4 Blood Pact

4 Blood Pact by Tanya Huff

Book: 4 Blood Pact by Tanya Huff Read Free Book Online
Authors: Tanya Huff
Held in the depths of hazel eyes, the young man swallowed and began to tremble.
    The bed sank under the weight of a third body.
    He became an extension of their passion which quickly grew and intensified and finally ignited, racing up nerve endings until mere mortals became lost in the burning glory of it.
    He left the way he came. In the morning, they’d find the catch on the screen had been broken and have no idea of when it had happened. Their only memory of his participation would keep them trying, night after night, to recreate what he had given them. He wished them joy in the attempt.
    The casket had not been moved from the chapel. Henry stared down at it in distaste. He could no more understand why they’d covered the wood with blue-gray cloth than he could the need to enshrine empty flesh in expensive, beautiful cabinets, sealed against rot and protected from putrefaction. In his day, it was the ceremony of interment that had been important, the mourning, the declarations of grief, the long and complicated farewell. Massive monuments to the dead were placed so people could appreciate them, not buried for the pleasure of the worms. What was wrong, he wondered, stepping closer, with a plain wooden box? He’d been buried in a plain wooden box.
    The sandbags had been taken away, but the imprint still showed in the satin pillow. Henry shook his head and leaned forward. There was no comfort for the dead and he couldn’t see how denying that comforted the living.
    Suddenly, he hesitated. The last time he’d bent over a coffin that should not have been empty he’d ended up nearly losing his soul. But the ancient Egyptian wizard who called himself Anwar Tawfik had never been dead and Marjory Nelson assuredly had. He was being foolish.
    There was a hint of Vicki’s mother about the interior. He’d spent the day surrounded by her scent and he easily recognized the trace that still clung to the fabric under the patina of odor laid on by the day’s investigation. Straightening, he was certain that whatever else she’d done in her life, or her death, Marjory Nelson had not risen as one of his kind.
    But there was something.
    Over the centuries, he’d breathed in the scent of death in all its many variations, but this death, this faint suggestion that clung to the inside of nose and mouth, this death he didn’t know.

    “Dr. Burke, look at this! We’re definitely picking up independent brain wave patterns.”
    “Are you certain we’re not just getting echos of what we’ve been feeding in?”
    “Quite certain.” Catherine tapped the printout with one gnawed nail. “Look at this spike here. And here.”
    Donald leaned over the doctor’s shoulder and squinted down at the wide ribbon of paper. “Electronic belching,” he declared, straightening. “And after thirty hours of this-is-your-life, I’m not surprised.”
    “You may be right, Donald.” Dr. Burke lightly touched each peak, a smile threatening the comers of her mouth. “On the other hand, we might actually have something here. Catherine, I think we should open the isolation box.”
    Both grad students jerked around to stare at their adviser.
    “But it’s too soon,” Catherine protested. “We’ve been giving the bacteria a minimum of seventy-two hours . . .”
    “And it hasn’t been entirely successful,” Dr. Burke broke in. “Now has it? We lost the first seven, number eight is beginning to putrefy, and according to this morning’s samples, even number nine hasn’t begun any cellular regeneration in muscle tissue. The near disaster with number five proved that we can’t continue isolation much past seventy-two hours, so let’s see what happens when we cut it short.”
    Catherine ran her hand over the curved surface of the box. “I don’t know . . .”
    “Besides,” the doctor continued, “if these spikes do indicate independent brain wave activity, then further time in what is essentially a sensory deprivation chamber will

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