���� When Kaycee awoke two hours later, she was refreshed and her head was no longer throbbing.� The air conditioner had left a slight chill in the room so she climbed out from under the covers and turned it off.� Without the constant whirring of the rickety machine, the room was deathly quiet.
���� It wasn't long before the rumbling of her stomach echoed loud through the room making its presence known.� The unexpectedness startled her.� She looked at the clock that was bolted to the nightstand by the side of the bed and saw that it was after twelve o'clock.�
���� She couldn't help but wonder when Nick would be back, or if he would be back at all.� The only thing that she was sure of was that she really wanted to see him again.
���� For now she chose to ignore her demanding stomach and decided on a shower instead.� She would order something to eat when she was through.� She opened the dresser drawer and removed a matching set of black lace underwear and bra, cream colored shorts and a black camisole then set them on the bed.
���� The shower was invigorating.� The hot stream of water penetrated her back like tiny needles pricking her skin.� She had no toiletries of her own so she had to settle on the miniature bar of soap and sample sized bottles of shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and lotion that were already equipped in the bathroom.� The smell of the soap made her want to throw up and she was glad that she at least had a small bottle of perfume in her purse to cover up the odor.� She would find a drugstore today and purchase what she needed before she did anything else.
���� When she finished, she stepped out of the shower and into the steaming bathroom then wrapped a stiff towel around her body.� Don't these people believe in fabric softener?� She rubbed lotion on her towel-chapped legs and arms then dressed.
���� Her stomach once again made a loud rumble, insisting on food.� She sat down on the bed and picked up the phone.� Before she had a chance to dial the number for room service there was a knock at the door.
���� "Who is it?"
���� "Room service."
���� Confused, she got up from the bed and went to the door and opened it.� She looked at the same attendant that had brought her dinner last night towing a cart.
���� "There must be a mistake; I didn't order room service.� Well not yet anyway, actually I was just getting ready to call when you knocked."
���� "Compliments of Nick Thomas."� He said, and then pushed his cart passed her, set the plates of food on the table and left without delay.
���� "Thank you."� Kaycee remained in the opened doorway wide-eyed, nearly in shock.
���� "I guess this means I'll get to see you again after all, Nick Thomas."� A vast smile enveloped her face and she shut the door.
���� Still somewhat taken aback, she walked over to the table and sat down.� She instantly saw the note folded in half, sitting on the tray.� She reached for it and read it out loud.
I wasn't sure I'd make it back in time for lunch.
I took the liberty and ordered yours for you.
I hope you enjoy seafood.
P.S.� I had a wonderful time last night!
I hope you did too.
���� She laid the note back on the table and smiled.� She could feel the passionate flush redden her face.� She felt like a love-struck teenager.
���� She removed the lid from the food and her mouth began to water.� Two lobster tails decorated the plate along with a mound of coleslaw and garlic toast.� It was complimented with a glass of iced-tea, and at the persistent sound of her stomach, she dug in, savoring every bite.
���� Nick stood patiently at the door and waited for her to answer.� After a few seconds he knocked again, louder this time.
���� He could hear her turning the knob on the door, his pulse began to race and his blood began to boil.�
���� Its show time bitch!
���� She opened the front door and stood there holding a half-full glass of what appeared to be water.� She looked better than the last time he had seen her.� Her hair was lighter-probably from the sun-and much longer.� It was probably her day off of work, he thought.� She was dressed in a worn pair of jean shorts and black tank top that had seen better days; her sun streaked auburn hair was mussed, piled high on her head in a sloppy ponytail and her face was free of makeup.�
���� The way she was looking at him, he could see that she didn't recognize him and to some extent was rather disappointed.
���� "Can I help you?"� She asked.
���� Richard looked to the right towards the street making sure no one was there watching him.� The street was deserted and he turned back to her, an evil grin covered his face.
���� "Now, is that anyway to greet your big brother?"
���� "Oh my God."� She gasped.
���� Panic washed over her and her body began to tremble with fear.� She stood paralyzed staring at him, silently praying that this was all a dream, yet she knew it wasn't.
