*HEAVY trigger warnings. Graphic content, sexual and adult themes. Paedophilia. Gore. Violence.*
The silver Porsche pulled off the road into a dark tree lined lane. This part of England was empty and very few streetlamps illuminated the area.
Asinoe took a few calming breaths and within moments her partner had melted out of the shadows, joining her in the car. Herr Steiner was a big man, but quiet and deadly. Military trained and groomed, he was the perfect teacher for someone like her. Especially today.
“Are you ready, Fraulein Mirror?” he asked, his deep voice vibrating through the silence. Asinoe nodded and adjusted her sweaty palms on the steering wheel.
“Yes, I’m ready.”
“You remember the plan, yes?” Steiner pressed his scrutinising gaze heavily upon her in the darkness. He clearly doubted her; doubted her ability to pull it off…she could feel it. Her hands tightened on the wheel for a moment before she released it and turned to him.
“I remember. Do you remember that you are here as back up? You only interfere if I signal, get caught or am about to die…” Her voice was icy with impatience, “I have planned this for months. I have been watching everything in that house…and I can do this.”
The statement belied the knot in her stomach but she held his gaze nonetheless. Herr Steiner seemed to consider her. The long moment tightened the knot.
“Planning and execution are two very different things, Fraulein. Actually torturing and killing someone is a life-changing event. You are nervous…" he held up a hand for silence when she opened her mouth to protest, "Of course you are, but you need to remember why you are here. Hold on to your motivation, your anger. Remember all the steps that led you to this.”
A sharp stabbing pain tore through her heart as the memory of the events leading up to her sudden departure played behind her eyes, the face of the individual behind it surfaced with it and her lungs constricted.
Jasper Baelian Black.
Her boss…and the man that irrevocably held her heart and soul. Biting her lip, Asinoe pushed the pain away and focused on breathing again; she would dwell on her feelings about it all later, later she could fall apart. Now it was more important to hold on to the only thing she had left.
Anger. The dark seething rage that was always just beneath the surface, waiting for her to release her tight control. It was easier to touch at the moment, she barely had to think about anything to get herself there, rage-filled, wanting to do damage to someone or something.
Rationally she knew that it had all been part of his plan. Of course it had. Baelian rarely moved out of it, his great scheme. He had been systematically grooming her for this very thing, making her stronger in her moments of doubt. He may not have intended for her to nearly die, attacking her as he had with the damn letter opener of his, but it had nonetheless certainly given her the shove she had needed to leave with a healthy dose of rage and a target to pour it out over.
When she finished her mission she would deal with the questions, she could go back over it and try to work out where she stood. Where he stood. Where they stood.
“I don’t need to be reminded,” she told Steiner abruptly, closing that line of conversation and opening her purse as she checked its contents once more.
Mobile phone, snub nosed .38 revolver, perfume, lipstick and mirror, superglue…
…3 syringes with different coloured markings: blue, green and red.
Her hand curled around the handle of the final item and she drew it out. The folded stiletto blade was very sharp, she knew, as she ran her finger over her initials on the handle. It had been a gift from her grandfather William when she was sixteen.
For protection, he had said.
Asinoe had been practicing for a while and had become very good at using it.
“What are you going to do?” Steiner’s voice cut into her thoughts and she glanced up at him through her lashes, barely hiding her instinctual irritation.
She wasn’t a child. She knew the plan backwards. She knew that he knew it too…but looking at his neutral face she realised that he was trying to find a reason to get her to abort. The plan was perfect, but Asinoe Mirror was not, and he clearly thought she didn’t have what it was going to take.
She steeled her gaze and gave him a smile.
“I am going to be Alina.”
She could see that the resigned coldness in her eyes made him uncomfortable, communicating her message without question.
-I am not the Asinoe Mirror you have come to know in the Underground, Herr Steiner.-
That Asinoe…she was quite reserved, but still quick to laugh. Loyal to the head of the Black Family, loyal to the point of having a very public affair with him, yet placid enough to let Baelian Black beat her and not lift a finger to defend herself. Placid enough to let him do whatever he wanted with her.
-More or less.-
As far as anyone knew, including herself, there had still been no…ahem…consummation of their 'professional relationship.'
But then, who knew what Baelian did to her while she slept?
She wondered how she seemed to Steiner now. Calm as ever but with a distinct and thinly veiled air of violence about her, pulsing just below the surface? She felt strong and ready and nothing like before…she wouldn't blame him if he suddenly found himself wondering how much he actually knew of the real Asinoe Mirror. How much did she really reveal?
After a moment Steiner shook his head and got out of the car, leaning to peer back in before closing the door.
“Good luck, Fraulein Mirror. I will be in the trees with the scope if you need me. Since you refused to wear a wire...you may need to scream. Very loudly.”
Asinoe smiled her usual smile at him, all traces of the earlier darkness gone.
”Thank you, Herr Steiner. Your help is appreciated.”
Steiner nodded and closed the door softly, melting back into the trees as Asinoe wiped her sweaty palms on her tight black dress and took a deep breath. She flipped the interior light on, checked her hair and lipstick, then flicked it off again and closed her eyes.
“It was supposed to be you, you know.”
His dark voice whispered in the near blackness. The feeling of cold metal pressed against her cheek, his warm solid body behind her…pushing her against the wall, his scent surrounding her, his hot breath tickling the back of her neck.
“They made a mistake...you were supposed to be mine.”
Baelian’s words had sent shudders through her body, his vicious taunting designed to shock and scare her. It had done its job, she had been terrified by the thought that Alina’s fate should have been hers. The torture, the rape…the abuse. They were supposed to be her past. That was supposed to be HER story.
She shuddered in the car, suddenly cold. It helped her focus, cooled her blood. She needed to keep that focus. There were several things she had to accomplish tonight…and revenge was the last item on her list.
Steely blue eyes opened and she gripped the steering wheel again, her palms no longer sweaty. She turned the key and the engine came to life with a sophisticated roar before idling into a well-oiled purr. Pulling the car back onto the road, Asinoe was turning into the driveway of Marcus Bellamantis within minutes.
-Here we go-
She drove up to the guarded security gate and slid her window down a couple of inches. The guard, mistakenly recognising her as Alina, hurriedly signalled his second and the gates swung open with a grinding of gears. Asinoe slid the window back up and drove through, her lips set in a grim line, cold eyes staring forward.
The driveway was bricked and long. Through the trees lining either side she could see the occasional sweep of a guard’s flashlight, a distant bark letting her know that some of them had dogs.
-You'd better not give me away, Steiner-
It was a silly, idle thought. She trusted him to come through for her.
At the end of the driveway, the house was brightly lit…like a beacon calling her home. It was one of King Henry VIII’s old hunting lodges and Marcus had done very little in the way of modern renovations, preferring the old Tudor charm. The house had large windows, the biggest of these right in the centre of the house on the second floor.
