The Third Victim

The Third Victim by Collin Wilcox

Book: The Third Victim by Collin Wilcox Read Free Book Online
Authors: Collin Wilcox
Tags: Suspense
the bedclothing. That last step—that final contact—was necessary. Because only the touch could release him.
    But first, with the knife poised, he must lower his eyes. Deliberately, his eyes must discover where the blanket joined her flesh. Her body was naked. Her dark-nippled breasts, unclean, lay rounded and full, uncovered. Just above the waist, the blankets—
    The lips were parting. Beneath closed eyelids her eyes moved, twitching. Beneath the blankets, legs shifted. The eyes quivered, about to open. The knife trembled, poised above the pale curve of the throat. As he moved forward, his legs touched the bed. Instantly, the small, urgent convulsions began, rushing up from taut, straining genitals. But now his eyes were wide, fixed on the oval face surrounded by the dark, wild hair. Now his eyes couldn’t close, as they’d done earlier, in the basement darkness. Now only his throat could move, fighting against the anguished animal sounds he must make.
    They were small, strange cries in the quiet room. But now he was free, released. His body was slowly going slack. In response, she was quiet, once more sinking back into sleep. She’d left him another night with her.
    He was moving away from the bed—one step, two steps. This was the time of danger. Nothing protected him now. He was no longer in contact with the bedclothing that had touched both him and her. So control was gone. Setting her free, he endangered himself. Because now, released, he could only run if she awakened. He couldn’t return to the bedroom and slash at the pulsing throat. She was free. Now—for tonight—she was free. Only he was in danger. With all fluids spent, he was exposed. Every sound in the night was a banshee wail; every movement was a warning rustle from some ferocious thicket.
    If they found him now—saw him, laid hands on him—they could take him. Because now, for tonight, power was gone with the fluids, lost as he stood beside her.
    Yet it was part of the pattern—part of how it must happen. It was his will. It was all his will. Ipso.
    Carefully closing the kitchen door behind him, he switched on the flashlight, to find the basement stairs. In two minutes he would be astride the Yamaha. Twenty minutes more and he’d be safe. Ipso.
    Eyes wide in the darkness, she was staring up at the ceiling. Her heart was hammering. Her throat was drawn painfully tight, as if she’d been screaming.
    Why was she pulling up the covers, to cover her breasts? Why was she—
    From the hallway came the soft sound of movement. Was Josh out of bed? Had he—
    A click sounded. A door was closing furtively. Was it the bathroom door? The kitchen door? Was Josh sleepwalking? He’d done it before, just after Kevin left them.
    She was standing beside the bed, reaching for her robe. As she held her breath, intently listening, she realized that she was trembling. Her knees were unsteady; the pit of her stomach quivered helplessly. It was, she suddenly realized, an extension of the same sensations she’d experienced that morning, seeing the switch-blade knife in the front entryway.
    The Tarot hysteria, a newscaster had called it.
    But a madman was prowling the city.
    The knife could have been a warning—a warning unheeded.
    And she was alone. She and her child were alone in a ground-floor flat, helpless. Kevin was sleeping with someone else—a stranger. An enemy. Her enemy. Shamefaced, Kevin had left at nine, mumbling a halting good-bye. And now she was standing at the foot of her bed, trembling as she drew her robe close around her.
    Once more, she was holding her breath, listening.
    The house was quiet. And, miraculously, she was no longer trembling. It could have been a nightmare. If Josh could sleepwalk, and cry out in his sleep for his father, then she could have a nightmare, too. She could dream that someone was in her room, reaching out to touch her—to harm her.
    But she didn’t have nightmares.
    Consciously, at least, she didn’t have nightmares.

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