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Ashley Gallagher

The Home of a Star

Ashley listened wordlessly. Cal seemed on edge, teetering more than Gallagher was used to the cool and collected cop doing. He said nothing about it, best way to blow your power through knowledge was to let others on that you had it in the first place.

"I don't have any dirt on her. From what I understand, she's a mysterious character, but as far as the NYPD can tell, she's clean as a whistle,"

"She'd be the first then, not many in the spotlight stay clean in the shadows. Not when its so easy to get away with whatever you want." Again his mind shifted to Emerald. He shook his head abruptly, he had to be on alert in this questioning and thinking about her would only stray him from the path to the truth. She was a problem for another day.

As Cal parked, Ashley worked to hide his astonishment at the grandeur of the apartment complex. It was larger than life and beautiful to boot. Ashley had long since gotten over his resentment for the rich, he had no envy for their lives. When you had so much, it meant that much more you could lose. "Are you kidding?" He quipped, "I didn't know a starlet lived in my apartment complex. I'm surprised I haven't seen her around the erm... spa." He chuckled. "Lead the way, Lovey. You seem to know more about her than I do. Try using that sweet talk of yours and loosen her lips a little, would ya'?"
Ashley Gallagher

Club Carousel

“You know the way, Cal?” Ashley ducked into the passenger seat, admiring the beautiful machine with a quick glance-over.

As they made the drive, Ashley went over what they knew. 10:20 PM, Danielle Raymond, both nights. The first murder took place later, sometime between 2-3 AM, the second one took place closer to 10:30-11 PM, Emerald found the body when she got off work, which was 11:30.

Emerald. Ashley had to put his lingering suspicions of her to bed for the moment, they would only distract him now.

“So she’s a… what’d you call her? Starlet, Hollywood Leading Lady? I’m not big on films. Tell me about the broad. I want to get as much information as possible. What do the uh…. eh… tabloids say? She got a good public presence? Any dirty laundry slip?” He stroked his chin thoughtfully. “And what would a woman, a rich woman anyway, be doing at the Carousel Club? If you’re not there for the girls you’re there for the crime.” He paused, “She like girls?”

It was mostly just a stream of incoherent conscience, but he supposed he had to cover all of the bases.
Ashley Gallagher

Club Carousel

"Sounds like we're going to have to question this 'Danielle Raymonde', Detective Gallagher. I know, I know...Popping your Hollywood-leading-lady-chat cherry isn't so attractive when it's done in police procedure. But take what you can get."

"Shall we take my car?”

Ashley grumbled, gazing over the names in the ledger one last time before shoving his hands in his pockets. “Never heard of her, but if you insist.”

He thought on Cal’s car, and the idea of taking a spin in it was somewhat unappealing. He couldn’t hide the green under his collar at the thought of it— she was beautiful, and expensive, far more expensive than anything Ashley could afford. Nonetheless it beat taking Cal for a ride in his clunker.

Ashley agreed mutely and headed for the door, only to be interrupted by a pair of eyes from across the club. Behind one of the large curtains curiously peered two hazel hues that met his briefly before disappearing into the depths of what he assumed was backstage. “Go on ahead, wait in the car.” He called over to Cal before taking long strides to where he’d seen the woman disappear.

He ducked behind the wings of the stage, revealing a set of rooms filled with costumes, mirrors, lights, and makeup. There was no one present, save for one lone figure seated at a vanity.

Trying not to spook the young woman, Ashley cleared his throat as he approached. Even still, a small, surprised shudder ran through her. “You’re not allowed to be back here.” She whispered softly.

“Gonna’ have to speak up dear, can hardly hear you.”

She said nothing, simply leaned forward as a shaky hand applied ruby red to her lips. He figured she was a dancer there, she was pretty. Dark, exotic features with long caramel hair. Her figure was draped and concealed by a robe, but it hinted at the easily desirable curves that would win her plenty of dough in this line of work.

“Going to be straight with you here,” He began roughly, “I’m here to investigate the murder, you look like you’ve seen a ghost, there somethin’ you can tell me?”

She snapped her lipstick shut with a sudden and sharp pop before turning to look at him. She offered a soft hand. “You may call me Pizazz.”

These names. Ashley nodded nonetheless.

“Now I didn’t see anything suspicious that night, but I will tell you that my… colleague, Emerald, disappeared promptly afterwards. She didn’t show up for work today and that is incredibly uncharacteristic.”

