MASK OF DECEIT
TEASER: A LOVE STORY WITH A DIFFERENCE
The eyes looking out from behind the mask are green, but that is all the man can see for her form is hidden in the folds of the flowing gown that she is wearing. The mask itself is stunning, handcrafted and if she is anything like the beauty of the mask, then she is definitely a catch.
Her voice is husky and sexy at the same time; it sends shivers of delight at the thought of what is to come through his body, as she takes his hand in her gloved hand and leads him along the cobblestone walkway, almost as if leading a lamb to the slaughter.
Sounds of the masked ball not far away filters across the square, laughter fills the air as revelers soak up the atmosphere, the colors are bright, and there is a feeling of gay abandonment as couples, groups move to and fro, their masks hiding their true features, and their costumes blend in with the crowds that swarm along the roads.
She leads him along the canal, the sounds from the square falling behind them as they cross the bridge, and he can’t believe his luck on his first night in Venice, to be chosen by such a beauty, and he tries to imagine what she looks like behind that mask.
They come to an alleyway and she pauses for a second, looks into the dark recess of the alley, then turning quickly, takes his hand again and leads him on. He could have sworn that he heard her mutter softly into her mask.
“This one is for you Paul, my darling.”
“My Lady, did you say something?”
“No, I am just thinking about what is ahead of us tonight, you must have imagined it.”
She leads him into a room with a four-poster bed in the center, the light is dim and in the distance, he can hear the sound of music, and her heavy breathing, which he takes as passion, and a sign that he is in for a good time tonight with a masked stranger.
The sound of falling cloth behind him, he turns and gasps at the beauty before him. She is naked, but still wears the mask, and he feels the heat rush through his body, and desire for the masked stranger before him fills him, and he sheds his clothing.
“Do you like what you see Sir?”
“Yes My Lady, you are magnificent, but I wish to gaze upon your face, please remove your mask so that I might drink in your true beauty.”
“I am sorry, you may have me, but the mask stays on. Lie down, and I will come to you.”
He lies back on the soft mattress, and she straddles him, moving up his chest and offering herself to him. His eyes close in ecstasy, and he feels her take his hand, and the soft feel of silk wraps around his wrist, then the other, and he is bound to the posts of the bed. His eyes fly open in alarm. He sees her sitting on his chest, her weight holding him down, and in her hand, she is holding a dagger, and he hears sobs coming from behind the mask.
“My Lady, what are you doing?”
Without a word she brings the dagger down, the dim light flashes off the blade as it cuts deep into his chest. His body arches as he tries to throw her off, he pulls at the silk holding his hands in place, but she rides him, gripping his body with her strong legs, and plunges the blade in, again and again, the blood splatter being thrown across the whiteness of the bed.
His body shudders in its final gasp to hold onto life, and then with a death rattle in his throat, she slashes the sharp blade deeply across his throat, his body goes limp beneath her, the air in his lungs escaping through the deep wounds, as his blood soaks into the bed cover, dripping off the bed, to form a puddle on the carpet.
“There Paul my darling, I showed mercy, just like you taught me, I cut the throat of the animal.”
Without another word, she pulls the gown over her head, covering the blood on her body, slips the dagger into the folds of her dress, and without looking back at the dead man on the bed, leaves him, to be discovered when the occupants of the room returned.
She mingles once more with the groups, just another mask in the crowd.
The days with Paul blurred, and time flew by for Juliana as the two of them fell deeper in love with each passing moment. The mere fact that her father was Don De Luca, retired, did not bother Paul in any way at all, as all he had eyes for was the Don’s beautiful daughter.
Paul taught her to hunt, how to fire a rifle, and the most important lesson of all was the use of the dagger, cutting the animal’s throat to stop any suffering. Juliana not only loved Paul with all her heart and being, but fell in love with Africa as well, and decided that once they were married, she would not have a problem being the mother to Paul’s children in Africa, and living away from her family in Europe.
The Don accepted Paul into the family with open arms, as did Juliana’s mother, and before they knew it, the two were engaged, and the date of 7th February 2007 was set for the wedding.
Juliana slips out of her gown, allowing the silky material to fall at her feet, and slides into the rose-scented water, feeling the soothing effect of the warm water over her body. She shudders as memories cloud her mind, memories of Paul, memories of what could have been. Closes her eyes and allows her mind to drift back in time, back to happier times.
Hand in hand they leave The Enchanted Palace behind them, and leave from the palace’s water entrance via a gondola that carries them quickly along the canal, and deposits them on the other side, near the bridge leading to the hotel. The street lights light their way, as they make their way along the cobbled street, which is not as busy as it was earlier that evening, and the shadows in the alleys are dark and foreboding, and Juliana holds Paul close as the two of them make their way along the narrow streets, the sound of their footsteps echoing ahead of them.
“Wow my love, have you any idea what the time is.”
“No, and I don’t care, you are still going to keep your promise, plus I have something very special to tell you, but only when we are in bed.”
Paul throws back his head and laughs out loud, breaking the silence around them, and pulls Juliana closer.
“Sweetheart, it is 2.30 in the morning, but never mind I made a prom… ”
Paul’s voice is cut off as a strong arm is thrown around his throat; he is pulled backward, off his feet by the attack into the darkness of an alleyway. He hears Juliana scream, her voice shattering the night, and tries to fight back, but suddenly there are two of them, and he is struck to the ground by a blunt object, fighting to stay conscious, to fight back, and to go to Juliana’s aid as her screams reach fever pitch.
His mask is ripped from his face, a large boot placed on his exposed throat and a light shone in his face.
“He is the wrong fucking one, look there is no tattoo on his cheek.”
“Shit, now what Ivan.”
In the background, through a red haze, she hears the sound of a struggle as Paul fights for their lives. The weight of the man as he throws himself on her knocks the wind out of her body again, she fights back, but a punch to the side of her head knocks her senseless, and she feels the penetration as the rape starts.
Review of Mask of Deceit by Paul Zunckel.
Review by Angel C Ernst.
Mr. Zunckel has taken a great leap in his writing this time around. Instead of writing mostly from a male point of view he has delved into the inner workings of the female mind as she has encountered great loss and tragedy.
This is a very dark and powerful story. It is not easy for some to write about personal feelings, and for a gentlemen to capture how a traumatized woman would feel, is truly an amazing feet. Mr. Zunckel has done just that with this story. The emotions take you on a roller coaster ride and let’s face it, not many women out there would not feel exactly the way Juliana feels after suffering at the hands of the thugs.
All around I would give this a 5 star review. Well done Paul capturing the inner workings of the female mind.
Mask of Deceit
by Paul Zunckel
“edge of my seat, escalating heartbeat kind of story”
“I’ve read Paul Zunckel’s Blood Moon Trilogy, and The Devil in Eden. Mask of Deceit is different from those but just as satisfying. His descriptive phrasing drew me right into the scenes all while enjoying the edge of my seat, escalating heartbeat kind of story he has written here!
“A departure from Zunckel’s African thrillers I have enjoyed so much, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect with Mask of Deceit. It did not disappoint! It opens with a chilling scene and does not slow down! Well done Mr. Zunckel!
♥ Leigh Paul ♥ @LeighPaulAuthor 19h19 hours ago
Welcome to Twitter @zunks Your new novel on “Mask of Deceit” is awesome! Congratulations!