Theft of spirit is no one’s birthright.
A quirk of her X chromosome furnished Alexis with an edge few others enjoyed. After fate plunged her into orphan status and an intolerable foster home forced her to the streets, a group of prostitutes sheltered her from their vicious pimp. Seeing something special within, they nurtured and shielded her from their harsh reality until she could forge her own path in life.
Destiny frequently takes us back to our roots. Lexi’s return journey begins when a serial killer attacks one of her adopted sisters. Relying on courage and wit, she must stay a step ahead and secure evidence to free her family from a psychopathic murderer.
…Having read DIGITAL VELOCITY first this reader approached the prequel wondering if it could be up to the high standards. The answer is a resounding ‘Yes!’. The infectious flavor of Reilly’s writing hit us as she opens her story with the following… Short, but tense and a terrific introduction make this a terrific novel from a writer of immense skill. This is a series to follow! Grady Harp,
Five stars by Grady Harp, HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
“Jesus, Charlie. Hold on. I’ll get you to a hospital.” Lexi swallowed hard against the rising tide of acid degrading her throat’s lining as the unfolding scene corrupted her sanity. Pressure against the makeshift bandage on Charlie’s belly wound yielded a deeper crimson soaking her jacket, the provisional dressing secured by fingers encased in a thickening, sticky glove. So much blood.
This could’ve been Lexi’s fate—stabbed, slashed, disfigured for all time, blood forming rivulets pooling in the alley’s filth. Maroon puddles mingled with body fluids common to alleys sheltering the homeless as if destined to couple in a macabre, virulent concoction.
“R-run, Lexi. D-don’t let him make you a w-whore. I wasn’t—strong enough. Y-you were never p-part of the street life.” Trash and other filth from the narrow passageway cushioned Charlie’s bruised and battered head. One front tooth was missing, probably swallowed, while blood seeped from jagged slashes on her cheeks and brow, both career enders in the event she survived. “You shouldn’t be here. It was a mistake to text you, but the cops wouldn’t believe us girls.”
“Did your pimp do this, Charlie? What’s his real name? Tell me so I can help you.”
Remnants of a cardboard box, a vagabond’s homemade privy, retained odors of the dispossessed and rivaled the excrement saturating every molecule of thickened air drawn into her lungs. This was no place and no way to die.
“Yeah—said I stole from a customer. But I didn’t. The b-bastard just wanted a freebie.” Otherworldly pain glazed eyes forecasting a nonexistent future while icy wind leached color from a once-beautiful face now smeared with crimson streaks and pain. “Won’t tell you his name. I didn’t want to die alone. You’re f-free. You made it.”
“No, Charlie. I’ll get help. Lie still while I secure a pressure dressing.” This late at night, there’d be few cars to flag down and no foot traffic from which to enlist help. She was forced to rely on emergency personnel who’d classify the incident as NHI, no human involved.
Terror-induced flashbacks spewed forth of a stranger offering refuge to a teenager standing on a precipice, a choice. She’d first thought him relatively handsome, not understanding the slimy base of his character. She’d had no experience with his ilk. Still, something inside steered her away from his pleasant façade. Perhaps she’d sensed his underlying character. Instinct had directed her to the unknown where a small group of prostitutes offered shelter and nurtured her mind.
With one hand, Lexi freed her belt and maneuvered it under the fallen girl’s tiny waist amid groans and mewling cries. Youth and a livelihood from flatbacking necessitated Charlie’s svelte figure, which facilitated the effort to cinch the leather strap tight. Lexi reached for the cell clutched in Charlie’s hand, knowing the late hour meant a longer wait for help. Her fingers, covered in sticky crimson ropes of blood, tangled briefly with Charlie’s, a squishy squeeze to lend encouragement. Another bolus of acid rose in her throat.
“No.” One word spoken from the disembodied voice behind her could flash freeze hell and instigate the formation of ice crystals in any world, under any circumstance.
The cold, hard scrape of death filled her mind. Slowly, her gaze turned, lifted. At the head of the alley and backlit by dingy sodium-vapor light, the corpulent flesh-peddler stalked forward.
“I knew we’d meet again, Lexi. Remember me? I’ve dreamed of this day for years.” Moonglow shimmered off his blade, which weaved a figure-eight motion, the steely threat weaker than his words. “I always wondered how you’ve managed to elude me…Now I know.”
“And I always wondered if the perverted lunatic my friends feared was you since they kept your identity a secret. Now I have a face to put to their terror.”
In twenty yards, she’d either breathe her last as a human shish kabob or replace Charlie in the hustler’s stable. He stopped and tilted his head to the side as if inventing a new and horrific way to terrorize before he began his sociopathic playtime.
“I need to call an ambulance or she’ll die.” The chill shimmying down her spine spread outward to encase every nerve and muscle with the knowledge of his intentions. No one should die in a filthy alley.