My newest book is set to release next week and here's a short peek at what's inside. It's unedited so I hope you'll ignore any missing words or misspellings.
Moon Lake Park
Today was the day.
He would finally get his daughter back and nobody would ever come between them again.
Especially not Barbara.
He tightened his grip on the steering wheel. Thinking of his Ex made him want to smash something. The cow thought she was so smart by sneaking away with Faith, in the middle of the night. But, he’d finally located his princess and now the joke would be on her. He’d take Faith back and they’d move to Alaska. Barbara would never find them.
Take that, bitch.
Grinning to himself, he pulled into a parking spot, far from everyone else and was pleased to see that he’d arrived at the soccer fields just in time. Several youth teams were about to finish up their games and Faith was among the players.
Turning off the engine, he put on a Twins baseball cap and checked his reflection in the rearview mirror. With the eyeglasses, gray wig, and fake moustache, he’d purchased over the internet, nobody would recognize him. Not that there was anything to worry about - he was an hour away from his own neighborhood.
Whistling, he climbed out, went around to the back of the van, and opened the door. Inside was a white and brown Beagle puppy sitting inside of her kennel and chewing on a rawhide bone.
“You ready to get out?” he asked the five-month-old puppy.
She wagged her tail and barked.
“I know you’re anxious, Maisie. So am I,” he said, leaning forward to unlock the cage.
As soon as he pulled the door open, the excited puppy barreled out and began attacking his face with joyful licks.
Laughing and petting the animal, he managed to hook the leash onto Maisie’s collar and lowered her to the ground. Immediately, the puppy tried wandering off.
“Patience,” he said, pulling back gently on the leash. He grabbed a walking cane from the back, checked his pockets to make sure that he was well prepared, and then closed the door. “Okay, let’s go and get our girl.”
Sniffing the ground, the puppy relieved herself in the grass and then tried charging forward, wanting to get closer to the excitement. One thing for certain, Maisie loved children and they loved her. She was a good pup and he knew that when his daughter saw her, it would be love at first sight.
Steering the animal toward the playground, which was right next to the soccer fields, the man scanned the perimeter, looking for her. It wasn’t easy spotting his daughter, however, most of the kids looked the same with their soccer gear on. But, then… there she was.
Yes. This child was definitely his; he was certain of it this time. The last girl he’d taken had been a regrettable mistake. Same with the one before that. Unfortunately, he’d been forced to kill the girls, to avoid prison. He couldn’t do that to Faith. She needed him to find her. To rescue her from Barbara, the bitch.
His blood boiled once again as he thought about his ex-wife. What he really wanted was to kill her. But, it was too risky, especially since he’d be the first suspect. As for the other two little girls he’d been forced to deal with, he blamed Barbara. She should be the one going to prison, for stealing Faith from him like a thief in the night.
“Go, Amy!” hollered one of the coaches.
He looked back toward the far field. Faith’s blonde ponytail bounced in the wind as she dribbled the ball toward the other team’s net. She missed, by a long shot, but his heart filled with pride at her assertiveness.
“That’s my girl,” he murmured, watching her charge back toward the ball again. “A chip off of the old block.”
Soccer had once been everything to him. He’d played goalie through high school and into college, until the injuries. First, he’d gotten kicked in the head by another player, during a tournament, rendering him unconscious. He woke up in an ambulance and fortunately, there’d been no severe damage to his brain, just some temporary memory loss. He stayed out of commission for six weeks and then returned to the field. Unfortunately, two weeks after that, he blew out his knee cap and things were never the same, thus ending his dreams of becoming a professional soccer player. It had been quite a blow and for months, he’d wallowed in self-pity, despair, and finally… rage. When he wasn’t depressed about his life, he was screaming and hollering at the people around him. He lost a lot of friends and soon, nobody wanted to have anything to do with him. It became so bad that his mother talked him into seeing a therapist and that’s when he was diagnosed with Intermittent Explosive Disorder, possibly brought on by the injury to his head. He was put on medication and even he had to admit, the pills had definitely helped him get his life back in order. Eventually, he found a job making decent money, moved out of his mother’s place, and started online dating. That’s when he met Barbara, the love of his life. At least that’s what he’d thought… until she’d turned on him and took his daughter away.
His anger began to resurface and he realized that he’d forgotten to take his pills again.
You don’t need them.
Having Faith back his life would be better than any medication. Besides, his life wasn’t all that bad to begin with and he couldn’t wait to share it with her. And they had so many things in common. Especially soccer, which was perfect because he was now one of the head coaches, of the traveling youth squad, at the local elementary school. It was how he’d found Faith. Three weeks before, his team had played against theirs and that’s when he’d noticed her. Surprisingly, she hadn’t recognized him. Neither had her mother, apparently.
He looked around the field, to where the parents were sitting. None of them looked like his Ex, but that didn’t mean anything. She had to have changed both of their identities, and more than likely, her looks, too. His eyes rested on a heavy-set woman with sunglasses and blonde hair that was pulled back into a ponytail. She was talking to another woman, not even paying attention to the game.
That definitely could be her. Barbara had no interest in soccer, or any sport. But she always had a passion for food, which would explain the extra pounds.
He squinted, trying to get a better view.
Yes, the woman did resemble her slightly. He just couldn’t be certain. Faith looked the same, however. He’d know the beautiful profile of his daughter anywhere. The problem was she wouldn’t recognize him, which was why he’d brought the chloroform and the puppy. There wouldn’t be any resistance and once she woke up, he’d explain everything. Faith would understand, too. She was just that special.
