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The Shadow 6
Marissa entered her house breathless from her dash. She had taken the most round-a-bout way home to make sure she wasn’t followed. Her heart pounded in her chest at what she had heard and seen. There was another woman out there who was just as invisible as she was and yet she couldn’t change and Marissa could.
She pondered what the difference could be as she removed her Shadow clothing and put on her nightgown. As she reassumed her normal role as Lady Edgington she watched her skin and face become visible.
That must be the answer, she thought.
She had two lives and when she was dosed she was playing the life of the Shadow. As Lady Edgington she was seen by anyone who chose to look. This woman must not have been so fortunate. Marissa also recalled that she had been given the second dose and not the first. If this woman had been given a first dose that might also explain the difference.
Then she thought about Jarvis’ instructions to find the Shadow. She shivered. She would have to remain aloof from her night job for a time.
She crawled into bed and lay restless for several hours before falling into a fitful sleep. When she awakened she was dead tired and cross. Eliza came in to help her dress and she made her way groggily down to the dining room for breakfast. Sean was already there waiting with her schedule of activities for the day.
“I’m not in the mood for social calls today, Sean,” she said grumpily.
He waited until the servants had left before responding. “You should think about that before taking to the streets at night, Lady,” he said sarcastically.
In a very unladylike way she stuck out her tongue at him. He only smiled.
“You have an appointment with Lady Cameron at eleven for tea and then the aid society at three,” he continues ignoring her manners. “There is also Sir Barton’s ball tonight. Dinner is at seven and your distinguished presence is requested.”
She made a face. “I’m not interested in Sir Barton nor his ball.”
“Never-the-less you have to go. There is a rumor that the Queen will be in attendance,” Sean replied.
“Victoria is attending Sir Barton’s ball? That’s a laugh,” Marissa said with a snort. “Only in his dreams will she ever attend one of his droll parties, besides she is getting on in years and after that attempt on her life I wouldn’t leave the palace if I were her.”
“Of course,” Sean replied annoyed.
She thought about her day’s schedule and sighed. “I guess it’s time I wore my new gown anyway. It hasn’t gotten some good dancing yet.”
“Leave it to a dress,” Sean grumbled.
“Thank you, Sean,” she replied sweetly. “Will you be coming to the ball with me?”
“I have other affairs to attend to,” he said stiffly.
“Always other affairs. Someday I will get you out of that stiff role you enjoy playing so much and we will have some real fun,” Marissa replied with a laugh.
She didn’t feel like doing much of anything that day, but Sean was relentless in helping her fulfill her obligations. The constant visiting and social calls were a total bore to her, but she completed them with a flair that usually left the ladies breathless and full of new gossip to share about Lady Edgington.
Marissa didn’t care about what the gossips thought of her. She knew that she was well liked and respected among those who really mattered. Her thoughts returned again to the conversation she had overheard the previous night.
Who was this woman and who was her daughter that was so accessible. Jarvis had mentioned a Lady, so it must be someone she knew, but who had a mother that had literally disappeared? She had no answers so she pushed it to the back of her mind and finished her breakfast.
On her way to see Lady Cameron for tea she decided it might be a good idea to put out random feelers. Lady Cameron knew most of the ladies in London and most of their background and history too. She would be an excellent resource to pump for information.
The servant immediately let her in after the coachman rang the bell and showed her into the parlor. She straightened her dress and hair after removing her hat and jacket and sat daintily on the small puff chairs that annoyed her. They weren’t built to accommodate the bustles that Marissa despised.
“Lady Edgington,” Lady Cameron exclaimed as she entered the room.
Marissa rose gracefully and went to greet her hostess. “Charlotte, thank you so much for inviting me to tea, it is quite an honor,” Marissa lied.
“Marissa dear, it’s been ages since we’ve gotten together,” the lady gushed.
For good reason, Marissa thought, you annoy the daylights out of me. “I know Charlotte, but we’ve both been so busy. Are you planning to attend the ladies aid meeting this afternoon?”
“Oh no, I have to get ready for Sir Barton’s ball tonight. Aren’t you attending the ball?” Charlotte asked amazed.
“Of course, I wouldn’t miss it,” Marissa replied.
How could anyone stand primping for three hours, ugh! She glanced around the room, sipping her tea and trying to figure out how to ask her questions about the missing mother.
“Charlotte, I was wondering if you could possible help me with a little mystery I have on my hands,” she said carefully.
Charlotte’s eyes brightened and she leaned forward conspiratorially. “Yes?”
“I heard, from the servants, that a certain lady’s mother has disappeared in the last few months or years. I’m not certain which, you know how the servants can be so blaze` about these things,” Marissa said quietly.
She knew Charlotte would drink in any gossip that she heard and spill it just as quickly.
Charlotte’s eyes widened and then her brow crinkled. “Which lady?”
“I don’t know, that’s the problem. I overheard them talking about it, but it seems like some time ago and since I am still so new to everything I thought you might know about it.”
“I can’t think of any ladies that have up and disappeared recently, even in the last few years. There have been some who have passed on, bless their souls, but none that have disappeared,” Charlotte replied.
“Nothing mysterious?” Marissa asked hopefully.
“Well, darling, the only mysterious thing lately has been your appearance here in London,” Charlotte said with a smile and a tiny dig.
“Indeed, I am quite the mystery,” Marissa answered with a grin. She found it so much more satisfying to play with their little insults and toss them back than to actually be insulted. The expressions on their faces when their remarks didn’t faze her was priceless. “But I’ve been around for years and everyone knows, I’m no longer the latest gossip,” she added for the final sting.
Charlotte’s face darkened slightly and Marissa knew she had won.
“I guess the fact that no one knows who my mother is makes quite a stir. I would love nothing better than to find out myself and settle everything once and for all,” Marissa replied nonchalantly. “Thank you for trying, dear. I always wonder at the things I hear the servants say. Sometimes I think they are just playing with me.”
“You should send the whole group packing and hire some that are more respectful of your position,” Charlotte advised.
Marissa nodded laughing to herself. She loved her people. They were all extremely loyal, even knowing her background, and she treated them all with respect. She knew what they were required to do, having been there herself, and with this knowledge they chose to do what they were asked. She made sure they were well compensated for their work and they all worked hard. She would never get rid of one of them unless she were forced to.
Marissa sighed inwardly. Charlotte was not going to be any help. She would have to turn to her next source which was the very servants they had been discussing. She finished her tea spending the hour discussing fashions and parties and balls. Finally she was able to make her escape and on her way home stopped at her favorite sweet shop.