Marcus’s bedroom, naturally.
Steiner would be able to see directly into that room from his position, and that was where she needed to either find her prey or lure him. Through the audio and video bugs she’d gotten placed into the house via various channels she’d been able to observe everything that had been going on for months. Steiner had drawn up a complete layout of the house, she now knew every movement of every guard and servant. Marcus had been woefully overconfident in his safety…his security was lax, they hadn’t swept the house for bugs in what seemed forever. If they had, this would have already been over.
The circular driveway had a fountain in the centre, a maiden pouring crystal clear water endlessly from a vase balanced on her shoulder. Asinoe noted as she passed that the statue was of a young girl who had not yet hit puberty. Her mouth twisted in disgust at the reminder of what kind of man she had come to kill.
-For me. For Alina. For all of us-
She stopped the car abruptly in front of the house, not waiting for the valet to get to her before pushing open her door and stalking up the stairs, dropping the keys into the man’s hand as she brushed past. The front door opened before she got there…it made her mouth twitch.
Someone was watching.
Sweeping into the entry, Asinoe noted that it was dead silent. During her months of observation she had been practising Alina’s mannerisms- or at what she imagined them to be, based on the rather colourful descriptions that Baelian had given her.
‘You look just like her, you know…but your face is softer…gentler…’
Some twins grew up looking a little different to their sibling. Alina and Asinoe apparently had not. To hear Baelian tell it, they were completely identical.
Asinoe had only to dye her hair black and affect a slightly more British accent to pass…the best thing about Alina was that apparently the staff were terrified of her to the point of scattering as soon as she entered the room. She saw them whispering and ducking behind corners and through doorways as she breezed through the house. She was confident that they would keep a wide berth of her unless she pressed them.
A maid walked past, stopping abruptly when she saw her, the woman’s body tensing as if already preparing to make a hasty retreat.
“Where is he?” Asinoe snapped and the maid almost jumped out of her skin.
“Upstairs, in his room, Miss…"
Asinoe didn’t wait for the maid to finish speaking, she stalked up the stairs, letting her heels hit the marble with a sharp series of clacks.
“We are not to be disturbed,” she called sharply over her shoulder, knowing that someone or other would hear and make sure that all the servants obeyed.
As she climbed her heart started to pound, and she used the remaining few steps to count slowly as she ascended, breathing deeply to calm herself. It didn’t work, her heart was still beating a little too fast when she reached Marcus’s door.
-Get a grip, damnit-
She raised her hand and knocked… two sharp knocks.
“Come in, Alina,” a man’s voice called from the other side and Asinoe turned the handle, pushing the door in soundlessly, walking in and closing it behind her.
The room was black, red and gold - oriental themed. Asinoe was struck by the opulence. Everywhere there was Chinese embroidery…the walls were black silk emblazoned with gold peacocks in various outdoor frescoes. A large four poster bed draped in red silks and organza sat in the centre of the room…a large mahogany desk stationed before the windows.
To the left, a fireplace, lit and crackling, the flames reflected in a large mirror above it. To the right was a long black curtain, it too embroidered with similar scenes as the walls.
The man himself, Marcus Bellamantis, sat quite comfortably on the foot of his bed watching her. He was obviously naked under his black silk robe, it too keeping with the theme of his décor, sporting the five fingered dragon of the emperor.
He wasn’t terribly tall - shorter than she’d expected - only a couple of inches shy of 6 feet. His dark hair was shot through with silver and he had a well-maintained silver moustache, his mouth twisted in a slight smile as if he were amused.
Asinoe met his pale blue eyes, suddenly struck by his presence. In his pictures and the video footage he had seemed an ordinary man, but in person Marcus carried himself with a charisma and sophisticated elegance that clung to him like a second skin, a ruthless kind of grace like a stalking panther – she could see the violence sitting just beneath the surface of his eyes.
“Good evening, Marcus,” Asinoe purred. She had practiced that sensual lilt until she had gotten it perfect.
“Bambolina…to what do I owe this pleasure? The last time I checked in on you, you were closing in on finding your sister. What happened?” he uncrossed his leg, flashing a long length of naked thigh as he moved towards her.
Taking her into his arms quite suddenly, Marcus laid a firm kiss on each cheek before releasing her and stepping away. Asinoe’s heart had sped up again at his approach, her stomach rolling when he kissed her. She pushed the feeling away and shrugged carelessly.
"The Black Family have her tightly under lock and key.”
Marcus frowned slightly, gazing at her as if perturbed by her response and Asinoe scrambled to change the subject. She noticed a spot on his face, her brain taking a moment to connect as she realised it was blood. In fact, now that she was looking properly, his skin seemed misted with tiny droplets of it. She glanced at the bed again…no one was in it...her eyes skipping to the black curtain on the right of the room.
“Did I interrupt something?” she asked playfully, taking a step in the direction of the curtain.
“No, you didn’t interrupt,” Marcus smiled at her, “I kept her for you when I heard you arrive.”
Asinoe glanced back at him, her face smoothed of all emotion. He was watching her with that slightly amused smile but his eyes were sharp. Attentive.
“For me?” she forced a flirty smile, “You shouldn’t have.”
Heart in her throat, she pulled the curtain back, slamming down the scream that threatened on her lip by biting it hard. She made a sound between a choke and a gasp, then quickly rearranged her expression.
“She’s so pretty,” Asinoe cooed and sent him a charming smile, “I’m guessing…seven or eight?”
Marcus smiled back at her, though it didn’t reach his eyes.
“Seven and a half,' he replied and moved to join her beside the leather covered table behind the curtain.
Asinoe stayed silent as he stopped opposite her, staring down at the naked seven-year-old girl lying face up before her. The child’s eyes were closed and she was breathing rapid, shallow breaths, every one of them causing blood to ooze out of the deep cuts on her little chest. The table was concave enough that she was effectively lying in a pool of her own blood.
Asinoe’s eyes swept the rest of her body…there was blood between her thighs and bite marks along her neck. Clearly the bastard had already raped her. The child needed urgent medical attention or she was going to die – and soon.
Marcus made a motion to her right and Asinoe lifted her gaze to a steel side table, and the tray covered in surgical instruments that sat atop it. Behind the tray were gloves and a container of wet wipes, and beyond the table, in the corner, a custom designed tiled section of floor with a drain in it. There was another table there, a marble table sporting some kind of hose accessory - no doubt for washing blood away.
Swallowing hard, Asinoe turned her attention back to the child. The table she lay on was obviously also specially designed, with its concave shape and restraints built into the edges like vice traps. The wrists and ankle cuffs were adjustable for height and size, made of the finest materials and as horrid looking as something out of an old Victorian torture chamber. One glance told Asinoe that there was no getting out of them, they were made in such a way that struggling would only pull them tighter and cut off circulation. They were military designed to act like flexicuffs - but more permanent.
