= PROLOGUE =
Dear Reader, please note that this is the sequel of the book, COLD. If you haven't read COLD, please do read it to avoid a lot of confusion. Enjoy reading ❤️
"Where are we going?"
Ray's warm, sapphire eyes look up at me innocently, bliss bubbling through him.
I turn off the engine and grin at him.
"It's a surprise!"
"Are there going to be toys!" he asks with exuberance.
"There are going to be fish."
"No. Real fish."
He gasps. "That's awesome!"
I grin at him. "Yes! It's going to be awesome… We are going to have lots of fun!"
I take my black, leather gloves from the backseat and put them on.
"Why are you putting on gloves?"
"Because I don't want to get my hands dirty?"
"Do I need gloves too?"
"No, Ray. I just need you to do as I tell you. Okay?"
He nods in glee.
I glance outside the window of the car. Dusk is falling. The dark of the night will creep any moment now.
I am thrilled.
But at the same time nervous.
The little blue-eyed boy gazes at me, squinting his eyes.
" Can you make a promise? "
He frowns. "You'll drive me home immediately after we play so daddy and mommy won't be mad at me. Promise?"
His face lights up with a dazzling smile. "You're so fun and I love you! I wish daddy and mummy were as much fun as you!"
Good for him.
He won't ever see daddy and mummy again.
Thanks to me.
I take the black leather coat from the backseat and the black duffle bag. I grin at him.
We both climb out of the car and walk into the woods, his little hand laced with mine. He seems a little scared but then he looks up at me and feels relaxed.
He adores me.
He trusts me.
"I've always been scared of the woods and the dark but I know with you, I'm safe…"
I freeze at his words and I'm rendered speechless.
We come into a green open area, with plenty of trimmed green grass and a flowing river a few steps away. It's getting colder by the minute and the wind is getting stronger, rippling through our clothes.
He glances at me then at the flowing river.
"Are we going to swim?" he asks in delight.
"You're the only one that's going to swim, Ray."
"But…" he frowns. "It's getting colder and colder… I don't think I'll be able to swim or play with the fish. Mummy says if I swim when it's cold, I will get really really sick. I don't want to get sick because she'll be worried…"
I squat to look direct into his eyes. "Can I tell you a secret, Ray?"
"Do you trust me?"
"Yes, I trust you."
"If I tell you something… Anything… Will you believe me?"
"You know I believe you and I trust you."
I cup his face in my hands and plant a peck on his forehead.
"Good…" I pause. "Your mummy and your daddy are bad bad people…"
He frowns. "No… They are not bad…"
"You don't believe me?"
He pouts his lips. "I believe you."
"Have you read The Red, Riding Hood?"
"Your daddy is the big, bad wolf. He is dangerous. He killed The Red, Riding Hood and her grandma. He should be punished, right?"
He nods reluctantly.
"Let me punish him. Okay?"
He nods looking puzzled.
Poor little boy.
I stand on my feet and take his hand. We walk towards the river and stand at the banks, where I put down the duffle bag.
"Take off your clothes!" I blurt out.
He's a bit surprised at the demand. But prudently, he takes off his blue coat then his blue jeans followed by his blue t-shirt and lastly his vest.
He's only left with his little blue underwear.
He must love the colour blue.
Or his stupid mother is obsessed with the colour blue.
"Take off that too!"
"My underwear?" he gasps in horror.
"Yes, your underwear."
"It's not right for anyone to see my thing."
"You said you trust me, right?"
"Uh-huh," he mutters.
"Then, do it."
He takes it off, grumbling. "It's really cold."
He stands completely naked in front of me.
I stare at the little innocent boy, paying for the sins of his parents.
I dig into the duffle bag and take out the ropes.
Ray shivers in the cold, looking at the ropes in my hands.
" Are we going to play a game with those ropes?"
I smirk at him, nodding. "Smart boy."
Stupid little boy.
"Now let me tie you."
"Cool!" he giggles.
He's still shuddering from the cold as I tie his feet and his hands.
A couple of minutes later, he will be just fine. He won't feel cold or warm. He will feel nothing.
He will be okay.
His parents won't be.
"Ray," I tell him. "Everything I'm doing, it's to punish your parents. Not to punish you. You're a sweet, little thing but your parents are not. They must be punished!"
He nods. "All bad people should be punished…"
"Yes," I peck his forehead. "I love you."
I wish he wasn't the son of his father.
But we don't choose family, do we?
Sometimes, the ones who give us life are nothing but heartless, cold, monsters who take the life of others.
That's the case of Ray.
If he was born into a different, decent, family, he would have grown into a successful sweet young man, married a sweet young girl who would bore him cute babies and they would live happily ever after…
But death preys on the good ones, right?
Just like it preyed on Freya…
"I love you too!" he blurts out. "I'm freezing. Can we start the game?"
I stand behind him and kick him into the cold waters. He screams out in terror. But it's too late to be screaming.
I grab a handful of his hair, dipping his head deep into the water. I can hear gurgles of struggle and pain as he starts to drown.
"Your daddy is the big bad wolf! He's doing this to you."
He's a bit stronger than I thought. I underestimated him. He manages to poke out his head from the water, gasping for air. I glance away so that I don't see his blue innocent eyes pleading for mercy.
I sink his head deeper into the river. He struggles and struggles and struggles.
Till he doesn't have the strength to struggle anymore.
Till he stops…
Till the water is still…
Till everything is still…
They thought Tyler was cold.
I am… COLDER.