Regina Pence let out a shriek.
Tim Pence broke out laughing. “You’re such a scaredy-cat.”
“Shush. This is scary!”
Pence smiled. He had his arm around Regina’s shoulders as they sat together in their living room, watching an early release of the serial-killer movie The Carver. One of the advantages of working for the studio was he was able to see movies six months before they were released.
The movie showed the killer sneaking into his next victim’s house, but the camera abandoned him to focus on a young woman reading a book, and then they played the cheap trick of having her look up and gasp as she saw a face in the window at the same moment heightened music blasted. Of course, the face was her own reflection, but the trick got Regina sucking in her breath and drawing her body closer to Pence’s. His hand was hanging loosely over her shoulder, and his thumb flicked against the diamond necklace he’d given her while they were having dessert and coffee at Renaldo’s. She had loved it—as well she should’ve, given that it had set him back twenty grand. But as far as he was concerned, it was money well spent. For the first time in many months he felt as if they’d turned the corner. He was actually believing that Regina would truly be able to forgive him, and that they’d be able to move forward.
As Pence watched the movie, he found himself absently thinking how fetching the blond actress was, and wondering whether he could get her name from the producer. He caught himself thinking this and forced the thought out of his mind. What the heck was wrong with him? To be thinking something like that after spending all these months winning back Regina’s trust? Still, she did look awfully appealing. Especially the way she was dressed in only a tight T-shirt and very short shorts.
Jarring music blasted as the actress looked up again, and this time she was staring directly into the killer’s face. Regina clutched Pence’s arm tightly, and she squeezed her eyes shut so she wouldn’t see the knife slashing the actress’s face. Each time the actress screamed, Regina tightened her clutch on his arm. After ten seconds or so the screaming came to an abrupt end, and for several more seconds the sounds from the movie were of a knife slashing into flesh, coordinated with a blasting, screeching noise. After that ended, Regina asked if the killer was done.
“For now,” Pence said.
She opened her eyes and moved even closer to him. Another loud screeching noise blasted as the killer caught his reflection in the window. Regina tilted her head to one side as if she were listening to something far away.
“Did you hear that?” she asked.
“I thought I heard something in the kitchen.”
Pence also tilted his head as if he were straining to hear noises within the house.
“You’re right,” he said. All at once he dug his fingers into Regina’s side, tickling her. “It’s the mad carver,” he announced, laughing.
“Stop it! Stop it! I’m serious!”
It took Pence half a minute before he could stop laughing. He wiped several tears from his eyes. With an exaggerated sigh, he said, “If you’re going to be such a scaredy-cat, I’ll go check the kitchen. Keep the movie running. I’ll be right back.”
Pence got up off the sofa. Regina bit her lip as she watched the Carver call the police to report his latest killing. She screamed as a pair of hands reached over the sofa and grabbed her by the shoulders. Her husband broke out laughing.
“Sorry,” he said. “I just couldn’t resist.”
She was furious with him, but she also couldn’t help laughing from the trick he’d played. “I ought to spank you later for that,” she said sternly.
She twisted herself on the sofa so she could watch her husband leave the room. Only after that did she turn back to watch the movie.
After the Carver had called the police to tell them about his latest killing, he took out a notepad that showed the name and address for his next victim. Even though Regina kept telling herself this was only a movie, albeit one based on an actual serial killer, she couldn’t help feeling like she might scream at any moment. But she wasn’t going to let her husband play the same trick on her, even when she heard him sneaking up on her a second time.
“Forget it, Tim,” she said. “It’s not going to work again.”
A pair of hands reached over the sofa. This time, her sneak of a husband had put gloves on in his juvenile attempt to scare her, and he didn’t grab her shoulders, but instead he lightly wrapped his hands around her throat. This wasn’t funny anymore.
“Stop it,” she ordered.
Tim didn’t listen to her. Instead of letting go of her throat, he tightened his hold. Not enough to choke her, but enough to make her gasp for air. She tried struggling, but his grip only tightened.
What was wrong with him? This really wasn’t funny in the least!
He had bent over the sofa so his mouth was right against her ear.
“Boo,” he said.
A mask muffled his voice. Regina only then realized that it wasn’t Tim.