Genoa, Ormsby County, Nevada, 1885
Fastest gun in the west. Thats what his opponent was known as. Standing well over six feet he had a huge barrel chest. Simons keen eyes followed the mans progress down the street towards him. Clem Sawyer, that was the mans name. It was high noon a time when men and women cleared the streets, the time of day associated with street duels. The sun at its zenith cast no shadows to distract either party, making the fight fair according to western law.
The clank of spurs hitting stone brought Simon out of his reverie. The men lining the street seemed to be holding their breath waiting for him to die. He smiled a glittering smile. Not this time, my friends. Today justice will swing in toil. He folded back the left side of his duster revealing a lethal looking pistol of unknown make. We dont have to do this Mr. Sawyer.
Draw yer iron dude! Ya aint backin out o this! Ye aint never met a gunfighter as good, and ye aint never goin ta again!
Simons smile, disappeared. You really aim to do this, then? Very well draw! With speed and agility that defied the natural laws his gun cleared his holster three seconds before his opponents. His finger stayed on the trigger guard. He prayed his luck would hold and he wouldnt have to fire. Killing glory seekers is never worth the wasted bullet. Lady luck proved a fickle wench by abandoning him. The bullet struck high on the left side jerking him backwards. He felt the burn in his chest and heard the soft gurgle. The pain was nothing, and then he coughed slightly. Wildfire spread in his chest as he felt a trickle of wetness from the corner of his mouth.
Damn! Pulling a handkerchief from his breast pocket he daubed at his lips. His eyes touched on the bloodstained cloth and he growled. You ruined my best shirt! Raising his gun a little he fired. The slim bullet lost itself in the dirt somewhere beyond the man. The crowd began murmuring about how hed missed. He heard gasps as the bullet, which had lodged in his chest fell out into his hand. Grim determination settled over his features as he stalked across the distance. Stopping before the man known as the fastest gun, he tipped his hat in a gentlemanly gesture. You were right friend. Ive never met a better gunfighter.
He saw blood oozing from the small hole in the mans throat. Wont be long now Clem Sawyer. He fought down the hunger the sight of oozing life brought him. Wont be long at all. Turning he stepped onto the boardwalk with a satisfied smile, as behind him his opponent finally hit the dirt. The crowd rushed around Simon to circle the body like vultures. His hand connected with the doorknob of his hotel when he heard the first cries of anger. It always happens this way...doesnt matter where I go. Nodding to the proprietor he took the stairs to his room on the second floor.
Pouring a basin of water he stripped off his shirt, sticking his finger through the hole, and sighed. Tossing the shirt aside and reaching for a rag he turned back to the basin of tepid water. A knock sounded as he began cleaning the drying blood off his chest and stomach. Go away!
The knock sounded again, this time accompanied by a womans voice. Mr. LaVigne? Let me in so I can tend your injuries.
He recognized the voice of the proprietors daughter. Sighing he grated out. Go away woman!
Mr. LaVigne, I saw what happened. Now you let me in to tend your wound or Ill go get the key from Papa.
Anger leapt into his cobalt eyes as he stalked over and flung the door open. Woman, I dont need help! The anger surprised him. I dont need no woman meddling in my affairs! He fell silent as the air was sucked from his lungs.
Raising a hand she touched his chest. You were shot! I saw the bullet hit youright here Her fingers splayed out over the left side of his chest where the bullet had penetrated. Wheres the wound?
He went still as death. It is healed. His simple reply brought her head up, revealing hazel eyes filled with confusion. I heal at an accelerated rate, he said with a shrug.
Thats not natural, she said in a horrified whisper. Whats going on here? You were hit. I saw you bleedin.
His hand snaked out and he pulled her into the room. Closing the door he turned her around to face him. You should sit down Miss Talbot, you look about to swoon. His other hand flicked the lock on the door before he led her to the chair. Tossing his shirt on the bed he seated her, and taking a glass from the bedside table he poured a measure of amber liquid from the bottle that was next to it and pressed it into her hands. Drink this, you will feel better. His eyes watched her while he reached into a large black saddlebag and pulled out a new shirt. Money has its privileges, I suppose. He gave a faint smile as she tipped the glass upward. Snatching the glass when she started coughing he smoothed his face into placid concerned lines.
