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Through the Darkness Chapter 1

People often chided Becca Cameron for making the thirty-five mile drive one-way to get to her job in Denver but she’d given up listening to them. She actually relished the silence or maybe some soft classical music after a hectic day of being a project manager’s personal assistant.

She flicked on the high beams as she traveled down the darkened highway toward home. It was fall, rutting season for deer and she knew that at any moment a deer could come dashing out of nowhere and across the road. 

Once her car climbed to the top of the final rise, she saw a flashing yellow light in the distance and beyond that, the bright lights of an overpass. She would be home in less than fifteen minutes, barring any deer darting in front of her truck.

Becca’s eyes fixed on the flashing yellow light, knowing that the roadway that justified the warning light was little more than a right hand turn onto a dirt road rutted by rain. Twice a day she passed under the light and looked down Hanging Tree Lane. Often she would find herself pressing the brake pedal and creeping past the thoroughfare, intrigued by the silent, seemingly neglected road. The pull she felt to explore the road farther was, at times, so overwhelming that she had to grip the steering wheel tight so as not to follow that path not taken. Tonight though, she sped on by, barely giving it a glance as she concentrated on the flashes of lightning in the distance.

The sheer power of the loud claps of thunder startled Becca as she turned down the dirt road that led to her home. Once she’d pulled into the garage, which was also a shed, Becca quickly collected her briefcase, purse and lunch bag before dashing the fifteen feet to the porch. Just as she stepped a foot on the wraparound porch, big sloppy drops of rain began to fall.

The click of the door behind her made Becca sigh happily as she dropped her belongings and crouched down to greet her dog, a cockapoo named Georgette. 

“Home at last, girl.”

She listened to the rain pelting the porch roof. “And, just in time it would seem. How was your day, Georgie? Did Gwen spoil you rotten again?” 

She stood and closed her eyes as the smell of polish, wood, and beef stew filled her nostrils. Georgie ran past her as she was walking to the kitchen and sat in front of the stove with her stubby tail wagging.

“Yum, that smells delicious.”

Becca pulled open the oven door, put on a kitchen mitt and carefully pulled the cast iron Dutch oven out before settling it on the stovetop. Her mouth was watering as she lifted the lid and saw the scrumptious meal.

“There’s enough here for lunch tomorrow, too.”

Georgie was sitting by her side, thumping her tail, and whining.

Becca laughed. “You’re spoiled and I shouldn’t give you a piece of this but I will once it cools off.”

After getting a glass of Pinot Noir and a sizable slice of the bread that Gwen had baked, Becca made her way to the table with her bowl of stew, listening as the rain turned to softer drops. 

“Once it stops, I’ll let you out one more time.” 

She blew on a chunk of meat before tossing it to her dog.

In the deer stand a mere fifty yards away, a figure studied the house. The housekeeper never set the alarm so it had been easy to gain entry once she left. The meal cooking on the stove had smelled wonderful and the watcher had added a few extra herbs and spices to the stew.

Luckily, Georgette was laid-back. They had met on many occasions and the dog did not consider the visitor an intruder. 

With quick purpose, the stranger had climbed the stairs two at a time, then opened the door at the top of the staircase. After lifting the mattress, one sachet had been removed and a different sachet of herbs placed in the center before the mattress was lowered and the covers smoothed.

Back at the front door, the watcher had looked around the interior. Once satisfied that all was as it should be, the intruder had walked outside. The sky with frequent lightning and thunder caused the watcher to run for the deer stand where it was dry.

From the perch, the figure had concentrated on the darkness of the dirt road leading to the house, willing Becca to arrive home before the rain started. When the headlights brightened the dark night, the watcher had let out an audible sigh of relief. 

For the next two hours, vigilant eyes watched the house as Becca moved about. When the light in the upstairs bedroom went on at nine, just as it did every night, the watcher knew it wouldn’t be much longer before Becca finished her nightly ritual.

At first, it had spooked the watcher when Becca stood at the window and appeared to be looking right at the deer stand. But this had happened every night for the past year and the watcher now knew to wait until Becca placed her palm on the windowpane and closed her eyes. Then, within a few minutes, the light always went out.

Then, as every night, thirty minutes later, the watcher climbed down the deer stand’s ladder and followed a narrow path toward home.

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