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The Last Red Death

Extract

The American was kneeling on the ground, his head twisted round at Iraklis. ‘What do you want?’ he said in English. ‘I’m a diplomat.’ He swallowed hard. ‘Amerikanos...dhiplomatis.’

Iraklis gripped the man’s fair hair with his left hand, the flat of the blade pressed hard against his throat. ‘I know who you are, Trent Helmer,’ he said in heavily accented English.

A metallic noise close by made all three men look round.

‘Trent?’ The woman’s voice was discordant. ‘Oh, my God, Trent.’ She stopped on the marble tiles outside the apartment block when she saw her husband’s attacker tense, her hands moving to her mouth and her face contorted in horror. She opened her mouth to scream but no sound came. She leaned forward, the flaps of her dressing-gown parting to reveal a pink silk nightgown.’

‘Stay back, Laura,’ the American croaked.

‘Oh, my God,’ his wife repeated, in a whisper. But her eyes were no longer on the kneeling man. They were fixed on his attacker. ‘No, it can’t be,’ she said, stepping forward unsteadily. ‘It isn’t you, it can’t--’ She broke off as she saw the masked man with the knife raise his gaze from her.

‘ No,’ she groaned, when she realised that her daughter was watching from the bedroom window above. ‘No, Grace, no, no...’

Iraklis took in the little girl. Her face and braided blonde hair were all that showed between the curtains. Her skin was pallid in the moonlight, the expression on her face vacant and unreadable. Her eyes were on the well-honed knife held to her father’s throat.

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