Great. Useless.

“I will look into that, ma’am. But I wouldn’t worry too much, it seems everyones a little turned off from the club at this time.”

She made a face. “Yeah, but I know Emerald. If there’s trouble abound, she’s waist-deep in it. She acts ignorant, but nothin’ goes on in this club without her being in the know. If you’re looking for leads, she’s where you want to look.”

Ashley nodded slowly, digesting the information. “Right, thank you… Pizazz.”

He turned, steadily jogging to the entrance.

Was Emerald hiding something?

Gilded Heights Apartment Complex, Room #67

Emerald perused the Detective’s apartment as if it were a museum. Museum Ashley. It spoke lengths about his habits, dishes stacked high in the sink, bedsheets strewn about, dust collecting in a thin sheen atop lots of general clutter. Every so often she would check the locks. Check the door, check the window. She would undo all of them just to peer out into the hallway, then do them all up once more.

She wished she was working. Her mind was quiet when she was dancing. Hell, she might even be safer in front of a crowd of people, all eyes on her. She had half a mind to march right down to the Carousel with that thought, but she stopped realizing business at this time of day and in these circumstances would be deader than the chopped up girl in her apartment.

So she sat, neatly setting herself amidst the mess of bedsheets with an ominous creak of the frame, and waited.
Ashley Gallagher

Club Carousel

“They’ll listen to you before they listen to the guy on suspension. I want you to walk up to that lovely hostess and ask to see their books. Get a list of all tenants on the nights of the two murders and let’s cross-reference them.”

Ashley eyed the woman in question, before setting a sidelong glance upon Cal. "I don't know, you were always the charmer. All that wit and that scheming smile, women love a man they know will break their hearts. Hell, you could probably wink and she'd tell you any shady business you wanted to know."

Nonetheless, Ashley stood, brushing his trousers off with a sweep of his hands and making his way towards the hostess. She was preoccupied with... something, her pencil scratching quickly across the paper before her. As he approached her eyes flickered up from the task and met his with a neutral stare.

Most women at clubs like these had a charade, a bubbly, promiscuous personality they wear for the men who passed through, but the gaze he held was genuine -- tired, but genuine. It seemed she was waiting for him to speak.

"Hello ma'am." Ashley almost winced at the cold, professional tone he had taken. Sometimes it was too easy to slip into his job. With a considerable effort to sound gentler, though it probably sounded more forced than anything, he continued. "I'm going to need to take a look at your books." He slipped his badge across the small table and it almost seemed as if she flinched upon seeing it. Her gaze hardened and she crossed her arms.

"What for?" Her voice was harsh, inelegant.

Ashley could have rolled his eyes. He refrained and sent a shifty look in Cal’s direction, a small part of him wishing the man would step in. Ashley had never been good with women. “My apologies, miss. I’m Detective Gallagher, Vice, and the information in your logs is critical for our case.”

She smirked, but complied. “You Vice boys, rolling in here like you’ve got a handle on crime. Thinkin’ you’re the first to sniff drugs in this club.” Her tone was teasing as she ducked down below her table, pulling out what appeared to be a large ledger and sliding it across to him. “Don’t let me get in your way, take a peek.”
Ashley Gallagher

Outside the Smith Residence

Ashley avoided Michelle's gaze on his trek back to the car, but he felt it boring holes into him all the same. He focused on the squelching of the freshly watered lawn beneath the soles of his shoes. The interior of the '47 Chevrolet was quiet following the clang of the shutting door. Upon further inspection, he found Emerald asleep next to him, only slightly disturbed by the sudden noise. He gently reached over and brushed a stray lock of ebony hair from her face, tucking it behind her ear. The small action was comforting in its own way, steadying his nerves.

The sputter of the car as it rumbled to life woke her, and the next time he looked over he was met with curious, green eyes. "Everything alright, Detective?" She inquired with a delicate yawn. He briefly wondered if she practiced yawning, if only to obtain one so gentle and feminine. It was a ridiculous thought and he shook it free with a gruff grunt.

"Fine." He lied. She accepted it and cast her gaze back out the window, ruby lips pursed.


Gilded Heights Apartment Complex, Room #67

The door puttered open with a creak. “I didn’t clean,” He grumbled, though it was clear by his tone that he didn’t truly care. “Wasn’t expecting company.”

