Death's Redemption (Eternal Lovers #2) by Marie Hall
Toccata and Fugue in D minor” echoed through the cave, the glow of candlelight flickered across the red stone walls. The man in a white lab coat wiped the blood off his brow as a sound drew his eyes to the doorway carved inside the rock.
“Well?” The voice of the black silhouette standing in shadow made the man in the lab coat cringe. The sound always reminded him of a knife blade running across glass.
Licking his front teeth, he tossed the bone saw upon the mutilated corpse of the woman the shadow had dragged to the dungeon only a few short hours ago.
She was hardly recognizable now as the sexy redhead with pale ivory skin. The shadow, and that was all the man ever knew of his nocturnal visitor, always brought him a body or two at least twice a fortnight.
He never questioned why, or if the bodies might stop appearing. He had need of them as well. There was a compulsion inside him, an insidious monster that enjoyed the sight of blood, of turning something beautiful into something even more. As a child he’d been obsessed with Frankenstein, creating perfection from the parts of many.
But the shadow wasn’t like him. The shadow had a purpose, a purpose he did not share with the man. The shadow’s only demand was that the eyes belonged to him, the rest the man could keep.
Nodding, he held the small glass jar in front of him. “I’ve extracted the eyes. This was”—he swallowed hard, sweaty fingers clenching by his pant leg because the thought of releasing this part of her was abhorrent to him—“the most beautiful specimen yet.”
“Set them down.” The shadow’s arm moved, pointing in the direction of the lab table.
The man in the lab coat nodded, walked over to the table, and, with a final pat to the lid, turned and walked back to the dismembered body. He needed to get the limbs on ice before they began to rot.
His latest work of art would be one for the ages. This woman had been beyond compare in beauty. Such a shame that the shadow had killed her first; perhaps if he’d met her while she’d been alive he might have even let her live.
But it was too late now for such maudlin thoughts. She was gone, and her sacrifice would not go to waste.
The man was careful to not glance at the shadow as it slowly slinked its way inside. He’d tried once, to peek, to look upon the face of his benefactor, and had nearly paid the price for it.
Shadow had one rule: never look at it. Never try to engage—he’d learned that truth with a knife across his throat.
There’d been so much blood, his blood had dripped from between his fingers as he’d tried to staunch the wound. But the cut had been sure and deep, and all the man in the white lab coat knew was…the shadow had killed him. He’d died. He’d seen a vision of a dark, dark tunnel, felt his soul (or consciousness, or essence, whatever you wanted to call it) begin to drift, slip off into a black void of fury and sounds that still made his body tremble if he thought on it too long, when suddenly he was back. Gasping and sputtering for breath.
The shadow had somehow brought him back, had spared his life, but with a warning. Never look upon it again, to not even wonder who or what it was, because if he ever did he wouldn’t come back the next time.
All the man in the lab coat had seen had been a pair of ruby-red eyes. If he’d seen anything else, he could no longer remember. The rest was lost to him forever.
If it was a demon feeding him these bodies he didn’t know, and he didn’t care. He would never wonder again.
There was a sound like the scraping of a lid being turned, and then a low, furious hiss. “This is not the one. That bitch gave me the specs. Told me what she would look like. She was wrong.” It slammed its fist onto the table, causing the sensitive electronics and tools of his trade to jump almost a foot up in the air.
Licking his lips, the man whispered low, “Perhaps if you tell me what you’re looking for, I could try to help. I might be of more service than just—”
A brush of fingers trailed along the back of his neck, making his skin tingle and shiver as if shards of ice had been rubbed against it. He shuddered, heart thumping hard in his chest.
“You work for me, butcher. You’d do well to remember that.” The voice in his ear was a sonorous echo, making his veins throb and his eardrums spasm with a sharp burst of fiery pain.
Howling, he grabbed his ears, keeping his eyes peeled on the stone floor. Praying to god the shadow wouldn’t decide his usefulness had come to an end.
“Get back to work. I’ll bring another.” And from the corner of his eye he watched as the shadow picked up the hand of the woman and brought it to its lips. He couldn’t be sure, but it seemed to him as if it even kissed her fingertips. Then it released the hand and walked away.
The man didn’t move until he was sure the shadow was gone. Running to his woman, he picked up her hand, a faint blue color now marring her fingertips. Rubbing at the fingers furiously, he tried to take the spot off, but neither scrubbing nor dipping the hand in alcohol eradicated it.
Furious, he tossed the half-open bottle of alcohol against the cave wall. It landed with a dull thud. The shadow had ruined her perfection, but he had no other choice than to use her; he was on a deadline.
His audience waited.