Save Me From The Dark (Death and Moonlight #2) by Cynthia Eden

Something is different. The problem was that Chloe didn’t quite know what was different. Not yet. Her gaze trekked away from Joel. She didn’t look back at the victim. Instead, her attention shifted to the wall of mirrors that waited just a few feet away. Her own reflection stared back at her. Joel edged closer, a tall, muscled form that came in protectively. He knew something was wrong. He just wasn’t going to push her in front of the cops who were at the scene.

A crime scene tech eased around them and snapped a few photos of the victim.

“Why the hell do her feet look that way?” The question came from one of the young, uniformed cops who was waiting nearby.

Chloe knew him. Tommy Avarett. He’d found the body. Someone had called in a tip about a break-in at the dance studio, and Tommy had come to investigate. Instead of a break-in, he’d found a body.

“Did the bastard smash her toes? Look at all of those bruises. There is no way she could walk on them—” Tommy began.

“That’s what a dancer’s feet generally look like.” Chloe’s voice was quiet. Considering. “Usually, the toes are wrapped up. Especially for the dancers who are doing pointe technique. The toes have to support the weight of a dancer’s entire body.” She wasn’t bothered at all by the bruising or the condition of the ballerina’s toes. No, she was wondering… “Did anyone retrieve her shoes from the scene?”

“No,” Cedric replied. “We got her bag, but no ballet shoes were inside.”

“Then the killer took them. She wouldn’t be here without her shoes.” She’d been dressed to dance, and she would have brought her shoes.

Lucia Rossi. Cedric had given her brief stats on the victim when Chloe arrived. The vic was twenty-two. An up-and-coming dancer who’d been discovered dead in the building. No signs of forced entry. No witnesses.

Lucia had been beautiful in life. Her dark hair was in a loose bun, and faint tendrils had escaped to tease her oval face. She had a slight, delicate build. Her long, thick lashes were still against her cheeks, and even in death, a faint hue of color still stained her cheeks and lips.

Joel knelt but made sure not to touch the body. “The slice in her throat starts on the left and goes to the right. You can tell based on the depth of the wound. The spray pattern of the blood indicates that she was standing and probably staring at her own reflection when it happened.”

Joel knew his wounds. He was a former surgeon, after all. But in addition to his skills with a scalpel, he’d gotten plenty of his own up-close and intense experience with slices on the human body.

A low whistle came from the young cop. “The perp made her watch him kill her?” Tommy asked. He winced. “That is cold.”

Chloe stared at the mirror. At the blood that had dripped down the glass. Joel was correct. Lucia had been facing the glass when the assailant sliced her throat. From ear to ear. The blood spatter had flown forward and hit the mirror before it dripped down in those long, red streaks. “I’ve seen enough.” A brisk nod. “Let’s go outside.” Without another word, she turned on her heel and marched for the door.

The scent of blood was bothering her. Too strong. The ballerina’s body needed to be moved. Covered up.

Come dance with me, Chloe.

Her steps were fast as she hurried for the exit. A cop beat her to the door and shoved it open. Chloe yanked off her gloves—and the little booties that had been over her shoes—and tossed them aside. She sucked in several deep gulps of air and—

“Are you going to tell me what the hell is happening or am I supposed to guess?” Joel’s voice was mild.

Slowly, her head turned toward him. She’d been aware of him following behind her, even though he hadn’t made a sound. That was one of Joel’s skills. He could move ever so quietly when he wanted. But as to what was happening… “Cedric had a crime scene he wanted us to see.” That had been apparent. Why was Joel—

He shook his head. Stalked toward her. “No, sweetheart.” He’d ditched his gloves and the shoe booties, too. His hands curled around her shoulders as he brought her closer to him. “I’m talking about what is happening with you. I swear, Chloe, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you’d just seen a ghost.”

Ghosts aren’t real. Or, if they were, she’d certainly never encountered one. But then again, you didn’t always have to see something in order to believe in it. She’d learned that truth long ago.