It’s now 10 days into the NanoWrimo Writing Month which I signed up for. It’s been hectic as I’m working on three books, but can only enter one here. So I chose to enter The Twin’s Contract. I’ve been plugging away at it and I’m loving the story so far. I decided to share the Prologue and First Chapter below.
Let me know what you think.
Brianna Spencer knew in her heart her twin was going to sneak out. Of course, Briony was going, it was her boyfriend’s eighteenth birthday party. It didn’t matter to Briony that both of them were grounded for Briony’s stunt last weekend.
How Briony thought she could get away with chartering a private plane to Vegas at seventeen was beyond Brianna. Especially, as Briony invited her boyfriend and their friends for his birthday surprise was anyone’s guess. And even though Brianna hadn’t gone, she’d still been grounded. Not that she left the house much, anyway. At least not that anyone noticed.
Hearing the laughter coming from her sister’s room, Brianna pushed open the door. Maybe she could talk some sense into Briony.
“Hey sister,” Briony said in that superior tone Brianna hated. “You decided to finally get the stick out of your ass and join the cool kids?”
Brianna kept the snarl from passing her lips. Through clenched teeth, she tried to ignore the cool appraisal her sister threw her way. “I thought I’d try to talk some sense into you. Mom and Dad will freak if they catch you gone.”
“Oh, and you’ll tell them I’m sure as soon as they get back from the Halloween party.”
Brianna swallowed her sarcastic reply. Like her parents would come back sober after one of the biggest bashes of the year. Especially, this one. Their friends came in from all over the country to attend this masked ball. Which meant they might not even come home tonight.
“You know I won’t.” Brianna had never told on her sister. Of course, even if she had her parents were liable to punish her for it, never Briony. Briony and their parents were peas in a snuggled pod. Brianna was the odd woman out. She was the responsible one. The one who actually wanted to work. Not only work, but work with animals.
Hard hands tipped in vibrant red, so like the darkest blood her sister drew with her sharp tongue. “Get out, loser. How we can be identical but so different is beyond me. I’m going and you better not say a fucking word,” Briony snarled. Her blue eyes held a feral light of absolute hatred.
It was nothing new. Brianna knew her sister hated her. She felt the same most days, but tonight she wanted her sister to stay in. “We’re on lock down, Briony. How are you even leaving? All the alarms on the cars are set with a new code, security is on the lookout to make sure we don’t leave–“
“Don’t worry, sister I have my ways.” with that, Briony slammed the door in Brianna’s face and the snick of the lock told her she’d not be able to get back in there to forcibly stop her sister.
Every instinct Brianna possessed told her to call their parents. Halloween wasn’t the best time for Briony to be out. But it was more. Brianna felt if she let her sister leave tonight, she’d never see her again.
Decision made, she raced to the nearest phone. Her cell confiscated with the whole lock down situation. Picking up the receiver, she howled in frustration. The line was dead.
Ten Years Later
Jackson McCord pulled his Crown Vic between the two stone columns of the driveway. The sprawling three story mansion set in the same colored stones sat amidst a lush green lawn. Ivy crept up one side as if it were an old English manor even though it was set in the middle of Alabama.
Before he could park a man in a bright red vest and matching bow tie with sharply creased black pants and white button down shirt jogged to Jackson’s window. A look of distaste on the man’s face as his eyes swept over Jackson’s beat up vehicle. “Are you here for the Garden Society tea as well, sir?” he asked his tone cold.
“No, ” Jackson grabbed his badge from the passenger seat and held it up. “I’m here to see Mr. and Mrs. Spencer.”
Shock widened the man’s eyes before a professional blankness smoothed it over. “Pull around to the side, I’ll alert Ms. Williams to meet you.”
Jackson tipped his chin and shifted his car into drive to follow the paved path the man gestured towards.
Blooming bushes flowed across the front of the house, drawing his attention as he took the paved drive around to the other side of the intimidating structure. There were expensive homes in Detroit, but none in the inner city where Jackson had worked before.
Everything in the south felt languid and lazy. Seeing a parking area to the right, he swung in and parked his car. After taking the file, his badge and stepping into the overly warm spring air, he realized this was where the servants parked.
Rusted hatchbacks, older model sedans and sedate vans were clustered together. A bustling woman in a pressed black dress, her dark hair pulled into a severe bun at the nape of her neck hurried to his side.
“Mr. McCord?” the woman asked, her lips twisted in disdain.
“Deputy, ma’am. And you’re Ms. Williams?” He passed her his badge.
“I am,” came the clipped reply.
