First Page


Nearly a half hour had passed since he pried open the kitchen window and quietly lowered himself into the apartment. He had been standing beside the woman’s bed the whole time, listening to the barely audible sound of her breathing and watching the rise and fall of her chest in the moonlight that filtered through the dusty curtains. He glanced at his watch as the familiar fantasy began swirling in his mind. It was almost time.

He could taste the perspiration on his lips beneath the ski mask as he placed a gloved hand on her shoulder. She moved her head on the pillow, murmuring something in the twilight of sleep. He brought his mouth close to her ear and whispered her name.

Her eyes flew open and her breath caught in her throat when she saw the gun in his hand.

“Who…who are you? What do you want?” she gasped. He stood beside the bed and stared at her without speaking. “Please,” she said, in a tremulous voice, “I only have a few dollars!” She motioned toward the dresser. “It’s in my purse!”

She pressed her back against the headboard. Her eyes were wide with fear now.

He gazed at the large black crucifix on the wall above her head. The bronze figure suspended from it looked down on him with an agonized expression, the painted blood prominent on its hands, feet and side. The beginning of a smile tipped the corners of his mouth as he reached up and touched the face of Christ.

“Bridget,” he said softly. “It’s three o’clock.”

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