Killer Curves

By: Naima Simone

Stop being so melodramatic. It could be an email from her principal about the upcoming school year. It could be Facebook spam from a Montana rancher telling her in broken English how they were spiritual soulmates. It could be—

[email protected] No subject line. Just like the others.

Bile raced up within her, scalding the back of her throat before she convulsively swallowed the acid back down. The phone shook in her trembling hand. She knew what awaited her even as her thumb hovered over the ominous email address. Terror and disgust congealed in her belly. But she opened the mail. She had to. Otherwise it would just sit there like a bomb waiting to explode.

No words greeted her.

But the picture quickly filling up the screen of her phone didn’t need a menacing message. In this case the picture wasn’t just worth a thousand words, but a damn book.

Death. Pain. Horror.

The tortured expression and glassy stare in the unnaturally pale face of the woman. The broken body lying on the dark, grimy ground of a shadowed alley, the large green dumpster, the woman’s only companion. The necklace of bruises around her neck.

A different woman in each email. But the same gruesome image of death.

The same warning in the email address: you’re next.

She powered down her cell with a jerky, abrupt motion and shoved it back into her pocket.

Not tonight. Whoever this, this sicko was who had been sending her these messages would not shake her. They wouldn’t win.

Hand still trembling, she pulled open the restaurant door and stepped inside. She briefly closed her eyes as the cool, air-conditioned air drifted over her face, clammy skin, still-boiling temper, and wounded pride. The low murmur of voices greeted her in the nearly empty lobby of the bar and bistro, the delicious scents of Italian spices and grilling seafood teasing her nostrils. She forced her lips into what she hoped passed as a polite smile as a hostess approached her.

Hell, who was she kidding? Neither Drake Morriston, the emails, nor tires could claim full blame for her foul mood.

Walking into an engagement party and toasting the happy couple when Phillip Rison, her ex-fiancé, graced the pages of Boston’s social columns with a new girlfriend on his arm—well, yeah. That definitely accounted for the other half of her self-pity funk.

Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb, was afraid of the dark.

The useless bit of trivia popped into her head, and she inhaled a calming breath. Hey, some people used martinis or chocolate to soothe their nerves; she memorized obscure facts.

Tom-ay-to, tom-ah-to.

And the trivia kept more inches off her size-fourteen hips and ass than the chocolate did.

“Sloane,” an excited voice called out her name as soon as she entered the beautifully decorated main room of the restaurant. “Get your gorgeous ass over here! I’m so glad you could make it tonight.”

Fallon Wayland, the bride-to-be, sailed across the room, throwing her arms around Sloane, and squeezing her in a tight hug. Grinning, Sloane returned her old college friend’s exuberant greeting and embrace with equal enthusiasm.

“You look beautiful,” Sloane said once Fallon released her. And it was nothing short of the truth. Fallon, with her wild curls, golden skin, and startling gray eyes, had always been a striking woman. But with love settling over her like an honest-to-God glow exclusive to mind-shattering orgasms and pregnancy, Fallon was even more beautiful.

Sloane had never experienced either.

“Aw, go on.” Fallon waved a hand. With a wicked twinkle lighting her gaze, she leaned forward and stage-whispered, “It’s all the fantastic sex.”

“Oh Jesus.”

Fallon cackled and, looping her arm through Sloane’s, led her toward a table with a big, silver fountain. Reaching past the flutes of golden champagne, Fallon grabbed a Sam Adams Rebel Rider. Sloane grinned. Fallon definitely knew her.

“Here.” Fallon pressed the bottle into Sloane’s hand. “Drink up. I was a little worried you wouldn’t be able to make it. You’re preparing for the new school year, right?”

“Yes. I was at the school today getting some things ready for the parent-student open house tomorrow evening.” An image of the email as well as her tires flashed in her head. The ugly slashes had been too long and clean for a nail or a blowout. An unsettling twist clenched her stomach. A knife—a very sharp blade—could’ve caused the slices, though…

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