Mother Earth MysterybyTara_Neale©
Gaia sat cross-legged on the beach. The sun and wind caressed her golden skin as her natural blond hair whipped about her ethereal face. Her striking blue eyes that had brought her fame were closed at the moment in meditation. Her voice low as she hummed an ancient mantra.
"Mother earth, goddess of all life, hear me now..."
This was a daily ritual for Gaia for as long as she could remember. Her mother and grandmother taught her before she could even walk or talk. Despite her fame, this was the one time each day that Gaia left real, alive.
As always she lost track of time. In this dream-like state, minutes could be hours or days be mere seconds. Nothing mattered but communing with the goddess. Especially on days like this one.
Eli Harris stared at the computer screen. He checked and re-checked the facts. He went over the finest details of each murder.
For the past eighteen months the full moon brought a murder. But not just any murder. The murder of a high profile businessman or politician. A business reporter. Even a prominent scientist, who had spoken out against the theory of global warming. That was the key. Fame was not all these men had in common. Each was on the watch list for Green Day, a leading international environmental organization.
The crimes occurred in different cities, different countries even. This serial killer moved about the globe easily. Money was no object.
But it was not just that had Eli stumped. It was the intimate nature of each crime. Each man was strangled, naked in their bed after the act. There was DNA, plenty of it. But this killer was not in any system. All they really knew from the DNA was that they were looking for that most elusive of creatures, a female serial killer. A killer that would murder again in two days if Eli did not stop her.
Of course, there were a few other assumptions that Eli could surmise from the crimes. This was a beautiful woman, someone that these powerful men would desire. She was also someone that these usually cautious men would trust. Each had dismissed their security team for the night, saying that they were going to bed early and would not need them for the rest of the night.
He had begun to look for patterns. He followed the society pages and online gossip looking for the same person or group in each city in the days before and after the murders. One group jumped out...the Cirque de Majique. Each murder had occurred in a city when it was playing.
Now it was in London. Eli was following it there. On his own time and money. His superiors at the FBI had dismissed his ideas out of hand. Why would someone with money and fame risk everything to kill? The connection to Green Day was tenuous at best. And a quick background check of the troop had revealed that none of the performers or staff had any connection to the organization.
But Eli was convinced that he was on the right track. He was convinced enough that he came three thousand miles. He had spent the small inheritance that his grandmother had left him for the plane trip, tickets to all the Cirque de Majique shows for the next three days and a room in the same hotel as the performers.
His gut told him that he was right about this one. That it could make his reputation as a profiler before the age of thirty. This was his chance and he was taking it.
Suspended from the ceiling by a thin wire, Gaia spun slowly. It was the perfect chance for her to survey the crowd. But it was one face that she sought. Yuri Adamovich. The Russian oil baron, who had immigrated to England a decade before.
Gaia's blue eyes focused on the front row and then upon the box seats that suspended from the walls almost at eye level with her. She found her prey there; seated next to the woman she recognized as his current paramour. A world famous model, her career had taken backstage for the past six months as she followed this man around the world.
Gaia could not blame her. After all beauty was sure to fade with time, but a wealthy husband could provide the lifestyle to which she had become accustomed. Even if they divorced, a child would ensure a decent settlement. Yuri's first wife proved that point. But the woman was of no interest to Gaia, other than as an obstacle standing between her and her mission.
Gaia stretched, arching her back as she hung suspended upside down above the stage. She had long ago become accustomed to the glare of the spotlight that followed her every move on stage.
This night she added just a bit more to the move, jutting her small but perfect breasts out. The flesh toned Lycra and lace was studded with sequins and rhinestones, giving the illusion that she was naked beneath the gemstones.
As she spun back towards the box, she saw that the move had its desired effect. The man's eyes were glued to her. She returned his gaze briefly then demurely dropped it. The cat and mouse game had begun.
