Sunday, December 24, 3:00pm
Victoria’s heart was still hurting. Almost an hour before, she had experienced sharp, burning pains in her chest. Anxiety was the first thing that came to her mind, but that wasn’t the answer to her distress. She had taken her “happy” pills after she left her half-sister’s house, so she was feeling pretty good.
Her son Marcus had finally left his post across the street. The last time she’d looked out the window he’d disappeared. Thinking back, she realized that was almost an hour before, too.
She rubbed her chest and wondered if this was the end of the line. She’d never had a heart attack, but considering everything she’d gone through over the past days, it was amazing she hadn’t suffered an attack or stroke or complete mental breakdown.
Moody had been warned. That was the only thing she could do for her Sinclair sibling. Although she cared for her son Marcus, she knew he was ruthless and would destroy anyone as a means to his own greedy ends.
Was it enough, though? Maybe she should tell the police about her wicked offspring. No, she couldn’t go that far. It needed to be kept in the Sinclair family.
Victoria picked up her house keys as she walked out. She paused to rub her chest again before she locked the front door. Not that she cared if any of the strange residents rummaged around her house. She was more concerned with her son’s unpredictable behavior. An unlocked house to Marcus would be like an unattended drugstore to an addict.
Maybe it was getting close to time for her to pack it up and move on. Rubicon Ranch had been nothing but darkness for her. She was ready to see the light.
The neighborhood felt shrouded in a shroud. How odd. An oppressive air was weighing Victoria down.
She knocked on Moody’s door and that infernal dog started barking. Leaning closer to the door, Victoria could hear a rustling sound. Knocking again, she waited.
The door opened a crack and Victoria looked into Moody’s dead eyes. She felt like she was looking at Morris. How horrible for Moody to go through life as a clone of her father.
“What do you want?”
Victoria cleared her throat. Her mouth was so dry and her heart was pounding like a sledgehammer.
“I don’t want you to be alone. Marcus is volatile. He’s remorseless and I would carry the guilt to my grave if something happens to you. He already killed my husband.”
Victoria watched Moody’s face. Her half-sister blinked once before she answered.
“Thanks, but I don’t need your help. I can take care of myself.”
The door closed in Victoria’s face. She felt her pulse race while she stood undecided on the Sinclair doorstep.
No. She had enough guilt to last her for the rest of her life. Not this time. She would save this part of her family like she couldn’t save Marcus.
Knocking one more time, she stood resolute. She would stay to protect Moody, outside or inside the house, whether she like it or not.
The door opened wider this time. Moody must have read her mind because she motioned her inside.
Victoria noticed the disarray in the entryway. A small table was knocked over. A plant was squatting in a broken pot on the ground. Victoria at first thought the dog had gone wild until she saw an athletic shoe in the corner that looked too big for Moody’s small foot.
“Did something happen?” she asked.
Moody shrugged and said, “Yes. Something happened and you might as well see.”
Victoria followed Moody into the living room. It looked like she had interrupted Moody in her efforts to drag a body rolled up in a rug. How clichéd, Victoria thought as she looked at the horror on the floor.
“Moody, we have to call the police.”
Shaking her head, Moody turned to face Victoria. “No. No, I don’t think we will. If you want to stay, you’re welcome to it all. I’m out of here.”
Victoria believed her half-sister. The dark tunnel of the gun pointed at her reinforced her belief that Moody was serious.
“Don’t look for me. Not that you’d be able to find me. With enough money, and I have enough, I’ll reinvent myself and be lost to everyone,” Moody said without glancing away from Victoria’s face. Victoria’s heart pounded and her chest felt like it was being squeezed tighter than the girdle she wore.
Victoria’s eyes started tearing up. She had just met her sibling and now she was running out of her life.
“Please, I’m sorry I didn’t know you until now. I want to get to know you. I don’t have anyone left but my son and he terrifies me.”
“Well . . .” Moody began with a chilling smile as she nudged the rug holding the body. It unrolled at Victoria’s feet and a boy looked up at her with glassy eyes.
Thump, thump. Victoria felt her heart explode. Her kneecaps shattered as she dropped to the hard stone floor but neither physical pain compared to the emotional one she was suffering.
“Shit happens,” she heard Moody say as she collapsed to the floor. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw her son’s still face. In all his adult life, this was the only time he looked peaceful.
She reached out, found his still warm hand and held it as her heart finally stopped.