Kerri studied the notes she’d added to the diary, comparing them to the ones before. The writing was close, but a handwriting expert would see the subtle differences. She would eventually have to recopy the entire book just in case it was ever found. His legacy had to live on without blemish.
“But what about your legacy?”
She ignored the voice. She would have her legacy in time, but not until Simone’s work was finished, and not until the world was ready to recognize her talent.
She closed the book, picked up her glass of wine, rose and went to study the paintings lining the den wall. It had taken her a year and over a half a million dollars, but she was ready now. She had more money that she needed, and the ability to make more as long as no one found out the truth.
A deep rattling cough came from behind the bedroom door. Her shoulders slumped and the hand holding the glass started to shake as emotional pain ripped through her like a thousand tiny paper cuts that throbbed and ached. It was their fault Simone had been hurt. He’d been upset because the job wasn’t finished. Like an artist when the painting was incomplete or an author when the book was only half written. No true artist could live with that. It ate away at your soul until you slowly starved to death.
She opened the door slowly, watching the sheet covering the withered, scarred body for any signs of movement that would signal he was still breathing. It rose slightly as another rattling cough shook the bed. She blew him a kiss and closed the door, leaning against it for just a moment to steady herself. The figure no longer bore any resemblance to the man she’d fallen in love with, but his essence was still in there somewhere struggling to survive. That was one of the things she’d loved about him.
She poured another glass of wine and went back to the paintings. This was the beginning of her legacy. They were all guilty, and they would all die. She stared into the grey eyes of Clifford Beaumont. A somewhat ugly bloke, but he was the most dangerous of them all. The rumors of his mob associations were true and his political power was immeasurable. He would be a formidable enemy, and she would enjoy every moment of it. She wanted him to suffer the most. Without his interference none of this would have happened. While she watched her lover die, he was enjoying a new grandchild. She wanted the images of her first kill to become firmly planted in his head, making it impossible for him to sleep or close his eyes without seeing those images of his spoiled brat daughter, Kamela, or the baby. She shook her head and chuckled. How wicked of her. She hadn’t thought about using the baby. Of course she wouldn’t kill her, but for Beaumont to think she would, would drive him insane.
She moved to the second painting. Jake Savior, Corpus Christi police officer. A handsome rebel that always got his man. She took a sip of wine and gazed into the deep blue eyes. Married but no children. He would be her second biggest challenge. A real hothead, but she knew how to take the steam out of him. She should probably disable him first. Drive him into the same madness she had lived with for the last year. That would put the fear of God into the others. She would work slow, stretching out their fear, their desire to keep their loved ones safe. She would make them suffer as they watched the people they loved die, just as she had suffered.
She moved to the third painting. Harry Redmond, Corpus Christi police officer. Choctaw Indian. No wife, but a relationship with Jenna James. There was also his cousin, Loki Redmond. Shivers ran through her as if someone had just walked over her grave. She would have to be careful around that one. So what would upset Harry more, losing Jenna James or losing Loki? She wasn’t sure and until she was sure she wasn’t going to make a move on him.
The fourth painting vexed her the most. Jenna James, Corpus Christi District Attorney. She was the glue that bound the group together. Strong, intelligent and devoted to her job. Something Kerri admired in any woman. And like her, James had no family. It truly was a shame to kill her. She would discredit her first. There was no rush in making up her mind. Perhaps destroying her in the eyes of her adoring public would be enough.
A soft smile played around her lips as she moved to the fifth painting. Marcus Dade, high powered defense attorney. A very handsome devil. She’d actually developed an affinity for Marcus. The two of them had so much in common. He reminded her of Simone. She would leave him until last. Maybe she’d even let him live.
She raised the wine glass. “To the victor goes the spoils.” She would start with Savior and see where the chips fell.
A loud moan came from behind the closed door followed by another rattle. She glanced at the syringe and bottle sitting on the coffee table. The doctor had told her the time would come when his suffering would become unbearable. Picking up the syringe and bottle she walked slowly to the door. It was time for his suffering to end and theirs to begin.