Fear For Me

By: Cynthia Eden

PROLOGUE

He stared at the same fucking walls day in and day out. The prison cell reeked of piss and vomit, and the heavy stench wouldn’t go away. Sunlight never came inside his cell—there was no window to let in anything sweet. Just those three fucking walls, a stained toilet, a bed, and the bars that kept him prisoner.
Day in and day out.
But he wouldn’t be prisoner for much longer. He’d planned. Prepared. His time was nearly at hand.
I’ll get them. Every damn one of them. They wouldn’t get away with what they’d done to him.
Yes, he’d make them pay, and he’d start with her.
His fingers curled around the shiv in his hand. He’d spent hours and hours carefully transforming the plastic spoon, turning it into the weapon he needed.
He preferred to hunt with a knife. He loved the feel of a knife in his hand. The hard, cold power of the blade.
He’d have a knife again. Soon enough. He’d feel the blade slice into skin. See the brilliant and beautiful red spray of blood.
Soon.
“Lights out!” the guard barked as he passed. Right on time. Douglas was always on time. “Lights out, Walker!”
Jon Walker’s shoulders hunched but he made no move to advance toward the crumpled mattress that passed for his bed. Instead, his fingers curled tighter around his weapon. He’d never been one for cutting himself before. He liked to give the pain to others, but sometimes, sacrifices had to be made.
“Medic,” he bit out.
The guard’s shuffling footsteps halted. “What’s that?” Douglas Reed demanded.
Walker sliced the shiv across his stomach and grunted at the lance of pain. Blood dripped over his fingers as he turned to face the guard. The lights were still very much on, so the guard would easily see his wound. “I need…a…medic…” The wound wasn’t that deep, but he’d always bled fast and well—well enough to put on a nice show right then.
The guard—short, stocky—swore and reached for his radio. “Prisoner’s wounded!” Douglas snapped. “It’s Walker, cell block four ten.”
So far, everything was going according to plan. It should. He’d had plenty of time to plan. All those days. All those nights. Locked away.
Her fault. She’d been the one to toss him in this prison.
“Drop the weapon!”
More guards were coming. Other prisoners were shouting now as they realized that some action was going down. They all liked blood, as long as it wasn’t their own.
Yes, Jon had everyone’s attention. It was so hard not to smile, but he couldn’t do that. Not yet.
Making a big show, he dropped his weapon. Kept playing his role. They thought he was crazy anyway. That was why no other prisoners were allowed in his cell with him.
They’d tried to put a prisoner in with him, back when he’d first been brought to the Louisiana State Penitentiary. When the bastard had tried to push him around, when the others had tried to attack him, Jon had known just what to do.
Killing his cell mate had been easy. The sweet rush of power was exactly what he’d needed to get through the dark days.
The guards swarmed him. He kept bleeding, but he didn’t even feel a sting from the wound anymore. Soon the guards were rushing him to the med ward. At this time, so close to lights-out, the med ward would be nearly empty.
Nearly…
There she is. Not the bitch who haunted him, but one who would give him a chance to escape. A woman who would do…for now.
The doctor spun toward him when he was wheeled inside. Dr. Sheila Long. She didn’t smell of piss and vomit. She smelled of hope.
Freedom.
And peppermint. The lady had a taste for sweets. He’d noticed that the first time she’d checked him out. Noticed it. Noticed Sheila with her long, dark hair. Hair she kept pulled back in a ponytail. Her skin was pale, it looked like silk, and he’d wanted it beneath his knife since that first meeting.
Sheila’s gaze met his and then dropped quickly to his wound. Sheila never looked straight at him for too long. No one did. He noticed her stare widen when she saw the blood. The blood had soaked the bottom of his shirt, so she couldn’t see the wound clearly. Good. She wouldn’t know yet that he’d avoided everything vital. After all his knife practice over the years, he knew how to make a cut that bled plenty but left the victim without any mortal injuries. He could keep playing like he was at death’s door.
“Get him on the table,” Sheila said, biting her lower lip. “I need to see the damage.”
One of the guards dragged him up on the table.
Jon gave out a long, pain-filled groan.
Sheila hurriedly went to work on him. “Who attacked this prisoner?”
Two of the guards left, heading back outside to take up what Jon knew were their positions outside of the med room. They’d stay there until the doc was finished with him.
Douglas stayed behind. Protocol dictated that one guard would have to stay in the med room and oversee a prisoner’s treatment. One armed guard.
But Douglas had no weapon ready.
I do.
Douglas muttered, “No one attacked him. The dumb fuck did it to himself.” A rough sigh slid from him. “Now we’ll have to put him on suicide watch.”
No, they wouldn’t. He’d never been suicidal. He didn’t want to see what waited in the next world for him. He liked this world far too much.
His gaze darted quickly around the room. Only Sheila and Douglas were there. The guards had been lazy when they burst into his cell. They’d just taken the shiv that he dropped.
They hadn’t even checked him for another weapon.
They should have.
Douglas bent toward him. “Let me cuff him to the—”
Jon lunged up as he yanked out the second shiv. Douglas didn’t have a chance to scream before that shiv sank deep into his throat.
Sheila just stood there, eyes wide, frozen.
Fear could do that to a person. Make them freeze when they should flee. Not that he was going to give her time to flee.
He yanked the shiv out of Douglas as the guard’s body fell to the floor with a thud. The thud made Sheila flinch. She opened her mouth to scream.
