From Author Taylor Henderson
★★ THE DARKNESS WITHIN ★★
★ SYNOPSIS ★
The house next door holds a horrifying secret…
For as long as Claire Anderson can remember, the house next door to hers has been vacant. After the last owners passed away, the house fell into disrepair; practically unlivable conditions. She had even began to grow accustomed to the creepy little house next door.
But now the house holds a darkness with who’s living there and the secrets he has…
Her new neighbor, David Greer, is attractive, middle-aged, and friendly. At least, that’s what Claire’s mom, Jasmine, thinks, but Claire can’t ignore the bad vibe she gets from him. Maybe it’s because she’s not used to having a neighbor, or maybe it’s because her mom seems to have a thing for him. Then again, it could also be the strange looks he gives her when others aren’t looking. Claire isn’t one hundred percent sure what it is about him that gives her the creeps, but she sure as hell has to find out, and preferably before he gets too close to her and her mother.
Can Claire figure out what David is hiding behind the walls of his decrepit new home, or will she fall victim to the darkness within?
He readjusted the mask on his face as he walked closer to Holly's shaking body. Her back was pressed flat against the wall and, despite the fact that her hands were tied behind her back; her feet were free of binds. When she saw that he was coming toward her, she began to kick her feet relentlessly; her mouth opened wide but only muffled sound came out.
Kneeling down in front of her, a smile stretched across his chapped lips. He held one hand behind his back, a knife gripped tightly in its clutches. He didn't want her to see the knife yet. First, he was going to toy with her. He would be robbing himself of one of his favorite parts of the experience if he didn’t make her squirm first. He liked feeling like he was the one in control of his victim’s future. Because of him, they either lived or died. Some people might call it a God complex, but he called it self-assurance. It was his way of knowing that he mattered, and he knew that Natalie would be proud of him for taking initiative and doing what he loved. Toying with these girls the way he did, fueled his hunger, and made him feel. He was never as happy as he was when he was with his girls.
Holly turned her face away when his hand made contact with the skin of her cheek. He sighed as he brushed his fingers gently across the soft skin of her face, trailing down along her jawline to her chin, where he lifted her face to look at him. Her wide, green eyes stared back at him, a tear slipping from the corners before she closed them tight.
"You have nothing to fear," he whispered, trying to gain her trust. He removed the gag from her mouth. It was merely a precaution while he was transporting her. Thanks to the country setting he chose this time, they were far from the nearest neighbors. In fact, she was the nearest neighbor, and the only person home was her sleeping little sister, whom she had been babysitting. "I won't hurt you if you cooperate and do what I say."
The only response that he received from her was a soft whimper.
"Look at me," he demanded.
Holly flinched away from the harsh tone of his voice. A fat tear welled up in the corner of her eye and rolled down her pale cheek. Her throat was hoarse from the screaming she did earlier, but she still managed to choke out the word, "No."
"Come on now, Holly. This won't be any fun for me unless you play along."
"Leave me alone," she spat, enunciating every word while trying to turn her head away from him, but he only tightened his grip on her delicate face.
He clicked his tongue at her words. "Now, now. Open your eyes, or I'll cut your eyelids off. That wouldn't be any fun for you, now would it?"
She flinched at his words, but to his surprise, her eyes remained shut tight. "Screw you," she growled through clenched teeth.
Sighing, he shook his head at the frail girl in front of him. "Either you open your eyes and speak to me, or I'll go back to your house and see if that pretty little sister of yours will. What’s her name? Macy, is it?"
Shaking, her eyes stayed closed for a moment, thinking over his words. After about a minute of silence, she opened her eyes, glaring at him. "I will not be a part of your sick game. I know who you are."
He tilted his head to the side, staring at her curiously. "You don't say? What is it that you've heard?"
Holly's glare deepened. "You murder girls for fun," she spat angrily. "It's like some sick game to you or something. You're a monster," she added; a new found courage, one that he would not allow, overcoming her.
Pulling his hand from behind his back, he pointed at himself with the tip of his knife as he asked, "Me? A monster?"
Her eyes widened at the sight of the knife, but she nodded nonetheless.
He curved his lips upwards into a sinister smile as he brought the knife up to her cheek, dragging it across her skin without actually cutting her. "I'm not going to kill you right now. I just want to play with you. If you do what I say, I might let you live."
"You might?" she questioned; her voice shaking as she already knew the answer.
He nodded. "Life isn't guaranteed, Holly."
At his words, a noticeable shiver went through her. After a second, she whispered, "What happens if I don't do what you say?"
Instantly he pushed the knife into her cheek, drawing blood and causing her to scream loudly. The piercing sound of her scream hit his ears like a fire alarm, and he yanked the knife away from her face, bringing the back of his free hand up and smacking her roughly. "Shut up!" He absolutely hated when they screamed. Sometimes it made him want to carve out their vocal cords.
Holly's scream became raspy until she coughed a few times and closed her mouth. She bit down on her bottom lip, causing the skin there to turn a bright red.
"That's better," he sighed. Lifting his free hand again, he smiled at how she flinched away from him, but this time all he did was reach up and push her golden hair out of her face. She was just so perfect. He got chills just thinking about what happened next. "So, are you ready to have some fun?"
Despite what her mind was telling her to say, she nodded her head. Behind her back, her fingers were fumbling with the tight rope that was wrapped around her thin wrists, trying and failing to loosen it. The rope was so tight that the only thing she was accomplishing was rubbing the skin on her wrists raw whenever she moved her hands.
"Good." He raised the knife up again, leaning toward her face with a determined glint in his dark eyes. A smile crossed onto his face as he pressed the tip of the knife into the skin of her forehead. His blood boiled and he grit his teeth as she let out a cry of pain, yet even her scream couldn’t take away his excitement as her crimson blood pooled from her wound. "You're number six."
★ ABOUT THE AUTHOR★
Taylor Henderson is a psychology major at the University of Mary Washington who was born and raised in Northern Virginia. She has been an adamant reader and writer since she was young, and has always found solace in the worlds and characters that other authors have brought to life in their works. Taylor plans to continue writing, and hopes to expand to different genres in the future.
So excited to be part of a new author cross promotion group where I'll be sharing great reads, upcoming releases, cover reveals and more. Stay tuned!