The Shadow 24
“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 who are 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.”
He released her arm and she rubbed the sore spot. Tom opened the door with a smile.
“Sorry about the bumps, M’Lady. I didn't see them. They need to fix the cobbles on the main road through the park.”
Marissa felt a nudge in her back. “That’s fine Tom. I’m sure it wasn’t your fault,” she said carefully.
He helped her out and she kept him just long enought for the invisible man to exit the coach. She headed inside, trepidation filling her breast. How would the man react when he realized Sarah was no longer invisible? The butler took her hat and Eliza took her coat.
“I’ll take tea in my study and will you please send my guest down?” Marissa said calmly.
“Yes, Ma’am,” Elisa replied.
“How did your staff react to Sarah’s intriguing presence?” the man asked snidely.
Marissa walked over to her desk. “The same way they act with every guest,” she replied matter-of-factly.
The door opened and Sarah entered. “What’s wrong Marissa?” she asked.
“Catherine, I want you to remain calm. There is someone here, someone you can’t see and he is demanding to see my guest a woman he is calling Sarah,” Marissa said slowly.
Sarah looked at her strangely. “What are you talking about?”
Marissa turned to where she had last heard the man speak from. “This is the only guest in my home right now, sir. This mysterious Sarah that you spoke of isn’t here.”
“Marissa, dear, have you lost your mind?”
“I’m not impressed with your little game, Lady Edgington,” the man said behind her.
She jumped and Sarah squeaked very convincingly.
“I tried to tell you Sarah hasn’t come to see me. I couldn’t deliver your message, because she never came,” Marissa said coldly.
“How are you doing this?” Sarah asked in a frightened voice, playing her part well.
“I think it’s time you left. Clearly your Sarah doesn’t care that much about me, or maybe she is dead. As far as I’m concerned Sarah Clarence doesn’t exist in my world,” Marissa said with finality.
“If I discover you’ve been lying to me, Marissa, you will be very sorry,” he said in her ear.
“Farewell ladies. I’m certain we will meet again,” he said. The window behind her opened and a few moments later closed.
Sarah remained rooted to the floor. “Is he gone?” she asked fearfully.
“I don’t know,” Marissa shrugged. “I’m sure he’ll be back. He told me he would take me if Sarah didn’t go to some doctor’s house and I told him I don’t know a Sarah and that she hasn’t come to see me. He thought you were Sarah.”
“He said he would take you if this Sarah doesn’t go?” Sarah asked.
Marissa nodded. “I think I need a holiday,” she said sitting at her desk. “This whole mess is utterly ridiculous.”
“What are you going to do?” Sarah asked.
“I would go to the police, but they will never believe me that an invisible man threatened me. I think the only thing I can do is leave town and hope that this man believes me,” Marissa said, with a sigh. “I’m going to bed. I have a headache.”
She got to her feet and headed up stairs. She went into her room and closed the door. About ten minutes later Sarah slipped into the room and locked the door behind her.
“I don’t think he stayed. I’m fairly certain he left the room,” she said quietly. “Maybe I should go to Dr. Bering’s house.”
“They’d just kill you now that you aren’t invisible,” Marissa stated. “I don’t want you going back there at all.”
“What did you discover from the aide meeting this morning?”
“The Royals are all expected to be at Osborne House for Victoria’s birthday. I’m certain they will all be in house by May 17th. I don’t know if that date is special by any means, but the only thing I can think of is that they will all be accessible by the date and time Jarvis listed.”
“So you want to go there in two weeks and try and stop them,” Sarah concluded.
“Like I said downstairs, the police won’t believe me and the only people who know what to look for are standing in this room,” Marissa explained. “I don’t doubt that Jarvis’ man will come looking for me to try and force you to come forward.”
“How are we going to stop them, Marissa?”
“I don’t know,” she sighed. “The only thing I can think of is to get into the house while invisible and keep watch for any sign of the man.”
“I know what I would do to get inside if I were still invisible, so I suppose that is the place to start,” Sarah agreed. “Are you going to see Mr. Anderson again?”
“Probably, though his forwardness is starting to annoy me. He kissed me last night when he brought me home,” Marissa admitted.
“And Sean saw it,” Sarah finished.
Marissa nodded. “I just don’t know what to do.”
“Talk to him.”
“I tried,” Marissa cried. “He just...left.” She shook her head. “It doesn’t matter now, we have other things to worry about. I think it’s time for Lady Edgington to take a holiday to the coast.”
“A holiday would be good, but I think you need a real rest, not one to stop a crazy lunatic from harming the royal family,” Sarah replied sardonically.
Marissa heartily agreed.