"Why do you live in such a dump?" says Crystal as we walk through the rusty iron gates of my grounds – her arm still linked around mine. I can feel her body heat, a welcome contrast to the cool, smog filled breeze that circles us.
I look up at the mansion ahead – dark, derelict, brooding – the windows looking dully out onto the abandoned alleys leading up to it like hollow eyes. I don't speak for a moment. Then I grin.
"Isn't a derelict manor house the perfect place for a monster to reside?"
"Are you a monster?"
I look down at her as she walks gracefully beside me. I raise an eyebrow.
The corner of her lip tugs upwards.
"I don't know. I haven't quite worked that out yet."
She leads me to the door. I want to invite her inside. But the vision of Jekyll, and the twisted iron gates of the Olympian Corporation flash behind my eyes. I want to go see it for myself.
I lean against the doorframe and look down into her eyes.
"Well, this really has been most pleasant. We'll simply have to do it again sometime."
She raises an eyebrow, then lightly touches my arm. I try to hide my sudden intake of breath due to the contact of her skin on mine.
"You're not going to invite me inside?"
She leans closer, placing her palm on my chest. Her face is just inches away from mine. Fire races through my veins.
What is wrong with me?!
"I...uh...thought you needed to get back?" I say.
She doesn't say anything for a moment. I feel her warm breath tickling my neck.
Then she takes a step back and smile.
"Just messing with you, Mino. You're right - I need to get to the Matchmaking Service."
I exhale, then put a hand to my chest in mock hurt. A smile tugs at my lips.
"How could you be so cruel?"
"You did fake propose to me earlier!" She lifts up the slip of paper with Jekyll's name on it, "I'll let you know if I find anything."
Momentarily something crosses her expression – something somewhat deceptive. She's up to something. I can tell.
Anyone else I would enter their mind, find out for myself what it is. But there can be certain...complications...to such an action. And I wouldn't want to send her to the madhouse. So I nod and grin.
"I hope you'll come and visit soon, my love."
She turns and walks back down the overgrown pathway towards the gates. I watch her back as she disappears into the night.
As soon as she's out of sight I head down the path after her, though I don't make my way towards the Cupids Matchmaking Service like she will have done. Instead I walk the route my mind took me on earlier and I head towards the mysterious military base.
Olympian Corporation is written in big, bold lettering across the top of the high, iron fence. A sign reading Restricted access is nailed to it. Through the bars I can see parts of a building, though it is shrouded in shadow. It's industrial looking, reminding me of some of the factories in central London.
There is no sound coming from within and the night that surrounds it is deadly still.
I approach the fence, walking alongside it to the twisted iron gates.
There is something wrong with this place – I can feel it.
I place a hand on the gate and push. It makes a horrible creaking sound as it scratches against the concrete ground. I slip inside and dart into the shadows.
Slowly I stride towards the vast building up ahead. I stop a couple of times in my tracks, unable to shift the feeling that someone is watching me. Each time I look over my shoulder though there is nothing there but darkness.
I reach the side of the building and skulk around it, passing large windows that look into dark rooms. The first few I pass look like they could belong to a hospital or a prison, each barrenly furnished with just a simple, wooden bed. Through another I see what could be the room of an apothecary, filled with vials and bottles. I catch no sight of any people.
"What is this place?"
Then I reach the main door. I place my hand on the knob, expecting it to be bolted shut, but it easily creaks open at my touch.
Again I get the feeling I'm being followed, but when I turn I am completely alone. I shrug it off. There is nothing in the shadows that I have to fear. It is the shadows who should fear me.
I push the door to the Olympian Corporation open and I slip inside.
I enter a vast, circular entrance hall. The floor is tiled – a chequered black and white like that of the Cupids Matchmaking Service. In fact the whole décor is quite similar. Ahead there is a tall, stone, reception desk; a long spear hangs above it. Past it, through an arched doorway, I can catch a glimpse of a weathered looking stone statue.
A red-haired woman sits behind the desk though, blocking much of what lies ahead from my view. She smiles as I stroll forward.
"Mino," she says. "I've been expecting you. I'm Doctor Jekyll - but you already know that, don't you?"
She extends a gloved hand and I lightly kiss the back of it. I look up into her eyes. There is something hiding behind them – secrets, knowledge, power. I also get the same feeling I did when I saw her at Klaus' bar. I'd thought it was desire, but it's not. It's more of a recognition, a wave of familiarity.
Who are you? What are your secrets?
"Pleasure to meet you, my dear."
She nods then stands, revealing the rest of her black, gothic dress.
"You have questions. You want to know what this place is. You desire to catch the killer the press are calling the ripper," she smiles. "I have answers. In fact – I think we will both prove to be very useful to each other, if you come on board with our cause. But we do have a problem, don't we?"
Her pale face looks disappointed for a moment.
I smile widely.
"And what is that, my dear?"
"I told you to come alone."
I frown as her eyes fix on something over my shoulder. Slowly I turn. And it's then that I realise what I'd seen in Crystal's expression earlier. Betrayal. She knew I was lying to her when I said I'd seen nothing in my vision.
She and Cal both stand at the entrance, bows raised, arrows pointed at me and Jekyll. The doctor leans forwards slightly and whispers in my ear.
"I can give you the answers you desire. But first – get rid of the cupids."
YOU ARE READING
The Minotaur : CUPID'S MATCH SPIN-OFFAction
A Ripper is loose A Labyrinth is growing A WAR IS COMING... The beast had always liked a labyrinth ----- A Cupids Matchmaking Service Book. This is a Cupid's Match spin-off however it can be read as a stand alone. You do not need to read the other...