Jumping up and down with joy, folks! A month ago I started a new book project that is advancing fast towards release, namely it should be out there by the 15th of June! But guess what–you guys get to enjoy it in advance, chapter by chapter (or, better yet, episode by episode) on here as an online series. This book can be read as a standalone, same as all of my books, since I don’t like to make my novels overly dependent on each other or condition my readers to read all of them. You can enjoy one or all of them if you choose to. This one is a sequel to The Executioner, Part One and Part Two already available on Amazon. Now this is what the sequel, The Devil’s Elixir, is about:
Leona Ignat is sex starved. She lives a secluded life as a teacher, and has occult abilities that abstinence sharpens. But when a mysterious stalker begins watching her from the shadow, Leona’s spells turn into deadly curses. Her powers run amok, and so do her hormones.
Nathaniel Sinclair is a monk. Gifted with all the allure of the forbidden fruit, Leona can’t help but lust after him. But Nathaniel is only here to protect her, and help re-channel her energies. He fights to keep her powers in balance and to find the shadow stalker, while Leona is faced with an even more dangerous villain—the consuming need to lead the world’s most resilient monk into temptation.
Enjoy CHAPTER I 🙂
THE MAN IN THE SHADOW
“You call this a teacher?” Pavel Tudose blurts. He’s the lecherous biology teacher at the Vocational School for Gypsies and Other Social Trash, as Leona calls it.
“Look at her!” He pulls Leona’s lapel, then lets go with disgust. “She sports the black outfit of a mourning governess, but the dress is so tight her tits might as well spill out.”
Leona looks him up and down. There’s a stain of sweat under Tudose’s armpit. He’s wearing the same slacks he’s worn all week, beard unkempt and eyebrows like bushes with dandruff. She keeps her hands together in front of her, her fingernails sinking into the back of either hand in order to keep from slapping him.
“I’m the only English teacher this shit hole could get,” Leona spews.
“Shit hole?” Tudose repeats, ostentatiously appalled. He turns to principal Serena Gheorghe, one finger still pointing at Leona, the stink of his sweat wafting over. “Did you hear that? You want that foul mouth teaching our teenagers?”
“You sure wanted this foul mouth all around your penis. When I made it clear it’ll never happen, you lost it and promised retribution,” Leona says, glaring at him.
“You little tramp,” Tudose exclaims, stricken that she dared tell. He moves to grab her, but Principal Gheorghe’s voice stops him.
“Remind me, Pavel, why did you bring Miss Ignat to my office?”
“You mean to tell me you forgot?” Tudose shrieks. “I caught her making out with a boy from 12 B just outside the classroom! He barely just turned eighteen!”
“Say what?” Leona exclaims. They hadn’t told her why she’d been summoned to the principal’s office until now.
“I remember that quite well, thank you. But I’ll need a name,” the principal demands.
“Armando Gabor.” Tudose throws Leona a vindictive look. “One of her own.”
He means also a gypsy.
The principal’s eyes fly over to Leona, narrowing. She’s a well-groomed woman in her fifties with a carefully designed chestnut perm and warm brown eyes, but now they cool with sternness.
“You’re not taking this guy seriously, are you?” Leona says, unable to control the volume of her voice anymore. “Armando Gabor is this school’s number one troublemaker, you know that. Yes, he grabbed me, yes, he does it often, he says things to me, like he says things to all young teachers, but we never made out! This is a gross lie!”
Doubt lifts from the principal’s face, and she nods at Leona. She knows the goods. Armando Gabor makes virtual headlines in this school every single day. Placing her hands on the desk the principal rises to her feet. Leona is grateful the woman finally takes charge, because her fingernails left searing scratches on the backs of her hands by now. Darn it, this scratching thing has turned into a nervous tic.
