Die For Me
Dark red blotches of blood pooled on her kitchen floor.
Katelynn Crenshaw dropped the bags she’d been holding as her gaze locked on that blood. The sexy lingerie she’d spent an hour picking out at the boutique slithered from the bag and edged into the congealing pool of blood on her marble tile.
“M-Michael?” Her voice came out too low. She cleared her throat and tried again. “Michael?” Her fiancé was the only other person with a key to her place, but his car hadn’t been in the driveway out front. He wasn’t supposed to get home until after six. She knew because she’d planned their whole evening down to his exact arrival so she’d have plenty of time to light the candles, get in her sexy outfit and—
And there was blood on the floor.
She spun around and realized that there were more splatters of blood near the basement door. Fear had her heart slamming into her chest.
A burglar. He could have broken inside and cut himself on smashed glass from a window. Oh, shit, but she should have listened to Michael and gotten an alarm installed. He’d told her it wasn’t safe to be without one these days. Too many desperate and crazy people were in the world.
She yanked out her cell phone even as she began to back away from that basement door. Her fingers dialed quickly, and the rasp of her breathing seemed far too loud.
“Nine-one-one. What is the nature of your emergency?”
“I think…” Her voice was a whisper once more. Had the burglar heard her call out for Michael? “I think someone’s in my house. 315 Brentley Road.”
A hum of silence, then… “Ma’am, are you in the house?”
Katelynn pushed away from the kitchen counter and crept into the next room.
“Get outside, ma’am. I have a patrol on the way. Go to a neighbor’s house to wait for—”
There were roses on the dining room table. Red roses…as red as the blood. Michael always brought her roses. And today—Valentine’s Day—he wouldn’t forget the flowers.
Roses were on the table, and blood was in the kitchen.
“Ma’am? Are you outside, ma’am? I need you to—”
Katelynn saw the keys then. Michael’s keys. They were right beside the roses.
For an instant, she couldn’t breathe. Her chest hurt, and her throat seemed to close as she struggled to suck in air.
He’d parked his SUV in the back. Michael did that sometimes. When he wanted to surprise her, he would park behind her house so she wouldn’t see his car when she drove up.
“I think—I think my fiancé’s hurt.” She had to force the words over the lump in her throat. Her fingers gripped the cell phone so hard her knuckles ached.
Then she heard the faintest of cries. A muffled groan—hurt, weak.
The nine-one-one operator was telling her to get out, but Katelynn rushed back to the kitchen. Her high heels slipped in the blood.
She wrenched open the basement door and raced downstairs. She could see Michael. He stood with his back toward her. He had on the thick, black apron that he used when he painted and a wild bubble of euphoria burst through her.
Not blood. Paint. He’d just been working and she—
Her heels clattered down the steps. Michael stiffened.
“I was so worried about you!” She laughed as the words tumbled out. “I even called—”
He slowly turned toward her. There was a knife in his hand. One covered in blood. Blood, not paint. The consistency was different, the color was off and—blood.
“You’re home early,” he said, but his voice lacked the usual warmth that normally made her smile.
She certainly he wasn’t smiling now. A dull ringing echoed in her ears, and her gaze flew from the knife to Michael’s tense face—then to the work table behind him.
A woman was on that table. A woman with light blond hair the exact shade as Katelynn’s. The woman had been tied down. Long, thin slices covered her arms, and her chest was soaked with blood. A wide strip of gray duct tape covered the woman’s mouth, and black mascara lines stained her cheeks. Her eyes were wide open and empty.
“You’re home early,” Michael said again as he wiped the bloody knife on his black apron. His handsome face flashed with sadness even as his gloved hand gripped the knife handle easily. “That’s not supposed to happen. You aren’t supposed to be here, Kat.”
She should move. Run. But terror and shock held her immobile.
The muffled cry that she’d heard before hadn’t been his. The woman’s. She’d still been alive then, she’d—
Katelynn started screaming.
And Michael came toward her with the knife.