The usually serene setting was lost in the sounds that belted out of Daisy’s car stereo, the heavy drums and guitar permeated the area with echoes of Rob Zombie’s voice. The air was filling with the sweet smell of cheap vodka and pot. Daisy sat on the hood of her car overlooking the embankment that went down to the river. Burnt out fire pits decorated the pull off spot proving that outdoor high school parties were still a popular and happening event.
Daisy’s red high heel stilettos had fallen from her feet and lay at the front of the car, her long tanned legs seemed to run for miles from her red knee length skirt. She had her head tilted back to catch the sun that was beating down on the gravelly area and her blond hair hung down touching the hood of her yellow mustang. She drank the vodka straight from the bottle and traded the pot pipe for a cigarette. Figuring she better enjoy her last touch of freedom before she heads into hell.
The bruises left by Ryan still hurt, her bandage tighter on her rib cage than her tank top. The Doctors had told her no alcohol with the concussion, but they had no idea where she was headed and how much she would need this last bit of courage. Hopefully if she drank enough, she would not want to drive all the way back to Boston but instead would make her way to Mila’s house.
She flipped her dark sunglasses back down over her eyes, covering the dark bruises that were a final reminder of why she left the city to come to this godforsaken small town. She closed her eyes and leaned back willing the sun to heal the bruises. Her whole life she had lived in the shadow of her sister and now she was forced by the courts to live under Milas' roof and better her life. Daisy knew she had made mistakes in her life, too many parties, bad boys and drugs filled her waking hours. She was not happy about where it had gotten her but she had wanted so badly to not be the perfect Mila that she had chosen a different path, maybe not the right one, but not Mila's, not what her parents had wanted either. Taking another swig off the bottle she figured she could spend a few more minutes before having to head out and meet Mila at her store. She better swig some of the mouthwash she bought earlier and spray some perfume on herself before heading out. Thank god it was sunny and she could wear sunglasses. It was a beautiful perfect spring day, warm with just a gentle breeze.
The music and the vodka drowned out any other sounds including the noise that came from the shadows of the tree line where someone stood watching her. The bright sun would have made it hard to see into the darkness of the woods if Daisy were paying any attention at all. He slowly made his way to the back side of her car and inched closer, smelling traces of her perfume and shampoo under the more distinguishable smell of marijuana, cigarettes and alcohol. He was so close he could reach out and touch her but instead he watched her basking in the sun, he knew she wanted to be touched, to be taken. He was losing his concentration from the god awful noise that came from her car, but it had also let him get so close to her without her knowing.
He inched closer stepping on pieces of a broken bottle and she stirred- looking straight ahead as if she knew he might be there, somewhere. He hesitated for just a moment out of her peripheral view to let her settle back down and believe all was well. When she settled back in and made herself comfortable against the hood of the car he took his chance and leaped at her encircling her neck with his arm he grabbed her hair with his fist yanking her head back and pulling her off the hood of the car in one move. She did not even have time to gasp let alone scream and his hold was too tight for her to make any noise. Her hands flew to his arm digging and scratching at him in desperation causing her glasses to fly from her face hitting the ground.
It happened so fast that it took a moment before Daisy knew what was happening, her air supply was gone and she struggled for a breath, just one to fill her lungs, to scream to give her strength. She was pulled from the car, the bottle falling to the ground underneath her breaking and spilling its sweet sticky liquid on the hood and dripping to the ground. Her body fell on top of it smashing it with her weight. She felt the slivers cut into her skin as she was dragged through the glass. She could feel the the blood wet on her skin from the cuts. Daisy tried to struggle but he was too strong, and the lack of oxygen was making her weak. She felt her nails digging into his skin. He threw her down on the rocks a few feet from the car and began to tear at her clothing. He had finally loosed his grip on her throat and she gasped, gulping air into her lungs as her eyes tried to recover their sight.
She was fighting him with everything she had; nails. pieces of glass from the shattered bottle but it was to no avail. He grabbed her throat again and pressed down trying to squeeze the fight out of her. He got back to his feet thinking he needed to get out of plain site and dragged her by her hair and wrists to the edge of the parking lot. This girl was a beauty he thought, what a great find and well worth the trip out here. Plus she was already dressed for him- a tiny tank top, mini skirt, she was ready for him for sure. Once he felt like they were out of site he ripped her underwear off and held the knife to her throat that he had pulled from his pocket. She had bruises all over her and under her shirt was a bandage. She was trying to scream and while he knew there was no one around, the swimming and party spot always attracted teens during the hot summer days he knew he had to hurry. Setting the knife down he tightened his grip on her throat to silence her, she continued to claw at him so he smashed her head into the rocks she laid on, once, twice and pressed his body onto hers, hitting her in the side. He punched her in the side several times while his other hand remained around her throat. He did not think any of the others had fought this much, and she was so small, quite a bit of fire inside this one.
