Dark Impulse Ch. 01byAurora Black©
New York City,
David Anami leaned back on the black leather sofa with a deep sigh, casting a glance at the clock. It was 3:00 in the morning, and the nightlife of the city below was still going strong. So was his restlessness. He briefly closed his eyes and listened to the distant honking of horns, the swish of tires on the pavement. They were the pulse of the city, and he could feel it echo in his own veins.
He'd been home for hours, but he didn't think to seek out his wife upon returning from his meeting. Instead, he sought the sanctuary of his study, away from her sorrowful eyes. They speared his heart with every glance, and tonight he didn't have the will to face them.
He cradled his head in his hands. Tonight. Oh, God.
He had become a monster. His soul was fading into darkness, and those closest to him were beginning to realize the potential danger they were in through association with him. It was only a matter of time before the shadows claimed them, as well.
He tossed back another scotch and soda, breathing deeply as the streaks of alcoholic fire flowed through him and began to dull his senses. He wanted them to do what they do best; he needed so badly to be freed from his pain. He longed for oblivion.
After placing his empty glass on the coffee table, he rose with a low groan and strode to a window which dominated one wall. He stripped off his work shirt and carelessly tossed it behind him. It landed on the sofa, its ruined whiteness evident against the dark leather.
The breathtaking view from his penthouse apartment, until then, had always inspired feelings of peace and security within him. He once believed that no harm would ever come to himself or his family in such a place as this, where all things that were considered evil seemed to fade into the mist beneath their castle in the sky; the towering skyscrapers serving as loyal guards to his personal fortress.
Whenever he felt unsure about any critical choices that he had to make in his business matters or in his private life, all he had to do was spend some time in his study and gaze down at Manhattan, the heart of New York and the center of his world.
Well, not quite the center.
A half-smile curved his exquisite mouth. He remembered something that his wife once said about the window at the beginning of their life in the city, joking around with him that he was always "performing a ritual" with it and that the window was his "all-seeing crystal ball, only flat."
He thought of his son and his frequent visits to this room, and each and every time, the child asked him for a boost so he could see for himself the view that so fascinated his father.
David's smile faded as his thoughts grew serious once more.
They are everything to me. In my life I have been very fortunate, but none of it comes close to the pure joy that my family gives me.
He blinked back tears as his emotions stormed through him. A lone tear escaped, trailed down his sculpted cheek.
I will not allow anything to harm my wife and child. I would do anything to protect them. If I had to, I would die so that they may live.
His intentions were clear enough concerning his dilemma; he needed a professional whom he could trust, someone with knowledge of the supernatural. However, when it came down to taking the measures needed to find such a person, he was at a loss over what to do.
Private detectives are a dime a dozen in this town, yet somehow I believe that if I were to consult any of them about my particular case, I would find myself surrounded by men in white lab coats or the police. Jesus, the tabloids would love to get their hands on something like that.
In coming to his study, he'd required solitude to plan his next move. The only conclusion that he could draw was that he definitely could not handle the matter on his own. The stress had already begun to take its toll on him, and it was starting to affect his family and business as well.
He did not fail to notice the worry in his wife's eyes when she looked at him, and inside he resolved to be strong for her and their son. But he was only one man, and one man can only take so much strain before cracking. He needed outside support, or he would surely go mad.
I need someone that can prevent me from sinking further into the depths of Hell.
Another sigh escaped him, filled with despair. With a heavy heart he finally turned away from his window, having gained neither clarity nor peace of mind.
He switched off the light, and in total darkness walked out of his study and up the stairs, not stopping until he reached the door to the master bedroom. He held his breath as he slowly entered the room, fearing that he would find the bed empty.
Or worse, that he would find endless trails of blood on the walls, the floor, the sheets; the motionless body of his wife, her lifeless eyes staring blankly into his as if to say "How could you let this happen?"
Instead of the gruesome sight, he found his bed occupied by not just one, but two very alive beings. They were both sleeping soundly, and he gave a silent prayer of thanks that his worst fear had not become a reality.
Not tonight, but what about tomorrow or the next day?
His wife was unaware of his anxiety as she slept, her raven hair spread out on the pillow. The faint sound of her breath filled him with great awe. He cared for her deeply, and he considered himself lucky to be married to her.
His young son was sleeping next to his mother, and David felt his heart kick within his chest at the sight of his face. He looked like an angel.
There were countless times when the father felt as if he would crumble under the weight of his burden; the smile of his little boy was the one thing that kept him sane.
He slid beneath the bedsheets. He stared into the darkness, waiting for sleep to take him; still searching his mind for answers. Nothing came.