Whwhat is that?!
He thumped her back gently. It is brandy. It has put color back in your cheeks so it has served its purpose. Draining the glass he set it aside and went back to buttoning his shirt. He left the top three buttons undone preferring the swashbuckling look of a kinder age to the stuffy aristocrat of his youth. Donning a frock coat he ran his fingers through his hair and turned back. Does your Papa know where you are Miss Talbot?
Nno. Does your father know where you are?
Touché. He grinned. Come young miss, I will escort you to supper. Taking her hand he pulled the woman to her feet.
Mr. LaVigne! You are too kind.
He smiled and cupped her hand between both of his. Mademoiselle you are an angel. His eyes captured hers and he felt the familiar tinglethe electric charge in the air that always surrounded him growing stronger. No! Not this innocent! It is not yet her time. His heartbeat quickened. Miss Talbot
Marissa, she said demurely, but you can call me Missy.
He stared at her in tense silence aware of the courtesy she was extending to him, but wasnt sure if it was driven by her alone or if he was influencing her. Breaking his own train of thought he smiled. Simon. He raised her hand to his lips. Simon Lodovico LaVigne. He bowed deeply. At your service madam. The tingle was subsiding. He breathed a quiet sigh of relief. Shall we Missy?
She giggled and pressed her lips to the corner of his mouth. Yes! Will you sit with me?
He took her arm and led her out the door to the dining room before he finally answered her question. I would be honored to sit with you Marissa.
Supper progressed slowly. When he could at last leave the table without breaching etiquette, Simon excused himself and stepped out into the night. Settling his hat on his head he lit a cheroot and walked down the boardwalk. The moonlight lay on the ground like a silver blanket. Several feet from the entrance to the hotel he stopped and leaned against a pillar. Tipping his hat low he watched the saloon across the dusty street. His patience was rewarded when the swinging door flew back and three people tottered onto the walk.
He watched the trio stumbling and giggling down the road. When they disappeared around a dark corner a glittering smile spread across. Perfect! Crushing out the cheroot he followed them as they walked with aimless purpose for more than an hour, finally stopping just outside of town in a small grove of trees. Slipping a new cheroot from inside his jacket as he came up behind them and flicked a match to light. Evening Daniel. Nice night for a stroll.
What? Whos there?
The alcohol-slurred voice came from one of the two women draped around the other mans waist. Simon shook his head and took another drag. Why dont you ditch the dames Daniel so we can get this over with? You know why Im here.
Now? You had to come now? Could you give me just a few more hours?
You know I cant. Come on now Daniel, we made a bargain, you cant cheat it forever.
At least give me this one last thrill.
Im sorry, but we had a deal. Moving like a shadow he stepped in close to the man hed come for. Wrapping his hand around the back of the mans neck he let his icy breath blow across the sun-leathered face. Be at peace. His arm tingled and the hair on his neck rose on end. A soft white glow infused him for several moments before drifting downward. His cobalt eyes glittered. Go to your reward.
Slipping out of the grove he took a drag from his cheroot. The orange glow was the only evidence that he was even there. The moon slipped behind a cloud, shrouding the landscape in darkness and giving credence to the wails of the two women in the clearing. Shaking his head, Simon started back towards town. I need a drink... A stiff one, and no more guff from little Miss Talbot, either. The screams rending the air grew louder and shriller as the alcohol wore off. He heard the booted feet of men from town and saw shades of those he recognized. Shaking his head with a sigh he blew out a stream of smoke. When he heard a rustle around a corner ahead of him he pulled up short. If you value your life come out where I can see you.
What did you do to that man back there? I couldnt see, it was too dark.
The voice made him groan. I dont know what you mean Marissa. Im just out for an after supper stroll.
Then you mean you didnt hear the women out there wailing? Didnt you see half the town running out to Potters Grove?
He shrugged as the young beauty stepped out of the shadows. I heard the men folk running out there. You should be indoors with your mama, Marissa.