Her scream would alert the guards outside. No one ignored a woman’s scream in this hell. The prisoners might enjoy the scream, but no one ignored it.
I can’t have her bringing company in.
He grabbed Sheila, wrapped his hand around her mouth, and put the bloody shiv at her jugular. “There are two ways this can work.” His lips brushed over her ear. The scent of peppermints teased him. So much better than piss. He inhaled deeply, then said, “I can kill you now, or you can be a good girl.” He liked good girls. He liked bad ones, too. “If you’re good, then you get to live longer.” But you’ll still die. He’d gone too long without a woman’s blood staining his hands.
No, she wasn’t the bitch who tormented his dreams, the one who’d pay for taking so much away from him, but Sheila…oh, sweet Sheila would still bleed damn well for him. She’d give him the rush of power, of pleasure, that he’d missed for so long.
She was his tool. His toy. His ticket out of the cage.
He could feel the mad thunder of her heartbeat against him. Sheila was small, probably only around five foot two. Curved, but she hid her figure under her oversize scrubs. Her features were plain, when he liked his girls prettier, but she’d do.
She’d definitely do.
“Call out to the guards,” he ordered her, keeping his mouth at her ear. She was trembling against him. “Tell them you’re stitching me up.” Because they were just outside that door. He knew that. He let the shiv slice her, drawing forth a long trickle of her blood. Yes. I missed that. “If you call for help, you’ll be dead before they get in the room.” Those words were a promise. Sheila would have read his file. She would know all about the things he’d done.
She would believe him.
She should believe him.
Sheila’s head moved in a fast nod. This part was the gamble, but really, what did he have to lose?
Nothing. If she ratted him out, then he went back to his cell. He was already serving multiple life sentences—what more could they do to him?
If Sheila didn’t scream for help, if she did exactly as he’d ordered, then…
Freedom.
His fingers lifted from her soft mouth.
“I-I’m going to need more time.” Sheila’s voice grated in his ears because the fear was so sharp in her words. Would the guards hear the fear?
His own heartbeat kicked up. Sweat trickled down his back. The wound in his stomach began to throb.
“Finish your duties!” Sheila called, her voice getting a little stronger. It was lights-out. All the guards needed to patrol right then. “I’m stitching him up now.”
“Yes, ma’am.”
The guards shuffled away.
Jon smiled. He pressed a kiss to Sheila’s head. “Good girl,” he whispered as he turned her in his arms.
She stared up at him. Her eyes were wide, stark, terrified. Just the look he loved.
“Wh-what happens now?”
“You stitch me up.” First order of business. He couldn’t very well escape with a wound that might get infected.
Her breath was panting out as she reached for the needle.
“Now, you’re gonna need to be careful.” He angled his body so that she could reach his wound—and so he could keep the weapon at her throat. “Because you make one wrong move, and I’ll slice your throat open.”
The panting of her breath got worse. Her fingers were shaking so badly it took her five tries to get the first stitch in place.
He smiled as he watched her work. He’d always been involved in cutting people open, not stitching them back together. It hurt every time the thread went in, but he found he didn’t mind the pain as much.
Not when he got to watch her face and think of all the things he’d do to her. She would be his practice run. A guy could get rusty after so long away from his trade. He had to make sure he was in top form when he delivered the payback that was coming.
Then she was done. Sheila even cleaned him up. Wasn’t that nice? What, did she think that if she was good enough to him, he’d let her go?
Not happening, Doc.
But she’d done her part. The rest would now be up to him. He glanced over at the clock.
Jon knew where the scrubs were kept. He’d put them on and slip away at the shift change that took place in ten minutes. Ten minutes. That wasn’t much playtime.
The other doc—Casey Hall—had left his ID behind. He’d noticed that Hall did that. A mistake, leaving the ID behind on the weekend, but Hall had a bad habit of being a little too forgetful. With Hall’s ID, Jon would be able to get out so easily.
So very easily.
He stroked her cheek. “You did a very nice job on me.” It would barely scar.
“Will you—will you let me go now?”
Ah, there was hope breaking through her voice.
He shook his head. “No, now…” His smile widened. “Now you die.”
Terror leaked across her face as the words sank in. She tried to lunge away, tried to scream but—
There was no time for that. He brought up his weapon, slicing fast. Enjoying the blood and not caring that it soaked his clothes. He’d change soon—for now, he’d enjoy this.
Just as he’d enjoy the prey that was soon to come. Only that bitch’s death wouldn’t be easy. She sure hadn’t made things easy on him. Not when she’d stood in that courtroom, day after day, mocking him. Belittling him. Telling his secrets to the world.
She’ll pay.
As for Sheila, he would give her a quick death, though he did usually enjoy letting it linger.
Only ten minutes. There was still a lot he could do in that length of time. Every slice of his knife would be heaven then. Next time, I’ll do plenty more.
He’d made his list of targets. Some should have stood by him. They hadn’t. They should have feared him. Not put him on display. Not turned him into the freak.
So many deserved to be punished. So many.
Jon held Sheila while she died. He figured he owed her that much. After all, she’d just given him his freedom.
He inhaled deeply, drinking in the scent.
Freedom smelled a hell of a lot like blood—and peppermint.

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