* * *
She was awake when her husband finally came to bed, and she cautiously waited until he fell asleep before slipping away. She carefully disentangled herself from her son, who had come to sleep with her after experiencing yet another of his strange dreams.
She softly padded through the door and approached the stairs.
They're coming more frequently now. I hoped that - I don't know what I hoped. I understand now that it was inevitable.
With an anxious glance over her shoulder at the closed bedroom door, she descended the stairs, her nightgown gently brushing against her legs as she moved.
As she entered the study, she saw that the sky was preparing for the sunrise; the pitch black of the night yielded to shades of violet and peach. It was 5:00 am.
Another day has begun. What will it bring, I wonder? More pain? Yet another reason to believe I'm sharing my life with a stranger?
Her eyes brimmed with unshed tears as she remembered the faded photograph that she'd recently found in her husband's desk, tucked away in a drawer. The bright, ice-blue eyes of the woman seemed to watch her, to mock her as her gaze had shifted helplessly between the two figures in the picture.
In the photo, she had observed the handsome young man holding the beautiful mystery woman in a tender embrace, and that the woman was holding a lovely bouquet of lilies. Her breath stopped in her throat when she recognized him.
The man was her husband.
In a daze, she flipped the photograph over and read the inscription:
"David and Caitlin. Oxford, March 1971."
She looked again at David. Even back then, he had a distinguished air about him. His face was filled with the vitality of youth, and his eyes were filled with brilliance and fire. His smile rivaled the sun in its brightness as he held Caitlin against him, his front to her back, their intertwined hands resting on her swollen middle.
They were wearing wedding bands.
She felt a chill as she returned to the present, and she rubbed her exposed arms. She walked to the fireplace, her mind still thirty years in the past. Caitlin, whoever she was, had been pregnant. The child had obviously been David's; there was no mistaking the body language and visible emotion of an expectant father, of a man deeply in love.
She built a fire, her cheeks stinging as if she'd been slapped. He had been married before, and he'd had a child with this woman. She herself had been married to David for five years, and it wounded her deeply that he would keep such a thing from her.
As much as she tried to think objectively about the situation, wanted to consider the reasons why he wouldn't want to share the information, it was no use. Like a falling domino, the photo of his secret love began a chain reaction that caused her to truly evaluate her relationship with her husband.
She stared into the flames, momentarily hypnotized. The warmth of the fire did nothing to ease the ache inside, and she closed her eyes as a sob of pain escaped her.
I don't really know him. We are married; we share a life, a bed and a child, but I don't know him. What else has he kept from me? From all that he has told me about himself and his life, which details were true and which were lies?
She sighed and opened her eyes, not willing to delve further into the emotional black hole. She had a schedule to keep; she had to prepare for work, where she was to deliver a lecture later that morning.
Her toes curled into the carpet as she stood and went to the bar, pouring herself a drink to help chase away the cold she felt. In between sips, she wandered the room in search of the TV remote. She wanted to watch the news, which was part of her morning routine.
The remote was on the couch, beside what appeared to be a discarded shirt of her husband's. She ignored the shirt in favor of the remote as she sat, switching on the gigantic, high-definition television while automatically turning down the volume to avoid disturbing her sleeping husband and son.
"Hello there, and welcome to the Morning News at 5:30! This is where to go for the most recent, top-breaking news to start your day off right!"
She stifled a yawn as the newscaster went through his opening shtick. It all sounded the same to her, so she watched the sunrise until he got down to business.
"This just in: An unidentified man was found ripped to pieces in Battery Park City. Many details are unknown at the moment, including the actual cause of death, but the body was found in the area by early morning joggers and the coroner has estimated the time of death to have occurred between midnight and 2am."
The news report regularly switched between the newscaster's reading and images from the crime scene. She felt sick to her stomach at the sight of blood on the concrete, so much so that she switched off the television immediately.
She sat back on the sofa, one hand clutching her middle as she fought back a wave of nausea.
What a horrible way to die.
She glanced at the abandoned shirt beside her, and froze. Her hands automatically rose to her mouth to prevent a scream from escaping. There were several red splotches against the once-pristine white fabric, as vivid in color as the nightie she wore.
Alarmed, she could do nothing but stare at the stains, scattered words from the news report echoing through her mind.
A man. Ripped to pieces. Midnight.
Taking a deep breath, she made herself back away and rise from the couch. She stepped back until she bumped against the window. She bit her lip hard in an attempt to hold back tears. Her heart began to pound, and the metallic taste of her own blood filled her mouth.
David. Please, no.
Her husband had been out that late; that meeting had lasted well into the night and she didn't hear him return until long after midnight.
The AE building is down there, just a few blocks from the crime scene.
