There she is!
Sweat covered his palms as she stepped out her front door. His heart beat wildly and his breath hitched in his chest, as if someone had punched him in the stomach. Only she had that power over him. A power she had held the moment he first saw her.
She locked her apartment door and headed down the stairs to the ground floor of the building. Her hair was pulled into a ponytail, making him wonder why she never let it down. She had shoulder-length, beautiful ebony hair he knew would feel soft beneath his fingertips, and smell like the sea she loved to swim in at night. Many nights he watched her swim, her lean body moving through the dark water that was sometimes kissed by the reflection of moonlight. Those were the nights he looked forward to, that he longed for. That slight smile she wore on her face when she finished swimming.
He didn’t judge her past. It was what he liked most about her; what drew him to her.
She got into her car and drove away without seeing him. It didn’t matter; he planned it that way. He started his car and let his fingertips stroke the smooth leather of the steering wheel from one side to the other, imagining it was her skin, before gripping it tightly.
Soon. Soon she’d be his.
Angel Mason sat on the edge of her bed and squished the thick caramel carpet between her toes, assurance the deadly grip of another nightmare was gone.
On the nightstand her phone vibrated, startling her. It was Dustin Williams, Chief Superintendent. The time, 6:30 a.m., flashed in red from her clock. She cleared her throat and prayed there was no trace of the bottle of vodka she’d finished off the night before in her voice. “Inspector Angel.”
“Dead body at Galleon Bay.” He never minced words.
“Some tourist die in their sleep?”
“No, looks like she was murdered.”
Brittle silence hung in the air as the words echoed in her mind like a broken record.
“I’ll be there in half an hour,” she stammered.
“Good, I want this dealt with quickly. There hasn’t been a tourist murdered on the island since…”
“Since Meredith,” she finished for him.
“Yeah, and we remember how that turned out,” he said dryly.
The phone imprinted her hand as she squeezed it. No one had forgotten how it turned out, least of all her—no matter how hard she tried.
“I want you to collect the evidence,” Williams said.
“What? Why?” She didn’t normally question his decisions, but she hadn’t worked in forensics since she had been promoted to inspector.
“You’re the most experienced scene of crime officer we have.”
“I’ll take care of it, sir,” Angel assured him.
“Johnson, Sanchez, and Ebanks are already there controlling the traffic and crowd,” he said, his voice sounding miles away.
The phone went dead without a goodbye, not that she expected one. He didn’t converse beyond necessity, but she never took it personally. He was like that with everyone.
She went to the bathroom, took out the bottle of painkillers on the second shelf of the cabinet on the wall, and downed two.
As the pills made their way to her queasy stomach, she searched the cloud in her head for how she had gotten to bed last night. Leftover Chinese and drifting to sleep during the nightly news in a vodka-induced haze was all she remembered.
Horrifying screams and blood splattered across her hand paraded before her, remaining trickles from her dream, and the smell of blood filled her nose.
“No!” She gripped the edges of the porcelain sink to steady herself and clear her mind of the images. Her dreams were becoming more frequent and the vivid details lingering long after she awoke.
She let out the breath she was holding and splashed cold water on her face. The reflection in the mirror was an unwanted reminder that she couldn’t escape her heritage or the history that came with it, and there was nothing she could do about it.
Once she showered and got dressed, she pulled her hair into a ponytail. She walked down the short beige corridor to the living room and grabbed her keys off the hook on the wall. The cool morning air blew against her makeup-free face when she opened the door. She inhaled the salty air, and watched the sun peaking over the horizon of the ocean. They calmed her nerves as she made her way down the stairs and to her car. Starting the engine, she pulled out of the parking lot and towards the hotel where Meredith, her mother, had worked before she was arrested for murdering the guests.
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Francine, Faith, and Kari for your awesome work with the book