Detective Sergeant Ethan Faulkner stood watching the woman through the small paned window in the old picturesque whitewashed cottage surrounded by midday mist. She was pacing the floor, staring anxiously at the buzz of police and forensic activity around her garden on the hill overlooking the sea. A small tent covered the remains of a murder victim, the thirteenth killing on Storm Island in the last year.
There had been no real leads, no evidence, damn near nothing, until now. The woman behind the window was the only one who had survived a similar attack three months ago. The only snag was that she couldn’t remember anything, not even her own name. Ethan waited patiently for her to catch his eyes, wondering whether she would remember him and what they meant to each other before her disappearance.
He had been angry with her that day. Once more Cassandra had put herself in danger in her dual trade as a skilful successful photographer and amateur journalist for the Island’s newspaper. They’d met at a news conference after the first murder when a few of the old locals circulated rumours that a blood thirsty hybrid race of Mer people called the Nix that legend says used to lived in the sea and the pools in the vast array of caves around the island was true and they had returned to terrorise the Islanders. When the heavy mists hung low in the mountains on the island and clung to the shoreline they would take human form and steal in to the villages under its cover. They would drag the women from their beds and kidnap them after killing the man with them and feasting upon their bodies to gain strength. The women would never be seen again, forever satisfying the insatiable sexual appetite of the Nix. Ethan remembered raising one dark eyebrow in surprise when Cassandra had explained the legend. His reaction had made her laugh.
But like it or not he had to admit there were similarities. The killer only ever targeted couples. The male victims had been found with the blood from their bodies completely drained with several of their organs taken. Evidence had been found that some of the tissue and been consumed straight after the murder. But there was never any DNA salvageable from the saliva left. There was never any trace left of the woman. On three occasions the male victim had also been taken and his hollowed out corpse had been found strewn on the shoreline covered in maggots and crows pecking at the rotting flesh.
But Ethan didn’t believe in the superstition or magical creatures from the sea coming out of the mist either. Someone was manipulating the legend in the murders. At first they had believed the murders had been executed by a serial killer but now there was a great possibility it was a ritualistic murder group with a heavy interest in the supernatural and careful enough not to leave any DNA or any other evidence. A crime without clues or DNA had never been heard of in his experience, certainly not when he was conducting cases for the Met in London. A year on and they were no closer to the truth in this murder investigation. All the leads had taken them down false paths.
Ethan had never forgotten the day Cassandra disappeared. He’d been angry with her that day. Perhaps furious was a better word to use. She’d called him from the deserted small beach named at the northern tip of the Island called Fallon Bay. The mist was heavy that day and no one was about. Many of the Island’s inhabitants out of desperation and fear had begun to believe the legend might be coming true so when the mist appeared they remained behind locked doors in their homes or offices until the mist dissipated. The Island’s roads were deserted. Not a soul could be seen expect for his reckless beautiful Cassandra determined to beat him and the rest of the police force in finding out who was responsible for the murders and the disappearances.
Cassandra reported being on the shore taking pictures for her photographic art shop in the costal village of Durmchapel on the other side the Island. But he knew better. Two of the bodies had been found in the Bay near the caves and she was undoubtedly looking for clues and anything he and his team had missed.
Her voice was so excited on the phone. She’d seen a group of six people all dressed in long black robes emerging from the forest at the back of the bay and out of the mist. This had encouraged her to fire off a round of film whilst she crouched behind two large boulders placed together on the pebble beach.
The group moved in silent uniform down along the beach towards the caves. Cassandra had made to follow them but in her haste she’d been heard and seen. Ethan remembered his heart leaping in to his mouth as she told him of the danger she was in on her mobile.
“Run,” he’d shouted to her down the phone. “Run and don’t stop. I am coming to get you.”
Then her damn phone went dead.
