Home > Edge of Darkness

Edge of Darkness
Author: Paige Tyler

PROLOGUE

 

 

Stamford, Connecticut

 

“PIZZA, MEXICAN, OR THAI?”

Presley Kincaid looked up from the pile of mail she was flipping through to see her roommate Darla Warren holding up a handful of takeout menus. Petite with shoulder-length curly red hair and freckles, they’d been friends since college.

Presley tossed the mail on the table in the entryway and walked into the kitchen. “Why don’t we go out for dinner instead?”

Darla frowned, but didn’t answer. Since dumping her asshole boyfriend two weeks ago, she hadn’t left the apartment for anything except to go to work and back. But that was going to change tonight. Presley was getting Darla out of the apartment if she had to drag her kicking and screaming.

“Come on,” Presley said. “After the past couple of weeks, we could both use a night out. We can go to Jimmy’s Bar and Grill and flirt with the hot waiters. Maybe even check out a club afterward. How about it?”

Darla still didn’t say anything, but Presley could tell from the thoughtful look in her friend’s hazel eyes that she was wavering. The hunky servers at Jimmy’s could do that to a girl. Presley was about to remind her of one particularly tall, blond Adonis who worked there when the doorbell rang.

“I’ll get it,” Darla said, hurrying past Presley and over to the door.

“Saved by the bell,” Presley muttered.

Darla put her eye to the peephole, only to immediately jerk back, panic on her face. “Crap. It’s Carson.”

Presley cursed silently. Carson Del Vecchio was Darla’s ex-boyfriend. He’d seemed nice enough when they first started going out, but after a few months he’d become possessive and abusive. Presley would have dumped him right away, but Darla made excuses for his behavior, saying he was stressed or having a hard time at work. After the a-hole had grabbed Darla’s wrist hard enough to give her a bruise, Presley finally convinced her to kick his ass to the curb. Unfortunately, Del Vecchio didn’t take the break-up well and had been stalking Darla ever since. Presley would have to talk to her about getting a restraining order against him.

She and Darla stared at each other and Presley could tell her friend was thinking the same thing she was. Maybe he’d leave if he thought they weren’t home.

“I know you’re in there, Darla.” Del Vecchio pounded on the door with his fist. “Open the damn door.”

Presley put a finger to her lips, silently urging Darla to keep quiet. “I’ll get rid of him,” she whispered. Taking a deep breath, she walked over to the door, but didn’t open it. “Darla isn’t here.”

“Bullshit! I saw her come home,” Del Vecchio said. “Let me in.”

“Go away, Carson.”

On the other side of the door, he muttered something Presley couldn’t make out. When he spoke again, his voice was calmer. “Look, I only want to talk to her.”

“Well, she doesn’t want to talk to you.”

Silence met her words and for a moment Presley thought Del Vecchio left, but when she put her eye to the peephole to check, she saw him standing in the hallway, a determined look on his face.

Crap.

“Come on, Presley. Let me in so I can talk to Darla. It’ll only take a minute.”

Presley clenched her jaw. What part of go away didn’t that jackass understand? Reaching for the knob with a curse, she yanked open the door.

“I told you, Darla doesn’t want to talk—”

Del Vecchio didn’t let her finish. Grabbing her arm, he shoved her back from the doorway. Presley barely had time to wonder what the hell he was doing, much less open her mouth to ask, when he lifted a butcher knife and plunged it into her chest. She heard a scream but didn’t know if it came from her or Darla. All she could focus on was the white-hot pain searing through her body.

As suddenly as he’d attacked her, Del Vecchio yanked out the knife and threw her to the floor. Presley landed hard on her left shoulder, but the discomfort that came with it was nothing compared to the agony in her chest. She pressed her hand to the wound, hoping to stop the pain along with the flow of blood, but it didn’t do much good, at least not when it came to the pain part of the equation. It hurt so much she thought she might throw up.

From somewhere, an anguished cry of terror pierced her suddenly fuzzy consciousness.

Darla.

Gritting her teeth against the pain, Presley pushed herself up on an elbow and looked around for her friend. Darla was on the floor, Del Vecchio crouching down beside her, the knife to her throat. He ripped open Darla’s blouse and drew the blade down her chest, leaving a trail of blood. Darla opened her mouth to scream, but Del Vecchio put his hand over her mouth, silencing her.

Fear gripped Presley. She had to get help or that psychopath was going to kill both of them.

Ignoring the blackness threatening to engulf her, Presley dug in the pocket of her jeans for her cell phone. Gritting her teeth against the pain in her chest, she pulled it out and dialed 9-1-1.

“9-1-1, what’s your emergency?”

Presley opened her mouth, but all that came out was a groan.

“Hello?” the woman on the other end of the line said. “Is someone there?”

Presley swallowed hard and tried again. “Help… We need help… He’s trying to kill…”

That was all she could manage before a fit of coughing overtook her. Blood filled her mouth and she cringed at the metallic taste.

“Ma’am? Are you okay? If you can hear me, say something.”

But all Presley could do was lay there. As she stared up at the living room ceiling, it occurred to her that except for the voice coming from the phone, the apartment was eerily quiet. Presley turned her head to see Darla lying in a pool of blood, staring back at her with unseeing eyes.

Tears welled in Presley’s eyes and she choked back a sob. Del Vecchio spun around to look at her, blood dripping from the knife in his hand. His lip curled into a sneer.

“I’ll be damned. I thought for sure you were already dead. Can’t say I’m sorry you aren’t. Now, I can pay you back for talking Darla into dumping me.”

Snickering, he wiped the knife on his pant leg and started toward her.

Blood pounding in her ears, Presley dragged herself across the floor. She expected Del Vecchio to catch up with her within a few feet, but when she looked over her shoulder, she found him following at a ridiculously leisurely pace. He was toying with her, the sick bastard.

Stifling another sob, Presley turned and crawled toward the sliding glass door that led to the balcony. There was nowhere to go out there except fifteen floors down, but it was too late to change direction now. Besides, she might be able to scream for help. Of course, by the time someone came to her rescue, she would probably be dead.

Stop it. You’re going to get out of this alive.

She repeated that over and over in her head as she inched the rest of the way to the sliding door. Using the handle for leverage, she slowly pulled herself to her feet. She closed her eyes, praying she wouldn’t pass out as everything went black around her. When she opened them again, she saw Del Vecchio’s reflection coming closer in the glass and she fumbled desperately with the latch. It unlocked easily, but she had to put all her weight into the door to push it open. Dammit, she was so weak.

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