Such a perfect blue, those eyes. Gareth gazed into them, certain that she was the one. The corners of her faultless mouth dimpled. He stroked her waist, squeezed her fingers with his other hand as they swayed to the seductive rhythm of ‘Moonlight Serenade’. As the music ended, he brushed her ear with his lips.
“Will you be my Valentine?” he whispered.
“If you’ll be mine,” she smiled, those amazing eyes twinkling.
“Come up to my room?”
She bit her lip, and glanced nervously at the other dancers, as if they might have heard. She nodded.
“But come to mine. I shall relax more. And only for a quiet drink.”
She gave a stern look. He had better not frighten her with over-enthusiasm.
“I cannot promise not to kiss you, you have beguiled me so. We will stay here, if you feel safer.”
Marian dimpled one side of her tempting mouth in a wry grin and raised a mischievous eyebrow.
“Perhaps just one kiss.”
Bingo. He had been right to target this shy little wallflower rather than one of the more confident women here. An innocent conquest was far more exciting.
Marian took his hand and gazed up at him. He led her between the gyrating couples and out to the wide staircase. Her ball gown rustled tantalisingly. He pictured what her legs might look like above those delicate ankles, and thoughts of what lay higher set his pulse racing. He would love to be the first explorer of those hidden hills and valleys.
She paused at her door.
“I’m not one of those easy girls, you know,” she said, quietly.
“That’s why I fell for you, darling. Your purity of spirit.” Blah blah blah.
Her room was luxurious; radiogram, sofa, even a bar. Bedroom to the right, he noted.
“Can you find some decent music?” she asked, trembling. “I can’t work the radio at all.”
The machine hummed softly as it warmed up. He found a station playing swing music, all the while gazing at her slight figure, hands clasped in front of her like a shield. Time to clinch the deal.
“Marian,” he said. She lifted her eyes like a timid doe. “I don’t want you to feel compelled to do anything that you don’t want.” Oh yeah, lay it on, boy. “But I have fallen deeply for you. Fate arranged our meeting on this special night. The night of true love, of Saint Valentine.”
She gave a little smile, and relaxed her bare shoulders.
“Turn the music up, please?” she said, “It relaxes me.”
Excellent. He would have her this night, whether she wanted it or not, and he did not want anyone to hear her screams. He twisted the dial and Benny Goodman filled the room.
“Would you...?” she faltered.
“Anything, my Valentine.”
“Would you make us a drink? While I...” she gestured behind her, to the bedroom. He nodded, and began to mix drinks at the bar. Behind him Marian stepped into the bedroom, babbling nervously.
“Do you know much about Saint Valentine?” she asked.
“No, I’m afraid not. Do you?”
“Some,” she said, lifting the baseball bat from the bed.
She eased off her shoes and stepped back through the door.
“Saint Valentine was actually two men, joined into one legend.”
“Really? How fascinating.” Jesus, he couldn’t wait to shut up her babble.
She crossed the room, the deep carpet tickling her toes. “They both met the same end. Now you are my Valentine.”
She swung the bat violently into his right leg, shattering the bones of his knee. He crumpled with a scream, writhing on the floor. Benny Goodman picked up the tempo.
“They were beaten with clubs,” she explained, arcing the bat to shatter his other knee. She thrust the end of the bat hard into his genitals.
“Of course, that’s not what killed them,” she continued calmly, swinging the bat above her head and down hard across his stomach. He vomited, and sobbed.
“The clubs merely immobilised them, like this,” she explained, and with a cheerful smile splintered bones in both his arms.
“No,” she said, taking a knife from the bar. “What killed them was being beheaded alive.”