The Shadow 25
Simon called the next day and Marissa decided it would be prudent to tell him about her visits from the invisible man. When she finished he just stared at her.
“Come now Marissa. Are you sure you weren’t imagining the whole thing?” he finally questioned.
Marissa bristled. “Do you really think I would be idiotic enough to invent this and then tell you about it?” she shot back.
He eyed her cautiously. “I suppose not, but you have to admit it sounds a bit fantastical. And this invisible man threatened you?”
She nodded. “He says he’ll take me if I don’t deliver a message to Sarah Clarence,” she added.
After discussing it, she and Sarah decided to maintain the persona of Catherine for Sarah and assert that Sarah Clarence was dead.
“Who is Sarah Clarence?” Simon questioned.
“My mother,” Marissa said simply. He started forward surprised. “She was my mother, but she gave me up to the orphanage and never returned for me. I can only assume she is dead now. I’ve searched for her, but never found her. She certainly hasn’t come looking for me.”
“Have you thought of going to the police? This man has threatened you with bodily harm if this Sarah character doesn’t show up.”
“Do you really think the police will believe me?” Marissa asked derisively. “They would laugh me out of Scotland Yard. I’ve decided instead to take a holiday to the coast. Hopefully if I am out of this man’s reach he will leave me alone.” She sat down in a chair. “This whole thing has been a bit exhausting for me.”
“You poor dear,” Simon said, coming over to her side. “You must be absolutely frazzled by this.”
“Indeed, it is a bit wearing. I’ve decided to take a place on the south shore for a few weeks,” she added carefully.
“I hear Brighton is excellent this time of year,” Simon assumed.
“I’m sure it is, but I’m going to Cowes or Newport on the Isle,” Marissa said cheerfully. “It will be much more relaxing for me instead of one of the other popular destinations.”
“The Isle of Wight?” Simon questioned surprised. “What made you decide on that location?”
“The scenery is lovely this time of year and it is a well known resort. I will have all the gossip I need and the solitude of the parks. I’m quite looking forward to going, though the journey will be abominable,” Marissa explained.
“Then you will most certainly allow me to escort you there,” Simon stated firmly.
“I can’t take you away from your London investments,” Marissa disagreed.
“It would be a welcome change and I wouldn’t trust anyone with your safety.”
Marissa stiffened, dismayed at this turn of events. She didn’t want Simon’s overbearing presence on the Isle creating a distraction for her, but she knew how determined he would be and all her exclamations would be overridden or ignored.
“I suppose a companion would be nice for the journey, but I don’t expect you to stay there the whole time I’m on holiday. I’m certain your work here is much too important to ignore.”
“Nonsense. It will be a welcomed break from the meetings. I shall plan on it. When were you planning on leaving?”
“Sometime around the tenth of May. That will give my servants time to procure an establishment for the month and prepare it sufficiently for my arrival,” Marissa replied, in a very business like manner.
“Please do me the honor of allowing me to assist you in this matter,” he exclaimed.
Marissa bit her lip. Things weren’t going the way she planned at all. “I don’t think that would be appropriate, besides my people know what I like in an establishment.”
“Then I shall do my best to emulate their choices. I insist. I will find you the largest, most lovely estate on the island. Even Osborne House won’t be able to compare,” he declared.
Marissa started at the mention of Osborne House, but maintained her composure. “I certainly don’t need an estate, Mr. Anderson. Please I must insist you allow my servants to complete this task.”
“How would you feel about a house in East Cowes?” he asked, ignoring her plea.
Marissa sighed. “Yes, that would be acceptable.” If he was this determined she might as well let him do the work. “Please don’t get crazily extravagant, Mr. Anderson.”
“Never fear, my darling, your holiday is now in my capable hands.” He got to his feet. “I must go so I can secure you an appropriate location.”
He bowed and left the room. Marissa let out a deep breath of relief and worry. Simon was quickly becoming a problem that she would have to deal with. She didn’t relish the idea of breaking his heart, but she clearly understood her own feelings. Despite the fact that Sean would probably never return to her, she would never love Simon the way he wanted her to.
With her brows furrowed she went in search of Eliza to prepare her things for the month on the Isle. Although her purpose in going wasn’t really for a holiday, she would still have to make every effort to make it appear so. This also meant she would be expected to attend certain festivities and social engagements on the Isle.