-Steiner would be impressed-
"Come my dear," Marcus picked up a clean scalpel and passed it to her, "Let me see how your skills have progressed.” His smile was welcoming but his eyes held a challenge. Asinoe fingered the small blade and looked down at the trembling girl.
-Just kill her and end her suffering, you won’t be able to save her anyway…she’s going to die with or without your interference, and you can't take her with you when you leave.-
Asinoe must have hesitated for too long…the girl’s eyes opened and she found herself locked in the child's terrified green gaze. It was obvious she had heard every word spoken.
Asinoe’s hand tightened on the scalpel.
-One quick cut and it will be done.-
She steeled herself to do it just as the girl sensed her hesitation. The child pleaded with her eyes, tears beginning to fall as she whimpered. Marcus touched her leg and the girl let out a terrified squeal, trying to get away, the cuff on her right foot tightening and prompting a scream of pain.
Asinoe couldn’t do it. She wasn’t there to kill innocence…but to avenge it. She started to rack her brain, trying to find a way to leave and take the child with her. She could take her back to her family and get her into therapy, providing her family weren’t the ones who had sold her in the first place.
Maybe one day she would recover. Maybe she could take her to the Black Family…anything was better than this.
Frowning, Asinoe put the scalpel down, "I’m not in the mood to play, Marcus.”
Bellamantis looked at her as if she had done something very interesting, his mouth twitching into a sardonic smile as his eyes lit up in delight…and the knot in her stomach got tighter.
“I see. Clearly you are more like your sister than I thought, Asinoe," he bared his teeth in a wolfish smile and Asinoe jerked as if he'd slapped her. She'd barely registered her name on his lips when he was grabbing her upper arms in a vicelike grip, pulling her closer to him over the table and the little girl. The child gave a muffled scream under her weight and Asinoe, too surprised to do anything else, slammed her hands down and tried not to not crush her, her palms slipping in the cooling, sticky blood.
Marcus studied her face closely and Asinoe cursed herself for being so stupid. He'd moved so suddenly she’d dropped her purse - and all her weapons with it - on the floor and out of her reach.
“Your...sister, Alina,” he murmured, glancing down at the little girl and smirking in a way that gave Asinoe the overwhelming urge to scratch his eyes out, “…she needs encouragement and incentive to touch children. Perhaps it has something to do with her upbringing. What do you think?”
He looked almost thoughtful as he said it, as if the idea had just occurred to him. All at once he was releasing her, shoving her backwards as he picked up the scalpel again. Before Asinoe could stop him, Marcus had swung the blade down and opened the girl’s jugular, a fount of hot crimson blood shooting out of the pressurised artery over them both as Asinoe dived for her purse, scrambling for the blue syringe.
She got the head off just as Marcus reached her, his fingers tangling in her hair. He yanked her to her feet and she screamed, swinging her hand about to jab the syringe into his neck, hard, pumping him full of its contents.
The effect was almost instantaneous. Marcus' legs crumpled beneath him and he flopped to the floor, his body succumbing to paralysis quickly. His eyes rolled after her in surprise and anger as she returned to the little girl's side, a final grin alighting his face before that too was numbed away.
The child’s wide green eyes found hers, panic flittering through them. Swallowing a lump in her throat, Asinoe unclasped the closest vice-cuff and held the girl's tiny hand it as the terror faded from her eyes along with her life-spark, leaving empty, vacant pools.
Asinoe closed the girl’s eyes and glanced at Marcus, her vision swimming with tears that she blinked away quickly. She had to work fast, the serum wasn’t going to last forever…she was under severe time constraints. Steiner had been very clear.
Undoing the rest of the girl’s cuffs, Asinoe carefully picked up the lifeless body, carrying it to the bed and wrapping it gently in the silk coverlet. Her gaze shifted to Marcus.
-How in the hell am I going to move you?-
It took manoeuvring…a lot of it, and a lot of swearing and struggling, but eventually - and far later than she would have liked - Asinoe got Marcus onto the table. Briefly she wondered if Steiner was watching her and laughing. She could almost hear the 'I told you to take me with you' that she knew he would throw in her direction.
Scowling, she adjusted the vice-cuffs and secured Bellamantis' wrists and ankles. He just barely fit the table’s length and width, clearly it had never been intended for its master…but Asinoe found it a nice irony that it was just snug enough.
She hadn’t met his eyes the entire time she’d been moving him, ignoring the small strangled sounds that he’d made with each jolt. It was only now, with his arms secured and his legs slightly spread, that she finally allowed herself to look at his face again. She could see slight panic beginning to rise in his pale eyes.
Good, she thought and stepped away from the table, eying at him as she felt something in her head click over.
“Prey,” she almost purred, her lips curving.
That tight control she had over the sadistic part of her nature, that part of her that liked to play with people, relaxed a little as Asinoe felt the smile tilt her lips. It always felt like such a guilty pleasure to give in to this part of her. She loved how wicked she felt, how dark…almost powerful.
Strangely, it felt like coming home.
Of course, as was expected in polite society, she usually kept this part of herself hidden…so contained that no one ever saw it.
Jasper had seen it immediately, he'd been trying to bring it out of her since the beginning. Baelian had coaxed it into the light even further with each passing day…beneath his touch and that piercing cobalt gaze she had relaxed more and more of her control. She knew that this was the person he truly wanted her to be…strong and whole, sadistic but tempered with compassion. She didn’t need to hurt and control all the time, most of the time she preferred to love, but the rest was there if she needed it and she didn’t have to hide it or feel ashamed.
Not with him. Baelian had always understood her and never condemned her for any of it.
Taking a deep breath, Asinoe felt her inhibitions slip away - she could almost hear Baelian's crooning voice in her ear.
-Let it go. Just…let go-
She released the breath she had been holding and felt the rage that burned constantly beneath her skin as it bubbled to the surface. It felt wonderful! Her body hummed with adrenaline, radiating the heat of her anger. All at once she was flushed. She looked up at Marcus and found him watching her, his eyes suddenly curious. She wondered if he saw it too.
Not that it mattered.
Suddenly, Marcus’ body twitched and Asinoe checked her watch. It was about time for the serum to wear off…sure enough, his wrists started to jerk as the nerves came back to life.
“It’s wearing off now," she purred and moved to the table, running a finger over the bare skin of his forearm. He made a sound of protest as his nerve endings lit up like pins and needles, “Hurts hey?” she asked, a brow rising, “That’s nothing compared to what you are about to experience. I wanted you to be able to feel everything."
Checking his restraints, Asinoe noted that they had tightened - he'd been trying to fight his way out of them as the serum's effect dulled. Her smile was crooked as she flicked at the fingers on his right hand.
