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Copyright 2019 by Richard Raven

Published by Richard Raven at Smashwords

This publication is a work of fiction.  Names, characters, places businesses and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance or reference made to actual places, businesses, events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

ISBN: 9780463132128

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To those I’ve had the honor of calling friend, past and present.


Tracey A. Wilson and Marsha L. Ceniceros proofread this story, and again their input proved invaluable. Theresa Scott-Matthews again did the editing for me, and did her usual fantastic job. As always, Becky Narron and Drew Sera, and they know why. Last, but by no means least, Lisa Swearengin, Allisha McAdoo, Denise J. Doyle, Lindsey Goddard, Gregg Zimmerman (Cyprian Wrymwood), Chris Miller, and James Watts for their support, their flattering reviews and, above all, for their friendship. Thank you, one and all.


I was upstairs in the master bedroom, staring balefully at the top of the dresser, when I heard a car stop in front of the house. The sound snapped my thoughts and jerked my head up; my eyes drifted to one of the windows and to the part in the curtains.

Kasey? Had she finally come home?

Despite a sudden and fierce need that churned in my gut to know if it was Kasey, I lingered there in front of the dresser. As if of their own accord, my eyes strayed back to what lay on top of the dresser. Still there…right where she had left it the morning she announced that enough was enough and she was leaving me. Like she was the victim—and when I was the one forced to put up with so much from her!

That was eleven days ago; the anger still burned hot and bitter in my chest.

I managed to control the anger. That allowed me to give in to the need to know and I moved to the window. I peered out through the part in the curtains. It was Kasey. She was just getting out of a sporty Lexus, a gleaming black bullet that I had no trouble recognizing. It belonged to a guy named Toney…something-or-other, one of her co-workers. Another of her damned co-workers, none of whom I had ever liked, and I had already had a run in with one of them. A bastard named Jared, and a nasty encounter it was, too. As I watched Kasey waving to the asshole behind the wheel of the Lexus, I had to wonder if I should have dealt with him, instead of Jared, in whose car I had caught her the day she left me.

Then again, and regardless of how much I would have enjoyed it—relished the very opportunity—I couldn’t have dealt with all of them…and I had no doubt that there were many of the bastards. The hell of it was that I couldn’t bring myself to blame them. Not one of them. Even now, and I couldn’t do it. Kasey, after all, was a stunningly beautiful woman. From the swell of her proud breasts, to the perfect taper of her waist and the tantalizing flair of her hips; down those long and shapely legs. The kind of body that just left you aching to have it.

Yet it was her face—a true visage of a goddess—that made her the beauty she was and the envy of almost every woman she knew.

What man in his right mind would pass on an offered chance to take her to bed and to practically wreck himself fucking her? Just one problem with that.

She was mine, and that made her to blame.

I was still at the window, still fuming in outrage, when I heard the snap of the front door’s deadbolt, then the door opening. I crept from the bedroom to the second-floor landing and peeked around the corner and over the railing…

…and there she was. Kasey…the fucking bitch. Standing in the foyer, the front door still open behind her. The anger was rising in me again and like a storm surge.

I managed to control it again, but it took even more effort than it had before. In her hands was a stack of mail. It had been piling up since Saturday, the last day she was there, only one day short of a week, and then only for about an hour. Just long enough to pack a couple of bags, to change into something surprisingly proper and befitting the occasion, and she was out the door again. She had a friend with her that day, a woman named Brooke, who Kasey and I both knew.

To tell the truth, I knew Brooke much better than Kasey did, but Kasey didn’t know that. It wasn’t important for her to know it.

I could tell by the gray skirt and jacket and the soft violet blouse she had on that Kasey had worked that day. Another of those ridiculously short skirts that she claimed was the style. Style my ass – a woman only wore something like that when she was on the hunt or standing on a street corner. I could only assume that Kasey had worked the entire week; most of what she took with her Saturday were her “work” outfits.

Damn her ass! I thought for sure that I had fixed it to where she wouldn’t be able to show her face around that office again. But, apparently, she was toughing it out.

That meant she had a reason – more likely, reasons—for staying there when tongues had to be wagging. Didn’t take a genius to figure out those reasons, either. Simply more proof of what I had suspected since she went to work at that damned office.

Further proof of it was the bright red shopping bag—not a very big one, either, from a high-end shop in town that catered to women—on the floor near her right foot. I could guess easily enough what was in that colorful bag. Just as it seemed clear enough what had motivated her to make the purchase in the first place.

I swear, it was like a damned disease with her. There was no stopping her, and it had nothing to do with a woman’s precious vanity, regardless of what she claimed.

Still, only eleven days after the fact. You would think that she would at least show a little decorum and decency; try not to make it quite so obvious. But, no, not her. She didn’t care, but then, why should she? She had it all now. Both cars, the house, the bank accounts…everything. She took it all.

