The Shadow 7
The bell rang cheerfully as she entered and a voice from the back called for her to wait. She glanced over the desserts on display deciding on a sweet little Italian chocolate that she was very fond of. The chef bustled out from the back room looking pale and uneasy.
“Hello Robert,” Marissa said cheerfully. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the curtain move as if someone had passed through.
Her thoughts went wild as her previous evenings adventure sprang to the forefront of her mind.
“Lady Edgington, this is a surprise,” Robert said nervously.
“Not really, you know I always stop by after tea every second friday,” she said her eyes darting to the curtain.
Someone had walked through, she was certain of it, someone invisible. she never would have believed it if she weren’t head deep herself.
“Oh yes of course. What would you like, Marissa?”
“I want the Italian mint chocolate,” Marissa replied eagerly.
“Is that all?”
“Yes.” She paused. “Did I hear voices when I came in?” she asked carefully.
Robert’s hand froze as he reached for the chocolate. “Voices?” he asked shakily.
“Yes. Do you have a guest?”
“No, no guests, just me talking to myself,” he laughed and she could hear the fear in his voice.
“Can I also get a variety box of chocolates. I like to surprise the staff once in a while,” she said airily. She was dying to know if the invisible woman was here or not, but she couldn’t think of a way to find out.
She glanced around the room and noticed a bag of sugar and cocoa beans on the counter near the curtain. She meandered around the shop toward the cocoa beans chatting about how Sean and Eliza loved the chocolates and how much fun it was surprise them. When she got near the bag she faked a trip and pushed the bag to the floor. The beans scattered all around the floor. For a split second she saw the outline of two feet in the mess and then it disappeared and once again the curtain moved on its own.
“Oh, Robert, I’m so sorry.”
She got down and started sweeping up the beans into her skirt. Charlotte would have a field day if she saw this.
“Lady Edgington, it’s fine. I’ll clean it up. You shouldn’t be putting those in your dress. Are you all right? Did you catch the edge of the counter?” he exclaimed.
She allowed him to help her back, dumping the beans into the outstretched bag.
“Oh I’m fine, it’s the lace on this silly dress, the hem is just a tad bit too long. I need to fix it, I keep tripping on it. Did I ruin anything?” she asked hoping she hadn’t.
“No, no, everything is fine,” Robert replied. He was still nervous, but not nearly as much as before. “Marissa, only you would stop to help a working man clean up the mess you made...accidentally,” he said with a sigh.
“But it was my fault,” Marissa chided.
“Yes, but that doesn’t matter to most high born folks,” he replied.
Marissa shook her head in disgust. He was right and she knew it. She held out a three pound note to him.
“Here is for the chocolates and the ruined beans,” she said kindly.
“Lady Edgington, this is too much,” Robert refused.
“I don’t care, Robert, you deserve it. I’ll see you in two weeks,” she said leaving the money on the counter and taking the wrapped chocolates he had left on the counter.
She had gotten more information from that little accident than she thought. The invisible woman was moving through her contacts. Robert was one of her best sources for messages. He often sent potential clients her way and she paid him handsomely for his efforts.
Marissa wondered if the woman knew what she was doing when she wandered the shop and if she did would she come after her. She hoped she playacted well enough to disguise her actions. If not then she was certain she would be receiving a visit from the invisible woman.
Marissa returned to her waiting carriage and decided to stop at another one of her contacts. She gave the instructions to the driver and he nodded and flicked the reins. They moved through the streets of London to a well-known cheese maker named Albert.
A few minutes later she pulled up to the cheese shop and the driver helped her down. She entered the dimly lit shop and rang the bell. She took a deep breath reveling in the delicious smells that entered her nostrils. She loved the heady smells and sharp tangy flavors of the shop.
A robust man with heavily muscled arms came to the front.
“Marissa!” he exclaimed, “What brings you here today?”
“I need to order some cheese for next week. I’ve been craving a few things and cook hasn’t been in a cheesy mood lately,” she said with a grin.
Albert laughed. He knew just as well as she that her cook would make anything Marissa asked for, she was here for jobs.
“Well I don’t have any new cheeses this week. Do you want to try some nice sharp cheddar or a creamy havarti perhaps?”
“Cheddar is fine.” She paused and then decided to take it one step further. “Has anyone come asking about our friend?” she asked quietly.
“No, not recently at least nothing specifically about our friend,” he replied just as quietly.
“If anyone does will you let me know?” she asked.
“Certainly. Is our friend in any danger?” he asked suspiciously. “I don’t mind being a contact for him, but I don’t want to be involved in anything dangerous.”
She didn’t blame him. “I don’t think so, but it might be a good idea to send new cheeses in other directions for a few weeks,” she replied.
“All right. So how much cheddar do you want?” he asked resuming his normal tone.
“A small block,” she replied. “If I get too much cook will put it in everything. Just send it up to the house when you have a chance.”
Albert nodded and she turned to leave. He headed back to the back of his shop as she opened the front door. She froze when she heard a cry of fear from the big man. She reached up to silence the bell as she closed the door and crept back into the shop.
The door to the back was slightly ajar and she could hear voices.
“What do you know about the Shadow?” a woman’s voice hissed. It was Sarah.
“I don’t know anything about him, I just receive messages and pass them on to his contacts so he can deliver them,” Albert replied. “Please, I’m just a simple cheese maker.”
Marissa was ready to jump through the door, but Sarah continued.
“Who is your contact?” she asked.
“I...I can’t say,” Albert replied hesitating.
“Oh I think you can,” Sarah threatened.
Marissa’s blood froze in her veins.
“It’s a Lady. She’s a good Lady, please don’t hurt her,” Albert begged.
“What is the Lady’s name?” Sarah demanded.
“Edgington,” Albert replied defeated.
“Marissa?” Sarah said surprised. Marissa heard a knife drop onto the floor.
“Please, Marissa is a good woman. She’s kind-hearted to working folks. She wouldn’t hurt anyone,” Albert cried.
“Marissa keeps with interesting company,” Sarah said thoughtfully. “Thank you cheese man.”
There was silence and Marissa heard sobbing. She knew it was Albert and that he felt responsible for anything that might happen to her in the near future. She quietly slipped over to the door and held the bell as she left the shop.
If the woman was tracking her this way then it was possible that she could find the Shadow, but would it lead her to Marissa Clarence or Lady Edgington?