As promised, here goes episode 8 of “The Executioner”, publisher approved and re-edited. Stay tuned next Friday for episode 9, and every week for much more .
When she meets heartthrob Damian Novac, shy student Alice develops a heavy crush against her best wishes. Hoping to get close to him, she joins Damian and friends on a winter trip in the Carpathian Mountains – a choice that will change her life abruptly.
When the train derails in high snow, they seek refuge at an abandoned cottage, but soon people of their group start losing their minds and dying. Alice barely escapes with Damian and some of their friends, only to realize she’s far from safe even back home. A shady corporation that conducts experiments on humans and which had ‘engineered’ Damian into something monstrous many years before is on their trail.
A man of secrets and obscure powers, Damian might be a villain or a hero. Though aware of the danger he poses, she can’t fight the obsession that draws her ever deeper. Will Damian become her lover or her executioner?
As soon as the plump man turned around, his jaw dropped. Damian was either a striking sight to him too, or Sorescu had been warned to keep clear of him. Ruxandra’s eyes darted from me to Damian in surprise, but she didn’t make a sound.
“Not a great evening for outdoor shopping, is it?” Damian said with a vicious grin.
After a quick set of blinking, Sorescu came to himself. “Do I know you, Mr. . . .”
Assassin and the metal under his sleeve jumped to mind again. I shuddered and swallowed the knot in my throat.
“Novac,” Damian replied, offering his free hand for a shake. For a second I feared – or hoped – Sorescu would grab his forearm and feel the blade, as far fetched as the possibility was. But his ego prevented any chance of discovery.
“I see,” he said, sinking his hands in the pockets of his trousers and pushing his chest forward. “Well, Mr. Novac, how may I help you?”
“I’m one of the survivors from the mountains, your colleagues have me under surveillance. Which is how I know who you are, Officer, and why I was disturbed to find Miss Preda straying around Marvimex, desperate to find you. You lost her from sight, and, as her close friend, I must express my doubts as to your competence.”
With this last word he let go of my arm, his hand moving to the small of my back and covering it almost entirely. An electric sensation coursed through my body as the memory of our first night at the cottage lit in my head. His arms, weapons now strapped to them, they’d held me, stroked me . . .
“Close friend?” Ruxandra broke my moment’s daydream and the silence between the two men, who were glaring at each other like fighters in a ring. “Forgive me, Damian, but I . . .”
“I’m sure you must’ve noticed Alice was missing, didn’t you, Ruxandra?” Damian interrupted her without taking his eyes off Sorescu. “Why didn’t you draw the Officer’s attention?”
Rux began to babble unintelligible words. She shifted from one leg to the other, the look in her eyes stating a big BUSTED.
“I’m sure Miss Preda hasn’t been away for that long, maybe a few minutes,” Sorescu retorted, his tone conciliatory all of a sudden. “And Miss Ignat already has what she came here for, so we’ll be heading back now anyway.”
As Sorescu reached out, inviting me to cross to his and Ruxandra’s side, Damian’s hold tightened around my waist. I felt his muscled thigh hard against my hip and my cheeks prickled.
“Minutes can be lethal, Officer. The fact that you don’t know this is another reason for me to doubt your expertise. And to take Alice home myself.”
“I’m afraid that won’t be possible. She came here with us, she’s going back with us.”
“As you surely understand, I can’t rely on that.”
Sorescu smiled sheepishly, hands up as if surrendering in front of a gun, “Tell you what, mate: Why don’t we drive back together? That way you’ll be sure she made it home safely.”
“All right. That would at least allow my supervisors a dinner break,” Damian said with a smug grin, as if he’d obtained the very result he aimed for.
We followed Sorescu out of the bazaar. This time Ruxandra walked alone under her umbrella, and Damian shielded us both under mine. Wet gravel crunched under our boots, my arm hooked around Damian’s. The arm of the villain I was obsessed with. We only separated by the car, with me taking the back and Damian the passenger seat.
Ruxandra kept her head down during the entire ride, while Damian kept Sorescu feeling like a trapped mouse. The tension was only masked by dull radio chattering. I patted Rux’s leg and, when she glanced at me with a long face, I mouthed an It’s okay which had no effect.
It was easy to tell she was disappointed in herself. Maybe she felt guilty for having lost me from sight. But I didn’t find the energy to try and make her feel better now. I was too busy hating myself for the way I felt. Damian’s presence as well as the killer knives under his sleeves made my heart race and my cheeks burn in two very different ways.
It was in front of our house that words were spoken again, with Officer Sorescu grudgingly offering Damian a ride home, now that he’d “seen his close friend delivered safely.” To both Rux’s and my surprise Damian not only refused, but turned and directly requested to be invited in for a cup of tea, since the rain and cold had “permeated to his bones.” Yet as we got out of the car he looked anything but a man bothered by the low temperature or humidity. He actually seemed as comfortable with it as most people are with early summer, and I wasn’t the only one to notice it.
