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Friday, March 15, 2013

The Shadow 20


“Sean!” Marissa exclaimed surprised and alarmed.
“Lady Edgington,” Sean said stiffly.
Marissa was now certain he had seen Mr. Anderson kiss her.
“What brings you back? I thought you were finished with me,” she said bitingly.
“I just returned for a few of my things,” he said coldly.
Marissa bit her tongue. They were both hurt and lashing out again wouldn’t help the situation. “Oh.”
“How was your evening with Mr. Anderson?” Sean asked carefully.
Marissa sighed. “A little boring, actually,” she answered honestly.
Sean smiled just a tiny bit. “You seemed to be getting alone well.”
Marissa decided she wouldn’t rise to his bait. “As well as can be expected with an American. I learned more about his investments in America than I ever wanted to.”
“Oh. Well, I suppose I should be on my way,” he said, a hint of melancholy in his voice. He turned to leave and Marissa knew she couldn’t leave things that way, with this dark wall between them.
“Mr. Anderson took liberties I didn’t give, Sean,” she said quietly, referring to the kiss.
Sean stopped in his tracks and Marissa held her breath. After several seconds he spoke. “I suppose that is between you and Mr. Anderson, Lady Edgington,” he said and then continued toward the door.
Marissa’s heart sank and she felt like she had been pushed aside. Sean was upset, but more than that he was hurt and he chose to express his pain through nonchalance. 
“I suppose it is,” she said quietly. “Thank you, Mr. Doveday.” She didn’t want to hurt him anymore, but it didn’t seem to matter what she did, it would still cause him pain. She turned away and headed for her study, determined to let him go.
She heard the front door close and all her emotions released. She felt hurt and angry and lonely. She glanced around the study and her eyes fell upon a glass inkwell. She grabbed it and hurled it across the room where it struck the door with crushing force. After the inkwell shattered she placed both hands on her chair and sobbed. Moments later Sarah appeared in the room.
“What happened?” she asked, wide-eyed.
Marissa swallowed her hurt feelings and shook her head, drying her eyes. “Nothing,” she said simply. “I’m going to do a little fishing for information tomorrow. There’s an aide meeting and I’m going to find out exactly what is happening amongst the royals.”
“I think that’s a wonderful idea. Maybe you can find out what is happening at the Osborne House in two weeks,” Sarah agreed.
“I’m tired,” Marissa said suddenly. “I’ve got a headache and I’m going to bed.”
“All right. Do you want me to clean that up?” she asked motioning to the door.
Marissa looked at her in surprise. “You are not a servant here, you are my mother and a guest,” she said firmly and left the room.
The next day Marissa geared herself up to face the cats of London society at the aide meeting. She generally abhorred these meetings because it was more of an opportunity to gossip than to actually help anyone, but today was different. She had questions and she desperately needed answers.
Tom drove her himself, not trusting her safety to anyone else. When they arrived he helped her out of escorted her to the door. “I’ll be waiting when you’re done, M’Lady,” he said firmly.
Marissa smiled at his concerned face. It hadn’t taken long for her to win him over when she first became Lady Edgington. Tom watched and worried over he like a father. She knew he was probably her most loyal servant. She entered the home of her friend Charlotte, who was hosting the meeting, and was immediately surrounded by several of the younger ladies.
“Marissa, darling, we heard about your awful abduction.” “Aren’t you just frightened to go out in public?” “I would spend a month in bed after everything.” I can’t believe Mr. Anderson rescued you, how romantic.” 
The ladies all spoke at once crowding around her. Marissa was surprised at how many of them were aware of the abduction and Mr. Anderson’s role in it. She knew it would eventually get out, but she didn’t think it would be so quickly.
“Marissa, I’m surprised to see you here,” Charlotte said, interrupting the chattering ladies. “I would have thought a lady such as yourself would want a holiday in the country after such an attack.” Her voice was full of all the condescension and smugness Marissa was used to hearing.
“Why would I return to the country?” Marissa asked. “I was abducted from the Canterbury Station.” Charlotte’s face went slightly pink. “Besides, what is the point of staying in bed? It wouldn’t help me recover. I much prefer to keep my mind active and alert, so I don’t dwell on the awfulness of the situation.” Marissa wanted to go on, but Charlotte was clearly getting annoyed.
“You’re so brave, Lady Edgington,” one of the younger ladies added before they all returned to their seats.
Charlotte took over the meeting and the ladies returned to their work and gossip. Marissa joined the group most likely to know what was happening with the royal family. Most of the conversation revolved around Minister Cherington’s mysterious death and a few bravely asked Marissa to share the details of what happened to her. This gave her the perfect segway she needed.
“To be honest I have thought of taking a holiday to the sea. The Isle is usually nice this time of year,” she said with a sigh, hoping to stir any news about that particular location. She wasn’t disappointed.
“It’s lovely there right now and you might get to see Victoria’s family,” and older countess said with a smile.