Her onyx eyes scrutinized the badge, then him for what felt like an eternity, until she finally passed it back to him. Gesturing impatiently for him to follow her as if he were the one that kept her waiting, she swept ahead of him. Waiters and waitress scattered as she cut through the kitchen and wove deeper into the house.
It was a novelty. Most were either intimidated by his six-foot-four heavily muscled frame, his badge or his perpetual frown. None had treated him as an inconvenience. None except the nuns that had taught his classes long ago.
“You can wait here while I get Mrs. Spencer. Would you like tea or water?” she asked grudgingly.
He looked around the posh library he’d been led to. Deep wine colored arm chairs faced a large desk with a globe tucked into a corner behind it. Two windows behind the desk allowed the sunlight stream in brightening the room. Dark wood floors matched the floor to ceiling shelves that housed leather bound books. Curious, Jackson stepped closer to the shelf that had a glass door, his steps muffled by the expensive looking red and gold rug. Before he could examine what titles rested behind the glass a throat cleared behind him.
Turning, he answered. “Deputy McCord, ma’am. Are you Mrs. Bianca Spencer?”
The woman in front of him looked to be in her early fifties. Ash blonde hair fell in a perfect curve to her shoulders, framing a heart-shaped face that held few wrinkles. A slim-fingered hand with a square cut emerald nestled in the middle of diamonds graced the ring finger of her right hand. “I am.”
She motioned towards one of the armchairs, moving ahead of him to take the other. Her light green dress with a darker blazer screamed elegance as she gracefully perched on the edge of the leather chair.
Taking the hint, Jackson sat at an angle to face her. “Is there someone else that maybe can be here with you?”
She waved a hand between them. “I’m perfectly capable of hearing whatever you have to say without being coddled, Deputy McCord. Now, tell me what you need, because I have guests in my back garden.”
He cleared his throat. This was the hard part. “I’m sure you’ve followed the news about the serial killer?”
“Of course. Dreadfu… Wait, is this about Brianna?” Her blue eyes clouded and he waited for the tears to begin.
“Yes, ma’am. I’m sorry to say, it is.” He didn’t add anything about the body that had been dug up. Nor about the woman’s daughter being one of the serial killer’s first victims. Though he couldn’t say if the body was Brianna. Instead, he patted her hand in comfort only to have her quickly withdraw it. “Her body was found among the grave site he gave us.”
There was still no expression that passed her face. No histrionics about her daughter being dead. No paleness or shock. Not even a dilation of her pupils. No reaction.
“Well, it wasn’t anything we didn’t already expect, Deputy. She’s been missing over ten years now.” A haughty sniff was the only reaction. “So our family’s come to terms with her being gone.”
Jackson tried to hide his shock at how cold Bianca was. None of his time on the police force, nor his time at the Sheriff’s Department prepared him for this kind of reaction. Trying to give the woman the benefit of the doubt, Jackson thought maybe she’d mourn after he left.
Clearing his throat, he dug into the other reason he was there. Jackson shifted the file around so he could open it. “That’s the thing we’re confused about, Mrs. Spencer. We were sent personal effects for Briony Spencer by the FBI. A purse that still contained her wallet with Briony’s driver’s license as well as three credit cards. It also held a cell phone, again in the name of Briony Spencer as well as texts sent to her. The DNA we obtained from the body also came back as belonging to Briony Spencer–“
Bianca’s eyes grew colder the more Jackson laid out for her. “That’s impossible. Briony is in the back garden as we speak. Your people got her stuff confused with Brianna.”
“DNA can’t be confused, Mrs. Spencer–“
“Well, quite obviously someone made a mistake. Probably because they’re twins. Briony is here.” She pushed to her feet. “I’ll have Ms. Williams fetch her.” Bianca stepped from the room and Jackson scratched his head.
Confusion twined into him. Why would DNA be mixed up? The twins didn’t look that much alike. Pulling the missing person’s flyer for Brianna from the manila folder, he also took Briony’s driver’s license. They looked like mirror images of each other, but anyone could see Briony seemed coolly calculating whereas Brianna’s eyes held a dreamy cast within the crystal blue depths.
Within a few minutes Bianca returned with her daughter in tow. “See, Briony is right here.”
The woman looked uncomfortable, her blue eyes swirled with questions, but her face remained composed.
“Are you Briony Spencer?” Jackson asked, tucking everything back into the folder and closing it.
“Of course, she is. I just said that,” Bianca stated, her hands on her hips. The fierce frown she directed at Jackson seemed to question his intelligence.
“I know you did, ma’am but I need to hear it from her.” He pointed at the still silent figure standing next to Bianca.
