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Homicide in Hardcover

Excerpt

Homicide in Hardcover

What a mess. I stepped inside to look around.

That's when I saw Abraham, lying on the cold cement floor. A pool of dark liquid seeped from under him.

"Oh, my God." My glass slipped from my hand and shattered on the floor. Spots began to spin in front of my eyes. I sucked in a breath, ran over and fell on my knees by his side.

"Abraham!"

His arms were wrapped tightly around his chest. Alive? Please God, alive.

I was screaming, couldn't help it.

"Abraham. Wake up." I tried to pull him into my arms but he was so heavy I couldn't budge him. "Oh, please don't die."

I grabbed his shoulders and shook him hard before I realized that was a bad idea. I leaned over and held him close to me. "I'm sorry, did I hurt you? Oh God, I'm sorry, so sorry."

I felt him stir.

His eyelids fluttered and I almost fainted with relief. "Oh God, you're alive. Thank you. I'll get help. Don't worry."

He gazed up at me, his eyes blurry. He coughed, then muttered something.

I leaned closer. "What?"

"De...vil," he whispered. "Remember...the...devil."

A thick, heavy book slipped out from inside his jacket. I quickly snatched it before it slid onto the bloody floor. Instinct, I guess, ingrained in me from childhood. Save the book. I gaped at the faded black leather binding. Once elegant gold tooling created a pale border of Fleur de lis around the front edges of the cover, and each flower point was studded with blood red gems. Rubies? Ornate but rusted brass clasps held the book closed.

Goethe's Faust.

My gaze darted back to Abraham. His lips trembled as he formed a slight smile.

I shoved the book inside my suit jacket.

He nodded his head in approval, I thought. Then his eyes glazed over and flickered closed.

"No." I grabbed his jacket. "No. Don't you dare. Abraham. Wake up. Oh God. Don't—"

His head slumped to the side.

"No! No, please—"

"Let him go."

"Yikes!" I snatched my hands away. Abraham sagged to the floor. I stared at my hands. They were covered in blood. I screamed again.

"That's enough. Stand up and move away from him."

I whipped my head around. A man stood at the door holding a gun pointed directly at me.

© Kate Carlisle

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