Sins of the Father
Author:J.L. McCoy

Sins of the Father - By J.L. McCoy

Chapter 1

I stood in the stockroom downstairs, a box of unopened liquor bottles at my feet, as I replayed the events of the last thirty minutes over in my head. Greyson Mead, Archer’s friend and business associate, had been brutally murdered. His dismembered body had been found in a curtained-off PVIP lounge by one of The Mausoleum’s human cleaning crew. A message had been brutally carved into the naked flesh of his chest. It read ‘THE BLOOD OF THE SON SHALL PAY FOR THE SINS OF THE FATHER’. After many tears and a shocking admission from Archer, Greyson’s body was hauled away by Quinn for the pyre later tonight and Seamus and Hunter had started the clean-up process. I replayed the conversation as I continued selecting bottles to restock the bar with.

Archer sighed and swallowed hard. “There’s something that I’ve been keeping from you all. I think it’s time you knew.” Everyone in the room froze and turned to Archer.

“As you know, four of our blood brothers and sisters were murdered in Houston this month.” Lochlan, Seamus, and Hunter somberly crossed themselves as Archer continued. “That’s part of the reason why I wanted to get Quinn, Hunter, and Trey out of there. I thought it best to have my children with me and away from danger. But it seems as though danger has followed them.”

The vampires looked around at each other in confusion; Aoife, I noticed, sat there quietly looking at her hands. The news didn’t seem new to her. Archer walked over to the bar and grabbed an expensive bottle of scotch. He uncapped it, took a big swig directly from the bottle and then silently passed it off to Lochlan.

Jameson looked down at me, brushed the hair back from my face, and then searched my tear stained eyes. “Are you okay, love?” he whispered. I slowly nodded my head as he led us over to the table where Trey sat. Trey’s tears had finally slowed to the occasional breathy hiccup. I reached over and took Trey’s cool hand in mine, interlocking my fingers with his. He gently squeezed my hand back in thanks and we turned our attention back to Archer.

“Shayne and Molly O’Brien were murdered last night in their home in Landry, which is only twenty miles east of here. They were found drained of all their blood and dismembered…in a manner similar to Greyson’s.” Archer briefly closed his eyes and sighed. The tragedy of tonight’s events seemed to have aged him some. His handsome face was drawn and his ice blue eyes haunted.

Trey gripped my hand tighter as a soft whimper escaped his lips. I squeezed his hand back and scooted my chair closer to his. I could only imagine what Trey must have been going through. He was an Empath in a room full of scared, grieving people. I tried to think calm, soothing thoughts in an attempt to help ease him through. I didn’t know if they would help him, but I sure as hell was going to give it my best shot.

Lochlan took a long drink from the bottle of scotch and passed it off to Hunter. “Who were Shayne an’ Molly?” Lochlan inquired in his airy Irish accent. “I don’t think I have ever met ‘em.”

“They were of Callum’s blood,” Aoife said, standing up and walking over to Archer. She reached down and clasped one of his strong hands in hers. Archer looked at her and smiled a small, sad smile as she continued. “Callum turned Shayne O’Brien in the late 1960s in New York. Shayne was the son of a dear friend of Callum’s, and when Shayne was diagnosed at twenty-one with an inoperable and fatal brain tumor, Callum turned him. Shayne met Molly a few years later, fell in love, and asked Callum to turn her also. Shayne never fully embraced this life and he made the choice to live alone with Molly here in Texas.”

Aoife glanced at me for the first time and I saw unshed tears in her eyes. She quickly looked away and at Lochlan again. “Shayne and Molly O’Brien didn’t have a single enemy in this world. They were quiet, never left their little town, and never interacted with others of our kind. They were sweet, innocent, and very much in love. They didn’t deserve being sucked dry and ripped to pieces.” I watched as the tears in her eyes finally became too much to contain and they spilled down her beautiful, milky white face. She must have known them both, I thought sadly.

“There’s more,” Archer said gravely. “Sliocht Sheáin in Boston and Sliocht Brocc in Chicago have each lost three brothers in the past month. They were all killed in the same manner.” He took a deep breath before adding, “And we have no word from Callum. He has been missing from his home in New York for the past two weeks. No one has seen him.”