���� "What's the matter Brenda? Cat got your tongue?"� His laugh was heartless; it was throaty, cold-blooded and dangerously threatening.
���� She couldn't speak.� She couldn't move.� She was utterly terrified and afraid for her own life.� She knew what he had done in the past and what he was still capable of doing.� Her blood froze in stark fear.�
���� In the blink of an eye, before she had a chance to react he lunged into her like a cobra striking its prey; knocking her backwards, sending her and the glass she was clutching on to crashing to the floor below.
���� He entered the house and shut the door behind him as if he had been invited in. Once he was securely inside he locked the door.
���� "Aren't you happy to see me Brenda?"� Laughing, he kicked her in the ribcage with blunt force sending her into a fetal position, gasping for breath.
���� "Please Richard, don't!"� She begged.
���� "Just for future reference my name isn't Richard anymore, It's Nick."� He kicked her again, this time even harder.� He thought he heard the cracking of a rib and he let out a manic laugh, pleased with his exertion.
���� He stepped over Brenda's crumpled body ignoring her whimpering and walked into the kitchen and opened the ice box.� He helped himself to two bottles of Budweiser then began searching the drawers and found an old clothes line and a roll of duct tape.
���� When he found everything he thought would be of use to him, he retreated back to the living room and took a seat in an ivory colored recliner.� He set the items on a small coffee table that was to the left of the chair then twisted the cap off his beer and drank nearly half the bottle in one gulp.
���� "My bad," he set the long neck bottle down on the table "you'd probably like to sit on the couch where it's more comfortable huh?"
���� He lifted himself from the chair, reached down and grabbed the back of Brenda's hair.� He jerked hard pulling her to her feet, then dragged her to the couch and shoved her down.
���� "Now don't you move little sister, I wouldn't want to have to hurt you."�
���� Brenda raised her head as best she could and watched Richard.� Her stomach was throbbing in agonizing pain, making breathing difficult.�
���� "Why are you doing this?"� She panted.
���� "Why do you think Brenda?� Come on now, you know I can't take a chance on you telling our little secret to anyone don't you?� After all I could end up in prison for faking my own death, and of course the murders."
���� "I gave you my word and you promised that you would leave me alone."� He walked back to her with the clothesline in hand and proceeded in tying her up.
���� "Can't have you trying to run away now can I?"
���� "Please, you don't have to do this Richard."� He looked at her then turned his back to retrieve the second bottle of beer.
���� "Here sis, I got this for you from the icebox."� His voice had changed.
���� "Oh, and didn't I tell you not to call me Richard."� He raised his right arm up and brought the bottle down, crashing on top of her head, knocking her out cold.
���� "Here, this Bud's for you bitch!"
���� The impact instantly shattered the bottle sending a waterfall of blood and beer cascading down her head and face.� The gash he could see was deep, but certainly not life threatening.� Even though she was unconscious he could see that her chest was still rising and falling so he decided that he'd let her sleep it off, for a little while anyway.
���� He still had plenty of time.
���� He helped himself to five more bottles of Budweiser then decided it was time for Brenda to wake up.� He smacked her face hard.� First one side then the other in a repeated frenzy until she began shaking her head back and forth, trying to ward off the blows.
���� "Please stop."� She could barely speak and the words came out nearly inaudible.� She tried to see past the blood and beer that matted her eyes.� She could see the blurry mess of beer bottles on the table across the room.� And she also saw something else in her blurred vision; something small and black and dangerous looking.
���� A gun?� She worried.��
���� Oh my God, He's going to kill me!
���� He could easily see the tension begin to rise and he followed her gaze leading to the table.
���� "I see you've caught sight of my toy."� He laughed.
���� "Please…don't…kill…me…"� It took extreme effort but she looked around the living room in a haze, knowing this would be the last time she would see it.
���� Never again would she be able to watch the big screen television that Tim just bought, never again would she be able to tend to her own tropical garden that took up nearly one wall in the room.� It's amazing to think about the smallest of details rather than big, more important ones when you know your life is about to end.