“Pavel, we’ve known each other a lifetime, and I treasure your dedication to this school,” Serena Gheorghe says. “You’ve always been willing to help these children form a set of values, but look at yourself now. You’re bullying your own colleague.” She pauses to let her words sink in. Beside Leona, Tudose is shaking with anger, his cheeks stained with red blotches. His blood pressure must have shot through the roof, sultry heat emanating from his body.
“This woman,” he grunts through his teeth, “has just called this school a shit hole. How can she possibly contribute anything of value with that mindset?”
Leona’s temper flares, and she makes a half-turn to him.
“Between you and me, you’re the useless one in this school.” She presses her own index finger into her own chest to mark every sentence. “I am one of these kids. I am a gypsy. I grew up in a family where the guts to break and enter, surprise a couple in bed and rob them was celebrated and respected. Where a woman worth marrying was illiterate. Where a real man was a pimp in a dark alleyway. I know these kids, I would have become like them, hadn’t someone given me a chance at a different perspective, at education. Yes, this place is a shit hole. But if anyone can help make it better, it’s people like me.”
Tudose’s eyes fill with hatred.
“You’ll never be anything but gypsy trash,” he grunts between his teeth. “The only thing worth a fuck about you is your ass.”
“Pavel!” Principal Gheorghe intervenes, outraged. As for Leona, this is where her reason shuts down. Anger boils in the pit of her stomach, and she can feel her whole face redden. She loses grip over her tongue. Before she knows it, she’s pointing at the biology teacher, her mouth moving of its own accord.
“You deserve to feel the flesh melt off of your bones like wax off a candle.”
Principal Gheorghe tries to appease her with light hands on her shoulders, but the bell rings, and Leona scurries out of the principal’s office before tears of frustration can flood her eyes.
She grabs the register for 12 B from the register cabinet and walks up to the classroom. This is where she has to put up with Armando Gabor’s brashness, twice a week. Today, though, she’s not up for it.
“Here’s our piece of crispy ass,” Armando shoots from the last desk by the wall. Leona tosses the register onto the teacher’s desk. She normally avoids his gaze, but all this strategy has ever accomplished so far was spur him on. Hell, for all she knows, he could be the one spreading the rumors about him and Leona making out on the school hallways.
Well, today things change. She grabs the edge of the desk with both hands, and shoots him a mortal glare, meeting his dark-russet look. He’s leering at her, his young gypsy face handsome if it weren’t for some teenage acne, his hair styled in a bad-boy ruffle. The tips of his hair are dyed blond. Leather jacket over a body that girls in the classroom drool over, shredded jeans and dirty boots, he’s sitting on the desk.
“Take a seat on the chair, Mr. Gabor.”
“I’m confortable like this. Might get even cozier if you come and join me.” He pats his thigh, then grabs his crotch.
“Take the chair, and I will.”
There’s sudden silence, while everyone stares with surprise spread over their faces. Whohohohoho they eventually burst, laughter and balls of paper flying all over the place. Only Armando’s jaw is still slackened, and he’s looking at Leona in shock.
“Do it,” she slurs. “And I’ll be right there.”
The class goes crazy, while Armando frowns, trying to understand what the hell is happening. Leona knows he’s much smarter than he lets on, so he surely expects there’s a catch. Still, he grabs the chair, drags it the necessary distance from the desk, and takes a seat. As promised, Leona squares her shoulders and walks over. She stops by his side, and bumps his thigh with her knee, nudging him.
“Be a gentleman.”
Armando offers his leg for her to sit, his features locking as he’s trying to hide his bewilderment.
“You.” She pats his desk mate’s shoulder, a chubby ginger haired kid with glasses. “To the blackboard, pick up the chalk, and write what I dictate.” She lets her arm glide over Armando’s shoulder while she talks, under his leather jacket to his back. Everyone stares, mouths open, the classroom so quiet only the rustle of paper here and there is audible. “Everyone, copy from the blackboard or, should Bobi here write it wrong, write as you know is correct.”
