Wednesday, May 10, 2017

#FreeDailyThriller - Lust, Money & Murder - Book 10, "Black Widow" - Part 38

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Elaine and Alexander soon went into the den and began his lessons. All went relatively smoothly considering that Elaine could barely concentrate, growing more nervous with each passing hour. At a couple of points in the morning she heard the sound of vehicles outside, but they only turned out to be the postman dropping off mail at the front gate and someone delivering a big load of groceries.
She thought that Alex noticed her unease, but the boy did not say anything.
Spyro did not join them for lunch, nor had he yesterday, but Elaine noticed that he stayed in the library most of the time, working at his desk.
Elaine and Alexander finally finished his lessons at three o’clock, and it was not a moment too soon. As soon as his music teacher arrived, Elaine went back up to her room and immediately checked the messages on her phone, half-hoping she might find another one from Nick or Luna that would clarify the Art and his family send their regards postscript.
But there was nothing.
She nervously paced around her bedroom while the dark piano notes of a song called Asian Tiger Prowl came drifting up the stairs. She only knew the name of the song because Alex had told her about it—he had to play the piece well for his upcoming music exam. There couldn’t have been a worse melody for her to be hearing right now, either, with its brooding base tones and slow, tense rhythm. The song actually reminded her of the leopards she’d seen in Sudan, and the fact that Alex played it clumsily, and kept making mistakes, making it grate on her nerves.
By the time the lesson ended Elaine was so tense that she could have jumped out of her skin at the slightest provocation.
She hovered near the open bedroom door, listening to Alex saying goodbye to the teacher, who lived nearby and had arrived by bicycle. Just as she heard the clatter of the bike riding towards the gate, she also heard the rumble of an engine.
It sounded like the limo.
There was a window at the end of the upstairs hallway that afforded a view of the front of the house. Elaine quietly stepped out of her room, looked up and down the hall to make sure Fenia wasn’t cleaning one of the bedrooms, and then quietly stepped down to the window, the sound of the automobile engine getting louder.
When she peeked around the window frame, she saw that it was indeed the limo.
The long, sleek vehicle came to a stop adjacent to the front door.
She expected the driver to get out and open the door, but the limo just sat there, dormant.
The rear door finally opened. She glimpsed Costa’s repellent face as he climbed out, dragging his small suitcase with him.
“Oh no,” Elaine gasped. At that instant, Costa glanced up at the window, but Elaine moved aside just in time to avoid his seeing her. She hoped.
Making no sound, she rushed back into her bedroom but left the door open.
This is it, she thought, as the cold hand of fear had clasped its fingers around her heart.
She stood there, frozen, listening. The front door opened. She heard a faint squeak from the wheels of the suitcase as he wheeled it down the hall—it sounded like he was headed towards the library. Spyro was still in there, as far as she knew.
Elaine moved into the bathroom and stood there staring at her toilet kit sitting there on the shelf, debating whether to assemble the pistol.
“Patricia?” a deep voice called from downstairs.
It was Spyro.
Elaine was too paralyzed with terror to answer.
“Patricia?” he called again, a little louder—now it sounded like he was at the bottom of the steps.
Elaine finally forced herself out of her paralysis and moved out into the hallway, her knees feeling a little wobbly.
“Yes?” she called.
“Can you come downstairs for a second, please?”
She swallowed, then went down the hall and came round the corner at the top of the stairs.
She found herself looking down the steps at her tall Greek employer. His expression was unreadable.
“Costa needs to ask you a couple of questions for his security check. He’s down in the den, waiting for you.”
Somehow, Elaine’s trepidation morphed into a flash of anger. “I thought you told me I had the job.”
“Yes, of course you have the job. This is just a formality, a couple of questions, that’s all.” Spyro motioned up the stairs to her. “Costa takes his responsibilities very seriously, he has to cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s to complete his security check. That’s what I pay him for.”
For a split second Elaine considered making some excuse to go back to her room and get her pistol...but where could she hide it? She was wearing a pair of fairly tight-fitting corduroys and a long-sleeved T-shirt—she could slip it behind her back, in her waistband, but Spyro would probably let her walk ahead of him and he might see the bulge...
She began to descend the stairs.
