Since I was a young girl, I've always loved horror movies and crime shows. The darker the better.
About a year ago, I was watching a repeat of Criminal Minds and went to bed that night brainstorming ideas for a book. Once I finished writing Dead Butterflies, I basically just shelved it because well ... life got in the way and did a dark and ugly number on my spirit.
Fast forward a few months ... I woke up one morning and opened up the manuscript and pretty much re-wrote the whole thing and just decided I'd worked way too hard to let my personal drama keep me from publishing a story I loved and put my whole heart into writing.
Dead Butterflies is book one of what, for now, is intended to be a duo.
Dead Eyes Open is book two and the story of Damian Kinnard, Derek's younger brother who is a gay man. Stay tuned for more on that.
Both books are romantic suspense, crime thrillers, and are standalone reads.
Keep reading for a free chapter of Dead Butterflies and enjoy.
North Texas knows him as Mr. Car Aficionado for his charm, good looks, and cheery television personality.
I know him as someone who triggers warnings and red flags in my head ... and makes my heart race.
He claims we're nothing but a hopeless, cruel tragedy and maybe he's right. He's done despicable things. Unforgivable, vile, evil things. But none of that seems to matter when he's touching me.
Sometimes a girl just has to say screw it and go with her heart.
Some risks are worth taking...
Some secrets are worth keeping hidden...
Dead Butterflies Playlist:
Seether … Forsaken
Five Finger Death Punch … The Bleeding
Breaking Benjamin … The Dark of You
Saul … King of Misery
A Day to Remember … Resentment
Killswitch Engage … Always
Starset … Monster
Papa Roach … The Ending
Breaking Benjamin … Dear Agony
Korn … Right Now
Bad Wolves … Heaven So Heartless
Breaking Benjamin … Hollow
10 Years … Waking Up
Godsmack … The Enemy
My Darkest Days … Come Undone
Five Finger Death Punch … Jekyll and Hyde
3 Doors Down … Let Me Go
Seether … Driven Under
Staind … Just Go
I Prevail … I Don’t Belong Here
Asking Alexandria … Alone Again
Seether … Wasteland
From Ashes to New … Wait for Me
Pop Evil … Survivor
Static-X … Bled for Days
Architects … Dead Butterflies
Five Finger Death Punch … Question Everything
Bullet For My Valentine … Tears Don’t Fall
Red … Pieces
Pop Evil … Breathe Again
Korn … Start the Healing
Twenty miles out of the city limits, the FM road leads to a secluded area surrounded by trees and not much else. I turn off the headlights and ease around to the side of the shithole of a home where I park the silver Chevy Tahoe loner vehicle between two overgrown oaks. An older model BMW M5 covered in thick dust—which I know from recent research belongs to Gallow—sits beneath the carport.
I’m so damn fired up that it feels like a dozen fists punching and twisting my insides.
Men like Gallow are rotten trash. Vermin. Shit on the soles of my shoes. They deserve every bit of their fate and all need to be eliminated. Slowly. Painfully. And this individual concerns someone close to my heart, which makes it even more necessary.
This is goddamned personal. This is for my best friend, for his great-niece, and for his family.
For my brother… my mother.
Casting a glance around the place, I’m relieved to see the old mobile home a few hundred feet down the road is still dark, still abandoned, the front door still hanging by its hinges. Nothing but hungry rats, cooing pigeons, peeling paint, and decay live inside the walls of the rundown house. Catty-corner across the street is a nicely set up manufactured home, the lights also out at this late hour. Owned by a retired couple in their late seventies, if my research was correct, this shouldn’t be an issue. They’ve probably been asleep for hours.
Warm and humid with the temperature still lingering in the upper eighties at one a.m. has me yearning for cooler weather. Sticky sweat has my shirt clinging to my back even with the air conditioning blowing out a heavy stream of cool air. Hell, even the trees must be looking for shade in this lingering heatwave. For a moment, I gaze upward at the silvery moonlight that’s shining with perfect, graceful ease and the millions of bright stars that look like falling tears. Then I step from the SUV, cover my boots, and reach for the disposable leg covers that end at the top of my thighs, giving me full access to my pockets. I follow with a fleece ski mask and lightweight nitrile gloves. That’s when I feel it. When I hear it. The slight breeze behind me. The gentle ring of his voice in my ears. The facetious tone of his words and the soul-filled gift of his laughter.
