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The noise from the living room poured into the bedroom. Skylar entered the room but, other than the blood-soaked bed, found no sign of her father or Marti. “Marti?” she asked. “It’s Skylar. Where are you?”

“Here,” Marti said quietly. “Other side of the bed.”

Skylar limped to the far side of the bed where Marti, crouched low, covered in blood, her sports bra pulled back up and stuffed with a pillowcase to staunch her bleeding, knife in hand, knelt beside Caleb.

“Is he,” Skylar began, paused and then continued, “Is he dead?”

“Not yet,” Marti replied, holding the knife to Caleb’s throat. “He’s got a pulse. I was just debating…”

“No, Marti! No! Sara needs you! If you kill him, you’ll go to prison. Prison’s where my daddy turned bad. Please don’t! Not for his sake, for Sara’s. And yours. Please?”

Marti dropped the knife. “You think Sara needs me?”

“I know she does. We all need to be loved.”

“God, I love that kid,” Marti said as the Pasco County deputies poured into the room, guns drawn and pointed to the heavens, “I really do. Thanks, Skylar.”

The cops rushed to Marti’s side of the bed, declaring, “Police! Police! Hands up!”

“Really?” Marti responded. “Really? Thanks for letting me know. My name’s Marti Kohnen and I’m the victim here, dip-shits. Me and my friend Skylar Kisor and that poor lady out there, Mrs. McNutt. Now, get us to the damn doctor. That ass-hole down there bit my damn nipple off.”


Mrs. McNutt didn’t survive; her resuscitation proved too large a miracle for paramedics with a defibrillator, but her death added Murder One to Caleb Ezra Morse’s criminal charges.

At Trinity Hospital, Marti pulled her gnawed off nipple from the right side of her bra, handed it to Doctor Bikerman and demanded, “First you bring me to my daughter then you get that reattached, got it?” Kay Bikerman knew just the man for the job, a reconstructive surgeon named Goldstein who specialized in post mastectomy breast reconstruction.

Manny Taisto was loosely handcuffed, hands in front, and transported to Officer Tierney Rosenstock’s Pasco County Sherriff’s District Three Office where he was questioned and released. During the interview he confided, “You know, I was NYPD for twenty-years, Pasco Deputy for five and I never shot nobody. I can’t tell how glad I am the piece of crap lived,” he left unsaid the, “for my sake,” that he was thinking.

Skylar, whose physical wounds were minor, was examined and released. “Mama, I don’t want to go back to our house,” she confided.

“Baby, I don’t know where else we can go,” Karla said mournfully.

Stacie looked at Suzann, shrugged and said, “Why don’t you stay at my place tonight. You can work this out in the morning.”

“Thank you, Stacie,” Karla replied. “You’re like an angel to me.”

“You’re the one with the wings,” Stacie said with a smile. “Suzann? You sobered up? I can take you to your car or you can sleep on my couch.”

“Plenty sober, thank you. I need my bed. Karla? I’m sorry we didn’t listen right away. We had no idea.”

“Oh, please. How could you? I’m just glad they locked Caleb up.”

“What about Elohim? What are you going to do?” Suzann asked.

“I own’t know. Talk to the police. But tomorrow. I’m exhausted.”

“Me, too,” Stacie declared. “Let’s go.”

The four females were heading for the door when officer Rosenstock’s voice stopped them. “Ladies? Ladies!” she called from a distance. Eliminating the gap between them she added, “I just wanted to say good work. I think it’s safe to say that you four plus Sara and Taisto saved the day here.”

“Hey!” Skylar said, “Don’t forget Marti.”

“As if,” Tierney replied shaking her head. “That woman want’s a deputy to meet her husband at the airport. Says if she can’t be there to tell him what happened then we need to. Talk about a piece of work.”