Eli walked slowly through the lobby. This hotel was a far sight better than the ones he usually stayed in. Thanks to the television show, his job might appear glamorous. But the reality was cheap motels, day-old cold coffee and greasy burgers. This place on the other hand offered freshly cooked gourmet food by a top chef. A bed that was decadently luxurious. And coffee that was sinful.
But that was not the reason that he had spent the last half hour hanging out in the lobby. Eli had spent over two hours seated in the front row, watching the performance. He was not sure what he was looking for exactly. He had long ago learned that serial killers rarely were the wild-eyed monsters of lore. Especially a killer this skilled at her craft.
He had spent the performance surveying each woman in the troop in turn. Most would perfectly fit the scant profile he had developed; beautiful enough to attract any man's attention. But his eyes kept coming back to her. Gaia Montgomery, the program said. She was the lead performer. And the most beautiful woman there tonight. Perhaps the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
Her body was lithe, but he knew that this job meant she was far stronger than she looked. Arms that could easily lift her body weight or balance in hand stands would be more than strong enough to strangle a man, especially a man who had just...well, given the scant state of Eli's own love life these past few years...the idea did not bear thinking about.
He had tried to get back stage after the performance. But had been dismissed by the guards. No one was allowed back before or after a performance he was informed.
So he had retreated here. He was waiting for the troop to arrive, a chance to speak with someone. Anyone would do at this point. He just needed to get a better feel for life within the troop.
Gaia finished the note. She signed it with a flourish and included her cell number. Her script was a curvy and bold as she was. But the words were simple; designed to appeal to the ego of men such as these.
Thank you for attending our humble performance. I hoped you enjoyed the show. We will be in town for two more days. I would love to see you again. Perhaps even have the chance to speak with you...alone.
She signed it and handed it to one of the guards. The man was more than a bit enamored with her. This man provided the perfect go-between. She had used him in the past to pass dozens of notes like this one. Just as the guards were charged with protecting the performers, they also catered to the needs of their high profile guests.
With a blush and whispered words of thanks, she stood on tiptoes to plant a soft kiss upon his cheek. "Thank you, Thomas. I don't know what I would do without you," she purred.
She watched as he slipped from the room. There was nothing to do now except wait. The next move would be up to her prey, but she had little doubt she would be hearing from the man soon. For now, she would head back to the hotel. Food and a shower were all that was on her mind this night. The rest could wait.
Just as Pachamama, Mother Earth had been patiently waiting for centuries to wreck her vengeance upon these pitiful creatures of her own creation. And just as Gaia dispatched these greedy and thoughtless men who raped and pillaged the earth's precious resources, she knew that one day the great goddess would rise up and call all of mankind to account for the squandering of her gifts.
But Gaia knew that she would not be here to see that day. She could feel it now. Like sands through the hour glass, so are the days of our lives...the words of her grandmother's favorite soap opera rang in her mind.
One of the 'gifts' that came with the sight as her mother called it was a premonition of one's own death. It was meant to give you time to take care of business. To right any wrongs. To get your soul right with the goddess.
That was what Gaia had been doing these past two years. Repaying the deity for the bounty that she had enjoyed in her brief time upon this earth. She was at peace now...well almost. The blood of this one final sacrifice and she could go freely to her ancestors knowing that she had done her part to balance the scales of life.
Eli could not believe his luck. It was her. He was certain of it. Despite the lack of makeup and with her light blond hair pulled back into a ponytail, he was sure that it was Gaia Montgomery. But the creature that stopped at the front desk before disappearing into the restaurant looked more like a young teen than the seductive siren that had captivated the hours by spinning, twisting and dancing in mid-air for hours.
The body that she had used to weave the exotic tale was hidden beneath sweat pants and a baggy t-shirt. Her still enticing face was bare of make-up. But he would recognize those clear blue eyes anywhere. They were almost the exact shade of the oceans in the pictures of earth that came back from space.
Following his gut, he slipped into the restaurant behind her. At this time of night the place was practically deserted. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the dim light, but he quickly found her sitting at the bar, a glass in her hands. Mustering all his courage, he walked over.