Ethan had never driven so fast in his life. All the time his heart pounded in his chest. He couldn’t lose her and he was having a hard time keeping his fear under a lid in front of his DI in the passenger seat next to him. Conway couldn’t know they were involved. He was supposed to be keeping his distance from the press and Cassandra was keeping their relationship quiet because of her father and the influence and power he wielded on the Island. The man was possessive of his daughter even though they were estranged and many a man had been unable to take the pressure. It was as though Darien Alexander-Barclay wanted to keep her all to himself.
Cassandra had never mentioned any abuse suffered as a child or in to her twenties but Ethan had a strong feeling that sickened him to the stomach that his suspicions were correct. He skidded the car to a halt in the small car park at the bay and jumped out with his DI and two officers in the police car following them.
The mist was turning in to heavy fog and he couldn’t see a damn thing. Where was she? He called out her name as he frantically searched the small pebble beach with the DI and officers but there was no sign of her or the hooded men she’d seen. There was no other sound on the beach apart from the waves rushing back and forth across the shoreline, the spray smashing hard against the rocks at the side of the cliff at the other end amid the annoying chattering cries of the seagulls.
“Search the caves,” DI Conway ordered the officers.
He called in for reinforcements as Ethan thought he could see a black shadow moving down the beach in the distance.
“Cassandra?” he yelled at the top of his voice but as he gained ground on the shape he could see it was a man in a long hooded robe.
He increased his speed and reached out to grab the figure but as he did so the robe fell to the ground devoid of any human shape inside it. He stared down at it dumbfounded. Then he looked about him. There was no sign of anyone. But he didn’t have time to think. A loud piercing female scream caught his attention and his racing mind was forced to cease wondering where the man had disappeared to.
“Cassandra,” he whispered under his breath recognising the voice.
Screaming or showing fear wasn’t Cassandra’s style so to hear her express such fear sent his adrenaline in to overdrive. What the hell where they doing to her?
Quickly he followed the direction of Cassandra’s shouts. She was calling for him now in frantic desperation begging for him to come and help her. The sound was coming from the forest at the top of the beach. Ethan scrambled up the pebbles and in to the forest calling her name.
He was only a small way underneath the pine trees when something banged in to him and knocked him down to the ground. Ethan recovered fast looking up to find two hooded men coming towards him, one with a baseball bat. He deftly rolled out of the way avoiding the man’s strike and scrabbled to his feet as the second man rugby tackled him.
Ethan raised his hands together and brought them down on the man’s back hard. He heard a groan and the man let go. He seized his chance and pulled the man upwards trying to aim a hard punch at his face but he couldn’t see it. Ethan’s fist punched through the hood only to meet contact with air. The hooded robe fell to the floor minus the form it used to contain. Ethan stared and only just managed to block the man with the baseball bat coming in for another try.
He gripped the bat and kicked out at the man attempting to force it from his hands. The man’s face was invisible only his unusual blue scaly hands could be seen. It was disconcerting not being able to face your enemy down. More screams and cries rang out in the forest scattering the birds. He had to get to her before she disappeared like the rest of the women.
Ethan punched his fist in to the side of the man’s head covered by the hood. This time his hand made contact with flesh. Relieved he continued to struggle to get the baseball bat and at the same time made to remove the man’s hood. He pulled it back fast seizing his chance when the man moved closer. Ethan wasn’t prepared for what he was about to see.
A moist blue grey face stared back at him with red eyes and red and black hair. Ethan’s own eyes widened in shock. The man, for lack of a better word, opened his mouth wide revealing two rows of sharp teeth filed in to points. He leaned forward and roared in to Ethan’s face as though to take a bite making him reel back. Then the strange man disappeared in to thin air, his hooded robe falling empty at Ethan’s feet.
DS Faulkner was frozen to the spot trying to work out what the hell had just happened but loud sobbing jerked him back in to movement. He picked up the baseball bat and turned to run off deeper in to the woods to search out Cassandra quickly calling on his mobile for assistance.
