Chapter 4: Inner Sanctum
By the light of day, Cat’s apartment looked harmless. Marcus stood in living room for a few moments, taking in the atmosphere. The understated elegance of the place was a little surprising. From the way Aria had characterized Cat, Marcus half expected the place to be garish. He moved through the tastefully appointed living room taking in the gothic accents.
Marcus was curious to see which room would be her inner sanctum. As he explored, it became apparent that Cat had hiding places tucked away throughout her apartment. Very few things were actually what they appeared to be. Marcus inadvertently discovered that even the titles on the spines of several books on the shelves in her study shifted and changed like the liquid crystal of a mood ring into characters he didn’t recognize, as he ran his finger along them.
He seated himself at a mid-nineteenth century antique empire secretary desk and lifted the writing surface to reveal a series of cubbyhole drawers which did not yield anything of useful. Remembering that nothing in the apartment was actually what it appeared to be, Marcus began to run his hands over the carved decorations alongside the large front drawer above his lap. He applied light pressure to the left column and discovered that it was attached to a concealed narrow door which popped open.
He peered inside and discovered that it was a compartment for squirreling away documents. Marcus pulled out five passports. Their photos of Cat with varying hairstyles, hair color, and hair lengths looked like very different people, even down to the eye color in some cases. Experience told him the passports would be tied to identities created using the names of people who had actually died in infancy. So, Cat was a chameleon. A woman with the ability to hide in plain sight would be harder to find.
Marcus finished searching the study and moved on to her bedroom. Among the many vintage glass stoppered perfume bottles on her antique Victorian vanity table, he recognized by scent various enchantment potions. He lifted the lid of an ornately engraved sterling silver jewelry box and peered into the blood red velvet lined interior. Most of the pieces were expensive but unremarkable, with the exception of a large onyx poison locket ring. He had seen many rings like that before and knew they were used to conceal and slip poison or drugging powders into the food and drinks of victims. The impression Marcus had of Cat shifted yet again, to accommodate this discovery. He realized that underestimating her could be fatal.