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Mystery and Crime
Evil in Paradise - Part 5 by Begin Again
 Category:  Mystery and Crime Fiction
  Posted: June 23, 2010      Views: 560

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Begin Again is a resilient "senior citizen". Reinventing and restructuring her life has become almost common place for her.

I love music, books, and sitting by the water. Each of these activities brings a sense of life to me.

She is an accomplished script writer and is currently at the #8 spot on the rankings.

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Having finished his job, Jackson wanted nothing more than to return to his one room cabin and satisfy his fantasies. His male anatomy pressed against his jeans as thoughts of his recently acquired treasures filled his head. With tool box in hand, he slipped between the cabins, eager to fondle the black lacy lingerie.

At the nearby cafe, Agent Darryl Stafford and Carrie enjoyed a quiet dinner together, refusing to discuss the on-going investigation until after their meal. Moving to the outside veranda, they shared several glasses of wine while each divulged bits and pieces of their past. Mesmerized by the full moon and night sounds, not to mention the underlying attraction between the two, the dinner hour soon faded and midnight approached.

Checking her watch, Carrie couldn't believe how late it was. She hadn't felt this relaxed, especially in the presence of a man, for a long time. In the beginning, it had been this way with James, but lately, his drive to success put him on a cutting edge. Remembering her sorority sisters would all have their boyfriends joining them tomorrow saddened her. She'd so wished James would have joined her too. The tragic events of the last few days made her desire to be held and comforted all the stronger.

"Nights like this make me really miss that cabin."

"Cabin?" Catching only the last word of his sentence, Carrie shamefully realized her mind had been drifting elsewhere. "I'm so sorry, Darryl. I guess the wine and the events of the last few days are getting to me."

"Not a problem. There aren't words to describe the homestead, any how, and do it justice. It's just a rustic cabin sitting high in the mountains, near a sparkling clear lake, but to me, it's heaven."

"It sounds wonderful." Still embarrassed for being so inattentive, she added, "I can imagine sitting on the porch, rocking away and taking in all the glorious surroundings."

"Maybe you'd like to see it some time?" This was un-chartered territory for Darryl. Never, in his whole career, had he ever felt so drawn to anyone involved in a case. From the first moment he saw her sitting on the bed, disheveled and all, she'd stolen his heart. Aware of her circumstances, he worked feverishly at restraining his feelings, but tonight, under the moonlight, he wanted nothing more than to wrap her in his arms and protect her from all the evil around them.

"Hmm ... I'd love to -" The words slipped from her lips, followed instantly by guilt. "Of course, I doubt that James would ever make the time to enjoy rustic living." Her immediate response was eager to accept, but her loyalty belonged elsewhere. She was sure that James would refuse any invitation to rough it, after all, he hadn't been enthusiastic to spend a week-end here at Paradise Lodge, hardly a place where one would say they were roughing it.

"Uhh ... the boyfriend, he slipped my mind for a moment. Yeah, I guess, the fast life of Myrtle Beach is more his style, huh?"

"Yes, he does like the city life. Though I have to admit, even I was surprised when he told me he was golfing in Myrtle Beach. I don't recall him ever mentioning he even played."

"Well, the invitation is always there if you ever need a quiet sanctuary ... and James, of course." His emotions were running rampant, something he was totally unaccustomed to and certainly didn't like. His desire to kiss her pouty lips tugged at him. Aware he needed to get control of the situation before he did something he might regret, he pulled out an envelope from his jacket pocket.

Carrie couldn't remember exactly how many glasses of wine they'd shared, but she did know she'd enjoyed the evening with Darryl, more than she should have. She tried to think about standing in the moonlight with James, but every time she did, Darryl's face was smiling back at her. A warm glow spread from the top of her head to her toes. A small satisfied sigh escaped her lips.

"Sorry to ruin your moment, but it is getting late and the purpose of our meeting was to take a look at these mug shots."

"Oh gosh, I've been enjoying myself so much I forgot about the pictures. Yes, please show them to me. Here I am relaxing while there is a killer loose out there." Her body shuddered. "Have you any leads on Joy? I keep telling myself she's okay, but ..."

A ton of bricks fell on Darryl's shoulders. He'd forgotten about the discovery of Joy's body. He knew he'd have to tell her, and he was pretty certain of what her reaction would be.