He ran through the mist until he could see two moving hooded men in front of him. Cassandra was tied between two trees with by her arms. She’d been stripped down to her black bra and his favourite skimpy panties he loved her to wear for him. One hooded figure stood behind her holding her head back by a painful tight grip on her long black ponytail. A second figure was running his sharp teeth along her shoulder. He took a bite out of her flesh and Cassandra cried out in pain.
Without hesitation, Ethan launched himself at the man and pushed him to the ground but when they landed Ethan sank in to a vacant cloak. He quickly looked up at Cassandra but the man who had been standing behind her had disappeared.
Cassandra was gently sobbing and shaking both with shock and the cold. Her semi-naked body was covered in bite marks that were bleeding. Ethan’s hands shook as he untied her just wanting to hold her in his arms and make her feel safe again. She fell in to his arms sobbing. He wrapped her small curved form in the protective enclosure of his arms and held her as tight as he could.
“It’s okay. It’s okay. You are safe, baby. I’ve got you,” he whispered kissing the top of her hair.
“What’s going on, Ethan. Who are these people? Their faces were all blue and wet. They were so strong I couldn’t fight them,” her voice sound drowsy as though she were ready to faint. He had to get her to a doctor. “Were they even human? Maybe the legend is right?”
Cassandra slumped in his arms. Hurriedly he managed the feat of holding her with one arm and pulled off his long overcoat to sweep it around her.
“They are human, Cassy. They have to be. Someone is manipulating the legend and playing magic tricks. Let’s get you to the hospital and these wounds seen to.”
He also wanted to see if they could get any DNA off the bite marks. Ethan swept his hand around her tear stained face and kissed her gently.
“It’s going to be all right, Cassy. I will keep you safe,” he whispered quickly as he noticed torches being flashed in their direction through fog. He heard DI Conway calling out to him.
“I found her but she needs a doctor,” he shouted to the Inspector.
Conway emerged from the fog in front of them out of breath. The guy was getting too old to be running. Ethan watched him bend over and put his hands on his knees to get his breath back.
“There was nothing in the caves or on the shoreline. No sign of anyone. I have called for the paramedics,” he said breathlessly.
Ethan continued to hold Cassy tight, too afraid to let her go and it was an effort to fake a distance and pretend he didn’t know the woman. Conway’s brow creased slightly and he wondered if he had been rumbled in having a relationship with Cassy. You couldn’t get much past Conway.
To distract him while they walked Cassy back to the shoreline he described what had happened.
Conway shook his head.
“This is just going to make the locals worse. Someone is playing a clever game and a lot of tricks. Never believed in the supernatural myself but a lot of people on the Island do. We have to be very careful. These are some kind of ritual murders. I wish we could get a damn lead. Let’s see if we can get some DNA from Miss Alexander-Barclay’s bite marks.”
Cassy sat on top of the bed in an examination room in Casualty in a white gown. Ethan had waited outside pacing the corridor fuming that he couldn’t be with her. He threw his paper cup of coffee in the bin when he noticed the Doctor coming out of the room. A quick glance around the busy waiting room told him Conway was too busy chatting to a couple of officers to see him.
Ethan cornered the Doctor.
“How is Miss Alexander-Barclay doing? Is it all right to interview her now?”
The Doctor appeared harassed.
“And you are?”
“DS Faulkner. It is important I get to speak to Miss Alexander-Barclay. We are conducting a murder investigation and she is a witness,” he told the obnoxious man with authority.
All I want to do is see her and make sure she is ok. She bloody hates hospitals and will be nervous. Now let me the fuck in.
Ethan tried to smile.
“She needs to rest but I can’t get her to stay in hospital. The woman is stubborn.”
“Don’t I know it.”
“Nothing. Can I see her?”
Ethan took his cue and slipped in to the room. Cassy was sitting rubbing her arms dressed in a white hospital gown sitting on top of a examination table. There were bandages around her arms and neck. Her pale face brightened when she saw him and his heart leapt with joy at her response.
