The Glass Devil

Prologue

Everything had seemed perfect. Maybe too perfect; he realized that now. He had been lulled into a sense of security, believing that it would never catch up with him. It really hadn’t seemed like it would. Not until now.

It was, quite simply, terrible bad luck. Nothing else.

In the big city, he was anonymous; he could live in peace. That was the only thing he wanted: to be left alone.

The long walks in the surrounding countryside had helped heal his spiritual wounds. He had started going to the gym again. He’d spent this evening at the gym and given his body a real workout. It felt good. He was on his way to building a new body and a new life.

Everything had been going in the right direction. Then she came into his life.

She was everything he had dreamed about. Long dark brown hair, brown eyes, and a fantastic smile. Her warm, supple body against his when he held her in his arms. . . .

They had known all along that they had to keep it a secret. If her family found out about their relationship, anything might happen. Her father and brothers were capable of taking the law into their own hands. He had asked her several times to be very careful, not to tell anyone about them.

And now it had all fallen apart. She hadn’t had the strength to hold out against her family’s questions. In the end, she had told them everything.

It would be best to move from his house for a while and hope that things would calm down. He would have to live with Mom and Dad for the time being. In reality, he knew that this wouldn’t help. Her family would refuse to understand how much they had loved each other.

He feared retaliation. It would surely come. It was their custom and culture when they believed the family’s honor had been stained. He knew this and didn’t fool himself. Vengeance would come.

HE TURNED in on the small gravel road that led up to the cottage. For what must have been the thousandth time, he swore because there were no streetlights. The municipality saw no reason to spend money on them, since the remaining three houses along the road were also summer cottages. He parked in the little gravel-covered area inside the gate. When he turned off his headlights, he was surrounded by impenetrable darkness. It was after eleven o’clock on this cold night at the end of March. Black clouds had gathered in the sky and it looked like it would rain or snow during the night. There was no light at all here in the forest. The tall trees grew thickly. The small lamp that hung over the front door was lit, but failed to illuminate the parking area.

He got out of the car and stretched. As always, he took a deep breath and filled his lungs with clean forest air. Despite the fact that he should be used to it by now, he felt the silence press against his eardrums. But it wasn’t completely quiet: A gentle breeze swished in the tops of the trees, and a dog barked in the distance. The cars on the highway could be heard like a faint roar, if one really strained to listen. The sound of an approaching airplane could be heard in the distance, coming in for a landing at Landvetter Airport.

His earlier thoughts caught up with him, and he looked around nervously. Everything appeared normal, calm and quiet. He focused his attention on the small Falu-red house, painted the color of baked bricks. It was