He rushed to intercept her as she came from the bedroom, still in her long, lacy gown.
"David?" she said with an expectant smile that turned to shock at the sight of Campbell. "Where's David? Who are you?"
Her eyes traveled over him, terror ridden, fixing on his face, the knife blade, then her husband's body on the floor.
"Oh, my God! David!" she screamed. "Oh, David, David!"
Campbell wanted to remember her like this. The frozen, wide-eyed look. The promise and hope that just moments ago had shined so brightly were now shattered.
The words poured from his mouth. "You want to know why? Well so do I."
"What have you done?" Melanie screamed again. She struggled to understand. Her terrified eyes darted back and forth, sweeping the room for a way out.
She made a sudden dash for the living room door. Campbell grabbed her wrist and brought the bloody knife up to her throat.
"Please," she whimpered, her eyes frozen. "Please don't kill me."
"The truth is, Melanie, I'm here to save you," he said as he smiled into her quivering face.
Campbell lowered the blade and sliced into her. The slender body jolted up with a sudden cry. Her eyes flickered like a weak electric bulb. A deathly rattle shot through her. Why? her begging eyes pleaded. Why?
It took a full minute for him to regain his breath. The smell of Melanie Brandt's blood was deep in his nostrils. He almost couldn't believe what he had done.
He carried the bride's body back into the bedroom and placed her on the bed.
She was beautiful. Delicate features. And so young. He remembered when he had first seen her and how he had been taken with her then. She had thought the whole world was in front of her.
He rubbed his hand against the smooth surface of her cheek and cupped one of her earrings a smiling moon.
What is the worst thing anyone has ever done? Phillip Campbell asked himself again, heart pounding in his chest. Was this it? Had he just done it?
Not yet, a voice inside answered. Not quite yet.
Slowly, he lifted the bride's beautiful white wedding dress.
IT WAS A LITTLE BEFORE EIGHT-THIRTY on a Monday morning in June, one of those chilly, gray summer mornings San Francisco is famous for. I was starting the week off badly, flipping through old copies of The New Yorker while waiting for my G.P., Dr. Roy Orenthaler, to free up.
I'd been seeing Dr. Roy, as I still sometimes called him, ever since I was a sociology major at San Francisco University, and I obligingly came in once a year for my checkup. That was last Tuesday. To my surprise, he had called at the end of the week and asked me to stop in today before work.
I had a busy day ahead of me: two open cases and a deposition to deliver at district court. I was hoping I could be at my desk by nine.
"Ms. Boxer," the receptionist finally called to me, "the doctor will see you now."
I followed her into the doctor's office.
Generally, Orenthaler greeted me with some well-intended stab at police humor, such as, "So if you're here, who's out on the street after them?" I was now thirty-four, and for the past two years had been lead inspector on the homicide detail out of the Hall of Justice.
But today he rose stiffly and uttered a solemn "Lindsay." He motioned me to the chair across from his desk. Uh-oh.
Up until then, my philosophy on doctors had been simple: When one of them gave you that deep, concerned look and told you to take a seat, three things could happen. Only one of them was bad. They were asking you out, getting ready to lay on some bad news, or they'd just spent a fortune reupholstering the furniture.
Copyright © 2001 by James Patterson.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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