The chubby kid pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose and walks heavily to the blackboard. A “kick me” sign is still glued to his back, but no one cares right now. Leona puts up a far better show. Armando looks up at Leona, daring a naughty grin and opening his mouth to say something, but she holds up a finger to stop him, without touching his lips.
“Do not speak, hunk,” she says, loud enough for the class to hear. “But when everyone’s looking away, you may start to touch me.”
The Inspectorate will catch fire when they hear about this, but to hell with it. She’s not gonna help any of these kids by patting their heads. For years it has been tried and tried and tried again, and they’re still ending up being pimped and dealt to in dark alleyways. They need someone who speaks their own language. Someone who’ll buy their crack and then slap them over the face with it.
She turns her attention to Bobi, her fingers already finding the area on Armando’s back.
“Go ahead, Bobi, write this: I. Shall. Not—” She speaks slowly, giving the kid time to write. She’s ready with her fingers around the right spot on Armando’s spine. As expected, Armando can’t believe his luck, and his hand touches her knee, going up her thigh, over her black pencil dress. Everybody is looking, more or less obviously, as expected.
“—touch my teacher in the manner I would touch a lover.” She says the words slowly, pressing hard enough for her fingers to activate the spots on Armando’s spine through his t-shirt. The young man’s features distort as he realizes something’s wrong.
“What the fuck,” he cries when he notices his fingers cramp and crumple, stiffening in the shape of claws. The grin stretches over Leona’s face as she drives her fingers harder into the nerves around his spine, drilling through the kid’s taut flesh.
“I shall not touch my teacher in the manner I would touch a lover,” she repeats like a spell. Armando jumps up from the chair, causing her to stumble from his lap. He’s thrashing around with his fingers still clawed.
Getting off the floor and cursing inwardly for the glitch, Leona continues to chant. “I shall not touch my teacher in the manner I would touch a lover. Or my hand will wither and fall off. I shall not speak to my teachers in the manner I would speak to stray dogs, or my tongue will dry and die. I shall not grab a girl against her will, or my cock will prune out and hang like a rag in the wind.”
She imagines that last part would be funny, if everyone weren’t so stunned at what’s happening with Armando. Girls and a few boys start screaming, while he begs, “Please, please, make this go away!”
Leona grins. “I would have to touch you again. But I imagine you don’t want my hands on your body anymore, do you?”
“Just fix this!”
“Come here.” Leona beckons him over with her finger. He hesitates, then gives his own hand a scared look and hurries over. He’s a head taller than Leona, and she realizes she might have to fear his retribution when his shock and fear subside, but now the fireball is on the roll. She winds her arms around Armando to make it look like a hug, hands going inconspicuously under his jacket from his waist. She drives her fingers into the right spot, and his begin to regain flexibility.
“Remember,” she whispers into the kid’s ear. “I know what spots to hit to make everything else I said happen, too.”
Released from the embrace, Armando looks at his hand, then at Leona. His eyes narrow, but not in the dangerous expression she expected—the boy is curious how she did it. Maybe there’s still hope for his future, as outrageous as this would sound to other teachers.
“Go back to your place, now, please,” she says, turning her back on him and walking behind her desk.
With a satisfied smile, Leona turns her attention to the stunned Bobi. When the kid meets her gaze he closes his mouth, pushes his glasses up his nose, and swallows audibly. She approaches the blackboard, inspecting the words he’d written: “I shall not touch my te.” He didn’t get to finish, of course, his attention sucked towards Armando when he’d started screaming. She didn’t expect any less than perfect spelling, really. Bobi is as close to a nerd as they come in this place.
“Now, let us finish that sentence,” she says.
Late in the evening, as Leona’s steps echo along the corridor towards the exit, and the lights go out in her wake, fear begins to nestle in the pit of her stomach. What if Armando Gabor got over the stun already, been through the relief stage and by now decided he wants retribution? In the end, she did humiliate him in front of the entire class. He was the badass leader, and now she made a fool out of him.
