BEFORE I WAKE is a chilling tale of murder, deception and revenge. Death is only a heartbeat away.
Impulsively, Christine shoved the window curtain aside, staring out at Todd, who was busy looking over paperwork. She stared at the toilet, than at her face in the mirror. Ugh. She looked terrible. Her face still held traces of makeup or dirt. She was pale with dark circles beneath her eyes. She stuck out her tongue, grimy. Grabbing a length of toilet paper, she wet it and rubbed at her skin. The tissue stained. How could she come out today before taking a shower? She grimaced. Now that she thought about it, she didn’t use any reasoning at all this morning. She had just acted without thought. But at least she’d found her dream house. So all wasn’t lost.
When she finished tiding up, she flushed the soiled paper down the toilet and washed her hands. Grabbing her purse, she reached in and pulled out a small container holding Tylenol.
“Last ones,” she murmured, throwing them into her mouth. Using her hands, she cupped some running water and brought the liquid to her lips. Feeling better, she took her time staring around the bathroom.
Raw bile formed in her throat. Gagging, she almost vomited in the toilet. It was either the pills, pregnancy or she was definitely getting sick. She believed it to be the first option. If only she had some dry crackers or bread. That always seemed to help.
Passing the towel rack, she stared at the lighthouses on the hand-towels. A vision of running on the beach jolted her - the sounds of the ocean, the feel of the sand. She pressed her hand against her mouth. She better leave before she made a mess out of their bathroom.
Wouldn’t Milly like that?
Leaving the room, she walked down the hallway towards the steps. A noise stopped her. She bit her lip, breath stilling. Quiet settled. Her heart sped away. There. There it was again. It came from the second bedroom.
She backed up a few steps. The door was partially ajar. With her hand, she pushed it fully open, staring into the empty room. No one was there.
Breathing. Soft. But it wasn’t her breath. Soft pants broke the silence. Once again she listened. This time it distinctively came from beneath the bed. The child must be under it, hiding. Chills washed over her. Something watched her.
Fear rolled down her spine, then pity.
“Hello, honey,” she said softly. This was a frightened child. Not some hidden monster, though she couldn’t help her mind’s musings. “You don’t have to be afraid of me. I won’t hurt you.”
The breathing grew erratic, rough and raw.
“Are you under the bed?”
“You can talk to me. I won’t hurt you.”
Footsteps approached from the staircase. She stepped back towards the doorway.