The P.S. in Nick’s message now whirling round and round in her mind like some crazy mantra—Art and his family send their regards Art and his family send their regards Art and his family send their regards. She only had a few precious remaining seconds left to figure out what the hell it meant.
She was glad she had decided against going back for the gun, because when she reached the bottom of the stairs, Spyro did let her walk ahead of him and guided her along, his fingers lightly touching the small of her back.
Was he checking for a weapon?
When they reached the den, Costa was sitting at the teacher’s desk, in the big chair, his back to the door.
“Have a seat,” Spyro said, and he stepped over and pulled out the smaller chair for her, which was now positioned opposite Costa’s, on the other side of the desk.
“Thank you,” she said, and sat down. She could not help noticing that Costa was now between her and the door—there was only one way out of the room, no escape.
Spyro went out into the hall, leaving them alone together.
Costa’s pockmarked face was expressionless. He glanced at her, then pulled out his notebook and flipped through to a page that was earmarked.
Elaine’s anxious mind was already formulating an escape plan—the fireplace tools were only a few feet away. She could probably grab the poker fast enough to—
“I want ask you about children you taught in France,” he said.
“Of course,” Elaine said. Her throat was so dry she had trouble speaking. Art and his family send their regards Art and his family send their regards.
“What are the names of the two children?” Costa asked.
Elaine hesitated. She had expected a harder question—this one was easy. Too easy?
Just as she was about to open her mouth, a terrifying thought occurred to her. They weren’t the right age! They weren’t even close to the right age! According to the legend they had constructed, both kids should be teenagers by now. Had Costa seen them?
The big man frowned. “You do not remember?”
Elaine gave a relaxed smile, covering the turmoil she felt inside. “Of course I remember their names, I was just reminiscing, they were both such wonderful children. Their names are Ryan and Amelia.”
Costa looked a little surprised that she knew the answer, as if he thought he had already caught her in a lie. He made a mark in his book.
“And when is Ryan’s birthday?”
“His birthday?” Elaine said.
“Yes, his birthday. Surely you remember after working four years as his governess...”
“Of course I remember. It’s the twelfth of November.”
Costa again looked surprised.
“I don’t know the year,” Elaine added, for effect. “But let’s see, I think the year would probably be—”
“Year not important,” Costa said dismissively. He made another mark in his notebook, but looked annoyed, as if he was sure he had caught some sort of imposter but now was being proved wrong.
“And birthday of Amelia?”
“The twenty-eighth of March,” Elaine said smoothly.
Costa did not respond. Of course it was the correct answer.
Now, Spyro appeared at the door. He just stood there, his hands casually in his pockets, watching.
“One more question,” Costa said, looking back at his notebook.
Elaine nodded patiently, trying not to look at the fireplace poker and covering the hurricane of terror that swirled around inside of her. Even if she could incapacitate both Costa and Spyro with the poker, she had to make it past the guard at the front gate. If she could get off the property, how would she escape from the island?
Now she sorely regretted not having listened to Luna’s suggestion to send Dmitry here.
Art and his family send their regards Art and his family send their regards Art and his family send their regards Art and his family send their regards. What the HELL did it mean?
“Yes?” Elaine said.
“In home-schooling, what was Ryan’s favorite subject?”
Elaine felt like the very floor of the villa had dropped out from underneath her.
Ryan’s favorite subject? She thought. He’s only in kindergarten!
Her mind went into overdrive, trying to imagine what Nick would have said about their son, but she came up blank.
“Let’s see...” Elaine said, stalling, looking past Costa, at the wall, as if trying to remember. “Ryan...”
What on earth would Nick have said as an answer to that question? Math, reading, social studies, geography, music, art—?
Art and his family send their regards.
ART and his family...
“Well, for Ryan, I would have to say art. Ryan always loved art.”
Spyro and Costa exchanged a glance.
Elaine’s pulse was pounding so furiously her vision seemed blurry.
Had she given the right answer, or—
“May I have your passport?” Costa said, holding out one of his beefy hands.
Elaine had never struggled so hard to stay calm. She looked from one face to the other. “Why do you need my passport?”
Spyro smiled warmly, “Because Costa has to get you a work permit, of course!”
He stepped over and warmly placed his real hand—not his prosthetic one—on her shoulder. “I’m pleased to officially welcome you to our family, Patricia!”

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