“Here, kitty,” she called as she entered the house and flipped on a light. She moved to the wall, quickly punching in the code to rearm the security system.
Sigmund usually met her in the hallway between the garage and the rest of the house, skidding down the polished wood floor before recovering his dignity and weaving between her legs. The chubby orange-striped cat, who reminded her of Garfield except for his shorter hair, could move impressively fast for an overweight beast. But tonight there was no sign of him.
Maggie switched on another light in the kitchen, dropping her bag on the countertop. The warm glow of the lights soothed her shattered nerves.
“I’m home, baby.” She tossed her keys down next to her satchel before moving back into the hall. Maybe the cat was napping on her bed. Still, he usually met her at the door, wanting his dinner. He’d adapted to her late hours months ago.
“Are you hungry?” Making her way toward the living room, she paused in midstep, an acrid smell burning her nostrils. And not the lingering scent of the dinner she’d cooked before she’d left for work that evening.
Wet copper. Warm pennies.
She stopped at the archway into the living room and flipped on another light. Her hand flew to her mouth. Dark smears violated her pristine cream-colored living room walls. The smears formed letters, the same letters over and over again. F. E. A. R. Splashed and dripping across the long wall over the couch. Letters six inches or three feet, cursive or block. The four-letter word was written repeatedly across the living room in various styles and sizes. But all in blood.
And before you worry too much about Sigmund (the kitty), you soon find out he's fine. It's not his blood.
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You can find more about Anne Marie at www.AnneMarieBecker.com.