Honor thy father and thy mother.
Stress is a constant in Detective Miriam Rome’s life due to her heavy caseload. Now she’s facing an especially gruesome crime: a pediatrician’s wife has been brutally murdered, and a Bible verse written in her blood is found at the scene. As the tranquil city of Union Park, Texas, is left reeling, Detective Rome pursues every possible lead in her search for the murderer.
When a second slaying—and second bloody quote—seems to confirm that a serial killer is at large, Rome is forced to turn to her former partner for his particular insight. Father Augustine Treece had walked away from police work, but now Rome’s request has drawn him back into the grisly world he thought he’d left behind.
Working to stay ahead of the murders, Detective Rome and Father Treece must forgive their past to protect the next victim…a task that tests Rome’s limits when the killer hits too close to home.
Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. Exodus 20:12.
He wasn’t sure he could paint it all. Gina Gardner’s house had Italian marble in the entryway. In the end, he’d used a tarp to catch her blood, not knowing what type of flooring he’d find. All he was going to need were six words of the verse. Her days weren’t going to be long upon any land. Neither were the days of the others.
The brush he’d chosen would make it easy. It hadn’t been cheap, and he’d had to settle, but gray squirrel just wasn’t in his price range. This one was flat, made of ox hair dyed to look like red sable, and was close to being two inches square.
It was also designed specifically for lettering.
Honor. He dipped the brush’s tip in the pool of her blood next to her waist, where he wouldn’t risk contamination by her tears or saliva, and stepped over her body to the foyer wall he’d cleared of her family photos.
He was surprised she’d had children, three of them, even. They’d be better off this way, left to their father, though who knew what sort of fool had bred with her. She’d never shown anything resembling compassion.
Honor thy. He dipped his brush again, noticing the gray roots at her temple. Her hair had grazed her waist when he’d known her, and was always hanging in her face. Hippie hair crowned with rings of flowers. It had smelled of flowers, too. So had her skin. Roses and magnolias and lilies. Scents strong enough to make him sneeze.
Wide-legged jeans and airy peasant blouses and the Eagles on the eight-track, singing, “One of These Nights.” Patchouli had wafted on the air through her bedroom, and she’d hung posters of mustached rock stars baring their hairy chests from their throats to their navels. They’d promised with their eyes to show her the way to heaven.
Honor thy father. He dipped his brush once more, thinking thy a strange word and too much like thigh. Hers were toned, her legs long, spread where she’d fallen. Tight knee-length shorts—once pink, now spotted red—clung to her skin, which was spotted, too. Paint dripped from his brush, and he stood, taking in the edge of her socks in her pink-leather shoes.
Her sports bra was also pink, as were her nipples beneath. He’d looked out of curiosity, not lust. Nothing about her stirred him anymore. He wondered how much she’d changed since she’d stripped in front of him—a joint, its tip glowing, caught between her lips—and asked him if he knew where heaven was.
She hadn’t even honored herself.
He supposed he should’ve given her time to confess her sins before drawing the blade across her throat, but she’d made too many lives hell on earth for that sort of dispensation.
Besides, he wasn’t a priest.
She was never good for anything but slutting. And she ruined everything for everyone.
That was the part he had to remember. There was too much at stake to let things go wrong. He had to be careful. He had to do it right.
Honor thy father and thy mother. There. The first sacrifice. Done. He’d played the part of executioner, all on his own. And in the process, turned out to be a damn fine artist.
Even if he was the only one who’d ever know.