This is the eleventh installment of a short story which began HERE.
A torrid sun; a tropical paradise; a frustrated writer; a cheating wife; a mysterious sultry woman ... the ingredients for a forbidden affair? Or the recipe for murder and the perfect crime?
The bullet struck her in the chest and she slumped to the floor, her eyes meeting mine. Her voice fading she said to me, "You guessed wrong, lover." She strained and raising her gun fired past my head. Her eyes closed and her head fell limp onto her chest.
Behind me I heard a cry of pain. I turned to see the other woman slumping to the floor. I dropped the gun and fell to my knees next to her. I lifted her chin with my finger and whispered, "Eve? Please, Eve. Answer me."
She opened her eyes and smiled with some effort, "I'll live, John. Tell me, how did you know which one of us to shoot?" She glanced first past my face at the still woman a few feet away and then back at me.
I smiled, relieved that she was all right. I reached down and placed my hand on her inner thigh. She winced as my finger traced a path across her nether area and lingered in the patch of downy hair. She frowned and said, " You can't be thinking sex ... not now...."
I shook my head and raised the finger to my face before speaking, "This gray powdery paste is no doubt make-up that was used to give your body the appearance of a cadaver?"
"Oh my, the mystery writer is becoming quite the detective," she said. She tried to sit up. It was obvious that she was in considerable pain as she struggled to do so. After several painful moments and with my assistance she was soon sitting on the edge of the bed.
I moved to the dresser and eyed the urn. I picked it up and turned to face her. "Why the hoax? Why was I led to believe that you were dead?" I didn't give her a chance to respond but continued to spout questions at her. I pointed at the body of the other Eve and queried, "Who is she? A twin sister you never bothered to mention? " I paused as a crazy thought entered my mind, "Ah, I've got it! She's a clone, right? No, wait ... That's too fantastic. She was surgically altered to look like you."
I had been so overcome with a flood of so many different emotions that I hadn't realized that she was not only not trying to speak, but she was lying there motionless. "Eve?" I shook her gently and let out a sigh of relief when she moaned softly. I silently cursed myself. She had been shot ... And I was raving like a lunatic! I needed to call for help.
I was stepping over Naismith's body to get to the phone when I caught sight of movement in the doorway. The figure, wearing a cloak with a hood hiding the facial features, stepped over the door remnants. A gloved hand was raised and it pulled back the hood.
" You!" I exclaimed.
She nodded and then looked about at the damage and the carnage before her. "This sure is some mess to clean up, Mr. Earle," she said in disdain.
"Nova," I said with my open hands before me, "You're a part of this too?"
She seemed to ignore my question but spoke in terse conviction, "Get dressed. I've got to get you two out of here." I stood firm, my lips poised to speak again. She looked at me and raised her voice, "NOW!"
I pulled a shirt and a pair of slacks from a closet and dropped them on the bed next to Eve. I turned my back to her and hesitated to remove the robe. For some reason I felt somewhat awkward undressing under those circumstances.
"What's with the sudden show of modesty?" Nova said. "We've seen it before. Hurry, we don't have all day!"
It was true what she said, but it didn't ease my discomfort. "But, that's my wife there on the bed."
"Look, we don't have time for this. Do you really think she doesn't know about us?" She then pointed at the fallen woman across the room. "You think she didn't know about us?" She moved around the bed until she was facing me and added, "Look, you have a lot of questions to be answered. You'll get your answers ... soon. This isn't the time or place." She placed her hands on her hips and moved her eyes over my nakedness. A playful smile came to her lips as I covered myself with my hands.
I dressed in silence as Nova attended to Eve's wounds. She seemed quite adept at treating bullet wounds. Just who was this mysterious and beautiful creature?
My thoughts were interrupted as a team of paramedics entered the room pushing a gurney. I remained silent and watched intently. Who had called for an ambulance? ...And when? They spoke not a word as they checked Eve's vitals and then carefully lifted her from the bed and onto the gurney. One of them nodded in Nova's direction as they maneuvered their way through the door. Curiously, they paid no attention whatsoever to the other bodies.
Nova, who had moved over to the desk, was cradling my laptop in her arms. She said, "It is of the utmost importance that your novel is completed."
First it had been the Men in Black, one of whom was lying dead on the floor, and then Nova espousing on the importance of my book. What did my novel have to do with all this? What in the hell was I caught up in, what had I been drug into through no knowledge of my own?
Nova grabbed my arm and pulled me toward the door. "We really must leave this place, John." She guided me to a service elevator down the hall where the paramedics waited. As the elevator jolted into its descent I placed my hand over Eve's hand hoping it might provide her with some comfort.
I felt a firm hand on my shoulder. Before I could react another hand placed a wad of cloth over my mouth and nose. I knew in an instant that it was laced with chloroform. Perhaps a second or two before I succumbed I groaned at the irony that the cloth being used was a piece of a blue bikini!
To be continued..... HERE.