You’ll certainly be better at it than I am, Billie said. Rose, she croaked.

I...I figured it wasn’t any of my business, I answered lamely.

My chest hurt as I shuddered. He had to have gotten in through the window. The front door was locked. He had to have climbed the tree and opened the window.Mom said nothing as she wrapped her arms around me. Within seconds, I could hear the blaring of sirens and the steady approach calmed my nerves a little bit, but all I could think about was that thing being in the house with Mom and for God knows how long.

Three city police cruisers arrived, one after another. One of the cops hustled us out to the sidewalk as two of them went inside, guns drawn.I sat down on the curb, watching the red and blue lights whirl over the road as Mom repeated to the officer what I had said. He immediately asked if it was the same kind of mask the attacker had worn Saturday night.I nodded. Yes. It was the same mask. I’m a hundred percent positive on that. And there was a note on it. You’ll see. It said it was my fault. I looked at my mom. I don’t understand what that meant.

She folded her arm around my shoulders. I don’t know, honey.Mom stayed with me until one of the deputies called her over to where he was standing near the porch.

Shoving the hair back from my face, I rested my forehead on my knees. What was the monster doing back? Trooper Ritter had insisted that the attacker most likely fled not only the county, but also the state. So why would he be here?

For some horrible reason I thought of how the trooper had asked about Vee and the worst kind of idea popped into my head. What if she hadn’t run away? What if she was grabbed just like I was, but she hadn’t gotten away? And now the guy was coming back . . .Just a little, she said, setting her books down on a table. I don’t know if I’ll like it.

Richard chuckled as he poured a finger of the amber liquid into a glass. If you don’t like this, you don’t like whiskey.She gave him a questioning glance as she took a seat in the straight-backed chair across from him.

It’s the best there is, he said without modesty. It’s not hard to get the really good stuff here, as close to Scotland as we are.She peered down at her glass and took a little sniff. I did not realize you were such a connoisseur.

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