The Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Gabrielle’s favorite spot in all of New York. Megan focused her gaze on the dying blossoms as they fell idly toward the dark water. The remnants of spring dying before the stifling summer heat. Gabrielle had loved the Cherry Blossoms and secret paths, the hidden waterfall and the nearby Bluebell Wood. Her sister had been a dreamer. Gabrielle had written letters to Megan about this place. How she’d come to relax and write bad haiku’s, make out under the flowering trees and read from her endless collection of romance novels. So incongruous a pass time for the bright mathematician. She’d always poked lightly at Megan; so serious, so remote, locked in her room studying for the next test. Brilliant Gabrielle hadn’t appreciated how much merely-bright Megan had had to study. And she’d scoffed at stolid Megan’s preference for the well-organized and educational Herb Garden.
Megan closed her eyes, trying to focus on the peaceful sound of the wind in the trees, desperate to capture a sense of peace. She had been so certain that she would find it here.
Her jaw clenched and her fingers tightened painfully around the book in her grasp. It was because HE was still out there. The sick bastard who had killed the incandescent soul of Gabrielle Tillman. And he was doing it to other women. Other people’s sisters and daughters humiliated and broken by a selfish abuser.
She felt adrift, aching to complete something, to find an anchor. Anxious to finish before ... what? She didn’t know but she was positive she needed to do something. And soon. She narrowed her eyes, focusing on the twisted branches, blossoms atremble, stretching for the water across the pond. Megan couldn’t conjure an image of her gentle sister because her world had changed again. On Tuesday night she had seen Andrew Benton with a sparkling blonde and on Wednesday morning she’d seen that tear stained, pretty face in her emergency room. God, the Universe, lucky chance, it didn’t matter. People like Andrew Benton didn’t belong in the same world as kindness and beauty. The conclusion was obvious: he didn’t belong in the world at all. And she was smart enough and capable enough to do something about it. Megan had never imagined herself contemplating homicide, would have categorically dismissed it even a week ago. Something inside Megan Tillman snapped as she found her purpose. She’d have to plan it carefully. Be patient. Going to jail was something she’d rather avoid. She’d have to learn his patterns, his haunts and weaknesses. Find a place to dispose of his remains while countering forensic measures.
Decision made she abruptly stood. This was her sisters’ place. She wouldn’t contaminate it with thoughts of Andrew Benton. Mind deeply entrenched in plotting, Megan strode purposely away from the wilting park; tall and straight in her determination. She wouldn’t return, not until Andrew Benton couldn’t hurt anyone else ever again. Then maybe she would feel whole again.