Emerald swept into the apartment with the tap of her heels slipping the gloves from her hands and giving the place a once-over. It was quaint, dusty, cluttered, and so undeniably Ashley. At least, the little bit of Ashley she knew. He hung back by the door like a haunting ghost, a silhouette backlit by the dimly illuminated hallway.

“Clean for me? Wouldn’t think of it.” She trilled with a falsely sweet tone. The humor was easy, it masked the fact that fear still clung to her spine like a spindly spider, crawling up, down and around within her. She didn’t see the body, didn’t let herself, but she almost wished she had. It would have prevented the pure cruelty of her own imagination, spinning up creative depictions of the gore that no doubt lay splayed out across her apartment.

She appreciated the offer of a place to stay, she really did, but she did not feel safe here. She wasn’t even safe in her own apartment. She wrapped her arms around herself, turning to face the detective. “The apartment of a bachelor if I ever saw one.”

He let out a ‘hmph’ of what she suspected might be agreement and finally entered, gesturing about with a sweeping arm. “Bedroom, bathroom, kitchen. Make yourself at home.”

“You’re leaving?” A pit of something akin to panic settled in her stomach. She wasn’t ready to be alone.

“I’ve got to work this case, the faster I catch the killer the faster you can get your life back. You’ll be fine.” His tone was final, but unconvinced.
“If he got into my apartment he can get into this one. — What if he comes here looking for you? You’re related to the case!”

“He’s only ever killed at night, Emerald. I doubt he would be stupid enough to break into an apartment complex in the bright light of day. I’ll be back before dark.”

It was a fair point. Who would be stupid enough to commit such an open murder?

“If I take you with me, you’ll only be more involved.” He added, and she knew he was right.

“Fine, fine. Go do your detective work. I’ll wait here.”

“Thank you.” He expelled with an exasperated breath, heading back for the door.

Ashley Gallagher

Club Carousel

The club was dead. There was nothing else to say about it. It was a hollow shell of what it was supposed to be. Even the lights seemed dimmer and drier than before. It didn’t take him long to locate Lovegrove, seated alone in the middle of the club.

Ashley had always thought he looked powerful, but even moreso now. It was as if the empty table were his throne, and the club his kingdom. It made him nervous, on edge as he approached the man and slid into the seat across from him. “What’d I miss, Cal?”
Ashley Gallagher

Smith Residence

"It's a long shot, but unless you have any other evidence, it's what we have."

Ashley mulled over this statement for longer than necessary, thinking on it as if he were peering over the edge of a steep cliff. He thought of Emerald, of the information she could possibly-- rather, no doubt reveal. He then thought of Alison, the girl brutally murdered with only the faintest of connections to the original crime. If he brought Emerald any deeper...

The soft brown eyes of Detective Smith seemed to creep into the back of his mind, wrinkled at the corners, lips forming witty words forever silenced. Ashley thought on the navy coat he would never again see draped over the back of his desk chair, he thought on the boy who would grow up without a father. He could bring justice to the man, to his friend, he had to, with no limitations.

And yet as he examined Calvin with a neutral eye he found himself lying as fluidly as water through a spout. "I've got nothing, Cal. The Club is our best shot. I gotta make a stop if you don't mind, forgot some papers at home. You finish up here with the Coroner, I'll meetcha'."

If he was being completely honest, he wasn't sure how he felt about working with Lovegrove. He had only slightly abrasive memories of the man, enough to temper his trust. You could never truly trust anyone from Ad Vice, Ashley had learned. Hell, he hardly even trusted himself. The faster you learned that, the longer you'd last. Nobody was your friend. Smith was an exception, and he was dead.

Ashley worked a cigarette from his pocket, offering a curt nod to Lovegrove before departing. He caught the Coroner's assistant in the hall... Tiffany, he believed her name was? "Go ahead and tell the Coroner we're wrapping up and moving on. Give the family some peace-- But don't let them in just yet." He swallowed, lighting the tip of his cigarette with a shaking hand. "I don't think she's quite ready."
Ashley Gallagher

Smith Residence

Ashley had to admit, the way his mind instantly snapped into its analytical state as if this crime scene were any other twisted his gut, the villainy of perfunctory routine mixed with heart-deep horror he supposed. He tried not to think about the cold face under the white sheet and occupied his thoughts only with small choices, things he could break down, focus on.

