Seth coiled a few fingers around Malachi’s collar and pulled the pup away from the soggy lump on the floor. After putting the dog in his crate, Seth ran to the kitchen. Mel was still mixing his drink when he entered.
“I was just bringing this in for y— what are you doing?”
Seth paid no attention as he rummaged through the drawers and cabinets until he found a plastic zipper seal bag. He turned it inside out and slipped it over his hand before he bolted from the room again. Curious, Mel followed behind cautiously. Oh God, he’s probably caught a spider again. It’s cute how he tries to protect me when I hate them so much but why must he set them free? Mel’s inner voice groaned. Just kill the nasty thing already. Ugh! She peered around the corner but to her surprise, he was picking up, what looked like something Malachi had eaten.
“What are you doing? And where’s Malachi?”
“I put him in his crate for just a minute until I clean this up,” Seth replied while turning the bag right-side-out again and pressing the zipper seal together.
“Why did you take Kai’s treat? Richie gave that to him.”
“Okay, seriously… Mel, you have to stop calling him Richie. The man could be a serial killer. The last thing you need is to befriend a guy like him. Now, do not let that man feed anything to our dog and I forbid you to speak to him again!”
No sooner had the words left his mouth, Seth wished he could take them back. The profanity-laden tirade that followed was unlike any argument he’d ever experienced. When Mel had finally finished, he calmly explained why he was so upset.
“You have to understand something, babe. I saw with my own eyes what that maniac has done to his victims and this,” he exclaimed as he waved the plastic bag with the gnawed chunk in it. “This looks as if it could have been taken right out from the mound of mangled body parts left at the crime scene today. For all you know… your pal Richie might be feeding Kai evidence. Now, maybe I am overreacting but it’s only because I love you and I couldn’t bear to see anything bad happen to you. For me, will you please avoid Agent Videla until the killer is caught?”
“I had no idea this had gotten under your skin so much. I’m sorry, Seth. I don’t want to fight. Honestly, I thought you were telling me to stay away from him because you were jealous or you thought we were flirting. I was being stubborn because you were spending every day with those two pretty girls at the morgue and, well, they’re younger and pretty than me and I … I was a little jealous.”
“I only have eyes for you. You’ll always be the love of my life so there’s no reason to be jealous. I do feel as though I’m involved in this so I need to help them find Angela. I just don’t want to be afraid that you’re in danger.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t want to worry that you are in danger either. I remember you telling me that this murderer has killed both men and women so why should I be okay with you running around looking to catch a psycho? If you love me, you’ll stop too. Stay away from the morgue and let the professionals handle it. Now, give this to me,” Melanie ordered as she took the plastic bag with what remained of the dog’s treat and tossed it in the trash. “From this point on, we go back to our normal lives and forget this whole mess.”
Seth was stunned into speechlessness. What if she just threw out a clue? Does she really think it is nothing or does she have something to hide? His head was spinning with possibilities. Did ole Dickey-boy threaten her? Or … what if — no, there’s no way! He struggled to make his mind stop replaying the one thought he feared the most. What if Melanie is involved? She certainly has been secretive lately. Going out until all hours and on the day before each body was found she certainly had the time to plant it where it would be seen. My writer’s block ended once I had my first visit to the morgue. What if?
A steady stream of ‘what ifs” swirled like a tornado wreaking havoc inside his mind. That evening as he crawled into bed next to his wife, the nagging thought of her being involved plagued his dreams. Melanie watched her husband toss and turn until he’d finally drifted off into a fitful sleep.
In the dark room, Angela jumped every time she heard footsteps overhead. Her wrists and ankles were raw, chaffed, and bleeding but she still hadn’t figured out a way to break loose. She knew every minute that passed, where no one found her, put her one minute closer to death. Then the dreaded footprints drew closer as they came down the stairs and the door opened.
“It seems that my plan is working even better than I’d imagined. Fingers are pointing at everyone. Everyone, that is, except me. Did you miss me today? I’m sure they missed you. Look,” he said holding a newspaper up in front of Angela’s face. “More bodies have been found. They haven’t identified the victims yet but I’ll let you in on a little secret. It was Marie and Jill, the previous occupants of this room. You see, the police are a little busy right now so I doubt they’ll find you in time.”