Maria sat at the small dressing room table staring with a blank expression at the empty notebook that lay open in front of her. She was an immensely beautiful woman with long wavy auburn hair that reached down to her shoulders. Her eyes were a mesmerizing green with a feline quality about them. She had large sumptuous red lips and a warm enveloping smile. She wore a short silky black dressing gown with a red and golden dragon embroided on the back. She sat with her legs crossed which were bare and lightly tanned. Her skin was delicately smooth and soft to touch. Her chestnut brown hair hung untidily in front of her. She picked up the hairbrush next to the open book and began to comb her hair, staring out the window absent mindlessly as she did so. The sharp shrill sound of the doorbell ringing brought her back to reality. She got up hurriedly, stuffing the notebook and brush into the open draw and slammed it shut. She stopped suddenly catching sight of herself in the mirror; she examined her appearance for a few seconds, brushed her hair back with her hand and hugged her dressing gown closer round her body. Satisfied with her appearance she rushed to the stairs and flew down them quickly. She reached the door as the bell rung again, this time more prolonged.

‘I’m coming, I’m coming’.

She undid the lock and threw open the door. She screamed and was thrown backwards inside the house crashing into the kitchen door and sliding to the floor in a crumpled heap. She lay still. Blood seeped through her dressing gown and down her long slender legs. A tall broad man stepped inside the house closing the door behind him. He was dressed in a black suit with a green tie and corresponding bright green trainers. On top of his suit the man wore a long trench coat that reached to his knees. He wore a pair of thick black leather gloves which were gripped tightly around a sawn-off shotgun. He wore a pair of black aviators so his eyes were hidden and the bottom half of his face was concealed by a red bandana. On top of his head sat a dusty brown cowboy hat. He stood motionless in the hallway for half a minute before he spoke two words in a deep Scottish accent.

‘Nice house’.

He walked over to Maria, his green trainers moving soundlessly across the wooden floorboards. There was blood smeared down the kitchen door. Maria’s head was bent forward and her legs were sprawled out in an awkward position.

‘The names Tom, nice to meet you ma’am’ the man said aloud peering at the notice board on the wall next to him.

The cork board was covered in sketches of birds and the occasional one of a black cat.

‘There very good’ he said. ‘You have a natural talent for drawing’.

Silence. He walked over to Maria and stood still watching her intently.

‘Not much of a talker are you?’

He took of his glasses to reveal a pair of beady pallid blue eyes. He retrieved a cloth from his pocket with his available hand and began to clean his glasses meticulously, his eyes still focused on Maria. He sighed deeply

‘What a shame eh, you were one of the pretty ones’. He returned the cloth to his pocket and repositioned his glasses. ‘Well it’s been lovely talking to you doll but I have things to do so if you would excuse me’ he announced tapping his hat.

He walked to the bottom of the stairs and stopped. The black cat from the drawings sat watching Tom from the second step its head resting on one side.

‘Hello Mr Cat’ he said calmly holding out his hand.

The cat swiped at Tom furiously catching the back of his hand and drawing blood.

‘You son of a bitch’ he cried aloud as the cat hissed loudly and bolted up the stairs.

He dug his unscathed hand into his pocket and produced a silk handkerchief with the initials TK sown in the corner. He wrapped the handkerchief around his wounded hand and proceeded up the stairs after the cat.

© [Daniel Ashby] and [Ashby Tales], [2014]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Daniel Ashby] and [Ashby Tales] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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