Something lead him to the bedroom, bet it the investigation or simple sentiment. The room was untouched, clearly, the bedspread left disheveled from what was no doubt a sleeping Richard at some point. Ashley moved forward with a shuffled gait, listening to the brush of his shoe soles against the soft, beige carpet. It was soothing in a way, the rhythm of it. He moved until he felt the gentle bump of the bedside table against his upper thighs and reached out, cradling a picture frame in his hand.

The photo was not a display picture of a dog in a cowboy hat, it was not a false representation of happy suburban living, it was proof of it. The faces of a happy family stared back at him, taunted him.

“Describe what we are dealing with, and I will help you with this case. I want to know everything.”

It was with a shaking hand that Ashley set the photo back down, turning to look the very devil in the eye. “You look good, Calvin.” He offered, albeit satirically, though it was clear his heart wasn’t in the mockery. “You’re getting old.” He folded his arms, looking the man over. “You who they sent me to work with? They’re quick with replacements.”
Ashley Gallagher

Morning - Club Carousel

Ashley watched as the Coroner wheeled the body off, thinking on the small, frightened girl he had spoken to earlier that day. Now she was yet another speck of dust building on the windowsill of the city, to sit and forever be forgotten. He needed a cigarette.

The hall had since cleared, regardless of how shellshocked they were, the people of Manhattan still needed their sleep. Ashley didn’t blame them. He lit his cigarette, reveling in the familiar taste of smoke on his tongue soothing him into something of normalcy. Emerald had gone quiet, for once in her life, her expression still unreadable. He fancied those few moments when she had first seen the body were the only few moments he had ever truly seen her.

After a moment of smoke-filled silence, Ashley finally spoke. “You can’t stay here, you know.”

“Oh really? I hadn’t considered that, I frequently sleep in the company of blood and gore.” The humor felt hollow. Ashley didn’t point it out. They went quiet again and Emerald rejected his offer of a cigarette, her green eyes focused somewhere in the distance. It was minutes before she spoke again, so soft he almost didn’t hear her. “Why her, Ashley?” She whispered, voice wavering. “Was he covering his tracks? Was it only because of her closeness to his first victim?” She didn’t voice the last question, the most important. By that logic, did that make her a target as well?

“You’ll stay with me, in my apartment, until some other arrangements are made.” He muttered.

She took a step back, eyeing him. “I don’t need your charity, Detective. I can stay with one of the other girls.”

“You’re smarter than that.” He grumbled around his cigarette. “Quit being stubborn. I have a car downstairs.”

“Say, where’s your partner?”

“My partner?”

“The young, strapping fellow who was on your heels when you came in the club earlier this morning.”

She raised a fair point, where was Smith? The fool raised such a muck about having nothing to do this evening, and then he goes and finds himself something important enough to ignore a call from the station? Ashley worked his lips pensively around the cigarette. Now because of that dick Ashley had to drive his tired ass all the way out to Brooklyn to fill him in on the new murder. “I gotta make a damn stop before we head to my apartment.” Marvelous.

Noon - 1520 Thornton Avenue, Brooklyn

He had been to Smith’s house many times before, for various frivolous things that a young couple new to the city partake in. He’d been there for almost all of Joey’s birthdays, he was too drunk to go to his third. He’d been there for anniversary parties, barbecues, dinners, promotion celebrations. Nicole had been there for some, too. He remembered those looks she’d always give him, the knowing look, as they both thought nostalgically on their days as foolish young lovebirds.

The neighborhood was a nice one, quiet, with green lawns and kids on bikes. Something Ashley had always seen himself settling in. It was too late for that now, but he still enjoyed them, enjoyed the contained sort of contentment they represented. As they drove by houses, Emerald gracefully consumed french fries from the crinkly, brown paper bag on her lap, seemingly apathetic to their surroundings.

“Ever think you’ll have this sort of life?” Ashley asked after a moment.

“What sort of life?” She countered through a mouthful of french fries.

“One of these houses, a husband, a kid, a dog.”

“I don’t like dogs, hon, they slobber on everything.”

“You know what I mean.” He sighed exasperatedly.

She shrugged. “Never really did see myself in that sort of setting. Perhaps when I first moved here. Why? You offering?”

His response was interrupted by their arrival at their destination.

The first thing he really registered was confusion. Police cars lined the street in front of his partner’s home. Had the station beat him to informing his partner? But no, there were too many. “Stay in the car.”


“Damn it, stay in the car, Emerald!” He barked, slamming the door shut behind him. There were people, lots of people, a crowd huddled around the door, concerned faces. He didn’t understand. Once again he found himself pushing through a thick of people, nothing in mind but his destination.

