Jocelyn held her breath, hoping she was deep enough into the crevice not to cast a shadow into the stagnant water. For the first time, she noticed that there were three ledges spaced diametrically apart like the points of a triangle along the cavern walls, and each one led to a steep drop. A certain death should anyone try to escape.
The thought was bone chilling.
In the center of the room, there was a large stone slab with a smoothed surface, much like a bed made of granite, and there were intricate carvings on either side—ancient symbols that Jocelyn didn’t recognize. But the color at the top of the stone was unmistakable. Jarring and unsettling. Jocelyn cringed as she imagined its purpose.
The center of the stone was a deep crimson red, the obvious result of years of decaying blood that had crystallized into the pores. This was clearly not the work of a serial killer or a regional group of fanatics. This chamber was ancient. And these crimes were generational. The room spoke of a hidden way of life that had belonged to a people—a culture—for hundreds of years.
Adrenaline coursed through Jocelyn’s body as the horror of the chamber sank in.
She held her breath and strained to see more.
On both sides of the blood-stained slab, there were additional man-made structures carved into granite: a raised altar on the left with a small basin smoothed into the top, and a wide bench on the right containing a backrest with arm-holds for comfort. Each structure sat about three feet away from the head of the slab.
She could feel the darkness and the unspoken pain etched into the fiber of the chamber, and once again, her stomach lurched. The hair on her arms stood up.
It was then that they entered.
A tall, dark, heavily muscled man. He was graceful yet intense, striking but dangerous. He was definitely malevolent.
And he carried a very pregnant woman in his arms, obviously the one who had been moaning.
Jocelyn didn’t know how she knew the creature wasn’t human. She just knew. He looked like any other male, except that he was far too stunning—handsome in a way that seemed impossible. His long hair fell just below his shoulders in perfectly groomed waves, and his chiseled features were flawless, as if he were a statue rather than a man. But what really gave him away were his eyes. They were vacant...empty...soul-less.
Dark as the night and just as lifeless.
They might have held a strange beauty if they hadn’t been so...dead.
And the color of his immaculate hair was unnatural too: It was a deep raven black, interspersed with blood-red tendrils, highlights that had not been added with dye. Jocelyn thought it shimmered like the surface of a lake beneath the moonlight; it was almost beautiful...in a demonic sort of way.
She hunkered lower and held her breath as she continued to watch, mesmerized.
The pregnant woman’s eyes were open, but she looked unaware, like someone in a trance. She appeared to be young, maybe nineteen or twenty, with beautiful black hair and stunning green eyes. Her pale face was etched with...something...like a frozen look of terror from a nightmare. Thank God, she was so checked out.
With a wave of his hand, the chamber began to fill with the smell of incense, and a dense gray fog began to hover just above the ground. It surrounded the blood-stained slab in the center of the room, instantly adding a ghostly feel to the chamber. Jocelyn couldn’t scoot any further back into the crevice, so she tried to make herself smaller, willing her physical body to disappear.
There would be nothing she could do if he saw her.