Leia packed the wet sandy earth over the packet of pictures, breathing a sigh that the evidence of her prior existence was buried, just like the man who caused Jaz’s death. Her hands rested on the pile, her head bent over the mound, and she closed her eyes. Maisey whimpered, her head resting on her massive paws, in sympathy for a master who couldn’t change her past no matter how hard she tried.
The dog’s head snapped up and she growled. Alerted to the danger, Leia scrambled to her feet, her hands searching for the end of the leash as she scanned the landscape for the intruder. A man approached and the rain beat down harder. Maisey bared her teeth and the fur on the back of her shoulders and neck bristled.
The hair at Leia’s nape stood on end and a chill passed over her that had nothing to do with the cold rain. She forgot to find the loop of the leash as the young version of Morris Sinclair leered at her.
“You can’t bury the past, Leia.” His leer became a joyous grin. “Or should I call you Brandy? Or maybe Jasmine?” He stopped smiling. “Or just Jazzzzzz.” He dragged the end of the name out like a snake hissing. “You prefer Tara though, don’t you?”
Leia’s skin crawled with repulsion at the similarities of the man before her and her deceased tormenter.
He took a step towards her. “You’re still a young stupid woman, Leia.”
Her stomach turned every time he said her name. She took a step back. Maisey growled and held her ground.
The man glanced from her to the dog. He showed no signs of fear or concern about either female. “Do you really think that little pile of pictures you found in my room was all there was?”
Leia schooled herself to remain calm and in control. She had momentarily forgotten that she was a famous actress, well-trained in hiding her emotions. She stood tall and took a step forward, her face a controlled mask of confidence.
She looked the young Morris in the eye and forced herself not to throw up. “You had that stack. Why wouldn’t you have all of them? It’s apparent you had them for your own sick pleasures.”
The creep laughed. “Right. You’d know all about sick pleasures, wouldn’t you, starlet? I had that little pile for research. There are videos of the entire event from the time you walked into that room until they packed up the cameras and left. You have no idea what pleasures the two of you encountered while you were conscious or not. Don’t forget that my father had a fetish for dead things. You were as close to dead as you could get with all of those drugs in your system. It’s a miracle you didn’t die. My guess is he expected you to die and was shocked when you didn’t.” He paused and his brows knit together as if he was contemplating this new revelation. As quickly as it came, the expression passed and the leer returned. “I’ve seen all of your videos. You should thank Morris for turning you on to your future. You were made to be what you’ve become. My Holy One will reserve a special place for you.”
Even the best actress couldn’t hide her true emotions from a canine companion. She internally flinched at the creep’s words. Maisey responded to her master’s turmoil and warned the threat to back off. She lunged slightly with a low growl.
Leia narrowed her eyes. “I don’t do porn. I’m a family friendly actress.”
The creep grinned again. Leia had to lean in to hear his whispers. “You gave yourself away. I didn’t say porn. I said videos. You can pretend all day that your screen name is Tara Windsor, but we both know it’s Brandy Jasmine. You’ve made a couple of enhancements to your face but I still know who you are. You’re the poor little motherless daughter of a drunk, used and abused by men for years.” He paused. “And you liked it.”
Leia screamed. She didn’t plan to but she felt the effort burn in her throat and the sound rang in her ears. She reached into her pocket and pulled out the gun. She pointed, aimed, and fired all in one swift practiced motion.
As the bullet exited the chamber, a blur of fur caught Leia’s eye.
Leia wasn’t afraid of Maisey hurting the creep. She was worried the creep would hurt Maisey. Leia was too late and Maisey wasn’t listening anyway. Maisey’s instinct to protect her pack leader overtook any ideas of proper behavior and listening.
The look of panic on his face as the dog attacked was an unexpected moment of pleasure for Leia. Her mouth clamped shut. Part of her wanted to call the dog back but most of her wanted to watch Maisey devour the man. She was disappointed that Maisey only pinned him to the ground and clamped onto his arm. Leia almost laughed. At least now he would have a bloody stump to remember her by instead of stacks of illicit pictures and videos. Maybe he would bleed to death. A girl could hope.
“Call the dog off!”
The demand didn’t come from the man on the ground. He was probably suffocating under the weight of an angry mastiff. Leia worked hard not to grin at the thought.
“Call your dog off and put the gun down!”
Gun? Oh crap. Leia pointed the barrel back at the man on the ground. She didn’t keep her attention on him though, instead she looked for the source of the voice interfering in the attack. The man on the ground wasn’t going anywhere.
A woman stood about a hundred yards from Leia. Damn. Why were there so many others out in such miserable weather in the middle of the desert? She had purposely dug her hole and buried her evidence away from the worn paths. It was a good thing no one stumbled across her when she dug her first burial plot.
Leia went into full actress mode. “He attacked me!” Her voice shook enough to be believable. She pitched it enough to have a wail effect. “Tell the police to hurry! Thank God my dog protected me!”
The man on the ground tried to complain and get away from the dog. Maisey growled and got a better grip on the man’s arm. It was already a bloody mess. The man should have been shrieking in pain, but he wasn’t. He remained calm, his steely eyes locked onto Leia. She kicked at his feet to get him to struggle. If he struggled, Maisey would sense him as more of a threat and she would maul him. He wasn’t reacting the way prey should react. Maisey held him in place but Leia wanted her to kill him. He had to be in pain. Leia momentarily thought about shooting him in the head to get rid of him for good but she knew she couldn’t do that while the woman stood there watching.
She kept her gun trained on him in case Maisey decided he wasn’t a threat at all and let him go. If that happened, Leia would shoot him. She called out to the woman again, who had come close enough for her to recognize. Moody Sinclair. Morris’s daughter. “He’s been following me and he grabbed me. I’m not going to put the gun down until the police get here!”
Moody put her hands up at shoulder height in a non-aggressive manner. “I could care less if you shoot him or your dog eats him, but I don’t want you to accidently shoot me.”
The man on the ground moved to try to get the dog off. Maisey growled and placed a massive paw on his chest while keeping the tension in her jaws on his arm. He stopped moving. He didn’t glare at Leia anymore, instead closed his eyes and remained still. If he had been in a different place and time, Leia would believe he was in a meditative state.
She spoke quiet enough that Moody wouldn’t hear her. “Kill him, Maisey. Kill him, now.”