Granted, with my help, but that was beside the point.

At least I had the pleasure of seeing how tired she looked. She usually went to such pains applying her makeup; now it looked like she had thrown it on as an afterthought, and even from a distance I could see that her color wasn’t the best I had ever seen, either. Nor did her long and rich brown hair look as neat under the pins that held it in place at the back of her head. She seemed to exude like a fine mist a deep and wretched weariness.

Had the past eleven days been difficult for her? Maybe even some work-related stress taking an even greater toll on her? She deserved no less. It was what I had intended, and I admit that seeing her like this had the same effect on me as seeing her naked and letting my fingers trace every curve of that exquisite body and exploring her every secret place. A body and its pleasures that were mine, and mine alone.

But she had dared to take it all away from me and deny me what was mine, and the anger in me was near the point of blazing out of control. I didn’t even bother trying to stop or control it again. Instead, I embraced it, stoked it, and let the fire in me burn high.

“Nothing but junk,” I heard her murmur to herself. She dropped all the mail into a little trash can she had always kept there in the foyer for just that purpose. I heard her keys hit the top of the small table that stands against the wall next to the little trash can. She stepped out of her heels and bumped the door closed with her hip.

Then she simply stood there in the foyer, glancing around as if she was suddenly troubled or puzzled by something. I wondered mordantly just what it could be. Could it have anything to do with the funeral service she had attended Saturday after she left the house? Or, maybe, what had happened only a few days before that, and right there in the parking lot of the office where she worked?

Damn her whoring ass, I could only hope it was all the above.

She finally shook her head, as if trying to dispel whatever notion had been running around in there. Then she gathered up her shoes and that damned shopping bag. She still seemed distracted, even disturbed. So much so that she had failed to lock the door.


* * *

When I left Saturday afternoon with my new friend Brooke, I never wanted to come back to that house. Never wanted to see the place again. But I intended to dispose of it and almost everything in it; I had to start looking things over and deciding what little I wanted to keep. Despite that, I was still feeling more uncomfortable than I ever had at any time in my life as I stood there in the foyer. As I had expected, as it had been Saturday when I stopped for clothes and to change for the funeral, there was so much of Richard still in that house. There would be, of course, but it went beyond the obvious. Foolish, I know, not to mention crazy, but I would swear that I could still feel his very presence. It was like he was hiding there somewhere and watching me. Just standing there in the foyer gave me a chill.

But was it any wonder I felt the way I did? I still had to force myself to believe and accept what that man had done, and his reasons for doing it only made it worse. A moment of madness that would have left anyone shaken to their core. Nor could I get it out of my mind that I could have easily been the one buried the previous Saturday, instead of Richard.

A horribly selfish thought, perhaps, but I couldn’t help it.

Yet, I had made the decision to come back, with much prompting from Brooke. I was there, intended to spend the night and to look things over and, unless I called a taxi or Brooke or some other friend, stranded there until the next morning. Lord, there had been so much turmoil in the past eleven days that I had yet to get my Acura repaired. All it needed was a new battery – how hard was that, for God’s sake? —but it was still sitting outside the repair shop, waiting on me.

It did nothing to ease the chill in me when I remembered it was that dead battery and a car that wouldn’t start that had touched off Richard’s moment of madness. True, the fact that I had left him that morning played a big part in it. Still, when he showed up at the office and found me in the car of a co-worker, a perfectly innocent man named Jared who had done nothing more than graciously offer me a ride, it was like touching off a small mountain of high-explosives.

Why did I have to remember that? Were things not bad enough as it was without dredging up the memory of every detail? All I wanted was a chance to sit down and catch my breath; to at least try to make a start toward putting behind me the nightmare that had swept me away in its wake. As I contemplated the stairs, I was so weary in mind and body that I wondered if I could make the climb.

But if I was to get the time I so desperately wanted under a scalding hot shower, I had no choice. As I started for the stairs, I thought about what was in the red bag from my favorite boutique. Thinking of it made me smile, but only a little and rather ruefully. A little something I had noticed and bought on my lunch hour that horrible day to make me feel better and to celebrate what I considered my liberation.

Eleven days later, and I had yet to take the treat to myself out of the bag.

My right foot had barely touched the first step when the chill in me went to the bone and I froze in place. I would swear that I had seen movement at the top of the stairs. Like a shadow slipping away into the darkness up there. Was someone in the house?

“Of course, there is, you silly woman,” I murmured under my breath. I was there, for God’s sake! And one spooked woman I was, too. Damn that man!

Still, I backed away from the stairs and reached for the switch that turned on all the lights in the upstairs hallway. Even then, and hearing no sound beyond my own heavy breathing, I took my time going up those steps. When I reached the top, it took but a quick look around to see that all was as it should be.

