Murder is Forever, Volume 2, страница 1
Copyright © 2018 by JBP Business, LLC
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First Edition: January 2018
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Library of Congress Control Number: 2017956662
ISBNs: 978-1-5387-4481-9 (trade paperback), 978-1-5387-4656-1 (hardcover library edition), 978-0-316-51492-7 (ebook)
Home Sweet Murder Chapter 1
: Murder on the Run
PART ONE Chapter 1
PART TWO Chapter 16
An Excerpt from “Fifty Fifty”
Above all else I’m a storyteller. I craft stories for insatiable readers. And though my books may seem over-the-top to some, I find that I am most often inspired by real life. After all, truth is stranger than fiction.
The crimes in this book are 100% real. Certain elements of the stories, some scenes and dialogue, locations, names, and characters have been fictionalized, but these stories are about real people committing real crimes, with real, horrifying consequences.
And as terrifying and visceral as it is to read about these crimes gone wrong, there’s something to remember: the bad guy always gets caught.
If you can’t get enough of these true crimes, please watch the pulse-racing new television series on Investigation Discovery, Murder Is Forever, where you’ll see these shocking crimes come to life.
I hope you’re as haunted by these accounts as I am. They’ll remind you that though humans have the capacity for incredible kindness, we also have the capacity for unspeakable violence and depravity.
Home Sweet Murder
James Patterson with Andrew Bourelle
Leo Fisher holds a pair of boxer undershorts to the knife wound in his neck, trying to stop the flow of blood pumping out. The shorts don’t seem to be doing much good. The fabric is soaked. His arm is slathered in sticky blood.
The sixty-one-year-old tries to take shallow, calming breaths. A spasm of pain rips through his chest. If the gouge in his neck doesn’t kill him, under such stress his heart condition surely will.
Hold on! he tells himself. Stay calm.
The advice seems impossible considering the circumstances. The house’s burglar alarm screams around him, a deafening, maddening tone that seems to grow louder and louder with each peal.
Faintly, from beyond the wail of his house’s alarm, he can just make out police sirens, getting closer.
Leo is sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall next to the hallway leading to the bedroom and his office. He doesn’t know where his wife is. He had blacked out and was awakened by the siren going off.
“Sue!” he calls, but there is no answer. “Muffy!” he yells again, using his pet name for her.
One of their cats pads down the hall, startling Leo. Its eyes are wild, its hair spiked. It’s more than the alarm that spooked it, Leo realizes. The cat is leaving a path of bloody paw prints behind as it runs into the living room.
“Sue,” Leo croaks, knowing the blood must belong to his wife of forty years.
The police sirens are suddenly very loud. There is a crashing at the door.
“Police!” a voice shouts.
Leo hears footsteps in the foyer.
He musters all the strength he can to yell out in a hoarse, trembling voice, “In here.”
A uniformed police officer appears, his gun drawn. Another officer follows close behind.
“My wife,” Leo croaks. “Do you see her?”
The first officer drops to his knees to help Leo. The second continues down the hall. Leo cranes his neck to watch the man.
From his angle going down the hallway, the officer can see into the office. A woman lies facedown on the floor next to the desk. The carpet beneath her is a swamp of crimson. Her back appears to be stippled with puncture wounds, with bloodstains blooming like roses through her white sweater.
Her hair is matted with blood.
She isn’t moving.
Leo sees the look of horror on the officer’s face. That’s the last thing Leo is able to take—he passes out. His limp hand falls, pulling away the makeshift bandage that was stemming his blood flow.
Fresh blood pumps out of his neck in rhythm with his heartbeat. Each pulse of blood is weaker than the one before it.
Earlier that night
November 9, 2014
Leo sits at the table, reading a novel, while Sue moves around the kitchen preparing their dinner. They’ve been married forty years, and this has become their evening ritual: Sue cooking while Leo keeps her company. They have lots of friends and enjoy plenty of social opportunities, but on any particular day, if given the choice, they like to stay home together.
For all the money Leo makes at the law firm, they like a simple life.
