Chapter 1 1
CORRECTIONAL TREATMENT FACILITY
Marsia Gay would be living like a queen, not like an animal locked in a cell, if it weren’t for FBI agent Dillon Savich. He was the one who’d screwed her perfect plan sideways, the man responsible for her being locked in this soulless circle of hell. Of course, that bitch Veronica would pay for her betrayal, too, no doubt about that, but he was the one who’d rained this misery down on her, the one she wanted most.
Savich was a dead man walking—but not yet, not just yet. She wanted to savor his downfall. He would die only after she killed the two people closest to him, the two people whose deaths would hurt him most.
She knew she had to snag his interest with something unique, begin with only an oblique threat, nothing too over-the-top, but something enigmatic and bizarre enough that Savich wouldn’t be able to resist. And suck him in. She wouldn’t underestimate him, not this time. He’d proven he was smart, but she was just as smart—no, she was smarter, and she was going to prove it. She’d make sure Savich knew it was Marsia Gay who’d set everything in motion, who’d had her final revenge. Halloween was coming up. It was the perfect time.
She heard her mother’s vodka-slurred voice whisper, Even as a child, when you wanted something, you grabbed for it, didn’t think. Didn’t work out for you this time, did it?
“I won’t fail this time!” She didn’t realize she’d screamed the words until the guard, a big lummox named Maxie, appeared at the bars and stared at her. Marsia wished she could tear her face off. “A nightmare, sorry.”
Maxie didn’t point out it wasn’t dark yet, too early to sleep. She only shrugged and walked away. Marsia went over to the narrow window that looked out over the desolate exercise yard with its scarred, ancient wooden tables and benches, the pathetic torn basketball hoop where she usually won playing Horse—cigarettes, a small bar of soap from a Holiday Inn, an offer of a prison tattoo made from soot and shampoo or melted Styrofoam, no thank you. She saw Angela lounging against a wall, probably giving orders to her minions. What a sweet name for a mean-as-a-snake muscled gang leader awaiting trial for the murder of her boyfriend and his lover. It hadn’t been difficult to seduce Angela into her orbit. She’d been even easier to manipulate than Veronica. Angela had taken to Marsia right away, told her she’d see to it no one would harm her, if Marsia was nice to her. Marsia had shuddered when Angela lightly touched her arm, but, well, Marsia had been nice. Angela always stayed in sight and took care of whatever Marsia wanted. She kept the other bullies away from the pretty artist girl who spoke so beautifully and was always so polite, so of course they hated her instinctively. Angela never tired of hearing about Marsia’s sculptures, how she worked with this metal and that. Marsia missed her sculpting, of course, but now she looked forward to returning to her studio once she was found not guilty at her trial, and of course her studio would still be waiting for her. After all, she owned the building.
The wind had stiffened, whipping up the dirt into dust devils. She saw a dozen women wandering around the yard, doing nothing in particular, and one lone prisoner, head down, pacing back and forth, apart from the others. It was Veronica. She’d rarely seen her here. The guards made sure they were kept apart, but soon that wouldn’t matter. Marsia knew Veronica well enough to know she felt guilt, awful guilt, about striking the deal as the prosecution’s star witness against Marsia in exchange for the safety they’d promised her. Sorry, Veronica, that isn’t going to happen; it’s going to get you killed. With no witness to testify against Marsia, the evidence would be more circumstantial than not. No, not enough to convict her.
Veronica, I’m going to choreograph a special dance for you to mark your exit from the planet. Thank you.
Later, on the edge of sleep, she heard her dead lush of a mother speaking in her ear. I could tell you things you haven’t thought of yet, wormy things you could do. I could help you.
She didn’t scream out this time. She lay there and whispered, “Okay, Mom, talk to me.”