“Bet you wish you hadn’t paid for such good quality now,” she chuckled, cracking her neck in an attempt to relax the strain from the last couple of hours. She crossed to the bed and unwrapped the little girl’s face.
“What was her name?” she asked after a long moment, biting her lip as she replaced the cloth a little more snugly. Deep within her mind, tiny voices echoed…familiar but completely foreign to her.
‘Who cares what her name is anyway? It doesn’t matter…’
‘Yes it does matter.’
She blinked and shook her head, her eyes shifting to Marcus again as his mouth twitched and she watched him fight to bring his facial muscles back under his control.
“Ssssso senti…mental,” he finally sneered at her, “Mmaybe you…are like your sssister after…all.”
Asinoe smiled again. It clearly wasn’t the reaction he was after - his eyes darkened as she spoke.
“I am nothing like my sister. She is insane, from all accounts. I have perfect control over my mental capabilities and know exactly what I’m going to do to you.”
Rising from the girl’s side she walked slowly back towards Marcus’ prone form, savouring the flicker of doubt in his eyes.
“I never…asked,” Marcus confessed and Asinoe nodded as if she'd thought as much, moving around to his desk and checking for the panic button. It was untouched.
“How did you know I wasn’t Alina?” she asked curiously, moving at a leisurely pace back to her purse and fingering the green syringe within, not drawing it out yet.
Marcus laughed as if she had asked a very stupid question, the amusement in his eyes disconcerting her for a long moment. He stared at her a while longer before his mouth twitched again.
“I have known Alina since she was seven years old. I knew the moment you walked through that door…the way you moved…and she never called me Marcus...” Asinoe prowled to his side again as he eyed her calmly. He wasn’t scared of her now, the serum had worn off and all she was doing was talking to him. Clearly he thought she was too weak to do anything overtly violent - or at least not so soon that he couldn’t talk her out of it. It was obvious in his face that he thought he held some kind of trump card.
-Yes but they ALL seem to think the same thing when sitting down to play cards with you, Asinoe. They ALL think you can't do it.-
Clearly 'they' never knew her well at all.
Her eyes closed as Baelian danced through her mind unbidden again, haunting her like a ghost. He knew her alright. He had told her things about herself she would take to her grave. Things that she never wanted to hear spoken out loud again.
‘You were supposed to be mine. My Queen.’
Those words had scared her the first time she had heard them…now, looking down at Marcus Bellamantis’ face, the way he almost smirked at her, she knew it to be true. She would have survived the old Fundays, stronger and partnered with Baelian, had it been her and not Alina that was taken. The fact that it had never happened and Baelian - the ever practical one - had made Bella into his perfect Queen and married her instead was irrelevant.
Asinoe’s thoughts drifted to the Queen of the Underground for a moment, her lips pursing. Bella Jade was a Black through and through, the perfect Queen…strong and controlled, handling everything with a grace that Asinoe admired, respected even.
“Why are you here, Asinoe?” Marcus’ voice sliced through her thoughts and she blinked, realising that she had been staring unseeing at him for a good few minutes. Her lips tipped into an almost-smile that didn’t reach her eyes.
“I came for the truth.”
“The truth?” Marcus laughed abruptly as if that was the last thing he'd expected, "You mean your precious Baelian hasn’t already told you everything?”
She blinked, pausing for a moment.
-How do you know that name?-
“He has told me as much as he knows, I believe there is more,” Asinoe replied, looking down at him, her eyes drifting up and down his body, smirking slightly as Baelian used to, steeling herself, “And of course there's the matter of your blood…" she added, releasing her grip on the syringe and moving closer to him.
Pulling out her stiletto blade she licked her lips, blinking expressionless at the sudden flicker of his lashes.
No…he didn’t deserve to get the easy way out.
Flipping open the blade, she played the flat side of it along the skin of his arm, tilting it suddenly to deliver a shallow cut…not enough to draw blood. It was enough to make her point, though. Marcus' breath began to quicken, he was watching her precision with the blade.
-Didn't think I knew how to use this, did you?-
She pressed down harder, a thin trail of blood following the blade's path as Marcus gasped beneath her. She ignored him, lifting the knife and studying the crimson stains. A long drop ran along the edge to the tip and dripped onto black silk of his robe.
“Oh whoops,” Asinoe almost giggled, “Sorry.”
Marcus breathed in abruptly as the knife flashed down again, smoothly cutting the silk tie that held his robe shut. Drawing it aside and leaving him naked before her, Asinoe looked at Marcus again, then scowled as he smiled at her, challenging her.
Leaning over onto his chest until her lips were a mere centimetre from his, she curled her lip in a sneer.
"Don't fuck with me, Marcus..." she purred. His eyes widened as she played the blade close to his cheek, then tilted it up towards his eyeball. He flinched as she flicked it threateningly.
Smiling with satisfaction, she laid the knife flat against his temple, keeping it close to his eye, which rolled to keep the knife in view.
“Tell me what happened, Marcus Bellamantis. How did my sister become your property?" Asinoe crooned at him, "How did my family get involved with the Blacks?”
"Get off me Asinoe," Marcus seemed to rally his courage and narrowed his eyes at her, “I've faced bigger and far more threatening than you. If you think you can scare the information out of me then you are stupider than I thought. I will tell you nothing.”
Asinoe remained pressed against him a moment longer, feeling his chest rise and fall against her. Then, murmuring a soft 'hm,' she slid backwards, leaving a smear of the little girl's blood on his chest. With a sudden and perfectly controlled movement she swung the knife down, carving the skin just above his left nipple.
Carving the skin off, to be exact.
Marcus bellowed wordless and high but Asinoe barely batted an eyelash, instead shoving the severed flesh into his open mouth, clamping her hand over it and plugging his nose, forcing him to swallow it. He fought her, but eventually his body betrayed him and he swallowed automatically.
‘They ate them…the little ones…they all lined up and had a slice…'
"I heard you liked the taste of human flesh," she said coldly, releasing his face and pushing the memory of Baelian’s sneering words from her mind.
“You ungrateful little bitch!” Marcus bellowed at her, gagging as he tried to cough the skin back up, blood and saliva dribbling out of his mouth and down his chin. A single tear escaped his eye and she leant forward to capture it on her finger, licking it off and smiling at him as he struggled violently against his restraints, causing them to tighten again painfully. Asinoe watched with a perked brow - the room was soundproofed so he could scream all he wanted.
She knew no one would come. No one would dare disturb them.
Her eyes moved to her blade - it had felt good, plying it through skin…it felt right somehow, like every piece of flesh she took was fair penance for one of his victims. She glanced at the little body on the bed.
-That was for you- she thought and walked over to the table of instruments.
“Still don’t want to tell me the story?” she asked calmly, surveying the toys on offer and running her hands just above them as if they would speak to her. Anything she touched needed to be wiped down…touching less meant less to remember to clean later.