His eyes calmly searched the center of the crowd for Smith, perhaps there was a break in. Each second he couldn’t find him he became more and more aware of his own heavy heartbeat.


Red and blue washed over the sea of faces, only vaguely familiar, none of them donning the charming grin he was looking for.


The front door, splayed open, was wrapped neatly in crime scene tape, tape he had seen so many times before, tape he had overlooked so many times before.


He felt his surrounding slow down, as if he were examining a scene, as if he were poised over a lifeless corpse. It made his stomach curl tight like a snake wrapping around its prey.


Two faces, two faces he recognized. Michelle, Michelle Smith, her pale face tearstained and contorted, hands clutched to her chest. Joey at her side, hands wrapped grubbily around her skirt.


“Michelle!” Ashley called, stumbling over to her. “Michelle, what’s going on?”

The redheaded woman wailed, screamed at him, reaching for him. Her claw-like fingers tangled into the collar of his shirt, her face a painting of grief. “You did this to him!” She shrieked, “This is your fault!” Her hands formed fists and she began to beat against his chest as if it were a cage she could break. “Your fault! How could you, Ashley? How could you?!” She collapsed into his arms, burying her wet face in the crook of his neck. He felt it all, like sick, cruel puzzle pieces, slip into place. It felt an awful lot like a noose tightening around his neck.

He was smart. He knew, of course he did, the moment he left his car. That was his job to know. And yet… He pulled away from Michelle, aggressively scrubbing the back of his hand against his face. Anything to not see her look of pure hatred. His hands found his hair, let the locks slip between the fingers, gripped them tight, any pain to bring him back to the moment as he stumbled to the door.

The patrolmen guarding the entrance stopped him with heavy hands. “Sir, we’re going to have to stop you.”

“I’m a cop, you idiots!” Ashley spat, trying again.

“Detective Gallagher,” The other patrolman corrected, his kind eyes vaguely familiar to Ashley. “Ashley, you don’t want to go in there. You don’t want to see it.”

Ashley stopped, staring them down, letting the words sink in. You don’t want to see it. Like hell. “Let me in!” He snarled, “Let me in! Let me in! This is my case, damn it!” He threw his weight against the both of them. “Let me see him! Let me see him!” His eyes burned, “That’s my partner!”

There was a break in defense, or maybe the men just stopped fighting him, but he managed to shoulder his way in. He stumbled, a drunken step through the hallway, the familiar patterned wallpaper swaying around him. He ignored the busted lock on the front door, it didn’t matter now he needed to find Smith.

The first thing he saw was a rose, a gentle pink rose tucked neatly underneath an unhooked phone, splayed carelessly on the table. He turned the corner and that’s when he found him, them. Smith’s bare body as if it was on fucking display, covered in an array of pink roses, as if the horrific scene was something to be celebrated.

Ashley slapped a hand over his mouth, choking out a sob. “Oh… Oh no.” He slid to his knees beside the body, reaching to caress the petals of one of the neatly placed flowers with his fingertips. “Oh Richard, no.” The last word came out in a hissed whimper. “Please.”
Ashley Gallagher

Late Evening - Gilded Heights Apartment Complex, Room #67

He was drinking, as he so often was. Seated in his old, dusty chair and watching his whiskey twirl around in his glass like an elusive dancer. He considered the wall opposite of him, decorated with nothing but a simple, small black and white photo of a dog that was not even his. It had come with the frame, the display photo that the store slips in for show.

The dog was large and scruffy, decorated with what appeared to be a cowboy hat. It stared back out of the photo, tongue lolling to the side, with an expression of suburban contentment. Ashley fancied on the other side of the camera stood a smiling woman with blonde hair, cooing for the dogs attention. At her side were two kids, two girls with twin braids and checkered dresses.

This is what he had seen when he first saw the display photo in the frame on the shelf. So he purchased it.

He took a long, savoring drink of the whiskey.

Suddenly there was a shrill ring from the phone. There had been a few, about an hour earlier, in rapid succession, but he had ignored them all in favor of the sweet embrace of alcohol. This one, however, he found the incentive to answer, lifting himself from the chair with a groan and stumbling over to the small desk.

He fumbled with the phone for a moment before bringing it to his ear and mumbling out a grouchy, “Hello?”

