The week before the royal celebration passed quickly, despite Simon’s constant presence. Marissa found herself being monopolized by his outings. She never had been a society girl, but Simon forced her and sometimes Sarah into the center of the social circles on the Isle. They attended dinner parties and dances, garden socials and games. Her holiday took on a busy schedule that she never would have tolerated in London.
Finally the night before the Queen’s celebration she begged for a quiet evening at home and Simon acquiesced. Marissa spent the evening going over plans with Sarah. The next day she told Simon they would be spending the day preparing for the celebration and he left them to themselves with the promise that he would arrive at 6:45 sharp to escort them to Osborne House.
Marissa spent the day with Sarah putting together their clothes for the evening as well as reviewing the social proprieties expected of them at court. Sarah shook her head in dismay at what she would be expected to remember, but Marissa told her to stay nearby and she would help her.
That evening they dressed carefully, Marissa put the invisible suit on underneath her dress. Sarah helped her with her hair and then carefully inserted the dagger so it hid among the curls. When they were finished they examined their figures in the mirror.
Sarah looked completely different with her blond hair curled and pinned up and an elegant dress accentuating her figure. Marissa finished off the look with some of her own jewels. She examined her mother with critical eye, straightening and tucking until Sarah looked perfect.
“These should have been yours,” Marissa said quietly, as she adjusted the emerald necklace.
“I never wanted them. I only wanted Jonathan,” Sarah murmured, touching the jewels. She turned to Marissa and touched her cheek. “You really are like him in so many ways. He was a true gentleman.”
“I wish I could have known him,” Marissa sighed.
She patted her hair one last time and they headed downstairs. True to his word, Simon arrived at 6:45. He exclaimed over their beauty and grace and Marissa had to check herself from rolling her eyes or making a snide comment. Simon handed them into the carriage and they drove off toward the royal house.
The lights of Osborne House sparkled cheerfully through the trees and the collection of carriages and servants at the main entrance promised a delightful but long evening. Marissa and Sarah were whisked inside to greet the royal family and give their felicitations to Queen Victoria. With a smile, Marissa noticed several middle aged gentlemen eyeing Sarah as they entered the grand ballroom.
She introduced her as Catherine Lawrence and let the men lead her onto the dance floor. Shortly she found herself in Simon’s eager grasp dancing along side her mother. She danced several with Simon and other young men attending and decided she would enjoy the evening thoroughly despite what would come later on.
She kept a careful eye on the large clock in the corner and shortly after ten started planning her escape. Around ten-thirty Victoria retired from the gathering and Marissa knew she would have to make her move soon. Feigning a bout of weariness she pleaded with her dance partner to let her rest a few and then carefully made her way to a secluded room.
In her earlier excursion she had searched out the best place for her to remove her clothing so she could become invisible. The room was ideal, since it was accessible by guests, but ill suited for anything but a secret rendezvous. She quickly removed the skirt and bustle and tucked them beneath a couch, followed by the bodice and corset, leaving only the invisible suit. She then removed her jewelry and tucked them into the folds of the hidden dress and focused on the Shadow persona.
No sooner had she done so than a pair of youthful giggles sounded outside the room and a young couple entered.
“Are you sure no one will find us?” the young girl asked nervously.
“We are quite alone, my dear,” the young man answered.
Annoyance washed over Marissa and she walked over to where the couple had started kissing. With a firm tap on his shoulder she hissed, “I can see you,” then left the room.
“Who was that?” the girl asked fearfully.
“I don’t know,” the boy replied, nervously.
“Well I’m not staying here any longer,” the girl humphed.
Marissa smiled and continued into the passageway that led to the Queen’s room. It didn’t take her long to find the long hallway and silently slip past the guards. She knew right where she wanted to wait and she hoped she wouldn’t have to wait long. She sat down in the shadows of a tall vase filled with peacock feathers and scanned the passage.
About ten minutes later she heard a quiet groan from the guards and saw them slide to the ground. She hoped they weren’t dead, but knowing the ruthlessness of the man she was certain they were. She continued to scan the shadows, waiting in silence.
Finally, in the dim light Marissa could see the blurry movement near the wall as it moved toward her. The invisible man really was here and Queen Victoria was just a few rooms away. She knew she couldn’t let him get any closer, but she was no match for a man’s strength. Knowing she had to stop him somehow she reached into the knot of her hair and pulled out the slender dagger Sarah had given her.
The blur passed right by her and with a quick motion she sliced at him cutting the invisible material and the man’s arm. With a muted cry the man swung around and knocked the knife from her hand and lunged for her. She flitted easily from his grasp using the bloody hole in his suit as a gauge.
“Well, well, well, it looks like I have a Shadow. I should have taken care of you the last time we met. I thought you weren’t planning on staying.”