At home with mama?! You arrogant man!
When she turned around to stomp away he blew out a frustrated breath and tossed his cheroot aside. Three quick strides took him within reaching distance of her. Thats not what I meant, he growled grabbing her arm. Spinning her to face him he banded his arms around her. The sound of booted feet returning pushed him to drag her into the shadows. He felt her take a deep breath and smothered her lips with his. The kiss, meant to silence, changed abruptly. He pressed her against the wall with his body. When he felt the tingle begin in his fingertips he pulled away breathing heavily. No! Go home, Missy. I I need some time
She touched her tender lips. SiSimon, I dont understand! What is it? Why?
Just go on home before your father comes out with a posse. Ill see you later, I promise. Without a backward glance he disappeared into the darkness. Reaching for another cheroot he realized how badly his hands were shaking. Now I really need that drink! Pushing through the swinging doors on the saloon he heard men talking about the dead man in the grove. Making his way to the bar he took an empty stool and growled. Whiskey!
Hey Mister! We didnt see you out there in Potters Grove. Didnt you hear those women screamin?
He looked in the mirror hung above the bar, his eyes colliding with a young kids. He cant be more than twenty. Turning to face the kid he shrugged. I heard them women scream and then it sounded like a thousand booted soldiers were racing to their rescue. I didnt figure that I would be necessary since Im not much good in a situation like that anyhow.
Them floozies say he was alive and virile one moment and limp as a boned fish the next. Seems weird to me. There was a soft thunk behind him.
When it is your time to go son, you dont really get a choice. He turned back to the bar and picked up the glass the bartender had just set down. Thanks Bill. Better just leave the bottle, Im in desperate need tonight. Murmurs rose up behind him. His eyes scanning the room noticed that several of the men were looking at him funny. There was a pall of suspicion hanging in the air. Pouring another drink he swore as the bottle hit the glass and whiskey spilled onto the bar. Setting the bottle down heavily he picked up his drink and downed it in one gulp. His hand shook a little less when he set the glass down, and he knew the moment it caught the attention of the man next to him.
You? Where were you after supper? Whered you disappear off to? I saw you saw you talkin' to Dan couple of days ago. Whyd you do it?
The blood drained from Simons face and he felt thin. Not again! As the room around him began to fade, shadows creeping in around the edges of his vision, he could hear the men around him talking, some were shouting angrilyothers sounded worried. He wanted to assure them that he was fine that there was nothing to fear, but his tongue didnt want to work when he was like this. A cold shudder passed over him and he found his surroundings changed. All around him the darkness and shadows receded revealing a glowing hall that was empty save for gold statuary and several tapestries. Hello! He listened intently.
Youve made a mistake Simon. Hear them talking? Theyre getting angrier and angrier... talking about lynching you now.
Why did you call me here Viggo? Im in a crowded room full of angry Texas frontiersmen. You know it isnt wise to call a reaper away when they are under scrutiny.
Nicodemus has a new assignment for you and I didnt feel a need to wait. A drifter like yourself will be passing through Virginia City in a day or so. He is much like the man you reaped on the street today. Quaint practices those street duels. Hell be tall, of Native American decent, with long dark hair that he wears in braids, and carries a large pistol.
Another glory seeker, or is he an outlaw?
A bit of both. Hes done things that would make most honest men shudder.
I understand. Now, Simon scratched a finger along his cheek, you want to send me back and maybe lend a bit of a hand?
The tall blonde man named Viggo laughed. I could be persuaded.
Simon pulled something from his inner pocket and flipped it through the air. Catch!
The other man caught it. Thatll do it. Ill send you back and see what I can do.
Simon opened his eyes and found himself surrounded by an angry mob. They had his hands tied behind him and were fitting the rope around his neck. He sighed. You are making a mistake! I had nothing to do with that man dying! His voice was quiet but it pierced the angry chatter of the men from town. Silence descended on the group and all eyes turned to him. He gave a tug and felt the ropes around his wrists snap. Reaching up he slipped the rope from his neck and tossed it to the ground.
Hes free! Howd he get loose?
