Silent Betrayal

Chapter One 

The still silence of the night is my addiction. There’s no better drug on earth. It’s an incredible feeling to know I’m the only one awake. The only person stirring among peaceful, darkened homes. Alone in the dark I am free. Alive. Invincible. Nothing can touch me.

With my head reclined back I twirled in circles, my arms floating beside me. The warm night air sifted between my fingers. A light breeze whisked through my long flowing hair.

Being a cat burglar wasn’t a choice for me anymore. It was an urge I couldn’t resist. A need buried deep in my soul. The ultimate temptation I could not deny.

I prowled down a dark road, a cul-de-sac of identical houses at the end. Manufactured homes with perfect lawns spaced the exact distance from one another. It looked more like Stepford, Connecticut than Revere, Massachusetts. A few mini-roads sprouted off the cul-de-sac and led to lone homes.

Those were the more expensive homes. Those were the ones that lured me to Dogwood Circle.

The roads had letters instead of numbers, and so did the houses. I’d always been attracted to communities like these because of their million dollar properties and wooded lots. Loads of places for me to skulk unnoticed.

Shrouded in darkness I sat across from my target property and studied every movement, every small detail that allowed me to safely gain entry.

My target: house D. A Victorian contemporary lived at the end of a walkway made from zigzagging pavers that resembled the yellow-brick road, only in muted-gray. White vinyl encapsulated the first floor. Rich wine encrusted the pointed second story. Navy trim accented the roofline, door and a quadruple bay window upstairs. And a manicured lawn had many two-foot-high solar lanterns fringing the sides the walkway, like a runway at Logan airport.

It was my third night back. To date I’d collected many useful facts. The occupants, a married couple– both about in their forties– had an infant son, always swaddled in a powder blue blanket. The husband– tall, thin, dark-haired– dominated his wife. She was a mousy thing who cowered in the corner, bowed to his every command.

It made me sick to watch. I despised abusive men and their spineless women. But hey, I didn’t judge. I tried to convince myself that I didn’t care. Yet at the same time witnessing the abuse tugged at my heartstrings. Years ago I experienced abuse firsthand from my foster parents. Those terror-filled nights made me feel small, insignificant, worthless. It wasn’t until I escaped years later that I learned the abuse wasn’t about me. That’s why, before Levon, I protected my heart, built an impenetrable wall so no one could get close enough to hurt me that way again.

Levon’s persistence and kind nature crumbled that wall, but it took many, many nights on the phone. Long conversations. Hours and hours of prodding, slowly coaxing me to open up until I finally caved to his charm. Well, that and because I had a serial killer on my tail and Levon was the lead detective on the case. Initially I decided to accept his invitation for dinner to illicit information. Answer questions like, How close were they to catching Raid, the killer? Could I relax and not worry about being caught in his crosshairs? Long story short, my plan backfired.

I watched the couple argue again tonight– fast becoming their typical nightly routine. Mary, I called the wife, either brought Lance– his alias– the wrong drink, or the ice didn’t clink properly in the glass. Who the fuck knows. One minute the household was quiet. And the next, Lance was beating the shit out of Mary. Punching her in the face, dragging her by the hair, throwing her skeletal frame around the living room until she balled herself into a corner, shaking and hugging her bent knees.

Lance spat on Mary, poured himself a new drink and settled in a navy blue leather wing chair a few feet away.

My blood boiled. What an ass. Somebody ought to teach him a lesson.

Without notice, Lance rose up and stormed out of the house.

I scampered behind the nearest tree.

He paced back-and-forth across the sidewalk, sputtering to himself, mad as hell.

I prayed he didn’t cross the road. I’d inched around the side of a maple tree in a neighbor’s yard, my fingers gripped tight on the bark. Seconds later, my toe brushed a glass beer bottle someone had leaned against the trunk.

The empty Heineken rolled towards the sidewalk, balanced on the curb, and then smashed into a million pieces over the pavement.

My blood chilled.

Lance stopped dead in his tracks. Spun in my direction. Took one-step towards me and paused mid-stride, as if remembering something, then darted back in the house.

I turned and dove behind a row of bayberry bushes lining the front of the house.

A minute later, Lance marched down his front stairs– a flashlight leveled in front of him– and over to the broken glass. He scanned the yard; a bright tunnel of white light hovered around the bushes.

“Who’s there?” he called out.

A cold, hard shudder ran through me.

“Show yourself!”

I crawled along the bushes. A garden hose tangled my feet and snaked its way around my legs. If I moved, I would’ve fallen flat on my face.

Lance soldiered back-and-forth across the lawn. It was as if he could sense my presence. Either that or he smelled the perfume I splashed behind my ears and down my cleavage.

I didn’t normally wear perfume on a job; it’s a good way to get caught. But Levon and I had gone out for an early dinner. Hoping to spark a little romance I went back for a third, or was it fourth, squirt. Reeking like a thousand-a-night call girl, I now regretted that decision.

Sweet vanilla, lotus flower, white amber and creamy sandalwood wafted in the hot summer breeze. Trees soughed in the hauntingly quiet neighborhood.

Lance stopped outside the row of bushes, aimed his flashlight through the contorted basil foliage.

My breath left me.

 

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