Title: Murder at midnight on a Moonlit Path
The whispers in his head grew louder and louder. Kill her. Kill her. Kill her. His heart pounding, Andrew Peacock bolted upright in bed. A brisk breeze swooshed through the Joshua trees, stirring the scent of roses with rain. A hunter’s moon hung low in the dark desert sky. In the distance, a coyote howled, its keening echoing through the canyon. The smell of the dank earth took him back to the night of his first kill. And the scent of roses reminded him of her. She was the love of his life, the prettiest thing the sorry town of Progress had ever seen. And she’d done him wrong. He walked to the window and gazed into the thicket, knowing precisely where he’d buried his slut of an ex-wife. Next week marked the anniversary of her death. And to keep the thrill of the kill alive, he’d reenact the crime. He’d hunt down her likeness, a flawless beauty with black hair and midnight blue eyes. And after taking a stroll down the moonlit path, he’d kill her. Then he’d bury the corpse in the woods and place a white rose on the grave. And he couldn’t wait.
Candace Valentine stood before her mirror, combing her long black hair before turning in for the night. With the hunter’s moon spilling in through her open window, her blue eyes sparkled. The hair on the nape of her neck prickled. She had the oddest feeling she was being watched. She dashed to the window to close it, her gaze searching the woods. And when her phone rang, she nearly jumped out of her skin. She snatched it up on the first ring.
“What lovely hair you have,” a voice whispered. “I just love watching you brush it in the moonlight. And what pretty blue eyes you have, the way they shimmer is so inviting.”
Deputy Sheriff Reilly Stone studied her, his green eyes searching. Raking his hand through his shaggy brown hair, his jaw clenched, he arched an eyebrow. “How long have you lived in Progress, Ms. Valentine?”
“All my life,” she said, her lip quivering.
He crossed his burly arms over his chest, his eyes narrowed. “So unless you’ve been living in a cave, surely you’re aware of all these women disappearing, vanishing into thin air.” He took a step closer. “And yet you stand in front of an open window, brushing your hair in the moonlight?”
She blinked back the tears. “I…I never worried about open windows before. I brush my hair every night before turning in. Those women who were reported missing were never found, no bodies to prove a serial killer stalks the woods. It’s probably just a coincidence, a…”
“Wise up,” he stormed toward the front door, his booted feet clomping. He glanced over his shoulder. “Every single woman reported missing had long black hair and blue eyes, like you. Bolt your door and keep the windows locked. Or you might just be the next victim.”
With the air blowing her hair all askew, Candace sped down Black Canyon Road, her mind on the hot looking sheriff. Her blood heated at the memory, equal bouts of hormones and humiliation causing her cheeks to flush. A real looker, that one. Ruggedly sexy as the day was long. But the phone call had her on edge, the Peeping Tom that knew her name. Who was he? Not paying any attention to the speed limit, she took the bend a bit too fast, tires screeching. A minute later, the siren shrieked, the sheriff’s car closing in on her, beckoning her to pull over. “Damn.”