Working in the homicide division of the Detroit Police Department, has made Angelo Baldoni, a third generation officer, pretty much immune to the depths of depravity seen in his years on the force. When a young woman is brutally murdered, the case of Hope Cooper can change the course of his life.Hope, an outgoing young woman with everything going for her, lost it all the night that she was faced with the vicious eyes of a murderer. Stuck in limbo, Hope is confused and scared, trying to right the wrong done to her. Able to visit people in their dreams, Hope latches onto Angelo in hopes he can catch her killer.Angelo was raised with a strong belief in the afterlife and the dreams of Hope don’t go unnoticed. With the help of his partner, Bobby, he aims to catch the killer before he strikes again. However, a cold case causes Angelo’s past to merge with Hope’s case.Will he keep his feelings at bay to find the murderer? Or will it be too late?
I hate this ankle biting Yorkie as much as I hate its owner. If I could, I’d get rid of this client, but any business is good business, right? I own a mobile pet grooming company, Squeaky Clean, and so far it’s doing well. But today, I’m thanking everything that’s holy that as soon as I drop off Jeanie Costa’s Yorkshire terrier, I’m done for the day.
I usually enjoy walking the dogs down Hines Drive because it’s one of the last truly beautiful areas left in the Detroit area. After everything that’s happened, I’m always looking over my shoulder because I feel like I’m being watched. Hines Drive doesn’t calm me like it usually does, and I find myself rushing the dog so we can get out of here. With the sound of footsteps behind me, fear settles in my soul, causing me to start pulling the dog along.
“Oh my God, will you just pee already!” I scream at the dog when it stops for the millionth time. Fear hits me full force and I’m about to just pick up the damn dog and run when Gigi growls. A large, calloused hand grips my shoulder and spins me around. I swing my arms, trying like hell to strike my attacker, but hit nothing but air. As soon as I recognize him, anger quickly replaces fear.
“Fuck! You scared me half to death!”
“I’m sorry, Hope. I didn’t mean to startle you,” he s~ays, looking away.
“What are you doing in this area, anyway? You don’t live around here.” The hair on the back of my neck is standing up and a frisson of disquiet travels down my spine. I mean, what are the odds that he’d be on the same street as me, when neither of us lives in this area?
“I can’t wait any longer,” he whispers.
“What?” I choke out, uneasiness creeping into my gut. I look around and realize there is not a single person or car in sight. Smart move, Hope. Put yourself in a dangerous situation by not paying attention to your surroundings.
“I’m done waiting for you.” He lunges toward me, the black metal butt of a pistol gripped in his raised hand. He hits me on the head with such force that I actually see stars and feel incredible pain shoot through my temple. The momentum of the blow makes me think my brain shifted in my skull. I stumble backward, and the last thing I see is Gigi biting my attacker’s leg.
As I regain consciousness, I’m petrified when I can’t see my surroundings. When my eyes adjust to the dimly lit room, it becomes evident that I’m no longer outside, and I’ve been hogtied.
I can feel the bile rise in the back of my throat as I glance around the room. The painted walls are yellowed and peeling. An old, battered wooden chair is nearby, and a dented bucket sits off in the corner. It’s the mattress that does me in, stained from top to bottom with a piss-covered top that reeks of decay. I take a few deep breaths and swallow back the rising vomit in my throat.
It’s finally happened; that psycho finally kept his promises. As my heart and breathing quicken, I’m too scared to think straight. I force myself to take calming breaths so I can try and figure out how to get out of here. I try to get a better idea of my location, but all that’s visible is a window, most of the glass covered with boards.
A loud shattering sound echoes from the next room, reminding me that I’m not alone. Pretending I’m still out, I hear heavy footsteps approaching and sense my stalker standing over me. He bends down and runs his fingers through my hair in an intimate gesture.
“I’ve loved you forever, Hope; I wish you could see that.” He grabs a handful of my hair and seeing me wince seems to piss him off. Apparently realizing I was faking, he pulls me by my hair to the edge of the mattress and slams my head to the floor. It makes a sickening thud sound as it hits followed by an instant, nauseating throbbing. Warm liquid, probably my blood, drips down the side of my face into my mouth. The metallic taste fuels my fear—and my anger. I thrash against the bindings in an attempt to free myself but only manage to cause the filthy rope to dig deeper into my wrists and ankles, leaving me raw and bleeding.
“I waited so long for you, baby, but you never gave me a chance. I do so many nice things for you, and you don’t even have the manners to say thank you.” He turns to look at me, venom in his eyes. I stop struggling as I shake my head to try and clear my thoughts and possibly ease the throbbing. I hope my fear is not evident to him.