“Fuck you!” Marcus managed and spat blood at her. It fell short and she looked at it, then her gaze settled back on him.
“That was very rude, Marcus” her tone was soft, but warm with anger, her eyes hardening as if she were offended. Her gaze moved to the tools again and she plucked up a pair of long nosed tweezers. Whatever else he was going to say died in his throat as she walked back around him and stopped at his feet, running the sharp point of the tweezers down the soft insole of his right foot. He tried to jerk away, though he couldn’t go far due to the ankle restraint.
“This is going to hurt, a lot," she said casually, looking up from foot to face. Marcus was glaring at her defiantly, "You sure you don’t just want to tell me what I want to know?”
Marcus remained silent and Asinoe stretched the moment as long as she dared before placing down the tweezers, taking his foot in one hand and ignoring his futile struggles as she cut carefully downwards with the knife, starting just below his toes.
Holding the foot steady as Marcus screamed and writhed in pain, she worked the blade smoothly until it reached his heel, then drew it slowly back up again til she’d drawn a rectangle. Dropping the blade to the table and taking the tweezers up once more, she used them to peel away his flesh until she held up a strip of skin, her empty eyes studying it coldly.
“Your skin is really lovely,” she remarked as he bellowed, “Do you exfoliate your feet?”
Marcus' lips quivered as he tried to form words, his eyelids fluttering as his eyes rolled back into his head.
“Oh no,” Asinoe murmured, dropping the strip of flesh and moving to his side, “You don’t get to pass out just yet.” She slapped him hard, giving a dazzling smile as he cried out, his wide eyes jerking back to her.
“Hi!” she greeted him sunnily, “Welcome back.”
Picking up the bloody strip of skin, she dangled it before his horrified eyes as he clamped his mouth shut tightly. Asinoe tutted at him, her hand slipping forward to squeeze the soft flesh of his cheeks, her fingers forcing his lips open. She shoved the piece into his mouth and snapped it shut again, repeating the same process that had forced him to swallow earlier. He lasted longer this time but eventually, as before, his body betrayed him.
Their eyes met and moments later Marcus’ glazed over with sudden tears. He began to cry.
-Oh come on…I expected you to b...stronger.-
‘Cry baby…cry baby…'
Asinoe stood back and watched him snivel, snot, blood and saliva dribbling from his mouth. Her forehead creased as she stared at him, a prick of conscience biting at the back of her thoughts.
-Do you really want to be this person?-
Closing her eyes, she pushed the thought away…far down into her subconscious. She would analyse her moral compass later. Now there was work to be done.
Glancing at the window behind the desk, she wondered if Herr Steiner could see her. Did he still think she couldn’t go through with this? The thought made her laugh. She moved to sit in a chair just outside the curtained area, still within full view of Marcus.
“So… let me tell you what I was told and you can connect dots or fill in blanks.”
She crossed her legs and made herself comfortable. Marcus turned his head away, spitting out blood and little bits of his own foot as she watched, pleased.
“Once there was a happy family. There was a daddy name Benjamin, a mommy named Janine and a set of identical twin girls name Alina and Asinoe," Marcus turned his face back to her as she spoke, something dark flickering through his eyes, "When the girls were eight years old, Alina was kidnapped from right before Asinoe’s eyes. Eventually Asinoe allowed herself to be adopted by her grandfather William in order to get money for her sick and despairing father’s medical expenses and the means to hunt down her sister. Years later, still trying to find Alina, Asinoe wandered into the Black Family's decadent little world and became Jasper Black’s personal assistant. Through him she learned that her perfect little family had never been perfect…and that her father had indebted himself to one Marcus Bellamantis and sold his daughter for Jerald Black's Fundays."
Asinoe paused, hesitating at the next part of her tale, a knot forming in her stomach as she forced herself to say the words.
"You paid for Asinoe, but you got Alina instead…Alina who couldn't handle the abuse and went insane. When she was 13 you took her out and raised her as your own…” she stopped and studied Marcus for a moment, her head tilting, “There's a question you can answer. You use and discard children like condoms, why would you keep Alina?”
Despite the pain he must have been in, Marcus' amused smile had returned as she spoke. When she finished he started to laugh, as if she had said the funniest thing….he laughed so hard that he choked, coughing and spitting up more blood.
“What's so funny?” Asinoe demanded as he gasped for air. Marcus coughed again then sneered at her.
“Go ask your mother. You’ve been fed a story for sure…and nearly all of it is wrong,” he chuckled again as Asinoe narrowed her eyes. She was up in one fluid movement, crossing the room and slapping him hard.
“Tell me the truth then,” she hissed, leaning close to him. Marcus glared at her in defiance as she felt her anger start to burn again, then suddenly he leaned up and spat blood into her face.
Jerking back in disgust, Asinoe hit him again, this time with a closed fist. She'd never been much of a boxer, yet his nose cracked beneath her hand, blood spurting out of his nostrils. He grunted with pain, gagging on blood as it ran down the inside of his throat. He tried to lift his head but couldn’t seem to manage it.
Sighing with irritation, Asinoe grabbed a handful of his hair and jerked his head upwards so he could breathe, then dropped it again and returned to the instrument table, taking up a wet cloth and wiping her hands and face. She paused to catch her breath before returning to Marcus, using the cloth to wipe the blood from his torso.
She wanted a clean canvas to work on.
Taking up the knife again, she began on his right side, flaying his flesh in a long strip all the way down his abdomen to his left hip. It was a beautifully long piece when it came off. She was almost proud.
Marcus, of course, did not appreciate the artistry…he’d not stopped screaming - a long continuous sound - from the moment she’d started, barely taking a breath in between. He choked and spluttered as Asinoe admired her handiwork, the blood draining from his wounds in a small waterfall. He'd bleed out if she didn’t stem it soon, she realised…not to mention all his panic was making him hyperventilate.
-He’ll pass out if you’re not careful-
That would never do, she needed him conscious.
Wiping her hands again, Asinoe fetched the superglue out of her bag, picking up another scalpel and spreading some on the blade. Using it like a butter knife, she smeared it over his wounds, brows lofting as she watched it work to stop the bleeding…better than she'd expected. The sting of the chemicals of course sent Marcus into a series of thrashing spasms before he finally passed out with a small whimper. Asinoe looked up from her work in impatience, a scowl painting her face.
-Ah well, it stops all the noise at least.-
She checked his vitals before returning to her home-style patch up job, taking up another cloth to wipe him clean. She hadn't done too badly with the cuts…muscle lay exposed and in some places she had nicked it but mostly she'd flayed him quite cleanly. She would have made her grandfather proud, he'd always made her dress the game when they went hunting.
