House of V (Unraveled Series) (7 page)

BOOK: House of V (Unraveled Series)
13.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Now, somehow, Sister Josephine was
in danger. The “plan” was getting a little hazy, for the both of us.

I moved to the dresser, slipping
into a discreet pair of jeans and a plain colored t-shirt; I would go for the
college student abroad look this time. I wrapped a canvas jacket around my
shoulders before I pulled the drawer out of the dresser, reaching for the bag
pushed to the far back, and slowly unzipped it, carefully fingering the stack
of cash and IDs.

After tying up a pair of sneakers,
I moved into the adjoining bathroom where I let the water trickle a small
stream, just enough to splash my face. I looked up to see deep brown eyes, the
contacts still hovering over my blue irises from the evening out. My red hair
was longer now and would be sufficient to bypass a wig. I slid open the drawer
to expose a variety of eyeglasses among the strands of black and blonde wigs
and grabbed a pair with thick black rims. I gave my reflection one last look
before turning toward the bedroom door, away from the patterned breathing.

I hesitated in the door frame,
trying to push the pain in my gut away, but I relented and moved back to the
bed. I needed to feel his body one last time.

The bag dropped to the floor as I
slid into my usual spot and curled his thick arm around my fully-dressed body.
I listened to his chest exhale and inhale, feeling the warmth of his breath on
my hair. It felt right; it felt like the home I’d never had, and despite how
much I tried to shake the comfort, I couldn’t. I needed it just one minute
longer. A tear moistened in my eye, slid down my cheek and landed on my lips,
leaving a saltiness that burned inside my mouth.

Just a minute
longer.

My eyelids grew heavy as I watched
the clock, the minutes chipping away at a pace I loathed.
Seven
of them gone.
That’s when my body conceded, my eyelids staying shut no
matter how hard I tried to peel them open. I felt my body slowly sinking away,
my breathing regulating, and matching Ryan’s pattern.
Just
this one last time.

***

I watched myself then, in my
dreams. My brown hair was cropped short like the “pixie” Holston once called
me, yet I wore the same clothes I had just dressed in and my getaway bag was
slung over my shoulders.

My sneakers hit the wood of Ryan’s
hallway without a sound as I followed the light hint of fire still crackling in
the fireplace. The orange flames were replaced with a soft hue, the logs now
turned white. Suddenly, I moved into my own body and was no longer watching
myself. I walked into the kitchen to grab the knife Ryan had given me and
tucked it into my front pocket. I knew I wouldn’t make it far with it, but it
felt good to have it in my hands.

I turned left, making my way to the
front door before I stopped, listening to the creaks of the old house. A quick
shiver coursed through my body, my neck hairs rising in full salute. I counted.
My mantra.
My lifeline.

The bolt slid open with ease with
the quick turn of my fingers, and before I knew it, I was in the cold mountain
air in the middle of the night. I breathed in, half expecting to smell the sea,
but it was long gone, the water a few miles from the house.

I flashed a quick glance around the
perimeter of the house’s facade, which was glowing in the moonlight, listening
and watching for movement. A small rustle of leaves sounded on top of me. My
eyes followed the white line of birch to its top, reaching so high into the
night sky that it almost scraped the clouds. The green leaves swayed in the
night breeze. The old cobblestones pressed against my feet as I walked the path
I had for the past year, to and from the house with Ryan. I was beginning to
feel the sense of euphoria and determination that I had missed. I had a
mission.
A goal to seek out.
I didn’t know his name
yet, but I would soon. I would tie up the loose ends that Holston had left
behind.

Only two steps away from the open
road, I felt the hand cover my mouth. A man’s hand, smooth and more delicate
than Ryan’s calloused ones. Most people’s reaction was to scream, but I didn’t.
I focused on moving his finger closer into my mouth so I could clamp down on
it. I thrust my knife back behind me, slicing it through the air with quick
jabs, trying to land a blow, but I knew he was too far behind me. I felt the
metal of a gun on the back of my scalp.

“Stop,
Evie
Parker,” he ordered.
American.
My body stiffened at my name.
The name that no
one half-way around the world should know.
He hugged me closer to his
body with one arm, and I didn’t struggle. If he wanted to kill me, he would
have already done it.

“Drop the knife.”

I obliged, letting the knife fall
to the cobblestones with a clatter.

“I’m going to take my hand away
from your mouth, but if you scream, I have no problem silencing you,” he warned
again. His voice became clearer in my head, and I turned to see the cowboy pointing
a gun at my face. I looked down at his foot and leg, but there were no wounds,
no blood stains on his boots or jeans.

I reminded myself it was a dream,
that the cowboy in front of me wasn’t real, but it all seemed too life-like,
too vivid to be anything else.

“Didn’t think anyone would find you
here, did
ya
?” He let out a small laugh, making me
want to pull his tongue out of his mouth. “The world’s a small place, too small
for people like you.”

“I should have killed you.”

“Yeah, you should have, but you
didn’t. Tell me, Ms. Parker, are you becoming soft? Turning over a new leaf?”
he asked with a sneer. “I thought it was you, but I wanted to make sure. I knew
a ruthless killer, daughter of the infamous Holston Parker, would come to that
woman’s rescue in the alley. It confirmed my hunch without a doubt.”

I stood motionless, bored, waiting
for him to get on with his story about his heroics. So I didn’t kill him, yet.
Lucky him.

“Don’t you
wanna
know who I am?” he drawled, taking a quick glance back at the house. This guy
was it, a real dick with an ego so big he couldn’t see what stood before him.
Me.
Evie
Parker.
A woman that didn’t take any shit from anyone.

Quiet, again. Unflinching, I waited
for him to tell me. My silence was infuriating him, which was where I wanted
him. Anger led to mistakes. And mistakes led to a knife in his throat; just
like I should have done earlier.

“You think your sweet, old pops got
to killing everyone he set out to? You’re dead wrong about that,” he offered,
stepping closer to me with the gun still pointed at my face. I could smell the
alcohol on his breath, the burn waving through the air.

Good.
Sloppy,
gregarious, just how I liked them.

I smiled now, still silent, knowing
that my grin would send him reeling. I needed him for just a few more seconds
and just a little bit closer. I put my hands on my hips, waiting.

“Hands up, bitch, where I can see
them,” he ordered. I put my hands in the air as if to surrender. He was getting
on my nerves at this point, yet he needed to be closer. Assholes like him
didn’t learn lessons fast, and it was surprising he made it as close to the
house as he did.

“He thought getting Sister
Josephine would bring you crawling to him, but that didn’t seem to work, did
it? Not going to rescue Sister Josephine, after all?”

I shrugged my shoulders; he
obviously missed the backpack slung on my shoulders. I was ready to leave, and
if the man responsible for Father
Haskens's
death and
the threats to Sister Josephine was anything like the cowboy standing in front
of me, it wouldn’t take much to find and get rid of him. I would be in and out
of the states before the Appleton Police Department or the FBI had a chance to
take a sniff at me.

“So I came here to get you,” he
said with a grin.

More silence. Just a few more
inches, and I could reach him.

“You hear me? I’m taking you out,”
he said as he took one step closer to me.

I kicked my foot up again, landing
the second blow to his groin in the same night. He stumbled back, fumbling with
his gun before I kicked his arm, sending the gun into the grass. I swept back
behind me and snagged up my knife, slashing the blade through the air and
connecting with his gut first. He doubled over, grabbing his stomach before he
fumbled toward the gun. I beat him there easily, snatching up the gun and
holding it steady with my left hand.

I held my finger on the trigger,
ready to pull before I stopped. The noise would wake Ryan and quite possibly,
the neighbor a mile down the road. The mountains created a valley where the
slightest bit of noise travelled endlessly. So instead, I tucked the gun inside
my pants and thrust the knife forward again, this time higher in his chest. He
moaned an awful sound, staggering back as I gripped the knife tighter and then pulled
it out. I waited for his body to give out, his legs clamoring desperately
beneath him until he collapsed in the grass. I stood over his body, waiting and
watching the blood spurt from his mouth as he took his final breaths. I lowered
the knife one more time into his chest, putting him out of his misery.

His body lay still in the grass,
his front oozing with the red liquid I had poured from his body. I couldn’t
leave him here. This was a mess I couldn’t let Ryan deal with himself. So I did
the only thing that I knew to do. No one would be looking for the cowboy; no
one knew he came here.

