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Prodigal Son

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He waited until the other mourners had left. As he stood by the grave, clouded by tears, he struggled for words, but there was nothing he could say, not when it’d been him, armed with a crowbar, who’d knocked the life out of …

“Playing the penitent, Ripper? All that drab tweed standing in for sackcloth and ashes? I could do you one better. Whip your sins away.” Rupert shut his eyes but then thought better of it. Ethan, shimmying his hips in a victory dance, stopped when he caught Rupert’s gaze. “Don’t give me that look, Ripper. I’m just as bereaved as you, but life goes on.” His lips twitched into a smirk. “At least for the living.”

“Go away, Ethan.”

“No whips? No chains? How terribly disappointing. What if I promised to take handkerchiefs and dip them in your blood? We could sell them as holy relics. St. Rupert, the mortified, the contrite.” He gave the final phrase a salacious purr. “The chastened.”

Rupert struck out. Ethan’s leer gave way to shock as he hit the ground. “Must we play this game again, Ripper? You know you’ll be back.”

“Not this time.”

Ethan, even fallen on his ass in the dirt, didn’t know when to quit. Eyes locked on Rupert’s, he licked his lips as he spread his legs. “Do you remember taking me in that cemetery outside of St. Peter’s? Gods, what a night that was.”

Rupert turned and ran.

“You’ll come back. You always come back.” Ethan’s laughter chased him out of the cemetery.