“How could I miss such a lovely party?” Marissa said quietly. “Jarvis’ instructions were fairly clear.”
“He won’t be pleased that you discovered his note. I told him he shouldn’t write anything down, but he thought he was safe. Ha. Safe in a world where he has made people invisible,” the man says sarcastically.
“I never take anything in writing,” Marissa agreed.
The man lunged for her, but she moved easily out of his way.
“Come out of the Shadows, my dear, I’m dying to see your face,” he taunted.
Marissa kept her mouth shut.
“Fine then. I have work to do. It is time your little queen takes a permanent nap,” the man said with an evil laugh.
He started toward Victoria’s room and Marissa knew she had to stop him. She threw herself at his visible arm using all of her strength to knock him over. She could feel his muscles through the thin, invisible suit he wore. As they tumbled to the floor she was grateful she had taken the fabric from John’s lab and made her own suit. Their bodies hit the floor and she scrambled away. She can now see the blood soaked material easily and the hand of the man holding the wound.
“Curse you, Shadow.” The man’s deep, angry voice gains a familiar ring. “You’re going to regret coming here.”
“I’m not going to let you get away with this,” Marissa answered firmly.
He laughed. “You can’t stop this. It is just the beginning of everything. No country’s leader will be safe from my men. We will sweep through the world eliminating anyone who opposes us and no one will ever see any of them coming,” he boasted wickedly.
“You’re mad!” Marissa exclaimed.
“I’m not mad, just a visionary. I can see a future without the ridiculous leaders who know nothing of the power they can wield,” he replied.
Marissa moved cautiously keeping the man’s bloody arm always in sight.
“Once I prove to the world that I can kill England’s Queen, no one will dare oppose me.”
Marissa noticed movement out of the corner of her eye. Sarah was creeping down the hall slowly, moving from shadow to shadow.
“This will never work. I will stop you,” Marissa declared.
“Actually, my dear Shadow, you are some of my inspiration. I wanted men who could live normal lives, men who wouldn’t be suspect, but could still do my bidding. It took me a while to finally realize that you had mastered John’s potion. You alone have been able to will yourself visible and invisible.”
Marissa gasped. How did he know?
“This is a valuable skill indeed. A skill worthy of none other than the amazing Marissa Edgington,” he cried triumphantly.
Marissa stepped back as she felt her invisibility slip. Suddenly the man lunged for her, pinning her arms to her sides and knocking her to the floor. They landed near a full length mirror and the man used his strength to hold her down.
“I am sorry that we couldn’t get more acquainted, Marissa, but you were too smart and suspicious to be of any use to me,” the man laughed wickedly.
Suddenly Marissa knew exactly who he was.
Simon Anderson’s face suddenly appeared as he pulled the hood of his suit back.
“You!” Marissa exclaimed. “It was you the whole time.”
“This really is my greatest investment,” Simon said cheerfully.
“This will never work. The guards are on their way.”
“And how can they fight someone they can’t see? They’ll be dead before they know it and so will your aging queen.”
“I will make sure you don’t succeed!” Marissa declared firmly.
Simon laughed at her. “Ha. You’re nothing more than a woman.” He brought his face close to hers and then roughly pulled her to her feet. He held her arms behind her in a vice-like grip that she couldn’t break. “But I can’t have you alerting the authorities, so I suppose I will have to take you with me. I’m sure you’ll learn to appreciate my place in the alps. It’s very secluded and lonely up there, but I’ll make sure you stay warm. Besides I will need some entertainment on those long cold nights” he said suggestively, running his hand familiarly down her side and thigh.
She was horrified at the thought of what he was insinuating.
“You are a beautiful woman, Lady Edgington,” he said, forcefully kissing her on the lips.
“Unhand my daughter!” Sarah called, from behind them. Marissa saw the vase just before it crashed over Simon’s head. With a cry of fury Simon turned on Sarah and shoved her into the f mirror, shattering it. Marissa moved away but he quickly caught her and dragged her back to see her mother. Sarah had slumped to the ground, shattered glass littering the floor around her.
“And you have outlived your usefulness, Sarah Clarence,” Simon growled.
He pulled a pistol from his suit and aimed it at Sarah’s unmoving form.
“No! Marissa screamed as the gun went off.
Simon’s grip loosened immediately and she broke away from him. She stared at Sarah’s unmoving body for several seconds before she realized there was no blood. Moments later Simon turned to face her. Crimson liquid spread quickly across his chest as he crumpled to the floor without a sound. Just a few feet down the passageway she could see a man holding a smoking pistol. It took her several moments before she realized who it was. Marisa stared in shock and disbelief and then crumpled in a swoon.