The Player – A Short Story

The Player – A Short Story

The Player - A Short Story

The Player – A Short Story


Jacob Flynn thinks he’s God’s gift to women. His game is to see how quickly he can meet them, seduce them, and dump them. When things go too far one night with his latest conquest, Melanie, he ends up with a dead body. He manages to evade the police, but he doesn’t count on Melanie’s sister, Lauren, who will stop at nothing to uncover the truth.

The complete short story is available below.






The Player – A Short Story

Jacob Flynn sat poolside, dangled his long legs into the tepid water. He straightened his knees and observed his muscular calves, smiled with pride. He pulled his shoulders back, sucked in his stomach like a proud rooster. He touched his slicked back hair, black as coal thanks to his hairdresser, pulled into a tight pony tail. His all-over spray-on tan ensured no white lines. He had to look his best to get laid tonight. And that was his plan—the only reason to be at this dump.

His ears rang from the kids’ incessant screaming; his nose burned from the stench of chlorine and summer sweat. But if he could hook up with one of the little brat’s mothers, it would be worth the irritation. His gaze wandered around the chaise lounges, checking ring fingers. A single mom the perfect target—desperate for a man to save her from her pathetic existence.

Jacob zeroed in on his mark. She had long, red hair, milky white skin, and her voluptuous body filled out her bikini like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. Jacob pushed himself up from the concrete, his well-oiled biceps bulged.

As he sauntered toward his mark, the locker room door burst open and two boys spilled out, braying like donkeys. Their laughter made Jacob want to reach down the boys’ throats and yank out their vocal chords.

“Peter’s got a big butt. Peter’s got a big butt,” one of the boys cried, holding a photocopy of said butt over his head.

Jacob’s mark stood from her chaise. “Peter, you get over here right now.”

Peter slouched toward his mother. “We were just goofing around, Mom. Found a copy machine in one of the offices, and—”

“That’s enough. Get back in the locker room and change your clothes. We’re going home.”

“But, Mom—”

Now, Peter.” She watched her son turn around, then began to pack up her pool items.

As Jacob passed her, he flashed a sympathetic smile. “Kids. What can you do?”

She responded with a tight-lipped smile and Jacob could see the anger in her eyes. No way he’d get lucky with this bitch. Not wanting it to be obvious that he’d planned to chat her up, Jacob kept walking past. The locker room straight ahead. Might as well use the can, he thought.

He pushed through the swinging door and stopped, caught off guard by a woman in the men’s locker room. He watched her slip a note into one of the lockers.

Jacob cleared his throat and the woman’s hand flew to her mouth.

“Oh God. I’m so embarrassed. I know I’m not supposed to be in here.”

“Don’t sweat it. You just surprised me. That’s all.”

“No, really. I’m so sorry. I’ll get out of your way.”

Jacob watched the woman leave. Not his usual type. Kind of mousy looking with dishwater blond hair and a plain face. But she had a decent body even though she hid it with her one-piece bathing suit and towel around her waist. Definitely not as primo as his first mark, but he could roll with it.

Jacob took his time in the locker room to let the mouse get settled in poolside. When he stepped through the door, he spotted her on a chaise lounge with empty chairs on both sides. A good sign: it looked like she was alone.

He detoured to the snack bar and bought two Diet Cokes, ready to make his move. He approached the mouse with a smile, his arm extended with the drink. “You looked a little warm. I thought you might like a soda.”

She jumped, startled, but recovered quickly. “Thanks. That’s really nice of you.”

As she reached for the cup, Jacob let his fingers graze hers before releasing the drink. He gestured to the empty chair. “Mind if I join you?”

“Not at all.” She paused. “About before…you know, in the locker room. I’m really embarrassed.”

Jacob held up his hand. “You don’t owe me an explanation. It’s no big deal. It’s not like you caught me naked or anything.”

“No, but I want to explain anyway. I’m a home ec teacher and there was a little incident at school today with one of my students. When I got to the pool this afternoon, I saw him here. I didn’t want to confront him in person, so I went in the locker room, found the locker with his clothes, and dropped off a note for him.”

Afraid to confront her own students? Jacob thought. Total mouse. This could be easier than I expected.

Jacob spent the next half hour chatting up the mouse whose name turned out to be Melanie. He did his best to feign interest in her boring job. He couldn’t imagine spending a whole day with a bunch of high school students, much less teaching them how to cook, clean and sew. His eyes ready to glaze over, he told her he had an appointment and needed to leave.

