Death and Disclosure - a London Mystery

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22

His scream broke Paul’s trance, and he pulled Naomi along with him to his car, got her inside and drove off. He wanted to get Naomi to Scotland Yard, but when she noticed the direction he was going, she reminded him of Marcus’ orders and threatened to leave the car at once. Against his better judgement Paul gave in, and Naomi was still struggling against the seatbelt when they were almost at Marcus’s flat.

Somehow he managed to get her upstairs and into the flat with her still shouting at him that they had to go back and help. When he suggested that he would go, she didn’t want to let go of him either. He wasn’t going to take her back anywhere near those men, so they had to settle for waiting for Marcus to return.

On the way, Paul had called Scotland Yard to tell them that the men wanted in connection with J. Lynd’s murder had been seen near Pietro’s on King Street. He prayed at the same time that his colleagues wouldn’t find Marcus still murdering those beasts when they got there or worse: find Marcus’s body leaving him to tell Naomi.

Then he went looking for some of Marcus’s brandy and tried to get some into Naomi to calm her down – to no avail.

Paul breathed a major sigh of relief when the door was opened half an hour later, and Marcus returned, looking slightly dusty and dishevelled but still in one piece.

“Thank god,“ Paul breathed when Marcus stepped into the library.

Naomi literally flew into Marcus’s arms, crying “Are you alright?” Marcus looked surprised for one moment, then closed his eyes and sighed quietly. After that, he suddenly pulled her even closer toward him and kissed her lips as if he’d never want to let go of them again. They seemed to have completely forgotten someone else was with them, and Paul felt as if he’d been punched in the gut.

He closed his eyes, wishing he was back in the alley and the thug had pulled the trigger. When he opened his eyes again to leave and never return, he saw Marcus pushing Naomi’s hair away from her neck with a touch so gentle it made her shudder with pleasure. He looked at Marcus again, saw a flash of white teeth, and in a fraction of a second understood what Marcus had been trying to tell him all the time. Everything that had been puzzling him about the man fell into place.

“No!” he roared and threw himself at Marcus in a vain attempt of pushing him away. He might as well have tried to move a stone wall. Marcus turned and snarled at him viciously, and then flicked him off like one would a gnat – a movement that had him flying across the room and crashing into a cabinet. Pieces of glass and china were raining down on him.

At that moment he heard Naomi’s terrified voice: “Marcus what are you doing to Paul?”

Paul screamed: “Marcus, don’t, you’ll kill her!”

At the sound of his name Marcus started, he seemed to wake up as if from a dream. He pushed Naomi away from him roughly and ran to one of the floor-length windows, which he almost took apart opening. Then he collapsed on the floor next to it, his head on his knees.

Paul quickly picked himself up out of the debris of the cabinet and rushed back to stop Naomi from going to Marcus by grabbing both of her arms. “No, stay away from him!”

Naomi was confused. Whatever happened a minute ago? She had just wanted to hug Marcus, relieved that he had survived, and would never have expected that kind of reaction after last night. Neither would she have expected her body’s reaction to him being that close, especially with Paul present. Now she had unwittingly set off some kind of violent jealousy contest between the two men. She was deeply embarrassed and wanted nothing so much than to disappear through a hole in the floor. She was looking from one to the other in bewilderment. “Are you ok?” she asked Paul, having decided that he was her priority.

“I think so”, he felt sore, but nothing seemed to be broken. He tried to get Naomi behind him, warily eying his former friend sitting on the floor. He wasn’t sure after the speed he’d seen in the alley if running for it made sense.

Marcus briefly looked up at Paul. “You want to try and fight me about her after what you’ve seen tonight?”

Paul nodded defiantly, pushing Naomi farther behind him.

Marcus gave a hollow laugh. “What chance do you think you’d have in that?”

Naomi stepped in. “Stop it, at once! And let me go, or you’ll regret it!” The last was directed at Paul who hadn’t let go of her shoulders.

“Are you with them?” Paul had to ask. After all Clive Lynd had said he had heard him at his father’s flat the night of the murder, and by now Paul knew what he had meant with the sound being no voice.

Marcus looked up bewildered. “No, I told you, I just want her safe. Take her, I won’t follow!” he said, his head back on his knees. It had started raining, and he was getting drenched, the water rolling off his skin, but he didn’t seem to notice.