“Why di’nna we know about dis?!” Seamus exploded in his thick Irish/Scottish lilt; standing up with his fists clenched tightly, a look of pure, murderous rage on his face. It was obvious he was itching to fight back. “Someone is feckin’ murderin’ our kind, damnú air! Why di’nna you tell us sooner? Why di’nna someone from Sheáin’s family tell us? For feck’s sake, Athair, we cu’da helped! We cu’da tried!”

Trey’s body started to tremble uncontrollably and he looked over at me with quiet desperation in his eyes. I could see how hard he was trying to keep it together and how close he was to failing. I got up from the table, walked over to Hunter, and took the bottle of scotch from his hands with a quick ‘Thank you’. I brought it over to Trey and had him take several long sips as I sat down again next to him, softly rubbing circles on his back with my hand and gently whispering words of reassurance in his ear.

Archer looked worriedly over at Trey and then back to Seamus. “Tóg go bog é, Seamus, please. Tá sé ceart go leor a mhic.”

“Callum, brother?” I heard Jamison question softly behind me. “Why didn’t you tell me?” There was genuine pain in his voice. I glanced back and saw a mixture of confusion and betrayal marred his usual carefree appearance. “You know he is my friend.”

Archer put one hand to his heart and immediately looked remorseful. “Youngblood, I…”

“Wait,” Quinn interrupted. “I don’t understand, Athair. What does this all mean?”

Archer reluctantly turned his attention away from Jameson and addressed Quinn’s question. “It means, my son, that there is a vampire or similar blood drinking creature out there consuming our blood and leaving no witnesses to tell the tale. As to the message left on Greyson’s body, I have no idea what it means.”

“But why, Archer?” I asked, looking over at him and Aoife. She was still clutching tightly to his hand, lending him support. “I mean, I thought vampires only fed from humans. Why would a vampire drink another vampire’s blood?”

“We don’t feed on other vampires, Skye,” Archer explained, letting go of Aoife’s hand and resuming his seat in a nearby chair. He motioned for a still fuming Seamus to do the same. Archer watched as Seamus reluctantly complied and then resumed speaking. “Feeding off another vampire for nourishment is considered cannibalism. It simply isn’t done and, before I became aware of these murders, I wouldn’t have believed that someone was capable of doing something so unspeakable.”

“The only time a vampire really consumes the blood of another vampire is when they have chosen their mate.” Aoife interrupted as she walked over to stand beside Archer. She reached up to lightly stroke his dark chestnut hair, and a look filled her eyes that clearly stated ‘he’s mine’. “There is a sacred, private ritual that is performed. You can liken it to one of your marriage ceremonies. In the sharing of blood, two vampires become one. Forever.” She sounded like she spoke from experience. Had she and Archer performed this ritual? That would explain a lot, I thought silently. Not dating anyone my ass, Archer. Yeah, you’re not dating her because you’re probably already married to her. I saw the way they acted around each other. There was a comfortable intimacy and carnal familiarity there. Even a blind man could see that. I glanced over at Archer before quickly looking away. He was staring straight at me and I had no doubt that he had psychically heard my thoughts. Well, at this point, I couldn’t have cared less.

“Sometimes, it’s exchanged during intercourse with your mate for bonding purposes, but it’s not done often,” Aoife elaborated further.

“Why are you only telling us about this now, Archer?” Trey whispered, breaking his silence and I jumped at the unexpectedness of it.

“Because, my dear Nathaniel, I can no longer protect any of you from this. Believe me children, I didn’t keep this from you to hurt you, quite the contrary. I didn’t want to unnecessarily alarm you. I had no way of knowing that this…creature would come here. I’m telling you now because this monster, whoever it is, has entered our home. They came into our house and murdered our brother.”

“But Seamus, Aoife, and I were in Boston when those in Sliocht Sheáin were murdered,” Lochlan said. “You should have told us, Athair.”

