The city was silent. Lights twinkled in the dark like the stars in the night sky. The
hard windowsill wasn’t exactly comfortable, but it allowed Devlin to relax as she admired the view. She drew on a cigarette, blowing the billowing smoke out the open window, the soft wind taking it away. As she pulled the burning stub from her full lips, her blood-stained hand was shaking, a charm bracelet slipping down her arm.
Although she was skinny and wore nothing more than lingerie, she was immune to the cold. Her mind was on other things. Her eyes were glazed over, blood dripping from her face. She flicked the cigarette butt out of the window and slipped off the sill with ease. As she made her way across the studio apartment, she glanced over at the carnage she was responsible for only a few moments ago.
His head was almost gone, and what remained was unidentifiable. His naked body was drenched in blood, soaking the silk bed sheets beneath. There was a spray of red up the headboard and wall. Devlin entered the bathroom, flicking on the bright light. She twisted on the tap, and the water splashed down heavy, ricocheting off the bowl.
The blood washed from her hands as she scrubbed them furiously to remove every last trace. She splashed some of the water over her face to remove the red staining clinging to her skin. Each drop was a reminder of what she had done, cast aside as if to erase the crime.
As she stared into the mirror, her dark eyes reflected back at her upon the face of a demon she no longer recognised. She reached up and pulled a blonde wig from her head to reveal brunette hair with pink streaks through it on one side. There was the girl she knew. Her tired appearance betrayed her young age of only twenty-two.
Suddenly, nausea overcame her, and she turned to the nearby toilet. The vomit burned her throat. She had not eaten in a while, so it was mostly bile laced with red wine.
She picked up a crumpled cocktail dress from the floor and slipped it over her hips, zipping it up tight. She then threw on a leather jacket and collected her handbag before stepping out to view the bloodbath again. Devlin couldn’t help but stare at the hideous sight once more. A sense of relief washed over her. She picked up the stained hammer from the blood-soaked carpet and wiped it down with the bedsheet. She placed it back inside her handbag and slung the strap over her
shoulder. Her eye was drawn to a brown leather wallet sitting on the bedside table next to a mirror with lines of cocaine on its surface. As it flipped open, a large wad of notes wedged inside revealed itself. She plucked them out and shoved them into her pocket, tossing the wallet back onto the table. She then headed for the front door and quietly pulled it open, taking one last look back at the scene before ducking out into the darkness.
Several weeks earlier, Devlin could never have predicted the killer she would become. She opened her eyes wide and looked around the expensive hotel room. She was lying in a large bed, silk sheets draped over her slender naked body. The sound of snoring startled her, causing her focus to shift to her side, where a large hairy man lay asleep next to her. She pulled a face of disgust before pulling back the covers and slipping carefully off the bed so as not to wake him.
She hastily got dressed and pulled on a pair of black ankle boots, still admiring the room. She still hadn’t gotten used to the level of luxury her clients bathed her in. The night before, she didn’t have a chance to appreciate it, but now in the broad light of day, she soaked it all in. She wondered how much the room must have cost for the night. She charged a lot for her services, so she was curious as to how much these men were spending in total. I guess to some men, money is no object, she thought.
Out of the corner of her eye, she glimpsed a bulging envelope standing proudly against the gold-leafed bedside table lamp. She collected it and stuffed it into her small handbag, the paper making a rustling sound as it crumpled. The sleeping giant stirred, and she froze. She was reluctant to wake the beast lest he requested more services from her. For most clients, she would take a deep breath and oblige without too much discomfort, but to sleep with this particular man took a different kind of courage. As far as she was concerned, last night was enough. The snoring continued allowing her to relax again.
Devlin slipped on her leather jacket and crept through the room, her boots silent on the soft shag carpeting. She slipped out the door pulling it quietly behind her.
Her journey home on the tube was an uneventful one. Usually, she would have to deal with the many commuters staring at her, questioning her profession or the yuppies leering, but today was Saturday, and she could avoid that awkwardness. She was still feeling a little groggy and hungover, so she spread out on the seats and took a little power nap. The gentle swaying of the carriage helped lull her to sleep.
Devlin arrived back at her modest studio apartment in Camden and kicked off her boots. It was a tidy abode well-decorated with modern art prints on the walls by Patrick Nagel and David Hockney. A large bookshelf on one side of the wall contained the many classics of the 19th and 20th centuries, all tatty and worn from multiple readings. The furniture seemed second-hand, as if bought from car-boot sales or found on the street, but together they gave a certain charm to the place.
Devlin made her way over to a small scratched and dented dining table where a young woman sat hunched, scribbling on a sketch pad. Roxy was only twenty-five, but she had the face of someone who had seen it all. Her hair was tied back in a ponytail, and she wore jogging bottoms and a T-shirt, a comfort she appreciated when not working.