“I hope I’m not out of line here,” he said, “but I’d really like to see you again.”

“I’d like that, too.” She looked like an eager puppy getting released from her crate.

“Want to grab a drink this evening? Or dinner if you’re free?”

“That sounds great. I’d love to have dinner with you.”

Jacob suggested meeting at a French bistro in the area. He would have offered to pick her up, but he knew women liked to have their own wheels on a first date. It gave them a feeling of security to be able to escape a bad situation. But Jacob wasn’t going to do anything to scare off the mouse. If he played it right, she’d think it was her idea to follow him back to his place after dinner.

* * *

Dinner had gone exactly as Jacob had planned: a romantic evening at an upscale Italian restaurant. When they finished eating, he suggested going to his place for a drink and Melanie jumped at the offer. When they arrived, he unlocked his apartment and pushed the door open, stepped aside. He gently placed his hand on Melanie’s back and guided her through the doorway. “Home, sweet home.”

She turned and looked at him, her eyes warm and trusting, and Jacob knew he’d said the perfect sappy thing. He’d pretend to be the perfect husband material she craved.

He gestured toward the sofa. “Sit down and make yourself comfortable. I’ll open a bottle of wine.” He knew the words were a cliché, but he also knew she’d respond to them.

“That sounds wonderful,” she said.

Jacob waited for her to sit, then he picked up an afghan and tucked it around her body. “It’s a little chilly in here. This should help.”

Melanie hugged the throw against her shoulders and smiled. “Thanks. It’s perfect.”

Jacob gazed into her eyes. “You look beautiful—like a Madonna.” He leaned down and kissed her softly on her lips, lingered for a moment, inhaled her scent.

He straightened and lightly cupped her cheek. “I’ll go get that wine.”

When he returned, he found her curled up against the arm of the sofa, legs tucked under. She looked completely relaxed and Jacob knew he didn’t need to add a Ruffie to her wine. He didn’t want to knock her out. When they hit the sheets, he wanted her awake and aware.

He poured the wine and handed her a glass, waited while she took a sip. “Is it all right? It’s a Cabernet. I can open something else if you’d prefer.”

“It’s delicious.”

“I’m glad you like it.” Jacob sat next to her and clinked his glass against hers. “To the start of something special.”

Melanie blushed and lowered her gaze.

“I hope I’m not being too forward,” Jacob said.

Melanie’s eyes widened. “No. Not at all. I feel the same connection you do. It’s just happening so fast. I’m a little overwhelmed.”

“I don’t want you to feel pressured, Melanie. We have the rest of our lives to get to know each other. Tonight’s just the beginning.”

He could see her relax.  He had her just where he wanted. He’d been down this road so many times, with so many women. He was the master manipulator.

He kissed her—a deep, lingering kiss—and he could feel her melt under his charms. He lifted her onto his lap and his lips moved from her mouth to her neck. Her perfume was so sweet and flowery, it made him gag. He opened his mouth and bit the flesh on her neck. Blood trickled onto his tongue, masking her saccharine fragrance.

“Jacob, that hurt!”

He drew back, saw the discomfort in her eyes, but then she smiled, forgiving. So anxious to please him—so willing—so needy. He felt disgusted; the mouse—a total loser. His hands, encircled her waist, shook with rage. His fingertips burrowed into her pasty white flesh.

“Stop it.” She grabbed his wrists trying to pull them away.

Jacob tightened his grip and watched her eyes grow wide with fear. She struggled to get free. Anger boiled through his system like a white hot branding iron. How dare she reject him? This hideous little mouse. His hands flew to her scrawny neck. He dug his fingers into her flesh and squeezed.

She opened her mouth to scream, but couldn’t. His hands so tight around her throat, her airway was closed. She clawed at his fingers, but he didn’t let go. He threw his head back and roared, “You ugly, little bitch!”

His hands clenched so hard, they shook—with rage, with power, with excitement. A God—the mouse’s life in his hands. His fingers dug deeper into her throat and he watched her life seep out of her.

Exhausted, his head dropped forward. He softened his grip and her body went limp. He let her drop to the floor. He stood and gazed down at her crumpled flesh. Electricity flooded his body and he wallowed in his power, his domination, his brute strength. He’d never felt anything like this before.

He knelt next to the body, relived the kill, savored the moment, not wanting it to end.