Moving back to the armchair, Asinoe checked the time…she had to get a move on. Sooner or later someone would come looking for them both. Biting her lip, she stared at Marcus, willing him to wake up. She only had to wait five minutes before the rate of his breathing changed…and she knew he was awake but pretending to be out.
“So, you were about to tell me the truth?” she purred from the chair, taking pleasure in the way his body jerked in surprise at her direct address. His eyes opened and focused on her slowly, pain and resignation swimming in his gaze before he made a sound like a sigh. Lips parted as he coughed, then took a deep breath that rattled past the blood in his throat.
“B…bambo...lina..can I have…a drink of...something?” he asked softly in halting, ragged syllables. Asinoe grit her teeth, then got up and fetched him a glass of whiskey from the decanter on the dresser. She held it to his lips and he sipped it, studying her warily and gasping as it burnt its way down his throat. After a moment he nodded and she removed the glass, setting it back next to the decanter and pouring a drink of her own.
Marcus coughed again as she returned to the chair and gave him a pointed look. He turned his face away from her and spat again…then, staring at the ceiling, he began.
“I knew your mother…when she was still…Janine Hardcourt. We…were an item, you could say,” he almost smiled at a memory, temporarily distracted from his pain as the whiskey worked its magic.
"She was already quite into the underground party scene when she stumbled into my path, and Jerald Black's. Money calls to money…and she befriended us both quickly...she and I got on like…a house…on fire. Her family background made her a perfect addition to our world..." Marcus paused, coughing and wheezing for a moment before going on.
"When Janine met Benjamin she got this...crazy idea...that she was in love with him. He was not rich, not into the scene…just…a normal marketing major. None of us could explain it or understand…and then…she defied her father and me, and married him. Of course she was disinherited. The stupid woman," Marcus' lips curved into a sneer, "No money… meant no invitations to our parties. Your mother lost a big part of her life that day…bigger than she realised."
Asinoe listened in silence, her forehead creased in perplexion as Marcus struggled through his tale, every syllable seeming to cause him pain.
Not that she cared.
"We knew…it would never last. They did well for a while, but Benjamin was a gambler…everyone knew it, we'd heard the stories on the…grapevine. Janine…she was accustomed to a certain way of life and her husband’s salary and gambling couldn’t maintain even an inch of it. So…she contacted me for help.”
Something in his tone made Asinoe tense, her hand moving to grip the arm of the soft chair tightly. Marcus turned his head to spit out more blood, then let his head fall back onto the table.
“We'd always had a…connection. It didn't take much persuading to …get her to agree. She would be my submissive and return to our parties…in exchange for a healthy salary. Benjamin had no idea…it all went so perfectly…until she got pregnant.”
Asinoe was perfectly silent, her pounding heart echoing in her head as her nails bit into the chair. Dread and revulsion were warring within her, rolling in her stomach as she took deep silent breaths to try and control the nausea.
“Benjamin thought you were his…and we let him think what he liked. I couldn’t have cared less…I had what I wanted. Your mother…so attentive, so good at her job, entirely mine..."
Asinoe’s clenched jaw ached from tension and her head was pounding. Her hands were like claws biting into the armchair. She pried them off and stretched them out. Her fingers hurt. Marcus was watching her closely, his eyes suddenly glittering with malice.
“Oh yes, you are my daughter, Asinoe Bellamantis. My blood. Does that answer your question…why Alina remained with me after Fundays? Did you think the darkness that is in you came from Benjamin?” he laughed with a short bark of contempt, “You are the product of myself and your wayward mother. Janine was the most sadistic woman I have ever met. She was only ever submissive to me, others would pay insane amounts of money for one night in her bed…at her mercy."
Swallowing hard, Asinoe tried to respond, but found she had trouble forming words. Everything was wrong, everything was so different to what she had thought. Her vision ran in streams of colours as his words echoed, taunting, inside her head.
She wondered, all at once, if Baelian had known. It wouldn’t have surprised her.
“H…how could you do this to your own children?” she asked finally, softly, hurt and betrayal were rearing their heads illogically within her as she struggled to file them away for dissection later.
The man she had been torturing was her father…her father, who had done terrible things to her sister…and to many other children. Her mother had betrayed her…she had been meant for Fundays. She had been meant to suffer Alina's fate…to be abused and raped and tortured by whomever had the most money.
Tears started to train unheeded down her cheeks as she shook her head. Her mother, who had held her whenever she cried, who had loved and cherished her and was always ready with affection and kind words when she needed to talk.
Her mother was a fucking monster.
Marcus watched Asinoe’s tears with a smile, something in his face shifting…become all at once more cunning and sly.
“Asinoe,” he said softly and she flinched, keeping her eyes on her hands, “I’m sorry you found out like this. I understand it wasn’t the best way and we all regret it now. With…Alina…falling apart, Jerald being murdered and the dissolving of the old Fundays, we have had a long time to reflect on our mistakes.”
Asinoe raised her eyes to his and searched them. Marcus forced sadness into his expression but she saw the triumph anyway, she could FEEL it coming off him in waves. It disgusted her.
-Well. Let's see how much like my Mother I am, shall we?-
Her eyes hardened as she seemed to pull herself together, standing and crossing to her purse. Marcus watched, all of a sudden concerned. She didn't blame him…nothing good had come out of her resolve all evening. Taking a deep breath, Asinoe pulled out the green-tipped syringe, removed the cap and crossing over to Marcus Bellamantis.
“What is that?” he asked her sharply, fear making his voice a little higher than she imagined he would have liked.
“That is truth serum,” she replied, all at once very tired of this game. The pleasure she’d taken in torturing him earlier had departed, as had her rage. She just wanted this over with now. She was so tired of being betrayed, being hurt.
She was just tired.
Jabbing the needle into his neck and emptying the contents, Asinoe checked the clock on the mantle. It would take only two minutes for it to take effect.
She caught sight of herself in the mirror and stared…she didn’t look like herself anymore. She wore different clothing, she had Alina’s hair colour…she was covered in blood, none of it hers. She looked so tired, almost defeated…and insane.
-Don't let him win-
Replacing the needle in her purse, she curled her fingers around her mobile phone, pulling it out and flicking it open. Her fingers hovered over the speed dial and his name…over his number. All she needed to do was press down and it would ring and she could talk to him. She could hear his voice and he would tell her she was strong and better than this and she would be absolved. He would whisper her name and the adrenaline would kick in…she would be able to see it through, if he was with her. Even now.
It seemed like an eternity that her finger hovered, wavering and shaking, over the dial button. Her hand tightened on the phone and she expelled the breath she was holding violently, almost in a sob. Closing her eyes, she snapped the phone shut and replaced it in her purse.
No…she would probably fall apart if she spoke to Jasper…or God forbid, Baelian…and she still had a few things she needed to do before her mission was complete.
Behind her Marcus had started giggling. She moved back to his side as he stared at her.
“What did you," giggle, "…give me?”