Deep breaths, Hope, you’ve to get a grip if you want to live.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know it was you. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“What difference does it make? You don’t give a shit either way.” He starts to pace and seems to become more agitated. He fists his hands into his dark hair, pulling on the ends. I twist my left wrist, wincing in pain from the rope digging into my abraded flesh, but I feel the rope slowly giving way. Every time he glances in my direction, I freeze as my fear creeps higher. I’m praying he doesn’t notice what I’m doing.
“I never wanted it to end this way, but you have left me with no other choice. I can’t keep watching you every day, knowing you won’t be mine.” He stops pacing to look at me, pulls a roll of duct tape out of his jacket pocket as he saunters over to me twirling the roll around his finger with an evil smirk on his face.
“Please don’t do this.” Tears are streaming down my face. “I’ll do anything you want. Please. I’m sorry. I didn’t know sooner; let me make it up to you.” I try to sound genuine, but fear overcomes me and my words sound shaky and unsure.
“MAKE IT UP TO ME?” he yells. “It’s too late for empty promises, Hope. Just shut the fuck up. I won’t listen to your bullshit anymore.” Before I can even open my mouth, he slaps me in the face so hard my head whips back. The sound of my neck cracking reverberates throughout the room. The force of the blow causes my jaw to clamp down so hard I bite into my tongue, the blood pooling in my mouth.
He kneels down to get eye level with me, and I spit the mixture of blood and saliva in his face. “You bitch!” He rises up and wipes his face. Finally pulling a hand free, I punch him as hard as I can in the groin. Grabbing his crotch, he falls sideways with a loud groan, writhing in pain.
Frantically kicking my legs free, knowing my life depends on getting away, I run to the door, throw it open, and come face to face with complete darkness. My heart racing, I pick a direction and pray it’s the right one.
“Hope, get back here!” he yells.
Shit, he’s getting up.
I dodge into a room as he stumbles out, crashing into a table, causing him to yell in pain. “Where the fuck are you? When I find you, so help me God, you’ll be sorry, bitch,” he growls. Looking around the moonlit room I spot what looks like a small closet. I get in, moving the nasty, ratty clothing that still hangs there aside and close the door behind me. Pressing myself up against the wall, the only sounds are my heavy breathing and rapid heartbeat.
“I know you’re here, you can’t hide from me, you stupid slut.” His voice gets louder and I know he’s only seconds from entering the room. My panic reaches new heights as I push myself to the back of the closet and close my eyes like a child. If I can’t see him then he can’t see me…right? Suddenly, the door flies open and I cover my mouth to silence my scream. Grabbing the first limb he sees, he yanks my battered body from the small enclosure, knocking the wind out of me as my back slams against the hardwood floor.
“Ah ha, gotcha bitch,” he laughs. “Now it’s time to pay for being such a whore and teasing me all the time.” Placing his foot on my neck, holding me in place, I gasp for air. He jerks my arms behind my back, nearly dislocating my shoulder. My struggling doesn’t deter him, and he ties the ropes tighter than he did the first time.
“Just stop fighting this, Hope.” When I continue to try and get free, he sneers and punches me in the face. Blood gushes from my nose, mixing with the dark pools that flow from my mouth and head. My face throbs and my tongue burns from the salt in my tears as he finishes his work, quickly leaving me totally at his mercy. Pulling a switchblade out of his scuffed combat boot, he flicks it open, and slowly drags the double-edged blade lightly up my body, stopping when the cold steel touches my cheek, smearing the blood that has continued to run down my face. Closing my eyes tightly, I pray he won’t use it, but I silently begin to say my goodbyes.
“You are so beautiful, Hope. I could’ve given you the world. Can you not see how much I love you, what you mean to me? Do you know how bad it hurts watching you from afar when you should have been mine? DO YOU?” His breathing becomes more ragged as he shoves the knife under my shirt. I hold my breath, knowing where this is going. He cuts through my shirt, the knife razor-sharp, and then makes quick work of my bra, leaving me naked from the waist up.
“You. Are. Mine. Hope. I believe it’s finally time to take what’s mine.” I start to struggle against the ropes until I feel the edge of the knife at my throat. “Move again, slut, and I will cut your throat end to end and watch the life drain from your body.”
Heather is a full time student working to get her Bachelors in Human services specializing in substance abuse counseling. She’s an Air Force Veteran and enjoyed fighting for her country. Heather supports many different groups that help out other veterans.