Finally, when his knees throbbed with pain, he pushed himself back onto the sofa and looked down at the dead mouse. How am I going to get rid of her? he thought, fear oozed through his pores, before he caught himself. I can do this. I can do anything. Fear turned to excitement. All part of the game—this brilliant new game he’d discovered.

With his brains, he could get away with anything, even murder. The mouse would be the first in a long line of victims. He gazed at her, proud of his cunning. He wanted to savor this moment forever. He reached down and took a bracelet off her wrist. A trophy. He’d add it to his display case where he kept his other trophies from his marathons and bike races.

Fingering the bracelet, Jacob leaned back against the sofa, closed his eyes, and considered different ways to dispose of her body. The mouse had probably given his name to a friend, a safety measure before a first date with a stranger. It could take a few days before the cops followed up on a missing person’s report, but he had to assume they’d track him down. He’d have to be ready for them. Luckily, the murder a bloodless crime. The crime scene techs could spray their fancy chemicals all over his apartment and not find a drop. He wouldn’t deny she’d been in his apartment, so he wouldn’t have to worry about them finding her fingerprints or DNA. He’d simply insist she was alive and well when she left.

Jacob knew he had to get rid of the mouse’s body and her car someplace where they wouldn’t surface for a long time, if ever. And do it without getting caught. After he came up with the best solution, he went to work. Pulled on his biking uniform: black shorts, gym shoes, a T-shirt and a gray hoodie.

Finished dressing, he searched the mouse’s purse for her car keys, pocketed them and threw her purse onto her dead body. Then he carried Melanie to his garage and stuffed her into the trunk of her car. Jacob took the front wheel off his bike and put the bike and wheel into the back seat of her car. He took his garage door opener and placed it in his jacket pocket. His digital watch flashed the time: three a.m.—the streets should be empty. He ran through a final mental checklist before he got into Melanie’s car and pulled out of the driveway.

Jacob drove about twenty miles to a park with a lake. When he got there, he opened the car windows and drove slowly, watched and listened for sounds of activity. Nothing—the park as dead as the mouse. At the boat ramp, he parked and took the dead body out of the trunk and positioned her in the driver’s seat, her purse in the passenger seat. He pulled his bike and wheel out of the car and set them aside. Satisfied, he reached into the car, put it in neutral, and watched it roll slowly down the boat ramp into the lake. The car bobbed in the murky water for a few minutes, then sank to the bottom, out of sight.

Jacob attached the front wheel to his bike and hopped on. He pedaled slowly at first, warming up, then as he got into his rhythm, his legs churned like pistons. The twenty-mile ride back to his house nothing; he barely broke a sweat. And if any of his neighbors saw him, no big deal. He frequently went for pre-dawn bike rides or runs. When he got home, he took a long, hot shower, reveled in the suds dripping over his skin, savored the exhilaration that flooded his body.

* * *

Lauren Hughes woke with a start and rolled over to check her alarm clock. Three thirty; she hadn’t heard Melanie come home to their apartment last night. Good for her, she thought. It’d been months since her sister had gone on a date. Maybe she fell for this guy. She’d sounded pretty excited when she’d come home from the pool and told Lauren about him. Lauren closed her eyes and drifted back to sleep.

When her alarm went off at six thirty, Lauren laid in bed for a few minutes. She opened her eyes, faced the window, and let the early morning sun wash over her. A lot easier getting out of bed at this time in the summer when it was warm and light out. Waking up in the cold, dark winter a whole different story. Even though she worked from home as a graphic artist, Lauren still forced herself to be at her computer by eight. Ready to face the day, she got up and put on her robe. She padded down the hall and peeked into her sister’s bedroom. The bed was made, no sign of Melanie.

Unusual for her sister to spend the night with a man on the first date, but why not? They weren’t kids anymore. God knows, Lauren had had her share of hook-ups. Some were one-night stands; some lasted a few months. That’s what your twenties were for: to have fun, play the field before you settled down with a husband and kids.

On the other hand, if Melanie overslept and missed work, she’d be beside herself. Lauren reached for her phone; she’d call her sister to make sure she was awake. As she listened to a recorded message saying the phone was out of service, Lauren felt the first tentacle of fear creep through her body. I’m just being silly, she thought. I’ve watched too many episodes of Criminal Minds.

