“What do we do?” She asks.
I respond only with a hug. She grabs on tightly, and softly sobs into my shoulder. We stand in shock and confusion. A nicely suited man approaches us. He is guarded, moving slowly, with his head tilted toward his chest. It’s a relief to recognize his kind eyes as his head lifts, allowing his face to come into focus. Phillip is his name, Detective Phillip Sharpe, but he always insists on just Phil. I had gotten to know him well in the first few months following Beth’s murder. He is a gracious, sympathetic man, and very thorough. No detail is too small or unimportant to him. He has been at our home many times, and must have seen me pull in.
“Markie, I’m sorry we have to meet again under these circumstances.”
I reach for his open hand, and let him shake mine in a professional manner.
“I know how hard this must be for you to see.”
“It’s the same killer, isn’t it? The same person who killed Beth?” The question slips out.
Still beside myself, I have no control over my mindless eager words.
“I’m not sure, ma’am. It is too soon to tell, and until the crime scene has been fully processed we can’t be certain on anything.”
I can only manage a nod in response. I understand the drill all too well. Looking around, I notice the officers asking each neighbor to go back into their houses. Slow moving families herd up their clinging children and retreat into their homes. Porch lights stay on and windows stay lit. There will be no sleep on this once peaceful street. I turn to the detective and attempt to calm my nerves. I need to get as much information as possible. If this is the same guy, then I have to know everything. I have to.
“I can see she was stabbed just like Beth. It has to be him.” I insist.
“Markie, I’m going to have to ask you…”
I cut him off before he has a chance to say anything else.
“No! I’m not going inside. I’m not going to walk away. This man killed my best friend and now my neighbor. She was seventeen!”
My voice rises louder with every word. Kam gives my hand a tight squeeze as I voice my frustration.
“You have to find him. You have to stop this!”
“Ma’am.” Detective Sharpe interrupts me softly and respectfully, with a hand raised. “I wasn’t going to ask you go in your home, actually quite the opposite.” His eyebrows lift slowly in sympathetic caution, as the rest of his face levels. “I know this is a lot to ask, and if you’re not up for it I completely understand,” he pauses briefly. “With all of the similarities in this crime scene and in Beth’s, I feel it might be beneficial for us if you come with me and take a look.”
“What do you mean? A look?”
“I mean…” again with the irritating pause. “It is strange that two completely different women have been killed this way. Beth and Breanna are opposite each other in nearly every way. The only similarity they share, Markie, as far as we can tell, is you.”
The detective’s last sentence comes out slow and guarded.
He ducks his head slightly as he pushes out the statement. It hits me like a truck. He is right. They had nothing in common, and were nothing alike. As far as I know, they had never even met each other.
“So what’s that supposed to mean?” I ask quietly.
I’m not so sure if my question is aimed at him or myself.
Kam chimes in with a panicked squeak.
“Yeah! What the hell?”
“That’s exactly what I’m trying to figure out. We have a lot of work to do, and I feel it best that we do it together.”
“Okay.” I agree while holding my head high and straightening my shoulders. “Let’s do this then. I’ll do whatever I can to help find this bastard.”
I may look brave on the outside, which is exactly what I’m going for, but inside I feel like a lost, hopeless child. Every bone in my body shakes with vulnerability. I’m rocked with an overwhelming sense of helplessness.
“Wait!” Kam yells, holding her ground. “I can’t go over there. I can’t do this, please don’t leave me alone.”
“Kam we have to. For Beth.”
I try to comfort my frightened little sister. She is usually the stronger and more confident of the two of us, yet here she stands, shaking and pleading.
Detective Sharpe whistles loudly, drawing the attention of several nearby officers. He motions one over with a wave of his arm. He instructs the cop to stay with Kam, and places a hand on the small of my back. His other arm is held out in front of us. The long, manicured fingers of his right hand point toward the gruesome truth across the street. I shudder, take a step off of the sidewalk, and cross the road. We move in the same motion, one with the other, our footsteps in sync. He leads me through the crowded lawn, and we stop at the door abruptly, so as not to disrupt any key evidence inside the bloodied entryway. My eyes go straight to the necklace I had noticed before. My throat is as dry as sandpaper.
“Oh my God.” I croak.
On instinct, my hand reaches to my collar and grabs the gold chain hanging around my neck. I pull the locket out from under my shirt. My fingers tremble and cling to the gold heart, I gasp for a breath. The air around me closes in, I struggle for oxygen. My bottom lip trembles involuntarily. It feels as if I’m being strangled by this cherished item I have clung to for so long. Detective Sharpe watches my display with eyes wide.
“Markie.” His voice is slow and steady. “Let me see your necklace.”
My quivering hand drops, and I stare into his eyes. He makes the connection. I’m certain that he is reading my mind as his face lights more than just a shade. Placed on top of Breanna’s chest, and dangled around her already bloodied body, is Beth’s matching heart locket. He points to the dead body inches away.
“Is that Beth’s necklace?” He asks, already knowing the answer.
“Yes.” I force out an answer.
Again, I am beside myself. Talking through a foggy haze of grief. The detective glances back and forth between the dead teen and myself. His lips are pursed. The color returns to his face in full force. He is clearly at a loss for words.
“It gets worse.” I continue.
“How could this possibly get any worse?”
“Beth’s locket was hanging from the corner of my bathroom mirror this morning.”
When sisters Markie and Kam get tangled with the wrong people at the wrong time, long-buried family secrets begin to emerge.
As a serial killer targets people close to them, danger is inches closer and closer to home, and twisted desires become a reality.
The deeper they dig, the darker the secrets they find. But who is the cold, calculated murderer?
★★★★★ – “There is an authenticity to Ms. Oviatt’s writing that is refreshing to experience in a thriller-type novel.”
★★★★★ – “A murder mystery with plenty of drama, suspense and danger. Fans of mystery and thriller genres will love this book.”