Melanie laughed and smiled her way through the crowd of shirtless men mulling around the beach volleyball pit. She glanced back at the table where she’d left Jodi and Laura several minutes ago, but it was empty. Jodi was probably off playing bondage with her dungeon master, though she’d be horrified if she new that Melanie had guessed her secret. And Laura must have gone home to pine over her missing secret agent man, who was probably out enjoying himself with some other girl stupid enough to fall for that line.
Melanie turned back to the cluster of muscular, tattooed men she’d been keeping an eye on for most of the night. A couple of them were wearing camo, most had dog tags around their neck. The chance that one of them had PTSD from whatever war he’d come back from was pretty high, she figured - and tonight she was going to put that man out of his misery. As a reward for his service, and a service to her country, of course. Normally she stayed away from military guys, but she was feeling her inner daredevil tonight.
Most of the group were on their feet, laughing, tossing back beers, checking out chicks. But there were two sitting near the wall, sipping at their drinks and peeling labels while they talked quietly. She licked her lips and started their way. Nothing like an easy target...
It took some time to reach the back table, but when she finally extricated herself from their far-too-eager buddies, she knew exactly which one she’d be taking home. With a friendly smile to the man on the left, she slid onto a bar stool next to the other guy and held out her hand.
“I’m Lanie,” she said as he reluctantly took it. “I know you probably think I’m a hooker, but I’m not. I do find you very attractive though, and your buddies said you were single, so I thought I’d introduce myself. Is that too forward?”
The other guy nearly choked on his beer as he laughed at her monologue. Melanie rewarded him with a grin as he stood up and slapped her target on the shoulder.
“That’s the best offer you’re going to get this month, Tom. I’d take the lady up on her offer, if I were you.” He lifted his bottle to Melanie and then went to join the rest of their group.
“You’re lying,” Tom said once his friend was out of earshot. “They already paid you, didn’t they? I told ‘em I don’t need no woman, so you can just run along now. Keep your money. Serves ‘em right.”
Melanie shot him a sympathetic smile and leaned in close, low enough for him to see down the front of her blouse as she caressed his arm.
“Honey, you can believe what you want, but I know a man who needs...release...when I see one. We’re not talking about strings here, or awkward morning after chit-chat. Just sex in the parking lot, quick and dirty. Then you can come back and I’ll go home, both happier and satisfied. Don’t you want to help a girl out? You’re not the only one who needs a little playtime, sugar.”
He looked her in the eyes, and she held his stare until he finally gave in.
“Yeah. Okay.” He got up and she grabbed his hand, waving to the others as they left amidst a slew of mocking boos. Out the back door and into the alley just a few feet from where she’d left her car, she flung herself up against the brick wall and grabbed his shirt, pulling him hard up against her.
“Do you like it rough, baby?” she whispered in his ear as his hands grabbed her hips. “‘Cause I like it rough. I want to feel those hands pinching, slapping. Just let it all out on me, baby. Treat me like your prisoner. You want to, right?”
His teeth bit down hard on her neck and she winced at the pain. Oh yeah. This soldier liked it rough. He’d go out feeling good. She could give him that much.
He yanked her dress up around her waist and slid his hands behind her butt, delivering a hard smack to one side and an eye-watering pinch to the other. She let her head fall back against the wall as she palmed the needle from a pouch in her belt and let him rip the front of her shirt open. Arching her back, she waited until his teeth latched onto her breast and then plunged the needle into his neck.
He barely had time to glance up at her before his eyes rolled back in their sockets and his legs gave out. Melanie quickly straightened her clothes as much as possible and then got in the car, pulling it close enough so she could wrangle the soldier’s body into the back seat. Checking to make sure nothing was left behind, she got back in the car and drove home, adrenaline flowing hot and heavy through her veins.
She pressed the button to open the garage door and wasn’t surprised to see Aaron standing by the house entry, waiting. For once, she didn’t care. She couldn’t think of a single thing she’d forgotten, and the thought of the piece she’d make from the soldier’s skin, and how she’d present it to the Veteran’s Administration - anonymously of course - in his honor gave her a high to rival any drug on the streets.
Parking the car, she pressed the button again to close the door and then got out, flashing a huge smile at her would-be partner.
“You should have been there, Aaron. It was amazing. I found the perfect subject - a PTSD victim and ended his suffering. His canvass will be the perfect base for an art piece in memoriam. I already have a design mapped out in my head. It’s going to be so fabulous. Would you carry him in for me? He’s all muscle. The all are, aren’t they?”
She brushed past him and opened the door to the house, setting her purse and keys on the counter inside. Turning back, she was surprised to see Aaron just standing there, staring at her.
“Aaron? What’s wrong?”
He frowned, rubbing his forehead and then dragging his hand down the side of his face.
“You killed a soldier...on Memorial Day?”
She palmed a knife from the counter and crossed her arms over her chest, leaning a shoulder against the door frame. “I was helping him. He was miserable. Having a hard time fitting back in. I ended his suffering, and his skin will go towards a good cause. Do you have a problem with that?” She raised an eyebrow, considering her next few moves should he answer incorrectly.