But after several more phone calls and still no answer, the fear ratcheted up a notch. Thinking her sister might have gone straight to work, Lauren called the high school where Melanie taught. When the school administrator answered, Lauren was ready with her spiel.

“My name’s Lauren. I’m Melanie Hughes’s sister. There’s a family emergency. Is it possible for you to get Melanie out of class for a few minutes so I could talk to her?”

“Actually, your sister didn’t show up for work this morning. I’ve been calling her cell, but I haven’t been able to reach her. We had to ask one of our teaching assistants to cover her homeroom, and I’m in the process of trying to track down a substitute.”

Lauren struggled to keep her voice even. “That’s not at all like Melanie to miss work. At the least, she’d have called if she couldn’t make it.”

“You’re right; she’s never done this before. Do you know if she was on her way in? Maybe there’s been a car accident.”

Lauren paused. She didn’t want to tell the administrator Melanie had been on a date. “Actually, we share an apartment, but I didn’t see her this morning. She spent the night at a friend’s house. I’ll try to reach her there. If I get a hold of her, I’ll make sure she calls you.” Lauren hung up the phone before the administrator could ask any more questions.

By this time, her fear was approaching full blown panic. It was totally unlike Melanie to go off the grid, not to call anyone, not to make it to work. Even if she’d met Prince Charming, she wouldn’t just disappear. Lauren scrolled down her phone contacts. Most of the women on her list were Melanie’s friends, too. She called each one; no one had seen or heard from her sister.

Lauren considered calling the police, but she’d heard there was some kind of waiting period to report a missing person. The cops would probably tell her to sit tight and call back in a day or two. But she couldn’t wait around twiddling her thumbs. Melanie had written down the name, address, and cell phone number for her date. Lauren found the piece of paper on her desk and decided to call him. Even if she embarrassed Melanie, it would be worth it to make sure her sister was okay.

The line rang twice before he answered. “Hello.”

“Is this Jacob Flynn?”

“Yes. Who’s this?”

“My name’s Lauren Hughes. I’m Melanie’s sister.”

“Oh, sure. You two live together. Melanie mentioned you.”

“You mean last night? You had a date, right?”

“Right. We went out to dinner, then she came over to my place for a glass of wine.” He chuckled. “I guess the wine hit us both. We fell asleep on my sofa.”

“Is she still there?”

“No. We woke up and she decided to head home. I told her she could spend the night, but she wanted to get going. I don’t think she wanted to go to work with the same clothes she wore yesterday.” He paused. “Is there something wrong? She made it home last night, didn’t she?”

“No. Actually, she didn’t.” A chill spread through Lauren’s body. “What time did she leave your place?”

“Around three, I think. I watched her leave, then I went to bed. I was going to call her this evening. Ask her if she wanted to go out again. We really hit it off last night.”

“And you’re sure she told you she was driving straight home?”

“I’m positive. I mean, where else would she go at three a.m.?”

“Nowhere I can think of. I’ve called her at the high school and she didn’t show up for work. I’ve called all of our friends. I don’t know what else to do.”

“I hate to suggest this, but do you think she could have had a car accident? Have you checked with the police?”

“Not yet, but I’m going to call them now.”

“Keep me posted.”

“I will. I promise.”

Lauren hung up and immediately dialed the police. Relieved when the detective she spoke to seemed to take her concerns seriously. He put her on hold while he checked to verify there were no 911 calls from Melanie or incidents reported with her car. Then he suggested Lauren come to the police station and file a missing person’s report. He assured her they’d issue a BOLO for Melanie and her vehicle immediately. If she didn’t turn up by tomorrow, he’d send an officer to speak with Jacob Flynn.

As soon as she ended the call, Lauren hopped in her car and drove to the police station. When she finished filling out the paperwork, she asked the detective what else she could do.

“Best thing’s to go home and wait. Hopefully, your sister will show up or call. If she does, let us know and we’ll take her out of the system.”

“And if she doesn’t?”

“Like I told you before, we’ll send someone to talk to this Jacob Flynn. But just so you know, I ran a check on him. No red flags. Nothing that would indicate he had anything to do with harming your sister.”

Lauren drove home, hoped to see Melanie’s car in their apartment parking lot, but didn’t. She pulled out Jacob Flynn’s address, programmed it into her GPS, and studied the route. She decided to drive to Jacob’s house and look for Melanie’s car along the way. When she arrived, Lauren pulled over to the curb opposite his home. With one leg out of the car, she hesitated. Although he’d sounded nice enough on the phone, she didn’t feel comfortable going into his house alone.