“I wish I had been able to, but I had been given my own orders to remain silent,” Archer sighed. “Other leaders didn’t want to incite panic amongst their own. We didn’t know if the killings were random or if that monster was specifically targeting some of us. All of the vampires that this creature has killed so far are of our own species, those who walk in the light. Our inside sources have informed us that there have been no similar cases among the Dark Ones. We still haven’t found a pattern in the killings and we don’t yet understand why some of our kind was killed and others seemingly overlooked.”

“What of An Dílis?” Hunter asked. “When will they be here?”

“They should be here in roughly nine hours,” Archer replied. “They have been preparing for the journey here for the last few days.”

“I’ve never seen one before,” Trey leaned over and whispered to me, passing me the bottle of scotch. He seemed like he had some margin of control over himself again and I was glad for it. I guess drinking helped dull some of the raw emotions he was picking up from everyone.

“Who are the An Dílis? What does that even mean?” I asked Trey before taking a big swig from the bottle and passing it off to Jameson on my left.

“An Dílis means ‘The Faithful’. They are kind of like our race’s equivalent to your military. They are big and bad, and if they’re coming, shit has definitely hit the fan.”

“Oh dear…,” I whispered.

Archer stood up and walked to the center of our haphazard gathering, slowly looking around at us as he spoke. “I want each of you to pair up with someone and stay with that person at all times. When we leave here tonight, we all leave together as a group. Jameson will lead the way in his car and I will bring up the rear in mine. I want you all to stay with me in my house until this is over.”

“Aye,” Jameson said.

“Tonight, we will say goodbye to our Greyson. Tomorrow, we prepare for what may come. Each of you will select and carry a weapon from my armory. You will not be without it at any time. Ever. Is that understood?”

“Aye, Athair,” the vampires agreed in unison.

Archer glanced around at everyone again and sighed heavily. “I don’t think I could bear it if something happened to any of you.”

Trey sniffed and broke down into tears again. This time they were silent. I put my arm around him and held him. Poor Trey was so sensitive…

“Alright,” Archer said, turning to Quinn. “Let’s get this done as quickly as possible. The sheets are upstairs.” Quinn nodded and wasted no time in ascending Archer’s private staircase. Archer then spoke to the rest of us. “Hunter and Seamus are going to clean the second floor. The rest of you divide up the first. I want us on the road within the hour, so use haste.”

Everyone started splitting up and I turned to Trey. “Are you going to be okay, honey?” I asked as I briefly squeezed him in a side hug.

Trey took a deep breath, removed a dainty lace-trimmed white handkerchief from his back pocket and dabbed at his eyes. “I will be,” he said with a deep sigh. “It’s been a taxing evening, hasn’t it?” I nodded my head and gave him a final pat on the back before I stood up.

“I’m sorry you had to go through that,” I said softly. “I can’t imagine what it’s like to feel everyone’s emotions all at once.”

Trey smiled sadly and shook his head. “I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.”

A light breeze ruffled my hair and I whipped around to find Jameson standing behind me.

“Agh!” I screamed in surprise, dropping the bottle of Grey Goose that I was holding and clutching my hands tightly to my heart.

Jameson flashed his hand out and caught it before it hit the ground. “Sorry, love, sorry,” he apologized quickly, setting the bottle in the near-full box at my feet. “I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

“Uh…, no, I’m sorry,” I said, taking a deep breath and shaking my head. “I’m just a bit on edge still I guess.” I turned around and resumed selecting liquor bottles to restock both bars with.

“Archer’s looking for you,” Jameson said, reaching over my shoulder and grabbing a bottle of Macallan 18.

I grabbed four more bottles and put them in the box before turning around. “Yeah? What does he want?” I asked, tossing my long auburn hair over my left shoulder and out of my face.

“No clue,” Jameson answered, bending down and picking up the full box at my feet. “He’s up in his office, though. I’ll follow you out.”

I sighed, nodded my head, and left the room. I had Jameson put the box of new liquor bottles behind the first floor bar. I grabbed six bottles out and made my way up the wide metal staircase to the second floor. My eyes immediately went to the now empty table where we had found Greyson Mead’s dismembered body only forty minutes ago. Images of his decapitated head flashed in my mind and I fought a sudden, overwhelming wave of nausea. It was the most horrific thing I had ever seen and I knew I would vividly remember the gruesome sight until the day I died. I quickly shook my head and struggled hard to rid myself of the dreadful images. I swallowed the huge lump in my throat as I walked over to the bar and deposited the bottles on the counter.

