Finley dragged her feet home—a tiny cottage with paint peeling off the walls and windows that no longer opened, though there were two heavy metal locks installed on the door—a necessary precaution for a girl who lived alone. She stepped onto the thin, discolored carpet, when a rustle in a corner instantly put her on alert. Something oval, black, with antennae was scuttling along the cracked wall—a cockroach. Ridiculous—a roach in November?
Well, better a roach than a robber. Finley got an old slipper and whacked.
After disposing the body—a yucky business, no matter how many times she did it—she pulled out her laptop and got to work. This was the reason she had no interest in fun and flirting. The one time she had a relationship, she got scars—not real ones, thankfully, but enough to put her off dating.
And, as Finley told herself, she already had a boyfriend. Money. She didn’t need anything but money. The earth revolved around money. Nothing mattered in the world but dollar signs. She knew it the hard way, after her mother died, leaving her with an estranged father didn’t have a job and then got cancer, racking up a pile of medical bills that threatened to bury her alive.
Luckily, she had a brain. A pretty good one. Finley survived on scholarships, babysitting, tutoring, selling essays, and more recently, blackmailing a pedophile she found online.
She opened up her bank account, pleased to see three more zeroes appear behind the original paltry amount that she checked daily. Then she captured screenshots of the vomit-inducing chats and sent them to the local authorities anyway.
Her wallet considerably fattened, Finley decided to replenish her near-empty fridge. She had been living on rice and beans and apples for weeks. Grabbing her bag, Finley headed out, to her rickety old car from last century.
She felt The Gaze soon after she parked her car and got out. Finley looked around immediately, but there was no one around. Not even a stray cat. She looked around again and thought she saw a wisp of hair, but when she blinked, there was nothing but air.
Nothing but air, she told herself, but as she walked into the supermarket, she made a note to get the purchases as soon as possible. She pushed the cart down the aisles briskly, and while she was passing an aisle of lined with coffee and tea, a voice in the next aisle made her freeze.
“Just grab the pack and go, I ain’t got time hanging around. Coach wants us back by six.”
Greg, her ex. A football player who had seemed real sweet and wasn’t empty-headed, until she discovered he was only interested in her body and the only reason he pursued her was because of a bet.
No one’d look at you twice if you weren’t hot, he had sneered.
Finley would have thrown a mega-sized can of ground coffee at him if she could get away with it. That wasn’t possible, so she kept still until the voices and footfalls faded away. Not that she was afraid of Greg, but well, she’d just rather not.
Anyway, it was a good thing that it was her ex, not Parker. Finley would have thrown a can at Parker, regardless of consequences.
An announcement blasted over the store―something about buy-one-get-one-free for toilet paper. Finley was able to cut corners on many things, but toilet paper was not one of them.
Finley raced to the aisle as if her life depended on it and stopped short, her heart beating wildly, but not because of the exercise.
There, right in front of those giant white rolls, was a headless man.