Upon returning home, the predator rid himself of the saturated clothing and tossed them carelessly where they now lay in a heaping pool of red.
Stripped bare, he admired the reflection that stared back at him from the bathroom mirror.
Unusually handsome, his hair was a flowing shade of midnight and his eyes the color of soft steel. His face and body were flawless and chisled to perfection.
He liked what stared back at him.
He took in a deep breath and blew out an even longer one hoping to ease the anxiety he could feel swimming breathlessly in his chilled blood. When he was satisfied, he simply stepped into a steaming shower and began washing away the redness of unspeakable pleasure.
Lost deep in the Appalachian Mountains, Laurel Ridge was founded by a man named Chester Laurel in the late 1800's.
And new life soon followed.
Not even a spot on a map, Chester Laurel considered himself fortunate to have been able to bargain for the chunk of savage land. After years of sweat, tears and back breaking work, he was eventually able to stand proud and tall upon his ridge and look out at what he had birthed.
What was once vegetated madness was now a well sculpted community where his growing family would forever remain.
Deputy John Riley sat in his barely cushioned chair sipping his morning coffee while reading yesterdays news in the local paper. Although the snow had recently descended to a flurry, enough of it had fallen he knew, that todays edition would not be here anytime soon.
The police station was a simple building planted on the outskirts of town. Its structure remained as it had for decades, and it only took general up keep and yearly coats of fresh paint to keep it looking renewed.
Inside was a large open area with four aluminum desks, each containing identical items. Metal file cabinets decorated one wall while a single brass coat rack and several artificial plants lined another.
Behind the now empty desk at the far end of the room was a small hallway that welcomed another open area. Not near as large as the first, this particular room was designed with a single steel cage divided down the middle to make two smaller cages, to house a prisoner for the night. Each cell was equipped with a stainless steel sink, toilet, and cot to sleep on. A single metal desk guarded the entrance.
Alone at his desk, John was just finishing up an article he was reading titled "Ice-Fishing for Trout in the South" when the bell hanging loosely on the front door to warn of anyone entering, rang out distracting him.
Before he had the chance to scoot his paper aside and look up, an arrogant group of two stood directly in front of him.
"Deputy Riley I presume?" The taller one extended his hand for gesture.
"And what do I owe this honor gentleman?" Before he had a chance to shake hands with the tallest of the two strangers, John glanced over at Gil Laurel as he casually strolled into the room brushing a hand across his shoulders to remove excess snow. He removed his coat then unwrapped his head that was shielded against the cold and hung them both on the brass rack.
Ignoring the deputy, the shorter of the two men walked directly towards Gil.
"When's the last time you talked to your wife Sheriff?" He asked.
"What? No handshake for old time sake? I'm disappointed in you Sloan." Gil's sarcasm had the sting of a well planned slap.
"You two know each other?" John interrupted, quickly standing up.
"F.B.I." The tall man by his desk answered quickly.
John immediately sat back down in his chair, and keeping his mouth shut watched the scene before him.
"Answer the question Gil." Sloan continued. "When's the last time you talked to..."
"I talked to my wife," he lashed out "when I left for work this morning. What the hell concern is it of yours anyway when I talked to my wife?"
"She's not yours anymore Sloan." He taunted.
Pleased with the stabbing remark Gil turned and walk away only to instantly be grabbed by powerful arms. Before he could react, his back was slammed into the closest wall.
"Answer the fuckin question!" Sloan grabbed him by the front of his uniformed shirt, and unable to contain his anger any longer spun Gil back around and quickly slapped a pair of handcuffs on him.
A look of shock quickly covered any recent signs of anger. "What the hell is going on?"
"Just answer the question Gil. When did you last talk to your wife?"
"I already answered your question."
"What the bloody hell is going on here?" He repeated. He could feel the weight of Sloans' piercing blue eyes on his back.
"State boys got a phone call this morning," He held him firmly against the wall.
"Then they called us." Sloan harrassed.
"A phone call?...A phone call from who?" Gil cut in.
This was really starting to piss him off.
"What time did you leave your house this morning Sheriff?"
