Comforted by the darkness of his office and enthralled by his exotic décor, she removed her bonnet. “Call me Katerina.”
“I do not think that is appropriate,” he responded.
“I am not a countess here. I am a patient to a doctor,” she said strolling around the room studying all that adorned it—mounted heads of beasts, exotic sculptures and various books. “What is this?” she asked petting the fur of a delicate looking creature with soft, dead eyes.
“Gazelle,” he replied quickly and pointed to a large, straight wooden chair. “Have a seat.”
She sauntered toward him. “Did you kill it?”
“No. I bought it from a tribal hunter in Africa.”
He shrugged. “Preservation. It is a beautiful creature. It would be sad to see it decay, so instead I honor it with decoration.”
“There is a grim beauty in decay,” she replied with a sigh. “I have seen it way too often.”
“I would not have expected a countess to be witness to such horrible sights.”
“There is a lot more to me than being a countess,” she replied with a soft smile and flipped open an autonomy book. The various illustrations of the human form fascinated her. “Is that—?”
Siegfried peeked up at the open book. “What you are looking at is our internal nervous system. It controls our physical sensations,” he said tapping on a wooden chair with a high back and flat armrests. “Please, have a seat.”
Casually, she made her way across the room. “Africa is one place I have never been. What was it like?”
“Wild and savage,” he said.
She picked up an erotic woodcarving of a naked female body. “Did you make love to a woman there?” From his silence, she guessed his answer and laughed. “You have. What was it like? Was she savage?”
He took the figurine from her hands. “You would be disappointed if I told you.”
“Tell me anyway. I am usually always disappointed,” she replied.
“Shy and scared,” he said.
“You must have done something to seduce her?”
“I tended to her wound. She had fallen and skinned her knee. Offering healing to some people is a sense of seduction because they are not used to people being nice to them.”
“A healing hand can be very appealing,” she replied, When he did not offer a response, she continued, “You want to run experiments on me. Why?”
“You cut yourself on a glass and bled quite profusely, but you did not have any wound. I find that quite curious.”
“I am a very quick healer,” she replied.
“I have noticed.” He gestured for her to sit in the chair. When she complied, he rolled up the sleeve of her dress and wrapped a rubber strap around her bicep.
She watched him with deep curiosity. “What are you doing?”
“It is called blood-letting. It is often a practice to rid the body of infection, however, in this purpose, it is for research.”
Siegfried pricked a needle into her skin searching for a vein. Not being able to find one, he tugged at her arm and gently arched it back. With his finger, he pressed on what he could see as dark outlines in her skin. He watched her expression turn to one of desire as he inserted the needle into her skin.
As her blood bubbled and streamed into a bowl, Katerina watched with bemusement. “Where did you learn to do that?”
“At the university,” he said wrapping her elbow tightly with gauze. “That is not the best part.” He walked over to a table, took a droplet of the blood and squeezed it onto a slide. “Now we take a look at it under a microscope.” Rotating the knob to get a better look, he sighed. “Huh, I have never seen this before.”
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