She stops in front of the exit door, clutching the handle of her briefcase tighter. She straightens her back. You won’t let these pricks intimidate the shit out of you. She places a hand on the rusty door latch, scrutinizing the schoolyard beyond it through the bars that protect the glass.
A screeching sound draws her attention from behind, making her look over her shoulder. The door to the students’ closet is ajar, moving loosely in the draught and evoking the start of a horror movie in Leona’s mind.
Unable to resist, Leona heads for the closet. The only company she finds is her own reflection in the mirror, which is cracked at one corner, and smeared with prints and other sticky stuff. Low moans seem to come from the last stall and, though her heart is thudding in anxiety, she can’t fight the urge to walk over. Someone might be in trouble, and the only help around at this hour is her. The janitor is probably lying drunk in the small storeroom at the other end of the hallway.
By the time she reaches the last stall the moans have stopped. Leona stays in front of the door, the line of blackness between it and the doorframe an invitation for her to push it open. Her heart beats faster, as if it knows something terrible awaits beyond it. Her fingers tremble as they touch the dirty stall door and give it a slight push, which reveals someone’s foot with a worn shoe. Seems the person is slouched by the toilet. Panicking, Leona pushes the door all the way.
It bumps into the person’s other foot instead of the wall, but it’s enough for Leona to take in the full view—Pavel Tudose is on his butt with his back at the toilet, head tilted backwards over the toilet seat, half his face, beefy neck and upper part of his chest crumpled as if the flesh has disintegrated. His tongue sticks out of his mouth, blackened and porous, still gurgling with some kind of pus, as if worms are eating it away. Leona gives out a sharp cry, her first thought being her own words for him in the principal’s office. But then her terrified gaze lowers to the large stain of blood on his shirt at the level of his stomach, and she understands this has been murder. A murder committed in the exact fashion of her curse. She notices a sandglass shaped bottle in his hand, but her time has run out. Blood rushes from her head to her feet, and she blacks out.
Leona is sitting on a sofa in the teachers’ lounge, a blanket around her shoulders, rocking back and forth. Her mind has been blank for a while now, and her stare fixed on the floor tiles. She’s loosened the tight bun that she’s normally wearing on top of her head, releasing the strain at the root of her hair, her thick black mane draped over one shoulder to the side.
She’s aware of the policemen swarming about the place, the spinning lights that play on her cheek, the fill of voices and rip of tape they use to seal crime scenes. Apparently they keep finding evidence related to the murder, drops of blood, and did they say acid?
“The bottle in his hand contained acid,” she hears the detective repeat somewhere close to her. She lifts her eyelids to see he’s speaking to principal Serena Gheorghe. The woman is bracing herself, her shiny perm a bit messy from all the times she’s run her hand through it.
“We still have to determine whether it bears the prints of anyone else besides the victim himself,” the detective concludes. Leona catches him glance at her and, noticing she’s back to herself, he heads over.
“I already told you everything I know,” she says in a cracked voice as the heavy man hunkers down before her, the hem of his worn-out beige coat splaying over the floor. He’s got salt-and-pepper stubble, receding hair, and drooping, detached eyes. He doesn’t seem moved by any of this.
“People tend to remember details as the shock lessens, ma’am,” he says in the same impassible voice he’s interrogated her in just half an hour before. “Just thought I’d make sure there isn’t anything that came back to you and that you might want to share.”
Leona gives him a tired smile, now looking him directly in the face. She still doesn’t feel anything, not dread, not sadness, not anger, but she is a bit amused. “You suspect of me, don’t you? At the very least you think I’m hiding something.”
Leona shrugs. “Why would I? It would only make my own life difficult, isn’t it?”
The detective keeps looking at her, saying nothing, his gaze impossible to interpret. Well, Leona could care less if she’s a suspect or not. She’s so tired all she wants is to sleep for like a decade or so.