It didn’t matter they’d been living together for two years; Devlin still enjoyed coming home and finding her waiting. It felt good to know she would always be there for her.
Roxy glanced up from her doodling and smiled briefly.
‘Hey, how was your night?’ she asked, returning her focus to the pad.
‘It was fine,’ Devlin replied, plucking the envelope of cash from her handbag and placing it in front of Roxy.
Roxy put down the pencil and snatched up the envelope. Flicking through the notes, she seemed impressed by the amount.
Devlin had already moved over to the sink in a small kitchenette and filled a glass with water. She gulped it down with relish. She was parched. She hadn’t drunk since the night before, and that was two vodka cokes and a glass of wine. The cool refreshing liquid slid down her throat, and she let out a gasp of relief.
Devlin watched as Roxy took the envelope over to an unmade double bed. She reached under and pulled out an old metal cigar tin. As she flipped open the lid, a bunch of notes sprung up, almost spilling out. She squashed them back down, placing the new load on top. Devlin couldn’t help but smirk as Roxy had trouble closing the lid again. Eventually, she managed to seal the tin and slid it back under the bed.
‘We’re going to need a bigger tin,’ Devlin said, still sipping at the water.
‘If you keep earning like you do, we will,’ Roxy replied, returning to the table.
For a moment, Devlin was going to raise the issue of opening a bank account again but knew it would fall on deaf ears. Roxy didn’t trust banks and was insistent the money would not leave the apartment unless it was to be spent.
‘How was your night, anyway?’ Devlin asked.
‘Another weirdo with a foot fetish,’ Roxy replied, exasperated as she sat back down.
Devlin scrunched up her face before finishing up the last of the water in the glass. The clients with fetishes were always the worst. The more bizarre they got, the harder it was to say yes, but they were the ones always willing to pay whatever it took, so it was just as hard to say no.
Roxy laughed at Devlin’s face of disgust. ‘Yep, my thoughts exactly. Still, he paid good money. Plus, I have lovely feet, so it’s not that big of a deal.’
Devlin grinned. Roxy always knew how to slip a compliment to herself into a conversation. It was one of her personality traits that Devlin loved. No matter what they were talking about, Roxy would always get it in somehow, and it made Devlin laugh when she did. The stranger the conversation, the harder she laughed.
‘I’m going to take a shower,’ Devlin said, placing the glass in the sink. She headed over to a bathroom door tucked toward the back of the apartment. Roxy picked up the pencil and continued to draw.
When Devlin had finished in the shower, she came bursting out of the room and almost made Roxy jump out of her skin. She thought something terrible had happened, but her fears were proven to be wrong when Devlin danced around the room wearing only a towel, singing along to Kim Wilde’s You Keep Me Hangin’ On using a hairbrush as a microphone. The music was emanating loudly from the bathroom, filling the rest of the flat alongside a plume of steam.
At first, Roxy didn’t know how to react, but when Devlin approached her and leaned in close, shutting her eyes and singing passionately, Roxy couldn’t help but burst out laughing in amusement.
Devlin ignored the laughter and doubled down, stepping onto the bed and turning it into a stage.
Roxy was now on her feet, clapping along with cheers and whistles. Devlin bounced on the bed so hard there was a risk the slats would break and she and the mattress would sink through.
When the song ended, Devlin finished with a pose. Legs apart, one hand on her hip, the other extended into the air, still clutching the hairbrush. Roxy clapped and whooped as Devlin bowed. She jumped off the bed, giggling, and hugged Roxy.
‘You’ve got an amazing voice. You should consider singing professionally,’ Roxy said.
‘Don’t be silly,’ Devlin replied, raising an eyebrow, though deep inside, she was buzzing from the compliment.
‘Who knows, if you’re successful enough, you could one day be living the dream.’
‘You’re the only dream I need.’
Devlin kissed Roxy softly on her lips, tasting her cherry lip gloss.
‘Aww, aren’t you sweet? I think I might throw up,’ Roxy said with a smirk.
Devlin laughed, punching Roxy playfully on the arm.
‘So, what do you think?’ Roxy asked, gesturing toward the sketch pad on the dining table.
Devlin raised her eyebrows at the stylised image of a rose. She reached out and picked up the pad for a closer inspection.
‘Never mind me singing professionally. You should be an artist.’
‘You like it?’ Roxy asked, slightly unsure if Devlin was mocking her.
‘I think it’s beautiful. You’re really going to do it then?’
‘Of course I am. But I’m going to need you by my side holding my hand, so hurry up and get dressed.’
Roxy slapped Devlin on the bottom.
‘All right, I’m moving,’ Devlin said, giggling as she returned to the bathroom.
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