What should have been a routine shopping trip has turned into something else entirely. Discovering what she thought were the perfect candles, Hannah finds herself confronted with a crazy gypsy woman who’s waving silver coated candles under her nose.
“Mother,” a cheerful masculine voice startled her. Hannah jumped away from the box as the woman tucked it behind her guiltily. “Are you scaring away our customers again with your little tricks?”
Chuckling, he entered the room. He was tall and darkly handsome. His eyes sparkled like polished jasper. Brilliantly white teeth flashed in his tanned face. His black, curly hair was a little long and hung in short ringlets by his face. Grinning, he held his hand out to Hannah. She glanced at it to make sure he wasn’t wearing silver jewelry. His mother had several rings on her hands, all of them heavy silver and chunky gems. He wore a single gold band on his left thumb. No other ornamentation was on him.
“Kier,” he smiled again, his teeth seemed to flash in the dimly lit room.
She was fascinated by him. He was totally different from any of her husbands, who all had tended toward the short, dumpy accountant type. She found herself staring openly, gazing into those bottomless dark eyes. With a snap, she withdrew, realizing she had spoken to her.
“My mother likes her little games. When people come in here they expect a certain atmosphere. Mother’s theatrical background lends itself well to the surroundings.” He gestured at the dimly lit room, the walls lined with dark paneling, and the strange objects around them.
Hannah smiled weakly. “She’s very convincing. I admit, she had me a bit spooked. I’m highly allergic to silver, you see. I can’t get near it or I break out in a horrible rash.”
“And here I am foisting them on you,” the woman said. Her voice was dusky when she spoke as herself. She had no hint of the gypsy accent and Hannah could now see that the red nails were fake and the dark hair a cleverly constructed wig.
“Perhaps we can make it up to you,” Kier said. “Have tea with us.”
“My fiancé is expecting me for dinner,” Hannah said lamely. She really didn’t want to leave, she was fascinated by this gorgeous man and his theatrical mother.
“It’s early yet,” he smiled. “Please, it would make us very happy if you would join us.”
“I’d like that.” Her smile flickered and waned as she followed them into a snug, well lit kitchen. It was cleverly concealed by a heavy brocade curtain.
The tea had a sweet aroma and made her a little dizzy, rather like the incense. She tingled all over, like static electricity. She suppressed a yawn and blinked slowly.
“I need to be going,” her words slurred slightly. “I really must meet my fiancé for dinner.”
She tried to stand, but found her legs would not support her. Sitting with a flop, she looked at Kier and his mother. They were staring at her expectantly. Her eyelids dropped once more, then fell shut. She was still marginally aware of her surroundings, although she could not react. She could hear the gypsy woman and her son speaking softly in a guttural language she did not recognize.
Kier spoke in harsh whispers, protesting something.
His mother switched to English. “Come, we must carry her downstairs. The others will be here soon. Grab her feet.”
Hannah felt herself roughly lifted and partially dragged down a long set of wooden stairs. She could smell must and mildew. The air grew heavy and moist. Water dripped on distant stones. The room must be quite large, the sound of water echoed. They laid her down on cold stone. She flinched when her skin met the chilly, smooth surface.
“She isn’t out enough,” the woman gasped. “She must be fully under before the others arrive. Get more.”