A shrill noise pealed across the room. Vivian almost threw her back against the window at the sound of the phone ringing. She swiped it off Elijah’s desk and pressed it to her ear.
“Not quite. It’s Gavin. Can I have a moment of your time?”
“Hi, Gavin. And before you ask, yes, I’m going to the dark Alice in Wonderland-themed night at the club tomorrow night.”
“I’m so glad, but I’m not calling to entice my most loyal customer. We have a problem on our hands.”
“What is it?”
“I think you need to come to the morgue as soon as possible.”
“Oh there it is, that tone in your voice. Why does it always make me so uneasy? Like you’re about to tell me someone was just murdered?”
“Vivian… it’s about Elijah.” Her heart sank. She looked down at his sketching journal and set it gently on his desk.
“What do you mean Elijah is involved? Did he learn something from the crime scene?”
“Quite possibly, but I…. I don’t know. I won’t be getting any answers out of him now.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying you need to come down to the morgue immediately.”
Vivian bolted from the library. She scarcely remembered running down the stairs, let alone the hectic drive that deposited her on the doorstep of Prague’s medical examiner. She felt impervious to the January frost even though she’d forgotten her coat in the whirlwind of adrenaline. She could only think of the tone of Gavin’s voice and what he was withholding from her.
She clattered down the stairwell into the underground level of the morgue. Her hand rested on the chilled handle of the door leading to the autopsy bay. She stared at the metal handle for what seemed minutes until she summoned the strength to barrel through. The cold jolted her flesh like an electric current.
Vivian careened through the empty autopsy bay. It didn’t take her long before she saw a figure with his back turned to her.
He turned around, revealing himself to be her favorite medical examiner. Unfortunately, it also revealed the foreboding expression on his face. His eyebrows knitted low as she approached. Vivian slowed in her steps as the first treacherous seed of fear took hold.
“Gavin, what’s going on? You look very…”
Gavin bit his lip and looked down at one of the morgue drawers. Vivian’s footsteps echoed across the linoleum floor as she abruptly closed the distance. Her eyes never left the dour expression on Gavin’s face. Without warning, he yanked open the steel drawer and introduced her to the newest occupant of the morgue.
Vivian peered down at Elijah’s face. His eyes were sealed shut and the color had drained almost completely from his skin.