I dropped the knife and looked to
my right. The dolly Ryan used to haul his fishing equipment appeared next to
the cowboy’s body. I turned back to the cowboy, but now his straw-woven hat was
replaced with a fedora. A spark ignited in my chest, electrifying the rest of
my body as I moved toward him.

So I pulled the cowboy on the
dolly, wrapped the thick red strap around his chest and lugged him past the
house, through the backyard and down the sloping hill until I heard the rush of
water. The creek behind Ryan’s house was running high, especially for summer.
It should take him out to the sea by the end of the day. The mouth of the creek
was isolated, populated by dense trees and poor water for fishing. It should
give Ryan enough time to leave.

He could sell his boat. Leave the
house. It wasn’t exactly what I had planned, but the cowboy left me no choice.

I loosened the straps and shoved
his body into the current, the body bobbing in the water separate from the
fedora that had disappeared into the blackness. The body flipped around, the
face now turning to haunt me.

That’s when I saw it. The lifeless
face of Sister Josephine, her skin a pale translucence in the moonlight, headed
out to sea.

I screamed, but no sound came out.

A dream, I chanted.
A
dream
, I begged.

 

6

 

June 15, 5:30 p.m
.
Oshkosh, Wisconsin

 

Fred Sullivan sat at the dining
table with a Scotch in his hand, ready to feel the cool amber burn down his
throat. He lifted the glass and the ice cubes clinked together in a sound he
had missed for over a decade behind bars. It had been six months since he
regained his placement as a sexual offender in society.

He was a free man except he didn’t
really feel free with the whole neighborhood keeping tabs on his every move.
Moving into an apartment on the east side of Oshkosh as a sex offender on
parole wasn’t much of an improvement. He put the glass to his lips and
swallowed a large gulp before setting it back down on the wet ring.

Admittedly, he deserved the time he
spent behind bars. The nineties had been filled with more drugs than he would
have liked to admit. While his classmates were going off to college or getting
jobs, Fred was dealing drugs out of his parents’ garage. It started out as a
small operation, yet before he knew it, he was in too deep. The game and money
had been too good to him.

Up until he got caught of course,
but the few years he spent in county jail didn’t straighten him out. He was
back at it again, but this time, with a sidekick half his age. He never should
have gotten involved with that girl. Although she claimed she was eighteen,
Melinda was only sixteen, and he was slapped with sexually abusing a child before
he knew it. Drugs, money, and women were all poison; delicious poisons he had a
hard time staying away from.

He hit the button on the answering
machine again, listening to the man’s voice from earlier today. “Mr. Sullivan,
it’s recently come to my attention that your name, as well as my own, is on a
list. This list was created by someone we both came across in our earlier
years.” The man cleared his throat before he continued. This part got to Fred
every time he listened to it.
“Holston Parker.
I don’t
want to say much about it other than that I think we should talk. I think you
should know the kind of danger that you’re in. That maybe we’re both in. I’ll
meet you at six o’ clock at
Polito’s
on High Avenue.
I’ll be wearing a baseball cap and glasses.”

It was 5:30, and he still hadn’t
decided if he was going to meet this guy. For one thing, he never even
mentioned his own name. Fred had no idea who the caller was or why he thought
they were both in danger.

He had heard about the story of
Holston Parker while he was in prison. The hometown hero had made national
news. Holston Parker had made every single drug dealer, murderer and psychopath
next to Fred look like sweet little kittens.

Fred had never heard of Holston
Parker before the news broke about his murder. He tried to sort through his
drug-filled memories of the nineties, but nothing about Holston Parker
surfaced. The first time he had seen the guy was in the photos in the
newspapers.

BOOK: House of V (Unraveled Series)
13.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Michael R Collings by The Slab- A Novel of Horror (retail) (epub)
The Christmas Secret by Julia London
The Fire Baby by Jim Kelly
Lorik (The Lorik Trilogy) by Neighbors, Toby
Melting His Alaskan Heart by Rebecca Thomas
Faculty of Fire by Kosh, Alex
The Continuity Girl by Leah McLaren
Pretty in Kink by Titania Ladley