Anticipating their reunion, he smiled as he sat down at a nearby bench, facing the park. He knew that she would soon head over to play, after the game, with some friends. She’d done it the last three weeks in a row and he’d been there to see it. He’d even taken off time from coaching his own team to plan everything and study her habits.
Claps and cheers from the soccer field erupted and he knew it was almost time to take action. Shortly after, he saw Faith running toward the swings with another girl.
“There she is, Maisie,” he murmured, sitting up straighter. “Our princess.”
“Oh, Jamie! Look at the puppy!” cried Faith, looking his way.
“He’s so cute!” gushed the other girl, a short redhead with curly hair and pale, freckled skin.
Smiling, he let go of Maisie’s leash and she took off in their direction. The children squealed with delight as the pup raced over to them. Soon, both were petting Maisie and giggling as she licked their hands and barked happily.
He stood up slowly, as if in pain. “Excuse me, girls, could you help me with my dog?” he called, waving his hand. “I have arthritis and my knees are killing me today. I don’t want to have to chase her all over the park.”
Faith grabbed the leash and they walked Maisie back over to where he was sitting. “Here you go.” She handed him the leash.
“Thank you,” he said, leaning on his cane. He peered over their heads.
No parents yet.
Only a couple of kids at the playground and they weren’t paying much attention.
“You’re welcome,” said Faith.
He rubbed his knee and winced.
“Are you okay?” asked Jamie, looking concerned.
He grinned sadly. She was a cute kid. He didn’t want to have to hurt her and hoped it wouldn’t come to that. “Just old.”
“My grandmother is older than you and she still jogs,” said Jamie.
His smile fell. “How nice for her. You want a treat, Maisie?” he asked the dog.
Hearing the signal, she started barking excitedly and he grinned again. He’d been training her for the last few weeks. All he had to do was ask if she wanted a treat, let go of the leash, and she’d run toward the back of the van.
“Her name is Maisie? That’s cute,” said Faith.
He took a long look at Faith’s face. Standing this close to the girl, he thought she looked a little older than seven.
It’s her. You’re being paranoid, he told himself.
“We should go,” said the red-head, taking a step back. She looked down at the dog. “Goodbye, Maisie.”
“Goodbye,” said Faith, bending down to pet her again.
“Maisie, you want a treat?” he asked firmly, and then let go of the leash.
The dog took off, heading straight for the van.
“Oh no,” he said, pretending to panic. “Someone needs to catch her before she gets run over by a car.”
“I’ll go!” cried Faith, taking off after the dog.
“Me, too!” hollered the other girl, chasing after her friend.
He looked toward the fields and noticed that the parents had packed up their lawn chairs and were about to start heading out. Knowing that there was no more time to lose, he turned around and rushed after the girls. He found them exactly where he knew they’d be - standing behind the van, petting the dog again and laughing.
“Thank you. You found her,” he said, opening up the back door while keeping an eye out for witnesses. Thankfully, there was a good distance between the soccer fields and the parking lot. Plus, the van blocked everyone’s view of the two girls. He hoped that nobody had noticed them running toward the van. “Can you lift her inside?”
“Sure,” said the red-head, picking up Maisie. She opened up the kennel and the dog bolted inside.
He quickly took the damp rag out of his pocket and moved behind her, blocking Faith’s view. “Let me help,” he said, reaching his hand around the girl’s face. Before she knew what was happening, he covered her mouth with the rag and she gasped in shock. He held it tightly against her lips and the chloroform kicked in immediately. She slumped forward.
“What’s wrong?” asked Faith, trying to peer around him.
He released Jamie and she sunk down to the pavement. He turned around and gave her a wide-eyed stare. “I… I don’t know. I think your friend may have fainted. Is she allergic to dogs? We should call an ambulance.”
Confused and frightened, Faith’s eyes began to fill with tears. “I don’t know. Jamie?!” She leaned down and tried shaking the other girl. “Wake up!”
The dog began to bark.
“Maisie, shush,” he said, throwing her a treat.
“She’s not waking up,” cried Faith.
With her attention still diverted, he quickly reached around Faith’s head and put the rag over her mouth.
“I’m so sorry, sweetheart,” he murmured into her hair as she tried to struggle. Within seconds, Faith also went limp. He kissed the top of her head.
Damn you, Barbara. This is your fault…
“Jaimie! Where are you?” hollered one of the parents.
“Amy!” cried another.
“Shit,” he muttered.
Shoving both girls into the van, he barely had the door closed when parents began making their way through the parking lot. Avoiding eye contact, he quickly slid into the vehicle and left the parking lot.
“That was a close one, Maisie,” he said, wiping the beads of sweat from his forehead. “Now… what to do with the red-head?”
He thought about killing her, but Faith might see it happen and would never forgive him. Instead, he decided to take a chance and let Jamie go. She hadn’t seen his face and by the time the police questioned her, the van would have different license plates and be back in to Two Harbors. So, he drove to a secluded park, near the edge of town, and left her on a bench by the jungle gym.
Getting back into the vehicle, he let out a sigh of relief. It was finished. Someone would find the girl, soon, or she’d regain consciousness and seek help. Feeling good about what he’d done, he looked over his shoulder. Maisie was lying next to Faith, who was still unconscious.
“It’s just Maisie, you, and me now, Pumpkin. Just like it was meant to be. I’m going to be the best daddy, too. The very best. You just wait and see.”