Happy New Year! May 2015 be full of great surprises and presents. Here’s the first one from me: Episode 9 of “The Executioner”, publisher approved and re-edited. Stay tuned next Friday for episode 10, 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?
After a short pause and a crooked, almost sad grin, “I believe you’ve met him tonight. I’m only here to make things clear for you. Keep a low profile, because you’re a very easy victim.”
My tongue froze, leaving me unable to ask at least one of the avalanche of questions that tumbled from brain to mouth. To make things even worse, Mom appeared with a tray of cookies and mugs of tea at this very moment, smiling innocently and acting too friendly. She sat in Dad’s armchair, dressed in her cherry-red pencil suit, her hair up in an elegant bun.
It’s hard to classify Damian’s attitude. He made a great impression on her, but without playing the exemplary good boy. In his leather jacket and with elbows resting on his knees, he dodged off her questions in such way that it left me blinking like an idiot, glancing from one to the other.
To her inquires of the collection, “Where have you grown up?” and, “What do you plan to do after graduation?” he provided replies such as, “In a village in the Delta. They call it the End of the World,” and “Cure people and then take crap from them, of course.”
He made her laugh, which gave him the opportunity to wield his shrewd technique of always staying a mystery – He proceeded to asking her questions. A man of common sense, though, he didn’t touch on anything sensitive beyond, “How long haven’t you seen your homeland?” and “What ways did you use to get Roma interested in education?”
As she told her story with bridled enthusiasm and fine gesticulation, I fidgeted waiting for the chance to be alone with him again – in vain. As soon as his tea mug was empty and Mom’s story done he stood up, whisked his jacket and wished us ladies a nice evening.
“Thank you again for seeing Alice and Ruxandra home safely,” Mom said, her tone mild and warm.
“Oh, Officer Sorescu had that under control. It was a whim of fate that we bumped into each other, really.”
With a hand on the door handle he looked at me, the candle flames playing their game on his deceitful, handsome face.
“I’ll accompany you to the gate,” I said.
“Not necessary,” he blocked.
“Oh, but it is.” With a fake smile I walked passed him and led the way out.
I could feel his stare on my back as we strolled down the aisle to the gate. I stopped and turned slowly, not sure I wanted to catch the expression on his face. Apparently he didn’t want it caught either. When my eyes rested on his he looked aside and hooked his thumbs into his jeans pockets, offering me his carved profile.
“Who is that giant guy, Damian?”
“That’s a good name – Giant. Just call him that.”
“I’m not in the mood for jokes.”
“Neither am I. The less you know, the better protected you are.”
“And why is my protection important to you? Don’t you fight on the same side Giant does?”
Damian took a few steps toward me, hands unhooked from the pockets, his stare steady on my face, as if the implication offended him.
“Listen, Alice, let’s get one thing straight, okay?”
Opening my arms in a Halleluiah-gesture, “I’m willing to get everything straight, Damian.”
“I owe your father a lot. It’s because of him that I can live among people again, you understand? He’s been extracted to safety, but you are open. You, his daughter, the apple of his eye.
“BioDhrome know how much you mean to him. They know that, if they get you, Tiberius will come out of hiding. If you heard the entire talk we had at the hospital, then you know I offered to protect you. He refused, but obviously, I’m your only hope. Your surveillance officers are useless.
“And I will protect you, for his sake if not for other reasons. I’ll protect what he loves most. But that doesn’t make me your friend, Alice, you understand? Your father would disapprove, and he’d be right to do so.”
I stared at him with a stupid grin. “Are you saying you can do what the police and even the R.I.S. can’t? That you can protect someone where they can’t?”
“I used to be a BioDhrome agent, Alice. I’m many things the police and even the R.I.S. aren’t.”
BAM! There it was, the guilty plea loud and clear, knocking me in the head. Hector Varlam would’ve surely sold his soul for this.
“I believe BioDhrome led the operation in the mountains with the purpose of kidnapping you,” he continued, low, “and getting to Tiberius through you. They couldn’t have gotten to him directly, he was too . . . well protected.”
“What the hell are you saying?” I spat through my teeth. “That I’m the reason people died? That my friends could now be dead because of me? How weak is that, Novac? How lame is that, placing the blame on me?” My chin trembled to keep back tears of denial. “Giant talked to me tonight, you know?”
Drop by drop but fast, rain started whipping against my face, forcing me to blink fast and making Damian an intermittent vision.
“You didn’t expect that, did you?” I sneered in the tone of a nutcase. “Yes, he talked to me, and you know what he said?”
“What?” – soft, calm, but standing too close, hands gently clasping my arms. I tried to ignore the pace my heart took.
“ ‘The Executioner’s gem, the Executioner’s aim’ were his words. Do they ring a bell?”
Damian made no answer, but his eyes flashed with recognition.
“They do, don’t they? That’s what they call him, isn’t it? The Executioner. Who’s out to execute. Me. And how did you know he’d be at Marvimex? You work together!”
“You don’t understand, Alice,” he whispered.
“Oh, I understand little indeed, but I don’t have a doubt here. You helped them organize the operation in the mountains. If I was their target from the beginning and you just happened to be on the same trip . . . It’s you who should’ve delivered me to them, isn’t it? You failed, so they sent the Executioner!”
His grip around my arms tightened so much that I gave out a cry of pain. He yanked me to his chest, lifting me so that I had to stand on the tips of my toes, and brought his face so close to mine that our lips almost touched. The words came out of his mouth in gusts of pleasant breath and rainwater that smashed into my face.
“Believe me, woman, had I wanted to harm you in any way, you wouldn’t be standing here now. You don’t have a clue how I searched for you, howled your name against all peaks. I sought help at the military base. I made sure we searched every corner of those forests. I exerted pressure until we found you frozen in that precipice, your limbs twisted…” He paused here, his upper lip curled, “And you think I should or would’ve delivered you to BioDhrome?”
“You searched for me?”
“Alice, pay good attention, ‘cause I won’t repeat this: I’m here to protect you. I’m not your enemy, I never was, but nor am I your friend. I am a killer, it’s in my blood and no matter how much time I spend in the world of normal men, I’ll never be one again. BioDhrome made that impossible. When this is over I’ll leave and you’ll never see me again but, until then, your only safe shelter is under my wing.”
To be continued . . .
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