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Sleeping Beauty

Chapter One

Ashley Spencer's childhood ended the night her father died; the
moment before she fell asleep was the last time she experienced
unadulterated joy. Ashley and her best friend, Tanya Jones, were
still pumped up from their 2–1 victory over F.C. Oswego, a
perennial state soccer power. Both girls had scored, and the
victory would give them a shot at the top seed at the State Cup.
They had gotten into bed after watching a video, then talked in the
dark until a little after one o'clock. When Tanya went to sleep,
Ashley closed her eyes and pictured her goal, a header that had
boomed past Oswego's All-State goalie. She was smiling as she
drifted off.

Ashley had no idea how long she'd been asleep when a sudden
movement on Tanya's side of the bed woke her. Tanya was sitting up,
staring at the open doorway. Ashley, groggy and not completely
certain she was awake, thought she saw someone walking toward
Tanya. She was about to say something when Tanya grunted, twitched,
and toppled to the floor. The man turned as Ashley leaped out of
bed, extending his arm like a duelist. Ashley's muscles spasmed as
a bolt of electricity surged through them. She fell sideways onto
the bed, confused and unable to control her body. A fist smashed
into her jaw, and she tottered on the brink of

Tanya's head rose over the far side of the bed. The intruder was on
her instantly. Ashley saw his fists and legs moving. Tanya fell
back on the floor and out of Ashley's sight. A roll of gray duct
tape appeared in the man's hands. He tore off several strips and
knelt next to Tanya. Moments later, he walked around the bed. A
black ski mask covered his face. He wore gloves and dark

A vise-like grip closed on Ashley's throat and her pajama top was
ripped open. She made a feeble attempt at self-defense but she
couldn't control her muscles. A leather-covered hand squeezed
Ashley's breast until she screamed. The man hit her hard before
sealing her mouth with a strip of tape. The intruder rolled Ashley
onto her stomach and taped her wrists and ankles together. His face
was close to her and she could smell his breath and body

Once she was bound, the man slipped his hand inside her pajamas and
caressed her buttocks. Ashley bucked and received a blow for
resisting. She tried to squeeze her legs together but stopped when
he grabbed her ear and twisted. A finger slipped inside her,
probing, rubbing. Then the finger disappeared and he lowered
himself onto her. Ashley's body trembled violently for a moment
more. Then the sexual assault stopped and the oppressive weight
disappeared. Ashley turned her head and saw Tanya being dragged
into the guestroom that was next to her bedroom.

Ashley strained to hear what was going on. Bedsprings squeaked.
Tape sealed Tanya's mouth but Ashley could still hear her friend's
muffled scream. Ashley was gripped by a fear different from any she
had ever known. It was as if a stifling gray fog had settled over
her, cutting off her air and paralyzing her limbs.

There were more moans and screams from Tanya, but the man who had
invaded her home worked in silence. Ashley's heart was pumping
furiously and she couldn't get enough air through her nose. She
tried not to think about what was happening to her best friend and
concentrated on breaking her bonds. It was impossible. She wondered
whether her father was dead and the thought galvanized her. If
Norman was dead then she couldn't count on anyone to rescue her.
She would have to save herself.

In the next room, the man uttered a primal roar of release and
Ashley shuddered. He'd finished raping Tanya; next he'd be coming
for her. For a moment, the only sounds from next door were Tanya's
muffled whimpers. Then Ashley heard an animal snarl and the sound
of a blade slamming into flesh. Tanya made a strangled cry that was
followed by silence. The stabbing continued. Ashley was certain
that Tanya was dead.

The door to the guest room slammed shut and the intruder emerged,
ghostlike, out of the darkness. Only his eyes and lips showed
through his ski mask. Ashley's breath caught in her chest. The man
savored her terror. Then he whispered "See you later," and walked

Ashley collapsed from relief, but the feeling was short-lived. "See
you later" meant that he was coming back to kill her. She struggled
to sit up and scanned her room for something she could use to cut
her bonds. Downstairs, the refrigerator door opened. The thought
that he was going to eat something horrified Ashley. How could he
eat after what he'd done? What kind of thing was he? The
refrigerator door closed. Ashley grew desperate. She was going to
be raped and killed if she couldn't get away.

A sound from the doorway brought her around. Something covered with
blood was dragging itself across the floor. With a great effort,
the thing raised its face and Ashley almost blacked out.

Norman Spencer crawled toward his daughter. There was stubble on
his bloodstained cheeks and his hair was in disarray. In his right
fist was his Swiss Army knife, the long blade out. Ashley fought
the nausea and horror that threatened to disable her and rolled
onto the floor. She turned her back to her father and presented her
bound wrists. Norman had almost no strength left and he did not
speak as he sawed at the tape with feeble strokes. Ashley wept as
he worked the knife. She knew that she could not save her father
and that he was using all that was left of his life to save hers

Excerpted from SLEEPING BEAUTY © Copyright 2011 by Phillip
Margolin. Reprinted with permission by HarperTorch, an imprint of
HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.


Sleeping Beauty
by by Phillip Margolin

  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTorch
  • ISBN-10: 0060083271
  • ISBN-13: 9780060083274