Copyright © 2016
All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America
Edited by Rachel Miller-Deaner
Cover Designed by Shannon Harrison
For my mother,
Pearl Marie Savoy-Miniex
May 11, 1940 – July 18, 2012
First and foremost, I give all glory and honor to God for the successes, failures, lessons and future blessings He has bestowed upon me. I dedicate all of the time and energy spent writing this novel to my mother, Pearl Marie Savoy-Miniex. She believed in me when I didn’t even believe in myself. May God forever keep her near. My father, Almo Miniex, for his unwavering support. I’ll always be your little girl with pigtails ;-) and my brother Chad Miniex for always believing in me. (Momma always said we could do anything we put our minds to!). My husband, Michael and our three children. I love you all to the moon and back. Amanda Martin – even I have no words to describe how much you mean to me. I love you dearly. My mother loved you just as much. To the cast of the hit stage play
-- Quarterrious Armstrong, Stephanie Butler, Edna Curry, Tonya Wilson, Benita Gaston, Kayla Carmel, Ingrid Roberson, Gerald Jones, and Derrell Hobdy. Much love and blessings to you all! To everyone that reads this book, I hope you love it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Last, but farthest from the least, I’d like to thank the following people: my dear friend Erin Field-Cardenas, for your unrelenting motivation; my editor Rachel Miller-Deaner; my manager Tanya Hoodye; Katoya Flowers; Tamara S. Battles; Barbara Arceneaux. If I forgot to mention anyone, charge it to my head and not my heart …
Table of Contents
Masculine hands pulled on leather gloves in the darkness. Careful not to make a sound, the intruder moved quietly, methodically through, as if he’d been there before. And indeed, he had. He knew the exact position of the cream leather sofa -- just a foot past the end of the linoleum at the carpet’s edge. He remembered the brazen edges of the end table, and that damn grandfather clock would chime its awful ring in thirty minutes -- just enough time to get rid of the girl. He wondered if she’d thought about him today. He’d surely thought about her. Dreamed of her, in fact. Fantasized about the last time they’d made love underneath the stars in Kemper Park. She was a risk-taker. Adventurous and exciting.
My little firecracker.
But she hadn’t called in days. Thirteen days, seven hours, and thirty-four minutes, to be exact. He checked the time on his luminescent watch. The break-up had been too ugly. He hadn’t expected to receive a call. Not from her, at least. Harsh words of resentment had flown back and forth between them. This relationship has been a nightmare! Go to hell! She’d yelled before she hung up in his face.
If she only knew – the nightmare had only just begun and hell … was child’s play.
From the quaint living area, he could see that her bedroom door was slightly ajar. He imagined her standing naked in the doorway. Taunting him. Smirking. Watching him approach, even now. Curling her finger like a dirty little school girl beckoning his presence beside her naked body in bed. He could hear the moans escaping her as he’d thrust himself inside like a raging bull. She liked it rough. Enjoyed him immensely. The banging of the metal bed frame and squeak of the spring mattress rang musically in his head. The sounds of their lovemaking oozed through his mind, filling the corners, tearing at his heart strings. He could hear her despisement of him in that raspy tone of hers. Get out of my face, she’d demanded. Meeting you has been the worst mistake of my life!
be her worst, he thought, gently biting his bottom lip. Eager he was. Moonlight cascaded through a bedroom window and into the hallway where he stood. Sliding past a full-length mirror in the meager glimmer, he took a moment to admire his physique -- defined chest muscles and ripped abs underneath his fitted, black body shirt. Physical fitness had always been his strong suit. His work compelled it. The boss demanded it.
Through the window, he saw lightning light up the night sky. He heard the leaky faucet dripping into the metal basin and looked toward the nearby kitchen, saw grey branches reaching, flapping, and scratching wildly in a cacophony in the open crack of the window above the sink. Thunder rumbled and hurricane winds whipped the outside shrubs all about -- it looked more like clawing skeletal fingers than hedging, and he interpreted their frantic movement as ghastly applause egging on his murderous plot. Hurricane Andrew vowed to be the most destructive in United States history. Torrential rain, flash floods, and 120 mph winds would devastate various parts of Louisiana by mid-morning, leaving thousands of residents without power, food and drinking water – the basic necessities many take for granted. Like the pompous bitch dressed to the nines in flashy threads tossing a quarter into a circle of starved men. In her selfish mind, she’d done her part for humanity. She doesn’t owe anyone the change she’d spared. And if she chose to waste her energy a second time, who cared what difference it’d make? People are either rich or poor. Starved or fulfilled. And no one’s ever chastised for turning their back. For neglecting responsibility.
