A Brief Excerpt from ‘About-Face’, the Next Book in the Disfigured Series
I hope you will enjoy this little teaser from the second book in my series featuring the Phantom of the Opera (former Phantom, now) and Sylvie Bessette. Wendy
In an elegant, paneled library a fire burned low in the grate, and an ornate marble and gilt ormolu clock on the mantel ticked softly toward midnight. On a small table a glass of claret glowed red by lamp light. Books lined the walls, but the single occupant of the room had not read any of them, for he was renting this elegant apartment and not staying long. At the moment, he dozed in a plump chair near the table, with the claret in easy reach.
There was a small noise heard in the room, a breath of night air soft as a sigh. And suddenly a man was standing there, just inside the open window. He was tall, broad, dressed in dark clothes and with a hat pulled low over his face. He was as silent as the grave, as stealthy as a ghost. His eyes darted around the small room, taking in every detail at a glance. He was alone with his intended victim, as expected.
Could one see the face hidden beneath the hat, its expression would be grim indeed, but set, determined. Merciless. One hand went carefully to a coil of thin rope at his side, and removed it, holding it in both hands, testing the loop and the knot at one end. It had been a long time since he had used rope this way, and he knew he was out of practice.
The reclining figure in the chair never moved; apparently quite heedless of the danger standing only a few feet behind him. Stealthily, silently, the dark man drifted toward the chair, and the rope lifted as he held it out before him. It would be quick, and no struggle, since his target was sleeping soundly. He must do what he came for and get out, before a servant should come.
And then he froze. Time seemed to stand still. There was a framed mirror above the mantel, and in the mirror he saw himself, his arms outstretched, the rope grasped in them. He saw the occupant of the chair as well. His sleep was indeed profound, and of the most permanent sort, because he was already quite dead. A large knife protruded from his chest, and the entire front of his body was wet with dark blood.
Erik was so startled by this unexpected sight that he stood there for several seconds, until he slowly lowered his arms and, with hands that shook slightly, recoiled the thin rope and reattached it at his side. He drew a long breath and let it out slowly, and his eyes darted again around the quiet room. He was alone there for a certainty. He did not care how long his would-be victim had been dead, or who killed him. Dieu merci! He was only thankful it was not him.