A prequel to my 2010 novel:
Agent Abigail Mackey of the FBI would never admit that she enjoyed studying the behavioral sciences, interviewing cult leaders, tracking psychotic killers and profiling criminals and she would certainly never admit any of this to her family.
As far as they know she's running campaigns for a little known lobbyist on the Hill and never makes it home for the holidays.
This year everything changes with a narcissistic, sadist serial killer after her boyfriend, her trainee re-certifying weapons training for the Bureau and baking the perfect apple pie for the holidays.
Holidays at home will never be the same.
“Morey keeps talking about visiting,” Abby mentioned out of the blue as they walked, referring to her older brother who lived in Philadelphia. “He and Jenn want to bring the boys for a visit when the lights and trees are decorated in the city.”
Finn struggled to comprehend the context of the conversation.
“That sounds… fun. Are they going to stay with you?” Abby laughed.
“Oh no, they’ll get a hotel near the metro, maybe in Pentagon City,” she mused, making a mental note to check out the hotel her parents had used the last time they visited.
“Are you requesting some time off or just keeping me up to date on the exciting life and times of Abigail Mackey?” Finn teased, trying to uncover the direction of the conversation.
“Uh, just sharing. I don’t know about time off… they don’t have a date set yet and I’m really hoping we’re out of town anyway.”
“What? You love Morey. He’s like Matt only saner, right?” Abby laughed at the apt description of her twin brothers who were as different as apples and kangaroos.
“Yeah, Morey is the stable one. He just finished medical school and got into residency, they have the boys and Jenn’s thinking of home schooling. Morey doesn’t have a mohawk.”
“So why would you avoid him? Afraid he’s going to notice the scars you’ve seemed to collect lately?”
“No,” Abby was a little apprehensive and they’d approached the cabin by now. “I’m more concerned that they’ll ferret out that I’m not actually working on the Hill with some policy group on legislation.”
“Ahh,” Finn finally understood and led Abby to the swinging bench seat on the front porch. “So you’re worried about giving them the tour of the city and having no idea what the buildings are and which wing of the Capitol is for the Senate.”
Abby rolled her eyes but nodded a bit, it was a sticking point in her conscious that she had yet to tell her family about the job change that was nearly seven years old.
“Exactly how did you get recruited to the Bureau, through the Academy and in the unit for six years without your parents noticing? I thought you all were close.”
Abby considered this for a moment, often asking herself the same questions. Was it that her family didn’t care, didn’t pay close enough attention or was she really that good of a schemer?
“I think it’s middle child syndrome.” Finn tutted quietly and Abby defended her justification. “No really, think about it; I have two older brothers, two younger brothers. One older sister, one younger sister. Tracey and Morey already have five kids between them and that keeps Mom happy and busy. Jenn just entered her Master’s program, Jay is still in high school and Matt is skipping all over the southern hemisphere.”
The rocked lightly on the porch swing in quiet for a moment.
“I think they’re happy to have a relatively normal, low key child.”
“Yeah, and Harry’s it.” Abby narrowed her eyes at Finn and launched herself at him, finding all the right spots under his arms and around his neck that were especially ticklish as she tortured him into peals of laughter.
“Stop.. stop… please.” He begged, gasping for breath. Abby ceased once she knew that she’d won and sat back triumphantly.
“I’m normal,” she insisted, hoping for a concession.
“Abby Normal.” Finn agreed with a sly grin and a serious nod.
Here's a bonus excerpt from the novel I wrote last year which will be the sequel to this year's piece:
I was, shockingly, the one preparing dinner tonight and was more than a little nervous. It didn’t help that Finn was more nervous and kept hovering, with a worried look on his face. Finally I forced the boys outside to play football, run around and make noise. And to stay out of the kitchen while I worked.
You can do this, I self coached, well aware that the last time I felt the need to talk myself though a situation it was interviewing a man on death row who had killed ten women.
Start with whatever takes the longest. That was Grandma’s advice and I would follow it. So I pulled out the red delicious apples that were flawless in appearance and washed them in the sink. Once they were clean I set them on a blue kitchen towel to dry. Uh, next is... cutting! Cut the apples for the pie. Right.
The cutting board was easy to locate but the knives were shut in a drawer with one of those plastic child locks and I pushed and pulled and nearly snapped off my nail fighting it.
I stopped, remembering that man from death row, Richard Crawford*, and how he described strangling those women. 'The trick is,' he'd told us in the interview, 'was to hold down until you're sure their neck would snap.'
With that in mind I grabbed the tiny plastic lock standing between me and my knives. I struggled for another minute, gripping and pulling and strangling that lock.
Figure it out. I commanded myself. You are not calling him in to open the child lock, you’ll never hear the end of it. *Finally* the lock gave way and I had a bevy of beauties to choose from. I picked a simple paring knife and began cutting the fruit.
*please note Richard Crawford is not a REAL serial killer. He is, however, my NaNo ML ;)