Shiver Sweet

Shiver Sweet by H Elliston Read Free Book Online

Book: Shiver Sweet by H Elliston Read Free Book Online
Authors: H Elliston
peeked out through a crack into the soft light. 
    No movement in the corridor.  Still quiet.  Had he really left?  Keeping against the wall, she tiptoed on jelly legs along the corridor and emerged into the more brightly lit kitchen just as Christa's soon-to-be ex-husband popped his head around the patio door. 
    “Oh, my God!” Nicola jerked and stumbled, dropping the screwdriver which clanged on the tiles and skidded away.  “W-what are you doing here?”
    John stepped into the kitchen, a few strides away, shaking snow out of his short brown hair.  "Hey... err... What the...  Are you okay?  Why is your mouth bleeding?
    Nicola studied him, cautious.
    He thumbed toward the patio doors and, all at once, his entire face darkened.  “What the hell happened here?  Who is...?”  His mouth gaped.
    She stepped back.  After all she’d been through, she didn’t, and couldn’t afford to trust anyone.  “Nice try, but I'm not falling for it," she gasped out.  John was not wearing the same clothes as the other guy, but then again, in her state, she couldn’t be sure.  "Get back, John.  The cops are on their way.”
    “Oh, I should think so, and an ambulance too, but, whoa... what?”  His eyes widened.  “No.  Wait.  You don't think that I...” John spluttered, throwing his hands up defensively, and glancing outside.
    Nicola shuffled sideways toward the kitchen table, shivering in the cold and clocking her exits, ready to flee.
    “Look, I don’t know what you think I’ve done, but...”
    “Stay away from me, you shithead!” Nicola said, trying to force stiff notes into her warbling voice.  She snatched a carving knife from the block on the nearby bench and raised it.  "Move back, or I'll stab you.  I swear!"
    His eyes widened.  “Whoa!  Calm it.  You need to put that knife down and call an ambulance.”  He gestured to the patio doors and softened his voice.  “There’s a guy bleeding into the snow.  It's not pretty.  Who is he?  Looks like he’s been hit on the head with a roof slate.  Is he wearing a hat, a mask or something?“
    Nicola lowered the knife to waist height, stunned into a stammer.  “W-what?  S-so... who?”  Her jaw flopped down in confusion. 
    His gaze flickered to her hand.  "Lose the knife.  Let me help you."
    Though it did occur to her that his slow, disarming tone could be for effect, his creased face appeared genuinely astonished.  Was he shocked at what he’d walked into, or just acting that way because he was a part of it?  She stared into his eyes.  Were those the ones behind the ski mask?  Or was there really another guy on the ground outside?
    Even though she hated John for being at loggerheads with Christa over the divorce, nonetheless, tension eased across her shoulders being in his company.  Did that mean she could trust him?
    “Careful where you point that knife,” he said.
    Waving it, she edged over to the wall needing to check if a second man lay outside.  "Move into the corner."  Her mind struggled to come up with questions to fire at John to trip him into admission.  She needed to be sure of why he was here.  Instinct was not enough, not after what she'd just lived through.  John could be an accomplice and convincing actor, the person on the phone.  Perhaps as soon as she dropped her guard, John would strike to finish her off.  She’d witnessed what a bastard he could be to Christa, and knowing that he’d threatened Christa to make her sign the divorce papers... 
    Who knew what he was capable of? 
    She had to stay strong, though her brave facade threatened to crumble.  “I’m calling the cops.  Back off.”
    "Call them," John said, showing her his empty palms, but not moving away from the phone on the bench.  His voice stiffened for a second.  "But tell me what happened here."
    The full horror returned as she snatched quick glances around the room.  A chill slithered down her back.  A chair was out of place,

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