"Excuse me, but is this seat taken?" he hoped the words did not sound as ridiculously cliché to the woman as they did to his own ears.
When she lifted those clear blue eyes to his face, he swore that his heart froze in mid-beat. Air whooshed from his lungs. His chest tightened uncomfortably at the twin sensations.
"No, not at all. Please take a seat," he strained closer to hear her soft, almost whispered words.
"I'm Eli. Eli Harris," he said holding out his hand.
He swore that the earth shook beneath his feet as her small, warm hand disappeared in his own.
"Gaia Montgomery. Nice to meet you, Eli," she smiled at him and his heart stuttered inside his chest once more.
"I know. I mean I watched your performance tonight. It was amazing," he stuttered. Eli had never been particularly talented with the opposite sex. Geek, nerd...all words that had been used to describe him. He had been well into his early twenties before he had lost his virginity in fact. Not that it mattered to him. Usually he was more than happy with his life. Knowledge and his career had been more worthy pursuits than the female of the species...or so he told himself until that moment.
But in this instant, he wished that he possessed the looks, confidence and charm of his friend and colleague Jason. He would know exactly what to say to this creature, this goddess. His All-American good looks would match her own exotic beauty. Eli was none of those things.
Gaia smiled at the man. "I'm glad you enjoyed yourself," she said with genuine warmth.
Gaia had always been the center of attention. Even as a baby her looks had won her allies wherever she went. Her mother and grandmother told tales of how people would stop in the street to oh-and-ah over her.
Of course, the duo had used the distraction to their advantage; often relieving the unsuspecting people of their wallets or jewelry. But that was the gypsy life-style that they had lived in service of the goddess. Traveling from town to town, city to city, in their camper van always in search of the perfect place...their Eden.
Her looks had served Gaia well when she moved from school to school as a child. The frequent moves were another way that her family stayed ahead of the law. They moved two or three times each year always just in time before a warrant was issued for writing bad checks...her mother's and grandmother's crimes of choice.
Not that the duo saw anything wrong with it of course. They were simply modern day Robinhoods, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, primarily themselves. It was not fair after all that some people should have all the resources, taking them from the goddess. It was only right and just that they take them back, the women justified to the child.
But that had been a lifetime ago. Now Gaia had everything that she could have ever dreamt of. But it brought her no comfort, no joy. She was alone. She had been for so very long. And in that moment she felt the lonesomeness to the core of her being.
She stared lost into the bottom of the glass. Water, the refreshing water from which she usually drew her strength had abandoned her this night. It was doing so more and more lately. She knew that it was another sign. The end was close. Her time here on this golden world of green and blue was almost to an end. Her assignment here almost complete.
But still some part of her longed for something. Something of her own. Gaia had long ago accepted the solitary life that her job required. She knew that for her there would be no family; no daughters. A husband was never an issue. In their world, the goddess reigned. Women were the queens. Men were nothing more than a thing to be used and discarded...or worse. Gaia had never known who her father was, just as her mother and grandmother before her had not known.
But in moments like this, some part of Gaia longed for what could not be...to be held. Even if just for a single night. She knew it was an illusion. Real love, marriage, security...it did not exist. But still it was a beautiful fairytale.
"Penny for your thoughts," the man said.
Gaia looked up into the purest brown eyes that she had ever seen. They reminded her of the cool, clean mud that she had loved to play in as a young girl. She would often run through the rain as a child, splashing in puddles and running her hands through the sticky mud that clung to her skin. Her breath caught at the sight now of those eyes...and for a single moment it seemed as if fairytales did come true.
"I was thinking about fairytales," she responded honestly. It was not something that Gaia did often. Honesty, except with the goddess and herself, was not a virtue that held much value. Her life was filled with deceit...in every nook and cranny of her existence. Lies built upon lies built upon lies.
"What a beautiful thing to think about," he replied. "Which one in particular?"