“For heaven’s sake. This is Briony, so quite obviously you found Brianna.”
A gasp passed the woman’s pink lips. Hope filled her eyes as they swung to her mother. “Alive?”
Bianca made an impatient sound. “Of course not alive, Briony. What a silly question.”
The sparkle left the pretty blue eyes as they hazed with tears. This was the reaction Jackson had expected from Bianca.
“How?” she asked, her lips barely moving. Elegant fingers twisted together as she turned to him for answers.
“It was that dreadful serial killer.” A pale pink nail wagged at Briony. “And don’t you cry for her. This house has seen enough mourning for that girl. She should never have run off.”
A single tear trailed from the corner of Briony’s left eye down her flushed cheek. “Yes, ma’am.”
“We still need to understand how the ID and DNA both show Briony instead of Brianna?” Pushing the weird interaction aside, Jackson focused on Bianca.
“A mix up. We still have both girls’ rooms intact, so Briony can run upstairs and get another sample for you to test.” Bianca tapped her foot.
“No, you’ll go get it now, Briony and I won’t listen to another word.”
Jackson stood. “I’ll need to be present to note the samples.”
“Fine, Briony come here.”
Briony sighed, but moved closer to her mother.
Jerking away with a yelp when her mother plucked several strands of hair from her head. “Here. That’s a start. Briony can take you to her sister’s room for the other sample.”
“I’m going back to the party before we’re missed.” Bianca swept from the room leaving confusion and expensive perfume whirling in her wake.
“She doesn’t seem upset.” Jackson took an evidence bag from the file folder, opened it and placed the strands of hair within it. Then pulling the tab to seal it. He’d wanted to request a new DNA sample as well just to be safe. With Bianca taking the lead and offering it, it made his job much easier.
“We’ve been expecting news like this for a while,” Briony said, her plush lip caught between her teeth. “Did she suffer?”
Disbelief at how calm this family was at hearing their loved one had not only died, but been killed by a serial killer pushed Jackson over the edge as he bit off every word. “What do you think? From what your mother said you all watched the news and heard about this guy.”
A soft sound passed the woman’s lips, her face losing the little color it had.
Unmerciful, he continued. “Which means you know the man raped and tortured his victims before killing them.”
Finally the shell of calm around the woman broke with a sob. “I begged her not to go. Told her I would call mother and father—”
“But you didn’t. Did your cell run out of power and you forgot how to plug it in?”
She shook her head, the burnished bronze locks shimmered under the sunlight as she slumped against the desk. “No, we were grounded. So no cell. But I tried using the landline.”
“Your parents wouldn’t come?” His need to know what happened to drive a seventeen-year-old girl into a car with a stranger was paramount. He needed answers. Not that it would explain the senseless death, but it usually helped the survivors deal with the aftermath. To allow the poison to be released.
“No, my sister had disabled the landline.” The woman snatched a few tissues from the box that perched on the desk, using them to swipe under her eyes. “She knew me. Knew I wouldn’t let her get us into even more trouble. Especially since it was Halloween.”
Seeing the tattered remains of her control struggle to return, he offered her what comfort he could.
“Your sister didn’t suffer.”
Hope shone from the watery orbs as they latched on to his. “She didn’t?”
“No, she was either his first victim or one of the first, because when he dosed her he used too much of the drug. She died before ever being touched.”
“I wouldn’t say it if I wasn’t. She was one of the lucky ones.”
A soft snort came from the woman. The sound incongruous with what he’d seen so far. “I wouldn’t call her lucky, but of the two choices… then yeah, falling asleep and dying is a lot better option than a slow torturous death.”
His gaze tangled with hers again. The pure blue held a hint of gold. Not much, but some.
When he’d been given the task of breaking the news to this family, he’d been drawn to Brianna’s picture over and over. Her eyes were the purest of blues mixed with just a hint of gold. As if sunlight were trapped behind the sky. Briony’s eyes were a hard, dark blue. As if a dangerous predator lurked beneath those depths.
Every vibe he had as a cop told him this wasn’t Briony, but Brianna. Hopefully the DNA would prove it since the girl was quite obviously playing some sort of game with her family.
Questions swirled in his head. Was it for money? Was Briony set for a larger portion of the estate than Brianna? Or was it the need to be seen by her parents? Because based on Bianca’s reaction, she didn’t care much for Brianna.
“Now that she’s out of the room, I need to tell you…” The woman’s eyes darted back to the door her mother had closed behind her, before meeting his again.
Curious, Jackson arched a brow, his pen poised to write on the evidence bag. Wondering what would come out of her lying mouth next, he waited.