Perhaps the shock of the whole situation, or perhaps her duty as a physician, or perhaps even her abiding love, so sad and bittersweet now, propelled Suzan forward, compelled her to make a plan, a step by step, item by item agenda of what she had to do. But before she went any further, she found Ellen’s journal in the desk and read it completely, read about her lover’s fascinating life in Egypt, her incredible death and resurrection, about Penelope and Ellen’s other loves throughout the centuries; read, too, the notes that Charles had written about his life. As Ellen predicted, her words gave Suzan new insight, helped her to understand, and even gave her hope.
It seemed especially fitting that Ellen would now join her past companions in the third-floor sanctuary. The extra cask she had kept in the art vault would become her final resting place. Suzan knew the combination of the vault, retrieved the polished rosewood cask, and prepared it with loving hands to house her lover’s remains. The furnace had been stoked, ready and waiting. Tomorrow she would visit the jewelers and have a name plate engraved, simple yet befitting: Ayelet Ellen Lambert.
In the ensuing days, Suzan consulted Ellen’s accountant and attorney, and found, to her satisfaction, she had indeed inherited—legally and above board—a very lucrative estate. In the bank, she had over $200,000 in an interest-bearing savings account/IRA and another $50,000 in ready cash. According to the last appraisal Ellen had commissioned of her artwork, the combined pieces were worth over 60 million dollars. The townhouse itself would easily fetch 10 million in today’s hot real estate market, but Suzan had no desire to sell the property or any of the artwork in the near future.
In fact, when she heard that the collector who had bought Ellen’s Cezanne wished to put the painting up for auction, Ellen quickly snapped it up. It was the least she could to honor her dead lover’s memory. After all, Ellen had sacrificed her prized painting in order to fund Suzan’s laboratory. Unfortunately, the doctor had no further use for the lab. The experiment in life and death had failed, and failed miserably. She would sell the inventory and use the proceeds to buy more art in Ellen’s name.
In the first days of her solitude and bereavement, Suzan contacted her supervisor and resigned her post, effective immediately. She then called Vanda to let her assistant know of her decision. Of course, Vanda, with her inquiring mind, wanted to know more and proposed to stop by and visit. But the doctor put her off, at least for the time being. Suzan wanted no unwanted visitors—and that included Detective Mears who continued to nose around. When he returned one afternoon, Suzan kept him stationed on the front step as she spoke with him through the intercom system. She informed him that Ellen Lambert had gone to Europe to seek treatment for a recurring ailment.
“Could you be more specific, doctor?” Mears asked.
“No, I’m sorry, detective. I respect doctor-patient confidentiality.”
“Oh, so Mrs. Lambert is a patient of yours? I thought you concentrated on research. At least that’s what your public vitae states.”
“I do both, detective, when called upon. Now is there anything else?”
Suzan heard him suck in a breath as he digested her news. Then he added, “Yeah, one more question, do you know when Mrs. Lambert will return?”
“No, sorry, I don’t. She might stay a month or two, or perhaps her stay will be indefinite.”
“Well thank you, Dr. Dwyer. Just to let you know, I will stay in touch.”
The next day Suzan had a camera and video communication system installed so she could see—and screen—her visitors. In essence, she had created her own fortress, a small but powerful empire in which she ruled with an ironclad hand. She was the mistress of her destiny and of her soul, with a glorious beginning but with no anticipated ending. Now she had everything she could ever hope for and desire. She had risen above the defeat of the others and became one with the gods, Ellen’s gods. Of course, in moments of quite desperation, she thought about going back, but knew she could never return to what had been even if she tried to reverse the process: Suzan had sealed her fate when she accepted Ellen Lambert’s love.
Now nothing could stop or hurt her unless she allowed it to happen; Dr. Suzan Dwyer was invincible.
Until the hunger began...