The how does not matter, my friends. What matters now is what are you going to do next? His fingers began to tingle as power built inside. He could feel the hairs on his arms and back of his neck rising on end as a voice suddenly rang in his ears. Looking around he realized that none of the assembled had spoken.
Walk away Simon, no one will harm you.
He broke through the crowd with ease and made his way back to the hotel. Slipping inside he hurried through the empty lobby and up the stairs. He was just slipping his key into the lock when he heard a velvet soft voice from the shadows.
Decided to come back, did you? Thought you could just sneak in and not be noticed? You planning to slip out of town too?
He reached into the shadows and pulled the proprietors daughter into his arms. An inch from her lips he murmured, You are playing with fire my dear. He pulled her into his room and locked the door. Rising from the bed several hours later he dressed and stared down at the young woman sleeping there. Her dark hair now held a streak of white. Sighing he ran a gentle hand over her cheek. Forgive me sweet angel. Lifting his saddlebags he slung them over his shoulder and drifted out of the hotel into the night.
Virginia City, Storey County, Nevada 1885
It was late August now. The air had grown slightly chill in the mornings and this morning was the worst since hed arrived. Pulling his duster a little tighter and folding his hands under his arms, Simon stood outside the church. He knew what he had to do and yet. This is the hard part old man. You knew it wasnt going to be easy when they took you. Just go inside and get it overwith. He looked around to make sure no one had heard him, then with a leaden hand he lifted the latch and opened the door. Slipping inside, the heavy door fall shut behind him with a resounding thud that echoed through the church drawing the attention of the two little old ladies in the front most pews.
Crossing himself he made his silent way forward, slipping into an unoccupied pew he folded his hands and waited. Staring up at the crucifix he thought back over the last few months revisiting the deeds hed been tasked with doing. His vision began to blur and he knew he was being pulled away. A sigh escaped his lips as he closed his eyes for a moment to adjust. When he opened them he found himself in the same white limestone room he always came to. Searching the shadows, he spoke. Where are you Viggo? Ive been waiting for you to
Viggo will not be joining us this time. I am sure he sends his regards.
Nicodemus! Forgive me! Simon spun out of his chair to his knee and bowed his head. It is usually Viggo that calls me.
Come with me.
Simon practically leapt to his feet his heartbeat, which had accelerated when Nicodemus had entered, still had yet to slow. The beat echoed in his ears and he was certain it filled the cavernous room as well. He followed behind the grizzled man that ran the Organization. Swallowing his nerves he paused at the edge of the room he was always summoned to. Pardon my rudenesssir, but I am confused. He took a deep breath. I know I stopped the Indian before he could arrive in Virginia City
The ancient man creaked to a stop and turned to face him. You mustnt work yourself up Simon. I am glad to know that you can think outside the box. You adapt to different situations like a duck takes to water. You are easily, he began walking again, one of my best men in the field. Viggo will not be pulling you out in a sticky situation again. I can promise you that. Now quit worrying and come with me.
Confused, he reverted to his native tongue. Oui, monsieur. Qu'est arrivé à Viggo? Viggo wont what does he mean? Why dont I like the sound of that promise? His eyes flashed upward to rest on the other mans back. Moments later laughter erupted from the aged one.
I told you to relax Simon, I think you will be pleasantly surprised to find out why I brought you here. He opened a door and gestured the reaper inside. Step into my office now son, we have a lot to discuss.
Simon stopped before the desk and clasped his hands behind his back. When the door closed behind him, his palms began to sweat. Have I done something that displeases you, sir?
No! The grizzled man sank wearily into the chair behind the desk. For the love of God, Simon sit down!
His eyes rounded as the epithet escaped his benefactors lips, then darted around the room as if expecting lightning to strike. When nothing happened, he relaxed marginally and perched on the edge of the chair to his right pushing the other further left. I am confused, then sir. What has happened to Viggo?
That isnt important just now. What is important now is that we retrieve this device from a woman in Virginia City. He passed a picture across the desk. Simon, you must retrieve it before its too late!