“Truth serum, remember?” she replied, checking his vitals again.
"I see,” he laughed again, his eyes darting about as his head lolled. Asinoe rolled her eyes.
“Damn you Steiner,” she murmured, “you didn’t tell me he would get fucking high...” she slapped him hard, “Focus, Marcus…” she grabbed his chin to keep his head still and he stared at her wide eyed.
“Ouch! All yours, Bambolina” he giggled again, dribbling blood-stained saliva down his chin and over her hand. Her face twisted in disgust but she held her grip.
“Did you tell me the truth about being my father?” she demanded. She had to know.
“Blood of my blood,” Marcus intoned solemnly and then dissolved into giggles again. Asinoe swallowed hard, her eyes sliding closed. She waited a moment then snapped her gaze back to Marcus' once more.
“Did you tell me the truth about my mother?” Marcus stared up at her and tried to focus on her face.
“It’s all true,” he slurred, "And I will tell you something else that’s true…” words trailed off as he seemed to lose focus and Asinoe jerked his chin. He grinned at her, “You need to come closer, it’s a secret.”
“No,” Asinoe said flatly.
“Spoilsport,” Marcus whined, licking his lips and making a face, "Ugh."
“Marcus. Focus,” Asinoe warned again and Marcus pouted at her before nodding his head.
“Go to my desk…and get the manilla envelope out of the safe. The combination is…uh…68 7…234…8…no, 99 82…40,” he finished proudly. "Go!" he added, when Asinoe didn’t move.
Dropping his chin and wiping her hands, Asinoe crossed to the safe, opening it warily - half expecting some booby trap to set off an alarm and bring the cavalry running in. She grit her teeth as she pressed the buttons, sighing in slight relief as it clicked open without incident. Eyes narrowed as she reached in to move some random objects, cash, jewellery, a stack of polaroids…and there, the manilla folder. Drawing it out she slammed the safe shut again, moving back to Marcus and looking at him expectantly as she sat upon the armchair.
“Read it,” he drawled almost sleepily. Asinoe glanced at him and saw that his eyes were only half open, but his face was one delighted smile. Opening the folder she frowned and pulled out the document within.
The last will and testament of Marcus Bellamantis.
Blinking, Asinoe began to read, her jaw dropping open as her mind tried to make sense of what she was seeing. The will stated that Asinoe Hardcourt, not Alina Bellamantis, was to be Marcus' sole beneficiary and heir in the event of his death.
“What?” she said softly, staring in bewilderment at the document. One of the reasons she was here was to change Marcus' will into her name so that she could inherit the Bellamantis fortune to help Baelian with his plans.
"Why is my name in here and not Alina’s?” she released the document, letting it fall to the floor with a soft rustle of paper.
“Ah…Alina…" Marcus chuckled, "Alina…is an unstable force, my dear. She cannot be in charge of anything. Why would I want to leave it to her?”
Marcus had worked through most of the truth serum and the last stages of its effects were evident…the compulsory divulging of information but an obvious unwillingness to give it. His eyes glittered with dislike as he looked at his daughter. There was something else underneath his words, but whatever it was she didn’t want to acknowledge it. She couldn't.
“Clearly I made the right decision. I so sorely regret not having you there with us…at Fundays. You would have emerged a Queen, perfection personified…ready to take your place beside me at Bellamantis Enterprises. You are already strong and ruthless, Asinoe, if you weren’t you couldn’t have made it this far. You have shown a fabulous skill-set that you didn’t learn at my hand, which is a pity…you would have gone further with me. You still could go further and take your place in this world…if you like...”
Her eyes flickered at the offer of power. He saw it and pushed his advantage.
"You could even be his Queen."
Ah, but he'd done his research…or perhaps she was just too easy to read. Biting the insides of her cheeks, she glared at Marcus and said nothing.
“If you stay with me, I will teach you so many things…you will become who you were born to be. Then you could return to Baelian with what you have learnt…you can rule with him in his new Fundays, the way you were both meant to.”
Laughing softly, her eyes suddenly glassy, Asinoe shook her head at him.
“He has a Queen and she manages quite well," she said, tilting her head to study her father. The serum was almost completely absorbed now, his pupils were still dilated…it would be done soon.
“You would replace her easily…who is she? Nothing, a poor orphan who got lucky. A pitiful replacement for the real thing. You were supposed to be Queen and rule with him over the Black and Bellamantis fortunes. It is something Jerald and I wanted, something we planned from the beginning. It was meant to be my dear…" Marcus smiled at her, "How else do you explain it…even after Alina, after Belladonna…after Jerald was killed and Fundays dissolved…lo and behold you found your way back to Jasper Black. I couldn’t be more pleased.”
Asinoe absorbed his words in silence, saying nothing. It didn’t make a difference to her now…she had not been brought up to be Jasper’s Queen…Baelian had made his own. Bella Jade Black was the mistress of the Underground and Asinoe was happy where she was. As long as she could be near him she would be happy.
At least, that was what she told herself.
Her heart fluttered with new ideas and possibilities, making her insides ache as she thought of him. Those devilish blue eyes, that sarcastic playful smile…those lips as they mouthed her name.
'Tell me you love me…’
She fought it back, pushed it down, that dark little part of her mind that whispered her deepest heart's desires fell on deaf ears as she jerked her head, making herself ignore it.
“Jasper is married and loves his wife," she said coldly, “You are sadly mistaken if you think anyone will ever take Bella Black’s place by his side.”
“We could arrange an accident,” Marcus was unperturbed. He winked at her with an eager glint in his eyes and Asinoe froze.
It was in that instant that she knew she had to kill him. She had wondered, deep down, if she would still be able to after finding out he was her father, but now she knew she didn’t have a choice. Nothing would hurt Jasper more than the death of his wife.
She couldn’t let that happen. Not to him. He’d never forgive her.
“Why would you want anything to do with the Black Family now?" she asked Marcus, tilting her head to study him, "A merger between us would not be equal. You would not be included in Jasper’s Fundays…it's nothing like the old days, I can promise you that. You would be cut out entirely.”
Marcus shrugged and smiled at her with something akin to fondness, “Perhaps I just want you to be happy…Asinoe.”
“Do you even slightly regret what you did…to our family?” Asinoe asked quickly, unsure whether there was any point, or if the serum still worked. Marcus’s eyes bored straight into hers and he did not even flinch as he responded.
“I would do it all again in a heartbeat…with the right girl this time.”
The last grain of truth fell from his lips and his eyes closed briefly as the last of the drug wore off. Asinoe stared at Marcus, her rage now completely gone, crushed under the hurt and betrayal…and the wealth of information he had given and tempted her with.