He was taller and stronger, and smart enough to know she wouldn’t let him leave without a fight. He’d expect her to go for his neck, so the femoral artery would be her best bet. It would make a huge mess, but it would be relatively quick.
He shifted and her muscles tensed, ready for action.
“I was just...surprised, is all. Military police aren’t just going to let this go, you know. If you left any shred of evidence, they’ll hunt you down, and you might not even make it to prison. I’m surprised you’d take that risk, frankly.”
Melanie shrugged, her muscles relaxing slightly. “If they find me, they find me. Sooner or later, I’m going to get caught - you found me, after all. But for now, I’d rather not worry about what might happen, and focus on what did, and my shiny new project here. Now will you carry him inside, or do I need to move him myself?”
He held both hands up, surrendering. “I’ll bring him in. You want him on the table downstairs like last time?”
She nodded. “Yes please. And maybe I’ll even let you help me with the skinning this time, if you’d like.”
Aaron smiled. “That would be fun. I’ll let you change, and meet you down there.”
Melanie turned and went inside, returning the knife to the counter as she passed by. A quick shower and change of clothes later, she went down to the basement where Aaron had laid out the body, stoked the stove, cut off the clothing and arranged her tools on the workbench. She looked over all of his preparations in delight.
“How did you remember where everything goes, and what I needed? This is wonderful, Aaron!” She kissed him on the cheek, enjoying the blush that crept under his skin. He returned her smile.
“I pay close attention to everything you do,” he said, staring straight into her eyes. “I love to watch you work.”
Melanie thought she could actually feel her heart melt a little. The feeling was scary, but somehow exhilarating.
“That is so sweet. Let me just mark our cuts out, and then we’ll hang him up and get this project started. If we work quickly, maybe we can even get the skins salted yet tonight.”
Aaron handed her the container of blood-powder ink and her fountain pen.
Several hours later, Melanie wiped the sweat from her brow with a small towel, handing a clean one to Aaron. Standing back from the salting board, she surveyed their handiwork. Two large pieces of skin were centered over the narrow slats, with several smaller pieces of varying size were attached randomly in the rest of the available space. She’d built the contraption herself, to allow the hides to dry without having to tilt the boards - the small openings between the slats allowed the moisture to fall through, while the skin itself kept the salt from falling. Each piece of hide had been cleaned well and sprinkled liberally with rock salt to create a hostile environment for any bacteria or disease.
“How long do we leave them there?” Aaron asked, collecting the last of her tools in a red bin for cleaning. She turned to help, stretching her arms overhead and yawning.
“A few days,” she said, pulling down the large spray nozzle that hung above her work table and turning the water on. “After that, I’ll soak them and tan them and once they’re dry, they’ll be ready to use.”
She hosed down the stainless steel morgue table, careful to do a thorough job as the hot water steamed off the surface.
“Can I help you with the tanning process?”
She smiled. “I’ll think about it, okay?” Glancing at the clock on the wall, she was shocked to realize it was nearly four in the morning. “Is that clock correct?”
Aaron checked his watch and nodded. “Yep, looks like we pulled an all nighter.”
Melanie frowned. “Neither of the girls checked in last night - or I didn’t hear my phone ring, anyways. I need my phone.” She looked around, examining every inch of the workbench twice. Then she looked up at Aaron as she remembered.
“Oh God. I left it in my purse. Upstairs. I’m the one who didn’t check in. If they called the police they’ll both put me at that bar last night...I need to call them - right now!”
She took the stairs two at a time and riffled through her purse, her fingers clumsy as they searched. Finally pulling it free, she accessed her voice mail and listened to several frantic messages, the last one just twenty minutes ago, saying they were coming over.
“Shit.” She dialed Laura’s number, but it just kept ringing in her ear. Trying Jodi next, she was relieved when her friend picked up.
“Melanie? Is that you? Are you okay? Where the hell have you been?”
“I am so, so, so sorry,” Melanie said. I was downstairs, and I left my phone upstairs, and I totally forgot. I hope you can both forgive me - is Laura okay? She didn’t pick up when I called.”
“She’s fine, just mad. Hey, we’re right outside your door. Want to invite us in for coffee?” No!
“Of course! I’ll be right there.”
Melanie disconnected the call and gave Aaron an apologetic look.
“I’m sorry,” she said, surprised to realize she meant it.
He nodded. “It’s okay.” He checked the lock on the basement door and then moved in close, lifting her arm to place a kiss on the heart-shaped scar he’d given her the first time they met. “Until next time.” He went out the back door, and Melanie stared at it for a long moment before impatient knocking on the front door reminded her she had guests.
Next time, she thought as she jogged through the living room. It actually kind of had a nice ring to it...
Enjoying our darling
little serial killer/artist? Want to know what the
other girls are up to? Their stories are much different, but if you're
curious, you can read Laura's story here (romantic suspense) and Jodi's here (erotic romance).
The next installment of Melanie's story will be posted on Independence Day, July 4, 2013.
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