*  *  *

The smell awakened him. The vanguard drop of water had pushed along the block wall’s seam. Those that succeeded it had propelled it to the edge. It paused a moment, as if having second thoughts, and then plunged over the precipice, falling 192 times its diameter. The drop accelerated the entire twenty-four inches until its obliteration against the smooth flesh of an aquiline nose. The man attached woke with a start. His eyes snapped open, but the darkness defeated any detection of the source of his rude awakening. The nose, expert at sniffing the finest fragrance of a well-balanced Bordeaux, deftly dismantled its component scents.

The single drop signaled that late Autumn had not yet turned to early Winter with the first snowfall. The drop’s odorless nature had been adulterated by vehicular essences as it seeped through the asphalt streets of the modern world and down into the dungeon. Although his new residence had existed more than 630 years, no lingering manifestation remained above ground. The head, shoulders, and torso of the Bastille had been razed more than 220 years before, after its fall in 1789. Its bowels, the stone block encasements and ironworks underground, had been left to rot.

Constrained by a bed no larger than his 6’6”, 220 pound frame, he rolled over just as the solid iron closure on his 18” by 12” window to the external world screeched open. Since he had pinched out the desk candle after making a diary entry, his world had been pitch black. The sconced gas lamps in the gallery outside his cell provided morning light. The man who peered into his quarters was clothed head-to-toe in Eighteenth Century dress, no doubt intended as an insult. In spite of the lofty title, Compte de Cièrges, his jailer provided no concierge services, as the antiquated title implied. The fact that the man opened the portal every morning before breakfast and closed it again after the evening meal enabled the prisoner to count the days. Today made eight since being captured. He could thank the American, Magus Crayle, for the assault, and those in the hierarchy above him for the betrayal. And the humiliation.

He dwelled on his transition from a member of France’s elite to a mere captive devoid of any semblance of control over his remaining years. Suicide presented as his most attractive option, but his captors denied him the resources for even that. A brief length of charcoal stick and a writing pad disafforded that option.

One man had done this to him. Magus Crayle, sent to him by American intelligence, had led him to believe there was a pathway to his goal. To replace the hideous, self-destructive socialism, the monarchy of old would be restored. Part of a strategic plan devised by the genius, Crayle.

What had gone awry? The Illuminé’s man-in-the-CIA had provided Crayle for the purpose, yet must have been the one who’d given the assault orders. And Crayle—a mathematician. How could such a man have led an assault capable of obliterating his vaunted, seasoned defense force? Perhaps the years of training and experience in the Foreign Legion no longer provided the human resources he required. He pushed aside the enigma. He knew he would die in this place. The French government, having destroyed the economy, needed their greatest detractor incommunicado until death. They had chosen the perfect venue. With its historical significance, the Bastille oozed symbology. His deep thoughts of remorse were interrupted by a now familiar sound. Breakfast.

*  *  *

She was late. The guard had just begun his shift and already something was wrong. It was feeding time for the prison’s sole inhabitant and, of all the uninteresting aspects of guarding someone in lockdown security, meals were the high points.

Ah, there. He heard the light footsteps nearing the cellblock hallway. She would deliver the food and leave. At that point, the guard would call his girlfriend once again and tell her, in a convincing manner, that he would soon leave his wife. The man deprived of all freedoms moved to the side of his cell door, straining to catch a glimpse of this woman, of any woman.

At four meters distance, she emerged from the shadows. Without patience, the jailer watched the period-attired, petite young woman step into view and move toward him, tray in hand. She wore a dress of white linen, her shoulders covered by a dark, heavy mantel secured by a satin bow at the neck. A white scarf draped to each side of her face completed the picture. The prisoner took notice as she deployed her magic. A slight smile came to her face and point dimples to her cheeks. They juxtaposed the words darling and precious with the words sexy and sexual. She was much more alluring than either the jailer’s wife or his girlfriend. No words were spoken.

She set the tray and its undisturbed contents next to the rust-red, iron door and moved her delicious body against his. His newborn lust turned to physical action. Within three seconds, he lifted and embraced and pressed her against the cold, moist stone wall. She locked her legs tight around his waist.

He pushed his lips onto hers. He brought both hands to bear on his masculine appendage, now also imprisoned. She jerked at her dress. They engaged with seemingly equal passion.

The young woman breathed hard for effect. She thrust herself at him with intensity. But, behind his back, she slipped the long, conical thimbles hidden in each palm onto her thumbs. She bit hard into his upper lip. He tried to jerk away, but she held fast. With all her strength, she drove the pointed ends up each side of his spine and deep into his brain.

The girl pulled her thumbs from the thimbles and held the guard as tightly with her arms as with her legs. As he slid to the floor, the motion scraped her back on the rough stone, but her emotions were on fire. She felt nothing.

They sat entwined on the floor for seconds. Her breathing slowed as quickly as his breathing ceased. She kissed his forehead, released her grasp, and fell away.

She crawled to where he lay and, with care not to bloody her fingers, retrieved the heirloom murder weapons. She looked up into the flat-iron barred opening that the prisoner called a window. She looked directly into his eyes. She lifted the thimbles, one at a time, to her lips. She licked them dry, removing all traces of red.

But the young woman’s goal was not seduction into cold-blooded murder. It was, at this time, not her sport. She operated under the strictest orders. They required no witnesses to that which was to follow. There could be no finger pointing to her or to those who orchestrated the plot. And there could be no trail as she affected their escape.

She had come for the Bastille’s lone captive. She had come for France’s number one prisoner.





 International Thriller Writer