If nothing else, Charlotte had been forever thankful for the gullibility of those who were shocked and concerned. If she’d had any sense of these things herself, she might have been caught for her dastardly deeds many years ago. However, she had found that she was able to get away with her crimes with the kind of grace that many would envy and few had ever managed to emulate. Well, few had managed to emulate for long. She couldn’t have that much for competition because the dying rich men of the world were a limited commodity and one that she had very little interest in sharing wherever possible. It was one of the reasons why it pained her so to leave the house at this time and couldn’t properly see if she had damaged her brother beyond repair.

It had been a very strong dose of a poison that she had never really used before. Charlotte was a sophisticated woman and had never thought before to rely on those things that the land around her might provide. In fact, at this late hour, she wondered truly what possessed her to think of this at all. After all, she had more than enough of her old tried and true methods available and she knew what to expect with those. She’d perfected the art of poisoning food and drink in ways that might leave the victim suspecting their declining health faster than their murderous spouse, even when they knew that she was keen to see them dead. She’d also managed to find other ways to create opportunities that looked less suspect to the immediate eye. Charlotte had a talent that couldn’t be denied but even though she had proven to herself that she knew the methods of poison and its merits and downfalls before this, she was also wise enough to know not to use something that strong right away. In the dead of night, she wondered if she had finally committed an act so foolish that she might actually be in danger of being caught down the line. It was assured if her brother had survived long enough to tattle on her. A possibility that she had left hanging when she insisted that she needed to be away from the house lest he die and she be overcome with emotional despair. Naturally the house staff bought her dramatics but it had left her vulnerable.

Still, this could not be more crucial timing and she had not the patience to sit around and wait to find out if Victor had indeed died or not. She had sought to make him vulnerable enough to make sure to get that wretched rat’s attention and draw her out. Make her come out from the shadows and scuttle into the fold to save her favorite little sibling like the desperate cockroach that she was. It was easy to doubt herself and her methods when she was nervous about the fate of the sibling who could send her to the gallows but the reward had been almost immediate. The day after her brother’s “mysterious illness”, Charlotte had been able to escape the house under the guise of being too distressed. Not two days later, she had been reading a paper that told of the sudden death of a woman in a boarding house that had been long since known to certain company as a brothel. That she happened to be recognizable as the wretch who did Victor’s laundry was almost too lovely a coincidence. It took so little digging to find out that the woman had connections to other things that would be of interest to her that Charlotte wondered indeed if there wasn’t someone who wanted her to be in possession of that inheritance almost more than she did.

Since leaving, Charlotte had managed to build her own little space in the best hotel in town. She had to begrudgingly admit that it was utterly modern and while it was filled with entirely too many young pups who were all looking to act their toughest, it had a kind of charm to it that she could appreciate. It was true that it left her longing for her beloved Paris but she knew that she could not allow herself to be seen there until she had managed to update her wardrobe. Perhaps the old money degenerates that lived in these parts were perfectly fine with looking like they’d been frozen in time from at least three or four years ago, she could not return to her haven of sin and beauty without being worthy of its lights. She loved it too much to treat it with such disrespect. For the time being, she would have to be content to take in the beauty of the modern world where it was available here. It was a lovely distraction from the more taxing issues at hand and things that must be done.

Being out of the house and on her own had a kind of liberation to it that had made her feel like her old self again. It was troubling to think of how easily the old sense of familiarity came back to her. How that sense of the familiar had managed to make her feel something kind of like fondness. It would be there regardless, she reasoned, but it had changed how she behaved. If she had been lodging with anyone else for that long, she would have had them dead within a number of weeks, attended their funeral and had moved on before anyone could spot anything suspicious. With Victor, she had been there for months already. The summer heat had not yet left the afternoon sun completely by the time she had arrived and yet here she was still in town upon the first breath of winter approaching. She should simply be thankful that she had managed to come to her good sense before the snow fell. Hell itself could barely have made that frozen drive worthy of the trip with all its fires and there would scarcely be any leaving for anyone in that prison. If Victor did die up there, he would finally have created his perfect tomb. She didn’t know if she was sorry or to be congratulated for having helped him achieve his foolish aim. She knew that if she was not successful, he would be certain to repay her eventually for her failure.

Never one to be patient enough to wait for someone else to give her the comeuppance that she deserved, she had decided upon her arrival here at this lovely makeshift home that she would make the best of her time. It was almost too wonderful that yet another distraction seemed to land upon her at the same time and something that might be of some service. Something that could further aid her in her quest to grab hold of that money after all.

The papers had kept abreast of the developments in the pathetic state of Lady Kent as she lingered in bed, no doubt growing more insufferable with the passage of time. While lost in the fog of the house in the woods, Charlotte had found that she was completely uninterested in the goings on of that family but since leaving, she was livid with herself for falling so behind on the gossip. Seemed as though her old foe had managed to find the strength to sit up and even start speaking recently. Charlotte had half expected that her brute of a husband might have found it necessary to ease her to eternal slumber with a pillow by now but in a show of something that might have been mistaken as support and affection, Master Kent had seen fit to speak out as well. Of course, the quotes for the papers have been nothing short of cloying quips of adoration for his wife and lamentations on the tragedy that had hit their family but Charlotte had heard such things before. She, herself, had uttered such banal statements for her own lost lovers that had met their maker entirely too young and completely unexpectedly. She could read between the lines, however, and there was a kind of restrained rage in his quotes. Things that she knew were there because she knew what she was reading for. She felt an electric shock of giddiness run through her when she read one part in particular. A very vague mention of how cold the February winds might become.

Oh a war would be splendid and a lovely distraction for everyone around her. An even better one if the most important casualty might end up freeing up that money for her faster. And wouldn’t it just figure that the poor, delirious Vivian might have set her vendetta against someone who still bore that putrid last name of their father? Someone who wouldn’t part with that rancid family name for anything would make a lovely scapegoat indeed. All it would take was a little bit of cultivating and the rot of that family would do the rest. How beautiful it might yet be and how little she would have to work for it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *