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Authors: Stacey Kathleen

Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery, #Retail, #Suspense, #Thrillers

The Poison Morality

BOOK: The Poison Morality
3.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


By Stacey Kathleen

Text Copyright © 2013 Stacey Horne

All Rights Reserved




Chapter 1: The Underground

Chapter 2: Christmas Eve

Chapter 3: Chinatown

Chapter 4: Mariella

Chapter 5: Alley of Confrontation and Revelation

Chapter 6: Old Man in the Park

Chapter 7: Playing God

Chapter 8: National Gallery

Chapter 9: Owen

Chapter 10: Declan Creates the Monster and the Spy

Chapter 11: Mariella’s Favourite

Chapter 12: Sophie and Oliver’s First Non-Date

Chapter 13: Sydney’s Threat

Chapter 14: Josie Non-Incognito

Chapter 15: Not a Gift From Harrods

Chapter 16: Carnal

Chapter 17: Sophie Recreates and Mona Confesses

Chapter 18: Mariella Gives Love Advice

Chapter 19: Lost on Portobello Road

Chapter 20: Sophie’s Date

Chapter 21: Sophie’s Birthday

Chapter 22: The Revelation of the Past

Chapter 23: An Accusation

Chapter 24: Don Giovanni

Chapter 25: Sophie Asks Owen

Chapter 26: Rooftop

Chapter 27: Oliver’s Secret

Chapter 28: Oliver’s Mum

Chapter 29: The Breakup

Chapter 30: The Power of French Food and Dancing

Chapter 31: The First, The Second, and the Chime of Big Ben

Chapter 32: Terminal Mariella

Chapter 33: Mariella and the Bottle

Chapter 34: Who is Mariella

Chapter 35: With Permission

Chapter 36: Four at the Pub

Chapter 37: The Gift of Reckoning

Chapter 38: Oliver Searches for Sophie

Chapter 39: Into the Cold Hard Ground

Chapter 40: Jacki’s Accusation and Sydney’s Revelation

Chapter 41: The Necklace

Chapter 42: The Safe Haven of Regent’s Park

Chapter 43: Josie Gone

Chapter 44: Sydney in the Kitchen

Chapter 45: Oliver and Sophie in the Garden



“I stood in front of the mirror, staring at the blackened bruise and the cuts bleeding down my leg, and what they meant.  I became numb then.  Numb to the pain, numb to the misery, numb to the smell of blood.  I made a vow that once the bruising disappeared, so would I.”

1: The Underground

woman’s strange behaviour distracted Oliver from the exhaustion he felt.  A long, weary night with the sick patients and distraught families at the hospital had drained him.  Recalling the events of the evening up until now, his mind turned to Hannah.  An old woman who rebelled against her illness until her body had finally given in and she mentally went with it.  Her face went from contorted pain to relaxed peace.  Oliver held her fragile hand; able to be with her as she passed on when no one else could be.  Thankful he could make her comfortable towards the end, now she was no longer in pain.

Hannah had felt more sympathy for him than she felt for herself.  “A family,” she had told him, “is the most important thing.  You should find a good woman to take care of you, have babies,” using as much energy as she could muster to tell him that every time he checked on her.  Alone and long days with the sick; he realized if he had those things, as much as he would like to have them, also meant he would have a lot to lose.  It was somewhere between sacrifice and choice, this life.   

“Hadn’t found the right woman I suppose,” he told her, giving her something to help her rest, but the real reason he didn’t know and was too absorbed in his profession to notice that….much.  “Besides, who would take care of you?”  Attempting a smile, she reached for his hand and he held it for the last time tonight.  Her final words were for him and as needless as the advice was, he cherished it just the same.

The sign in the underground flashed the delay for the train, just a few minutes but feeling like eternity.  He yawned and leaned against the wall with his head tilted back, watching, down the bridge of his nose at the woman intently. 

Inching dangerously close to the edge of the platform, beyond the yellow line, it seemed that she was leaning forward but it was hard for him to tell, her long black coat hanging loosely around her, hiding the outline of her body.  Her long dark tresses fell across her face concealing her features and he knew then for sure that she was bent forward, looking at the rails.

“No, please don’t,” he mumbled quietly to himself.  It’s one thing to kill one’s self.  A jump timed correctly and there would be no pain just a quick death, however messy.  But, to the driver, to the witnesses, to the very tired doctor it would be a dismal end to an already prolonged day.  It wasn’t in him, however, to just let her do what he thought she was going to do without attempting to intervene.  He couldn’t be sure though that was her intention but if she did jump and he made no attempt to approach her, he could not release the guilt of that, ever.

