Excerpt from Sharp Instruments

I knew him. I had seen him at local real estate events and had even negotiated with him on the sale of a home he had listed. That made me nearly as nauseous as the pictures. Because, even though I hadn’t known him well, I had no inkling of the depravity that lay just below the surface of a man that seemed completely normal. If this was what our society’s most hideous monster looked like, then it was terrifying. Terrifying because he looked like a neighbor. He looked like a husband. He looked like a friend.

I didn’t look at his name. From the moment I opened the envelope he had no name, he was only the target. Now I had to find him and eliminate him. Preferably in a manner that did not involve me ending up in jail or ruining my Versace dress or Jimmy Choos. I slid the package into a hidden compartment under my seat and locked it so it would be safe from anyone snooping. I then turned my Mustang over to the boys at the valet station and entered the party for the second time that night.

I scanned the terrace for my target and located him at the bar across the dance floor. He was swaying a bit, looking as if he had already reached his limit. Perhaps this would be easier than I thought. I stood there watching him for a moment, trying to find some hint in his looks or demeanor that would betray the evil inside. Nothing. He looked like ninety five percent of the men at this party, middle-aged white guy with glasses and a slight paunch – nondescript. I scanned the room again to be sure McKenna was occupied with his own assignment, and wandered around the edge of the dance floor to where my quarry was downing the last drops of his whiskey.

“Where’s the nearest men’s room?”

His words were only slightly slurred, but the bartender seemed to think he had a bit too much as well. He gave the directions slowly, pointing down a path to my right that led away from the crowd, toward a small building a few hundred yards away. The sidewalk was hidden by vegetation from the rest of the terrace in places and had several steep staircases, as the restrooms were at a lower level than the dance floor. I’d been to several events here and had used those restrooms before. As the target paid his bar tab, I slipped down the path ahead of him to a point that I knew I would not be seen by the rest of the party. If my luck held, no one else would come down the path.

I hid behind a heavy stand of plants near the top of a steep flight of stairs to wait. It wasn’t long before my prey came into sight. He was staggering slightly making my job even easier. As he paused a moment at the top of the stairs, probably to be sure of his footing in his impaired state, I silently slipped up behind him, holding my breath. This had to look like an accident.

In one quick move, I reached around him, put one hand on his chin and one on the side of his head. Pushing hard with my right hand, I pulled with the left until I heard the “snap!” I dropped his lifeless body down the stairs. To most coroners and forensic investigators, it would appear he had fallen down the stairs and broken his neck.

The real world is not like the television shows. Police departments aren’t overflowing with high tech gadgetry that can determine a neck was snapped seconds before the body tumbled down the stairs. In the real world a dead drunk at the bottom of a staircase with a broken neck is a sad mishap that won’t cost the taxpayers any money to investigate.

After a quick once over to be sure I left no trace of my presence there, I hurried down the path to the restrooms, and went into the ladies room to wait for the body to be discovered. It would be much less suspicious for me to be just a guest that was in the restroom when a tragedy occurred than to be caught trying to put as much distance between myself and the body as possible. It also would help to explain my presence on the path in case anyone had seen me go toward the stairs. I was still checking my dress and shoes for any damage or stray plant matter when I heard a woman’s scream.

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