"Prince Charming actually."
He laughed and the sound caressed her skin as nothing except the sun and wind ever had. Tiny hairs stood on end as her heart hammered inside her chest. Beating to be set free...for one moment in time.
"Tell me about him," he asked.
Swirling the final bit of liquid that remained in the bottom of her glass, Gaia began, "It's his eyes. They are the warmest brown and I get lost in them just as I used to get lost when I would play in mud as a little girl."
Mud...there was nothing sexy about mud. But why then when this woman spoke of it did he feel aroused. His cock hardened inside the confines of his khakis. The usually lose cotton material suddenly chafed and felt much tighter. Tighter than he could ever remember it being in the past.
The way that she played with the liquid in the glass was mesmerizing. He stared as she toyed with it, swirling it slowing. He felt as if he were that liquid. What would it be like to be the center of this woman's attention? What would it be like for her to toy with him?
"Mud doesn't sound very appealing," he said past the tightness in his throat.
"Oh but it is. Didn't you ever run your fingers through it as a child? Do you remember how it felt as it clung to your skin? All sticky and gooey."
Eli drew in a deep breath. Something else threatened to get very sticky and gooey at the sound of her voice...at her words.
"Sorry, afraid that was one of those experiences I missed as a child. I was the sickly type. Afraid my adventures as a kid were limited to the things I read."
"Oh, how sad," she said. "Perhaps I'll show you someday."
Eli's found himself crossing his fingers at the thought. Sharing such an intimate moment with a woman like this was more than he could imagine. More than he could ever hope for.
"I'd like that very much," he smiled at her. He knew that he should be pumping her for information. If anyone knew the troop it was Gaia. But something inside of him refused to corrupt this moment with work...with the distasteful business of murder.
The bartender disrupted them as he passed a paper bag that Gaia knew contained her salad, fish and bread across the bar to her. She smiled and thanked him for it.
It was so unlike her, but Gaia followed her heart. "Would you care to come up to my room?" her voice faltered over the words.
She saw a shocked expression momentarily cross the man's face. She smiled. He could not be any more shocked than she was. This sort of thing was out of character for her. Despite her appearance and the sexy image that she cultivated on stage, Gaia was not loose with her affections. Her one true love had always been the goddess whom she served.
But something about this man appealed to her deeply. She took the chance to observe him closer while he overcame his shock and mulled over her invitation. He was tall, well over six feet. And unlike the muscle bound behemoths with whom she worked he was thin, almost painfully so. Lank she supposed but that would be a generous description.
His brown eyes that had first caught her attention were matched with soft brown hair that hung in gentle curls almost to the collar of his shirt. She ached to brush a stray strand back from his face that gave no hint as to his age, boyish that was it. He could easily fit in at high school were it not for the tiny lines that were already forming around his eyes and lips.
Watching his brow furrow in thought, she feared that he would turn her down and that possibility hit her hard, far harder than it should have. He was after all nothing but a stranger. A strange man. In a strange city. To fit her strange life.
"Please," she said. "I don't want to be alone right now."
The honesty in her words shook Eli to the core. "How could I refuse such a beautiful woman," he smiled.
He picked up the package from the bar and held out his hands. "You lead the way, kind lady."
The relief shone brightly in her face. As playfully as that little girl who had once played in the mud, she grabbed his hand and led him through the lobby to a bank of elevators. Pushing the up button, they both avoided eye contact.
Looking instead at the geometric patterns in the carpet as for an instant reality threatened to invade this perfect moment. To bring the two of them back to a world rife with intrigue, murder and pain. But they fought it aside long enough to make the quick ride in the lift and the short walk down the dim hallway.
Eli watched as she fumbled with the thin plastic keycard trying to unlock her room. "I'm never any good with these things," she said.
"Here let me," he offered. "I practically live in hotels."
She laughed and the sound washed across him like the discovery of a new idea or theory. His mind filed and stored the sound for deeper examination later.