“Listen,” she says, her shoulders sagging. “I know that hiding anything or making things up would only make this hard on me. Plus that I watched enough Navy CIS to know you guys have a lot of tricks in the book, and I’m no match for them.”
“You might be quite a match,” the detective says. “Your ex-boyfriend, Inspector Hector Varlam, must have taught you a thing or two.”
The name snaps in Leona’s head. “Mr.—” Did he even introduce himself yet?
“Marin. Detective Constantin Marin.”
“Well, Detective Marin, Hector Varlam was never really my boyfriend, and he’s been out of the picture for three years now. I spent two of those years in a monastery to get over that part of my story. He did bring quite a few things into my life but, I assure you, tips and tricks to get away with murder weren’t among them.”
“But an unhealthy obsession was, right?”
“What do you mean? I wasn’t—”
“Obsessed with him? Maybe not. But you seem to have sparked obsession in him.”
This can’t be right. “What makes you say that?”
The detective motions with his head curtly in the general direction behind him. “See that woman over there?”
Glancing in that direction, Leona sees Pavel Tudose’s wife crying and gesticulating between two police officers, right this moment actually pointing at Leona. She can’t hear what the woman is saying, the acoustics in the teachers’ lounge has always been crappy, and now with so many people it’s impossible to hear that far. But her hatred of Leona is alight in her distorted face.
“According to her,” the detective continues, “her husband has been keeping pictures of you in a box under a plant in his study. The wife discovered them a few days ago and confronted him, but that only led to domestic violence. Apparently, the man was stalking you, and some of the pictures even have traces of semen on them.”
Leona’s flesh creases, and her nose too.
“Now, connecting two obsessed men and the acid,” the inspector goes on. “It was said acid that made the victim’s flesh melt off his bones. Those were the words you used when you cursed him, right? Well, at first glance it looked like, in his madness for you, he offered himself as sacrifice to your fantasies, but the stab in the stomach ruled that version out. Someone killed him, someone crazy enough about you to be capable of murder.”
That someone would be so crazy about her…
“But if the murderer could have made this look like suicide, why not only use the acid? Why stab the man and make murder only more obvious?”
“It actually makes a whole lot of sense.”
For the first time the detective’s face betrays emotion. His drooping eyes sparkle, like he thinks he’s on to something. “I think this murder is an offering to you, and the perpetrator wanted you to know it.” He leans in so close that Leona can smell the scent of cigarettes on him. “I think the murderer is an obsessed stalker, namely Hector Varlam, Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like you to—”
“Actually, she does mind,” a deep voice rumbles from the crowd. That voice is enough to make Leona’s heart jump into her throat.
She looks up to see Viscount Nathaniel Sinclair make his way among the people in the teachers’ lounge. His overly muscular figure in a black shirt grows larger and larger as he approaches. People move out of his way with open mouths, and some even go, “wow,” “I’ll be damned,” and “what the fuck!” And no wonder, really. The Viscount isn’t your average gym pump, he seems a real-life Hulk, one with a handsome face and slightly dark skin, making it impossible to place his origin beyond “somewhere exotic”.
“And who are you, if I may ask?” detective Marin says, doing his best to hide his bewilderment. He gets heavily back to his feet.
“Tell him, Miss Ignat. Who am I?” Nathaniel’s sparkling eyes meet Leona’s awe-struck face. They make such a contrast to his skin that it’s compelling for any human’s eye. Leona’s throat goes dry. She’s often slapped herself inwardly for the sin of lusting after him, since he’s basically a freaking monk. What a freaking waste….
“He is….” What is she supposed to say?
“I am her spiritual adviser and confessor,” Nathaniel says and offers the detective his hand, since Leona is consistently failing to speak.
“Oh, a priest, then?” The detective measures Nathaniel up and down. Detective Marin is fleshy, and he sports a worthy gut, but he’s half the Viscount’s bulk, and two heads smaller. “You don’t look like a priest.”