Officer Sorescu stayed behind the wheel with the heating on and the window down, his eyes darting from Damian to me. Soon his curious gaze turned into a sleazy measuring from head to toes that was yet another shock – since I was the subject of his inspection. Men had never looked at me like that, especially if they had someone like Ruxandra in their field of vision. But you know what they say. If a cool guy wants you, that makes you desirable for others, too. This must’ve been the effect in my case now – Sorescu misinterpreted Damian’s attitude toward me. He thought Damian was into me. My inner self laughed bitterly.
Guilt and rush crept up my spine as I walked towards the front door, opening the way for an armed man who breathed threat in my nape. The windows were dark, only a dim light flickering behind the curtains in the living room. This could be the end, I thought, bringing Damian Novac into our home. But the feeling that a refusal would’ve made matters worse wouldn’t budge.
Damian hovered in the doorstep as if he were a vampire who needed further invitation to walk into the vital space of his victim. I stared at him, a titan away from his Olympus and his time, clad in leather and jeans, wary to enter the home of a mortal. Just as I contemplated exploiting the moment and begging him to turn around, the door to the living room went ajar. Welcoming candlelight shone through to the vestibule, bathing Damian’s face in its mild golden touch.
“Oh, there you are,” Mom greeted with a large smile. She kissed Ruxandra and me, then her eyes rested on Damian. She welcomed him so warmly, my skin creased. He’s got fucking weapons under his sleeves.
“Please, have a seat,” she offered with both her arms stretched to the old, fluffy sofa as she took us to the living room. That she was ecstatic about Damian’s visiting, and that she still believed he harbored tender feelings for me was obvious as it was alarming.
The perfumed candles in the silver candelabrum – an antique Mom had bought in Paris and that she was particularly proud of – gave out a warm light fit for a library. Indeed, fit for our living room, dominated by the massive bookcase, broad sofa with the wooden coffee table and Dad’s old plush armchair. Damian took an instant to look at it as if it were a museum piece, then slowly lowered himself onto the sofa. It warped and squeaked under his weight, dark jeans molding on long, muscular legs. With a flick of his eyes that he made sure only I noticed, he demanded that I sit by him.
“Power’s out,” Mom said with an apologetic shrug. “Thank God the stove’s on gas.”
With that she retreated to the kitchen. Her alleged purpose – making tea and bringing cookies. Her true intent – giving Damian and me time alone, which overcharged my nerves, making me uncontrollably gnaw on my lower lip. Mom had also maneuvered Ruxandra out of the way with a simple reference to George having asked about her all evening, which caused Rux to spin on her heel and dash to George’s room like Speedy Gonzales.
Damian turned his face to me. The flames danced in his crystal eyes, his hair now flowing wild to his shoulders, danger emanating from him as it does from a predator. I winced as he touched my chin with two fingers – an unexpected, but gentle gesture.
As those fingers slid down my throat they produced such sweet pleasure that I couldn’t restrain a low sigh and my lids falling heavy. He was touching me. Damian Novac was actually touching me. My reason shut down.
“I’m in your home, Alice, and the police couldn’t do shit about it, you realize this?” he whispered, his breath touching my ear and his fingers stroking the base of my neck. His scent of young wood and leather made me dizzy. I couldn’t find my voice, and my pulse thumped in my ears, soon covering the squeaking sound his leather jacket – which he’d refused to take off – made as he moved his arm.
“You also realize I’m carrying weapons, don’t you?” he continued just as hushed, his fingers now wrapping around my hand and taking it to his left arm, which rested on his knee.
The blade was hard under the jacket. He guided my palm up and down the blade, slowly, making me rub it as I would his manhood. It stirred feelings in me, not of revulsion or anger, as it should have, but of need in my groin.
“I promised you some answers, Alice, so here they are.” His voice rippled, deep and velvety. “Number one. The police can’t protect you from a BioDhrome agent, I believe I’ve already made this point.”
“Are you a BioDhrome agent?” I whispered. My hand still caressed the blade, still guided by him.
“Number two,” he whispered, ignoring my question, “Your father will be safe as long as you don’t try to find him.”
This time the information sank in quickly, slapping me back to myself. My hand stopped moving and Damian didn’t force it.
“Number three,” he continued, beastly eyes drilling into mine, “You’ve managed to draw too much of BioDhrome’s attention. They sent an agent for you, Alice. That’s bad news. Really bad news.”
He retreated, his breathing a bit heavy.
“Are you that agent, Damian?” I managed, my voice thick with both longing and anger.
To be continued
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