Sunday, December 24, 11:15am
Victoria’s hands trembled as she tried to unlock her front door. She dropped the keys on the welcome mat.
Bending down to pick them up, she felt the hairs stand up on the back of her neck. Quickly letting herself inside, she locked the door, engaged the deadbolt and propped a chair under the doorknob for good measure.
Looking through the narrow curtain by the door, she couldn’t see anything sinister in front of her house.
Her house. She still couldn’t get over the realization of life without her husband. Part of her was sad but a larger part was relieved. She knew if she’d stayed with him, and she would have because she had no choice, eventually he would kill her. Death claimed him first.
Still peering through the curtains, she watched as a slight figure eased out from behind the house across the street. It was him.
Victoria could not imagine how he’d found her. She’d cut all ties to family and friend when she changed her entire life. She had changed her name and even her social security number. It had not taken much effort to change either—knowing the right person and having enough cash made a lot of things possible.
Cash was not her problem. The trust her father set up for her so many decades ago was healthy and growing. He had not done it out of guilt; no, her father had imprisoned her with money.
Every year, she would meet with her father and listen to him go through the details of her conception. If she did not show up, neither did her money for the year. He was very clear about how indebted she was to him. Every year she forced herself to remain calm and not punch her father’s brains out of his head.
He was finally dead. Thank goodness. She could not take his ridicule of her life any more. Her father made fun of her life choices for hours during their forced yearly meetings and there was nothing she could do about it.
Life, or death, had taken care of that problem. Now she had another. The boy was in the periphery of her life. He terrified her.
When he was born, how could she have known what her child would become? If there was something worse than her own father, it was her own child.
Blood would always tell. Sinclair blood was as tainted as a river running alongside an eco-dodging chemical plant.
Her sister had taken all of the news Victoria gave her with nothing more than a snake-like stare and a slight nod of her head. Moody Sinclair was definitely their father’s daughter.
She had not batted an eye when Victoria revealed how they were siblings. Victoria had expected a little surprise, but Moody didn’t blink. How horrid life much have been for her little sister.
Moody had not cringed when Victoria told the secret only a handful of people knew. Victoria had not wanted to share some of the facts of her life, but Moody was family. If you can’t trust family, who can you trust?
It was strange, though. Moody’s reaction to Victoria showing up on her doorstep with the news of their shared ancestry and the warning about the boy was decidedly a non-reaction. Moody seemed to be expecting something like this. Or maybe Victoria was just reading more into Moody’s mood than was there. Sinclairs were strange creatures.
The boy was still out there. As Victoria watched, he stood beside the house across the street and stared at Victoria’s front door. She felt he saw her watching him.
Maybe it was simply a coincidence. After all, she had just come from the Sinclair home and the boy, her son, was a Sinclair. She had never kept that fact from him. She had never kept from him any of the money Morris paid her, either.
She gave him whatever he wanted with only a few strings attached. One condition was that he cover his sinister tracks. She knew the bad blood of the Sinclairs had infected her son, but she loved and feared him just the same.
Another condition was he never seek out Morris. That condition was nullified now that Morris was dead. Victoria realized she should have included all the Sinclairs in her command.
A part of her felt duty-bound to warn others about Marcus. Even as a child, Victoria had been a little afraid of her own son. As an adult, Marcus was terrifying. He had the constitution of a serial killer. Victoria never wanted to know if her son had acted on the impulses that fed his mind throughout his childhood and early adulthood. It was better to pretend his stories had been the result of a wild imagination and not actual fact.
He was still there, watching from across the street. He had not changed position in the half hour she’d been watching him watch her house. All this watching was giving her a mountain of a headache.
She had warned Moody. That was all she could do. If something happened to either one of them, well, Victoria’s hands were clean.
Except for the part where she had spawned a demon. Marcus was the devil incarnate and Victoria was partially responsible for letting him loose in the world.
Victoria had wanted a different life. She had achieved it for a while. Even a husband who abused her had been a welcome relief to the life she’d left behind.
Look where that path of her life had led her. Back to the beginning. Or maybe it was the ending. Rubicon Ranch seemed to be a good place for endings. The community was becoming notorious for gruesome final acts.
Yes, Victoria thought, maybe it was time to end things for the Sinclairs. This tainted blood was an abomination.