Actually he does, in some weird way. The black clothing he always wears, even his huge, protective bulk. He has a strange, compelling beauty though, which gives him the hellish sex appeal of the forbidden fruit.
“I’m of a less known confession,” Nathaniel rumbles softly.
“But why are you here? Did Miss Ignat confess to you anything she should now tell me?” Marin looks at Leona with a suspicious frown.
“No, detective, I assure you. But Miss Ignat has been in the monastery for a reason, and that was to process the trauma Hector Varlam had put her through. As you probably imagine, I’d like to avoid that trauma returning.”
“Well, I don’t know the details of her relationship with my former colleague, but if it was a traumatic one, shouldn’t she have turned to a shrink instead of a priest?”
“Mr. Sinclair was all the support I needed,” Leona intervenes, also getting to her feet. Her knees are shaking, and she gathers the blanket tighter around herself to mask it.
In truth, Nathaniel never spent time with Leona at the monastery, even though she worshipped him like a god and lived for the glimpses she got of him. Every time he’d glance in her general direction she’d cling to hope, but he looked away without a twitch on his face, and she remembers that painfully well.
“I would like you to stay in town and available at all times, Miss Ignat,” the detective says from behind Leona as she starts pacing towards Nathaniel, blanket even tighter around her. Excitement swells in her chest as he places his huge, warm hand on the small of her back.
“You will have access to her, detective,” Nathaniel says. “But it will have to go through me.” He hands the inspector a business card, which the detective flips over and then again over.
“You also happen to be a lawyer, Mr. Sinclair?”
With a cordial smile for the detective, Nathaniel’s warm hand applies a little pressure to the small of Leona’s back, and she starts walking. All her colleagues, their families, friends and police staff are staring as she and Nathaniel leave the teachers’ lounge, his bulk a huge guardian by the side of her slim figure.
“I gather they never saw you in the company of a man before,” he says in a low voice. It’s the first time she hears it in years.
“You made it pretty clear that male company is to remain a no-no for me.”
“I’m glad to see you didn’t disregard my instructions.”
“Come on, Viscount. You would have found out, and confined me back between the monastery walls in no time.”
Leona and Nathaniel emerge under the overhang outside the teachers’ lounge, rain pouring down beyond it, thick bubbles splashing onto the cracked asphalt in the small courtyard that surrounds the teachers’ exit.
“Why didn’t you use this exit when you were leaving the school earlier this evening?” Nathaniel inquires calmly. Leona’s chest tightens, and she turns halfway to look up at his face.
“The janitor had already locked it. Why? You suspect of me, too?”
His bright irises fix her face directly, making the muscles in her core clench. “I hear you cursed him in the principal’s office. Considering your talents, a direct influence isn’t excluded.”
He presses the button on the umbrella stick in his other hand, and the umbrella opens above them. He shields Leona from the rain until they reach his car, where he opens the door for her to get in. His presence strains poor Leona’s starved hormones. She grabs the edges of the blanket tightly and reminds herself that, even if she hadn’t sworn off sex forever, Viscount Nathaniel Sinclair is as much off limits as Jesus Christ.
Still, she masochistically enjoys the prickle in her stomach as he slips into the driver’s seat, making the car tilt. But after only a few minutes she begins to wonder about their destination. The pouring rain leaves thick rivulets on the side windows, blurring the nightly city lights, teaming up with the sound of the wipers.
“Where are we going?” she says.
“I’m taking you home,” he replies in his gentlemanly tone. “Then we’ll have a talk.”
“You want to talk at my place?”
Leona turns to the side, with her shoulder against the back of her seat to face him.
“If I remember correctly, you avoided being seen at all, let alone with someone, even less with a woman. Your identity as head of the Order of Lords is top secret. You mean to tell me that, after you made an appearance worthy of a stage back at school, you want to take it up a notch and make a show at my place, too?”
He frowns at the road. “Your place is safe. I made sure about that.”
“Made sure?” It hits her. “Oh,” she whispers as understanding deepens. “You have me monitored. I thought you trusted me.”
