In the second seductive installment of Jeffe Kennedy's thrilling Master of the Opera, a young woman falls deeper under the spell of the man who haunts her dreams, fuels her desire, and demands her surrender. . . With each passing day of her internship at the Sante Fe Opera House, Christine Davis discovers something new, something exciting—and something frightening. Hidden in the twisting labyrinths beneath the theater is a mysterious man in a mask who, Christy's convinced, is as real as the rose he left on her desk—and as passionate as the kiss that burns on her lips. He tells her to call him "Master," and Christy can't deny him. But when her predecessor—a missing intern—is found dead, Christy wonders if she's playing with fire. . . If her phantom lover is actually a killer, how can she continue to submit to his dark, erotic games? And if he is innocent, how can she resist—or refuse—when he demands nothing less than her body and soul? 14,560 Words
January 16, 2014
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She buried them both in the bottom of her bag and, on her way home from work that night, took a drive down Cerillos and found a Dumpster behind a strip mall and threw the rose in. It laid there, absurdly lush and lovely on a black plastic garbage bag bursting at one long seam with some sort of rotting residue, a gaping wound. Squelching the urge to climb in and take the rose back—what the hell was wrong with her?—she resolutely dropped the lid. The gunshot bang brought her shoulders up around her ears.
Just a little jumpy.
Since the note could be evidence—God, how she hated to contemplate that—she kept it and brought it back to her little hotel room.
Once inside, she gratefully threw the bolt on the door, dropped her bag, and flopped on the bed. Bonelessly, she lay there, her nerves and muscles thrumming with a tension that kept her hyped despite her exhaustion.
It had been possibly the worst day ever, topping even the day in junior high when her mom had taken her out to lunch and broken the news about the divorce. Probably because it hadn’t been actual news by that point, just the final confirmation. In some ways—despite the pinched concern on her mother’s face and the awful point-by-point breakdown of who would get which houses, cars, and slices of Christy’s life—that day had at least provided an end to the unbearable tension of waiting for the inevitable.
Someone finding Tara’s body in the bowels of the opera house? That had not been inevitable. Christy hadn’t realized how much she’d embraced the fantasy that her predecessor had run off to Acapulco with some cute guy and was romping in the surf instead of dealing with the labyrinthine inventory she’d escaped.
But no. All this time she’d been dead. At least according to the scuttlebutt—mostly gossip from the backstage staff who’d talked to Danny before the police shut him up, though a couple of the other guys said they’d seen the body, too. Everyone watched way too many forensic shows, and some of their discussion of blood pooling and putrefaction had curdled Christy’s stomach.
Charlie said that everyone processed trauma in different ways and not to listen to their talk. He offered to let her take off the rest of the day, or even the rest of the week. But she’d told him no, she’d rather work. That it would keep her from dwelling on it all.
That much was true.
She didn’t tell him the rest—that she’d lied to the police by omission. She hadn’t told them about any of her encounters with the mythical theater ghost. Christy groaned and threw an arm over her eyes.
Despite her fear, she’d felt fascinated, giddy and enthralled just being near him.
And now he might be a psychopathic murderer, lining up Christy as his next victim. Maybe that’s why he’d dumped Tara’s body—because he’d lured Christy into his net and planned to do her in next.
She needed to tell the police. Only now it would look really bad that she hadn’t before this. What did people do? In the TV shows, the witness who later slunk into the police station and confessed to holding back always got in trouble. Or ended up dead.
But just because it made for good television didn’t mean it would happen to her. Right?
Feeling a hundred years old, she sat up, every joint protesting, and dug the note out of her cell phone case. Using her nails to pull out the thick vellum by the very edges—because, you know, fingerprints—she set it on the glass-topped hotel dresser.
Tell no one.
When had he left it in her desk drawer? After she’d left the building but before Danny found the body in the early morning hours? The police said Tara’s body could have been in that spot for days or longer, but Christy didn’t think so. She’d been down that hallway, she was sure. Pretty sure.
Did the phantom put Tara’s unlovely corpse there to cement the warning that she tell no one about him? Or was she to tell no one about that?
None of it made any sense, least o. . .
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