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(Ch. 1)
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(Ch. 2)
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  Darkness Falls


Chapter 1

A clear drop falls onto her cheek. It glistens for a moment, plump as a pearl, then is drawn into the soft powder of her make-up, and its lustre fades. She does not stir. He touches his face: he is crying. Crying because she is so beautiful and yet she does not stir when a tear falls, warm on her skin. Is he sorry for her or for himself? He cannot bear it. She was his. She belonged to him for too short a time, but it was the purest pleasure he had ever known. Now she is gone. How will he ever find another like her?
   He looks again at her lovely face. Her eyelids have a shadowy look, bluish, bruised, and her lips are pale and bloodless, for he has kissed away the lipstick that she had so carefully applied, only hours earlier. He smoothes a stray hair from her face - God, she's so beautiful! He closes his eyes against a pain that is real, physical. She was everything to him - everything he wanted, everything he could ever imagine. A moan escapes him and he puts his fingers to his lips to stop their trembling. He kneels beside her and sits back on his heels, for a while losing himself, rocking slowly back and forth, comforted by the repetition.
   This can't go on. There are things he must do - for her, and for himself. They say that rituals help us through difficult times; that the conventions of mourning and burial help us to accept both the fact of death and the need to carry on. He believes this, and although he has no religion, he still has faith in its rites: the old hymns, the smell of incense, and the murmured responses of a congregation retain their soothing power over him. He wipes his eyes.
   He will not bury her. She hated the dark - was in terror of being shut in. And anyway, how will they find her if he puts her under the ground?

He finds a quiet place, upstream from the bandstand, hidden from the prying eyes of insomniacs and the occasional drunk, weaving home across the footbridge over the River Dee. Deep, still water, black and inscrutable, far from the treacherous pull of the weir that, given the opportunity, would drag her too soon into the glare of publicity. Before he has had chance to clean and disinfect, to re-establish order from the disarray her preparation and death have caused.
   She is heavy. Heavier in death than she ever was in life. It is as if her life force bore her up, defying gravity's pull. In life, she was quick to learn not to oppose his will, but now that conscious resistance is beyond her, she obstructs him with her inertia. He quells an angry impulse to punish her - she is beyond that; and he is no lunatic - he won't disfigure her: she came to him unblemished, and she will leave the same way.
   He takes one last look at her body, perfect in its vulnerability, then lowers her into the water. He gasps in shock at the icy chill and looks quickly into her face. It is untroubled. She feels nothing - he almost envies her that because he is in turmoil: he has embarked on a course of action from which there is no going back. She slips, unprotesting, under the surface. For a moment her hair drifts out in an arc, framing her face, then she rolls and turns, sleek as an otter, and disappears into the depths.


Weaving Shadows The Dispossessed Darkness Falls Past Reason Dying Embers Now You See Me Buy the novels from Amazon.co.uk
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