And loss. Torment. Deep, agonizing resentment and gut-clenching outrage.
Trapped in memories, I take a deep inhale of breath and make a quick phone call. “I’m here. Should be ready for you and the bus around two. I plan on spending a few extra fun-filled minutes with this fucker.”
Freddie Gallow. Twenty-four. Former athlete for one of Dallas’s largest prestigious private high schools. Comes from a long history of money and the Gallow real estate fortune. Word has it that young Freddie’s family sent him packing after he fell into a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol instead of pursuing a professional career in the family business.
Filthy goddamned bastard.
He shall die young. And slowly. Savagely. Agonizingly.
In just a few scant hours, Freddie Gallow will be nothing more than a long trail of cold, wet, unrecognizable ashes and another statistic of a drug deal gone bad.
“And if this is too close to home for you, buddy, Abe and Marco can handle it. Stay out of this one if you need to.”
“Not a chance. I want to see his blood on the ground and watch his fucking flesh turn to burnt dust. I’ll sleep easier tonight knowing the job is done and this man will breathe no more.”
Sean’s response is indifferent, almost evil.
“Two o’clock, then.”
“Two o’clock,” Sean confirms.
I end the call and gather my things from the back seat of the Kinnard loner with its blacked-out windows and altered license plate and catch a faint stench of something resembling dead flesh from somewhere in the near distance. Waves of rancid, overpowering stink have bile bubbling in my throat, and I swallow hard and briskly. Then, with the quick run of a firm palm over both my front pocket and the blade behind me, I confirm both weapons are nicely secure and pull my backpack over my shoulders. With restrained, stalking steps, I near the back door and turn the knob. It’s no surprise to find it locked, yet it only takes seconds to jimmy it open.
Stale smoke radiates in the kitchen, a wave of muted light shining from the oven clock. An open pizza box rests on the counter with a housefly buzzing over a trail of crumbs. Two empty bottles of Heineken rest in the sink with a crumpled napkin lodged inside one of them.
The place reeks with a need for a deep cleaning.
A few footsteps ahead, I see the faint glow of a flat-screen television. Gallow reclines on a brown, tattered leather sofa with a round table next to the arm. Four rows of crystal-white powder are spread out in even fine lines on a hand mirror. A bottle of water rests in his lap, and he’s rubbing his forehead as if trying to ease a headache while staring up at an old western movie with John Wayne wearing an eye patch and drinking something from a small, dark bottle. With olive skin, dark eyes, and a head of thick nearly black hair that’s cut short, the guy is decent-looking, other than he’s a good thirty pounds underweight. From what I’ve seen on social media, he’d once been a real gem with the ladies.
My jaw clenches at the sight of him.
Terror sparks in the dilated, glazed eyes of Freddie Gallow as they meet mine. Dressed in a worn pair of athletic shorts that have seen better days, he jumps up off the couch, a bottle of water falling from his hand to the floor beneath him.
“What the fuck? Get out of my house or I’ll blow your goddamned head off!” Panic-stricken, Gallow reaches between the cushions of the sofa. But before he’s retrieved what I suspect is a weapon, I’m on him, reaching for his neck.
Stupid, idiotic moron.
“Wrong, motherfucker,” I hiss. “Now do exactly as I tell you. Step away from the couch and turn around and face me. Slowly. Carefully. Hands at your sides.”
Gallow grits his teeth. “Kiss my motherfucking ass,” he says, then struggles to release himself from my grip.
“Step. Away. From. The. Couch,” I reiterate, my tone low and bitter. “Unless you want me to sink my blade through your asshole.”
He does as I said and faces me, his bottom lip quivering.
I reach into the pocket of my hoodie and remove my phone, then pull up a photo. Beautiful. Young. Long shiny dark hair. Glistening white, perfectly-shaped teeth. Dressed in a cheerleading outfit with a big embroidered “L” across her chest, she looks happy, at ease, like any other content teenage girl living life and enjoying adolescence. But like all the others, she’s another young kid who ended up making one senseless move—a fatal one.
“You know this girl?” I shove the phone under his nose.
Gallow shrugs, his stare aloof. “Maybe. Maybe not. What the fuck’s it to you?”
My response is a silent but relentless deep knee in the nuts. He screams in agony and reaches for his groin.
