Angel found his prey in the front room, predictably wanking off to some kinky porn on the computer. It was certainly Angel's flavor of choice, but he happened to know for a fact these were some of Joey's girls, and none of them had wanted to be there, let alone be filmed. When the cops took apart the house, they'd uncover a lot more than a B&E gone wrong.
Joey was lost in the pre-orgasmic haze when Angel crept up behind him. Callazaro's eyes widened as he caught a flash of an intruder in the reflection from the monitor the moment before his throat was slit. This was hardly going to look like a standard home invader caught in the act. Oh well. The worthless shit was dead.
Angel smashed some things around the room and took Callazaro's wallet. Even with that, any entry-level forensics intern would be able to tell something was off about this scene.
And if that weren't bad enough, before Angel could make another move, the front door opened. Mrs. Callazaro stood in the entryway, a look of horror on her face as she took in the scene in front of her.
Wow, she was beautiful. It was the only thought that could work its way through Angel's brain.
He'd seen her of course, but not this close. Her features were delicate and sweet. She was pale with a natural pink flush in her cheeks. Long red curls flowed around her like a goddess... and those brilliant green eyes looked like they were cut from emeralds.
Surprisingly, she didn't scream. Instead, she dropped her bags, turned, and ran. Angel looked down to find he still held the bloody knife. He flung it to the corner of the room. He didn't need a knife for her.
Fuck fuck fuckpounded through his head in rhythm to his footsteps as he ran after her. The only mercy was that in her panic, she'd dropped her keys. At least she couldn't get into her car and drive away. He had a chance to contain this.
Astrid's lungs felt like they were on fire as she ran. She couldn't even scream. She should scream. There were neighbors. But most of them were old and feeble, and she doubted any of them would wake in time or have the presence of mind to call 911. And if they did... how many minutes would she already be dead by the time help arrived? Besides, screaming would only give away her location—if the sound of her footsteps crunching over crisp fall leaves wasn't enough.
She could barely process what she'd just walked in on. Astrid cut through a neighbor's yard and slowed down. She didn't hear footsteps behind her anymore. She needed to put as much space between herself and the house as possible, but she had to catch her breath a minute. Hidden behind the Winslow's privacy fence seemed like a good place to do it.
At least until a strong arm pressed against her throat and everything went dark around her.
Astrid hadn't expected to wake up. She'd been sure as the world faded away that it was doing so for the last time. But here she was, a seemingly split second in time later, in the passenger side of a moving car, her wrists and ankles bound with rope, a blindfold covering her eyes.
Why hadn't he killed her? It couldn't mean anything good. If he hadn't killed her it only meant he had worse plans in store. Considering what she'd walked in on, she couldn't let herself consider the brutal violence that might lie ahead.
“I know you're awake,” he said. “I heard your breathing change.”
His voice sounded more cultured than your average street thug—not that he'd looked like he fit that profile. The small bit she remembered. He hadn't seemed like some meth addict looking to steal jewelry for his next fix. Was it someone with a grudge against Joey? Was it a professional? Her mind raced to put the pieces together as if just having more facts could somehow give her an edge and help her escape.
“Why didn't you kill me?” She didn't want to know, but somehow she couldn't manage to stop herself from asking.
“I tried. I failed. I've never had problems performing before.”
Was that some kind of hit man humor?
“I'm sorry about the ropes. They were necessary,” he said.
“What are you going to do with me?”Stop asking these questions!
“I can't let you go. You saw me.”
“It was dark. I don't remember what I saw.” It hadn't exactly been dark in the living room when she'd walked in on his crime, but she was hoping maybe he wouldn't remember those details. “I'm not a threat. I wouldn't say anything.”
“Liar. I killed your husband. That's hardly the kind of thing that gets me brownie points.”
“You obviously don't know my husband. Fuck him. I'm glad he's gone.”
The stranger laughed. “I'll give you one thing. You're a hell of an actress. I almost buy it. But I haven't done what I do for as long as I've done it by being stupid and believing every story told by a pretty girl.”
“You're a professional.” That knowledge deflated her. It seemed less likely a professional killer would just let her go or be swayed by empathy or negotiation attempts.
“Card carrying,” he confirmed.
She jumped when his hand brushed her cheek and wiped tears away. She hadn't realized she'd been crying.
“Easy. I'm not going to hurt you. What's your name?”