���� Although the pain was excruciating she was able to talk now without slurring her words, even if it was only a bare whisper.
���� "Why are you doing this to me?"� She tried to loosen the binding clothesline by moving her hands, but it was useless.� She had made things worse and the twine was gouging into her skin.
���� "I already told you this once sis but if I must repeat myself then so be it.� You see, it's basically like this, I have someone special in my life now, you probably know her; Kaycee Beaumont, I think she's a friend of yours."
���� The instant he said the name her eyes widened in horror.� Oh my God, I have to stay alive long enough to warn her.
���� "How…how do you know Kaycee?"
���� "So you do know her?"� He laughed.� "Anyway, he continued, I certainly can't take the chance that you will run your mouth and ruin my plans.� You see I've waited a long time for this moment and I can't let you ruin it.� Not now!"
���� "I gave you my word…Nick.� You promised me that you would leave me alone as long as I gave you my silence.� And I have, I haven't said a word to anyone.� I gave up my medical career for you and moved back home so you could live your life and not interfere with mine.� Don't you think I would go to prison too if anyone found out what I'd done to help you?"� She desperately tried to reason with him but in her heart knew it wouldn't do her any good.
���� He remained silent, still standing in front of her.� He looked down at her bludgeoned head.� There was still a little bit of seepage of blood and puss in the large gash, but the blood on her face and neck had begun to dry and was now brownish in color, crusted on her skin.
���� "Sorry sis, but this is a promise I don't think I will be able to keep."� Her heart raced.� Her insides turned to leaden fear.
���� "Why do you keep calling me you sis?� I already told you I was an only child."� Her hands were immobile and when the sudden slap stung her face she had no choice but to endure it.
���� "Deny it all you want sis, but you do have a brother whether you want to believe it or not.� When I was born I wasn't wanted so they threw me away, and then when you came along you were as wanted as a winning lottery ticket.� Besides I did all the research and it led me straight to you."
���� "There must be some mistake…my mother," before she could finish another slap stung the side of her face.
���� "There's no mistake!"� He roared.
���� Brenda remained silent knowing that whatever she said would be useless.� He had already made up his mind and he was going to kill her.�
���� At least he hasn't gone for the gun yet.
���� It was as though he had read her mind and all of a sudden he turned away from her and ambled back towards the chair.
���� Oh my God!� He's going to get the gun.� This is it, I'm going to die.� Oh my God, I have to get away from him!� Dear God, someone please help me!� I don't want to die.� Please God don't let him do it!� I don't want to die like this.� Not this way.� I have to stall him until Tim comes home.
���� She didn't think her heart could withstand the frantic pounding.� She felt her blood rush through her veins; heard it roar loud in her ears.� Sweat covered her body and moistened her clothes.
���� "Why so nervous?"� He chuckled.� Once again he was standing in front of her only this time he was armed with the pistol.
���� I have to keep him talking.
���� "How do you know Kaycee and what does she have to do with this?"� She unexpectedly asked.
���� "Stalling are we?"
���� "No, I…I'm just curious."
���� "Well if you must know, Kaycee is staying at the same hotel I'm staying at.� Actually she mentioned that you sold her house.� That wasn't a very nice thing to do now was it?� Actually though, you did me a favor and made things easier for me.� We met…"
���� "I…I had no choice."
�� ��Before she knew it, the butt of the gun came in contact with the side of her head, landing with a loud thud.� Fresh blood spurted from the opened wound.�
���� She screamed in agony.
���� "Don't interrupt me!� As I was saying, we met last nice and she's actually quite cozy with me.� Actually she's probably wondering where I am at this very moment, so we should probably hurry up with this little visit."� He waved the pistol in the air, taunting her.����
���� "Are you going to kill her too?"� The look in his eyes abruptly changed.� They were no longer a deep shade of green, but black and glossy.� He was maniacal and rabid looking.� His bald head glistened with sweat and his bulging muscles throbbed.�� He lifted his right hand and pointed the gun at her head.