“What the fuck?!” he seethes, the color draining from his face.
“That was for this little girl who overdosed on the shit crank you gave her, and before you open your trap, forget trying to feed me any bullshit denials. They have identified you. Took a little coaxing, for obvious reasons. But in the end, as we both know, money talks. Tomorrow, this information goes to the cops. So you, Gallow, are up shit creek with no paddle in sight. Either way, you lose. It’s either prison for a few years, being the new pretty boy and the newest bitch on the floor, or you end up a dead man by my hand. Now, should you play nice and tell me what I want to know, I may return the favor, be a little more polite, and make this a little less uncomfortable. Tell me where I can find a dealer called CD.”
Gallow heaves out a laugh and wipes an arm across his runny nose. “Go fuck yourself, narc! I’m not telling you shit! And those cunts came to me looking for a good time. They wanted to party, so we motherfucking partied. Hard. Hell, I’m just a businessperson doing his job. I only gave them what they paid for. And as for going to the pigs? Do it. It won’t change shit. My old man has more zeros on his bank account than you can probably even count. I’ll end up with another friendly slap on the hand. Maybe a few months’ probation before the DA seals my records. Just like last time. Just like the next time.”
I almost laugh in his face, tempted to tell him that Daddy can’t help with this one and Mama’s tit is all fucking dried up. When I reach behind me for my backpack, my knee cramps up, the old skateboard accident rearing its ugly head at the worst possible time. I damn near stumble to the ground and the side of my ski mask rises on one side just enough to expose me.
A smirk covers the fucker’s face. “Well, fuck me! How about that? I knew you sounded familiar,” he says in a tone laced with spite that has me wanting to pull the goddamned tongue from his mouth, cut it off with my blade, and feed it to him. “You’re the pretty millionaire that all the ladies drool over. Ain’t you got enough money in your pockets already? The car business not paying out like you thought it would, squealer?”
I jerk the mask down my face then reach in my backpack for a role of Gorilla in case the need arises, along with a full syringe, which I roll between my gloved fingers in front of his eyes. “Ever hear of a strychnine cocktail, fucktard?” I lean over against his ear. “Only takes ten to twenty minutes before the spasms begin. Another few before every muscle in your body will convulse until your backbone arches continually. The convulsions then lead to what’s called lactic acidosis, which in layman’s terms means hyperthermia or overheating. Next, Gallow, comes the breakdown of skeletal muscle, postictal depression, and paralysis of the pathway that controls breathing. And then there’s the best part yet, the cherry on top. Sweet, painful asphyxiation and slow, agonizing death. Ever wonder how long you can hold your breath underwater? I’ve heard that most folks last about two minutes.”
“You’ll fucking pay for this.”
“That’s doubtful. But hey, let’s you and I take our time, shall we? First things first.” I reach for the mirror and shove it underneath his nose. “Let’s motherfucking party. Hard. All of it, fuckface. Snort it nice and deep. You’re going to need it.”
Gallow trembles as a glisten of cold sweat breaks out over his eyes. “No, man. I don’t want it right now. I—I don’t need it.”
I set the mirror to the side, almost tempted to plunge my blade into his kidney and watch him bleed out. “Trust me. You need it.” My knee connects with the worthless vermin’s nuts again, much harder than before. His agonizing sob makes me grin. Clutching his groin in misery—sweet, painful misery—he doubles over, trying to catch his breath and keep from puking.
“Fuck you, dude! My family will ruin you.”
His words only worsen the fire inside me. With a huff of a laugh, I reach for his cock, then twist and squeeze. “There’s only one person here who’s going to end up ruined, you dumb bastard. And that, Gallow, is you. And by your own shit dope, along with the added gift of my special cocktail made just for you.” I smirk, then squeeze again. He screams in pain. “Your choice, dude, though you sound more like a little bitch-ass pussy when you scream. Now, I can stay here all motherfucking night and drag this party out for as long as you like, or you can do what I said and snort the fucking blow.”
“You’re gonna fucking kill me over some dumb slut who was too ignorant to know when to stop? Fuck, man. I’m no babysitter. I can’t prevent the stupid mistakes kids make. I’m just like any other man. Trying to pay the bills. Trying to survive. P—please don’t do this.” His eyes go upward like he’s seconds from passing out, and I land a savage palm across his face then pull the cordless, half-inch driver-drill from my pack
“Tell me where I can find CD or give me his full name. Then maybe I’ll refrain from using this nice little jewel and perhaps even let you keep most of your teeth. And your tongue. Possibly even your nuts.”
