Isaac’s office was a stark contrast to the rest of the gallery. Where white walls stood covered with a mixture of modern and classical art, naked, dark blue walls were faintly illuminated by bright white floor lamps lined with silver. As a result, artificial light drenched every crevice, save for a large portrait that hung behind Isaac’s large black desk.
There were bold splotches of colors all over the canvass, brush strokes that created a vivid picture I somehow couldn’t discern. I squinted, trying to figure out what was going on in the scene; someone was pulling a lever, someone else was wearing a mask… My stomach lurched when the sickening details finally came together; a man tortured a woman, forcing her to wear a mask that made pools of blood drip to the floor. The man pulling the lever wore a silver cross around his neck.
“The inquisition?” I asked, feeling my face grimace.
“Reminds me of home,” he said, smiling slightly as his fingers caressed the gold frame. For a moment it seemed as if he’d forgotten that I was in the room. Then the smile faded as he sat down and gestured for me to do the same. I watched him carefully as I lowered myself into a plush black chair.
“Now, Rachel, I’d like to talk to you for a bit.”
“I’d rather not.”
“I’m afraid you don’t have a choice.”
Much like I felt the last time I walked into the gallery, stupidity washed over me.
Why had I followed Isaac again?
“I’m not going to see Kerrie.” I didn’t bother phrasing it like a question.
“No,” he said, sneering as he opened a desk drawer. He made a show of rustling through papers as he started talking. “Now, did you know that the werewolves didn’t arrive in Morgantown until two hundred years after I’d claimed the land and established my coven?”
I shook my head.
He closed the drawer and tutted, ignoring me as he opened the one below it and continued to rummage. “When they first tried to claim this land we fought quite a few bloody battles.” He paused. “We moved fifty miles east and let them think that the land was theirs.”
As I fought the urge to run, I tried to remember Kerrie. I was here for her.
Isaac continued, “But at night we’d run to the forests where they hunted, and isolate them.” He smiled serenely at me as he found what he was looking for. “We picked them off one by one, using these.” He dropped a mid-sized axe on the desk, rust or something else on the sharp edge of it.
The smell of dried blood met my nose and I gagged, covering my face with my hand.
“Of course, after fifty years of doing this, we found a happy compromise. A treaty was formed.”
“Why would Matthew ever trust you?” I breathed.
“Because he’s a blundering fool who gives me far too much credit. And he doesn’t even know you’re here, does he?”
I stood. “I have to leave.”
“Do you understand my little history lesson?”
My green eyes met his blue ones and narrowed slightly. “The message was very clear.”
“I don’t want you around Kerrie. Let it go. Stop trying to contact her. Or...”
“Or?”He caressed the handle of the ax, slowly raising his eyes to meet mine as he sneered. “Use your imagination.”