Saturday, 16 November 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 16 Word Count 1105

The following day, she was advised by Mary that a swift recovery would be suspicious, so she kept to her room most of the day. She sat downstairs for a light evening meal (soup, a capon and a few sweets), which was sufficient given how bored she'd been that day. After dinner she pettishly picked out a few faulty tunes on the pianoforte then repaired to her room with a novel or two.

Mary was visibly relieved whenever she was seen by other members of the household. Every now and then she would critique Melissa's “recovery”. It was well known within the household of Melissa's turbulent interviews with doctors and no one had expressed any surprise that Mary had chosen to care for her without external support. The relief depicted at her eventual recovery was assumed to be related to Mary's fear that she may have made the wrong choice in not calling a professional man.

As a result of her illness, Melissa was expected to remain unavailable to guests, and she had been resigned to the tedium of several hours of her own company. Every time she considered what had caused it however, she felt a massive surge of triumph and pride. It would take the boys a while to sail home, but they were safely on their way. Andy was out of the grasp of the French and she was free to live her own life now as she saw fit.

At about 9:00 that evening a thunderous hammering began on the door. Her staff had been dealing with this particular caller on a regular basis and apparently the knowledge that she was “recovering” took the conviction out of their performance and refusal to allow guests to enter. She heard the soun d of her poor butler being forcibly moved out of the doorway and footsteps heading straight for the morning room where she usually received guests. She stood and glanced at herself in the mirror – she showed clear signs of recent physical strain – her eyes were bagged, her skin was dull and off-colour and her hair had obviously not been washed in a few days – which ought to convince any importunate individual of her indisposition. She was also not wearing any corsetry – a liberty she had enjoyed greatly in the last few days (although initially wearing a corset felt incredibly glamorous and sexy, being obliged to wear one every single day for every occasion had become onerous) – the lack of which would be noticeable and only excusable on the grounds that she wsan't receiving.

The footsteps had paused then, after a brief hesitation, move straight for the door to her room. She clasped the novel she had been reading as she stood, poised and alert, waiting for the door to open. When it did, she was surprised to see Phillip walk in. He seemed angry.

A little mental arithmetic proved it was impossible for her presence in France to have been reported to him, or indeed the success of her mission. Instead of attempting to guess what he knew, she held herself upright and looked him straight in the eye. He immediately launched into a tirade – her departure from the ball had been witnessed and her immediate return home in the company of Paul was viewed as deeply suspicious. He had been watched for and had noticeably not departed. Phillip had once more had to wrestle with his own feelings and self control. It wasn't a pleasant experience and his attempts to visit her had only served to frustrate him more.

When he finally took breath she looked straight into his eye and smoothly assured him that had it been any of his business, she would have informed him in person of the magical teleporting device she possessed that made it possible for people to leave her property without being witnessed by any individual who happened to be loitering outside the front door, particularly, she went on with slight emphasis, loiterers who never take toilet breaks, drink with her footmen or otherwise do anything which would cause them to momentarily break their focus.

He was visibly annoyed by her words, but once again, the justice within him came to the fore and, much as he wanted to extend his fury from her behaviour to her slight on his men, he had to acknowledge that he only had their word for their vigilance. He trusted them, but it was entirely possible that for a very natural reason the gentleman in question had left the property unnoticed. That he may also have arrived at his own property unnoticed was significantly less likely, but he did not raise that issue as he considered it beyond her need to know area. In addition, the young man in question had emerged from his own flat this morning and visited his club and a few other spots around town that young men frequented regularly, so it was impossible to accuse her of having him hidden around her home. Additionally, it was beyond dispute that the men stationed on his street had not seen him arrive there. His suspicion had been simply that he had stayed the night. Melissa's response had made it impossible to determine if his suspicion was founded or not.

Instead he turned his questioning to the suddenness of her departure from the ball. What, he asked, had become so urgent that she must leave immediately? She thought back to that night and the conversation on the balcony and whitened. She was able to respond with a sincerity that he believed:

“I put together a few points and realised that the boys were in terrible danger. More particularly, I realised that while I am here and they are there, I cannot help them overcome their difficulties.”

“I trust this will lead you to steer clear of these little adventures in future – you may kill yet more people than your first friend very easily.”

“I will not steer clear, as you describe it. If another excursion to France is necessary, I will go myself. To remain here alone and without information is unbearable.”

Her pronouncement was met with silence. She had spoken the last sentence in a quiet tone, staring into the fireplace and it carried a weight and depth that she wasn't even aware of.

Phillip, in his conflicting mental state in every matter that was in some way related to her, was unable to resolve any of the points floating around his head and he simply bowed his way out. It wasn't a graceful exit.

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