“Thanks,” Hunter mumbled distractedly as he set down the rag he was using to clean the counter top with and started putting away the bottles.

“Yep,” I mumbled back as I turned to the left and opened the door to Archer’s private stairwell. I slowly trudged up the narrow, spiral staircase. After being on my feet for the last ten hours, my five inch spinal stilettos were absolutely killing me. I reminded myself to go to the employee lounge when I was done with Archer and get my comfortable black Converse Chucks out of my locker. I didn’t want to wear these heels a minute longer than I needed to.

I reached the top of the stairs and gave a quick three knocks on the closed office door.

“Enter,” Archer responded.

I opened the door a few inches and peered in. Archer was sitting behind his massive African Blackwood desk and was talking on the phone. Aoife was perched on the edge of the desk next to him, her long, shapely legs crossed at the knee. She glanced back at me, gave my body a judgmental once-over with her piercing crystal blue eyes, and turned her attention back to Archer.

I rolled my eyes and walked into the room, closing the door behind me. Archer motioned for me to have a seat in one of the sleek black chairs sitting in front of his desk. I silently complied, double crossing my legs, and waited patiently for him to get off the phone.

“I don’t care how long it takes, Gunnar. Just get it for me. Spare no expense.” Archer said into the phone quickly before hanging up and turning his attention to me with a sigh. “How’s it going down there? Is everyone almost finished?”

“Yes, sir,” I replied with a nod. “They’ve been cleaning circles around me.”

Archer leaned back in his chair and looked up at Aoife. “Can we have a few minutes alone, please, Cion?”

Aoife’s back became rigid straight and she glanced at me before getting up. “As you wish.”

I made a point not to look at her as she sauntered around the desk and to the door, her eyes watching me every step of the way. I waited for the door to close before I spoke. “Did you need something?” I asked.

Archer leaned forward in his chair and took off his expensive charcoal gray sports coat. “I wanted to see how you were handling all of this,” he said, throwing the coat onto the couch and moving to take off his cufflinks. I watched him struggle for a second before I intervened.

“Here, let me help you.” I said as I got up from the chair and walked around his desk. He smiled tiredly, sighed, and thanked me. I hopped up onto the desk, sat in the same place Aoife had only moments ago occupied and pulled his hand onto my lap. I slowly took off his left cufflink and sat it down on the dark desk beside me. I looked into his ice blue eyes as I rolled the shirtsleeve up his muscular forearm. “Honestly, Archer, I don’t know how I am handling this.”

He stared intensely into my eyes and searched them for clues. “Are you scared?” I nodded my head and gave him his arm back. I picked up his right one and began the same process again. “You know I’ll never let anything happen to you, don’t you?”

I watched my hands work as I thought about that for a few seconds. “I know,” I said finally, looking back up into his beautiful eyes. Neither of us said anything for a long moment. “I’m worried about you…about all of you,” I admitted reluctantly, my fingers finishing their work.

Archer took one of my hands in his and leaned closer. “We’re going to be just fine,” he said, tucking a stray hair behind my left ear and then lifting my chin. “We’re a lot stronger than we look, Skye.”

I had a sudden flash of Greyson’s mutilated body and I swallowed hard, shaking my head. My eyes glistened with unshed tears. “But Greyson…,”

Archer shushed me with a gentle finger to my full lips. “Don’t,” he whispered, looking deeply into my eyes. “Don’t think about that.” He cupped my cheek and tenderly ran his thumb over my mouth, tracing my bottom lip.

“I’m sorry for how I acted earlier tonight,” he apologized gently, his eyes remorseful.

“I know,” I whispered. I tilted my head into his cool hand and closed my eyes. His touch was so comforting, his strong arms safe. I felt my body slowly start to relax for the first time tonight.

“I want you to stay with me tonight, Skye.” My eyes flew open in alarm and I sat up straight. “Us,” Archer amended quickly. “I meant I want you to stay with us…at my house.”