Several days later, Simon watched the woman from across the street. His hat was tipped low over his eyes obscuring his face yet still giving him a clear view of her calico dress. He watched the soft white muslin swaying as she walked down the boardwalk. Pretty thing. Wouldnt these folks be amazed to find out just what kind of woman this lady is? He was bumped from behind and turned slowly to respond.
You been watchin that there lady fer a long spell, Mister. Taint polite!
Simon pushed the brim of his hat upward with a fingertip. Im not rightly interested in what you find polite, mister. You should mind your own business. He knew the swing was coming before the man fully raised his fist, and ducking to the side, gave a soft snort of laughter as the intruders fist connected with the pillar. Now friend, was that really prudent? Tipping his hat forward again, he stepped off the walk and into the street, his boot heels kicking up little puffs of dust as he crossed to the millinery shop hed seen the woman step into.
Mrs. Duprey, I asked for the turquoise peacock feathers not the blue-green! I want this fixed, madam or I will take my business elsewhere!
Leaning against the interior doorjamb Simon peered at the two women from under the brim of his black leather hat. The shopkeeper was faintly pretty. The woman hed followed in was the more attractive of the two. Her red hair surrounded a pixies face with luminous green eyes. He let a smile slip through his stoic calm. They look like turquoise to me maam. Mind if I take a closer look? He pushed away from the wall and took a half a dozen steps forward. Running a finger over the feathers he frowned. You know Youre quite correct. There is too much blue in these feathers.
Thank you, the woman stammered in surprise.
He smiled broadly. All in a days work maam. He tipped his hat and shrugged. Comes with the territory.
Territory? She coquettishly batted her eyes at him.
Why yes maam, I am a connoisseur of beautiful things, in particular women. You might say I have an eye for what makes them shine. May I escort you to your next destination? When she blushed and nodded demurely he sucked in a breath. Her beauty is indescribable and intoxicating! Its a shame that I have to do this. She is such a gorgeous woman. He proffered his arm. The tingle was back and he fought to control it. Not yet! Remember your promise! He ambled out with her verbally condemning the milliners shoddy workmanship.
Miss Isabelle, he said after theyd walked a ways. You surely know what you want. Might I treat you to lunch?
You are new in town, arent you?
Simon tipped his hat in ascent. I have been here before, but never stayed long. Why do you ask, maam?
Come on back to the house. Well have lunch there, and you can tell me all about yourself.
His head came up giving her a full view of his violet shaded eyes. I wouldnt want to be too much of a bother, maam.
She smiled. You are no such thing Mr. LaVigne. She swallowed. Are they really violet?
He chuckled at her confused state. But of course my dear, and now, he blinked, they are blue. He saw the astonishment in her eyes and knew it was time to make the first move. Raising her hand to his lips he brushed against the satin of her glove. Now mademoiselle shall we go? He folded her arm in the crook of his and blinked again. His eyes lifted to hers speaking of things that were better left behind closed doors. He saw her blush and relented. I am your willing slave, ma cher.
She led him into the parlor of her home a few minutes later. The ornate picture frames held the paintings of at least three different painters of the last two centuries. His eyes took in the carefully decorated room. This is a beautiful room.
This is not the room I wanted to show you. Come along, my handsome young stud. When she opened a panel in the back wall he knew hed hit pay dirt. Allowing himself to be led into the dark secret corridor Simon squeezed her hand. He smelled old wood, raw minerals, and water. Do not worry handsome, this tunnel isnt very long.
He felt the familiar tingle in his arm and fought it back. No! She must show me the hidden chamber before I take her. Nicodemus wants the device back. It belongs in our realm. His eyes closed for a moment before she led him into another room. Taking a deep breath he opened them and let his eyes roam over every item. There were iron manacles hanging from the far wall, a small brazier of coals smoldering in one corner. There was a chair that had been covered in some velveteen fabric. A large table stood slightly off-center of the oblong room. It too had manacles at all four corners and a long wedge shape cut from one end.
On a smaller table next to the nearest wall he saw several different devices. Spotting the one he needed to retrieve, he took a gamble. Tugging her into his arms he smiled rakishly. I have wanted to do this since I first laid eyes on you. His lips met hers in a passionate frenzy. He felt her give in to his libidinous demands for a moment then jerk back delivering a stinging blow to his cheek. His smile never faltered. As you command madam.