Sue notices Leo’s empty glass of water and says, “Do you want me to get you a refill, Pie?”
“Pie” is her nickname for him.
“Sure,” he says, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose.
Sue fills his water glass at the refrigerator and brings it to him. He looks up from the pages to offer her an appreciative smile.
Leo has a kind face. It’s one of the things she’s always loved about him. She noticed it when he was a twenty-year-old kid with dreams of becoming a lawyer, and she notices it now, four decades later. He’s gained a few pounds and most of his hair has fallen out—and what hair is left has turned white—but the kindness behind his smile has never changed.
Sue turns back to the kitchen counter, where she is preparing a basting sauce for their chicken dinner. She pushes the sleeves of her white sweater up to her elbows to make sure she doesn’t get anything on them. She combines olive oil, garlic, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper. She pours the mixture over the chicken breasts, then uses tongs to flip the breasts over and coat both sides.
The oven isn’t quite preheated yet, so she turns her attention to a few dishes in the sink.
Then she has a thought.
“Pie,” she says, trying not to sound like a nag, “did you take your medicine?”
“I will in a minute,” Leo says, not looking up from his book.
Sue doesn’t say a word. Instead, she leaves the kitchen and walks through the living room toward the hallway leading to the back of the house. Their home is nice—spacious but not extravagant. In McLean, Virginia, there are certainly bigger, more expensive houses. Ten miles from Washington, DC, the suburban community is home to diplomats, businessmen, and high-ranking government officials.
Most of Sue and Leo’s income comes from Leo’s work as a partner for the Bean, Kinney & Korman law firm in nearby Arlington. He works on cases involving trademarks, copyrights, business transactions, corporate disputes—nothing particularly exciting by most standards, but nevertheless a career that has given them a comfortable life together.
Sue walks down the hallway. She isn’t sure where Leo keeps his pills. She checks their bedroom first. She flicks on the light and spots both of their cats, Twist and Shout, submerged in the thick, snow-white duvet covering Sue and Leo’s California king bed. Twist raises his head and whips his tail rhythmically while Shout purrs loudly.
“Hi, sweeties,” Sue says, running her hands along both cats’ soft fur.
On each side of their bed, she and Leo have their own nightstands. Leo’s is practically empty except for a lamp and a handful of books in his to-read pile.
She doesn’t expect his medication to be on her side, but she checks anyway. There is nothing there but her face cream and a landline telephone.
She crosses through the bedroom into the bathroom they share. She checks his medicine cabinet. No luck.
She frowns. Where are those darn pills?
She leaves the bedroom and goes into Leo’s home office across the hall. Bookshelves line the back wall, filled with a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction titles, and decorated with framed photos and novelties purchased on their travels abroad. There is a love seat against one wall, with a couple throw pillows. A small end table sits to one side with a few more of Leo’s books lying on it. Leo’s desk, on the opposite wall, is neat and organized, with a large-screen desktop computer, another telephone, and a case file lying open. Sitting on the corner of the desk is a small bottle of prescription medication.
Sue checks the label to verify what it is.
Of course, she thinks. His heart is in his work, so why not keep his heart medication in his office?
She snatches the bottle off the surface of the desk and heads back to the kitchen. On her way through the living room, something catches her eye out the front picture window.
A vehicle is parked on the road at the end of their driveway. It’s an SUV of some sort, with its interior lights illuminated. She can make out two figures inside but, at this distance, can’t discern any details about them.
As if they can sense her watching, the lights inside the car go off, and everything behind the windows turns black.
It’s not unusual for people to park on the street in this neighborhood, but the properties are big enough, with long driveways, that people don’t often park anywhere but in front of the houses they’re visiting.
They must be lost, Sue thinks.
Maybe they stopped to look at a map or their GPS. Or to make a phone call or send a text.
But several seconds pass, and the car doesn’t move.
Sue suddenly realizes that they could be watching her, just as she had been watching them. The ceiling light is on, as well as a lamp in the corner, which would backlight Sue’s silhouette and make it easy for anyone on the road to see her standing there.
