Of Blood and Bone (Page 20)

Of Blood and Bone (The Minaldi Legacy #1)(20)
Author: Courtney Cole

“My mother seems to be at her worst in the evening hours.  If you could schedule your daily visit with her during that time, I would sincerely appreciate it,” he tells me.

I nod.  “Fine.  I’ll begin tomorrow after dinner.”

“Perfect.”  Luca is curt now as he adjusts one of his cufflinks.  “I’ll be happy to drive you home.  I’m sure you are tired.  I do thank you for coming out here so late.”

“You’re quite welcome.”  I raise an eyebrow.  “You’re going to drive me yourself? Don’t you have staff for that?”

The corner of his mouth twitches again.

“Yes.  But Adrian is finished with his duties for the night.  I’m not a slave-driver.  My staff members receive time off.  I’ll take you myself.”

“Thank you,” I answer simply.  He gestures toward the door and I walk ahead of him.  I pause at the door and he opens it, then leads the way through the rest of the house.  The house is quiet and darkened and I don’t see any signs of other staff members.  However, I decide that it isn’t that odd.  It is late, after all.  They have probably turned in for the night.

We step into the fragrant Maltese night and Luca opens the car door.  I slide inside, enveloped by the luxurious leather seat.  The engine roars to life and we are once more on the road.

“Are you enjoying Malta so far?” Luca asks politely, making small talk after a few minutes of silence.

“So far,” I answer.  “I haven’t been here long, but it is truly a beautiful place.”

“That it is,” he agrees.  “But like anywhere, it has its downfalls.”

“Such as?” I ask doubtfully.  “I find it difficult to believe that Malta has any.  It is so lovely.”

Luca steers the car fluidly around a sharp curve.  “Well, Dr. Talbot, as I’m sure you are aware, beauty can often be deceiving.”

I stare at him.  “Are you saying that Malta is deceiving?”

He glances at me.

“No.  I’m saying that like anywhere else, Malta isn’t perfect.  It has secrets and issues of its own.”

“Issues of its own,” I repeat.  “Just like anyone.  Even you, Mr. Minaldi.”

He smiles now, his teeth white in the night.  I am struck once again by his masculine beauty.  I decide that his car suits him.  He is like a jaguar himself.  Lean, sleek and muscular.

“So I’m Mr. Minaldi now?”

I nod.

“Until we’re friends.”

He smiles again and I smile back.  I can’t help it.

Unlocking Luca’s personality will be a challenge, but it will be an enjoyable one.  And I suddenly realize that I like making him smile.  It’s like the clouds suddenly lift from his face and the sun shines once again.  It is a silly thought, but it is the most fitting I can think of.  Luca is such a commanding presence that his mood has a tangible and noticeable effect on the atmosphere around us.  It is like nothing I’ve ever seen.

He pulls into my driveway and I find that I wish the drive had been longer.

“Here you are, Dr. Talbot,” he tells me.  He opens his door, walks around the car and then opens mine.  “Thank you again for coming this evening.”

“You’re welcome,” I tell him.  “I am glad I could help.”

He starts to get into his car, then stops.

“Dr. Talbot.”

I look back over my shoulder at him. He is staring at me with a strange light in his eyes, something I haven’t yet seen in him.

“Yes?”

“Make sure you lock your doors.  There are a few less than beautiful things in Malta.”

He ducks into his car and is gone.  His dark car slides past me back out into the road and I am alone in the night.  I walk inside and click the door closed, locking it behind me.

When I wake the next morning, I find that another girl is missing from Valetta.

Chapter Eleven

The Beast

The darkness caves in around me and there is a loud roar in my ears.  I try to fight it, to shake it off, at least until I return home.  Even as I do, I know that I will fail.  I resist it for as long as I can but I cannot make it home.  It is of no use and before I know it, my vision blurs and I have no control.

I am not myself.

I scan the horizon, searching for a light, searching for signs of life.

I search until I find it.

And then I do.

I move forward, light on my feet.  I am quiet and stealthy and I am only thinking of one thing.

One thing.

She is walking along the road in the dark, her white shorts far too short.  Her tanned legs are long, her blonde hair is short.  She has a butterfly tattoo on her shoulder.

None of those things matter.

It wouldn’t matter at all if they were different than they are.

I am not myself.

She hears me and turns.   At first she isn’t afraid, but then she recognizes me for what I am.  She can see it on my face and then I see terror on hers.

She screams, but there is no one to hear.

She tries to run, but I am faster.

She tries to fight, but I am stronger.

Her hands are like a child’s as they beat against me, but it is of no matter.  It is as though she is not fighting at all.

I bend my head and her blood runs down my chin, into my neck and onto shirt.

It doesn’t matter.

Nothing matters.

Fiercely fragile, her heart is beating wildly against mine.

And then it isn’t.

Chapter Twelve

Eva

Sunlight shines into the windows of my cottage as I eat a cup of yogurt, granola and Maltese honey.

I have the television turned on for the first time since I have been here and I am glued to the local news as I sit curled up in a living room chair.  

The girl that disappeared last night, Annica Rossi, will make the third woman in a month’s time.  Two are known to be dead, but this one, this Annica Rossi, is just gone.  She is only twenty-three and had been walking home from her job at a local bar last night.  She is only six years younger than I am.

I stare at the collage of pictures of her on the television; of her young eyes, her slightly rough appearance, the tattoo on her shoulder and I have a feeling that wherever she is, she isn’t alive.  She shouldn’t have been out so late by herself, she should have known better.  But she shouldn’t have had to pay for such a small transgression with her life.  She was young.  Youth are known to make mistakes born of ignorance.