She got back in her car and sped off. The cops could interview Jacob tomorrow. In the meantime, she’d start working on some flyers to post in her neighborhood. She had to do something to keep busy. Otherwise her mind would go places she didn’t want it to go. Not when it came to her sister. If someone had harmed her, Lauren would move heaven and earth to bring that person to justice.

* * *

Lauren glanced at the clock on her computer screen. Five o’clock, Friday. Quitting time. She got up, stumbled to the sofa, and collapsed. She’d forced herself through another work week. Her projects helped keep her mind off Melanie’s disappearance, but when she stopped working, despair engulfed her. It had been a month and still no sign of her sister. She pulled a pillow to her chest and dropped her head. She waited for the tears to flow, but nothing happened. All cried out.

After her date with Jacob Flynn, Melanie had simply vanished. There’d been no sign of her or her car. The police had interviewed Jacob and he’d stuck to his story. The date had gone well. Melanie left his house around three and told him she was going home. The detective had assured Lauren there was no sign of foul play. Jacob had allowed the police to search his house and he seemed genuinely concerned about Melanie.

Lauren thought about the past month. She’d done everything she could think of to find her sister. She posted flyers around her neighborhood, organized a search party, and got the media involved for a few days before they lost interest and went on to their next news story. But her efforts were futile. Still no trace of Melanie and at this point, Lauren accepted something terrible had happened. She knew in her heart someday there’d be a knock on her door—Melanie’s body found.

Regardless of what the police thought, Jacob had to be involved. It didn’t make sense someone could have accosted Melanie on her way home. Not her savvy sister. She wouldn’t have stopped her car at three o’clock in the morning for anyone. If she’d had car trouble, her sister would have called for help. Something bad must have happened to Melanie on her date, and Lauren couldn’t sit around waiting for that fateful knock on her door to discover what it was.

She jumped off the sofa and ran to her bedroom. She‘d drive to Jacob Flynn’s house, trail his car if he left, and see if she could “bump” into him wherever he went. She wouldn’t identify herself as Melanie’s sister; she didn’t want him to be wary of her. She needed him to open up about what happened that night. Maybe he’d reveal something she could take to the police.

She pawed through her clothes until she found the perfect dress, slipped it on, and faced the mirror: low-cut, micro-mini, skin-tight, fire-engine red. A pair of black stilettos and her outfit complete. Just the thing for a Friday night hook-up.

One last item. She pulled open her nightstand drawer and removed the gun her father had given to his daughters when they’d moved into their apartment. Lauren held it for a moment, felt its weight in her hands. Too late to save Melanie, but Lauren would have it if she needed it.


Lauren glanced at her watch—ten o’clock. She’d give it another hour before she bailed. Ten minutes later she watched as the garage door lifted and a silver BMW pulled out. She slid down in her car seat as the sedan flew by. Then she started the engine and followed, maintained her distance while keeping his car in sight. When the BMW pulled into the parking lot of a popular night club, she drove past and circled the block to give her quarry time to go in.

When she stepped through the doorway, Lauren paused and let her dress do its magic. Heads swiveled, eyes widened, mouths dropped open. She didn’t seek out her quarry. It wasn’t necessary. He’d find her. Slowly, sensually, she placed one foot in front of the other like a model on a catwalk. Her hips swayed in time to the beat of the music pulsating through the club speakers. At the bar, she located two empty stools. She sat in one and put her purse down on the other. It only took a moment before the bartender hustled over, drawn to her like every other man in the room.

Lauren ordered a dirty martini, then turned the bar stool to face the crowd. Crossed her long legs and rotated her ankle so her shoe dangled from her toes. Rested her elbow on the bar counter and arched her back, her breasts swelled against the silky fabric of her dress. When her martini arrived, she took a long sip, swallowed, and licked her cherry red lips, her lipstick an identical match to her dress. Before she took a second sip, the first man materialized in front of her.

He gestured to the stool next to her. “This seat taken?”

“Afraid so. I’m saving it for someone.”

The man shrugged and moved away, his spot quickly replaced by another hopeful. Like a rewind button, the scene played out over and over until she drained her martini. She spun around to catch the bartender’s eye when a man’s hand plucked her empty glass from her grip. He raised it, then signaled for two with his other hand. Lauren glanced up, ready to send the man on his way, but the words caught in her throat. She’d studied this man’s face on Facebook, Linked In, his blog, his features as familiar now as her own. Jacob Flynn .

