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A Killer's Mind (Zoe Bentley Mystery Book 1) by Mike Omer (1)

CHAPTER 1

Chicago, Illinois, Sunday, July 10, 2016

The sharp scent of formaldehyde filled the room as he poured the liquid into the mixture. He had hated the smell at first. But he’d learned to appreciate it, knowing what it represented: eternity. The embalming fluid kept things from deteriorating. “Till death do us part” was an unambitious concept at best. True love should ascend beyond that point.

He added more salt than the last time, hoping for better results. It was a delicate balance; he’d learned that the hard way. The embalming fluid promised eternity, but the saline solution added flexibility.

A good relationship had to be flexible.

There was a creak beyond the locked door. The noises—a series of irregular squeaking and scraping sounds, intermingled with the girl’s labored groans—grated on his nerves. She was trying to untie herself again. Always moving, always trying to get away from him—they were all the same at first. But she’d change; he would make sure of that. There would be no more incessant movement, no muffled begging, no hoarse screams.

She would be quiet and still. And then they would learn to love each other.

A sudden crash broke his concentration. Irritated, he put down the salt and went over to the barred door. He unlocked it and pushed it open. Light spilled into the dark room beyond.

She was lying on the floor, squirming. She had tipped the wooden chair onto its side, and it had broken. Somehow she’d managed to get her feet loose and was pushing herself across the floor on her bare back, trying to . . . what? Leave? There was no leaving. Her naked body was wiggling in a way that made him feel uncomfortable. That, along with her muffled grunts, made her seem more animal than human. This had to stop.

He walked in, grabbed her by the arm, and pulled her to her feet, ignoring her scream. She started thrashing and wriggling.

“Stop that,” he said harshly.

She didn’t. He nearly hit her then but instead forced himself to breathe deeply several times, unclenching his rigid fist. A bruise wouldn’t fade easily from a dead body, and he wanted her reasonably unblemished.

Ideally, he wanted to postpone this moment. With the previous girl, he’d actually had a romantic candlelit dinner just before the transformation. It had been nice.

But not necessary.

He could leave her in the room, but she might hurt herself, scrape her perfect milky skin, and he didn’t want that to happen.

Instead, he shoved her into his workshop and sat her down in his own chair. She squirmed, her left foot striking his shin. The foot was bare, the kick painless, but it annoyed him. He grabbed the scalpel from the table and placed the sharp blade on her left breast, just under her nipple.

“If you don’t stop moving, I’ll cut,” he said, his voice cold.

She slumped immediately, trembling in fear. Her submissiveness excited him, a sweet moment of foreplay, and his heart raced faster. He was already falling in love.

He gently picked up the noose he had prepared beforehand from the table. He was happy with the rope’s texture. Previously, he had used a regular cotton rope and had hated the mark it left. The friction had marred the perfect skin. This time he would use a synthetic all-purpose rope. The texture was smooth, pleasant. He thought she might like its touch.

He placed it around her throat. As she sensed the silky rope tightening on her neck, she began thrashing again, but it was too late for any of that.

The noose was a simple slipknot with one tiny change. He had wedged a slim metal bar inside the knot. Now he slid the knot until the noose was tight around her throat—tight enough that it wouldn’t move around. He wanted only one mark, not more. Then, grasping the metal bar, he turned it clockwise. One twist, two twists, three twists—the noose gripped her neck tighter and tighter. Her thrashing became even wilder, and one of her feet hit the table violently, leaving a bruise for sure. One final twist . . . it was enough.

As her thrashing weakened, he considered the mark the noose would leave. Initially, he had wished there would be no mark at all. But he now thought of it as his first gift, a beautiful necklace to signify their bond. Regular people used a ring around a finger. No wonder the divorce rate was so high.

When the squirming stopped, he trembled with excitement. He really should start working on her. The faster he got the embalming mixture into her body, the fresher she would be.

But he was overcome by desire.

He decided he could have a bit of fun first.