Beau stirred in his sleep and reached his left arm out to encircle his lover only to find her side of the bed vacant. That meant Lucy was out hunting for blood in the streets of Cairo. He sighed. He rolled from his side to his back.
As he did he caught the glint of steel from a blade being driven towards his chest. Even with his quick reflexes, he barely caught the hands holding the hilt in time. The tip of the blade penetrated through his skin and about an inch into the muscle of his chest before he stopped the thrust.
Beau gripped the small arms of his attacker with his left hand and threw a short but powerful blow with his right forearm and elbow. The blow pummeled his attacker off balance, and he used his momentum to reverse their position so he was on top. He could feel a woman’s body under him as she struggled to slide a well-muscled leg into position to knee him in the groin. Drops of his blood dripped from the wound in his chest onto her with fat splashes audible even over the sounds of their grunts.
Holding his assailant’s hands tight with his left, he reached under his pillow with his right for his semiautomatic. He had to end the fight quickly. Another assassin could be coming from behind him or attacking his friends Nellie and Dr. Paine in the other rooms of the suite.
His hand came up empty, however. The gun had apparently fallen off the bed during their struggle. He arched back to gain leverage to twist the knife from his attacker when the ceiling light came on.
“What are you doing on top of Nellie?” Lucy said accusingly behind him.
“What?” he asked in surprise. He looked at the figure under him, her face oddly serene despite her struggling. “She attacked me!”
Dr. Paine entered dressed in his robe and slippers with a sawed-off shotgun at the ready.
“What are you doing to Nellie?” he asked, echoing Lucy’s question.
“She attacked me,” Beau repeated. While distracted by their questions, Nellie managed to slip her arms free from his grasp and thrust to stab him again with the blade.
With lightning speed, Lucy snatched the blade from Nellie’s hands. She dropped the knife and then took hold of Nellie’s face to stare into her eyes.
“Look into my eyes,” Lucy said. “Sleep. Sleep.”
Nellie closed her eyes and collapsed. Lucy lowered her down.
Dr. Paine rushed from the room and returned immediately with his medical bag. He swabbed Nellie’s arm with a cotton ball, pulled out a syringe and a small bottle, measured a dose, and injected it into Nellie.
“That should keep her quiet for a while,” Dr. Paine said. He looked down at the blood-soaked nightgown clinging to Nellie’s breasts. “You didn’t have to stab her, Beau.”
“I didn’t,” Beau said. “That’s my blood.” He looked at the small trickle of blood coming from Nellie’s swollen lip. “Mostly mine.”
Dr. Paine looked at the blood smeared over the front of Beau. A small red stream continued to flow from the inch wide wound.
“So it is. Barely a scratch,” Dr. Paine said. “I’ll stitch that up in a moment. What did you do to Nellie to make her attack you? And put some pants on.”
Beau stood up as Dr. Paine examined Nellie’s pupils with a small light.
“Is she alright, Doctor?” Lucy asked.
“I’m the one bleeding,” Beau said, pulling on his pajama bottoms.
“And you look positively delicious,” Lucy said.
“She appears to have suffered a hard blow to the side of her face,” Dr. Paine said. “You never answered my question, Beau. Did you two quarrel?”
“She’s possessed,” Beau said. “Look I can prove it.” He pointed to his chest. “This is clearly a stab wound.”
“So?” Dr. Paine said.
“So Nellie always slits the throat when she uses her knife,” Beau said.
“Good point,” Dr. Paine said.
He looked at Beau’s cold glare. “No pun intended,” Dr. Paine said.
He finished his examination of Nellie and reached into his medical bag again. Dr. Paine cleaned the wound on Beau’s chest and sewed up the small wound quickly. He looked at an older, long scar running diagonally across Beau’s chest. “One more for your collection,” the Doctor said.
Beau went to the basin, washed the blood off and dried with a towel before pulling on a shirt.
Beau sat on the edge of the bed looking over her. He said quietly, “I could have killed her. I didn’t even know it was her. It was dark. We’ll have to perform an exorcism on her.”
Lucy reached her fingers out to Nellie’s face and brushed her cheek gently with the tips of her finger. She dipped her finger into the blood at the corner of Nellie’s mouth and then brought it to her tongue.
“She’s not possessed,” said Lucy, standing behind him.
“Are you certain?” Beau said.
“Yes,” Lucy said. “Has she lost any possessions lately – a hairbrush or comb?”
“Not that she’s mentioned,” Dr. Paine said. “Will she still be under someone’s control when she wakes?”
“Not likely,” Lucy said. “She probably won’t remember a thing after going to bed.”
Beau stood and reached behind the headboard for his gun. He slid it into the holster hanging over the back of a chair. Beau picked up Nellie and carried her back to her room and slid her into her bed.
He crept out, closing the door gently behind him.
Lucy and Dr. Paine were seated on chairs in the central room of the suite. The hotel’s furnishings were distinctly European since many of the guests were British. One of the housekeeping staff easily could have been bribed to steal Nellie’s brush or comb or another object needed to provide the necessary connection to perform the spell.
He sat down so the three of them formed a triangle.
“It was bad enough when I had to worry about Cambridge sorcerers and Nazi agents trying to kill me. Now I have to be wary of my friends,” Beau said. “I should wear a sign saying, ‘If you wish to kill me, take a number and get in line.’”
“Murder by appointment only,” Dr. Paine said.
Continue to Chapter 2