Daniel’s smile sealed the deal.
No one, neither man nor woman, could hold up under his chocolate-brown smoulder. He tilted his lips to one side — a well-practised crooked smirk. He’d rehearsed for many hours in front of the mirror, to get it right. Enough arrogance to add a level of sexy danger to his persona, but not enough to be a turn-off.
“Daniel Mine.” He extended his hand. “But tonight, I’m yours.” That got a laugh out of her. It always did. A genuine chuckle or not, it didn’t matter. Sometimes in response to the awfulness of the joke. Other times, as a result of his audacity. All the same — as long as they laughed, he had them.
She took his hand. “Erin.” Her eyes twinkled. “Erin Descoudres.”
“It’s lovely to meet you Miss Descoudres.”
Erin didn’t correct him, which either meant he’d nailed it, or she didn’t care about her marriage. Either way, the conclusion would be the same.
She blushed and looked down. “Please,” she flashed her baby blues up for a second, “call me Erin.”
Daniel’s heart tripped over its own feet. They always excited him — otherwise why bother? — but this one had something about her. He had to play this smart. He’d kick himself if he allowed her to escape.
He bought them both a drink — a stealthy double for her. His eyes followed the glass as it rose to her blood-red lips. “Say, Erin,” his tongue darted to the corner of his mouth, “it’s kinda loud in here, isn’t it?”
She grinned and looked off to the side. Her cheeks flushed red. She knew, all right. She knew and she liked it. “Yeah…”
“What do you say to going to someplace quieter?”
Erin locked her gaze with his. A cold ripple washed through Daniel’s core. As if her eyes looked right through him — into his soul. Into his thoughts, his intentions. Could she read him?
“Like your apartment?” she asked. Her eyebrows rose, but not in a manner that indicated disapproval.
That hadn’t been his intention. At least, not straight away. You couldn’t rush this — Daniel took his time with his prey. Romanced them. Charmed them.
But Miss Descoudres had expedited the process.
Daniel grinned. This time, a genuine smile.
“Yeah, something like that, Erin.”
Daniel’s apartment lay on the richer side of town.
Erin insisted on walking, even though a taxi would have gotten them there sooner. The pair strolled away from the neon glare and the bass thump of the drinking districts. Clubs, pubs and bars left behind. They spoke about nothing and everything. Veiled metaphors and flirtations dotted the conversation.
Along the way, the alcohol began to kick in for Erin. As did the quarter of a Rohypnol tablet he’d slipped her. Not enough to knock her out and arouse suspicion, but enough to lower her inhibitions.
Her words started to slur, and once or twice she stumbled on the pavement. She kicked off her heels and walked barefoot. Daniel had to all but carry her up the steps to his place. 11 p.m. on a Saturday. Nobody stood around to watch. Erin giggled all the while.
Daniel shut the door with his foot and took her over to the sofa. Erin had her eyes closed. A drunken smile curled her lips. She either didn’t notice the plastic sheets — over the floor and furniture — or the drink robbed her of her cares.
With a boyish grin, Daniel locked the door. His heart hammered like a kid’s on Christmas morning. He peered out at the night city before he lowered the blinds. He popped a CD on. The singer’s dulcet tones filled the apartment. “Fancy another drink, Erin?” he asked. Overkill.
“Mmf.” Her arm flopped over the back of the sofa.
Daniel’s smile widened.
He hastened to the closet. He wriggled out of his jacket and discarded it onto the floor. From a shelf, he slid out a packet for a disposable rain poncho and tore it open with his teeth. The smell of the plastic sent a shiver of anticipation through him. Daniel put it on. Extra-large — it went down to his loafers.
Before he shut the door, he grabbed one last thing from the cupboard.
He’d polished it that morning. The brilliant metal reflected the room. Daniel grinned at his mirror image, head covered in the pink hood. “Showtime.”
From the lounge, the CD wound down its first song and moved on to the next track. Clad in his poncho, weapon in hand, Daniel stalked towards the sofa.
Erin’s hand still dangled over the back.
He twisted the handle around in his fingers — the wood smooth to the touch. The reflection of the room spun around in the axehead’s gleam. His face. Mad grin. Pink poncho. Lounge. Shut blinds. Sofa.
“Do you like Phil Col—”
Daniel didn’t get to finish the rest of his sentence. He froze. His throat clamped itself shut. A winded wheeze escaped his lips.
He rotated the axe again, eyes fixed to the reflection in the metal. His face. Stony skin. Thin lips pressed tight. Pink poncho. Lounge. Shut blinds.
He looked up, deep furrows on his brow.
Back down to room’s twin, housed within the side of the axehead.
Erin’s limp arm hung over the side of the sofa.
But, as far as it concerned the polished metal, the appendage didn’t exist.
It had no reflection.
A small squeal whistled out of him, the deflation of a balloon.
Run. Run. Run.
A flurry of movement.
In one stuttered heartbeat, she stood, halfway between him and the sofa.
Daniel stumbled back, the axe held against his chest — all sense of attack and advantage stolen. A low whine emanated from his throat.
Miss Descoudres stared at him. Her eyes widened, the drunkenness since vanished. The whites of her sclera shone, oh so white.
She grinned and showed him her pointed teeth.
Which had started to grow.
Once dead and consumed — though not in that order — Erin nodded and looked around.
“Mm, plastic sheets,” she said through a mouthful of flesh. Her tongue worked at a piece of gristle lodged between two of her back teeth.
“That’s a good idea.”