He hugged her.
“I haven’t got long before Conway is going to come in here and start firing questions at you.”
“I want to go back to the shop and get those photographs developed,” she said resting her head on his shoulder.
“One of the officers found your camera and the film had been ripped out. Sorry, babe.”
“Damn it.” She pulled away from him. “Anything off my bites?”
“They took swabs but we won’t know for a while. I want you home with me tonight and in my bed where I can keep an eye on you and make sure you are safe. No arguments,” he said firmly.
“I love it when you are masterful. Yes, Sir.”
She gave him a mock salute making him grin.
“I meant it,” he said softly. “I won’t take no for an answer.”
She lowered her eyes and blushed.
“If I refuse?” she challenged.
“I will spank you,” he told her seductively.
“Then I better do as I am told.”
“I just have one thing to ask. Can I go back to my shop first? I have a couple of things to do and then I promise I will go to your house.”
He gave her a tut and a warning look.
“You are pushing your luck, girl,” he said putting his hands either side of her on the bed leaning in towards her to study her pretty face and her moist pink lips parted ready to protest. He kissed her.
“I promise I will be good, Sir,” she smiled sweetly and fluttered her full dark eyelashes at him.
“You really should be put to bed. Today has been traumatic for you.”
“I just want to sort some things out. Please.”
He sighed resisting the urge to pick her up in his arms and carry her home.
“You can have half an hour then I will take you home.”
The door started to open. He stole another kissed and squeezed her hand resting on the table before moving away.
“I’m just here,” he whispered standing away from her.
She nodded and smiled.
“I love you,” she mouthed.
He stared at her shocked. She’d never said that to him before but the door opened and he was forced to close his mouth and pretend he’d never met her before.
Cassy answered Conway’s persistent questions but could not be of much help to his frustration.
“Please, I need to go back to my shop. I have some work I must do before tomorrow. DS Faulkner said he would take me . . .”
“Ok, Miss Barclay. I can see you are a persistent woman. DS Faulkner can take you along with an officer and then I want you home. I will get a patrol car to pass by your house every hour to check you are safe. I may want to question you again. It is a shame your photographs weren’t saved. It might have given us the lead we need.”
Conway was frustrated and Ethan didn’t like the way he was indifferent about Cassy’s injuries or her safety. She seemed like a disappointment and a nuisance to him. He was a cold callous man and he hated working with him.
Cassy nodded sheepishly obviously feeling the weight of the man’s scrutiny. He kept staring at her as though he were trying to work out if there was something she wasn’t telling him. It made Ethan frown and become suspicious of his motives. Perhaps for some strange reason he thought Cassy was involved or keeping something from him. Ethan watched Cassy closely for a minute as she gathered her things. Conway left the room and he took his chance to confront her.
“Cassy, is there anything you haven’t told us about what happened?” he gently probed weaving his fingers through her hair?”
She looked up at him from the table, opened her mouth and then closed it. Ethan’s brow creased once more.
“I didn’t want to tell the Detective Inspector but there was something about one of the hooded men when they were walking down in a procession to the caves. You know when I first saw them,” she paused and he continued his caress listening intently. “It was the way one of them was walking. He had a slight limp and he was bent forwards a little. I swear it was my father. The feeling was just too strong to ignore.”
“Damn it, Cassy. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I just wasn’t sure but the more I think about it . . . and I didn’t want to tell DI Conway because you know how close he is to my father. It is almost like he is in his pocket. My father wields too much power and influence over everything on this Island. I have always known he has power over the police.”
Ethan lowered his hand and said firmly,
“I do not work for him, Cassy. And I am influenced by no one whatever their wealth or power. I don’t take bribes, Cassy. Not even ones from your father. Do you understand?” he told her taking hold of her shoulders.
