The Trees Beyond the Grass (A Cole Mouzon Thriller) (2 page)

BOOK: The Trees Beyond the Grass (A Cole Mouzon Thriller)
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CHAPTER 1

Dallas, a week earlier…

“He was sweet enough when we met. His wide lips and brown eyes made me feel safe. But, safety was needed, not found in him. His first strike left only the slightest bruise along my brow line, the second a cut in the corner of my mouth. I told myself he loved me, that I had deserved it, with every blow. My third rib was broken by a fall in the shower, or so I told my friends. But I could see in their eyes they knew just how weak I was to take each blow. Escape was no option. Slowly, very slowly, I gathered the strength to survive. He lingers no more.

P”

The post was submitted.

POINSETT SAT IN
her rented cream-colored Accord outside Wild Salsa in downtown Dallas, watching with shaky trepidation—waiting for her next kill. Looking down, she re-read the message she had typed Wednesday night while sitting alone in her Dallas hotel room. She then glanced over at the photos resting in the leather passenger seat of the humid car.
Tony Patrick
. With his shaved head, thick, muscular physique, and standing at six-five, he had been easy to locate upon arriving in Texas three days earlier, once she’d determined where he worked.

And now she sat, her body tingling with the exhilaration of what was about to occur. Other than the hum of the engine and slight whistle of the A/C running through the car’s vents, there was silence—no radio played—as she reflected on how she had come to the place where she killed those she had never met. It hadn’t been so easy, so invigorating, the first time. Fear and her internal conflict tore at her, making her feel like a fumbling little girl on a dark first date.

The self-interrogation was common enough.
You’re an educated woman, have everything going for you. Why do you have to do this?

But the response came swiftly and sternly from somewhere deep in her mind.
Because they don’t deserve to live—didn’t deserve the years they have stolen. How could he have let them live at the price of your happiness? You must kill them, all of them. Take away his prizes.
Reflecting on the chastising voice’s sting caused Poinsett to recoil slightly into the headrest and close her eyes.

The warm heat of red anger and jealousy overcame her body and made her brow damp with pearls of perspiration as she tried to regain control. She could feel them slowly pulled down across her face. She was used to hot and humid places; she lived in one. But she would not let this place drag down her Southern-laced beauty. Opening her eyes, she dug into a bright orange Gucci quilted-leather handbag and withdrew a Bobbi Brown compact. Flipping it open, she grabbed the sponge, dabbed it into the powder and then onto her forehead.

 

THE ONE-SIDED CONVERSATION
continued.
You can do this
, she told herself as she looked into the small circular mirror.
He’s like the girl in New York, weak and undeserving. He must die. You have to do this.

It was a compulsion, and though she tried, she ultimately failed in attempting to resist it. She took trips to Fiji and did Bikram yoga, hoping that through peaceful doings it would dissipate. But all the quiet did was foster it and allow it to grow uncontrollably in the deep crevices of her mind. Like a horrible dieter’s hunger, it refused to be ignored, growling and scratching at her insides until she finally opened the door and gave it attention. That’s when it consumed her fully, taking any will to fight against its determination to seek retribution. Her career, her life, now existed purely to disguise her movements to feed her hunger.

There were moments of lucidity where she wondered if the deaths, the risks were all worth the reward of seeking revenge against her pained memories. In her youth she’d told herself to grow up and move on. Yet those moments came so rarely now that she could barely think beyond her focus on retribution and planning the next kill. The venom of her childhood had taken hold and poisoned any rational thought beyond revenge.

He left you because of them. He chose them…

She’d cried when she thrust the first, killing stroke of a ceramic knife deep into Whitney Havex in New York. At first she was ashamed of the tears—
what a fool
—but now, she saw them for what they were, the pouring out of weakness, a purging of the soul, giving her strength to move on to the next kill. So she now sat in her rental, waiting for Tony Patrick, the reason she’d come to Dallas. He had been marked almost thirty years earlier in Houston, a prize of sorts, which she now intended to claim as her own.

From the side mirror she caught sight of Tony’s old white Ford F250, which she had seen him leave for work in early in the morning. Like the killing before, Poinsett had watched, documenting Tony’s every move, before ever approaching him for the kill. She researched and located him. She arrived several days earlier in the week and then observed his life. He was a line-worker manager at Coca-Cola, eight a.m. in, five p.m. out. He had little social life, based upon her observations—was never seen with a date or woman, though she had learned he was once married, as a teen. That clearly didn’t pan out, as the man she saw was a barfly who sat alone at the bar, hoping to garner some sugar from the drunkest woman. So, when it was his time, it was easy for her to figure out the best approach. She would be careful to avoid any cameras.
Can’t be making it easy for the cops.
Male weakness would take over from there, as he would attempt to sniff up her skirt like a stray dog.