She didn't like the path that her thoughts were taking where her husband was concerned. In the past few years, David had been her friend and confidante as well as a spouse; they'd had many good times together. He was a wonderful father to Rafe, and he was one of the most brilliant men that she'd ever known.
To everyone around them, theirs was the perfect marriage; for her, however, it was too perfect to be true. Finding that photograph had been like a bucket of ice water dumped over her body, waking her up from the fairytale dream that was her marriage when otherwise she would have been happy to roll over and return to sleep, seeking refuge in denial.
There were two sides to David Anami: the successful businessman with a heart of gold, and a completely different man which she had only begun to meet. Her David was kind and generous, powerful yet sensitive. She had lost count of the many times in their relationship that she went to him to talk, whether she needed to vent out her frustration about the daily trials of her profession or just to discuss one of the many topics that they both enjoyed. No matter what he was working on at the time, he'd always set it aside and listen to every word. He'd always been there for her, and she had always considered herself fortunate to have found him.
But the other side of her husband was a complete enigma to her; there had been times when David would return from a business trip abroad with a fierce temper. He'd never resorted to violence, but it was greatly disturbing for her to watch him yelling at the servants. She'd always been careful to make sure that their son wasn't around to witness such behavior in his father. Whenever she'd tried to talk to David when he was in those dark moods, he shut her out. His eyes, normally so warm, looked as if they were carved from stone. During those times, he was a total stranger to her, and for the first time ever, she'd been frightened of him.
And now I find a bloody shirt in his study, and the stains look fresh. Who did I marry? I thought that I knew, but I may have been wrong. What am I to think? Not telling me about his first marriage is one thing, but ending a man's life is another. Is he really capable of murder?
When she'd watched him lose control, screaming like a madman, she had thought that anything was possible.
She forced herself to calm down, to think clearly about what she would do next. She left the study and sprinted across the marbled floor to the kitchen, her bare feet silent against the tiles.
She approached the kitchen island and opened one of its drawers, pulling out a pair of disposable latex gloves and a few plastic bags. She returned to the study, wearing the gloves. She gently picked up the stained shirt and bagged it once, then twice. On her way out, she noticed an empty glass on the coffee table and wrapped that up as well.
Removing the gloves, she walked toward her briefcase. With her heart in her mouth, she opened it, and carefully packed the evidence away before returning the case to its rightful place.
After all was done, she was at a loss. Her mind whirled as the knot in her stomach tightened.
What happens now? Should I confront him with the shirt and listen to what he says? Would he have a reasonable explanation? Would I believe him? I don't know what to believe anymore. Should I go to a specialist to find out if it is indeed blood that I saw? And if it is blood, should I turn him in and have my son's father taken away to prison?
She turned on her heel and re-entered the study, heading straight for the phone. Her fingers flew on the panel from memory; she dialed the number blindly, yet with a purpose that she didn't quite understand at the time.
Her instinct had led her thus far; she didn't fully realize what she was doing until she heard the voice-mail message in her ear, first in German and then in English, and the slow drawl of the man who spoke in the recording.
"Hello. This is Gabriel Knight, and you have reached Schloss Ritter. I'm not in right now, so if you would please leave your name, business and contact information at the tone, I would be happy to reach you at a later time. Thank you."
In her mind, the following beep sounded as loud and shrill as a train whistle. She clutched the receiver tightly in her hand, her arm refusing her brain's command to hang up the phone. Her breathing grew frantic, even to her own ears. Her thoughts raced as sobs of panic escaped from her.
What am I doing? I can't go to him for this, not for anything. It's been over five years; he belongs in the past, with the other mistakes and regrets of life. I must hang up. Now. I have to find another way to deal with what's going on.
Grace hung up the phone, and the resulting sound was like the cocking of a pistol. The click of the receiver returning to its cradle rung in her ears. In that moment, she knew deep down that somehow danger had her and her child in its cross hairs, and that the decision to cut herself off from the one man that could help them could have pulled the trigger.
The rising sun bathed the penthouse in its light, the streaks of crimson dancing on the walls as she crept up the stairs. Her limbs felt heavy, as if they were being pulled down by an invisible weight, and she leaned against the banister for support as she forced her feet to move.
She reached the bedroom, her gaze drawn to the small figure that was cuddled next to the much larger one under the blankets. She stood at the threshold, frozen with indecision and fear before she made herself step forward.
Tears streamed down her face as she stepped closer to the bed, looking down at her son. He was so young and innocent, so fragile.
Grace remained there at the foot of the bed, keeping a silent vigil over her child.
I won't let anything happen to you, my darling. I'll die before I let anyone hurt you, especially the one that you trust the most.
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