���� Oh fuck!� Is it going to hurt?� Will I feel any pain or will the bullet just kill me on contact?
��� �"If you're going to fuckin shoot me then do it!"� Dear God, where did that come from?
���� "If you insist."
���� "Nooo…" she screamed, "I didn't mean it!"� He cocked the hammer and pulled the trigger.
���� Laughter erupted in the room.
���� "Oops…guess it helps if there's a bullet in the chamber."
���� Brenda peed on herself.
���� "My plan started with that bastard husband of hers,"
���� "He died five years ago!"� She waited for another blow to the head. It didn't come.
���� "You think I don't know he's dead?"
���� "Oh my God!� You did it didn't you?"
���� "Me?"� He laughed.� "Actually I did one better and killed the kids too.� Kaycee is the end of the game."
���� "But why?"
���� "That I'm afraid you will never know the answer to."
���� "Please…don't hurt her."� She begged.
���� "Don't worry sis, unlike you she won't feel a thing.� Actually I'm becoming quite fond of her, so I don't want her to suffer for what Todd did.� Her ending will be quite painless."
���� "You're going to kill me aren't you?"� She couldn't stop the sudden flow of tears that appeared.
���� "Of course not sis," he laughed, "you I'm afraid, are going to kill yourself."
���� He left the living room and walked back to the kitchen to retrieve the bullets he had placed on the countertop, along with two plastic storage bags.
���� Brenda worked frantically trying to escape from the rope that was binding her.� God, help me!� She ignored the blood that was beginning to ooze from under the rope.� The constant pressure of her movements dug the rope deeper into her skin.
���� Within seconds he was back.
���� "Trying to get away are we?"� He sneered.
���� "Actually you're just making things worse.� The more you struggle the tighter the rope becomes."� He took the duct tape from the table, tore a long strip off the roll and tightly secured it over her mouth.
���� "Can't have you screaming now."� He aimed the gun at her left knee cap.
���� "Sorry sis, I really am."� He let out a sadistic sound and pulled the trigger.
���� The blast from the pistol was not terribly loud, but the bullet packed a punch and tore through her knee nearly separating it from her leg.
���� The tape muffled her unbearable screams, but in her eyes, he could clearly see the tortured suffering.
���� "Don't worry sis, you won't be in pain for too much longer, I promise."
���� Please, let me die.
���� Nick tore two more strips of gray tape from the roll and taped them to the edges the table.� He placed one of his hands in a plastic bag then secured one strip of tape tightly around his wrist.� He repeated the process with the other hand.� He awkwardly place the gun back in his hand and walked over to Brenda.
���� "Put your hand in the gun."� Her head shook crazily back and forth, back and forth.
���� "That's okay.� I'll do it for you."� He brought the gun crashing down on her head repeatedly until she was too weak to hold her head up.� He didn't want her out cold.� He wanted her to feel pain.� Horrifying pain that he himself had suffered through many years ago.� It was only fair.
���� He could hear the muffled moans and knew she would pass out soon.� He picked up her right hand and situated the gun in it.� Then he placed her hand to her forehead and pulled the trigger.
���� Most of what was inside her head was now spattered on the wall directly behind her.� It was a rather interesting pattern, he thought.
���� He went into the bathroom and washed the blood off of himself as well as changed his clothes.� He had brought along an identical pair of shorts and shirt; just in Kaycee had seen him leave.� He didn't want to have to explain to her why he had on different clothes.�
���� He got rid of the beer bottles then cleaned up any evidence that was apparent.� He was careful not to touch very much, and what he did put his hands on, he wiped clean.� When he was satisfied he took one last look at Brenda and smiled.� Calmly, he opened the door and left the house.
���� He casually walked across the street back to the park.� His usual bench was unoccupied so he took a seat at it.� He opened his bag and removed the can of Pringles from it, along with the remaining sandwich and soda.
���� Pleased with himself, he finished his lunch.
���� He knew it was almost finished.� Only one more pawn and the game would be over and then he would be the winner.