She had waited thirty minutes in her car, letting him grab a drink as she had learned he always did after work. He hadn’t noticed her in the shiny Accord as he drove by it to the Coca-Cola bottling plant west of town, but he would notice her now. The time had begun for another kill, and Tony was the prey.
Let the hunt begin.

 

CHAPTER 2

BY THE EMPTY
booths and bar, Thursday nights were clearly not the night to be at Wild Salsa. Poinsett walked into the bar and quickly located Tony at the counter, two empty shot glasses before him and a beer in his hand. His red polo shirt, blue jeans, and thick brown leather belt screamed
boring
to Poinsett. A black cap covered his close-shaven head. She quickly noticed him flipping a white linen paper card between his fingers like a quarter.
My card.
She had mailed it to him from New York several days earlier after finishing off Whitney Havex. He looked down at the card and Poinsett could tell he was re-reading it.

 

Dear Tony,

You cower in life as you will at death. I am here to reclaim what has been taken.

I am beside you…

P

 

She watched as he laughed to himself and then moved to step away from the bar.
Time to introduce myself
. Before Tony’s foot could reach the floor, Poinsett pulled up beside him, sitting on the wooden swivel stool and pressing her chest against the counter to gather the attention of the bartender…and Tony.

“I’ll take a skinny margarita.” Her accent, perhaps from Alabama or Georgia, was noticeable. Feeling his gaze on her breasts, now firmly pressed against the counter’s edge until they looked like there were about to pop free of her dress, she glanced over to him. By his look, he was loving this. It was clear it had been some time since he’d gotten laid, and it certainly wasn’t with any woman who looked like her.

“Where you from?” Tony smiled his toothy smile.

“Oh, Birmingham originally. But I work in Tulsa now,” she lied.

Tony was intrigued and wanted to know more. “What brings you down this way? Business or pleasure?”

She smiled as she answered, “Business, but I’m not adverse to pleasure.” Her eyes rolled up and down his body before returning to his gaze.

Tony’s face flashed clear moments of hot sex before she could even finish saying ‘pleasure.’ His light mahogany eyes glanced across her half-exposed breasts and the deep, layered V formed by her pink and green floral-print sundress. His gaze then ran down her body to her white leather sandals and returned to her breasts before he looked back at her eyes.

“Well, you’re in luck, ma’am. I happen to be a very pleasurable guy.” His cliché line was met by a slight come-hither look in Poinsett’s blue eyes, one brow slightly askew. With her left hand, she swept her long, blonde hair off her face and over her shoulder. A wig, purchased before the killing in New York.

“Oh? Do tell, cowboy?”
Two can play at this game
, thought Poinsett. By this point she was two-thirds through her drink.

 

He leaned in
toward Poinsett and placing his empty glass on the bar. “How about a shot?” Tony was trying to speed up the process. Time was wasting and he was clearly ravenous to play. He pushed for requests. “What would you like? A lemon drop, chocolate cake, what’s your poison?” He placed his right hand on the back of her wooden stool and rubbed her exposed shoulder with his thumb in small circular movements, the grin still firmly on his face.

Poinsett looked at his hand and cringed internally. She wanted to kill him right there in the middle of the bar. She would break her now-empty glass against the edge of the bar and slash his throat with the shards if she thought she could get away with it. The thought played out for a few moments in her head before she spoke. “Tequila!” she announced, matching his grin with a slight smile. She wanted him dead, and now.

A deep, hollow-chest “Ha,” came out as Tony pulled back in excitement. “My kind of girl… I mean, lady.” He tipped his faded black cap in apology. She smiled back as to say, ‘no offense taken.’ Looking around her, he waved the bartender over and ordered two shots of Jose Cuervo Silver. The bartender grabbed two shot glasses and the bottle, pouring the shots in front of them. Poinsett caught the slight look of
what the fuck
cross the bartender’s deeply tanned face. He clearly didn’t understand the attraction playing out at the otherwise empty bar. Running his hand over his black fauxhawk haircut, he returned to the opposite end of the bar to apparently discuss with the ample-breasted waitress with the daisy-duke shorts and tight white tank top what they were observing.