Sue feels goosebumps rise on her skin and she isn’t sure why.
She yanks the curtain closed and heads back toward the kitchen, telling herself there’s nothing to worry about.
“Here you go,” Sue says, setting the prescription bottle on the table next to Leo’s glass of water.
Leo puts his book down on the table and dutifully takes his pills.
“Is this how you’re going to spend your retirement, Muffy?” he says, taking a good-humored, teasing tone. “Keeping track of what I’m supposed to be doing?”
“If you would just retire too,” Sue says, returning to the counter and her dinner preparations, “then you could keep track of yourself.”
Leo chuckles. This is an ongoing conversation these days. Sue recently retired from a career in finance, and she’s been pressing him to join her.
“I’m only sixty-one—not ninety-nine,” Leo says. “I’m not ready to retire. I know it’s what was right for you, but it’s not for me. Not yet.”
“People don’t have quadruple bypass surgeries just to sit behind a desk,” Sue says, using a spoon to ladle more sauce onto the chicken breasts.
“I love what I do,” Leo says.
“Oh, I know,” she teases. “I’m well aware of your undying affair with the firm.”
Leo laughs and picks his book back up. If her jibes made any dent, he doesn’t show it.
She wishes he’d take her concerns seriously. She’s been thinking about mortality—both of theirs—ever since he had the heart attack that led to the surgery. They are both sixty-one, which isn’t old, but they aren’t spring chickens anymore.
It isn’t that she thinks they need to spend every minute of their lives together. But he works too hard. Even after his heart attack, Leo seems to think he will live forever. She can’t help but worry about him.
She can’t imagine life without him.
The oven buzzes, signaling that the preheat temperature has been reached. Sue opens the door, and, as she puts the casserole dish inside, the heat of the oven fogs the edges of her glasses.
She sets the timer and says, “Okay, dinner will be ready in—”
The doorbell rings.
Leo looks up from his book. Sue frowns and shrugs her shoulders, telling him she doesn’t know who it could be.
“Probably the courier from the firm,” Leo says, setting his book down and rising from his chair.
“On a Sunday night?” Sue says. “Are you expecting anything?”
“Not that I can think of,” Leo says.
He seems to think nothing of it, but S
Is he so busy that he can’t even keep track of what files are supposed to be delivered?
“Can’t we have one night to ourselves without your job interrupting us?”
Sue intends the question to be a tease, like the tone he used with her earlier, but when the words come out, she doesn’t recognize her own voice. She sounds like the nag she doesn’t want to be.
“I’m sure it’s nothing,” Leo says, seeming not to notice.
As Leo walks toward the foyer to answer the door, Sue remembers the car parked in front of their house. She opens her mouth to tell him to wait, but he’s already out of the room. Besides, what would she say? There’s a strange car parked on the street? So what. This isn’t a gated community. Anyone can drive down the street and park in front of their house.
The bell rings again.
The man at the door clearly isn’t a courier from the office. He is wearing a suit, but the fabric is wrinkled, as if he’s been sleeping in his clothes. Atop his head is a brown fedora like Harrison Ford wore in the Indiana Jones movies.
The man pulls a badge from his jacket, flashes it in front of Leo’s face, then makes it disappear back into his suit.
“I’m Jeffrey Wilkins from the SEC,” the man says. “I need to come in and ask you some questions.”
“I don’t understand,” Leo says, trying to make sense of what is happening. “What is this about?”
“Sir,” the agent says, “it’s urgent that I come inside.”
The agent tries to step forward, but Leo doesn’t make room for him. The man stands uncomfortably close to Leo.
“Are you sure you have the right address? My name is Leo Fisher.”
“Time is of the essence. We’re investigating misconduct at your firm, and I need to ask you a few questions. We’re speaking with all the partners. I’ve just come from Mr. Korman’s residence.”
“On a Sunday night?” Leo says.
“Like I said, this is urgent.”
Leo’s heart starts to race. What is going on?