“I can’t do it, man. I can’t rat somebody out that way. Just kill me,” he says with his bottom lip quivering. “I—I don’t give a fucking shit anymore.”
“So be it. We’ll play it your way. Take a few seconds first. Make your peace with Jesus.” I toss the drill aside and instead reach for the needle-nose plyers in my backpack and press them against his lip. “Last chance, Gallow. Names! Now! Before my patience runs fucking out. And I can promise, you don’t want that.” A gush of red coats his teeth after I squeeze the plyers over his central incisor, and he glowers at me when I show him the bloody tooth. He spits a clump of blood mixed with shards of fibrous ligament at my feet, and I lift a hard knee into his groin again. He howls in misery while a trickle of snot mixed with blood runs from his nose.
Beautiful. Perfect. Right on target.
Cocaine can trigger loss of smell, nosebleeds, and general inflammation to the nasal septum. Gallow is congested, primarily on his right side, and probably doesn’t even realize his nose is bleeding.
With an annoyed huff, I reach for the mirror and shove it back under his runny nose. “Snort it, fuckface. All of it. Every. White. Morsel. Or I’ll remove each of your teeth slowly and painfully via this pretty little drill beside me. Then I’ll be the gentleman that I am and let you cut your tongue from your mouth before I feed it to you in pieces.”
“Okay! Fuck!” he sobs with terror in his eyes. “Do anything you want. Slice my goddamn neck open. Pull my fucking teeth. Inject me with your poison. Just stop kicking me in the nuts!”
Twisting, incessant rage boils inside me like billowing fire. They’re all the same, these small-scale dope pushers. Sorry as sorry comes. Money-hungry motherfucking cowards who rely on young kids to fill their bank accounts. With that familiar, innate, deep need to rid every petty dealer I can manage, the monster inside me stirs to full life.
Obviously, I don’t do this for money. There're more zeros in my bank account and trust than I can ever spend. Money I don’t give two fucks about, and which I’d gladly toss into a fiery pit of flames just to return to that day and have my family back.
This is personal. It’s necessary.
This country’s grossly negligent court system is failing its people. It’s neither fair nor equal and only ranks twentieth on its quality of criminal justice. My brother, Sean’s great-niece, and the hundreds of other victims are losing to the failed punishment of these pathetic loser punks, most especially those with rich families like Gallow. Sadly, the numbers continue to grow instead of decline. So, is it wrong to take matters into my own hands? Is it an unforgivable sin, as the Bible states? An instant stairway to Purgatory? I suppose by many more standards than not, it fucking is.
But where is the justice for these innocent kids? These broken families?
Where is their revenge?
Where is their destiny?
Why is my brother in the fucking ground?
Why did my mother die of a goddamned broken heart?
Sobbing and trembling, Gallow snorts the coke deep into his sinuses and I decide that I’m done here and inject the syringe into the jugular vein. “Night night, Gallow. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.”
“Fuck you, pretty boy,” he responds. “You’re no better than me.”
“Never claimed to be.”
Once his body starts spasming and rolling on the floor like a squashed bug, it only takes minutes before hypothermia sets in. Sweat beads over his brows. Shivers gain control over his body as his temperature drops and his nervous system fails. His speech slurs, the vessels in his eyes shattering as his oxygen supply depletes itself.
Thirty minutes later, I’m looking into dilated pupils filled with terror and heavy sweat covering skin that’s taking on an odd shade of purple from cyanotic tissue damage. Piss pools around his distorted-looking torso. Five teeth and part of a tongue that the bastard chewed off himself rests beside his leg. Reaching for the Ruger just because I fucking feel like it, I aim right between his eyes, pull the trigger, and watch a thin trail of scarlet gravy exit the wound.
“As we sow, so shall we reap, fucker.”
I suck in a deep breath, one more, then snap a photo on my phone, gather my things, and walk out the same door I came in.
My days as a killer aren’t over. Not yet. Maybe never. I am a businessman, a madman, an exterminator. And I won’t stop. Not until I smell the one aroma never to be erased from even the strongest of men—the slow-roasted, coppery tang of burning flesh and the man only known to me as CD.
I am with you… always.