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Monday, February 4, 2013

The Shadow 15


Marissa opened her eyes in an unfamiliar room. She felt confused as the remnants of her dream seemed to melt into reality. She had been running away, not as Lady Edgington, but the Shadow.
“Finally, you’re awake,” Sean said, sounding relieved.
Marissa looked up into his worried eyes. “Where am I?”
“I’m not sure exactly, but I know we are somewhere in London,” he answered.
He gently took her hand. “I thought you would never wake up. You kept murmuring in your sleep and then fading away and coming back.”
Sean looked worn out and now Marissa understood why.
“Did anyone see me disappear?” she asked worried. Dr. Bering must not know she is the Shadow.
“I don’t think so. I kept the blanket over you so when they looked in they could see you sleeping.” He shook his head. “Marissa what in blazes were you thinking, going to the country estate?” he suddenly demanded angrily.
“We were checking to see if they actually took you there before I reported you missing,” she replied, with a humph. All the tender emotions and feelings she had experienced on the train were washed away with his accusation and she felt very defensive at the moment.
“We?” Sean questioned.
“Sarah and I. She’s mostly visible now. Jarvis got her with the antidote when we tried to trick them,” Marissa admitted.
“Who is Jarvis?” Sean asked, shaking his head in disbelief.
“Dr. Bering. He’s behind all this mess.”
“A mess you got yourself nicely mixed up in,” Sean grumbled. “I was going to take you to the estate house to get you away from this madness. After we argued I knew you were in more trouble than you could handle. I asked Peter to take me to the station so I could arrange travel and I woke up here.”
Marissa thought about the argument and her temper flared. She had been worried about him and how her actions had hurt him, but he didn’t seem concerned at all about the things he had said to her. His words still stung, mixed with the accusations of her creating this mess.
“Peter is working for Jarvis,” she snapped. “So you can’t blame me entirely. In fact if I hadn’t got mixed up in this we would be here without even understanding why.”
She folded her arms across her chest, daring him to contradict her. Sean eyed her carefully. He knew her temper well enough not to challenger her.
“I suppose knowing the why gives us a degree of advantage,” he admitted.
She looked at him and her heart softened. “Would you really have forced me to leave despite my intentions to solve this riddle?” she asked, her tone colored with annoyance.
“I would have done it because of your intentions, Marissa. You are determined to destroy yourself and your father’s good name and I wasn’t going to let that happen,” Sean said proudly.
Marissa eyes narrowed. “My father’s good name?” she said slowly, anger building in her chest. “That’s all you really care about is his good name. I’m just some stupid, arrogant woman who’s spoiled all your plans because I don’t fit into the Lady Edgington ideal just the right way.”
She flung the blanket away and jumped off the couch where she had been laid.
“Well, I’m not like Lady Edgington. I’m like Sarah Clarence. I’m independent and willful and I will do what I think is right and nothing you say or do will stop me, Mr. Doveday.” She marched over to the door and pounded on it.
“Marissa, please,” Sean began.
“Let me out of here,” Marissa shouted, ignoring Sean’s pleading.
Suddenly there was a loud bang somewhere in the house, beyond their prison room. Both Marissa and Sean fell silent and listened to the shouts and sounds of fighting. Almost as quickly as it began the fighting stopped. Marissa leaned closer to the door and then jumped back in surprise as it burst open.
“Marissa? Are you all right?” Simon Anderson demanded, entering the room brandishing a pistol.
“Mr. Anderson? What are you doing here?” Marissa asked surprised.
“I’ve been searching the town for you,” he declared gallantly.
“But how did you ever find me?” Marissa asked in awe.
“I went to call on you and the servants said you went to the station early this morning to go to your country estate, so I took the next train out.” He took her hand familiarly. “Forgive my forwardness, Marissa, but I had to see you again. Your beauty and intelligence has bewitched me and I’m afraid I’ve fallen in love with you.”
Marissa blushed deeply, moved by his praise.
“That still doesn’t explain how you found her,” Sean said from behind them.
Simon turned to Sean and glared. “Who is this man that is keeping you prisoner?” he demanded threateningly.
