Blood streamed down the side of Akira Sato’s face at an alarming rate,
mixing bright red against the white porcelain tub. As the showerhead
splayed hot water over her body, she watched it with strange
fascination, circling and disappearing through tiny holes in the drain.
She picked up a white washcloth and mindlessly scrubbed against her
narrow waist until her skin turned bright pink. Then she lowered the
coarse cloth and rubbed longer than usual at the triangle of black hair
between her legs and upper thighs, stopping only when it became painful.
At least on the outside she felt cleaner, but inside was a different
The consequences of her actions could not be remedied, nor could they be
wiped away. Yet despite her resolve for this justified killing, she
remained lost in a sea of hopelessness—incapable of seeing a way out.
Then why are you still here? Pick up your sword and end it now. The
words echoed in her mind, taunting and teasing. She didn’t care about
anything—or anyone. Why should she? Mitsui had insisted all ties be
cut with the people she had once loved, including the Buddhist monk she
might have married.
She poured a generous amount of shampoo into the palm of her hand and
lathered her long black hair, gingerly touching the wound her victim had
inflicted. The gash in her scalp would disappear in due time, just like
her other scars. But the bloody slaughter in the living room had left a
horrible mess and would need to be addressed before she left the house.
After thoroughly rinsing her hair, she worked on her face with the bar
of lavender soap, removing the black eyeliner, blue eye shadow, and
whorish red lipstick she had applied for Kurosaki’s benefit. It
wasn’t fair by any means, but there was no going back to the naive
geiko she had been. With eight deaths to atone for in her afterlife, she
was cursed in both worlds and simply waiting to die at the hands of
another assassin. She squeezed her eyes shut and pressed her back
against the cold white tile, hugging herself as water washed away her
She heard a muffled sound in the next room and turned off the water.
After easing the shower door open, she strained her ears and heard
nothing, but her instincts told her otherwise. She stepped onto the
bamboo grate covering the stone floor and grabbed the katana sword
resting against the wall. The sound of someone rapidly approaching
increased her heart rate. Her right hand shook involuntarily, yet she
managed to remain calm. The bathroom door flew open suddenly, exposing
two members of Kurosaki’s gang.
The first man stared at her, snarling. “You murder a man in his home
and have the nerve to use his shower? What kind of monster are you?”
He reached for her arm while the second man stood back watching—his
coal-black eyes piercing her skull.
“The worst kind,” Akira spat. She drew her sword with lightning
speed, beheading the first one with a one-handed horizontal cut. Blood
sprayed over the mirror above the sink. She dropped her sheath and held
the sword in front of her with both hands. The second man’s face
paled, and his jaw slacked. He remained motionless for endless seconds
before charging at Akira with a knife stretched out before him. With one
swift movement, she raised her sword above her head and brought it down
hard and fast across his neck. She pulled the blade back, sending blood
spraying across her face.
Another body fell to the floor.
Akira could feel sweat gathering at the base of her spine. She wiped her
eyes with her forearm to clear her vision. Tears threatened to break
loose and destroy the fortification she’d built.
The voice was back in her head, moving her forward. Keeping her from
crumpling into a pitiful mess. Don’t be a fool. Finish the job you
were sent here to do. She found two capsules in the outside pocket of
her bag and popped them into
her mouth. It took nearly a minute for the numbing effects to take hold.
Then she set to work dragging bodies from the house and dropping them
into the pit she had found in the woods. When she was finished, she
stepped into the shower to wash the dirt and blood off a second time.
After cleaning the bathroom floor and walls and scrubbing the living
room thoroughly, she dumped all the evidence into the pit outside and
set everything ablaze with a match and a bottle of Château Guiraud.
Her only salvation rested in the fact that Kurosaki’s nearest neighbor
lived too far away to witness the gruesome scene and strange smell
filling the air.
A cool breeze touched her skin. Too cool. She looked down at herself and
was instantly reminded of her nudity, which she had forgotten with the
work she’d undertaken. A nervous laugh escaped her lips, and once more
she found herself questioning her sanity.
Excerpted from "Twisted Threads (Volume 4)" by Kaylin McFarren. Copyright © 2017 by Kaylin McFarren. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Kaylin McFarren is a rare bird indeed. Not a migratory sort, she prefers to hug the West Coast and keep family within visiting range. Although she has virtually been around the world, she was born in California, relocated with her family to Washington, and nested with her husband in Oregon. In addition to playing an active role in his business endeavors, she has been involved in all aspects of their three daughters' lives - taxi duties, cheerleading coaching, script rehearsals, and relationship counseling, to name but a few. Now she enjoys spending undisciplined time with her two young grandsons and hopes to have many more.
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