Knife in the Dark: Haunted Collection Series Book 6
Knife in the Dark: Haunted Collection Series Book 6
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A knife flashes in the dark, on a brutal hunt for flesh and blood…
Stefan Korzh continues to unleash his bloodthirsty collection onto an unsuspecting world. But as his past catches up with him, he discovers that there’s a price to pay for his murderous desires. Death waits at his doorstep and it causes him to act in ways no one could have ever anticipated.
Korzh’s efforts are still going strong as haunted antiques continue to grip the world in their claws of terror. The latest is an eerily cold, silver class ring that drives its wearer into a frenzy for human flesh. A brutal urge to plunge a knife deep into innocent bystanders is overtaking the residents of Concord, New Hampshire, and no one is safe.
An unlikely alliance is formed between Ariana Leckie and Victor Daniels on their hunt for Stefan and the collectibles. They’re determined to bring an end to the misery he has caused, no matter the cost. But first, they have to address the threat growing in front of them.
Meanwhile, Tom Crane is enjoying his life with a loving father figure, a caring girlfriend, and a growing list of friends by his side. But his life is thrown into chaos when an old acquaintance drags him into their quest for revenge. Trapped and alone, Tom must find a way to escape before he’s too far gone.
As their lives collide, they’ll soon discover that vengeance exacts a heavy toll on both the living and the dead…
Chapter 4: A Dark Dream
Gwen opened her eyes, rolled over and vomited.
Bile spewed out of her mouth and burned her nostrils. She gagged, threw up again, and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand.
Drawing in great, shuddering breaths, Gwen groaned as she thought about the mess that she had to clean. She looked down and froze.
Instead of her bed, Gwen was looking down at asphalt, dimly lit by an orange streetlamp at the end of a small alley.
Frantic, Gwen pushed herself against a wall and looked around.
Trash and debris littered the cracked and broken ground of the alley. Battered brick walls flanked either side and there were no windows until the second floor. Rusted fire escapes were suspended above her, and graffiti-covered steel doors were closed and secured.
And beside Gwen was a body.
A strangled scream escaped her throat as she scrambled backward, slamming her head into the brick behind her.
Gasping for air, Gwen stared at the corpse, and she had no doubt the man was dead.
He lay on his back, throat cut so deeply that his head hung by a thread of skin. Blood covered the man’s once-white shirt and soaked the front of his black pants. Battered black Nike sneakers were also damp, their dirty soles surprisingly free of his blood. His arms were spread wide as if he was awaiting crucifixion. Dark brown hair stuck to his head in damp clumps and was spread out with the vile semblance of a blood-soaked halo.
Beside the body was a knife. It was a folding knife; black and stamped with the letters SOG.
Oh no, she thought, her inner voice building up to a panic. Oh no, no, no, no!
She lifted her hands up to clutch her head, but stopped, horrified when she saw she was covered in blood as well.
For a moment, she froze, mind completely incapable of understanding what she saw, and then a shudder tore through her.
She scrambled forward, snatched the knife up from the ground, and wiped the blade off on the man’s pants. Closing the weapon, Gwen got to her feet, eyes darting around the narrow confines of the alley.
She tore off her jacket, wiped her hands on it until most of the blood was gone, then turned it inside out. Shuddering, she pulled the jacket back on, her skin crawling as the sticky, cool blood touched her. She stuffed her hands into her front pockets, licked her lips nervously, and then hurried down the alley to the street beyond.
A glance to the left showed she was on Singleton Street. Three blocks from home if she followed the sidewalk.
Instead, she forced herself to walk casually to the next alley and turned towards it. Grinding her teeth, Gwen continued at her steady, mild pace, the minutes ticking past.
When she reached her building, Gwen climbed the stairs two at a time, got into her apartment, and sank against the door when she closed it. Sobbing, she drew her hands out of her pockets, and for the first time, she noticed she was wearing a large class ring on her right index finger.
She went to take it off, but her skin was swollen, the jewelry stuck. Her mother would know how to get the ring off. Gwen couldn’t ask her though. They hadn’t spoken in years, and she knew she couldn’t call about the ring.
Mom would want to know why, she thought. Where the ring came from. Am I in trouble, again.
Gwen let out a short laugh, but it came out so maniacally that she clamped her hand over her mouth.
Shower. Take a shower, she told herself, getting up to her feet and swaying dizzily. Stripping off her blood-stained clothes, Gwen made it into the shower and scrubbed herself clean beneath a sputtering spray of near-boiling hot water.
She dried off hastily, wrapped the towel around her chest, and walked numbly to her small kitchen. From the counter, she reached for a bottle of wine, removed the cork, and took a long, bitter swallow. The alcohol rushed through her system, and she quickly took several deep drinks.
With her mouth stinging from the wine, Gwen left the bottle on the counter and stumbled to her bed, where she collapsed. She stared up at the cracked ceiling, the paint-stained a dull yellow from the previous tenant’s nicotine habit.
Goosebumps rippled along her flesh and Gwen shivered, pulling her blanket up over her.
She tried to think, sought to remember what had happened and why she had been in the alley. But nothing came to her.
The last memory she had was of approaching someone in the pub.
“Tell me, Gwen,” a soft voice said, “did you enjoy it?”
Gwen froze, unable to move. She recognized the voice. It was the same one she had heard when she had been drinking at the pub.
“I know you can hear me,” the stranger said, and movement on the far wall demanded Gwen’s attention.
Unable to look away, she watched as the shadow across from her solidified and took on definition.
A young man, perhaps only a decade younger than herself, stood before her. The man wore olive-drab fatigues and black combat boots. His sleeves were rolled up to reveal well-defined forearms, and there was a sinister strength that exuded from the stranger.
“Who are you?” Gwen’s words came out in a hoarse, desperate whisper.
“You don’t remember our earlier conversation?” the young man asked. When Gwen didn’t respond, the stranger sighed. “Very well. You’re wearing my ring, you foul little drunk. My name is Richard.”
Gwen’s eyes flicked down to the ring on her hand, and she resisted the urge to cut her own finger off.
“What happened?” Gwen asked. “Why was that man dead?”
“I happened,” Richard smirked, settling down on his haunches. “And he’s dead because I wanted him to be dead. He was annoying. And a thief. And all thieves should be dead. Don’t you agree?”
“No,” Gwen answered, horrified. “No!”
“That’s a shame, Gwen.” Richard smiled. “Because as long as we’re together, you’re going to help me make a lot of people dead.”
Gwen tried to wrench the ring off her finger, but as her hand wrapped around it, she found Richard upon her.
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