bowed her
head, reciting the Lord’s Prayer, before stumbling back into the kitchen. Her
shaking hand fumbled at the numbers, finally connecting to the three digit
number again. She had never had to dial the number before in her sixty years,
but now she had dialed it twice in the same night.

“911, what’s your emergency?”

“Hello? I need an ambulance
immediately. I think Father
had a heart





June 17, 6:30 p.m


“I think we should go out and
celebrate,” Ryan said as he wrapped his arms around my waist from behind me and
settled his hands on my stomach.

I let the water splash against my
bare breasts in the steaming shower, feeling the heat pelt my body in rapid
successions. He was right; one year did mark the
anniversary of killing Holston. It was not every day that
you could celebrate killing your so-called father.

“But we usually don’t go out,” I
replied as his hands moved up and cupped my breasts gently. He cradled them,
comforting me as I felt my inhibitions run down the drain.

It was just the two of us living
off the grid in
. He had managed for more
than a decade not to be found, although no one was really looking for him. I
disrupted his easy life, his freedom. We hadn’t done much else than stay in his
cottage and on his boat with the occasional venture into town to the bakery and
small grocery store. Ryan had gone to a local pub a handful of times with a few
of the guys from the docks, but he never stayed late. A few rounds and he
Our home
It was just Luke and Ivy.

“I know.
All the
more reason why we should.”
He pulled my body closer to his, and my head
fell onto his hard chest. I couldn’t leave this. “No one is looking for you.
For us
I’ve been
here forever. No one suspects anything, but they will if you turn into some
sort of recluse, never leaving the house.”

“I’m a fugitive. A recluse sounds
okay to me,” I replied, trying to shake the words of Delaney’s email. The
letters burned through my skull.
back. Please.
God, I hated her right now.

“You’re a red vixen now. You don’t
fit the old description. Plus, no one really looks out for people charged with
identify theft. It’s not like your face was plastered on America’s Most Wanted.
Sure, you headlined a few articles back in the day, but nothing major that’s
going to translate over here. We’ll be in the dark at the bar. We’ll stop in
for maybe an hour or two then come back home.” Ryan placed his hands on my
biceps and grazed the scar along my arm until he rested his hands on my

“Fine, but I’m bringing my knife.”
I replied as I turned to look into his eager face. How could I say no to those

“Good.” He grinned before he bent
down to swallow my lips. He paused, pulling a few inches away. “But before we
go, I have a gift for you.”

The lump lodged in my throat.

“Okay, I won’t call it a gift. I
for you.” Ryan smiled.
“I can’t say that I’ve ever given anything like this to someone. It means
you’re special. I’ll be right back.” He hopped out of the shower dripping wet
and let the curtain agape before I could protest.

I hated gifts. Ryan knew that.
Wrapped or unwrapped, bow or no bow.
It didn’t matter. I
hated all gifts.

He returned, still naked and
dripping, but resting in his hands was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

“Do you still hate gifts?” He asked
as he stretched his hands toward me. The silver glinted in the light. I
fingered the handle of the
knife and then
ran the tips over the blade. It took my breath away, not the knife itself, but
what it meant coming from him.

“Compact with a three-inch blade,
which means you would have to get close. I don’t want you to ever have to use
it, but I know it makes you more comfortable,” Ryan started.

“It’s beautiful,” I interrupted as
I held it in my hand. I gripped the handle and felt the weight light in my hand
before I turned it back to him to set on the counter.

“Not as beautiful as you,” he
replied with his sultry eyes.

“I love you, Ryan.”

“You’re the one,

“Get back in here.” I pushed the
shower curtain wider as the water rushed against my back. “Show me how much you
love me.”


I didn’t tell him about Delaney on
the drive to the bar. I wasn’t ready, not yet, but I planned on telling him
tonight after a few drinks. Let him mull it over. He could yell at me and tell
me how crazy I was, but I had already made up my mind.

Ryan flicked off his lights and
held the keys in his hands as the silence stifled between us.

BOOK: House of V (Unraveled Series)
6.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

(1988) The Golden Room by Irving Wallace
Port Mungo by Patrick McGrath
The Saint in Trouble by Leslie Charteris
Reckless (Wrecked) by Casey, Elle
Day by A. L. Kennedy
Gabrielle by Lucy Kevin
Twisted Proposal by M.V. Miles
Daisy's Back in Town by Rachel Gibson