“I can’t trust anyone who knows the Order’s secrets, Leona. Not after everything that happened with the Executioner, and sure as hell not after I found you in bed with the chief villain, inspector Hector Varlam.” He throws her a glance. “That’s how we first met, remember?”
The shame from that night strikes, weighing like a stone in Leona’s chest. She drops her eyes to her shoes. The motion of the car makes her sick, but she can’t look at Nathaniel right now.
“Well, I suppose I should thank you for watching over me. If it weren’t for you, I would have ended up in police custody tonight for sure. But, as you may know, I live with my aunt in an old house in the peninsula, which we share with a big gypsy family. Everyone would see you, plus that I’m not allowed to bring men at home.”
She still can’t look at Nathaniel, but she feels his sparkling gaze on her head. “I know who you live with. As I know that you’re not allowed to cross the threshold in male company, and that you’re not allowed to spend nights out.”
Leona looks up at him as she understands more and more of this. “I never actually had a chance, vow or no vow at the monastery, did I? The gypsy family, they’re your people, right?”
“We can talk here,” Nathaniel changes the subject abruptly, pulling over in front of the old dilapidated building that is Leona’s house. He lets the engine run, probably because it’s obvious she needs the heat by the way she keeps the blanket about her, and makes herself small in her seat. Thank God he doesn’t know she’s shivering because of him.
“How come you stepped in personally, Viscount?” she says. “Your identity is such sensitive information. A few years ago you wouldn’t have intervened for matters much more serious than this.”
“This matter is way more serious than you imagine.” Gravity deepens his gaze. “In one thing I agree with Detective Marin. Whoever killed your colleague, they did it for you.” He pauses, giving his following words more weight. “Either a secret admirer of yours killed the man out of jealousy or out of obsession for you, Hector Varlam being among the suspects. Or you killed the man yourself—these are the two scenarios that detective Marin would choose from. To me, there’s also a third possibility. One that has to do with your curse.”
“The curse? The man was stabbed in the gut! It was clearly murder.”
“Magic doesn’t work the way people expect it to,” Nathaniel says. “It makes things tie together, often in very logical ways. Your curse could have put the murderer in there with Mr. Tudose. It could have attracted the murderer into his life, so to say. Anyway, I’m glad to see you got over the shock of discovering him in that closet.”
“I’d be lying to say Tudose’s death makes me in any way sad. Since you’re so well informed regarding my life, did you know he tried to force my head into his lap once when he brought me home in his car?”
The muscles in Nathaniel’s arms flex, and his eyes gleam like a panther’s ready to attack. It lights a spark in the pit of Leona’s stomach, seeing him so ready to protect her.
“Why didn’t you notify the Order?” he demands, his tone now hard, contrasting with the soft-spoken giant from moments before.
“What would you have done?” she whispers, searching his eyes. She hungers for his answer. How would he have defended her?
“I would have sent my men to extract him from your life. You don’t have to put up with abuse.”
The expectation in her chest deflates. Not exactly the answer she dreamed to hear. She forces herself to look away from him before he can read the disappointment in her face. But the moment she shifts her gaze she notices two strange figures at the entrance to the neighborhood bar.
The Gossip Parlor is a meeting place for wild students and some older drunks seeking to impress the youngsters with made-up adventure stories. Loud rock music shakes the bar, and cigarette smoke floats so thick you could cut it with a knife. Leona has only been there once or twice to get vodka for her aunt late at night when all other stores were closed, but the patrons are regulars from the neighborhood. They all know her, and she knows them. All wild and loud, but decent, really. Which is why the two hooded figures looking like dealer and client surprise her. She catches a glimpse of one of the men as he looks anxiously over his shoulder, and her jaw drops.
Stay tuned for a new chapter next week loves 🙂 Until then, you can enjoy any of my other books, all available for you here. Two of them are even on promotion today, available, for 0,99!