I relaxed infinitesimally and shook my head. “I’m sorry. I can’t. I’ve got to go home to Styvi Nix,” I explained. He dropped his hand and leaned back a bit. “Besides, I’ll be safe at my house, Archer. That monster isn’t going around killing humans, right?”

Archer shook his head and sighed. “No, thank God.”

I scooted forward on the desk so that my feet touched the floor. I crossed my legs at the ankles and folded my arms under my chest. “Is there anything else you need before I call it a night?”

“Actually, there is. I’m going to be busy with An Dílis tomorrow evening so I need you and Jameson to run the club. I want Trey working the front door with Seamus and scanning the emotions of everyone coming in. I don’t want anyone with malicious intentions stepping foot into my club again.”

“That’s a really good idea,” I said, nodding my head. “Will he be able to pick up if someone is trying to be deceitful? I mean, what if someone is really good at hiding their emotions?”

“Nathaniel is an extraordinarily sensitive empath,” he said simply. Archer appeared confident in Trey’s abilities and that was very reassuring.

“I’ll have to work the main bar if Trey is going to be working the door. Our barback Ducky just got his bartending license but I don’t think he’s ready to handle the level of customer influx we have, not yet anyway. Besides, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be relying heavily on him tomorrow night. I’m not as fast as Trey.”

“That sounds good,” Archer said, smiling up at me. It was a very brief, small smile, but it was genuine. All too soon, his face fell again and you could see the night’s events weighing heavily upon him.

“You should go home and get some rest,” I said gently, sympathetically.

His brow furrowed and he looked away, sighing and shaking his head. “I can’t. There’s so much still to do.”

“Are you going to cremate Greyson tonight?” I asked uncertainly.

“Yes. It is tradition,” he explained. “We do not rebury our dead.” He rubbed his left temple and sighed again.

I uncrossed my arms and hesitantly reached up with one hand to run my fingers through the tiny patch of gray hair that dappled his left temple. I couldn’t help myself. I could see that Greyson’s death had taken a serious toll on him and I wanted to comfort him; to tell him that everything would be okay. I wanted to wrap my arms around him and kiss the pain from each of his eyes. No matter our problems, or how abundant they were, I couldn’t stand to see him hurting. I never again wanted to see the look he had on his face when he turned away from Greyson’s body.

Archer looked up and slowly studied me. For a while, neither of us said anything as we stared into each other’s eyes. “There’s so much I want to say to you right now,” he whispered, breaking the comfortable silence; his voice filled with raw honesty and immense sadness. Vulnerability was not something I was used to seeing in Archer’s eyes. He was the opposite of vulnerable in every way.

“I know,” I replied softly, pulling him close. His strong arms slid easily around my narrow waist as he relaxed into me. He gently laid his head on my chest and I cradled it with one hand as I softly ran my fingers through his silky brown hair with the other.

We quietly sat like that, our arms wrapped around each other, for a long while.

The office door abruptly opened and I jumped.

Archer lifted his head from my chest and looked up into my questioning eyes. “What do you need, Aoife?” he asked, never breaking his gaze.

I broke eye contact and turned to look at her. She had her fists clenched tightly down at her sides as she looked back and forth between us. She looked angry. Oh hell, I thought miserably. I didn’t feel like dealing with her attitude right now. I turned back around and let go of Archer as I moved to stand up.

I saw the muscles working in Archer’s jaw as he stood up too and crossed his arms over his chest. “I asked you a question, páiste,” he said firmly.

Aoife bowed her head somewhat in submission. “Everyone is finished, Athair,” she said, a slight bite to her voice. “They await our departure.”

Archer swiped the cufflinks off his desk with a sigh and roughly shoved them into his pants pocket.

“I’ll get your jacket,” I quickly offered and crossed the room. I tried not to look at Aoife, but I could feel her watching my every move.

“Enough, Aoife,” Archer suddenly growled behind me. “Ifreann na fola! Mórán cainte ar bheagán cúise, don’t you think?”

“Ní maith liom ise, Archer!” she bit back, harshly annunciating his name.

