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He pressed his ear to the cool paneled door inside the dark, under-stairs closet to hear what they were saying. The scent of her out-of-season clothes surrounded him. He'd been there for hours, and only now, his legs were beginning to cramp. But the wait would be more than worth it.
Calculated. Precise. That's how his plans were laid out.
"I know it's been rough lately, but twenty-four is a good age for new beginnings," he heard an unfamiliar female voice say.
That's what she thinks.
The distant sound of a door closing indicated, he hoped, the last of the party guests leaving. The sound of the dead bolt in the front door sliding home, and the click of the foyer light switch made him close his eyes and take a deep, anticipatory breath.
It was almost time.
He heard her mount the stairs above his head and listened until running water told him he could safely leave his hiding place to watch her as she prepared for bed. The curves of her body beckoned him. He waited while she brushed her teeth, rinsed with mouthwash and wandered into her absurdly feminine bedroom, brushing her long hair.
She had her eyes closed, and he moved quickly, a silent shadow, a whisper of sound, grasping her around the waist with a hand clasped over her mouth. Throwing her on the bed, he followed her down, stretching across her prone body as she struggled. He wouldn't let her suffer long. He wrapped his fingers around her neck and squeezed. The fight drained out of her along with the oxygen. Oh yeah, he loved the end when the prey gave up to the darkness and his body felt the rush.
"Twenty-four won't be a good year after all," hewhispered.
His kiss inhaled her final gasp and he stayed there a moment longer, his lips holding hers as the warmth began to fade. Then he stood and, moving slowly down her body, he ran his hands over her breasts and flat stomach, luxuriating in the softness. He straightened her long legs and tugged the cotton nightshirt lower to cover the tops of her tanned thighs. The glowing amber numbers of the bedside clock read 2:10 a.m.
He loved it when a plan went off without a hitch. Slipping his black leather jacket off, he folded it neatly over the back of her vanity chair, brushing a non-existent speck from his clean white t-shirt before heading back to the bed where she waited. Carefully, he pulled a shiny straight razor from his jean pocket, its blade freshly sharpened for just this occasion, and went to work.
He slit the flowery nightgown down the center. Flowers suited her. Now that her soft, bronzed skin was exposed, he paused to study her, and brushed a strand of auburn hair away from her face. God, she was beautiful, probably as beautiful on the inside as on the outside. So perfect for him.
The razor sliced easily through the skin and underlying tissue, but the thick muscle took a moment to carve through. The flaps of skin formed a jagged 'x' across her abdomen and, when peeled back, made it easy for the organs to be removed. Coddling each piece protectively, like a newborn infant, he laid them gently on her chest, pausing every time to inhale the sweet sickening smell of the blood coating his hands.
Standing back to admire his work, a grin itched at the corner of his mouth. Red Rover, Red Rover, send Jakey right over. He suppressed the laughter and dipped a forefinger into the pool of dark red blood which settled in her abdominal cavity. On the bare wall above the headboard, he meticulously spelled out his message.
Satisfied, he walked into the bathroom to rinse the blood off his skin. Looking into the mirror, he smiled. He lost more t-shirts this way. Didn't matter, it was definitely worth it.
Picking up the razor from the side of the sink, he ran the blade under the sparkling flow several times, then dried it and his hands on a fluffy pink towel before sliding it back into his pocket. Not a spot on his jeans. Damn, he was good.
Walking out through the big, airy kitchen, he snagged a piece of birthday cake from the box she'd left on the bar. "Yum. Chocolate, my favorite."
At the French doors in the back, he zipped his black leather jacket to cover the blood-stained t-shirt and slid out, moving across the lawn within the comforting shadows.
In that instant, the fine hairs on the nape of his neck stood on end. He sensed a womanly presence, sweet and ... familiar. He stopped, just at the back gate, and inhaled, trying to draw it closer, but she was gone. He looked back at the house once more, and opened the gate. Without a doubt, his next destination would bring new, exciting developments.