“THE GRAVES LAY SILENT. The graves lay untouched. The graves lay silent. The graves lay untouched.”
He tapped his hand against his thigh as he repeated the chant. He had done everything right. He had made sure not to leave anything behind and had chosen only those who deserved to suffer and die.
The way they’d tilt their heads back in laughter, flaunting what wasn’t theirs to own, draining their cocktails as if there was no tomorrow. No risk. Nothing to lose.
PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, VIRGINIA
HE HAD PROMISED HER A time she’d never forget. It was why she sacrificed comfort and drove in her stuffy BMW into the countryside. The weather had such nerve to reach record heat waves in September. It scorched as if it were the middle of summer.
She glimpsed in the rearview mirror, angling it to better see her reflection.
“A woman has been reported missing…”
Those few words from the radio made it through to her ears. That was top news? Surely, there was a murder, or a stock market drop to report.
“…it’s suspected that she may be the victim of foul play. Police are urging women of the Washington, DC area to be careful.”
She laughed. Be careful.
A song came on, one she didn’t care for, and she commanded the radio off.
She had never been where he had directed her to go, but she was excited to see this Wooded Retreat. Usually, they’d meet up at her house or the Marriott, but he had wanted today to be special—personal.
She had long given up on feeling guilty about her marriage. Her husband was too busy with his prestigious law firm in central Washington. Really, it was his work that killed their marriage—his love for revenue his priority.
Her focus returned to the road and where she was headed. She wasn’t used to the country with all its color. She was accustomed to the shades of gray that were intrinsic to life in the city. Maybe there was something to be said for the simple things. She lowered the window and breathed deeply, ready to give the rustic experience a chance.
The air was fresh, despite the humidity, carrying with it the smell of greenery—but there was something else. She inhaled deeper, coughed, and raised the window back up. Damn blasted cows that polluted nature with their stench.
Why would he think she’d be in the mood once she got there?
The thought barely formed, and she had the answer. He was a fabulous lover. Thinking of his hands caressing her skin sent shivers through her and made her lower abdomen quiver.
She turned left when she noticed the rundown diner he had mentioned to her.
The gravel crunched beneath her tires as she went from the highway’s asphalt to an unpaved surface. The strip was narrow, barely wide enough to accommodate two cars if one came in the opposite direction. She studied the edge, anticipating the need to do just that. The soft shoulder appeared unforgiving as if it would suck in her car given a chance.
She found it hard to believe this stretch would continue that long. Her eyes went to the woods, being cautious, watching for any deer or other animal that may decide to become a hood ornament. She checked her side mirror. All the dust being kicked up would wreak havoc on the wax job.
So much for showing up looking perfect.
She glanced in the mirror again and touched her fingertips to her forehead. She couldn’t let him see her like this.
Driving with one hand, she reached into her designer handbag on the passenger seat and pulled out her compact. She lifted the loaded brush and the air conditioning vent cascaded powder through the air. She blew to keep it from landing on her cream-colored pantsuit and began application. The scent of the powder made her sneeze.
As she reached for control of the wheel, the case dumped on the floor, going straight through her legs, barely missing her pants.
She slammed on the brakes. The mailbox he had told her to watch for, once a bright red, had worn from time. She almost missed the turn.
She couldn’t see the house from the road, but her heart beat rapidly now, anticipating what awaited her.
She fished into her bag again, this time for her gloss. She smeared some on with a finger, smacked her lips, looked in the mirror, and declared herself perfect. She was ready to go to bed with her lover.