Last week I stole a line from Apprentice, Never Master and wrote the beginnings of this story here. This week she and her band of thieves paid me back and purloined the first line of this piece. Check out what they did for the line at the Legal Theft Project.
Blue suit jacket open and tie undone, he smiled at her. “Marie, you look irresistible as always.” He held out his arms in invitation, watching her reaction.
Instinct saved her. She smiled, all nerves at first and then with purpose. Marie stepped close enough to take his hands. “Silas.” She murmured and brushed her lips across his clean shaven cheek. It gave her a moment to think. He was one of those that disliked her height. It explained the modest heeled shoes in the closet but little else.
When Marie leaned back to look him in the eyes she was ready with a wide-eyed expression. “What’s going on?” She asked quietly, as if the men waiting in the hallway were not Silas’ own guards.
“I will explain. But first–” He brought a hand up to brush a piece of hair behind her ear, gaze sweeping her features. “–do you like the rooms?”
There was only one answer he would accept and she gave it. “They are lovely, but I don’t understand their purpose. Silas, those men nearly dragged me from the Richmere Gala. Everyone saw it.” He would assume she’d been embarrassed by the spectacle. Marie didn’t care, she wanted to survive the night and felt he ought to be reminded that her abduction had witnesses.
“Those socialites and dandies will have more to talk of tomorrow than you.” He stepped away, hand closing around hers. “Come, its unpleasant business and I’ve had far too much of it lately. After a drink you’ll feel better.” He turned out of the bedroom and led her to the bar.
Marie followed. “What is happening tomorrow?”
“Tonight.” He corrected.
Something must have slipped in her expression. A ripple of displeasure straightened his spine and hardened his eyes. “I hoped you’d be happier to see me.” The thick brandy sloshed over the glass as Silas poured.
“I am. But they took my phone and my things and shoved me into an unmarked car. No one explained anything. Can you imagine what was going through my head before you walked through that door?” Marie looked away as she couldn’t quite summon the tears she wanted.
The floor to ceiling windows reflected the two of them back. She could barely see the glow of the city in the distance. Silas set the glass aside and stepped to her, placing his hands on her hips. She didn’t wrinkle her nose as his fingers soaked pungent brandy into the fabric of her gown. He pulled her close. Marie kept her chin tucked, eyes downcast.
“I didn’t mean to scare you.” Silas murmured, his thumb now gently tracing the angle of her hipbone. His hands suddenly made her skin writhe. “The city is about to experience a dramatic change in management. You have connections amidst the aristocracy.” At the word connections his hand dug into her side possessively. “If you had told one of them something or perhaps warned an old flame, I wouldn’t have been able to save you.”
“This was for my protection.” Her own words felt hollow in her ears.
Silas smiled. “I made friends with the right sort of people a long time ago, we are completely safe tonight. All my business went overseas years before this, so everything is arranged for us. After I help them settle things at least. This is all for the best, no more passing yourself around to the highest bidder.” He lifted her chin with a thumb.
As she looked into his eyes Marie couldn’t summon even the illusion of the gratitude he wanted. “What about my friends?” She asked, panic tightly reined in her voice.
Silas stepped away and checked his watch. “Dead by now.” His expression challenged her to do or say something stupid. “The new management was clear, it had to be done. I was allowed to spare you.”
Marie stared at him, feeling the ice spread across her skin and sink into her chest. Silas continued, gesturing at her with the glass. “I’ll give you a moment to grieve, but you are here with me now. Remember that.” Silas swallowed a large mouthful of brandy and turned to the window.
It took a moment to decide what to do next. She forced herself to breathe and slipped her hand into his, leaning her body against shoulder. “Thank you.” Marie murmured.
He turned and drew her into a kiss.
An hour later she rose from the bed silently, untangling herself from the no longer tucked sheets. Marie bent, sorting through the clothes left on the floor until she found the right pocket.
Marie took Silas’ phone out onto the balcony of the common area and dialed a number. The call went straight to voicemail. The second number she tried was the same, as did the third and the fourth. The fifth number she tried was disconnected. Her breathing hitched and tears made it difficult to see the screen.
She was running out of people to call and chances to prove that Silas was wrong. If he wasn’t, if he was telling the truth, faking the gratitude he required would no longer be an option. Marie was good, but she wouldn’t be able to stomach Silas’ hands on her if he was responsible for the things he claimed. She stepped back inside. The dark made the suite look cold, even more unlivable than it had before.
Marie set the phone down on the kitchen counter. She’d have to return it before he woke, violence came easily to men like him.
Her eyes were drawn again to the knife block. It sat, dull and waiting in glow of the kitchen appliances. Violence had never come naturally to her, but neither had a cage. Marie shook the thoughts out of her head for the time being and picked up the phone again.