But tonight, this bitch would be. Every action she’d ever regretted would flood her thoughts in an exaggerated flourish at the arc of the murderer’s blade. Another witness who knew too much. Saw too much. And now she’d taken that damning information to authorities in an effort to save her own ass. What a bitch, he thought, staring at a framed graduation photo perched beside a leather-bound college diploma on the end table. All smiles and shit as if she was smiling at him now. Laughing at him for trusting her. Taking her in to his forbidden world. He’d visited this space many times before. Knew every nook and cranny. Every inch of this carpet had touched some part of his body. He knew this place well. So much, he could find his way in darkness. Even relieve himself in the bathroom without peeing on the toilet seat. Not like it’d matter if he did anyway. She wouldn’t be alive much longer to sit on that pissy commode. Such a lady. Or at least that’s what many assumed looking at her. Lady-like, prim and proper. At least ladies kept their mouths shut, and legs closed, he sneered, reliving the moment those pigs showed up at his front door, flashing their badges in his face, demanding answers. Insisting he corroborate the bitch’s story. As if he had a choice. Turning his back against the only family he’d ever known for a piece of ass was like taking a bullet to the head. Not in this lifetime. Not if he could help it. There were many more where she came from.
The refrigerator gave a heartless whirl as it kicked on, disguising the squeak of his boots lumbering across the linoleum toward the sink. He lowered the window closed and thought he’d better make this final visit quick and leave town before morning. He’d hate to get stuck in the thunderous downpour, especially with a dead body in the trunk. Hurricanes last at least a week, if not two. A decapitated head and severed limbs would surely begin to rot within twenty-four hours. He’d have to find a place to store the body on ice.
So many inconveniences.
But all so necessary.
What a waste! Such a good piece of ass, he thought. If she’d kept her damn mouth shut, they could be fucking now. Shit!
He crept down the hallway, slid a gloved hand along the wainscoting, past photos of the girl’s parents, siblings and their children. He’d refused to meet any of them and they had argued about it. Too close for comfort. Couldn’t risk being recognized in a line-up by anyone, especially family grieving their little girl. In some part of his mind, he always knew it would come down to this. No one was ever trustworthy. Especially women. He palmed the ajar bedroom entry door, reveling at what awaited him there. Slowly, he opened the door wider, gaining a better view, like a carnivorous predator observing its sweet lamb from afar. She slept soundly in bed. Her voluptuous hips curved beneath the satin sheets. He could see her bronze skin glowing in the moonlight as he snaked his way toward the bed. Oh, how he’d love to just lose himself inside her one more time. Grab handfuls of hair and ravage that body like a madman. But the very sight of her repulsed him. He’d trusted her. Let her in to a world filled with deadly secrets. Sacred ties to a fierce underworld. There was only one way in to the madness, and the only way out was by death.
And he’d come to collect.
He stared down at her. Saw that her face captured the blue glow of the moon. She was beautiful in this light. More beautiful than he had remembered. So calm and peaceful she lay. Not a worry in the world, he mused, glowering down at her sleeping face. Save that she had more to worry about than she knew, locks of hair snaked down the side of her face and about her partially exposed breast. He thought how fake she
was – from those acrylic nails to those flirty eyelashes, long and curly. He remembered her early advances, the dinner invitation, but more so, the first time they’d made love. He found himself regretting it all now. Regretting her.
You should’ve kept your mouth shut, he thought. Didn’t you learn anything from that school? Fucking diploma doesn’t mean shit now. What were you thinking when you transported those drugs across state lines? Had you always planned to testify? His thoughts registered in slow motion. He felt light-headed. You used me. You used me to get next to Emilio. And if he ever found out, he’d want me dead too.
But it is, what it is. Too late for pity. No room for compassion. Better get this over with before the weather gets any worst, he decided, climbing in beside her, his rough jeans abrading her naked backside as the bed sunk to hold the added weight.
He whispered softly in her ear almost in the sounds of a lullaby: “Lizzie, Lizzie, Bo Bizzie. Banana Fana, Fo Fizzie--,” he whispered, his murmur soft as cotton. “Fee fi fo fizzie—“ and when she refused to wake: “Lizzie!” he sung at the top of his voice.
Lizzie opened her eyes in horror, and attempted to scream, but the intruder quickly clasped a hand over her mouth, then wrapped both hands around her neck. She gasped for air as he lifted her effortlessly against the wall, pining her there. “Shut your
mouth!” Immediately, she recognized his voice. What was once the voice of her lover was now the voice of death.
She stared down at him and clawed at his gloved hands. Her eyes beamed with fear. Legs kicked wildly, pushing them across the room and onto the floor, but he retained his grip. Remained in control.
“Scream again and I’ll break your
neck,” he punched her across the face. The pain was explosive and burned like fire. She tasted blood on her tongue. Felt it dripping from her nose. Her eyes bulged at the sight of him.
Where’s that gun?
She thought helplessly.
“Protective custody, my ass,” he squeezed tighter, then released his grip and climbed to his feet, huffing.
Still on the floor, she struggled to catch her breath. “Please –“
?” he towered above her now. “Is that what those pigs said to make you testify against me?
Please, Lizzie. Please help us catch the bad guys
,” he mimicked.
She raised her head in desolation and glanced past him at the open bedroom door.