“Is cuma liom, Aoife!” he replied, copying her.

Oy vey, I sighed inwardly. These two were giving me a headache. I was guessing she must have been talking silently to Archer before the fight broke out. The look on his face clearly stated he wasn’t happy with her. Well, this isn’t awkward at all, I thought sarcastically. I brought the jacket over to Archer and chanced a peek at Aoife. She was still glaring at me, her nostrils flared.

Archer took the jacket from me and slung it over his arm. He quickly handed me the five black wristbands that I would need for the VIP dancers tomorrow. “Would you like us to follow you home?”

I shook my head and put the wristbands in my back pocket. “Thank you, but no. I’ll be okay.” The last thing I wanted was Aoife knowing where I lived. I shuddered at the thought. I looked into his eyes and silently spoke. I’m going to go. Have a good night and be safe.

He closed the two foot gap between us and placed a gentle, lingering kiss on my forehead. “Thank you for everything,” he whispered gently before stepping back.

I nodded my head, turned, and made my way to the door, quickly sidestepping Aoife in the process. I was eager to get out. You could have cut the tension in the room with a butter knife. I hurried down the spiral stairs, completely forgetting about the pain in my feet, and, when I reached the second floor, descended the second set of stairs equally as fast.

“Where are you off to in a hurry?” Jameson asked me, concern filling his voice, as I crossed the main floor.

I stopped and detoured over to the barstools where Jameson and the rest of the crew sat talking. “I’m going to head home,” I answered. “Archer and Aoife will be down any second and then you all can leave.”

“Do you want me to follow you home?” Jameson asked, concern lacing his voice.

I shook my head and thanked him. “I’ll be fine,” I said quietly. I leaned over and quickly kissed him on the cheek. “Thank you, though. I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“I’ll be here, love.”

I gave him a small smile then walked two barstools over to where Trey sat staring into a glass of amber liquor. “How are you doing?” I asked him, putting my hand on his shoulder.

Trey looked up and smiled tiredly. “I’m better now…much better, thank you.” He turned in his chair and reached for my hand. He held onto it tightly with both of his and said, “I want you to know that I really appreciate what you did for me up there…with Greyson. You are a kindhearted and compassionate soul.” Trey patted my hand and his brow furrowed momentarily as he searched for words. “You…radiate goodness, grace, mercy and love, Skye Morrison. I’ve been on this earth a long time and have met thousands of people over the years, but you, my dear, are a rare find.”

I put my other hand over my heart. “Aw, thank you Trey. That’s really sweet.” I was genuinely touched by his words. I reached over and hugged his neck.

“You are a real gem honey, and I am glad to have you as a friend,” he said as he patted my back.

“Me too, Trey,” I said, squeezing his neck one last time before bidding goodbye to the somber gathering of vampires.

I stopped by the lounge and retrieved the messenger bag from my locker before heading out the back door. All I wanted to do was get home, take a blisteringly hot shower, and go to bed.

Ten minutes later, I pulled into my driveway and parked next to Nikki’s old brown Volvo wagon. I looked over at her side of the house and saw that she was still awake. Her living room light was on and I fought the urge to knock on her door and tell her about the awful thing that had happened tonight. How would she take it if I told her that vampires really existed, that I was working for them and one of their vampire friends was dismembered earlier tonight inside The Mausoleum?

I shook my head and chuckled bitterly. “She’d have me committed to a mental institution,” I said aloud to myself.

I really wished that I could open up to her about my new job. I talked to Nikki about everything; she was my best friend, but I couldn’t talk to her about this. Archer and Jameson never told me that I couldn’t tell anyone about them, but I’m sure they’d appreciate my silence on the subject.

I grabbed my bag and keys and made my way over to the front door. As I approached my porch, I saw a vase full of flowers, a card, and a giftwrapped box sitting on the doormat. I stopped mid stride, looked around, but saw no strange cars and no one outside. It was 3:30am and all was quiet on my street. I hurried to the door, unlocked it, grabbed the gifts from the doormat and brought them into the house before quickly shutting the door behind me.

