Charlotte knew that to achieve her aims, she could not very well count on Caroline to provide herself. That had been the foolish route so far and it had cost her. How much of that money had been squandered, she dared not think. Why, it might lead her to tears to think of all that she might have been able to buy with the useless dalliances that her half sibling had managed to purchase while flitting about and trying to prove herself a murderess. Oh and that was even more offensive! To think that she had committed a crime that took so much more cunning and skill and had botched it every single time. If nothing else, it provided her with a lovely opportunity to rid herself of the wretched imbecile once and for all. Caroline had more than proven that she was a bumbling fool when it came to murder which made it easy to convince the wretched Kent family that she might have been to blame for Vivian’s bout of clumsiness or the botched revenge of a servant girl. By the sounds of things, she might have already planted the seed.

The Kent family had never much been fond of their so-called father and his lineage. Truly, there was nothing much to enjoy from either camp if one were being totally honest. Charlotte herself had little to no love for anyone within the Fevrier family and felt them all better off when they settled down in their tombs. They were always the hoarding sort, her family with that cursed name. Able to find gold anywhere and store it like it was the last morsel of food in a famine. Ah but they did such things with everything, the Fevrier family. It didn’t seem to matter if it was riches, food, women or any other manner of treasure to be gotten. If it was of value, someone within this despicable family would find a way to take and keep it. It was, indeed, a pity that her beloved mother had come to rest with such a name still tacked to her but it had been the best for her at the time. Charlotte could forgive her that. After all, it was not as though she wasn’t one of the most coveted women in all of France once and it was only like the man who caught her to keep her chained down to his name until her death. It was still preferable to being branded one of the Kent family. It wasn’t so much the arrogance and greed that she found so distasteful. No, these were at least somewhat admirable traits for Charlotte to consider a foe respectable. It was the sheer incompetence in how they achieved their aims and the artlessness of their results. Master Kent was a brute of a man with no grace for how he swindled people and he was reviled by almost as many as he was feared. Those who crossed him were usually sorry but there were always ways around these things. He was, after all, no match for his wife in that regard.

Oh how it pained her to say it, even to herself. Charlotte so hated that woman but she knew a cunning wench when she saw one. Better to be honest about it than to deny but she knew that Vivian would be the brains of any operation that might be coming out of their household. Her beastly husband might have the ability to bully and create opportunities through force but Vivian was more vicious in her silence and her attacks. She must be the driving force behind what was happening there in response to her mysterious “illness” as they preferred to call it. A wicked vengeance would follow soon and Charlotte knew it. It would be the downfall of a few and if anyone was foolish enough to get in the way of a woman with such a rabid temper, it might just very well end in their death. Yes, it was a good idea to keep her mind sharp and available to what her foe was up to. It was also of more use to her to acknowledge her enemy’s strengths here and to reap the benefits of what possibilities it might yet present. The trick would be to see how she could direct it to her best advantage. This might prove to be a game with a great amount of fun and profit for her if played the right way. Now the only trick was to get the other players involved the right way. How to get Caroline to come to call and Vivian to snatch the rat when she came from hiding?

It was times like these that Charlotte cursed her half sibling’s talent for imitation. Caroline, that simpering cur, could manage to write to almost anyone as anyone, it seemed. With such a gift, Charlotte might have already sprung her trap and loosened the chains on that money she held hostage. Ah but she knew well enough that she was not good enough to be able to pull off such a rouse. Caroline, for all her uselessness otherwise, was at least able to do it effortlessly in one go and leave no trace. She had clearly developed this talent over many years, her letters getting more refined. It had fooled even her once, bringing back the hand of a dead man to mind. She had foolishly believed and could have been dangerously given to her own emotional state if not for the fact that she knew beyond a pale shadow that the man who had supposedly written that letter had met his maker many years before. With such a talent, she could easily convince Vivian of Caroline’s presence and guilt and allow her to take her rage out on the worm herself. It would make the whole thing so much easier than it would be taking matters into her own hands.

Still, it was lamentable that she might not be able to do the deed herself. That she would not get the pleasure of being able to create that blot of a red stain on something with her own hands. Oh it did present a kind of difficulty for her. On one hand, she very much wanted to see this come to its neat conclusion before the Paris fashions completely missed her for the year. On the other, she did so hate the idea of letting Vivian have all the fun when it came to her half sibling’s punishment. Surely there might yet be some way that she could have a hand in the death of her rotten apple upon the family tree. All that must be taken into consideration later, however. Charlotte knew that the first thing to be done was to draw her out.

She had done half the work as Caroline had given away her location with her newest attempt at rage. Clumsiness was becoming her new signature and it was worthy of getting a mention in the papers so she knew it could not have been anyone else. She refused to believe that a murder of the woman that did Victor’s laundry would have been an accident or a slight of someone else’s hand when her half sibling had so much invested already in getting Victor to leave this place. Even if it wasn’t her, Caroline must have known who the woman was. She would be making her way through the slums by now and trying to find a new plan to enact or a new place to settle for long enough that she might be able to create one. She would no longer be hiding in the same place but there were fewer places for a wretch to hide and fewer still if they were desperate as Caroline was likely becoming. What to bring her even further into the spotlight where Vivian might yet see her? Something that might be able to find a way to make a public spectacle of her. It must be seen to reach that dastardly family out there in the woods. Charlotte knew that they would be aware of all the gossip but if she really wanted to spur the deplorable Lady Kent into action, she would need her to be less angry and more seething with the need for revenge. And how, indeed, to create such a feeling of animosity? What kind of delicious little trick might she play to get Caroline’s blood boiling and then get her enemy to follow suit?

There was, once upon a time, a few sure methods for making sure that darling Caroline would reveal her true nature. Oh yes, that was enough to make it so that their fool of a father wouldn’t be able to control her nor could their sadistic nanny pacify or threaten her. The first, always more effective than anything, was to plant the seed in her mind that someone would remove Victor from the home and dash him away. Oh such fun that had been to see her throw fits. When his arranged union with Vivian had first been announced, Caroline was so livid, it was positively scandalous. The fits that she threw were of such an epic nature, it was embarrassing to witness but too entertaining to look away. Not even the most savage beating from Nanny could calm her and she’d even motioned to attack back. It would not have changed after all this time so the stage was set to create the right explosion. With the old woman dead in the brothel, Charlotte could bet on some level that Caroline knew of Victor’s illness or even his potential death. Still, she knew that she was banking on potential. She needed a better catalyst. A method to make sure that someone had access to his state and ensure that it got the message across to one who might not have the means to see the latest papers.

Ah but there was yet another method to bring her out. Something that had the power to make her weep with despair and rage and Charlotte knew just the right notes to hit in her song of sorrow. And what luck, it was something that darling Vivian Kent might take some issue with as well. It was simply a matter of getting it to the right ears. Charlotte knew this would be the ticket to killing all her birds once she managed to get them in line. She knew just the method to do it, too. Soon, those beautiful Paris lights would be hers to cherish again. French blood was always so much more satisfying to spill and let the next drops be those of her wretched family, the ones she hated the most!

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