*For the fourth time in five days, she stood before the morose painting and lost her grip on reality. Steven had painted a brilliant masterpiece. The curator at the art museum had extolled his genius. Galleries lined up to carry anything--from sketches to napkin doodles. Stephen was the "it" man of the modern, dark art scene.
And he scared the hell out of her.
At night, he would sleep beside her; his breath a mere whisper. She would lean in close and listen, wondering if he breathed at all. Then his chest would rise or his nose would whistle ever so subtly. Or he would twitch. But his eyes were on her, always. She could see the outline of his irises through his lids. They didn't shift back and forth the way eyes should. He never seemed to dream. Instead they stared, immobile, always in whatever direction she happened to lie.
The flair. The acclaim. The motionless slumber. She recognized the signs. He had sold his soul to the devil and his ward had already collected payment.
She should have left him--ran as far and fast as her legs could carry her. But the art held her firmly in its grasp. It watched her. It lingered. No matter where she travelled, she could feel the presence of the paintings in particular. They personified his deal. And they hungered for more souls. Hers was on the brink of succumbing.