The Obsession Page 131

He waited just inside the forest until Naomi and the grease monkey she was doing it with drove by in her car. Then he waited five full minutes.

Sometimes people turned around and came back, forgot something. His mother did it all the time, and once nearly caught him digging in the fake coffee can she used to hide cash from thieves.

Not that she’d ever been robbed, except by her son.

So he waited, watching the road through the screen of trees before he began the hike to the house on the bluff.

He’d parked nearly a quarter mile away—in the opposite direction from town. Had even put a white handkerchief on the side-view mirror, like he’d had a breakdown.

Getting into the house would be a nice little bonus. He’d seen how she lived, what she had. He wanted to touch her things, her clothes. Smell her. Maybe take a little souvenir she wouldn’t miss, at least not right off.

He knew about the alarm system, but he’d gotten through that sort of thing before. He’d done a lot of studying, put in plenty of practice.

She might have forgotten to set it—something else people did all the time. And he should know.

More than once, he’d walked right into houses, and right into the bedroom where some dumb bitch was sleeping.

He didn’t always kill them. You had to mix things up or even brain-dead cops might start piecing things together. Like sometimes he used ketamine—a jab with that, and down she went. Chloroform took longer, but there was something so satisfying about the struggle.

Once you knocked her out, tied her up, gagged that bitch—blindfolded her if you figured on letting her live—you could rape the shit out of her. He really liked when they came out of it while he raped them.

Then you mixed it up. You killed them, or you didn’t. He liked the kill even more than the rape, but sometimes you had to resist. You beat the crap out of them, or you didn’t. Cut them up some, or didn’t.

And you kept your mouth shut unless you were going to shut theirs, permanently. No DNA when you wore a raincoat, no voice to remember, no face.

When the time came to do Naomi—and that time was coming right up—he’d take his sweet, sweet time. Maybe even keep her a couple weeks.

Stupid bitch got lucky, got rich enough to buy herself a big house. And was dumb enough to buy one this remote.

He could’ve taken her before, and he’d thought about it, oh, he’d thought about it so many times. But the wait, the long wait was better. And now he was—Christ—an aficionado. Oh, the things he’d do to her.

But not today. Today was a little opportunity.

Who knew he’d end up killing the fricking town sweetheart? He’d heard the buzz—he always made sure he heard the buzz. Everybody was going to her send-off. He’d never have a better chance to get in the house, get a solid lay of the land.

He could take her there, he was nearly sure of it. Just had to get the grease monkey out of the way for a few hours—or altogether. Make sure her asshole little brother was off playing Special Agent.

But he wanted the lay of the land first.

He strolled right up the drive.

He had lock picks and knew how to use them. If she’d set the alarm, he had a reader that should break her code before the alarm sounded.

If not, he just locked up again, moved off. They’d figure it was a glitch, nothing more. But the reader rarely failed him. He’d paid good money for it.

He glanced at the pots of flowers on the front porch, thought Home sweet home, and wished he’d thought to bring a little weed killer or salt. Wouldn’t she wonder what the fuck when her posies croaked?

He heard the dog bark as he got out the picks, didn’t worry about it. He had a couple of dog biscuits in his pocket—and he’d seen the stupid dog playing around with the yard crew, the carpenters. He’d even seen Naomi walking around town with him, and how the dog let anybody who came along pet him.

But as he went to work on the locks the barks grew louder, sharper, and made way for throaty growls and wet snarls.

He had a knife—Don’t leave home without it—but if he had to kill the damn dog it would spoil the surprise. And he didn’t relish the idea of having the dog try to rip a chunk out of him.

He reconsidered.

He’d go around the back first, to the glass doors. Let the dog see him—and the dog biscuit. Make friends through the glass. She may have left them unlocked on top of it.

He circled around, making note of windows on this far side—ones he hadn’t been able to study up close before. And the trees, the potential cover.

He took the stairs to the deck. More pots of flowers. Yeah, he might just come back with weed killer, give her plants a good dose for the fun of it.

Then, slapping on a big, friendly smile, he pulled out a dog biscuit and walked to the big glass doors.

The dog wasn’t even there. Some guard dog, he thought with a snort, and pulled on thin latex gloves to check if the doors were locked.

The dog—bigger than he’d remembered—flew at the glass, barking, snarling, even snapping. Shocked panic had him stumbling back, throwing up his hands as if to protect his face. His heart banged in his throat, his mouth went dry. Infuriated him even as he trembled.

“Fucker. Fucker.” Breathless, he tried the big smile again, though his eyes transmitted pure hate even as he showed the dog the biscuit. “Yeah, asshole,” he said in a friendly singsong. “See what I got. Should’ve poisoned it, you ugly fuck.”

But no matter the tone, no matter the bribe, the dog’s relentless barking increased. When he made a testing move toward the door, the dog peeled back those canine lips and showed his fangs.

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