The Shadow 20
She opened it a crack, waiting for any sound that might come from inside, but nothing happened. She was about to step inside when she thought better. He could be standing behind the door waiting. She glanced around to ensure she was alone and then shoved the door open firmly. It swung inward unhindered and no sound came from inside. Still she waited. When she decided it was safe she stepped inside.
The room was empty. Jarvis’ desk sat in the middle covered with an unorganized mess of papers. Sean would have a seizure if she kept anything this messy. She walked over to the desk examining the contents, but not touching anything. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the chaos and she didn’t dare search through it in case messy was his style.
After looking over the desk as thoroughly as she could she turned to leave, but a handwritten note caught her eye. She moved to the other side of the desk and saw it was a paper protruding from the drawer. She pulled the drawer gently until the paper was in full view.
Osborne House, May 17th by 7pm. Was the only thing written on the paper. What could that possibly mean? May 17th was just two weeks away. She would have to figure out what was happening at the Osborne House on that date. She carefully closed the desk drawer until the paper was just as she had found it and then left the study.
Next she headed toward John’s laboratory. She had gotten a good share of answers the last two times she visited this place and she hoped this visit wouldn’t disappoint. Just like the study, the door to the lab was unlocked. She carefully turned the knob and headed down the stairs. Everything around her was dark, but she was used to moving in darkness.
When she reached the lab there were no lights burning, but coals of a dying fire on the tiny hearth gave the room a faint orange glow. She looked around moving by instinct and feather light touch. The closer to the cages she got, the more she could see. As she approached a sturdy table that looked empty she stumbled over something soft on the floor. Her hands shot out to catch herself from falling and she felt the same softness on the table.
Even in the dim light she knew there was nothing on the table, yet when she reached out she could definitely feel a material of sorts lying on the table. Her heart pounded in her chest. John had discovered a way to make a material that was invisible! She handled the thin fabric and decided it must be constructed from a mixture of course hair and cotton. She picked up the fabric from the floor trying to figure out how much of the fabric there was. From what she could tell there was at least two yards.
She glanced around the room and without a second thought, wrapped the material around her body. Hopefully John wouldn’t realize that some of the fabric had fallen on the floor, since it couldn’t be seen, and thus it wouldn’t be missed. Feeling triumphant, Marissa made her way back up the stairs and into the hall. As she moved toward the kitchen she heard voices from outside and then a key in the back lock.
Panic swept over her and she dashed into the tiny pantry. She eased the window opened and listened. She could see two men standing on the back porch.
“I still can’t believe John did it,” one man said, Marissa figured it was Jarvis.
“What did he use,” the other asked.
“He wove horse hair through the finest wool we could get and then treated the horse hair. It took a while for the solution to saturate all the material, but apparently it took. When he couldn’t find anything the next morning he thought it had dissolved, but then he felt it on the table. I heard his shout all the way upstairs.”
“And it hasn’t reappeared?”
“No. We were surprised, but we figure if the solution is saturated into the material then it will remain until the material wears. We tried it on other fabrics, but it only works with wool or hair.”
“And you can’t see anything beneath the material?”
“If you look closely you can see what looks like a blur beneath the material, but in the dark or dim light it is perfect. John thinks the solution crystalized the fabric so it reflects what is around it. I didn’t care to get his whole explanation.”
“Excellent work, Doctor. It looks like we can continue with our plan as outlined.”
“How goes your work on the other front?”
“The Lady is back at her home, but I think Sarah will be making an appearance very soon.”
“If she is still alive. John has a theory about that. Are you coming in?”
“No I must return to my place. I have some things to prepare.”
“Tomorrow evening then.”
Marissa heard the door open and close and then Jarvis’ footsteps down the hall. She glanced out the window, but couldn’t see anyone so she carefully slid out and onto the ground. Her heart was still hammering in her chest as she headed for the corner where she had left her clothes, but she stopped in surprise. The second man was standing in the corner hovering over her pile of clothing.
Even though she knew she couldn’t be seen she felt incredibly vulnerable. She decided it wasn’t worth trying to get her things back and made her way back to the street. It would be uncomfortable walking home in her bare feet, but that was better than getting caught. She wrapped the material around her tightly and headed home.
By the time she reached the house her feet hurt and she wanted to bathe the grime of London from her body. She slipped in through the window she had left from and went straight to her room. Once inside she grabbed her robe and put it on, grateful to have something visible covering her. She watched her hands reappear as her mind settled back into the persona of Lady Edgington.
She had done it! She had gone to Jarvis’ house and discovered several things that would benefit her investigation and she had returned without being caught or harmed and Sean was none the wiser. She breathed a sigh of relief.
“Welcome back, Marissa,” Sean said, in a strained voice from the dark corner.
Marissa whirled around to face him, startled and chagrined at his discovery.
“Sean you frightened me,” Marissa chided nervously.
Sean stormed over to her side and roughly grabbed her arms. She could see the anger and hurt in his expression and she knew nothing she could say would make it go away. He had warned her not to go and she had gone anyways. She waited stoically for his reproval, but nothing came. He just held her and looked at her and then he released her.
“I can’t do this, Marissa,” he finally said, in a broken voice. “You may consider this my immediate notice.”
“Sean please,” Marissa said, feeling even more frightened at the thought of him actually leaving her.
She reached out to him. Even with all her brave actions and education, she knew she couldn’t run the Edgington estate as efficiently as Sean had done for the last ten years, but that wasn’t really what frightened her. The thought of Sean leaving her and never returning brought a sense of absolute horror to her mind.
He turned on her. “I warned you Marissa, but you went anyways. I asked you not to go and you ignored me. I can’t...just stand aside and wait, hoping you’ll be safe. Goodbye,...Lady Edgington.”
He left her room and she just stared at his retreating back, unable to speak or call him back. She felt abandoned and yet she knew she had no right to feel that way. In his eyes she had betrayed their friendship by doing exactly what he asked her not to do. But that wasn’t the worst of her realizations. Now that he was gone she suddenly understood that she cared for him too. She had betrayed him in every sense.
She sank to her knees as a multitude of emotions coursed through her body. What had she done?