Brilliant, white light pried Vivian’s eyes wide open. She remembered stepping into the shower and the luxury of hot water saturating her skin. She remembered very little after that moment of reprieve, just the hot mist on her flesh. Instead of water, she now felt metal against her body.
Sounds washed over her with the dissonance of a scalpel on skin. At once, she realized something was poking her body. Vivian looked down.
IV lines were threaded into her arm, a conglomerate of plastic snaking into her veins. Transparent liquids filtered through the...
The man in the doorway waded into the dark of the office with a narrow, clean-shaven face and misty green eyes. His pale complexion was born of too much time spent locked away indoors. He couldn’t have been more than a few years older than her. His thick, black hair caught the luster of neon lights outside.
His lips slid over perfectly white teeth and the most languid voice flowed forth.
“What are you doing here?”
Camilla’s tongue twisted itself in knots as she grasped for a legitimate excuse, but none came to mind.
“What is that smell?” Vivian gagged. Careful not to step in the dark stains on the ground, she followed Camilla down a cramped alley between the highway and the Chao Praya River.
“We’re nearing Rom Kloaw, the site of an old pig slaughterhouse. The marshwaters along the canal have been rising with the heavy rainfall, sweeping waste inland.”
If Vivian thought the smell of garbage boiling in the humid sun was revolting, nothing compared to the byproducts of congealed animal blood and entrails. Pigs, cattle, and water buffalo hadn’t been butchered in t...
Vivian scoured Khlong Toei until a vaporous gloom heralded the oncoming evening. She was no closer to finding Camilla than she was when the sun gleamed across the collective of metal warehouses and shanties. Several times she followed the sound of crying in the hopes it would lead to her lovesick friend. Instead, she encountered too many dead ends or concrete walkways leading to the swampy canals.
Camilla may not have wanted to be found, but Vivian was all too acquainted with the dangers of isolation and grief. Combined with a setting like the slu...
“Speaking of couples, have you given any thought to dating again? Are there any new guys in your life?” Camilla asked.
The beer immediately soured in Vivian’s mouth. She finished off the drink and slammed it down on the table, her knuckles rigid with indignation.
After her disastrous involvement with the serial killer Milo, Vivian was more than a little perturbed at the thought of intimacy. Time is supposedly a balm for all wounds, but it still stung like a fresh cut.
As Vivian clawed for a grip on her confidence, Camilla scanned the outlet shopping mall towering over an array of metal roofs sheltering street vendors.
The city of Pattaya should have been enough to steal her breath away, but that dubious honor belonged to a striking man at the edge of the crowded bazaar. Camilla latched onto the sight of his face and the cloud of intrigue that set him apart from the swarm of haggling tourists.
Camilla had never set foot in Thailand before, yet there was something recognizable about him that puzzled her an...
Vivian lowered her phone and pushed through beaded curtains that shimmered in the dark of the exotically-flavored, Gothic emporium. The adjoining chamber was bathed in vivacious blue light. Her lungs filled with the smell of amber oils that lingered copiously in the air.
The miasma of aphrodisiacs added a heightened sexual tension to the dark, clandestine space. The dream-like quality to the Yaksha Spirit House continued to weave its spell over her, ensuring there was no way out unscathed.
She appraised the shelves hosting antiquities and o...
As Camilla fawned over the black magic offerings, Vivian’s heart fluttered with trepidation. What was this feeling that made the hairs on her skin stand rigid like barbs? Vivian’s eyes stretched in alarm when a face appeared out of her peripheral vision. She spun on her heel as her heart hammered through her ribs.
No one stood there. That did little to alleviate the spastic pounding in her chest, leaving her aching for a confrontation. Almost as if her muscles moved to another creature’s will, her head turned toward a shadow-drenched doorwa...
Vivian guided her to the next stage of temptation on their schedule. Overflowing with intoxicating nectars and treats, the bar was her favorite target in the Toxic Mistress. If this club was the Garden of Eden, bartender Gavin Erwood was surely the snake serving up temptation.
Camilla had taken a new liking to Gavin since their first encounter, primarily because he was Vivian’s confidant and mentor. He was the keeper of liquors in the Toxic Mistress, but he also moonlighted as a mortician at Prague’s medical examiner. Any introduction to Ga...