Cad! Her giggled words filled the room. Come over here. I wish to show you an intricate carving in this wall.
He allowed her to lead him to the wall with the manacles. When she pulled his left arm above his head and clasped one of the manacles about his wrist, he put up a mock protest. Hey! What are you doing? Youre going to set me lose in just a minute, right?
You just stand right here you gorgeous hunk, Ill let you lose soon enough.
While she was locking the left manacle he lifted his right arm to his mouth and snagged something from the cuff of his sleeve with his teeth. Quickly sliding the slim piece of metal between his gums and his cheek he scratched his nose. He let her fit the other manacle around his right wrist with no fuss. Turning his eyes to hers he gave her a smoldering look. You have found my one weakness.
She smiled at him and ran her hands over his chest. You must really like being detained. None of my other subjects has been this easy to capture.
He gave her an intimate smile. Ive been watching you all morning, my dear. Why would I fight you when this is exactly where I wanted to be?
Seven days later Simon still stood chained to the wall. His designer clothes hung in tatters about his slender frame. His skin bore the welts and lacerations of several exuberant whippings. He hung spiritless and disheartened, waiting for his captor to return. He knew the moment she was coming; he could hear the scrape of her booted feet on the rough hewn tunnel floor. His right eye was mostly swollen shut; a dozen dark splotches covered his face. The door across the room creaked open. It took all his effort to keep from healing.
How is my handsome young pet today? Her tongue clucked in disapproval. My! You have been a naughty boy havent you?
He felt her cool fingertip touch his cheek and forced a shudder. It is as you wish it to be madam. I do only as you will. He let a trace of contempt color his tone as he continued. Youve not let me truly show you what I can do, though. Its a shame that you would keep me like an animal when I could quite possibly be the best lover youve ever had.
He heard her derisive snort in his ear even as he felt her teeth nipping his earlobe. I think Ill let you prove that boast. Though I must warn you. He felt the left most manacle drop away and lowered his hand to her shoulder. If you fail to prove your boast adequately enough. I will introduce you to my other devices.
Simon let his right hand rest on her waist. His wrists ached but he refused to acknowledge the discomfort. Taking great pains to let his agony show he pulled her closer. Resting his lips over hers he whispered. My dear Isabelle you are now at my mercy. Lifting her from the ground he carried the astonished woman to the platform in the center of the room. His bruises and lacerations began disappearing and he fought off the healing process. Not yet! I need these a bit longer. Laying her on the cold stone he fitted a manacle over each limb and began to methodically strip her clothing off. Letting his hands roam over her nubile form he smiled. Now, my dear, let me show you just how skilled I am. His fingertips tingled and this time he let it come.
She squirmed beneath his touch. He saw the streak of white in her hair and pulled back. He shook his fingers until they stopped tingling. Walking around by her head he bent low and spoke in her ear. Tell me Isabelle, tell me where you got the device? Who gave it to you?
He smiled at her gasping response. Crossing to the table near the wall he lifted the device hed been sent to retrieve. It was long and slender on one end with a sharp point. The other end was blunt with a crystal embedded in it. Surely you didnt find it. Where did you get it?
He was a peddler came through town a few months back said it was a special tool of torture.
Simon ran a hand over her hair. What was his name precious, and dont lie to me or Ill make this hurt?
Make what hurt sugar?
Simon gave her a grim smile. This! He laid his hand palm flat against her chest. The tingle was back and he felt her flowing through him. Now hurry, my dear, tell me his name. He watched her hair turning white. Tell me, he growled.
Viggo! Thats the name he gave me.
Simon jerked his hand back. Viggo, he whispered. Quick! What did he look like?
Tall, she gasped. Nordic, I think. He was very intimidating. Like you he claimed to be a competent lover!
He pressed his hand back into her tender flesh and felt the tingle course up and down his arm. When her flesh started to pucker slightly he pulled his hand away. Going over to the table he selected a device. It was phallic in shape and roughly human sized. Stepping into the grooved part of the stone slab he held it up. What do I do with this?