She smiled at him, removed her purse from the adjacent stool. “I’d just about given up hope. Loser Lane in here until you showed up.”

“I like a girl with high standards.” He thrust his hand out. “I’m Jacob.”

“I’m April,” Lauren said, the alias tripped off her tongue. She didn’t want to risk Jacob remembering her name from her long-ago phone call.

The martinis arrived, and Lauren turned on the charm like a hundred watt light bulb in a dim basement. Their glasses empty, the bartender asked if they were ready for a refill.

“How about if we head over to my place?” Jacob asked.

Lauren hesitated. Not comfortable going to his house, but realized she wouldn’t get any useful information making small talk in the club. She needed to see his home. Maybe she’d find some evidence he killed her sister. She put her fear aside. “Sounds great.”

Jacob scribbled his address on a piece of paper and talked her through the directions. “Not too far from here. Just follow me. Park in the garage next to my car.”

Twenty minutes later, Lauren stood in Jacob’s living room and waited for him to bring a glass of water. When he stepped into the room, he carried two glasses.

He handed her one and answered her unspoken question. “Two drinks is my limit, too. I usually stick to wine.” He pointed to the sofa. “Shall we?”

Alarm bells went off in Lauren’s head. In the safety of her apartment, trying to trap Jacob seemed like a good idea, but now that she was alone with the man, she felt vulnerable. She took a step away from him. “Actually, I’ve been sitting all day. Feels good to stand for a change.”

Lauren walked to a display cabinet filled with trophies. “Quite a collection you have.”

Jacob moved closer, his arm grazed hers. He began to rattle off a list of the marathons and bike races he’d competed in—more often than not, placing at the top of the field.

As she listened to him brag, Lauren peered into the display case. Something caught her eye. A bracelet dangled from the arm of one of the trophies. She stared at it, then gazed down at her wrist where she wore an identical piece, the bracelets gifts from her father to his two daughters. She turned to Jacob, horrified, and she could tell he’d seen the matching bracelets. Their eyes locked.

Before Lauren could react, he lunged at her, grabbed her arms, and shook her violently. “Who are you?”

“What do you mean? I told you my name.”

“Where’d you get that bracelet? You knew Melanie Hughes, didn’t you?”

Lauren couldn’t go on with her lie. “I’m her sister, and that bracelet proves you killed her.”

She yanked herself free, but before she could run away, he grabbed her by the throat. He squeezed, his fingers a vice around her neck.

Adrenaline flooded her body and Lauren jammed her thumbs into Jacob’s eyes. He screamed and dropped his hands. She turned and ran across the living room, grabbed her purse, and ran for the door. Before she could reach it, Jacob tackled her from behind. They tumbled to the floor, his body smothered hers. Lauren twisted, tried to free herself, but she couldn’t shake him. He pinned her arms to her sides, but she managed to free her leg and shot her knee into his groin. He howled and rolled off while she scrambled to her feet, still clutching her purse. The door just a few feet away. She leapt for it, then felt his hand grab her ankle and pull her to the floor.

Lauren knew if he got on top of her again, she’d never get free. She reached into her purse and grabbed her gun. She aimed it at his head. “Let go of me!”

“All right. Don’t shoot.” Jacob held up his hands.

Lauren stood, backed away. She watched Jacob warily as he got to his feet. “Keep your hands up.”

She aimed the revolver at his chest. “Did you kill my sister?”

“If I did, you’ll never prove it. Not with a bracelet.”

“Just tell me what happened. Where’s her body?”

Jacob gazed at her, his lips curled into an arrogant smirk. “I dumped her into Lake Mead — same place I’m going to dump yours. You two can be reunited.”

He grabbed for the revolver, his fingers wrapped around hers. Lauren felt the gun slipping from her hands. She squeezed her finger on the trigger and heard a deafening noise. Jacob’s eyes widened, his grip loosened, then he collapsed onto the floor. His body twitched once, then lay still.

Lauren stood over him, panicked he was going to get up. But the monster lay dead. She collapsed to the floor and dropped the gun. Put her head in her hands and wept. Between tears, she whispered, “I’m coming, Melanie. I’ll take you home.”


# # #

Copyright 2013 Linda Johnson

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

The Player is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.


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