“See there,” I sighed, annoyed with myself. “Dead in his grave, and he’s got me jumping at shadows in my own house.” My house, I mused. How strange. It had always been Richard’s house; never once had I heard him refer to it as ours.

I headed for the master bedroom, vowing to stop talking to myself. I had been doing a lot of that in the past eleven days.

I dropped my shoes to the floor near the foot of the unmade bed. It was an old four-poster made from dark oak. My purse and the bag with the treat to myself I placed on the bed. I managed a genuine smile as I glanced over at the antique changing screen that stood in one corner of the room at the head of what had always been Richard’s side of the bed. That screen I would take with me, as I had always loved it, despite the way Richard had given me all sorts of hell for buying it several months before. What had made him mad was that I didn’t discuss it with him beforehand.

Yet I still couldn’t remember a single time he had ever asked me before he bought something. That included his precious Mercedes, which I had always viewed as I would a mistress I had discovered my husband keeping behind my back. That car was going for sure, and I had already found someone interested in it.

As if of their own volition, my eyes shifted from the changing screen to the dresser, on top of which I had placed my ring eleven days ago. And there it would stay; I wanted nothing more to do with it. The very thought of even touching it made me cringe. I was all but convinced the damn thing carried a curse. It had certainly changed the sweet and loving man I had dated and gladly agreed to marry into a man I barely recognized. It had never been a symbol of his love for or devotion to me.

Like the title to his car or the deed to the house, it was his proof of ownership…and the miserable bastard never let me forget it, either. I finally had to force my eyes away from the dresser, and I stared at my shoes on the floor.

That was when it began to hit me that maybe Brooke, who had been after me to do this since the funeral, had been right, and that coming back to the house wasn’t such a crazy idea. I had to get that man, what he had done and all he had turned out to be, out my mind. As Brooke had said, turning my face away and living in denial wasn’t the way to go. I had to confront and overcome. Otherwise, I would never put this behind me. More than that, I would surely lose my mind. I couldn’t and wouldn’t let that happen. I refused to be that man’s victim another day.

Nonetheless, I was still uncomfortable being there. I still had that strange and eerie sensation of his presence. That he was somewhere in that house – maybe even there in that very room, watching me.

But there was no one in that room except me, the rest of the house still and quiet. I knew that house, knew its sounds: the snap of the locks, the sound of the doors, the hiss of the shower in the downstairs bathroom; the way one step had always creaked. There was nothing amiss, aside from that weird feeling that wouldn’t go away.

Maybe I was already losing my mind.

But even a crazy woman deserved a hot shower before the straitjacket.

So I quickly stripped off my clothes, leaving it all on the floor at my feet. Then I removed the pins and shook out my hair. I loved the way it felt as it tumbled down my back. I stretched, arching my back, then rolled my head in slow circles. Then I just stood there, hands on my hips and my breasts thrust forward a little.

“If only you could see me now,” I murmured, and thought myself foolish. Yet I also found myself suffused with a feeling so much like the one I had the morning I left Richard; again, I found it quite liberating. Even that weird sense of his presence that I had felt only a short time before now seemed to be hardly there at all. It was as if I had stripped away with my clothes something obscene that had been clinging to me; sucking the life out of me like a leech. I was beginning to really enjoy the feeling when my cell in my purse went off.

Brooke. She had promised to call. I sat down on my side of the bed near the foot end, crossed my legs, and dug my cell out of my purse.

“Hi, sweetie,” Brooke said in my ear. Just hearing her voice seemed to melt away what tension remained in me like the mist of morning dissipating in the glare of the rising sun. “Are you at the house?” she asked.

“Yes, Toney dropped me off just a few minutes ago.” Toney, not the main boss where I worked, but the man I answered to.

“We’ve got to do something about your car,” Brooke said, her voice now stern.

“You’re right,” I said as I examined the toenails of my right foot, deciding they could use a touch-up. “Since this is Friday, I doubt I can get a new battery installed until Monday. I’ll give the mechanic a call then and get it done.”

“So, how is it being back in the house again?”

“Except for a case of nerves soon after I got here that spooked me a little, it hasn’t been that bad. Not as bad as Saturday, for sure.” To say nothing of the day Richard went berserk and shot Jared dead there in the parking lot at the office – and with an automatic I never knew he owned. Then he had killed himself, and while staring straight at me and with a smug and rather frightening little smile on his face. It was like he was saying to me “This is your fault, so watch it happen and suffer.”

“Who could blame you for a case of nerves?” Brooke said. It was the closest she had come to condemning Richard and what he had done. In truth, she had seemed as much in shock at first by his actions as I had been, and she had even cried at his funeral. More than I had been able to do. As I stared at his closed casket, I couldn’t get the image out of my head of him pulling that trigger twice and of all the blood and gore afterward.