Paul tried to turn Naomi to leave the room, still struggling to understand what he had seen.

“No!” Naomi put her foot down. “I want to know what’s going on. Marcus, get in here, you’ll catch your death in that rain. Paul, get him a towel!”

Another laugh came from Marcus while Paul simply grabbed Naomi’s arms harder and shook his head. He was still thinking of a way out. “You would let us both leave?” he asked quietly.

Marcus banged his head back against the window frame, which splintered. “You heard me. There is one thing you ought to know though: One of the killers – the one who grabbed Naomi tonight – is…like me.”

Paul’s eyes widened. “What? How many of you are around?” This couldn’t be real.

“A few, you’d be surprised”, Marcus said wryly, “especially at the rate of our kind in all sorts of dirty jobs.”

“What about this guy?” Paul asked, thinking he must be having this conversation in his dream.

“He got away,“ Marcus stated flatly. “He ran when he figured he was losing. I don’t know how loyal he is to his job; maybe he’ll just go to ground and disappear, especially after his partner got caught. Don’t worry, he’ll be able to testify… in a couple of days. However, it would certainly be advisable to stay with large groups of people, or better still, just leave the country with her, go to a really sunny place.”

“STOP!” Naomi hollered. “I want to know what’s going on right this minute!”

Paul looked at Marcus who nodded, then Paul said: “He’s a vampire. And so is one of our thugs.”

Naomi looked from one to the other incredulously: “You must be out of your minds. Is this some kind of elaborate joke?”

“Sadly, no,“ Marcus said, water still dripping from him.

“Oh, for God’s sake, come inside!” She was stepping toward him, having slipped Paul’s grasp effectively.

“Only if you keep your distance”, Marcus settled on the opposite end of the room. They hadn’t even seen him get up and go inside. Now Paul was sure there was no running from him and tensed.

Naomi shook her head and took a deep breath. “I’m not going to attack you. Neither am I running into your arms again, ok? I think I’m cured!” She said exasperatedly, rolling her eyes.

Marcus was looking at her, his dark eyes pleading for forgiveness. “Naomi, I just tried to kill you. Do you have to make this even more difficult?”

She was definitely at the end of her tether now: “There. Is. No. Such. Thing. As. Vampires. I’m a scholar, not some romantic novel reader!”

“Do you want some empirical proof?” Marcus asked in a pained voice.

Paul tensed even more, but before he could figure out a way to get out, Marcus had continued talking.

“How do you think I’ve managed to be still walking around after my burial in 1924? Have you ever seen me out in the sunlight? How do you explain some of the things I’ve done this past week? Or in the alley two hours ago? Did you feel warmth or a heart beating when you were in my arms?” He closed his eyes at the memory. “Do I have to kill someone right in front of your eyes to make you believe me?”

“But…” Naomi didn’t know what to say.

He drew a breath and then went on in a strained tone: “Paul, if you don’t get something on that cut in your arm soon, we’re in real trouble here, and Naomi gets all the proof she needs.”

Paul looked at a nasty gash in his left arm from where he had broken through the cabinet’s glass front. A drop of blood hit the floor at that moment, and when he looked at Marcus next, he saw his eyes burning red with thirst just before he turned and was at the window again. Paul gulped and dashed to the kitchen for a tea towel. When he returned in record time, he could just see Naomi falling to the floor.

“Catch her!” Marcus called from his place across the room. “I think she’s going into shock.”

Paul tried, but was too late. She hit the floor with a thump and lay there, all colour drained from her face.

“What do we do now?” Marcus panicked from across the room. “Call an ambulance?”

“She’ll kill us both if we do that,“ Paul said. His experience with shock was obviously larger than Marcus’. “She’ll come round soon. Have you got some sugar anywhere?”

“No, I brought all the food to your place this morning. I thought I was leaving for good.” He dashed from the room calling back. “Don’t open the door to anyone, especially not Philippe, I’ll be back in a second.”

Paul put Naomi on the sofa and waited for her consciousness to return. He briefly considered leaving the flat with her and take her to Scotland Yard where he supposed them to be safe. Yet with his newly acquired knowledge, he decided to stay with the vampire he knew rather than risk running into some fellow traveller on the way.


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