Free Sample of SLEEP TIGHT
As I’m writing, I’m getting more and more excited about this one coming out this summer! I wanted to share a small bit with you so you can get excited too! And, without further ado:
The dirt beneath her was cold and damp. It reminded her of the days she’d help her grandfather put out a garden. He’d till the soil and she’d lie in it and make dirt angels, packing the dirt back down. He could have been angry, but he was indulgent and let her have her childish fun. She could still hear his laughter as he brushed the rich black soil off her overalls. She’d wrap her grubby hands around his neck for a spontaneous kiss to the cheek.
She lay there daydreaming of her youth and the good things in her life. She thought of her brothers and their stupid pranks. As the only female sibling, she was often the recipient of those pranks. She swore that she would come up with a good one to play on them someday to get them back.
They’ll think this is a prank at first. She wished she could tell them straight up that this wasn’t a joke to save them the shock. It would start with a laugh that would morph into disbelief then despair and finally a mix with shame at laughing at first.
She thought of her father and how he always tried to act as if he wasn’t treating her any differently from her brothers, but he couldn’t help himself. After her mother had died so young, she had been the only female. Her grandmother had already passed so that left one flower in the garden. Because she was the only one, she never had to worry about guys giving her too much of a problem. She had a backing that was five men strong and each of them would willingly give his life for her.
She was glad they had not been asked to make that sacrifice. They were soon going to be missing the softness of a female in their number, but her brothers would find wives and have children. It would be replenished. The flowers would bloom once more in their family. They all had so much love to share. She longed to be a part of it.
She opened weary eyes to the canopy of leaves above. She was surrounded by greens and browns and grays. The sky shown brilliantly blue when the wind shifted the branches and let her have a peek. There are worse places for one to die.
Who was responsible for her death was still a mystery to her. She had been stalked and haunted for weeks. She had gotten security for her home. She hadn’t wanted to worry the men in her life. They were always on the edge when it came to her. There had been nothing truly threatening to lead her to believe she was in real danger. But she had felt it, nonetheless.
Things went missing. They were returned exactly where they should have been all along. Items that were always in the same place were moved. Emails were sent that she had not written. Text messages were deleted. Photos of random things would just appear on her camera roll. Posts to her social media that would sound like her, but she had never posted, would be liked and shared by her friends.
Most of the things that had happened could be reasoned away. But then there were things that were unmistakably someone else’s doing. Flowers in the seat of her locked car. Words written on the walls of her small cottage house (which was also locked). And now this. Her dying in the woods.
She doesn’t even know if it was a man or woman. They had a slender build but were still fairly strong. Definitely not very old. Maybe between 25-35? These are just guesses. She had seen nothing. Not even today. She had been working in her own flower garden thinking of how she was carrying on her family legacy of growing things. There had been a jarring hit on the head that made her see stars and made her neck hurt from the force. She didn’t go under but felt the waters of blackness begin to swim before her eyes. She tilted slightly to the side but struggled to right herself before putting a hand up to feel where she had been struck. The second blow did it.
When she woke, she felt dirt being shoveled on to her. Her groan must have gotten her attackers attention. But, instead of knocking her back out, she saw a figure in a hoodie pull out a knife. She felt the blade before she could try to do anything about it. Three slices. One at her throat and one to each wrist. Then this person, the reason she was bleeding out on the forest floor, left. Nothing was said. She could just hear the crunch of shoes trodding on nature getting farther and farther away.
It was better this way. She just felt mostly sleepy. Dying under the dirt that was around her would have been horrific. Waking with it in her eyes, her throat, unable to take a breath, seeing nothing but the soil, that was what nightmares were made of. Now, there was pain, but most was floating away. She felt dizzy as if going under for surgery. She tried to wriggle her toes but felt nothing moving.
It reminded her of when she had to get her tonsils out as a child. Her mother sat at her side with her beautiful auburn hair flowing around her heart shaped face. Mom held her hand as she slowly drifted away. I’ll just focus on what that felt like. And instantly she could see her mother. She was still as beautiful as her memories of her. She appeared to be beckoning her forward. She reached out her hands for the last time toward a mother who was only there in her memory as her spirit left her lying in a shallow grave.