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Karin Slaughter

Fractured

The second book in the Will Trent series

For Kate

PROLOGUE

ABIGAIL CAMPANO SAT in her car parked on the street outside her own house. She was looking up at the mansion they had remodeled almost ten years ago.

The house was huge-too much space for three people, especially since one of them, God willing, would be going off to college in less than a year. What would she do with herself once her daughter was busy starting a new life of her own? It would be Abigail and Paul again, just like before Emma was born.

The thought made her stomach clench.

Paul's voice crackled through the car speakers as he came back on the telephone. "Babe, listen-" he began, but her mind was already wandering as she stared up at the house. When had her life gotten so small? When had the most pressing questions of her day turned into concerns about other people, other things: Were Paul's shirts ready at the tailor? Did Emma have volleyball practice tonight? Did the decorator order the new desk for the office? Did somebody remember to let out the dog or was she going to spend the next twenty minutes wiping up two gallons of pee off the kitchen floor?

Abigail swallowed, her throat tightening.

"I don't think you're listening to me," Paul said.

"I'm listening." She turned off the car. There was a click, then through the magic of technology, Paul's voice transferred from the car speakers to the cell phone. Abigail pushed open the door, tossing her keys into her purse. She cradled the phone to her ear as she checked the mailbox. Electric bill, AmEx, Emma's school fees…

Paul paused for a breath and she took that as her cue.

"If she doesn't mean anything to you, why did you give her a car? Why did you take her to a place where you knew my friends might show up?" Abigail said the words as she walked up the driveway but she didn't feel them deep in her gut like she had the first few times this had happened. Her only question then had been, Why am I not enough?

Now, her only question was, Why are you such a needy bastard?

"I just needed a break," he told her, another old standard.

She dug her hand into her purse for her keys as she climbed the porch stairs. She had left the club because of him, skipped her weekly massage and lunch with her closest friends because she was mortified that they had all seen Paul out with some bottle-blond twenty-year-old he'd had the gall to take to their favorite restaurant. She didn't know if she would ever be able to show her face there again.

Abigail said, "I'd like a break, too, Paul. How would you like it if I took a break? How would you like it if you were talking to your friends one day and you knew something was going on, and you had to practically beg them to tell you what was wrong before they finally told you that they saw me with another man?"

"I'd find out his fucking name and I'd go to his house and I'd kill him."

Why did part of her always feel flattered when he said things like that? As the mother of a teenage girl, she had trained herself to look for the positive aspects of even the most savage remarks, but this was ridiculous. Besides, Paul's knees were so bad that he could barely take the garbage down to the curb on trash day. The biggest shock in all of this should have been that he could still find a twenty-year-old to screw him.

Abigail slid her key into the old metal lock on the front door. The hinges squeaked like in a horror movie.

The door was already open.

"Wait a minute," she said, as if interrupting, though Paul hadn't been talking. "The front door is open."

"What?"

He hadn't been listening to her, either. "I said the front door is already open," she repeated, pushing it open wider.

"Aw, Jesus. School's only been back for three weeks and she's already skipping again?"

"Maybe the cleaners-" She stopped, her foot crunching glass. Abigail looked down, feeling a sharp, cold panic building somewhere at the base of her spine. "There's glass all over the floor. I just stepped in it."

Paul said something she didn't hear.

"Okay," Abigail answered, automatic. She turned around. One of the tall side windows by the front door was broken. Her mind flashed on a hand reaching in, unlatching the bolt, opening the door.

She shook her head. In broad daylight? In this neighborhood? They couldn't have more than three people over at a time without the batty old woman across the street calling to complain about the noise.

"Abby?"

She was in some kind of bubble, her hearing muffled. She told her husband, "I think someone broke in."

Paul barked, "Get out of the house! They could still be there!"

She dropped the mail onto the hall table, catching her reflection in the mirror. She had been playing tennis for the last two hours. Her hair was still damp, stray wisps plastered to the back of her neck where her ponytail was starting to come loose. The house was cool, but she was sweating.

"Abby?" Paul yelled. "Get out right now. I'm calling the police on the other line."

She turned, mouth open to say something-what?-when she saw the bloody footprint on the floor.

"Emma," she whispered, dropping the phone as she bolted up the stairs toward her daughter's bedroom.

She stopped at the top of the stairs, shocked at the broken furniture, the splintered glass on the floor. Her vision tunneled and she saw Emma lying in a bloody heap at the end of the hallway. A man stood over her, a knife in his hand.

For a few seconds, Abigail was too stunned to move, her breath catching, throat closing. The man started toward her. Her eyes couldn't focus on any one thing. They went back and forth between the knife clenched in his bloody fist and her daughter's body on the floor.

"No-"

The man lunged toward her. Without thinking, Abigail stepped back. She tripped, falling down the stairs, hip and shoulder blades thumping the hard wood as she slid headfirst. There was a chorus of pain from her body: elbow hitting the stiles on the railing, ankle-bone cracking against the wall, a searing burn in her neck as she tried to keep her head from popping against the sharp tread of the stairs. She landed in the foyer, the breath knocked out of her lungs.

The dog. Where was the stupid dog?

Abigail rolled onto her back, wiping blood out of her eyes, feeling broken glass grind into her scalp.

The man was rushing down the stairs, the knife still in his hand. Abigail didn't think. She kicked up as he came off the last tread, lodging the toe of her sneaker somewhere between his asshole and his scrotum. She was far off the mark, but it didn't matter. The man stumbled, cursing as he went down on one knee.

She rolled onto her stomach and scrambled toward the door. He grabbed her leg, yanking her back so hard that a white-hot pain shot up her spine and into her shoulder. She clutched at the glass on the floor, trying to find a piece to hurt him with, but the tiny shards only ripped open the skin of her hand. She started kicking at him, legs flailing wildly behind her as she inched toward the front door.

"Stop it!" he screamed, both his hands clamping down on her ankles. "God dammit, I said stop!"

She stopped, trying to catch her breath, trying to think. Her head was still ringing, her mind unable to focus. Two feet ahead, the front door was still open, offering a view down the gentle slope of the walk to her car parked on the street. She twisted around so she could face her attacker. He was on his knees, holding her ankles to keep her from kicking. The knife was beside him on the floor. His eyes were a sinister black-two pieces of granite showing beneath heavy lids. His broad chest rose and fell as he panted for breath. Blood soaked his shirt.

Emma's blood.

Abigail tensed her stomach muscles and lunged up toward him, fingers straight out as her nails stabbed into his eyes.

     

 

2011 - 2018