“Mr. Doveday isn’t keeping me prisoner, Mr. Anderson. He is being held captive too,” she answered. She emphasized isn’t for Sean’s benefit. “I went looking for him at the estate house. I received a message that supposedly came from him, but it was D...these men instead.”
Marissa almost mentioned Dr. Bering, but held back. She didn’t feel like she could completely trust him just yet.
“So how did you find us?” Sean asked pointedly.
Simon glared at him again. “When I arrived at the estate house, your people said you had never arrived. I became concerned so I returned to the station and questioned people to see if you had even made it to the country. I finally found a man who said he saw a woman meeting your description being carried onto the train that returned to London.”
He brought his intense gaze back to Marissa. “You can imagine my concern when I heard you were being carried. I just knew the only way they could force a woman of your courage and stamina would be to incapacitate you.”
Marissa lifted her chin just slightly at his praise, but remained silent so he would finish his tale.
“I took the next train back to London and proceeded to question everyone at Kings Cross until I found a trace of you. It was simple to question the cabbie they hired to bring you here and when I was certain you wouldn’t be harmed I stormed the house with my men servants,” Simon finished with a flare.
“Oh my,” Marissa said.
“Why didn’t you simply call the police?” Sean asked, unimpressed.
“I wouldn’t dare leave the fate of such a woman as Lady Edgington in the fate of a common policeman,” Simon replied snidely.
“Nevertheless we should report this, Simon,” Marissa said, stepping between the men. 
She carefully took Simon’s arm and allowed him to escort her out of the room. Sean followed closely behind them. Marissa took note of her surroundings as they left the house so she could give a complete report to the police, all the while keeping up a dialogue with Simon.
“I won’t let you out of my site from now on,” Simon declared as he helped her into his private carriage. “Who are these people who have so blatantly kidnapped you? And what do they want from you? Ransom?”
“I don’t know, Simon. I’m still trying to understand the purpose behind this act,” Marissa lied.
“I will personally see that you are watched and protected from now on,” Simon declared.
“My staff will ensure my safety, Simon. You don’t need to make any special efforts,” Marissa said firmly.
“Your staff let you be taken right out from under their noses. Where was your travel companion when you were taken?” Simon demanded angrily.
“My people do not control my every action,” Marissa said meaningfully. “I am a free person and I move about the country where I will. My staff are loyal and would never willingly let any harm come to me.” She kept her tone firm, hopefully reminding Simon of her independence.
She knew she couldn’t blame Sean entirely and she also knew none of her people would have let anything happen to her. Simon sighed and nodded and Marissa knew he wouldn’t press the matter further.
The carriage moved quickly toward her house in London and when they arrived Tom and Eliza met her at the door with relieved exclamations for her health and safety. Marissa let them take her inside and fawn over her a bit, relishing in the attention just enough.
“My Lady, had I known it was all a ruse,” Tom began.
“Tom, I don’t blame any of you. We all acted in good faith with the information we had. How were you to know that Mr. Doveday hadn’t sent the message?” Marissa consoled. 
Sean carefully took Tom aside while Eliza and several other servants followed Marissa into the parlor. Simon followed, looking quite out of his element.
“Eliza, will you bring some tea in here for myself and Mr. Anderson?” Marissa finally asked.
The maid nodded and quickly left the room followed by the other servants. Marissa sank into her favorite chair with a sigh.
“You look worn out, my dear,” Simon said coming over and sitting as close as he could get.
“I am tired, but we need to call the police and file an official report.” Marissa sighed. “This is going to give the old cats at court a field day.”
Simon opened his mouth to respond, but Sean interrupted. “I see no reason for this to reach anyone’s ears, Marissa. I will talk to Inspector Anthon privately tomorrow and he can send his men to search the house. There’s no need for you to take any public part of this investigation.”
Marissa looked over at her steward with an eyebrow raised. She couldn’t be certain of his motives. Was he saying that to spare her the public fiasco that would arise, or did he want to spare her father’s good name from any more humiliation?
“Very well, Mr. Doveday. I will leave it in your capable hands,” she said simply.
