Murder at Sunrise Lake - Christine Feehan
Mommy, Daddy’s doing the bad thing again.
The child’s voice very clearly said the words she’d said to her mother when she was four years old. When she was five. When she was seven.
Stella Harrison knew she was dreaming, but she still couldn’t fight her way to the surface. This was the fifth night in a row she’d had the dream, and the camera had widened the lens just a little more, as it had every night, so she saw additional pieces of the hideous nightmare she couldn’t stop. The man fishing. He wore denim bibbed overalls tucked into high olive-colored waders. A blue cap was pulled low over his eyes so she couldn’t see his face. There were boulders among the heavy reeds and plants that grew thick along the shore, creeping out into the lake. He’d made his way through the boulders to get out from under the shade of several trees.
She tried to warn him. Yelling. Calling out. Don’t cast. Don’t do it. Every night she saw his line go into the same spot. That little darker area that rippled in rings like a little round pool, so inviting. The fisherman always did the same exact thing, like a programmed robot. Stepping forward, casting, the lure hitting perfectly, sinking into the middle of that inky spot, dropping beneath the water into the depths below.
The camera switched then and she could see beneath the water. It should have been tranquil. Peaceful. Fish swimming. Not the man in the wet suit, waiting for that hook, waiting to tug and enter into some kind of terrible game with the fisherman above the surface. The fight for the fish became a real life-and-death battle, with the fisherman lured farther and farther from the safety of the shore and into the reeds and rocks— closer to the threat that lurked beneath the water.
The mythical fish appeared to be fighting. He seemed big, and well worth the exhausting battle. The fisherman paid less and less attention to his surroundings as he reeled the fish nearer to him and realized he was close to winning his prize.
Without warning, the killer beneath the water rose up right in front of the unsuspecting fisherman, slamming him backward so that his waders couldn’t find traction on the muddy floor of the lake. The fisherman hit his head hard on the boulder behind him and went down. Immediately the killer caught his legs and yanked hard, dragging him under the water and holding him there while the fisherman thrashed and fought, weak from the vicious blow to his head from the boulder.
Stella could only watch, horrified, as the killer calmly finished the scene by dragging the body to the surface for just a few moments so he could pull the bottom of the wader along a boulder. The killer then pulled the fisherman back into the water and tangled him in his own fishing line just below the waterline in the reeds and plants close to the shore. The killer calmly swam off as if nothing had happened.
The lens of the camera snapped shut and everything went black.
STELLA WOKE FIGHTING a tangle of sheets, sweat dripping, hair damp. She sat up abruptly, pressing the heels of her hands to her eyes. Rubbing, scrubbing her palms down her face over and over. Trying to erase the nightmare. Not again. It had been years. Years. She’d made a new life for herself. New friends. A place. A home.
Now the nightmare was back and recurring. This was the fifth time she’d had it. Five times in a row. It wasn’t like she lived in a big city. Usually if murder was happening, everyone would know, especially in a small town. But this killer was brilliant. He was absolutely brilliant and that was why he was going to get away with it— unless she brought attention to the murders. Even then, she wasn’t certain he would get caught.
She hadn’t realized she was rocking herself back and forth, trying to self-soothe. She forced herself to stop. She hadn’t done that in years either. All those terrible habits she had developed as a child, that came back as a teen, she’d managed to overcome. Now she found they were sneaking back into her life.
There was no going back to sleep even though it was still dark outside. She’d planned to sleep in. She had few days off even though the season was winding down. She owned the Sunrise Lake Resort and had for several years,