Poinsett turned back to Tony after seeing a giggle from the waitress. Tony promptly raised his glass at her gaze, which she followed with her own. “To business and pleasure,” he said.

They both downed the stinging shot without involving a lime or salt. By the look on his face, he approved.

Poinsett wondered if he had any clue what was about to happen. With Whitney in New York, there had been no interaction until the first blow. Before Whitney got home to her Astoria Park condo, Poinsett had arrived and convinced the front desk security guard to give her access to the building.

The story was simple. Her new boyfriend lived in the building, and it was his birthday. She intended to surprise him with a bit of a peep-show: “He loves strippers, after all.” The deal was closed with a slight flash of her red bra, which sent Jeff the doorman over the top. His face went flush as he nodded in understanding. He walked her to the elevator bank behind his circular stand and let the door open. At the twelfth floor she stepped off and looked around for the stairs. As a precaution, she selected a floor other than that of Whitney’s so as to not immediately raise suspicions when her body was ultimately found. Fire wells couldn’t be locked under the local fire code, giving her free access to each floor. She opened its door and walked another three stories up to get off near Whitney’s sixteenth-floor condo.

It was an old building; any renovations done focused on the aesthetics of the hall, not on the mechanics of the doors.
They clearly relied too much on Jeff the doorman
. A quick slip of a credit card and a small screwdriver and she was inside Whitney’s apartment, where the fun began when she arrived twenty minutes later.

 

CHAPTER 3

“ANOTHER?” SHE SAID
with a sweet Southern smile still beaming at him. Poinsett snapped back to the present, determined to get the hunt moving along. This time she placed her soft hand on Tony’s thigh, close to his groin, to emphasize her implications. He stared at her hand for a moment and then raised his head. “Of course!” He waved over the bartender, who tore himself away from the waitress and walked over to pour the second shots, and as quickly as the first, they were gone. He was halfway back to his post when he obviously heard Poinsett say, “Let’s get out of here.”

The look on his face was pure shock when he turned to walk to the register beside Poinsett. He shook his head slightly in disbelief as the bill printed out and he delivered it, folded down its spine and placed in a shot glass.

Using the opportunity for closer interaction, Tony leaned in to grab the glass and softly said, “Sounds like a great idea. Where’s your hotel?”

The slight grin returned to Poinsett’s face. “Awh, can we go to your place? I’m here with co-workers and I’d rather not be seen bringing a boy home. Sorry…a
man
.” She intentionally mimicked Tony’s prior remark and then pulled her left hand from her lap, tapping her ring finger to flash a diamond.

Tony’s face flashed shock, then pleasurable trouble. “Sure.” He was attempting to muster an ‘I understand and am a mature man’ voice, but what came out was ‘gleeful kid who’s just received a new toy.’ Poinsett smiled. She had him hooked.

After Tony paid the tab with cash, they walked out to leave their admiring audience to discuss. Poinsett could feel Tony’s gaze on her cross-fit firm backside as she walked to the Accord with him behind in obvious ecstasy. It was after nine and the parking lot’s streetlights dotted the street parking with small circles of creamy light. She looked up from her five-eight frame to Tony. “So, I’ll follow you to your place?”

“Yeah, I’m in that white pickup over there. It’s maybe a fifteen minute drive. Just stay close. Wouldn’t want to lose you.” Poinsett smiled.
Oh, you won’t lose me
.

Following behind Tony, Poinsett’s mind again flashed back to New York. Whitney was taken down with nightshade. Much like its rumored effects on Romeo, Whitney was helpless on her bathroom floor—aware of everything, but unable to move. Poinsett had worked slowly with a steady hand until Whitney lay slowly dying from the cuts. Peeling off a pair of polyester gym pants and a top that had been coated with blood, Poinsett looked down at the body, satisfied with her work. Her heart pumped heavy with the thrill. She wanted,
needed
, that thrill again. Tony was her next chance.

Minutes later, Tony pulled up to his A-frame home off Angelina Drive with Poinsett in tow. It was nine-thirty p.m., and the street was quiet but for a few kids several blocks down on skateboards under a street lamp.

Tony was visibly giddy with anticipation as he walked up to her car door. “Come on in.” She stepped out in a grand sweeping movement like she was about to walk the red carpet, and extended her hand for him to assist her up. She then closed the car’s door and proceeded to the nondescript white-painted home. Entering through the door, she glanced at Tony and said softly in her genteel accent, “Let the fun begin.”

BOOK: The Trees Beyond the Grass (A Cole Mouzon Thriller)
7.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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