Sean’s eyes narrowed at her words and he nodded and left. Eliza returned with the tea and Marissa poured for her guest.
“Is there anything I can do for you, Marissa?” Simon asked, exuding genuine concern.
“No, Mr. Anderson. I think I’d best get a good night’s rest,” she replied carefully.
“May I call on you tomorrow?”
“Yes. Perhaps we could have that dinner you mentioned at the ball. I think, since you have rescued me, I can allow you that much,” she smiled and he grinned.
“I consider myself privileged to have the opportunity. I will come around at seven tomorrow evening,” Simon said, kissing her hand.
He rose to his feet and bowed before leaving her alone in the room. She heard Tom thanking him as he escorted Simon from the house. Marissa closed her eyes, her head ached from the solution used to render her unconscious and the arguments with Sean. It was several minutes before she realized she was no longer alone. She looked up and saw Sean watching her.
“I don’t trust him, Marissa,” Sean said stiffly.
“I didn’t think you would,” Marissa replied, just as stiffly. Then her thoughts shifted. “I need to find Sarah. I’m certain she saw some of what happened at the station in  Canterbury. We need to send someone to look for her and bring her back here.”
“I’ll ask Tom to send one of his men, but do you think she’ll trust anyone?”
Marissa bit her lip. “Probably not. I should just go myself.”
“You should wait. Sarah came here before. If she saw you taken then she either followed you back or she’ll figure out you were rescued and come back here. You should rest, Marissa,” Sean said anxiously.
“I’m not a frail, helpless woman,” Marissa said, angrily sitting up. “I don’t want to rest, I want to find out what Jarvis is up to.”
“So you’re just going to waltz over there and demand an explanation or are you going to fade into invisibility and break in? I’m sure either way he’ll just tell you everything,” Sean snaps sarcastically. “Not only are you being arrogant, Marissa Edgington, but you are a fool as well.” He turned and walked out.
His words were like a slap in the face and Marissa just stared at him speechless. She knew he was right. She was being arrogant to think she could outsmart Dr. Bering and discover all his secrets without coming to any harm. She was a fool to think her night time job would never affect her life as Lady Edgington. Her temper flared and ebbed as her mind coursed through the different train of thoughts.
After several minutes, Eliza poked her head in the room. “Are you ready to turn in, M’Lady?”
Marissa got to her feet slowly. She felt worn inside and out. She followed Eliza up to her spacious rooms and let the maid help her change into her night dress and robe. She wanted to change into her Shadow clothes and go out searching for Sarah, but she also felt she should stay. She was backed into a corner with no answers.
It was long after Eliza turned in that Marissa returned to her study. She paced the room anxiously, uncertain as to what she should do, and eventually collapsed on the reading lounge. She woke to the sound of the window opening and closing. Her head snapped up and she scanned the room. It was empty. A chill ran down her spine as she got to her feet and backed toward the study door.
“Going somewhere, Lady Edgington?” a deep voice asked behind her.
Marissa let out a frightened squeak and stepped back toward the window. “What do you want?” she demanded, her voice shaking.
“Just to let you know that you can’t hide from us. If Sarah comes here, tell her her job isn’t finished,” the voice said next to her. “And the Doctor expects a visit from her and the Shadow or there will be consequences.”
“Sarah who?” Marissa asked, feigning ignorance. “Why are you doing this to me?”
“Just tell her. She’ll come,” the voice answered behind her again.
Marissa jerked around ready to fight. The window opened slowly and then closed. Fear filled her chest and she stumbled toward the study door, yanking it open. The passageway was empty and Marissa ran out of the room. She pressed up against the wall, staring at the open door to her study, her heart hammering in her chest.
“Marissa?” Sean asked coming out of his small study.
“Ahh,” Marissa cried. Her knees gave out and she sank to the floor, frightened.
Sean was at her side in an instant. “What is it?” he asked concerned.
“He...he threatened me,” Marissa said, trying to regain control of her emotions.
“Who threatened you?”
“A man...a man in my study.”
Sean leapt to the door of her study ready to fight the intruder. He looked around the empty room and then back at Marissa.
She shook her head. “He was invisible,” she whispered, her shoulders slumping.

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