She stood up straight again.  Oliver breathed a sigh of relief.  She was just looking down the tunnel, not that there was much to see in a darkened underground tunnel.  Then, no sooner than the sigh escaped his lips that he saw her feet slide closer to the edge until she was teetering slightly on them leaving the decision to chance or a swift wind to throw her in the direction destiny would lay out for her.

Adrenaline started to course through Oliver’s body, making him alert.  Standing upright, he cautiously started walking towards her, taking quiet and steady steps.  He didn’t want to catch her off guard or want her to fall on the tracks because he accidentally startled her either.  Softly and slowly he advanced.

Oliver opened his mouth to speak; reaching one hand out to touch her or catch her if need be, when suddenly both were startled by a very loud sneeze that echoed throughout the tunnel.  Both turned their heads in the direction of the sound. 

The source was a man standing in his wool coat and hat, wiping his nose with his handkerchief in his gloved hand; he gave no regard to either of them.  Oliver turned his attention back towards the woman, her head still turned slightly towards the man’s direction, not looking directly at him but keeping him in her peripheral vision, squinting, concentrating intently on his movements. 

Her awareness had turned from toes dangling off the platform to the man in the hat.  Like an animal stalking prey, she gradually backed away from the edge.  Oliver too walked backwards in sync with her; left foot, then right, almost like a dance they shared.  

For a moment, he thought he had caught her eye, her head turned sideways towards his direction but he couldn’t be sure.  She didn’t acknowledge
however, but concentrated solely on the other man.  Oliver went back to lean against the wall again.  She was acting suspiciously or maybe his tired mind was playing tricks on him, after all its London and late so odd behaviour was a common occurrence.

If he thought her conduct was peculiar before, he was even more captivated by it now as she walked backwards and sideways, like a crab, to stand behind the man, her presence unknown to him although she was almost in his personal space.  In her dark clothes and unobtrusive way she was forgettable, except to Oliver.  With the three of them alone on the platform, it didn’t make sense that she should need to be so close to him.

The screeching sound of brakes and the rattle of the train approaching disrupted her concentration.  The warm gust of air pushing through the tunnel swept the hair from her face and he could see her profile.  Her skin was pale but her eyes dark below arched brows.  Her nose strong and slightly tilted at the end.  Her lips were full and cheeks rosy from either the cold from outside or the warmth in the tunnel.  She looked to be in her twenties he figured but something about her made her seem older, stoic.  A lovely creature and her strangeness enthralled Oliver. 

Her right hand fidgeted inside the pocket of her coat nervously but her expression gave no indication that she was.  He couldn’t take his eyes off her, curious by what she would do next.

Oliver scrutinized the woman.  Not watching the man, but instead she was looking down at the ground, hands in her pockets she stood behind him patiently when the train sped by them and then slid to a stop with a loud screech.   From staring down at his feet suddenly her head jerked quickly, glowering at his neck, focused on a spot there. 

Oliver walked sideways looking at the man’s neck trying to see what had caught her attention there but he saw nothing.

Several doors slid open.  Only a few people filtered out of the train as the three of them advanced on.  The man in the hat hurried toward the door directly in front of him and the peculiar woman walked faster to keep up with him.  Oliver lingered behind, slowing his pace towards the door to the right of them until he could linger no longer without the doors shutting him out.

A slight yelp came from the man as he walked inside the door; his hand swiftly clasped his neck on the right side with a slapping sound.  Turning to see the source of the pain, there was none and he shrugged and stepped on the train, turned to the right, dropping heavily into a seat.  She proceeded to the left and sat.  Oliver arranged himself in a seat that gave him a full view of both the backs of their heads. 

Oliver leaned his head against the window, looking past the man in the hat to the woman at the front of the car, now sitting quietly and unmoving, her back to the men.  The hissing sound of the hydraulic doors closing and he knew he was close to home.  Maybe he had imagined all that he thought he saw.  He was all-in, eyes growing heavy. 

The Central line train, warm and cosy, rolled smoothly on the tracks, occasionally stopping but no one got on and no one got off the car they were on.  Eyes drifting closed, Oliver waited for the recording to announce his stop. Thinking for a sleepy moment that he should go up and talk to her, maybe ask her out but then it would probably end as most of his relationships did, with the woman complaining that he was married to his work instead of offering her marriage.  He was too tired to think about it anyway.  That was the catch twenty two of being a doctor, it’s easy to get a woman but almost impossible to keep her.  At least it never worked for him; there was no way for
to have both, apparently.

The sound of the train on the tracks and the movement lulled him in and out of sleep until the man coughed and wheezed but Oliver thought nothing of it and closed his eyes again.  He heard those noises all day at the hospital. 