“Yes, I know . . . I didn’t mean.” She gave a sigh and her shoulders sagged with defeat. “I am sorry. I have never doubted you as a good officer for a moment but I know there are those on this Island who aren’t and I really believe Conway is one of them. If I am right and that hooded man was my father then I have no doubts Conway will be involved. He has always protected my father’s interests on Storm Island.”
“Maybe so. But I am not one of them. I know how you feel about your father but you can trust me. I promise. I will not let you down,” he reassured alarmed by her words about Conway and the rest of the team he worked with.
“I know,” she said resting her head wearily on his arm.
“I wish those photographs hadn’t been ruined. I will do some digging around your father.”
“Be careful, Ethan. His security is tight and he will run you off the Island if he finds out what you are doing.”
“I will be. Come on, get dressed. So much for going to my house in the town. I would have preferred to keep you safe there rather than yours at the woods. Change of plan. I didn’t think Conway would even give you any protection. He is one mean git. I will take you to the shop and then the coast is clear I will slip in to your house when the patrol car isn’t around. I will make you some dinner and then put you to bed,” he told her firmly.
Ethan moved out of the room and waited for her to dress thinking about what she had told him about one of the hooded men possibly being her father. The murders were ritualistic and someone must be using magic tricks to keep the locals in fear and away from whatever was going on. What the hell did Darien Alexander-Barclay have to do with this and more to the point how the hell was he going to find out?
At the small shop Ethan followed Cassy in to the dark room at the back.
“I have some negatives to develop from this morning for the newspaper. The paper wanted me to do a piece on the Nix Mer Legend and I had to interview one of the local Historians,” she said reaching for the camera she had used. “People are really beginning to believe in this stuff. After today I am wondering about it myself. Those men . . . their faces were so blue and they were wet and slimy. Just as if they came from the sea! They said there was salt water on my wounds when I was examined at the hospital.”
“This is not supernatural. There will be an ordinary explanation,” Ethan tried to reassure her.
Cassy shuddered. “But their mouths were so wet when they bit in to me. And their teeth were so sharp. I can stand pain Ethan and you know I am not a screamer but it really hurt. They were filed down to sharp points. One of them put his hands down my panties as he bit in to me and I thought I was going to be raped.”
Cassy suddenly put her hand to her mouth to stifle a sob and broke down. Ethan’s heart leapt. He quickly drew her in to his arms trying to banish his own fear that she might have been raped or worse from his mind. She clung to him like a child for a moment, her small slender arms around his neck as she stood almost on tiptoes to reach him.
“I don’t want you to go. Stay with me. I have a funny feeling they will come back for me. I don’t know why. It is probably melodramatic but the feeling is strong,” Cassy tried to persuade him.
Ethan cupped her face and brought his lips down against hers.
“I promise I won’t be long. Henry will stay with you and take you home. Lock all of the doors. I will be with you very soon. I will sneak in the back way and leave my car down the lane like I usually do.”
Cassy pressed her small soft curved body against him and Ethan felt himself harden with need. He wanted to be close to her, to be inside her so he could keep her safe beside him.
“Please don’t go. Not just yet. I need you. I want . . .” she stopped and gave him that look. She didn’t need to say anymore. Ethan moved to the door and flicked the lock sealing them both inside the small room.
He reached to kiss her once more long and deep bottom holding her waist tight then he moved his hand downwards to slide it up her skirt. He gathered the wool material upwards to her waist between them and brushed the tops of the neat short springy triangle of curls that marked her pussy confined inside her black panties. He ran his middle finger the length of her vagina underneath the gusset and smiled when he found it damp. He stroked it lovingly and then dipped his fingers down inside her brief’s sinking his fingers in between her plump wet lips, quickly finding the small bud to tease it, stretching the rest of his hand over her sex to cup it possessively.
Cassandra inhaled a quick breath and then gently moaned as though an ache had been soothed by his touch. He circled her vaginal entrance and lowered his lips to covers. He kissed her deeply once more holding her hard against him. His firm handling made appeared to make her even wetter and his finger was soaked in her juice. He wanted to be inside her. His cock was straining against his trousers trying to reach her.
