Ten Years Ago....
She couldn't breathe.
Her lungs were about to burst from lack of oxygen and if she didn't find a place to hide soon, she'd be next. Her legs were cramping up from the running but she had to keep going. She couldn't let that psychopath bring her back to that horrible place.
The briskly cold air hitting her cheeks and exposed arms felt like a thousand pin needles stabbing her skin over and over again, not allowing the rest of her moving body to provide any warmth as she kept racing towards safety.
But she knew the truth.
She could run to the darkest corners of the earth and the Skull Man would get to her no matter what. All the fight she had in her to escape his clutches were now waning in defeat as the realization hit her.
Why bother delaying the inevitable? She had nothing to go back home to. He slaughtered her entire family and lit her childhood home on fire.
The Skull Man was always good at making you feel incredibly alone and right now, the crippling sensation of loneliness was seeping into her core more than ever before.
"I have more to teach you," his menacing voice shattered all of her thoughts and made her knees grow weak enough to make her kneel before him as his silhouette made its way into her line of vision. She looked up towards the dark figure who'd taken everything from her, the same one who ignited a special kind of hate in her veins, strong enough to want to torture him just as he had tortured her and the others. Her hands weren't shaking from the cold now, only with trembling hesitation at what she was capable of doing with the anger bubbling inside of her.
"I hate you." Her voice cracked as her teeth chattered, but she meant it nonetheless. She hated the Skull Man for what he'd done to her, along with the others he forced her to discard in the middle of the woods.
"I want you to. It's the only thing that will keep you alive in this world, Hazel."
Her name sounded wrong coming from his mouth, making her shiver with disgust as he reached to touch her face with his unusually skinny fingers, tipped with the blood of his victims. Like the coward he was, he hid behind a dark robe, never letting anyone see his face. Anyone but her. He made sure of it.
"I'm going to kill you one day." She promised tempestuously, just as her body began to shut down, unwilling to bear much more of the freezing temperature consuming her body.
"You're the only who can, Hazel Nash. You were always my favorite."
Hazel Nash tossed and turned furiously as her nightmare came to an end and she jumped up on her king-sized bed, completely covered in sweat. There were shadows all over her new gray walls, even her hardwood floors, that resembled the frightening monster in her nightmares. Panic surrounded her lungs as she began to shake, closing her eyes in an attempt to get a grip on herself.
"Hazel, you're okay. You're safe." the deep male voice settled into her ears long enough for her to open her eyes and see her fiancé, Carter Murphy, stare at her with worry. It had been the fifth time that night she had woken him up with her nightmares and felt like shit for burdening him with her problems.
"I'm going in for another shower," she informed him as she threw the covers off her and made her way back into her bathroom. As soon as she turned on the lights, she noticed more of Carter's stuff lying around on her side of the sink and she sighed in frustration. Did she really want to marry a man as messy as him? Nights like this made her wonder if saying yes had been a good idea.
Not that she was the queen of good ideas. She'd made the decision to re-build her childhood home when her paraplegic brother, who'd made it out of that awful fire that night with a broken spinal cord, died three months ago, leaving her, the last surviving member of the Nash family, with the deed to the property.
It was a stupid idea, moving back to this town. Her nightmares were proof enough of her big mistake.
"I know you're scared about your friend Dante coming home, but the restraining order is still in affect. He can't get to you anymore. Not if he doesn't want to go back to prison." Carter reminded her of her latest dilemma as she got rid of the sticky clothes covering her body and turned on the water in her shower. Her fiancé of two years looked extremely comfortable standing in the doorway of her master bathroom, wearing nothing but a pair of black boxer-briefs and a stern expression on his face. She didn't understand how he felt at home in this place, when every secret she's ever tried to keep locked up in her subconscious kept slithering about on every surface of this house, threatening to drive her mad.
"I'm not worried about Dante," Hazel answered him as she entered her shower, and let the cold water cool down her heated skin. She'd gotten immune to the cold as a child, living in colder climates for the majority of her adult life. It was the only thing that soothed her, for some reason. The heat only made her skin itch.
"You said his name in your sleep again, Hazel," Carter stated as he tried to hold back his territorial expression and frowned instead. Hazel smirked at his response to Dante Jones, the boy convicted of all the crimes committed by the Skull Man, and her high school boyfriend. She'd been too shocked by the conviction to reach out to him. For a long time, she was angry at herself for believing everyone who tried to convince her Dante had been the one who killed all those people, including her family. Now, she felt like utter garbage since news broke out of his release from prison, due to anonymous evidence being turned into the police, exonerating him of all crimes and erasing the remainder of his prison sentence.
Dante was supposed to be moving back to St. Cloud, Minnesota as well, into his family's estate on the edge of town. His parents had passed away while he was in prison but had left everything to him, since he was their only child. At least that's what the town gossip queens blew into people's ears. Hazel hadn't spoken to Dante since she was shipped off to Saint Catherine's School for the mentally insane, as she liked to call it. It was a rehab place for people with violent traumas to recover and become healthy adults.
Whatever that meant.
Hazel didn't feel any less crazy than she did before she left the boarding school six years ago. Sure, she managed to graduate college with a Masters degree in Liberal Arts, and had saved up enough waitressing money to buy the town's old bookstore and make it into a cozy café-slash library, but that didn't mean she was succeeding at being an adult. She could barely keep her dream-self in check long enough for the real-life version of her to function properly on a daily basis.
"He's coming home. Of course I'm going to have some reservations about it," she finally answered him as she scrubbed her body clean of dream-sweat and closed her eyes as she stepped underneath the shower head to rinse off all of the soap.
"Are you sure you're not still madly in love with him? Because it would really put a damper on this whole engagement thing." Carter joked as she felt him step in the shower behind her, letting her feel just how broken up he was about the Dante situation. His cock was hard and stiff along the soft wet skin of her ass and Hazel couldn't wait to show him just how much she didn't care about Dante Jones.
"Oh, I'm pretty sure. In fact, I think I'll show you," Hazel offered with a teasing grin as she turned and got on her knees in front of him, taking him into her mouth, slowly torturing him with every flick of her eager tongue.
"Jesus, Hazel. Slow down before I...oh...fuck, keep going...keep going..." Carter began to protest her fast dick-sucking movements, but changed his mind quickly after surrendering to the pleasure she was more than happy to give to him. He was good to her. He deserved a good blow-job every now and then.
She used the moisture her mouth left on his shaft to stroke him as she sucked on his tip, making him swell with need, preparing him for the explosion of come heading straight into her mouth. Her nails dug deep into his thighs as she heard him moan out her name during his climax. He fucked her mouth until there wasn't a drop of come left for her to lick and Hazel's lips formed a smile as she brought herself to stand in front of him again, and his arms wrapped around her waist, bringing her closer to his warmth.
"Is there any wonder why I want to marry you?" He teased her and she chuckled in response, licking her lips as she reached down to position the tip of his cock at her slick opening. She was wet with need, and hungry for the happy distraction his dick was about to provide for her, away from the Skull Man and from Dante Jones.
"Funny. Now fuck me until I fall back asleep. That's an order," she barked playfully as she brushed her lips over his, occasionally flicking the tip of her tongue over them.
"Say no more, Hazel Nash."