A small feminine voice that he recognized as one of the station’s secretaries spoke. “Detective Gallagher? There has been a development in your case, you are needed immediately.”

“My case?”

“The double homicide above the club? There has been another murder.”

He let out a very percussive and exasperated iteration of, “Shit.”

“Detective Gallagher, you are needed at Club Carousel on Manhattan, room number 17.”

Ashley had put pencil to pad, scrawling down the location, when it hit him. “Did you say room 17?”

“That is correct, detective.”

The pencil’s tip snapped, spraying fine graphite over the now dented pad. He slammed the phone down into its socket with an abrupt jingle, abandoning it for his coat and hat. Room 17. He knew room 17.

“If you ever want a private audience, Detective. I’m number 17, above the club.” Those red lips smiling at him in their amusement.

He slammed the door shut behind him, feet in a hurried shuffle. Emerald.

Late Evening - Club Carousel

Time slowed down as he ascended the stairs. He pictured her, pale skin slashed with crimson, lips parted in a supple O around the petals of a bloodstained flower. He saw her ebony hair fanned out around her from a struggle. Even in death, she was a beautiful smudge on a hideous backdrop. It felt like a splinter, a shard of wood beneath his skin that set him on edge.

The hall was packed with onlookers, the noise a drowning array of concerned whispers and murmurs. He pushed through, ignoring the hallowed eyes that all seemed to seek his own. They were all meaningless, selfish people looking for comfort, except one. Wide green eyes washed over him and he felt his voice catch in her throat.

She was speaking to the patrolman, a coat, borrowed probably as it was much too big for her small shoulders, clutched tightly around her. Her expression was calm, serene almost, though her knuckles were white, and her eyes met his with a strange sort of intensity. He couldn’t help but roughly shove through the remaining crowd, putting himself before her and startling the officer she was speaking to.

“Emerald,” He addressed hoarsely before clearing his throat and nodding. “What can you tell me about what happened?”

“My roommate,” She stated softly, pointing towards the door with a single, hesitating finger. “I heard her scream.”

“You heard her scream?” Who called in a murder based off of a scream? All of that worrying for— “Nothing, you’re calling in nothing, then?” He felt something of frustration. Whether it was at her for wasting his time or himself for letting her he wasn’t sure.

She shook her head, dark waves bouncing with the action. “She screamed ‘help me’, detective, if you would have heard it…” She trailed off, something of a glaze drifting over her eyes.

“And you didn’t go in? You didn’t try to help her?”

“I knew it was already to late.” She stated, almost as if she was convincing herself. “I couldn’t…” She cut off, before repeating in a softer voice. “I couldn’t open the door.”

The coroner interjected. “No one has been on the scene, Detective, would you like to take a look?”

Ashley nodded roughly, “Wait out here, I need to get an idea of the scene before you get your hands on the body.” He pushed the door open.

“Ma’am, we’re going to have to ask you to wait out here.” The patrolman stated behind him, he glanced over his shoulder to find Emerald close behind.

He stopped, meeting her eyes for a moment and expecting to find some sort of pleading within them. There was nothing. Even so, “Let her in, it’s her apartment. I’ll need some information about it anyway.” And with that he slipped in, Emerald on his heels clicking the door shut behind them.

It was dark inside, too dark to see anything, really. There was the sound of some shuffling before a faint, golden light illuminated the room.

The first and only thing he noticed was the broken window, the cool summer breeze filtering in and ruffling the sweaty hair at his forehead. The rest of the room seemed untouched. “Anything out of the ordinary besides the broken window?” He called back. He started when the response came closer than he expected. She had moved to stand by him.


He milled over to the window, peeking his head out of it to eye the outside surroundings. A fire escape, that must have been how the intruder left. No blood on the broken glass— that would have been too damn easy. He sighed, scrubbing a hand through his hair pensively.

A small but sharp exhalation drew him out of his thoughts and he turned to find Emerald, haunting over a doorway with wide, watery eyes and folded arms, the fingers grasped tight around her bicep. “Emerald?” He tried, but she did not turn, just kept… staring.

Ashley moved to her side, and would have reached to comfort her had the sight not caught his immediate attention. There, lying amidst a pool of her own blood, barely recognizable was Alison Fitzpatrick. She had eyes, but they were not her own, for one was a bright, gleaming machete, stuck brutally through the side of her face, and the other was a red, red rose, set gently over the tears of blood that spilled over her cheek.
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