It is a device I use on the women who come to me. I can simulate a mans pleasure rod with it.
He smiled. Interesting. Like this? He pushed the ice-cold device into her resistant body. When she gasped and tried to squirm away he pulled it free and thrust it forward again. After several moments he had her gasping and squirming for other reasons. She was whimpering and writhing as her pleasure built. I guess some women like it rough a shame. His left hand snaked out and lay on her chest. His fingertips brushed her collarbones and he felt the tingle. Continuing to work the device he slowly drained her away. He relented at the last moment and brought her to a soul-shattering climax before he took her completely. Leaving the device buried inside her he picked up the one hed been sent for.
Slipping up the dark tunnel he pushed into the parlor with ease. His tattered clothes were going to cause some issues. He sighed. The sunlight streaming through the windows burned his eyes. He blinked several times and sank into one of the chairs. Okay, think man! How can you get out of here without drawing notice? The answer was easy of course. He needed to hole up in the house somewhere until it got dark. Peeking through the sheer drapes he gauged where the sun was in the sky. Already past its zenith. Good!
He made his way to the door clutching the device. There were sounds coming from the kitchen. That could cause problems. To the left of the parlor door he saw the stairs leading to the upper floor. Slipping up them as quietly as possible he searched the rooms. Finding one that was mostly full of shipping crates he stepped inside and closed the door. Below him he could hear the hired help moving around. Her cheery song followed him into the darkness as oblivion finally wrapped its icy arms about him.
The sound of boots scraping along the hall outside finally roused Simon from his dark sleep. He bunched and released his muscles. He was stiff, and that wasnt good if he needed to run.
Isabelle? Bella?! Honey come on out! Where are ya hidin? The footsteps faded down the hall without stopping.
Rising slowly he peeked out the window he saw that the sun was setting. Suddenly from deep beneath the house Simon heard a cry of anguish. Outside the streets filled with the curious. Men came running, and he could hear chaos downstairs. Damnation! How am I gonna get out now? I shouldnt have slept so long. Tucking his tattered shirt into his pants as best as he could, he looked around the room. The shadows were already deep by this point though he could see well enough. The shipping crates were stacked two and three high all around the room. Seeing nothing of use he sighed. All right! Looks like I do this the hard way.
He slipped out of the room into the hall, moving like a shadow down the staircase. A third of the way down he stepped down on the stair that creaked. His eyes shot heavenward as he swore. I had to hit the one step! His breath seemed to trap itself in his chest as he saw a light growing in the parlor. He briefly considered flattening himself to the wall and staying put. When he heard voices coming from behind him, he discarded the idea and ran for the door. His boot heels scraped across the hardwood entry hall as he broke through the door he looking around wildly.
Several men stepped forward to detain him... Simon began fighting them. Beneath the frightened visage he was calculating his next move. No! Help! lash, he babbled more and more incoherently. After more than an hour he was lying in his hotel room still mumbling and raving. The doctor treating him was old, grizzled, and familiar.
Relax son, no ones gonna hurt you. The doctors cool green eyes raised to bore into his and lowered his voice. Im going to give you a mild sedative, do not shrug it off until everyone has left.
Simon gave an imperceptible nod and continued to rave wildly. When they pressed a pill between his lips and forced him to swallow it, he fought them. As the pill dissolved in his stomach he began to grow weak. After several minutes his movements became drunken. A few more minutes passed and he dropped off completely. His arms went slackhe fell back against the bed and his eyes rolled back in his head.
The doctor rose and closed his bag. Hell sleep for a spell. Ill check back on him in a few hours. If anyone needs me, he sighed and continued, I suppose youll find me. Till then Im going down to supper. Shaking his head he walked out muttering. No man should have to see that. Poor womanwonder if she was his wife?
Simon felt the effects of the sedative lessening. Damn! Much too quick! His skin tingled in the places where he had lacerations and bruises. Theyre healing... Im too weak to stop them anymore. His eyes popped open and he reared up off the bed as pain sped from his back to his head. He fell back breathing hard after several moments then went limp as consciousness was suddenly stolen from him for real.
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