"Cut the crap Sloan. A phone call from who?"
"Supposedly from you Sheriff." He barked.
"Just answer the question Gil before I formerly book you and drag your sorry ass back to Lexington.
"And what did I supposedly say?" Sarcasm was heating up the room and blood began to boil.
"Answer the fucking question!"
"I wont ask again." Sloan assured him threateningly.
"Fine. We'll play this your way. I left my house around 7:15 this morning. Any more questions big shot?"
"So tell me Sloan, just what exactly did I say when I called State this morning while I was in the middle of having heated sex with my wife?
"You said you killed her!" Sloan blurted out.
Laughter roared through the room.
"Your kidding right? I mean...come on Sloan even this is low for your standards. Now why dont you enlighten me and tell me why you really drove all this way to see me. And take these damn cuffs off of me will ya?" He ordered. "You really think I'd fall for something so stupid. Just because we dont have computers and all your fancy technology down here doesn't make me blind to know you can easily trace a phone call."
"The call was traced Gil." Sloan cut in.
The look on his face was serious Gil saw, and his heart took a quick beat.
"And just where did this call come from?"
Hearing the nervousness in his voice, both agents looked at each other. Then Sloan looked back. He turned Gil to face him and came within inches of his face.
"From the private line in your study." He scolded.
Although the drive from the police station was made in record time on snow covered ground, his house Gil noticed had a look of abandonment.
Sitting in the back of an unmarked vehicle handcuffed, he could do nothing but wait while Deputy John Riley, and Special Agents Sloan Michaels and Jeremy Walker stepped through the front door with the key Gil had supplied, knowing deep in his heart they had been to late.
"This is ridiculous!" Gil said out loud and proceeded to climb into the front seat and let himself out through the drivers side door.
He ran through the slick white yard towards the front of the house where the front door stood open.
"Kasey!" His scream was feral.
Upstairs, John opened the bedroom door he knew belonged to Gil and Kasey and stood frozen the moment he saw her.
"Shit!" Sloan heard him the moment he came through the front door.
"Get him out of here!" He screamed. "Don't let him up here!"
John needed to get out of that room quick. Nausea was filling him at an alarming speed and his knees were weakening.
"You cant go up there." He gasped. He nearly ran him over running down the steps. He clung to Gils' arm knowing it would be impossible to hold him back.
"Get the fuck out of my way!" John didn't have the strength to hold him any longer and immediately let go, then allowed himself to drop to the carpeted step where he cupped his head into his hands, where a flood of tears immediately pooled.
Her naked body lay sprawled face down across the bed in a sea of blood. Fatal stab wounds were evident over most of her body, including her arms and legs.
It was obvious both of her legs had been broken by the way they were angled on the bed. Probably while she was still alive Sloan thought.
Blood spattered across most of the interior walls as well as on the delicate moldings of the bedroom door.
"Someone wanted her dead allright." He spoke to no one in particular.
Fearing he would pass out at any minute , Jeremy turned away from the horrific scene and raced to the bedroom door. "I gotta get out of here man!" Was all he could mutter. Holding his hand over his mouth he ran from the room and the stink of death.
Reminding himself this was just another crime scene, Sloan walked around to the other side of the bed, carefully stepping over numerous puddles of blood. God how much blood can a body hold? He wondered.
Had he ever seen a crime seen so brutal? He didn't think so.
He suddenly stopped in his tracks and doubled over from the assault of nausea. What had earlier, been the left side of Kaseys' head was now embedded into her pillow.
His legs began to noticably tremble.
Immediately he turned away from the disfigured body and glanced down at her hand where a flash of light caught his eye.
It was plain to see her colorless fingertips were desperately clutching something metallic.
Sloan heard rather than saw Gil Laurel walk into his own bedroom. His earth shattering screams were inhuman. Sloan could only watch while a man he knew crumbled right before his eyes.
Taking his tear stained eyes off of Gil, he instinctively reached down and removed the object from the icy fingers.
He clutched it tightly then opened his hand.
Inside was a silver metal badge, tinged with crimson.
The inscription clearly read "Sheriff Gil Laurel".