“Victoria likes to spend her birthdays at Osborne House and all the family gathers together,” another added.
Marissa nodded. So Queen Victoria and her family would be at Osborne House at the same time as Dr. Bering’s paper suggested. Marissa remained quiet for several minutes pondering this new revelation. What if Jarvis was planning an attack on the royal family or even the queen? Attempts had been made on Victoria’s life before, but coming from an invisible assassin seemed all the more horrible to Marissa. It would take away any feeling of security the people of Great Britain my feel.
She forced a smile on her face and spent the rest of the morning wishing she could leave. As soon as was proper, she excused herself and called for her carriage. Tom met her at the door and escorted her to the coach. Marissa sat back against the seat and closed her eyes.
She would have to use the attack as an excuse to travel to the Isle of Wight. She and Sarah were the only hope to protect the queen and her family and even that was still slight. No one would believe them that an invisible assassin would harm the queen. Even if she showed the police what she could do they would probably arrest her and haul her off to jail.
She shook her head in frustration. Sarah knew what to look for and would probably be the best asset in locating the invisible assailant. Marissa could move completely unseen, but it wouldn’t matter if they didn’t have more information than what they now had.
Suddenly the carriage jolted beneath her and Marissa was jostled to one side. The door came partially open and then swung shut.
“Whoa there horse,” she heard Tom call.
She glanced out the window, but couldn’t see anyone attacking the carriage. Nervously she settled back in to her seat. They must have hit a rut in the street. She closed her eyes again, feeling the strain of everything on her nerves.
“I’m not very happy, Lady Edgington,” a sinister voice said, from the seat across from her.
Marissa’s eyes flew open and she gasped in fear and surprise. She stared at the empty space, her heart pounding in her chest. It was the invisible man from before. Her mouth went dry and she swallowed hard.
“I couldn’t deliver you message,” she said, finally able to speak. “Your mysterious Sarah never came,” she lied.
“I find that hard to believe, Lady Edgington. She is, after all, your mother and she has done a great deal to ensure your safety.”
“You’re lying,” Marissa said in a choked voice, trying to remain calm. “My mother is dead. She abandoned me at an orphanage when I was a baby.”
“Ah, but that doesn’t mean she died,” the voice chuckled. “She failed to come and now she must suffer the consequences of her actions,” he added coldly. “I’m afraid you’ll have to come with me.”
“This is a mistake,” Marissa bargained. “I’ll pay you whatever you ask, just leave me alone.”
The man laughed. “Do you think your money matters to me?”
“What do you want?” Marissa asked.
“I want a great many things, Lady Edgington, none of which you can give me.”
“And what happens if your Sarah doesn’t come?”
“We have another who will help us.”
“I have no siblings, Sir, and my father is most definitely dead. How are you going to convince this other person to help you if you take me prisoner?” she demanded. It would be good to have an idea of what they were planning.
“That is not something a lady of your position needs to worry about,” he said condescendingly.
His attitude bespoke of English pride and aristocracy. She narrowed her eyes. “You disgust me. You think you can force people to accept your plans and you threaten them, but you have no idea what people are capable of when cornered. All the aristocracy are the same. Silly, prideful idiots with no understanding of the world they think is beneath them.”
An invisible hand grabbed her arm and she shrank back from his touch. “You know nothing about me,” he growled. “You so quick to judge when your experiences are limited at best. How many years did you actually work in that factory before you were taken from the slums and made a Lady? I understand what it means to use my resources. I was educated in the basest of degrading society and I rose above it all.”
Marissa’s temper sparked. “That doesn’t give you the right to abuse and threaten anyone else. I may have been placed in a position of wealth and power, but I have had to fight and earn my right to stand where I am with the respect of those beneath me.”
He laughed. “You are simply a pawn in a greater game.”
“I am no one’s pawn,” she replied disgustedly.
The carriage pulled to a stop and Marissa could see the front steps of her home. Any moment now someone would open the door and she didn’t know what the invisible man would do.
“You have a choice to make, Lady Edgington. Either tell Sarah to come to the doctor’s house or you will be coming in her place,” the man said quietly.
“Sarah isn’t at my house!” Marissa exclaimed, in one last attempt to divert the man.
“Don’t lie to me,” he commanded, grabbing her arm painfully. “I know she’s there and you’re going to take me inside or I will kill Tom and anyone else who tries to assist you. Their blood will be on your dainty, white hands. You have until he opens the door.”
Marissa could see Tom’s determined figure moving to the door of the carriage. He reached out for the handle and the hand on her arm tightened.
“All right,” she hissed. “I’ll take you to Sarah.”

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