Authors: Cynthia Roberts
Tags: #Retail, #Suspense, #Thriller, #Fiction
By: Cynthia G. Roberts
The young woman was fair-haired and pale of skin. Her beauty was classic and seemingly flawless. Her heart beat loud and strong in frightened beats that seemed to leap painfully from her chest.
On the filthy alley floor just behind her laid her husband. A dark creature loomed over his body. Perry, her husband, was still, lifeless. The young woman’s wide blue eyes fastened on the dark head of the creature as it lifted and turned toward her, tossing her a blood-dripping smile. The horror of what she saw left her mouth in a high-pitched scream. It couldn’t be! No, this couldn’t be happening, she reasoned with her terrified mind. She
had to be hallucinating. She tried to recall where they had been, what they had been doing before this adrenaline-infused moment of sheer terror. They had gone to a movie together, the three of them as a family. A new Disney film had been playing. Nicole, their seven year old daughter had been begging them to see it, but Perry, her husband, had been working long and hard, trying to get in those extra hours at the plant so that they could afford the down payment on the home they intended to purchase in a safer side of the city.
“Oh God, Perry.” Elisabeth cried out as she jerked her gaze aw
ay from the demon that had…No! She wouldn’t think about it. She couldn’t. It would drive her insane. This was a dream, a nightmare! They hadn’t gone out to the movies after all. They hadn’t opted to walk the six blocks home instead of taking a cab because the night had been cool and it would save them a few bucks. No. They were still in their apartment, she told her crazed mind. Perry was still at work. He worked a lot, too much, but he was doing it for them. She admired his dedication and ambition.
“Elisabeth.” Her name dripped seductively off of the lips of the creature befor
e her. By appearances he looked perfectly normal, handsome even, with his thick chestnut hair and big green eyes that set wide on his face. He was tall, broad of shoulders, and dressed nicely in a white, button-down shirt and black trousers. But there was blood stained to his sleeve. Was it her blood? Or was it Perry’s blood? Oh God, Perry! Her loss weighed like a heavy stone in the pit of her belly threatening to drag her to her knees. No. No! Elisabeth shook her head in denial. They had ripped her sweater. There were bloody bite marks on both of her shoulders, her neck, and even her cheek. Her dress was torn at her navel where one of the creatures had dropped to its knees and bit into her there. She had fought. She had fought hard, but it was as if her hits, her kicks, her nails digging into their skin had meant nothing to them, had done no harm whatsoever. So breathing heavily, her heart beating wildly in her throat and pounding in her chest, she stared wide-eyed at the advancing creature before her. This was it, she thought in settling alarm. They had killed her husband, she thought madly. Perry was gone! She accepted that with great sadness and regret. Perry had been the love of her life, but she wouldn’t be gone from him long, she thought as tears of pain, fright and misery slipped down her cheeks. No. She could feel it. It was coming: her death. She would join her husband soon. She only prayed now that their daughter would remain hidden, would not make a sound. Please, God, please protect my daughter, she pleaded as she closed her eyes to her fate, and the creature leapt toward her, ripping her to him like a rag doll as his fangs sank into the giving flesh of her neck. With one final attempt to save herself, she dug at the creatures back and arms, digging into him with her torn, brittle nails to no avail. As the life was dragged from her, she had only one thought: Save her. Save my daughter.
Ewan Derringer pulled back from his prey, swiping the tasty blood from his mouth with the back of his hand as he let the slight woman drop from his grasp to come colliding with the hard pavement at his feet. His emerald eyes had faded to a startling white, but he couldn’t help that now. It would take a moment for him to return to his former, handsome self, he reasoned as he looked around the alley at the damage he and his followers had inflicted. It was rather an impressive scene, he marveled with pride as Martin rose in a smooth, calculated movement that was all together graceful and turned to face him. Martin swiped the blood from his mouth and together they looked over at Gerald who had already transformed back to his human state. Gerald looked around the alley and grunted in satisfaction. Martin tossed back his white blonde head and laughed out loud. Ewan grinned as he clasped his hands together.
“To the hunt.” He said, lifting an imaginary glass in the air.
The two others followed suit and grunted, “To the hunt.”
“May it always be as thrilling and as pleasurable as this night.” Ewan’s thick, English accent rang out, making him sound like some Lordly Knight instead of the cold-blooded killer that he actually was. “Shall we?” he asked, ready to take his leave when suddenly he heard something familiar and strong beating out to him. It was small, he thought. He tossed a curious look to Martin, who shrugged
his big shoulders as if to say he didn’t know either.
“A child.” Gerald said knowingly, and Ewan nodded agreement. A child? How marvelous, he thought. The woman had been thinking of her child when he had taken her, but Ewan had pictured the child somewhere else, home safe in her bed perhaps. He smiled as he closed his eyes and concentrated on the frightened beat of the child’s heart. Soon, it was beating loudly in his ears and he could hear her hitched breathing as well. She was sobbing, trying to be quiet, Ewan thought as he opened his now green eyes and followed the tormented sounds the child was making until he came to a rusty, old dumpster at the end of the alley. Martin and Gerald grouped in behind him as Ewan gripped the corner of the huge dumpster and tossed it aside as if it were nothing. The child
, now revealed, covered her ears and screamed. Her eyes were closed as if she was too afraid to open them. Long, golden curls tangled in and around her face and small shoulders. She was dressed in a pretty, white gown as if brought to him for some ritual, some sacrifice. Ewan grinned at the thought, and he rubbed his greedy hands together. Children meant nothing to him usually, but this child, this pretty little girl with her pale skin, high cheek bones, and full, fleshy lips; she was positively beautiful. A work of art, Ewan thought as he crouched down to face the child.
