It wasn't the best steak he'd ever eaten, but it certainly wasn't the worst, either. Perhaps a shade past rare, he diagnosed, bordering on medium rare. And he had very specifically requested rare. But perhaps a superfluity of blood was inappropriate. He wasn't entirely certain what the socially acceptable state of cooked beef was at this establishment. Shrugging, he resigned himself to the state of the steak and determined to make the most of it. Steak was steak, after all.

The baked potato, on the other hand, was perfect. He'd never experienced the exalted status of a diner whose chef personally added the butter, sour cream, bacon bits, and chives before his meal was brought to him, and there was rather more butter and less chives than he was accustomed to, but it worked, drawing out flavours he'd never before noticed. While he didn't consider himself old, not even middle-aged, really, it was a pleasant surprise to discover that he was still capable of being surprised. That there were flavours left to discover.

"Is there a problem with the asparagus?"

"Ah," he said, patting his mouth with a linen napkin. He'd been able to ignore his surroundings for longer than he'd anticipated. A direct question, however, could not be ignored or deflected by avoiding eye contact.

"Asparagus, is it?" he questioned, nudging the offending vegetable with his fork. "I wasn't sure. I don't recall ordering it."

Logan. He was pretty sure the man's name was Logan. Not that it mattered. He wouldn't be seeing him again. In fact, it was tempting to snap at him, to roundly abuse him for a mistake that wasn't his. But that wouldn't do. He hadn't come this far to resort to boorish behaviour simply because he wouldn't be back this way again.

Logan stepped back. Perhaps he'd been cowed. Perhaps not. What was important was that he'd most likely be left to eat the rest of his meal in peace. And that was the point of this evening, after all.

To relax.

To enjoy.

To savour.

In light of that reminder, he pushed the asparagus firmly aside, making certain that it no longer tainted any of the other food on his plate. It had tainted it, though. Somehow the steak was no longer as tender, the potato not as flavourful, as it had been before the interruption.

"Dessert?" Logan asked, and he nodded. There was, after all, nothing quite like dessert to revive one's interest in food. He made his way through the cherry cheesecake slowly and methodically, each portion on his fork precisely the same size. Still, his plate was empty all too soon. After patting his lips with the linen napkin he tossed it carelessly on the plate, pausing with morbid interest to watch as the cloth soaked up the last of the cherry syrup.

"Follow me," Logan instructed, and he pushed his chair back to comply. They navigated a maze of hallways and elevators before locating his room. Unlocking the door, Logan pushed it open and ushered him into the room, reminding him of the next morning's schedule.

"You're scheduled for a six-thirty wake up call." Logan's hand brushed his arm and he froze.

Waited.

But there was no electric charge. No moment where he knew they'd forged some sort of connection. He hadn't realized that he'd been hoping for it.

Counting on it.

He'd thought that he was too smart to let himself indulge in false hope. Apparently not.

Pushing aside his disappointment, he barely even noticed when Logan closed the door behind him as he left. It was a simple room, but contained all that he would need for the night. Lying down on top of the plain white bedding, he laced his hands behind his head and stared at the ceiling. Touching Logan had unnerved him, though he hated to admit it, even to himself. It was bound to have affected him, he reasoned, since he'd had very little physical contact the last few months.

Months.

Had it really been that long? But he was lying to himself again. He knew, down to the day, how long it had been. He could recall with perfect clarity the last time he'd felt that sudden prickle, the knowledge that the person he was touching would affect his life in some major way, whether for good or bad. A flash of unruly blonde curls and blue eyes sparking with fury and fear tickled the edge of his memory and he pushed the image firmly aside. He didn't want to think of her. The more he thought of her, the more he dreamed of her.

And he didn't want to dream of her.

Not tonight.

She didn't deserve it. She didn't deserve even one moment of his attention. Even if he'd felt a spark stronger than anything he'd ever known when he'd manhandled her. It explained, perhaps, why she had affected his life so strongly. He ought to have known from the moment they'd connected that it could end in only one of two ways. And though his crimes were numerous, he'd not yet found himself attracted to barely-teenage girls.

He'd made mistakes in his life. Not many, of course, or he'd have come to a bad end long ago. But it had definitely been a mistake to think he would make it through the night without dreaming of her. Closing his eyes against the unpainted canvass of the stark white ceiling, he allowed his dreams to take him where they would.

††††

Six-thirty, he thought, was an ungodly hour. But that was, perhaps, appropriate. This time, when Logan took him by the arm, he felt the shock. And that was appropriate, too, seeing as how Logan was most certainly affecting his life in a very strong way today. They walked in reverse the same hallways they'd taken last night, but this time each step he took generated a spark of electricity. It was almost as if he were walking through shag carpeting in his sock feet, though that most certainly was not the case.

They soon passed through the familiar corridors and entered areas he'd never seen before. The corridor grew brighter, more stark, and the air hummed with tension, electricity. They stopped in front of a plain, non-descript door and the buzz was nearly deafening. There were people in the room. Men in suits and ties. Men in white lab coats with clip boards. Men in uniforms complete with guns.

"This way."

It was one of the men with a gun, of course. Not that it mattered. It was obvious which chair had been reserved for him. And he certainly didn't require the assistance of the man with the gun to guide him to the chair, but the resulting jolt of electricity from his touch was welcome, even if it did make him stumble. He thought about shaking the man's hold on him, but before he could decide there were multiple hands on him and he was in the chair.

Strapped to the chair.

Electrodes attached to his body.

And though he knew he still had a few minutes, the buzz of electricity held him still.

Waiting.

"Diego Martinez. In accordance with United States law for the crime of kidnapping you are hereby sentenced to death, as administered by a lethal dose of electricity."

The words continued, but he couldn't hear them over the hum of pure energy. Closing his eyes, he waited.

 

Authorís Notes

This is a submission for CWE #12, Die, Villain, Die! in which we have the pleasure of meting out final justice to a canon villain. Mystery on the Mississippi has always been one of my favourite Trixie books, in part because Pierre Lontard/Diego Martinez was such an intriguing villain. I hope you've enjoyed sharing his last hours. J

In my extensive *cough Wikipedia cough* research it seemed possible for Lontard to have received the death penalty for his crimes at the time that the books were written. If not, well, I'm claiming artistic licence. *wink* Also, I have the male Bob-Whites to back me up:

White-faced, Jim declared in a cold voice, "Killing's far too good for them!"

"Even the electric chair!" Brian added grimly.

"They'll get thatóat least!" Dan said sternly. "They kidnapped Trixie and Honey."

That's my kind of research. ;)

Thank you to my wonderful editors MaryN and BonnieH. You ladies make everything better. *hugs* And the amazing graphics are courtesy of MaryN. Thank you!

Disclaimer: Characters from the Trixie Belden series are the property of Random House. They are used without permission, although with a great deal of affection and respect. Copyright by Ryl, October 2015.

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