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Russell tossed the strip aside, stared for a moment at his creamy white work plane, then drew the straight-razor from his pocket.

Angela’s eyes popped wide, focused on the shiny blade in the man’s hand. And again the depraved grin parted his lips.

With the razor threaded between his fingers like a barber about to do battle with a runaway beard, Russell rested the blade on the woman’s stomach, floated it down to the where nylon snuggled the soft flesh of her hip, slid it under the fabric and gave a flick. The panties snapped free. He moved to the other side, twitched his wrist again, then slammed his hand into her crotch and pulled the severed garment away.

Angela’s body shuddered and a squeak managed to make its way from her throat. She had finally stopped twisting. The need, along with her ability to resist what was to come had seeped away as even desperation surrendered to the situation.

The woman’s unresponsive body halted Russell as he moved the razor’s business edge into the thick matt of hair between her legs in preparation for his first insertion. The swelling between his own legs stopped and began its retreat. His face turned rose then to hot crimson as the rage inside came to a spontaneous boil.

“Wake up, bitch,” he screamed, then gave her a heavy slap across the face with his empty hand. Angela’s head swayed behind the blow.

Russell moved the razor up to her throat. The sharp blade melted into her butter-soft skin and a strand of red beads popped through the shallow wound. “Wake up!” he shouted again. But she was awake. At least her eyes were open, staring blankly toward the ceiling.

Russell was breathing hard. The anger in him was quickly becoming uncontrollable. He moved the blade and slapped her again. Nothing. She was like a slab of cold, raw meat. He stared at her for a moment, until the hatred started to drain.

“Fuck it, then,” he said with a kind of resolute casualness. “You can still bleed, bitch.”

He turned the tip of the blade against the center of Angela Sheridan’s collarbone, traced a shallow slit down to her navel and watched as the beautiful, red fluid filled the furrow and began trickling its way down white, rib-lined slopes. Then moved the weapon down to where he had first intended. She wouldn’t scream, he knew, wouldn’t jump or roll. There’d be no anguished looks of agony in her eyes. But she’d still bleed. They all bled. How much depended on how precise, how delicate he was with the blade.

Suddenly, from the front of the house, a loud crash and the splintering pop of splitting wood interrupted Russell’s work. His head jerked around. More cracking of wood.

He rose and stood silent, listening, evaluating what he had heard. It was downstairs, the front door. It had been smashed in. He waited for the sounds of footsteps. A few moments later he heard the third step squeal, as it always did, and a minute later caught the creaking of floorboards in the hall.

“Fuck,” he whispered, then turned to stare at the woman.

After shattering the brittle casing with two well placed kicks from his Sears and Roebuck size 10, rubber-soled, waterproof special, Jack

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