As promised, part 10 of “The Executioner”. Stay tuned next Friday for episode 11, 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?
I couldn’t hold back anymore. Tears broke down my face, an uncontrollable salty flow that mingled with the cold downpour.
“Two doctors from Barcelona and Bristol were murdered,” I cried, clinging to his jacket in a surge of trust I couldn’t explain. Letting the worry and fear stream out of me felt liberating. “One from Bulgaria was taken in by the police after he presumably put Giant out there. And you want me to believe my father is safe? I’m so terribly afraid he’s already dead!”
“None of those doctors are dead, and neither is Dr. Lazar Dobrev in police custody. They have all been extracted.”
“You know the man’s name?” I asked baffled.
“I told you, I used to be a BioDhrome agent. I have my ways to information. Often to more information than ever reaches the R.I.S.” There was mockery and contempt in his tone.
More? “You know how the Cezare Lupan file disappeared, then?” I dared.
“How then? Who has it?”
He shook his head and let his hands fall off my arms in a slow caress.
“The less you know, the better protected you are,” he repeated like a mantra. “I already told you much more than I should have.”
“Why did you?”
Damian smiled a genuine smile. With a gentle finger he stroked a wet tendril off my cheek. His gesture gave me the goose bumps. I pressed myself harder against his leather-clad body, unable to hold back.
“What did you mean when you said that because of my father you can live among people again, Damian?”
“What do I owe your father?” he said, his huge hands covering mine and pushing them gently downwards. “How did I meet him? How did the Cezare Lupan file disappear? Is Damian Novac even my real name? And the list of questions can continue, isn’t it?”
I nodded, eyes fixed on his, knowing he could read the eagerness in them.
“Those are questions I can’t answer.”
“As I said, the less you know, the better protected you are.”
“What about BioDhrome, Damian? What did BioDhrome do to you?” I whispered.
He shot a blade-sharp glare in the distance, above my head. I was now treading a mined field, I knew.
“Even if this is the only answer you give me, I beg of you,” I insisted.
“The less you know . . .”
With that he settled me out of his way and dashed out the gate before I got to blink. A few moments later, soaked to the bone and snuffling, I was leaning over the fence, peering down a dimly lit street blurred by heavy rain.
“I don’t trust him,” Ruxandra said, sitting by me on the edge of the bed as I towel-dried my hair. “I say we take this to Hector. I mean, come on, there’s no such thing as an ex-mobster, Alice, much less an ex-BioDhrome. They’re a vicious pack, they trade with organs and conduct genetic experiments, and I doubt they let anyone out of their ranks alive. If you ask me, there’s an awful lot of power behind what BioDhrome does, and I’m not talking only megalomaniac oligarchs who want to live forever, but secret services, maybe entire fucking governments. Damian wouldn’t have been able to escape them, so he must still be in the game.”
“I’m not stupid, Rux,” I retorted. “I know you have a point. But I don’t trust Hector either. I don’t know, it’s a just a feeling I have . . . Plus, BioDhrome is too big of a fish, a nasty international corp as you put it, with an awful lot of power. I doubt his unit has the slightest chance against that.”
“But he’s got Novac within his reach. And Novac confessed to you, Alice. He confirmed that he worked for BioDhrome. That will be useful for Hector.”
“As if Varlam doesn’t already know that. He’s been trying to come about proof for years, he won’t be able to do much with my statement. Plus, Damian’s right – The police can’t protect me. Giant wants me, that’s a fact, and with Damian gone, if they do arrest him by some absurd chance, who’s gonna make sure Giant doesn’t get me?”
“He didn’t even tell you his name, did he? Giant’s name, I mean. Let alone his own,” Rux mumbled, her backside wriggling like the tail of an upset cat as she prepared the bed for the night. Mom’s satin nightgown flowed down her legs, making her look like a temptress from a Latin American soap.
“Look, I’ll talk to Damian again tomorrow, all right?” I said few moments later, as I turned off the light and tucked myself in. “I’ll push for more answers.”
The mattress warped as Ruxandra turned on the side, facing me with an arm under her head. She grinned, I could sense it.
“I know what you’re thinking,” I said.
“And? Am I right?”
I exhaled in surrender and pulled the blanket up to my nose, as if that could conceal my thoughts and fantasies.
“I guess so.” Yes, I was completely taken with him, even under the circumstances. I dreaded him and I wanted him. And I was happy I had a reason to approach him again tomorrow.
“I think he’s pretty much into you, too.”
That slapped the Sandman completely off my eyelids, sending him rolling on his back.
“Now you know I don’t trust Novac. He’s dangerous, but maybe you have nothing to fear. Maybe he’s lying to you about having quit on BioDhrome so that you’ll give him a chance, as fairy-talish as that may sound.”
“You talk as if his liking me were something natural.”
“It is, you know my position on this. Only that this time I don’t have the slightest doubt he’s interested. The way he held you at Marvimex, it looked and felt . . . possessive. As if he made it clear you were his, and his alone.”
I didn’t reply, hoping she’d say more. I couldn’t hear enough of this. But there was something else Ruxandra seemed eager to talk about. She propped herself on an elbow and turned the reading lamp on. Her chocolate eyes appeared to pour all over my face.
“There’s something going on with you, Alice.”
“You’re different. Something changed. I mean, you’ve always been a pretty sight, but . . .”
“Good night,” I cut her off and turned my back at her. I wasn’t in the mood to take the slightest amount of shit from the collection ‘You’re beautiful the way you are’. I preferred the ‘He might just want to fuck you at least once’ series. But Ruxandra jumped out of bed, grabbed my hand and pulled to drag me out.
“What the hell are you doing?” I squealed.
She rummaged in her bag and took out a make-up set the size of a cell-phone. She opened it and stuck the mirror out to my face.
“Just look at yourself and save me the torture of explaining.”
An eye appeared first, then the mouth, then a cheek. Rux didn’t succeed in centering the thing on my face, but I doubted there was anything special to see anyway. The last image I had of myself was pretty fresh, too. Just a while ago I’d wiped the steam off the bathroom mirror.
“I still don’t see your point.” I pushed her hand away.
She dropped on the edge of the bed, forcing me to look into the thing. She pointed her finger at this and that part of the mirror, which surely reflected my face from her angle, but all I could see was the plastered ceiling seemingly afloat in the vague lamplight.
“You’re different since you came back with Novac at Marvimex, as if his presence had somehow activated the femme fatale in you,” she said, gaining more and more enthusiasm, “Your skin is silken and smooth, your lips gained volume and a rosy color. I don’t know what happened tonight, but the result is obvious. You look ravishing, Alice.”
“I don’t see anything, to be honest. And I can’t even believe we’re having this conversation, it’s just plain stupid. And cheap. And bimboish. ”
She clapped the make-up set shut and gave me a narrow-eyed scowl. “The Alice I know is very much in touch with that ‘little bimbo inside splashing around in mud, lurking even in the most bespectacled of female intellectuals. Phony they are if they deny her.’ Should I go on?”
“I recognize my own quotes, thank you.”
To be continued
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