By nine o’clock, I had on the only sexy dress I could find in Abigail’s closet, and it was everything I’d hoped it would be. In fact, it had me wondering if I was a little curvier than she had been because the fabric clung absolutely everywhere. Since I had to wait until the fosters left for their weekly prayer meeting, I’d only been able to do a hasty scrunch job on my hair after the shower and leave it down and curly. I hadn’t put on a sweater since she didn’t have any that went with this dress, so my arms were freezing in the autumn night air. Beauty is pain though, right?
And I was positive that I looked damned beautiful tonight. I hoped that I wasn’t overdressed though. I still didn’t know much about these kids or these random late-night parties. Call me grandma, or whatever, but by nine o’clock I was usually watching TV in my flannel pajamas. I supposed for one night I could brave the allergic reaction that I usually gained from social interactions.
I had just begun to head to the front door when I heard a small sound emerge from the hallway. I didn’t know if it was coming from outside or in, but I froze in the dead silence to listen. It sounded like whispers. I’d heard that once before, except this time it felt as though they were all around me. Soft, sibilant voices. I followed them down the dark hall, hugging myself as I listened. I didn’t ever mind being in a house alone since the only real danger emanated from other people. But the faint sound plagued me.
Then it stopped and a loud scream from the home’s landline had me yelping before I lost my breath completely. It wasn’t my phone, but I raced into the kitchen to answer it. Anything to shut it up and remind myself of what a scaredy-cat I was. The woman on the other line sounded concerned.
“Hello, this is 911, returning your call.”
My heart jolted. “I’m sorry. What? Who is this?”
“911. We received your call, but we got disconnected.”
A sick feeling washed over me. “I did not call 911. I’m sorry, you have the wrong number.”
“Miss, this is the number that we got disconnected from. Is there anybody else in the house who might have made the call?”
“No, I’m home alone.” I shivered as I said those words. What if I wasn’t? What if somebody else was here? Somebody I didn’t know about? Somebody who had been making that sound.
“We’ve already dispatched police to your address. They should arrive shortly.”
“Okay. Thank you. I’m sorry for the mix up.”
“Just watch for the officers’ arrival, okay, dear?”
Even though I knew I didn’t make that call and could not rationalize why anybody would be hiding and doing that, I still no longer felt safe inside. Rushing out to the front yard, I shivered and rubbed my naked arms as I plopped down on the stoop and stared in every dark direction. I didn’t know why I felt safer outside. Maybe it was because there were more places to run.
Miley has only one year left in the foster system and is sent to finish it in the home of an older couple, Anne and Clive Winchester, who are still coping with the death of their sixteen-year-old daughter.
Miley is soon drawn into deadly mind games and deception that make it clear that they have their sights set on more than just replacing their deceased daughter.
Hidden secrets within the home and chilling revelations about their past bring Miley’s worst nightmares to life.
THE GIRL BEFORE