Caroline spent the next two days in a languid fog. The alcohol that they started to serve her initially had been little more than a mouthful of wine with coloring and water. Once she’d paid her tab to the man she’d spoken to initially, she placed before him more money and asked if the establishment had something for a woman of refined taste. The grinning jackal had upped the price but seemed pleased when she produced the money and she was then allowed to have the bottle to go back to her room. It had been an expensive escape from her traumas but she had suffered through but it was well worth it. Lying in the filthy room, her mind blissfully murky, she allowed the time to pass as she thought of her beloved brother. Her Victor.
She remembered the way that he had been catered to as a child. The way that her father had insisted to Caroline that he would be the future of their family. The head of the household. There were others who had not seen how special he was from the beginning. Her eldest sister had resented him from the time of his birth for what he was to become. Beatrice had been a scornful woman from the time that she was young and as she grew older, she had only become more of the same. She’d been married for money and the union had been of great benefit to their family in more ways than one. Caroline had remembered well, even with the alcohol clouding her mind, how her father had forced Beatrice down the aisle during the wedding ceremony. That day, she had stood at her sister’s side as a bridesmaid, her own clothing feeling dour and insulting enough. Beatrice had been told that she would marry a month before the ceremony and she’d had little to say to anyone in the house after. Three days before she was to walk through that church, she had been caught trying to smother Victor in his sleep. The five year old child was unharmed but it was only her impending wedding that saved her from the gallows. Their father had threatened to send her straight to the grave that night but it was only that she’d been sold to very wealthy man that had kept alive to see her husband. She’d have been better off to simply try to take her own life. Here they were, years later, Victor very much still alive and Beatrice in the ground with her pathetic husband to come a year after he put her there. Of course, there were rumors that she had done the deed herself and her husband had simply been too much of an idiot in his stumbling upon the scene, creating evidence where they might not have been any. Caroline knew better. Her vile sibling had been ruined enough that she could not be married to another without the blessing of her family. She’d sought to come back within the month of her leaving. A fact that Caroline alone knew.
It had been for her own good, really. Well, it had been for the greater good of everyone. Beatrice belonged with her husband, rotten though he was. It was hardly Caroline’s fault that her sibling wrote in the same hand as herself. No one suspected anything of the letters as they came from time to time. Beatrice was trapped, barred from harming anyone and getting her reward for a life of pride and cruelty. Their Papa was at ease in the belief that his eldest daughter had finally become the woman that she ought to have been instead of the wicked thing that they sought to get rid of. Caroline slept easier at night knowing that her older sister suffered. Knowing that she would never again lay her hands on Victor and treat him as she would a rag doll who annoyed her. Her feelings of relief were rewarded when they received a letter announcing that she had died suddenly. Her husband was sent to the gallows after the trial and together the wicked pair lay in the ground as they were meant to be.
It had been so much simpler back then. How much easier it would have been if Victor were not so willful. His beautiful fiery spirit was something she adored but it caused her so much grief and pain. So much that needed to be done to keep him safe. He would not allow her the control that she needed to keep him that way. He had to be shown that she knew what was right for him but it was a matter of figuring out how. Oh how difficult it all seemed but the alcohol had been wonderful for keeping away her despair. Her blunted nerves were not so distracting and she found herself mulling over what must be done. Vivian was still alive and this was a great problem for them all. Her child was dead and therefore, she would have nothing to cage Victor as of yet but it had led to something far worse. She could still ensnare him with her emotional tides and her brother would fall. How dangerously close they were to such nightmares.
Caroline knew that the time for desperate measures was upon her but what lengths to go were yet still a mystery. She knew that she could not approach him directly. He would deny her and it would cut off her only hope of bringing him home. She could not make another attempt to finish what she’d started. The Kent household would be crawling with people and none of them would be foolish enough to allow her alone with Vivian. Disguised as she was, her enemy would know. By now, she had probably spoken with Victor. She would know that Caroline was here and hiding. Time was of the essence and before long, they would know to come find her. Her brother may not betray her so fast but he was so lost right now, there was no telling what manner of treason he might be talked into.
Perhaps, she thought, this was the true solution after all. Victor would not allow himself to be spoken to by her and he would not listen to reason from Papa but perhaps there was another who might be able to persuade him. Someone that he respected and even cherished the memory of. Perhaps it was best that the letter had been stolen before. Yes, it may well have been a blessing that the kind Maurice Roche had not paid his letter to her wayward brother. He was so dismissive of the kind-hearted ones. He was so rebellious of authority. It posed a problem. Who might yet find a way into his colder heart? Caroline had no access to what Vivian might say to him and she knew that her brother would soon enough. There must be at least one that he might find some solace in their company. Someone whom he would give the time to and hear their whispers.
Before long, Caroline found that she was writing. The answer was so very simple, she thought to herself. So easy when she allowed herself to relax. The haze of the alcohol was helpful in these matters. She knew that the next bottle would cost again and there was a small flicker of worry when she thought of how much there would be left for the children in the end. Still, there was plenty for the moment. The children would be taken care of when their father was in his right mind again. Soon, Victor would see. He would be found and she would bring him home where he belonged. Where his family could never lose him again.