Thank God for Brooke. She had been so wonderful since the start of this ordeal. I doubted if I would have made it through a single day of it if not for her.

I assured her I was dealing with things, and I believed I was doing okay. Then she said, “It’s going to be weird not having you staying with me tonight. So I was wondering if you felt up to dinner, my treat, at that little Mexican place I took you to Saturday night?”

“Sounds nice,” I conceded. “But I’m really not in the mood for anything like that.” What I wasn’t in the mood for was more of what I had put up with from almost everyone all week at the office. Except for Toney and a couple of others in management, there had been nothing but accusing eyes following my every step, some pointing and talking when they thought I wasn’t looking or listening. More than a few, I’m sure, whispering behind my back, convinced there just had to be something I did wrong.

Well, there was something I did wrong. I freely admit that I made the dumbest, most horrible mistake I could have made.

And that was marrying the most insanely jealous-hearted and possessive man who ever lived. Richard spent almost every day of our marriage convinced I was out whoring “like a bitch in heat,” as he so often threw in my face. I couldn’t go shopping or even to the corner convenience store without him blowing up my phone, demanding to know “who the hell are you sucking off now?” or “how many are you fucking this time?” The worst of it was that I was faithful to him. Tempted, yes – Lord, the times I was tempted to just have a man hold me and to appreciate me and not call me names.

But I never slipped. Not once. I stayed true to that man until the end.

But he died convinced otherwise. When he killed Jared, he believed the man to be the latest in my long line of “Fuck Buddies,” as he called it, and the reason I took off my ring and left him in the first place. But it didn’t stop there. When he killed himself, it wasn’t out of remorse or guilt over what he had done. Oh, no. In his twisted and narcissistic way of thinking, he was putting the blame on me. His way of validating to the world that he was right, that I was nothing but a slut.

I would go to my own grave believing that. I also believed his actions would cost me my job in the end. I just knew the day was coming when Toney or perhaps someone else from management would quietly, regretfully let me go. Either that, or I would simply end up quitting because I couldn’t take the side-ways looks and whispers anymore. Once free of the house, I would probably leave the city and start over somewhere new.

And all because of my dead husband.

I hoped he burned in hell for what he was and had done to me.

“Honey,” Brooke was saying, her voice soft but serious, “you can’t stop the gossips. Besides, what difference does it make? Remember that old saying about opinions?”

I couldn’t help but laugh. “Yes, I do recall that saying.” I thought about it and said, “You know what? That little Mexican place does sound good.”

“Now that’s the way to talk,” Brooke declared. “Do it up right, too. Get fixed up – feel good about yourself again.”

She was so right about that. I had let myself go all week, and I needed to feel good again, and I had always loved to look and feel pretty; to be a woman. Richard had never understood that – a large part of his problem – but I no longer had him to worry about. I looked down at the red bag on the bed beside me.

Why not? I suddenly didn’t feel so tired anymore.

“Give me an hour to get ready, then come on over and pick me up.”

“See you then,” Brooke said, and the call ended.

I dropped my cell on the bed, and sat there for a time, enjoying the good feelings coursing through me. Finally, as this wasn’t getting ready to go out with Brooke, I stood up from the bed, my eyes again drawn to the red bag. I reached for it, smiling.

I took from it the slip dress, black satin and slinky, that had caught my eye. It had looked so good on me in the boutique mirrors; I had to see if it still looked good. It came with matching bra and panties in black satin and very sheer lace, but I left those in the bag for now. I pulled the dress on, loving its caress as it fell into place down my body. I struck a pose and studied my reflection in the mirror on my vanity near the bed.

“So, what would this do for you?” I said as if speaking to Richard, imagining him standing there watching me and glowering his displeasure. “Of course, YOU would see it as nothing but another threat to your manhood.”

The last few words were barely out of my mouth when a sudden and inexplicable feeling of cold seemed to pass right through me. No more than a second later, watching as a second reflection suddenly began appearing in the mirror, a voice spoke.

“I tell you what it does for me. Proves to me, yet again, that you’re nothing but dick-crazy slut. What was the plan after you walked out on me and bought that? Take that lousy Jared back to his place and celebrate? Put on that hooker dress and give him a good suck? Or was it Toney and that black Lexus of his that you had in mind? Or, hell, maybe both the bastards? Have yourself a little threesome?”

I couldn’t be hearing that voice! No more than I could be seeing the face that stared back at me from the mirror! Yet the words and that all too familiar scathing and accusing drawl were still ringing in my ears; the face clearly there in the mirror.

Or, I should say, what remained of the face. Most of the right side was nothing but bloody pulp and bone, the strand of nerve once attached to the eye now hanging like a worm from the shattered socket. Blood and brain splattered his white dress shirt and tan slacks – the clothes he had on the last time I saw him alive!


“And to think I married a tramp like you,” the abomination that couldn’t be there hissed at me from the mirror, his remaining eye glaring and malevolent.

My heart pounding, I turned to flee, but had taken only a couple of steps when my feet got tangled up and I fell. I saw the bedpost at the foot-end rushing at my head; I threw out my arms, but was too out of control to avoid it. A hard blow above the ridge of my right eyebrow, then my eyes filled with a dazzling show of exploding lights. I hit the floor, the impact jarring me from head to foot. Then the room was spinning…

“Ouch,” I heard his voice hiss sarcastically. “That’s going to leave a mark.”

…my head swimming in a growing and creeping pool of blackness…

* * *

She had smacked her head a good one and was still out cold when I walked into the bedroom. A good thing she had left the front door unlocked. I had quite the time getting her up and on the bed. After that, the rest of it was easy. So funny the way she lay spread-eagle on the bed that I couldn’t stop laughing. Tears of mirth were still streaming from my eyes when she moaned softly, finally beginning to stir. Despite that black dress she had on, she wasn’t looking too good. The lump on her forehead, already turning an ugly purplish-black, was only part of it. She wasn’t crying hysterically as she was when I saw her shortly after the shooting, but that glaze of confusion I saw the day of the funeral was back in her eyes when she raised her head from the bed. She was trying to move her arms and legs, and having no luck with that whatsoever. I almost burst into another fit of laughter as I watched her feeble struggles to free herself.

“What?” she murmured, still emerging from her daze. “Oh, God, my head.”

“Welcome back,” I said, moving closer to the bed.

She focused her eyes on me; recognition dawned slowly. “Brooke?”

“That’s right.”

“The last I remember,” Kasey murmured, her eyes squinting either in pain or in concentration, “I hit my head and was on the floor. How long have I been out?”

“Have no idea, because, I confess, I didn’t wait an hour before I came over. I didn’t have to —I was only a few blocks away when I called.”

“How did I get here on the bed?” she asked, her voice still a bit groggy.

I told her that was where I had put her, then added, “You looked so uncomfortable, not to mention undignified sprawled out there on the floor. Very unseemly…especially in that short and—let’s face it, honey—rather trashy dress you have on. Richard was right about you. Just can’t stop showing yourself off, can you, Kasey?”

The way she sucked in her breath when I spoke his name, then started whimpering like a baby, were the sweetest sounds I had ever heard.

“Oh, God,” she moaned. “I didn’t see him I didn’t see him I didn’t see him,” she blurted, the words tumbling out of her mouth.

“Oh, but you did,” I told her, and I was no longer amused. “If you’re thinking it was all some weird flashback or hallucination, wrong again, both times.”

“No,” she moaned, her eyes closed and her head slowly rolling side to side in the most pathetic show of denial I had ever seen. “They put him in his hole Saturday and covered him up. You were there—you saw it.”

“No, Kasey,” I replied, and with patience I didn’t feel, “all they buried was his dead body.” She was struggling harder to get up from the bed, but she was going nowhere. She finally began to realize that, then the reason for it.

“Why am I tied up like this?” she screeched.

“Well, partly because it’ll be easier with you tied up, and partly because that’s where Richard wants you – flat on your back in bed and your legs spread. He sees it as appropriate for you, and he’s right about it. The thing is, even though you’re half-naked, you still have too much on, but we’ll soon take care of that.”

“Brooke,” she said, her voice breathless and imploring, “please, what’s going on? Why am I tied up? Who did this to me?”

I answered that last question first, as it should have been obvious to her even if she had knocked herself half-senseless. “I did,” I said in a hard, flat voice.

The confusion in her eyes amped up, and I finally began to see the first signs of real fear appearing on her face. “Why would you do this to me?”

“Two reasons. One, I can’t stand the sight of you—a point I reached months ago, by the way. Second, Richard asked me to do it, and I simply couldn’t say no.”

“What are you saying?” she breathed, her eyes narrowed as she tried to work it out.

“What I’m saying is that I detest you. Why? Because you had what I wanted, that’s why. I adored that man. I would’ve done anything—and I mean ANYTHING—to please him. I tried so hard to take him away from you, but he wouldn’t hear of it. Wouldn’t even touch me. He gave YOU that damned ring over there, you see, so that made you the only woman for him. But you didn’t deserve him, you bitch, because you’re the slut he always claimed you were. Just look at you. The nerve to wear something like that? That kind of advertising? You had to be out screwing around on him, and it was driving him crazy.”

She was trembling as she lay there, wrists and ankles bound to the bedposts with lengths of rope I had brought along. “I never cheated on him,” she whimpered. “Not one, single damn time.”

“So you claim,” I drawled, not in the least impressed with her attempt at an earnest tone. Richard had told me all about her, so I knew the truth.

“It’s not my fault that he wasn’t man enough to admit that he couldn’t deal with a woman like me,” she went on, still with the phony tone, but sounding, I admit, much surer of herself. “A woman who loves being a woman, seen as a woman, and treated as one. He was crazy, all right, but he did it to himself.”

Bad enough that such a man was dead and in his grave because of this bitch, but to hear the slurs and lies coming from her mouth was more than I could take. I crawled onto the bed and straddled her, drawing back a hand to slap her. She saw it coming and began thrashing under me; yanking at the ropes holding her. My palm connected solidly with her cheek; she screamed, but the thrashing stopped, and her eyes went out of focus.

“I don’t want to hear that kind of garbage!” I shrieked at her. “Not out of a mouth that’s sucked no telling how many men! Richard told me himself that you’d do it anytime, anywhere, and with any hard dick you could get in your mouth.” The woozy way she was acting made me sure that she wasn’t hearing a word I said. That infuriated me, so I slapped the lying bitch again, harder.

That time her eyes rolled up in her head; after that, there was no more movement or another sound from her. I stared down at her a long time, my breathing slowly returning to normal; feeling nothing but hatred toward her for the way she destroyed Richard.

Well, he had said it himself that she had it coming, and he was so right about it.

I climbed off the unconscious bitch and found my purse where I had left it on the dresser beside the ring she had taken off like she was too good to wear it. I took from my purse an orange plastic box-cutter, a new one still in its clear cellophane package. Once I had the wrapping off, I extended the blade out about an inch, then went back to the bed.

I cut both her wrists. Not across, either, but lengthwise, as Richard had said. The blade was so sharp, and I was still so pissed off, that I cut both her arms open almost to the elbows. She never moved or made a sound. Richard had warned me to expect it, but I still couldn’t believe the amount of blood pouring out of the bitch. I had it on my hands and arms, and it was all over her and the bed. It had even splattered on the wall behind the bed.

I found it fascinating to watch her bleed.

Don’t forget the ring.”

Oh, Jesus, yes—the ring! I hurried to the dresser. It was such a beautiful ring: a gold band with a kind of starburst setting with just over three carats worth of white diamonds and deep red garnets. Richard spent a fortune on that ring…and the stupid bitch took it off. If only he had given it to me, instead of her. I couldn’t resist the temptation to slip it on my own finger just to see how it would look.

What do you think you’re doing?” His voice had become harsh and incredulous.

“Just trying it on. No harm in that, is there?”

Take it off, now!”

“Richard, I’m sorry – “

I told you that the ring must be on her finger. Otherwise, I’m trapped here. You don’t want me to spend eternity caught like a rat in a trap, do you?”

“No, of course not, Richard. I would never wish that – “

Then put the ring on whose finger it belongs.”

What was I thinking? I yanked the bitch’s ring off my finger. I had to cut the rope binding her hand to the bedpost, but I got the ring back her finger. By then, the steady flow of blood out of her had slowed to a trickle. I wondered if she was still alive, a thought that had no more than crossed my mind when she drew in a long, deep, and ragged breath, then she went still, and it seemed her body had collapsed into itself.

I felt for a pulse; it was there, but very weak. “Not much longer now,” I said.

That was close.” Richard sounded both relieved and rather pissed.

“Did I do something wrong,” I asked worriedly. Even in death I couldn’t stand the thought of displeasing him.

No, no, you’re doing fine, Brooke. Now, time to finish it.”

“Yes,” I agreed. Time to take from her the one thing that, more than anything else, had made Richard’s life such a living hell. The bitch deserved it.

First, though, I slit the dress she had on up the front, then began cutting it into pieces and pulling the remains from under her, throwing it all on the floor. After that, I climbed astride of her again, found the right position, and began the serious cutting. The main favor Richard had asked of me. How could I have refused him?

I had to work slowly, carefully, cutting a little; pulling a little. It began to seem that I would never finish it. Minutes continued ticking away, the light in the room growing dim as the windows filled with the shadows of early evening. When I finally crawled off her, I held in one hand the bloody box-cutter, and the slippery hank of skin that had been her face in the other. Her flawless face of which she had been so proud, and for which I had envied and hated her. There was even enough of her brown and bloody hair attached to the flap of skin to make it look like I had scalped her. I was still standing there beside the bed, admiring my bit of handiwork – both that in my hand and that which still lay naked, faceless, and spread-eagle on the bed, when…

You did fine, Brooke. I knew I could count on you.”

I looked around eagerly, my heart speeding up a little. “I told you that you could count on me—for this and so much more, if you had only let me.”

Not meant to be, Brooke. Not meant to be.”

“Where are you, Richard? Can I at least see you one last time, darling?” I hadn’t seen him since the shooting, when they carried his body from the scene, but his voice had been in my head ever since then.

You don’t want to see me like I am now, Brooke. I’ve told you that before.

“And I’ve told you it doesn’t matter to me. Besides, she got to see you.”

That was different, and it does matter to me. Better if you remember me as I was before she forced me to do what I did. Actually, Brooke, I must insist it be that way.”

“As you wish, darling,” I murmured. A man who said what he meant, meant what he said, and knew what he wanted and how he wanted it. A man that all men should strive to be like. I couldn’t remember all the times I had imagined what it would be like to share his bed; to feel him moving inside me. He once told me, during one of the few intimate conversations we had shared, that he liked it rough. “The rougher, the better, and I like to completely dominate a woman in bed, and to make her scream my name. That’s when I know there’s no faking and that she’s really feeling it, and like she never has before.”

Hearing him say that, his unblinking eyes locked with mine, had left me burning up and my panties soaked. When I could finally get away, I had hurried to the nearest ladies’ room, and there I stayed until I had brought myself to a shuttering orgasm with my fingers. It wasn’t the first or the last time that he had given me pleasure without even touching me.

Only one thing remains to do here,” he said.

“How do I accomplish this part?” He had given me instructions only to this point.

Exactly as I tell you to. Remember, this is to erase the fact that you were here.”

“And no one will ever suspect that I helped you?”

Not a soul, Brooke.”

“And you’ll finally be free of this house?”

Forever free of it.”

“Then tell me what to do, darling.”

Go downstairs and into the garage. There, you’ll find a red plastic gasoline can. Use it only in this room—that’s your chance to get away—but pour it on everything in here, including her, as far as it will go. Then you set it alight—be sure you’re near the door when you do this, so you can get out. As simple as that. You’ll find a box of matches in the kitchen.”

“Will I ever get to see you again, Richard.”

I’m not real sure of that. Not sure of it at all.”

“Then will I at least still get to hear your voice once this is over? It’s going to be so lonely without something of you around.”

Perhaps, Brooke. Perhaps. Can you manage this last part in the dark? Better if you leave the lights off. The neighbors?”

Nosey neighbors, right. I told him I could manage it and left the bedroom.

I thought I would never find the gasoline in the near pitch-blackness of the garage. Once I had it and the box of matches, I hurried back up the stairs, my heart pounding in anticipation. I poured the gasoline as far as it would go, soaking most of the furniture, the curtains, and the carpet. I threw the empty can aside and took out a match as I moved to the opened bedroom door. How glad I was I had left that door open; I could have never stood the overpowering fumes that seemed to be building and building in that room.

Ready?” Richard asked, and he sounded impatient.

“Ready,” I replied.

Then strike the match.”

I did, tossing it toward a puddle on the carpet…

…and it was like I had opened the grand entrance to hell. The entire room seemed to go up at once with a deafening whoosh and a searing flash of flames. There was a blast of air from the opened door that hit me in the back, almost knocking me off my feet. In the blink of an eye, the fire scorched my face, and I could smell the sizzle of my hair as it caught. I stumbled away from the flames, backing toward the door. When I turned around, ready to dash through the door and to safety, my super-heated clothes already beginning to catch…

…the door slammed in my face. I grabbed for the knob, burned my hand doing it, but it wouldn’t turn. The door wouldn’t open!

RICHARD!” I shouted fearfully. “What’s happening?”

What’s happening, you damned foolish bitch, is that you’re going to burn with the other bitch, because I don’t need you anymore.” He laughed, a hard and derisive kind of laugh I had never heard from him before. “Will you see me again? I can only hope not. Frankly, you can be quite the pain in the ass. Enjoy your glimpse of hell.”

That was when I screamed…

* * *

…and she kept on screaming and fighting to get the door open for another twenty, thirty seconds before the flames finally engulfed her and she collapsed to the floor. A pile of blazing meat quickly turning into charcoal.

I had once found her and how easily I could send her scurrying for the ladies’ room amusing. I had even thought of letting her live and mourn my loss. But, in the end, she got what she deserved. It had taken her almost a week to finally talk Kasey into returning to the house, and after assuring me it would be no problem. Six days trapped in that house! No one made me wait like that, so hell and the devil could have her.

Once she finally stopped screaming, there was only the sound of the raging inferno around me. I remained there for a time, watching the flames devouring Kasey and the bed. Then that damned changing screen she bought caught, as did the curtains, the flames now climbing the walls and spreading across the ceiling. I finally grew bored with it and left the now fully involved bedroom and made my way downstairs. As I passed through the front door – right through the damn thing, and so easy now! – I could hear, off in the distance, the sound of several approaching sirens and each coming from a different direction.

Ah, the neighbors as vigilant as ever. Not that I was about to break out into song and sing their praises, you understand, yet one or two, perhaps, more had done what I needed them to do. That was, after all, what mattered the most in the end.

What I wanted, and when I wanted it.

Three firetrucks arrived, followed soon thereafter by a fourth. I hung around a while to watch the firefighters and their valiant attempt to save the house. When the roof and most of the second floor came crashing down, I was glad I was there to see it. Kasey had meant to sell the house; better it and everything in it burn to the ground than for me not to benefit from the sale. Better than to see any part of it go to some undeserving assholes. My only real regret was that my Mercedes wasn’t in the garage.

There was no sign of Kasey, but I had a good idea of where to find her. It was miles away across town, but it wouldn’t take long to get there, and I would enjoy the trip. Even more than blowing that bastard Jared’s head apart and hearing Kasey screaming from the passenger seat of his car. What a feeling to finally be out of that house and free again.

I swear, that damned ring had been a curse to me since I put it on Kasey’s finger.

Only when satisfied the house was beyond saving did I leave the area. I found Kasey right where I expected her to be: in the cemetery, huddled at the head of my grave. She had escaped the ravages of the fire, but she was still naked, and her face…

I had to smile. Darkness had settled in by then, but I didn’t need light to see that bloody and skinless visage when she looked up at me. A pair of terrified and impossibly wide-open eyes staring at me from a dripping pile of raw hamburger. Only the worst and most repulsive demons would ever look twice at a face like that, and then only if she was lucky. So much for her fucking vanity.

“Why this, you bastard?” she whispered. “Why have that crazy bitch act like a friend and have her do this to me? Why a fate like this, for God’s sake?”

“Very simple, you slut. That morning you so dramatically pulled off that ring and pranced out of the bedroom, I told you then you were mine, and would always be mine. I’d like to see you take that ring off now. Even more than I’d like to see you try and get more than a few feet away from that grave. Mine forever, Kasey…so get used to it.”

She looked away, then her shoulders began shaking as she started crying. I moved a few steps away from her and looked around at the others beginning to appear from their graves. I decided to mingle a bit and see if I could find anyone I used to know. I left Kasey crying at my grave…and how I loved that sound. The best part was that, for the first time since I put that ring on her finger, I had no worries about her or what she was up to. I had finally put a stop to that shit.

My faceless wife now firmly in my grasp where she belonged.


About the Author

Richard Raven, who also writes under the name Jackson Sullivan, embraced horror in all forms at an early age. An avid reader, he is a fan of such writers as Stephen King, James Herbert, Clive Barker, John Everson, Edward Lee, and many others. He writes simple ghost stories, tales of hard-edged and blood-drenched horror, and murder mysteries, going to whatever dark place the inspiration takes him, so his readers are never quite sure what to expect from him.

Richard lives in the southern U.S, not far from a home that has an old tombstone (an actual grave) in the front yard, and along a stretch of highway well known among the many motorcycle enthusiasts who ride it each year. He revels in the legends and ghost stories that abound in his part of the world, all of which fuels his overactive imagination, and he leaves to his readers to decide if that is a good thing or not.

Other books by the author

Please visit your favorite eBook retailer for the following titles by this author:

Writing as Richard Raven

The Evil Inside (short story)

His Deadly Fascination (short story)

All That Remains (short story)

The Old Man and the Dog (short story)

Her Deadly Fascination (short story)

The Final Iniquity (short story published in the anthology The Big Book of Bootleg Horror, Volume 4 by HellBound Books Publishing.)

The Butcher’s Return (short story published in the anthology Shopping List, Volume 3 by HellBound Books Publishing.

In a Blood Red Haze (short story published in the anthology Demons, Devils and Denizens of Hell, Volume 2 by HellBound Books Publishing.

Mark of the Beast (short story published in the anthology And Hell Followed by Death’s Head Press.)

So Shall You Reap (short story published in the anthology What Screams in the Dark, Volume One, available in eBook and paperback.)

Black Hollow (short story published in the anthology What Screams in the Dark, Volume Two, available in eBook and paperback.)

The Order and other tales of terror (collection, available in eBook and paperback)

Writing with Richard Alan Long

Indiscretions (short story)

The Haunted Ones (short story)

Wicked Ways (short story)

Writing as Jackson Sullivan

From Out of the Fog (Novel available in eBook and paperback)

His Debt to Her (Novel available in eBook and paperback)

For the Evil Returned (Novel available in eBook and paperback)

One Night Only (short story)

The Monster (short story)

Circle of Eight (short story)

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