The town of Winchester is filled with many quirks and oddities. Between authors who played at crime scenes and undertakers who wished they were alive, D. I. Knighton is never short of things to investigate. A pall is cast over the town, however, when a sudden rash of killings spread throughout. Will the detective be able to solve the mystery before one of her loved ones becomes the next target?

(Comments, constructive criticism, and theories are welcome and appreciated!)


3. II.

     Barton Hospital was the largest in the city and sat in the center of Winchester. It was where Violet's soon-to-be husband Christian Hall worked. Because of its size, Barton often got the more serious cases and was frequently packed, and it was very easy for Christian to overwork himself. He was the most favored pediatrician at Barton, and he took his job very seriously. More than once Violet had been forced to come to the hospital just to catch a glimpse of him. But she couldn't complain. Her job was no less demanding, and Christian was a good man. They fit perfectly together, and Violet never regretted saying yes when he'd proposed to her at a crime scene four months ago.

     As Violet entered the lobby, Jane- a woman who despised Violet for some reason or another- sat at the receptionist desk. She wore a cheery smile until she recognized her to be Violet, and her smile turned to a frown of indifference.

     “Ms. Knighton. Are you ill?” Jane asked in a strict business-like tone.

     “No, I'm here to see Christian. Is he with a patient?” Violet asked politely. She tried to hide her detective nature whenever she was around normal civilians. As far as she knew, no one in the hospital even knew she worked. Jane certainly didn't. She was convinced that Violet lounged around and spent the money that Christian earned. Though his job was well-paying, the only thing Violet actually allowed Christian to buy her was the engagement ring that hung around her neck by a thin chain, and food for her cat Bastille. Other than that, his money was his own to do with as he pleased.

     “No, he should be in his office right now.”

     When Violet headed for the door that led to the wing that Christian's office was located, Jane stood and moved to cut her off.

     “He said he didn't wish to be disturbed.”

     A cold drop of dread rolled down Violet's spine with those words, but she didn't let her expression show her apprehension. Instead, she brushed past Jane and quickened her pace to her fiance's office. Jane called after her but didn't follow. Even if she had, Violet doubted that she would have noticed. Every step seemed to take an hour, and every foot gained seemed minuscule as time ticked away. She knew every second was precious, and it seemed like too many were slipping through her fingertips. After what seemed like an eternity, she found herself at his office door.

     Please, Christian... She didn't know how to end that prayer, so instead she twisted the knob. It was locked. She groaned inwardly at his precaution before taking a deep breath and picking the lock. It took her two tries before it clicked and she stepped inside.

     The office was comfy, decorated with things Violet and Christian had found on their trips to the carnival and the beach. It was normally comforting and inviting, but now it seemed like a distant memory. The head light was turned off, and the only light came from the small lamp on Christian's desk. It and an empty tea cup were the only things that remained on the usually cluttered desk. Everything else had been thrown violently to the ground. The entire office seemed to be in a form of disarray, but not nearly as bad as other times. Still, it was enough that it took Violet a moment to locate Christian in the partial darkness.

     She finally spotted him sitting in his desk chair in a corner. He'd managed to pull his long legs up to his chest. He rested his black-haired head on his knees like a child, and a painful moment went by when Violet wasn't sure he was still breathing. When she saw his chest slowly move up and down, she shut the door behind her and moved carefully toward him. She made each step deliberate and loud so that she wouldn't startle him.

     “Christian, honey?”

     She could have sworn she heard him mumble something, but she couldn't be sure. She continued her approach until she was right in front of him, and then she knelt down so that she was looking up at him. She placed her hands on his large cold ones and internally winced.

     “Christian? Are you with me?”

     There was a long silence before Christian replied in his quiet baritone.

     “Are you angry?”

     “Why?” Violet asked, relief clear in her voice.

     “Because depending on if you're angry, I might not be here...”

     Violet gave a light giggle, too elated to worry about the consequences of it. “Right now, I'm not angry. Do I need to get a doctor?”

     Christian lifted his head and sat his chin on his knees, attempting to look indignant, but came out looking more like a kicked puppy. “I am a doctor.”

     “You're a children's doctor,” Violet corrected, unable to remove the smile that played on her lips. Instead of replying, Christian lifted his hand and placed it on her cheek. His pupils were blown out, but he still managed to look regretful.

     “Did I worry you?”

     The sorrow in his voice cut Violet like a blade, and she bit her tongue before she talked out of empathy. She took a deep breath before replying.

     “Yes. I didn't know if this was going to be like the last time...”

     The pain on his face hurt Violet ten-fold, and all she wanted was to take back that sentence. She knew it was too late, but that didn't stop the ache in her chest. Christian gave her a forced smile.

     “I'm...I'm trying to stop, love. I swear it. I want to be clear-headed when we say our vows so that you never regret me.”

     Violet kissed his palm gently. “I would never regret you, Christian.”

     The look on his unusually pale face said that he doubted that, but he didn't reply. Instead, he leaned his head back and savored Violet's nearness.

     “Why do you want a bird with a broken wing when you could have anyone else?”

     “Hey now,” Violet growled before standing and placing a chaste kiss on his lips. “Broken wings heal, but black hearts are always black. You have the purest soul I've ever seen, and I refuse to let you go simply because of one flaw.”

     The love in her eyes was enough to give Christian a new high, and not for the first time he wondered how he'd managed to find someone like her. Luck didn't cover it. She gave him a mischievous grin, and he wondered if she'd read his mind.

     “Besides,” she continued, “I have a friend who has a blind pygmy bunny that she loves like her own life. She's coming to dinner tonight.”

     Christian gave a light laugh, his eyes still closed. “That can only be Bellamy. His owner apparently had to pay hundreds of pieces silver for permits to carry him everywhere she goes. She and Jane clashed last week when she wanted a led jacket for him so he could go into X-Ray with her.”

     Violet had to laugh too as she imagined the vibrant Josephine going toe-to-toe with Plain Jane. The nurse probably nearly had a heart attack after seeing the professor in one of her brightly-colored dresses. Jo was eccentric to say the least, and not many people were used to her loud nature. Violet wasn't sure she quite was either, but she owed her friend a lot for introducing her to Christian in the first place.

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