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For Mark



Chapter 1



Peter Bronkowski peeled himself away from the prop closet. He needed air. The onlookers parted to give him space.

Oh my God, oh my God, they're going to shut us down. When this gets out the motherfuckers are going to crucify me. All the hard work, the hustling, the endless lunches listening to that blowhard Senator Runyon, all of it would be for nothing. Peter shook his head to clear it. His breath came out in fast gasps, threatening to hyperventilate.

At first, Peter thought it was a grotesque looking mannequin with fake blood stains down the front and side of its torso. The moment reality clicked, a jolt of shock split him, pooled behind his eyes and slid to his gut. With dawning comprehension, Peter realized the blood was real. And it was no mannequin.

It was Mandy.

Peter turned back to the prop closet. Everyone stared at him, as if he had the slightest idea what to do now. Fuck. He couldn't see a way out of this. Too many people had seen the body. He thought of his brother, Edward, but brushed the idea away.

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