Iris Johansen – Eight Days to Live
By SMW Staff
THE GALLERY WAS DARK. Celine must have turned out the lights when she had put on the alarm before she left.
Jane froze for a second as she stepped out of the elevator.
The carved oak door of the front entrance was directly across the room from where she was standing.
She could see the headlights of the taxi through the plate- glass window to the right of the door.
Stay where you are, Celine. Don’t get out of the taxi.
She ran across the room.
Distract him. Quick.
When she was close enough to be heard, she stopped, and called, “I’m here. Are you out there, scum?”
“You’re brave on the telephone. Talk to me, bastard.”
Had he gone away, or was he waiting for Celine to come toward the door?
And then the front door began to slowly open.
But it couldn’t be opening. The door was locked, and the alarm would have gone off .
She took a step back, her grasp tightening on the butcher knife.
Someone was there.
A dark form was silhouetted against the dim glow of the streetlight.
Her heart was pounding. Where the hell were the police?
“Blasphemer.” He stepped forward. “He told me to wait for you. I’m trying to wait, but it’s an agony. Come to me.” He had something in his hand, something dark and pointed. “Surely the angels will forgive me.”
“I’ve called the police. They’ll be here any minute.” Dear God, he was big. But she had the knife, knew karate, and if that wasn’t a gun in his hand, she might be able to—”
He sprang toward her.
She sidestepped, then sprang forward, and the edge of her hand came down on the side of his neck. It was only a glancing blow, but he staggered and almost fell. She ran past him and out into the street.
The taxi. Warn Celine.
“Celine! Stay where you are. Don’t come—”
A hand grasped her shoulder, spun her around. “Bitch.” The at bastard had followed her from the gallery. He was raising his hand with the odd-shaped weapon. Her foot lashed out and connected between his legs.
He screamed but didn’t release her.
She’d have to use the knife.
He suddenly arched violently backward and cried out.
What was hap—?
Then she saw the gleam of metal as a dagger exited his chest.
Someone was behind him. In the darkness, she could only make out a man, tall, lean, powerful.
He knew her name, but so had the bastard on the phone. Her hand tightened on the butcher knife. She stiffened, waiting.
The man who had attacked her was falling to the street.
“Don’t make me take the knife away from you, Jane. You’d ﬁght, and I might hurt you.”
She knew that voice and that faint Scottish accent. Relief poured through her as her gaze ﬂew to his face. “Jock?” She stared at him in bewilderment as she lowered the knife. “What are you doing here?”
“At the moment, cleaning up Venable’s mistakes.” Jock Gavin was bending over the man lying before them, going through his pockets. “And trying to get a step ahead of the police I hear a few blocks away. You called them?”
“Yes.” She could hear the sirens, too, now. Relief was surging through her. The police were coming. Jock was here, everything would be all right. She could trust Jock. At times she felt as if they had been closer than brother and sister.
He ﬂipped open the man’s wallet. “Henri Folard.”
She was suddenly jarred out of her shock. “Oh God, you killed him, Jock.”
“You’ll get in trouble. I could only report an obscene caller. I don’t even know if we can even prove he was trying to attack me. I know you were only trying to help me, but you have to get out of here.”
“No. Tell them I was up there in the suite already, and I came down to protect you until the police got here.”
“But we can’t prove he was any threat to me. It was only an obscene—”
“We can prove it, Jane,” Jock said gently. “Look at the door.”
“Door? What are you talking about?” Jock’s hands were on her shoulders, gently turning her to face the gallery, to face the huge oak door that had slowly swung open to reveal the man who had attacked her. “What has—”
She lifted her head and looked at the door, which had swung back closed from the weight of the burden it carried. The e burden that was now illuminated by the streetlight.
“No! Oh, God in heaven, no!”
Celine Denarve, still dressed in her ﬂamboyant red cloak, stared back at Jane, her face frozen and contorted with pain and horror. She had been nailed to a cross that had been ﬁxed to the oak door by a huge cruciﬁx nail. There were nails in her palms and feet.
There was another nail piercing her chest.
Excerpted from Eight Days to Live by Iris Johansen.
Copyright © 2010 by Iris Johansen. Published in April 2010 by St. Martin’s Press. All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.