Again the man coughed and his laboured breathing alerted Oliver to open his eyes.  He noticed the slight smear of blood across the man’s neck.  It had not been there before. The mysterious woman stood and held on to the railing as her body swayed with the curves the train was taking, anticipating her stop.  Her nail tapped anxiously on the metal handrail while she chewed the nails of her other hand, ready to leap off the train the second the door opened.

Grasping the left arm with his right hand and then his chest, the man fell out of the seat and collapsed onto the floor, wheezing and groaning.  Oliver sprang into action, rolling him over, peeling his coat off. 

The man’s face was red.  His eyes were wide with fright and then closed.  His breathing was arduous and then shallow and then nothing.   Oliver checked for a pulse, nothing.  Jerking the man’s shirt open, buttons flying, he felt for the man’s sternum, and started chest compressions.

Sophie had heard the man panting behind her.  Damn, it worked too fast, too early.  Maybe she clipped a nerve or something.  She always put as much distance between her and them as possible, she took the risk under the circumstances but she was tired of stalking him, waiting for the opportune moment, she had no patience for it.  Do it, get it over with.  What she did was just a small part, insignificant, forgotten almost as soon as it was done. 

Closing her eyes, she concentrated on the rattling sound of the rails, hoping to drown out the commotion behind her.  She could move forward away from him but her stop was close.  Frozen in place, she was getting nervous and tapping her foot.  The pre-recorded voice muffled the next stop, she was almost clear when she heard another voice behind her, deep and urgent.  “Call 999 and tell them to meet us at the next station and hit the emergency button and tell the driver.” 

She stood petrified for a moment, her blood turned to ice.  Sophie slowly turned, her eyes wide, startled by the man who had dropped down on his knees beside the victim, doing chest compressions him.  Where did he come from?  Was he there the whole time or did he get on at another stop?  Concentrating on the man doing the saving to try to avoid looking at the man who needed to be saved, she was astonished by the fact that she had not been aware of him at all.  Was she getting lax, full of herself, that now she lost sight of her surroundings and now what, she could be caught?

Oliver looked up at her briefly, still counting compressions in his head, yelling to her to call for assistance.  The frightened look that had been on the dying man’s face was on hers as well.  He pressed his mouth to his and forced air from his own lungs into him.

Sophie could see him yelling to her but couldn’t hear him.  The sound of her own heartbeat throbbed too loudly in her ears.  Everything slowed as the train slowed.  He was handsome with wavy auburn hair that fell across his forehead as he pushed forcefully and cat eyes, which squinted at her suspiciously.  Her mind went blank, she felt dizzy.  Closing her eyes she tried to steady herself, there was nothing, she couldn’t think anymore, except run.

Oliver saw her reach into her coat pocket and pull out her phone, hands shaking, and dialling 999.  Her sense of urgency hindered either by her fear or guilt or both.  Staring at him, she seemed to be stunned.  The reality of the situation was like pieces of a puzzle but he couldn’t concentrate on the woman and the man simultaneously.   Letting his instincts take over what he was doing, he tried to listen to her.  Finally, he heard her say something about an ambulance and the name of the next station they were just pulling into and close the phone.

The train stopped and the rescuer stopped working, sitting back on his heels after checking futilely for a pulse.  He rubbed his forehead.  He looked up at her.  They both stared in quiet disbelief at the other until the door opened, and she ran out, pressing the emergency button on the train and then punching the green emergency button in the station before running out into the night. 

Alone with the dead man and the belief that it was the result of the woman, the beautiful, mystifying, possibly dangerous woman, Oliver wondered what to do.  There seemed to be nothing dangerous about her however when she stood, eyes wide in fear.  Believing, but not knowing for sure, he now had to tell the rescue workers, what?  What he thought he saw?  Tell the police?  He could identify her, her features burned into his brain and the terrified look on her face made him empathize more with her than the man that lay before him motionless.  But what if he was wrong?  Damn, it was still going to be a long night for him. 

Running was all Sophie could remember; the sore calves, the ache in her lungs, and the wind stinging her face.  Other than that she couldn’t remember the trek home to her flat.   Once in, she dropped onto the shabby chair beside the fireplace, its flowers long ago faded and she absently rubbed her finger over the hole in the fabric on the arm, staring at the worn out wallpaper, peeling, opposite the room, and reasoning, recovering her breath and propping her feet on the wobbly coffee table.  It was cold in the flat but she was warm in her coat and the heat generated from running.  The fire should be lit, she thought as the wind howled outside but she couldn’t move.

He didn’t see anything, he couldn’t prove anything, and he won’t remember what she looked like.  It was like a chant inside her head, a mantra to calm her.  There on the chair, thinking these thoughts she fell asleep, her coat and shoes still on, her head tilted over to the side. 

BOOK: The Poison Morality
3.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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