Styvi Nix, my three year old miniature French bulldog, quickly came bounding down the stairs to greet me. I sat the gift box and my bag on the floor and placed the vase of flowers on my entry table. I bent down, scooped her up, and held her tight. “How’s my gorgeous girl?” I purred. “Were you a good girl today?” She barked and licked my face, her stubby tail wagging furiously. I sat her down and went to the kitchen to retrieve a treat for her. She followed me in, jumping up and down all the way before sitting obediently at my feet. “Here you are, super star,” I said as I handed her the small milk bone. She happily tossed it around the kitchen a few times before taking it over to her black skull doggy bed to devour.

I remembered the gifts left at my door and walked over to retrieve them. I brought the flowers, card and box into the kitchen and sat down with them at the kitchen table. Who could have gotten me these? The flowers were a gorgeous mix of colorful Peruvian Lilies and Gerbera Daisies. I took a moment to bend over and inhale their happy scent. I decided to open the box first and slowly undid the ribbon and wrapping paper. The gift box was pink and stamped with a gold V.S. My brow furrowed and I put the box down. What the hell? This is from Victoria’s Secret. No one should be buying me anything from Victoria’s Secret. I wasn’t dating anyone so the box was really starting to weird me out. I hesitantly reached out, took off the top, and peeled back the gold tissue paper. Inside was a skimpy cut-out, barely there white eyelet and ruffle teddy. I swallowed hard and put it back in the box. I was suddenly scared to find out who had been so bold as to buy me lingerie. I grabbed the card and tore the envelope open. My hand started to shake as I read the inscription.

“My dearest Skye,

Please forgive me for how I’ve been acting. I’ve been a complete jackass. I’m just so lost without you baby. I thought maybe we could try dating again and take it slow. What do you think? I’ve included a ticket to this weekend’s Black Keys concert and I hope that you will meet me there. I’ve got the other one and will be waiting for you by the front entrance. Wear the teddy for me, sexy. It’ll be a night to remember for sure…

All my love,

Jesse”

Jesse Prescott was my ex-boyfriend turned delusional creepy stalker. Just last week he put his hands on me at my old job, Drop Kick Dan’s. I hated to admit it, but I was terrified of him.

I looked into the envelope and there sat the white concert ticket. I dropped the card in horror and got up from the table. “Are you freakin’ kidding me?” I said aloud, my voice rising angrily. I scoffed and put my hands on my hips. “Un-freakin’-believable!” I was angry. Not just angry, I was furious. How dare he come by my home and leave that disgusting teddy! As if I’d EVER wear something like that for him again! Hell would freeze over first. Jesse and I were over and had been for months.

I quickly gathered the flowers, card, giftwrapping and box and walked out the side door that led to my garage. I lifted the lid on my trash can, threw everything in it and put the lid back down. I walked back inside, locked the door and washed my hands. There is something seriously wrong with him. How could he think, after what he did to me in the club last week, that I’d ever want to have anything to do with him again? I shook my head, dried my hands and realized that my whole body was shaking. Get a grip, girl. You’re in your house and you are safe.

My eyes flew to the front door and I realized that I had forgotten to lock it when I came in. I ran over to it and threw the deadbolt as quickly as I could. I locked the door handle and threw the chain on it too just for good measure. I leaned my back up against the door and tried to take even, calming breaths. My heart was racing and I felt sick to my stomach. Jesse Prescott had become an object of my nightmares. He had been calling my phone and coming by my work and house for weeks. He was defiling my home, my sanctuary, with his unwelcome visits and gifts. I shook myself again, made sure all the doors and windows were locked, and went upstairs to take a scalding hot shower. After the day I had at work, Jesse’s loser antics were just the icing on the cake. I was mentally exhausted and couldn’t wait to crawl into bed.

I showered quickly, toweled off, and blew my waist length red hair dry. I threw on my TXRD Holy Rollers t-shirt and a black pair of bikini panties and crawled into bed. I whistled for Styvi Nix, set the alarm on my cell phone, and snuggled under the covers with her. “I love you so much, my good girl,” I said kissing her head. She licked my cheek and snuggled in my arms. “Goodnight, sweet pea.”