The Copycat Killers(7)

By: Paula Millhouse


Her grandchildren sat stoically silent like petulant teenagers.

She whipped around her desk and settled back into her chair, pointing at them. “In case you decide to defy my orders, go behind my back and keep digging up remains, know this. You’re fucking with your own future dynasty.”

Jimmy hung his head, dropped his chin. Tia crossed her legs and reared back onto the couch.

Miss Aida rolled her eyes at the posturing. “I rather doubt either of you are ultimately that stupid. Penniless lives would not suit you. Neither would prison.” She leaned back in her chair and opened her palms. “Any further questions?”





4





NICK SNUGGLED CLOSER TO EVIE as the fire sparkled in the fireplace of their living room in the cozy prow-front log cabin they shared in the mountains of Vermont.

They’d fallen asleep on the oversized couch the night before. He blanketed her naked body with the warmth of his own, and they swam in a sea of quilts to fend off the winter chill. She slept in his arms. Happy. Satisfied. Warm.

The love of his life.

He focused in on the colorful lights on the Christmas tree, and he couldn’t help but smile. They twinkled and shone, one of his favorite parts of the season. “This could work.”

His Christmas wish for her to agree to stay with him had come true—for the moment.

Evie and his sister Meg had gone forward with their new business venture, Franklin and Jones Outfitters. Their plan to guide people across Vermont on skis, snowshoes, and snowmobiles with the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers this winter promised to keep the entire family busy. The VAST trails had been founded over forty-eight years ago. If Mother Nature cooperated and provided snow like the Farmer’s Almanac promised, this would be a banner year for them.

Christmas decorations, the smell of the Frazier fir, and the softness of her body blended together in a heady combination. A stab of desire mixed with gratitude. Nick wanted her. Again.

But he let Evie sleep.

The great log cabin his parents had built years before stood awash in the warm glow from the lights of the Christmas tree. They’d harvested the mighty fir from the Franklin Hundred Acre Wood while the first downy snowflakes of the season fell around them. Evie had loved the snow, and he enjoyed watching her spin around under the falling flakes that day, trying to catch them on her tongue.

Who would have thought his little Southern Belle could adapt so well to the wilds of Vermont? He placed a soft kiss on her forehead.

The fireplace crackled away below the massive moose mount filling the cabin with its presence. He chuckled at the sight of the moose.

Evie had insisted on decorating the bull-moose he’d harvested with his father on their final hunt together. She’d hung a cheerful scarf around the moose’s neck, and suspended jingle bells from his antlers. The trophy never looked better, and he thought his dad would have approved. Nick’s heart longed for his father, especially this time of year.

Colorful wrapping paper and bows on boxes reflected the warm glow back to Nick’s eyes. Dozens of presents sat under the tree tagged with her name, and the herald of the season, “Merry Christmas Evie, I love you.”

Boo Boo, Evie’s cat, and Nick’s adopted feline child batted the ribbons on one of the presents. Nick couldn’t keep him out from underneath the tree, and to tell the truth he’d gotten used to enjoying his antics. As long as Boo Boo didn’t scale the thing and tear the tree to the floor, Nick left him alone and watched him play.

Evie stirred, and looked over at Boo Boo among the presents, all shapes and sizes, then back up at Nick. “There’s too many of them.”

He kissed her cheek. “No such thing as too many presents.”

The sensations mixed together, caused a heady glow to clutch his heart, and the satisfaction of home filled him and drew a smile. They’d fought hard to find this home together, and it was everything he’d ever wanted.

He turned his head from the nostalgic scene of the kitten under the tree and reached down to find her lips for a kiss he knew she’d never deny him. In three short but tempestuous months every time he asked for Evie Longfellow’s kisses she granted them. He would never get enough. And he wanted more. Now.

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