“I want you here and now,” he told her slipping his middle finger up inside her slippery channel trying to ease his frustration.
She moaned again and pressed her body down on to his finger straining to kiss him again. He caught her lips roughly and loosened her wrap wool jacket that ended at the waist. Ethan cupped her breast through the pink cashmere sweated and then moved underneath it pulling the ripe mound out of the side of the bra cup that contained it. He pinched and kneaded her breast tugging and pulling on the tip until she cried out with pain and pleasure against his lips. He briefly wondered if Henry would hear them but he didn’t care anymore.
Unable to stop himself he pushed her backwards against the door raising her hands above her head. Holding her hands in place with one hand he reached down to her panties and roughly tore the flimsy material away. She gave a loud gasp of pleasure he stifled the sound with a smile against her lips with a strong fervent kiss and slipped his fingers inside her vagina once more. This time she was drenched enough for him to simply mount and take her without any further hesitation.
“Good girl. Nice and wet. Just the way I like you to be whenever and wherever I want to take you,” he grinned tossing the remnants of her panties away to the floor and smoothed his hand around one juicy plump buttock. He gave it two gentle slaps making her pelvis buck towards him. “Remember, I will spank you for putting yourself in danger. I wasn’t lying,” he said striking her buttock one more. “When I get you home you are going straight over my knee,” he informed her with intent blazing in his eyes.
“Yes, I know. I don’t doubt it,” she said with a blush. “I remember the last time I pushed my luck with you,” there was a little fear mixed in with lustful awe when he spoke. “My bottom burned so much I couldn’t sit down.”
“But it didn’t stop you going out and putting yourself in danger again, did it, naughty girl? Maybe I should take my belt to your bottom this time. I won’t go through another day like this again. This time I will keep you safe, woman even if I have to tie naked to my bed with my handcuffs,” he grinned again wondering why he was smiling because he damn well meant it this time.
“Mmmm. That is an incentive to be naughty, Detective Sgt Faulkner.”
“Try me, darling. I am not bluffing,” he said seriously unzipping his trousers to free his cock.
Its thick broad long length was hard and pulsing, fit to burst. Guiding it to her wet pussy he lifted one of her booted legs up around him and guided his penis towards her entrance to ease it inside. He paused just inside the entrance to her vaginal channel and lifted her other leg up around his waist.
“I mean every word, baby girl. I won’t even let you up to go to the bathroom. You will be peeing in to a bedpan if you run off on your own again and get hurt. Do I make myself clear?”
There was surprise in her voice but she answered meekly.
“Yes. I promise not to make you worry again. I promise.”
Ethan gave her a warning look knowing fine well she wouldn’t listen and he would no doubt have to carry out his threat.
“You better, darling or you are going to have one hell of a sore bottom and a lot of time off work being tied to my bed.”
Before she could answer him he thrust inside her hard and deep capturing her lips hard at the same time. Ethan drove hard and fast inside her as she clung to him for support, her back against the wall. His fingers dug in to her bare bottom and a couple of seconds later he was allowing her to come and ride her pleasure at the same time as her own. They seemed to fuck in slow motion, perfectly joined and in tune for that one moment. And for the duration of that high they could both forget the horror of the day. He loved taking her on the spur of the moment. They could spend hours building to a climax with foreplay but sometimes it was intoxicating to surprise her and simply take her when he chose. It was what he wanted and most of all it was what she wanted and needed from him. Cassandra wanted to be dominated and he was more than happy to accommodate her. They were perfect for each other.
That was the last he saw of her before she disappeared. He’d reluctantly left the shop obeying DI Conway’s direction placing her in the capable hands of DC Henry Warren. They had never made it to Cassandra’s house. Henry’s car was found a mile away in it his body devoid of organs and blood later that evening on the edge of the woods next to Cassy’s home on the hill overlooking the sea.