Ignoring Carrie's question, he handed her a small stack of photos. "Take a look at these pictures. See if you recognize anyone."

"I'll try, but I only caught a glimpse of him from a distance." She thumbed through the first few pictures and then suddenly stopped. She couldn't believe the photo in front of her.

"What is it? Do you recognize him?" Once again the professional investigator, Darryl zoomed in on her reaction. "Is that the guy?"

"I'm not sure ... but I do know him." In the midst of the sultry night, a chill ran up and down her spine. The man she'd spoken to several times was staring back at her.

"Who is he? It's obvious his photo upsets you." He wanted to sweep her into his arms, but he forced himself to remain seated. When she didn't respond immediately, he asked again, "Carrie, who is this guy?"

"He's the maintenance guy at the Lodge." Carrie couldn't stop looking at his photo. "He said he's a good friend of Joy's."

Grabbing his cell phone, Agent Stafford connected with his command post, relaying the information about the maintenance guy. Within minutes, his team would be checking out the situation.

"You don't think-" Tears brimmed her eyes, finally spilling down her cheeks. "He said they were friends. You don't think he would have hurt her, do you?"

"My team will check it out. I'm surprised the Lodge didn't mention his criminal background in our investigation. Someone's got some answering to do."

"What about Joy?" Frantic, Carrie reached out for his hand. "You've got to find her." Jumping out of her chair, she rushed to the veranda railing, staring out into the darkness. "She's probably terrified, out there somewhere."

Darryl knew the time had come to tell her the truth. Until now, he'd resisted, but she deserved to know. He prepared himself for the reaction he knew would come.

"Carrie, I don't know how to tell you this, but-"

Spinning around, her eyes scoured his face. "It's Joy ..." Her hand reached for the railing, supporting her shaking body. "Did they find her?"

"Yes, a team found her body in some heavy thicket by the stream."

"Are they sure it's her? Maybe it's another hiker."

He stepped closer to her trembling body, not wanting to tell her Joy had been decapitated. His hesitation fueled her fears.

"What is it? You're not telling me something."

"Oh God, Carrie, I didn't want to tell you this, but Joy was-"

"What? Joy was what?" Terrified, she screamed at him, unaware her fists pounded against his chest.

"She was decapitated." He reached to comfort her. Her body went limp and she collapsed into his arms. A soft moan filtered through her lips. Lifting her into his arms, he quickly crossed the walkway, cradling her against his chest until he reached her cabin.

Gently placing her on the bed, he rushed to get a damp, cool cloth, placing it on her forehead. Brushing wisps of honey-colored hair from her face, his rough-tough growl was almost a whimper as he called her name over and over, "Carrie ... Carrie, can you hear me?"

Her eyes flickered and then opened. For a second, she took in her surroundings before remembering Joy. Gasping for air, she struggled to sit up.

"Take it easy. Lie back." He tried to soothe her without any success.

"She was ... she was so sweet. So full of life. Why-"

"I don't have the answers, but I assure you, I won't stop until I do." The ringing of his cell phone startled both of them. Pulling it out of his pocket, he answered, his voice clipped and brusque, "Stafford here."

"Darryl, you better get over here. You're going to want to see this."

He recognized the voice as his lead agent on the case. "What's up, Steve?"

"We're at the guy's place. A real sicko, this one."

"Any evidence he's our guy?"

"Not yet, but there's enough stuff here to lock him up for awhile. They're booking him as we speak."

After getting directions to the cabin, Darryl hung up the phone and turned his attention back to Carrie. Her wide eyes begged for information.

"I hate to leave you like this, but duty calls." He stood up, adjusting his shirt and tie.

"Is he the one?" Her voice quivered with fear and sorrow.

"Too early to tell." He hated leaving her alone, but he knew he needed to be with his men. "Can I call your friends?"

"No, I'll be fine. I'm sure they'll be back soon. It's late." Her eyes told a different story. Tears laced with fear glimmered back at him.

"Are you sure?" Torn between duty and his desire to comfort her, he hesitated. "I pass the bar on the way to Jackson's cabin. I'll run in and tell them what's happened."

"Thanks. Now go, you're needed elsewhere. Find the man who did this to Joy, pleeeease." Tears spilled from her eyes again.

Leaning down, he kissed the top of her head. "I promise." Forcing himself to leave, he walked briskly from the cabin.

Burying her face in the pillow, Carrie sobbed uncontrollably.

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