Disclaimer: Below is the unofficial, unedited sneak preview to my upcoming novel Lost Girls 2, title not yet released. Preview is protected by copyright and subject to change at any time.
Sitting on the edge of the bed defeated, Felicity’s shoulders sank. There had to be a reason she needed to come here, she thought again. Just then, as if following a stage cue, the closet door opened. That was it—that was the sign she was looking for. She clicked on her flashlight, eager for the new discovery that lied ahead. For the last two years, she’d been spending nearly all of her time trying to figure out why Brady chose her. He said he’d been watching her before he kidnapped her, something he hadn’t done with either Lydia or Annie. She needed to know what made her—a plain, boring girl from western Washington—so special. Luckily for Felicity, the answers weren’t far behind.
As she approached the closet, something immediately caught her eye—a large mass. Her body tensed for a moment, but she pressed on.
“Come on, Felicity,” she said, encouraging herself to move forward. “Now’s not the time to back out.”
She took a deep breath. When she exhaled, she pulled open the sliding closet doors. There, immobile in the back corner of the closet, was a large cardboard box with her name written in a thick black marker in all-caps. She fell to her knees inside the closet, the only light coming from the police flashlight she borrowed from Bensen, examining the box and the items it held. As the items were removed, she quickly realized this was some sort of disturbing shrine that was created in her honor.
The first item she held in her clammy hands was a well-preserved newspaper clipping from the article that ran once she’d returned to work after Josh’s attack all those years ago. The headline read, “Students Surprise Loved Teacher after Returning from near-Fatal Attack by Ex-Boyfriend.” Two columns of text accompanied the headline. In the middle, there was a photograph of her students surrounding her with hugs, flowers, and cards, on her first day back to work.
Digging deeper, Felicity found the pewter hairbrush that was decorated with vintage lace and flowers on the back. A thick layer of resin protected them from age. It was her mother’s hairbrush. This hairbrush was gifted from her father to her mother on their first wedding anniversary. The lace was a piece cut from her mother’s wedding veil, and the flowers were those from her bouquet. As a child, Felicity snuck into her mother’s vanity and sat in front of the mirror, brushing her brown hair, mimicking her mother’s actions. The hairbrush went missing years ago. She assumed it was placed in one of the many boxes she stored in the attic and that it would eventually show up.
Finally, she removed a black, leather-bound book from the box, which held the answers Felicity needed. A notebook entry dated December 12, 2016, was what she was greeted with. The entry read:
I found her. I finally found the girl I’m going to make mine. I have never met her, but she’s everything I could ever ask for and I already know it. Her beauty has stuck with me ever since I saw her picture in the newspaper last week. I’ve tried to shake this feeling but have been yet to succeed. I have to meet this girl, the girl named Felicity Walker.
Felicity’s stomach did flips. She’d always wondered how long he’d been watching her, but she never imagined he was stalking her for nearly six months before he kidnapped her. A chill ran down her spine. She pondered that for so long she detected nothing. She looked at the notebook that was nearly half filled like a terrible car accident. She wanted to look away more than anything else in the world, but she needed to know what happened, too. She read the next entry.
December 20, 2016:
I saw her in person for the first time today. Boy was my heart racing. I told myself I’d take things slow, but I just couldn’t resist. I got dressed up real nice, combed my hair back, and put on a fake mustache. I went to the school where she worked and pretended to be the parent of a kid who forgot his lunch. The secretary asked if I wanted to drop it off or if I was staying for lunch with the kid. Apparently, parents do that. I told her I’d love to visit with my son and that he was in Ms. Walker’s room. Without hesitation, the secretary pointed me in the direction of her room.
I walked down the hallways with confidence, but as soon as I saw Felicity through the small window of the door I froze. She must’ve sensed I was there because she looked right at me. Not only did she look at me, but she also talked to me. That was something I wasn’t expecting. She asked if I was lost. I told her I was looking for the language arts department for seventh graders to give my son his lunch. She told me how to get there and told me to come back if I needed any more help. On the way back into her classroom, her hand brushed my forearm. There’s no wonder her students love her. She’s so nurturing and caring.
The entries continued over the next couple of months. Felicity skimmed the rest of the entries, hoping to find any more information about why she was chosen.
Felicity attended a Christmas party in the school’s gymnasium…
Felicity stayed home for New Year’s Eve. She did get dressed up, but never went out…
Felicity leaves the house at 6 o’clock each morning and returns home at 4 o’clock each evening…
She always runs alone…
She will only take the south path to run even with minor roadblocks…
I have a plan…
The next few pages were pictures taken of Felicity as she performed her day-to-day activities. There were pictures of her at the grocery store, running through the forest, and on her way into work. The lyrics to “Every Breath You Take” were scribbled across the pages, furthering her discomfort. She always knew that song gave her the creeps. Felicity flipped over the next few pages until she found the most recent entry. It was from the day after she found the posters.
The police were patrolling around her house last night until about 11 o’clock when they called off the search after the kid I paid $500 to say he set everything up came forward. I spend the rest of the night listening to the recordings gathered from the microphones I put throughout her house. She has feelings for me…strong ones. That’ll only make what I’m about to do that much easier. They’re going to Eddie’s Bar tonight. If I play my cards right, I’ll be going home with Felicity. Alone. Tonight’s the night.
“Wait,” Felicity gasped, flipping back to the pages she skipped over. “How did we get from him being in love with me to him wanting to kill me?”
As she flipped through the pages trying to find the answer, a figure emerged in the doorway of the bedroom. It stood, watching Felicity feverishly scan the pages of the notebook. When Felicity didn’t react to its towering presence, it approached her until it stood a foot behind her. She held the book in her hands, but Felicity was no longer reading the words. Instead, she sat perfectly still. She hoped that the feeling of eyes on her back would go away, but it didn’t. She slowly pivoted her head over her shoulder. There, she found herself at the mercy of the mass.
“I always knew you’d return.”