Exquisite

Cara Thereon's kitten sipping milk from her finger

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“Welcome back, detective.”

I sighed as I sat in front of his cell. I couldn’t help myself it seemed, that fear I’d felt having evolved into something I didn’t want to examine. The bottom line was I couldn’t stay away.

“I’ve come seeking your help.”

He leaned forward and I felt my heart rate pick up.

“Have you thought about our deal?”

I thought of his wife. She’d been a pretty woman, smart with poise I didn’t possess. She’d also ended up with her chest pried open and her mouth left in a grotesque smile. He’d called her cold and heartless, so he’d made her that way.

His eyes moved like a caress over my face and I felt the heat spread through my body. This was wrong and I was in too deep.

“You’re asking a lot of me.”

He leaned back, a small smile on his face. “I’m here, trapped. All I want is a token, something beautiful to gaze upon while I waste away in this cage. Can’t you give me that?”

He played on my sympathies knowing damn well he’d put himself there.

“I’m not beautiful, stop trying to manipulate me.”

The chuckle was smoky and I tried not to let it fill me with longing.

“I see beauty where others refuse to. Where there isn’t beauty, I create it. I’m asking very little in exchange for my aid.”

I found myself standing, the action almost unconscious. I reached into my jacket and pulled the photo out. It’s me, smiling with the sunlight on my face. I looked young, happy, innocent.

It’s me from a different life.

I stepped close to the bars, holding the photo out. My hand shook as I held it out, feeling every bit the stupid person I was for doing this.

When he stood, I resisted the urge to step back. He reached through the bars and I stepped a little closer. The touch of his fingertips to mine made my breath stall. I tried to let go, but he won’t let me, holding on so I felt the callouses on his fingers. I’m caught.

After a moment, he released me. I moved away so fast I nearly trip.

He traced the fingers he just touched me with on the photo and I felt it on my face.

“Exquisite.” He breathed the word as he held my eyes.

Fuck. Something in my gut told me I’d given myself to a monster. I wanted to so badly… I shook off the tremble that threatened to overtake me.

“Please, sit, detective. I think I can help you.”

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