“Open your eyes, child.” he called to her in a soothing tone, but she shook her blonde head madly and scooted back until she was huddled against the dirty, gray brick wall at her back. “I mean you no harm.” Ewan promised, becoming angered when Gerald and Martin laughed out as if they were still on the hunt. “Open your eyes, child. I can help you.” he vowed. He could hear her heartbeat speed away from her. He could feel her terror as if it were his own and for a moment he thought to just end it, to just take her the same way he had taken her parents, but then the child opened her eyes. Eyes the color of the sea became huge on a pale face that promised great beauty someday. It filled him instantly, the lust, the greed. He wanted her, but not yet, not
Suddenly, the child threw herself into his arms. Her little arms came around his body
, and it felt as if she were coming home where she belonged. She was his, he thought possessively. He had not felt this way about another, not since…No. he wouldn’t think of her now. She had left him. She had thought him a monster. This child didn’t think of him as a monster though, Ewan realized. She clung to him. She seemed to need him. She buried her face in his chest. She cried, sobbing wet tears into his shirt, and all that he could do was cradle her small body to him. Wanting to comfort her, Ewan took the jacket he had discarded when he had first come upon her parents in the alley and placed it tenderly around the girl’s tiny shoulders. “What is your name?” he asked, tucking the jacket around her so that it swallowed her.
“Nicole.” The child whispered, pulling back only long enough to meet his gaze. “My name is Nicole.” she cried out shakily. “Where is my mommy?” she pleaded, and Ewan smiled gently as he touched her face.
“Your mommy has gone to heaven, my darling.” he told her, and he leaned in and tenderly kissed her cheek. “Nicole.” he said, pulling back to peer into her beautiful eyes. Something seemed to move deep inside of him as if he knew this moment would forever change his existence.
“As you will soon as well.” Gerald called laughingly from behind him, and Ewan growled for the fool to be quiet.
“You can’t be thinking…” Martin groaned in disgusted alarm.
“It is none of your concern!” Ewan snapped, and the child seemed to tense in his arms. Huge, watery tears had gathered in her eyes, spilling down her pale, beautiful cheeks. “I will come back for you, Nicole, when you’re older. I will come back for you
, and I will take care of you, protect you…forever.” Ewan vowed strongly, thinking that his words would comfort the child. He meant them. He would find the child again when she was older, and he would make her his own. He would keep her always, he promised himself as he set the child away from him. “Close your eyes now.” He told her, and was not surprised when she obeyed him. He smiled in satisfaction. “You are dreaming, Nicole. This is only a dream, my sweet child. Close your eyes and sleep now.” He touched her one last time, not being able to resist, and then he turned to Martin and Gerald, scowling at their foolishness. How dare they defy him! “She isn’t to be touched.” he spoke before either of them could put up an argument.
” Gerald tried anyway.
“No buts! If the child is touched, you will answer to me. Is that understood?” he grabbed the smaller man by the collar of his fancy shirt and squeezed tight. Ewan’s green eyes once again faded to white and the warning was evident. Gerald nodded vigorously. He knew not to test Ewan, and Ewan was glad of it. Sparing the child one last look, Ewan turned and walked from the scene with regret. Silently, he vowed that he would be back. The years would fly by
, and the child would grow into a stunning beauty, he promised himself. This would show her, he thought of Lillian. This would show her that she had meant nothing to him. Yes, Lillian Saint Rose had been replaced!
When the child was found the next morning she was lying next to the body of her dead mother, having wrapped the woman’s lifeless arms around her small torso and cried herself to sleep. She was still wrapped in the jacket the creature had left her in.
Later that morning, Nicole Harold was del
ivered to her Aunt Janis Harold who lived in Manhattan. She was still wearing the jacket. No one had realized that the jacket had belonged to her parent’s murderer and not to the child’s father. It would be later that evening that the child would find the book that was encased in the breast pocket of the jacket, but as young as she was she could not yet read all of the strange words written on the stale, yellow pages. So hiding the book away, the child vowed to take it out again later, to read it in the hopes of discovering the truth of what had really happened to her parents that fateful night.
It would be many years later
that she would feel that she was ready to take the book out again. So at the age of fourteen, Nicole Harold sat on her bed in her room at her aunt’s house, the worn, dusty tomb nestled in her trembling hands as she opened the book to the first page and read…
“London, England 1842.”
“My story is of length. It begins many years ago when I was what I was, a youthful maid to a lovely young Lady. The story begins in England, in London to be precise. I grew up there in a town home assisting to Widow Winters, a scandalous woman raising her equally scandalous three daughters. They were the talk of the ton, these three young daughters. The two older girls, Lady Samantha and Lady Willis, both deserved their soured reputations as they did everything under the sun to bring the gossip down upon their pitiful heads, but the youngest girl, a girl of no more than fifteen years of age, was as innocent and as sweet as a new born babe. She did not pursue her older sisters’ wild footsteps, but instead kept to her room, reading the books that her father, the great scholar, had left behind. I could not read at the time, and I was older than she by three years, but young Miss Gail Winters would read to me from her father’s studies, and she did her best to teach me the alien words printed upon the yellowed pages in her father’s books. I did my best for her. I loved that young girl like the sister I had never had. She meant a great deal to me. The way that her mother and her sisters treated her was despicable. ‘She wasn’t a true Winters,’ they would say. She wasn’t nearly as pretty as her two, dark haired sisters. She had her own beauty though. A softer beauty with mounds of wheat blonde hair, pale, porcelain skin, and eyes so wide and blue that when a person looked into them they could imagine wide, open skies. She was a child, a child that I adored, and they married her off to an old lecher of a man who would marry and bed her at the tender age of fifteen.