I finally made myself look at Shannon.
She stared toward her right, her eyes wide open–a blue that had faded to the color of pond water. Her skin had already gone ashen, and she’d bit her lip as she died. Bruises in various stages of healing dotted her once-beautiful face. Her blond hair, fixed in finger curls, cascaded around her as if she’d lain down in the grass to watch the clouds.
The urge to weep and scream rose. Somehow, I had to keep it together. I needed to look at the photo and glean everything I possibly could to help King find the bastard who’d done this.
My heart rate still doubled, my pulse beating my temples so hard my head ached. Apprehension flooded my thoughts, my subconscious picking up on something I hadn’t yet identified. “Why is her hair dyed blond? Is that something she’d done before she was taken?”
“That’s new,” King said. “She was still a brunette when she was taken.”
I kept staring at the picture, trying to see past the eyes that used to be so filled with life and compassion. Finally I whispered for King to show me the next one.
It was a full profile this time. My empty stomach flipped, my mouth tasted like I’d been chewing sand. The blood surrounded her, staining the concrete floor around her as it had flowed from her arteries. Both of her arms were outstretched, and her right fist was closed. I assume it held the silver dollar. I kept looking at the picture, trying to figure out what it was King wanted me to see.
Her wrists. Both of them. Vertical slash marks from the top of her wrists down her forearms.
“Why’d he slit her wrists and then do nothing else to make this look like a suicide?”
“Good question,” King said. “I’d hoped you might be able to tell me.”
I shook my head “no” even as the feeling that I was missing something crawled over me. I felt like I’d just walked into a massive spider web and couldn’t see the way to rid myself of it.
Put it together. A woman with blond hair and blue eyes lying outstretched, looking toward her right hand. Her right knee inched toward her hip, as if she’d tried to curl up. Her wrists cut, but most likely not a suicide.
But the scene was clearly staged. For me. But why?
I studied the picture again, trying to drag the answer out of the dark recesses of my memory. Déjà vu struck first, and then the answer hit me with enough force I staggered into the wall, away from King and from the images of the woman. I gasped for breath, tears brimming in my eyes.
He remained calm, watching me. “What is it?”
Thanks so much for posting about my release!