He was able to control her enough to put his condom on, he had become a pro at this one handed. moving her skirt up he forced himself inside her holding himself up by putting pressure on her chest and maintaining his other hands grasp around her throat. After a few moments more he was finishing but suddenly stopped when she ceased clawing at him. Slowly removing his hand from her airway her face fell to the side and her arms and hands fell to the ground. He no longer felt the desperate gasps of breath that had caused her chest to heave. He backed up standing over her, staring at her, willing her to wake. Maybe she had just passed out, he leaned over and felt for a pulse finding none.
Looking around though he knew no one was there, he put his hand over his mouth covering an unexpected chuckle. Wow, that was not what he was prepared for, she had fought him so hard, how could she be dead. A urge to laugh became more and more apparent to him. He suddenly felt awestruck, so strongly he found this appealing it was truly amazing. She had just died, in his arms with him by her side. This was a new feeling for him, unexpected, not intended but altogether amazing. Quickly redressing himself, watching her the whole time he could not keep the smile from his face. He grabbed his knife took one last look at her beautiful face and then ran directly down the embankment so he could cut across the hillside and connect with the trail he had come in on. Picking up his bag near the tree where he had left it he slowed himself down so he looked like anyone who might be out for a hike and headed the mile or so back to his car, smiling and whistling the entire way.
Mila looked at the clock noticing it was 5:15 pm, Vic was supposed to meet her here before over an hour ago. She had spoken to her sister at 11:30 that morning, and she was heading out from Boston already. Maybe she stopped for lunch, or gas or shopping ,but Mila had that lingering thought that Vic changed her mind or stopped at some swanky bar along the way to fill her urge and met some smooth talking scum who already had her shacked up at his place. Vic was a lot of things, but somehow she was never late.
Mila counted out the register writing up the deposit she need to drop off and then walked around the store to ensure everything was in its place. She always felt better coming in knowing her consignment shop was ready to go for the day and took the extra time at night to refold, replace and adjust her stock. The lights had all been shut down except for the back one which gave a subtle glow throughout the store. The closed sign hung and door locked, she always loved this time of day. The hustle and bustle of the day had quieted and now all was silent. She made a mental note to pull items for her seasonal wedding display since with the start of summer, wedding season also began. She added to her mental checklist the items and supplies she needed.
Mila owned and ran the store on her own, closed Sundays and Mondays, she worked the rest of the week taking in inventory, cleaning and creating displays and of course waiting on customers. While it was by no means a business to get rich in, she did well for herself and felt established in routed in this small town she moved to ten years ago.
Walking around she noticed that the winter rack was due to come down. She suddenly realized that was a lot to do, as always and despite closing the store for the next week to help Vic adjust, she might have to bring her in and do some work. Glancing at the clock Mila realized it was 5:30 now, Vic had not called her cell or store store. Maybe she decided to go straight to the house, a phone call would have been nice.
Mila decided to finish up her paperwork and deposit and head out by 5:45, her usual but a bit later than she had wanted to be tonight. She had wanted to get home, make her sisters favorite spaghetti dinner with garlic bread and help her get settled into her room. Fifteen more minutes, not a moment more and she would head home.
Detective John Rogers is a very thorough man, he is often called Digger at work because he liked to know who he was talking to, dealing with or going to be dealing with so he always looked up what he could find out about a person. He called it being prepared, some could say it was looking too much into something. No matter how you viewed it, John drove down Main Street in his small town of Bennington on the way to meet Mila Stevens. He knew she owned and operated a consignment shop, owned a home on the outskirts of town, loved animals and had lived in the area for about ten years.
Mila had moved to the area from Boston and had been a volunteer with many local organizations, due to this he also found archived newspaper articles with pictures of her from a few years ago. Brunette, brown eyes, average height and build and casual dresser even at fancier events, pretty but not overly so. Not your typical city girl, she seemed to fit right in up here in Vermont.
Pulling into the parking lot of “Up-Cycle”, John went over the statement he had prepared in his head before he left the station. Even after being on the force for eight years, this was the one aspect of the job that never got easier. Not that in this small town there were many situations like this one that fell across his desk. Car accidents, pre-mature deaths due to health issues, a few suicides but murder was not a high crime in this small Vermont town. Even being in close proximity to larger cities in New York and Massachusetts seemed to not have a huge impact on this most serious of crimes, though it did help bring in other issues.
Turning the car off, he pulled out his notes one more time and stepped out into the parking lot. He strode up to the front door before noticing the closed sign hanging in the window and the lights mostly off inside, checking his cell he realized it was almost 5:30, the hours sign indicated open until 5. He was just about to turn around and head to her home located just up the road in a small development when he noticed motion around the cash register area. Cupping his hand around his eyes, he leaned into the window pane to get a better look and saw someone leaning over the counter writing on a pad of paper, her long hair was covering her face and the dark of the interior did not give a good view of the woman. He was pretty sure he had heard that she was the sole owner and employee but there was only one way to find out. Pulling back from the window, he slowly tapped his knuckle on the door.