She was a woman that didn’t like to share and Jasper already tested her limits. She'd always known that she could never have him to herself…she thought that she’d accepted that. And yet, a few simple words from Marcus had brought it all bubbling to the surface - her jealousy, her maddening need to be near him. The idea that there could be a way to have him almost completely to herself was so tempting she could almost taste it on her tongue, like some spiced dark chocolate that stung as it melted across one's tastebuds.
And then another realisation, like cold water drenching her soul, making her shudder from the inside in a way that she barely understood.
It was not Jasper that she wanted. Oh no…Jasper was a child, endearing, beautiful…but eternally a boy.
No, what she wanted, what she needed, was Baelian.
Her breath quickened and she bit her lip hard, tears rising in her eyes as all at once she felt a great gaping hole open within her soul, a hand rising to her lips to stifle a sob.
He was there, at home…waiting for her. She could feel him.
-Can you just? And what will Bella think?-
Asinoe held her breath for a long moment, then sighed deeply and let her head loll to rest on the back of the armchair.
-Let it go.-
Twin tears slipped from her eyes as she nodded to herself. She had to let it go…all of it; all the possibilities, all the desires. She had to resign herself to being what he needed her to be, not what she wanted to be.
“You will never have even a little of him, if you hurt him," she murmured quietly to herself, and knew it was true. Baelian would kill her without thinking about it if she hurt anyone he loved…and she would deserve it. Her heart shuddered at the thought and it steadied her.
She knew what she had to do.
Her gaze moved back to Marcus Bellamantis. He lay with his eyes closed, his breath shallow but steady. She'd gotten all she wanted from him - perhaps too much. Now there was only one task left.
Standing silently, she made the final walk to his side where her knife lay. She picked it up just as her father's eyes opened and met hers.
“What are you doing?” he murmured.
"Ending it,” she replied calmly, taking up a cloth and cleaning the blade quickly.
“But…I could help you get what you wanted. You don’t need to do this,” an edge of desperation crept into Marcus' voice.
“You ARE helping me get everything I want,” Asinoe responded, her voice sounding strange to her own ears. Colder.
"I’m your father!” Marcus almost shouted in panic and she paused, looking down at him as her lips curved into a smirk.
“Spent semen does not a father make, Marcus Bellamantis. "I have your blood…but I owe you nothing.”
He barely had time to widen his eyes before she brought the knife down in an arc, cutting his jugular smoothly and cleanly. His lifeblood shot out of the gaping neck wound like a highly pressurised hydrant, spraying like a warm fountain down his body, the leather table, the floor. She did not uncuff him or hold his hand as he died, though he stared at her in shock and awe, gagging and gurgling as life faded away. Asinoe leant down to his ear as he choked for air, her lips brushing his flesh.
“That was for me. I’ll see you in Hell, Daddy.”
She kissed his cheek and moved backwards just in time to see him frown as the last spark of life dimmed from his eyes.
An overwhelming sea of emotion crashed over her and Asinoe staggered backwards, throwing back her head and screaming. She screamed as fast as she could draw breath, until her throat was sore, her voice hoarse. She'd fallen to her knees on the tiled floor, her father’s blood pooling across the porcelain and moving like a snake towards her. She stared at it numbly as her phone began to ring.
It took her a moment to realise what the sound was…though she didn't answer it, nor did she move. The blood hit her knees, already cooling, sticky and thick. She wrinkled her nose and gagged, dry retching and trying not to vomit.
The phone rang again and she sat there not seeing or hearing anything. Dimly aware that something was happening, she tried to move, but her body was too heavy. Blinking, she wrapped her arms about herself and started to hum softly, a nonsensical tune that she didn't even recognise.
It was a song that reminded her of Jasper. The melody was soft and sad but beautiful. All at once, the tune was replicated by the shrill sound of her mobile ringing again. She rose, finally, moving shakily to the instrument table and some clean cloths. She wiped down her knees, her hands, her face, her neck and then found her mobile.
Missed calls, all from Steiner. It rang again whilst in her hand and she almost jumped out of her skin, but this time she answered.
“Mission accomplished,” she said emptily, her voice sounding unlike her own.
"Who else would it be?"
There was a pause on the other end of the line before Steiner went on.
"You did some great work. Now clean up everything you touched and get the fuck out of there.”
“Understood,” Asinoe responded shortly and hung up.
She methodically retraced her steps from the moment she'd entered the room and wiped down everything she had touched, including the bloody fingerprints on the little girl. In a daze she moved to the mirror, cleaning as much visual blood off of herself as she could. Her dress was black, it would hide most of the evidence as long as no one looked too closely. She quickly reapplied her lipstick and fixed her hair before moving to retrieve the manilla folder.
Asinoe wrote her number and name on a piece of paper and put it in the same folder as the will. There was no need to make the lawyer’s job harder. Moving back to the safe, she closed it and twirled the lock, blinking as it snapped shut, then wiped it clean with a cloth.
Biting her lip, she glanced at herself one last time in the mirror.
She didn’t know the woman who stared back.
Perking a brow, she stalked towards the door, wiping the doorknob as she left and slamming the door behind her.
“Get my car!" she shouted to no one in particular from the top of the stairs, several servants moving at once to do her bidding. By the time she'd reached the open front door and made it down the steps her vehicle was already pulling up for her. The valet handed her the keys and scuttled out of her way as she snatched them without looking, ignoring the way the man wrinkled his nose at the smell of blood.
Getting into the car, she tore off with a squeal of tires down the driveway and through the open gate. Everyone had moved so quickly to keep her happy, she silently thanked her sister for being such a frightening monster…and providing an easy getaway.
A mile down the road she slammed on the brakes, the car screeching to a halt as Steiner melted out of the shadows again. He moved around to the driver’s side and she slid the window down.
“Here are a few safe-houses in France and Germany. You can hide there as long as you need to," he handed her the packet of information and she just looked at him, “It will get easier to deal with,” he added, clearly trying to comfort her. She stared for a moment longer before nodding, seeming to wake as if from a dream.
“Thank you for your help, Herr Steiner. I will be leaving next week from one of the safe houses to do some work in Asia for my grandfather’s company. I will return to the Underground when that work is done.”
He nodded and turned to go.
“Herr Steiner!” Asinoe called after him and he hesitated, looking at her curiously, “Please tell Bae…tell Jasper that I completed my mission.”
“It will be done,” Steiner nodded his head and disappeared into the darkness.
Asinoe slid her window back up and pulled out onto the road, heading towards London.
She stopped at a gas station some time later and retrieved her phone from her bag. There were people who would want to know that she was okay, she knew she should probably contact them before they called her. If Scarlett called she may well have fallen apart…if Jasper called her she’d no doubt have run immediately home to him.
And if she heard Baelian's voice…
Accessing her Facebook, Asinoe posted a short uninformative update that would allow the important people in her life to know that she was alright.
That was all she was capable of right now. Perhaps later, when she had showered and slept, she would begin to process the night's events. Perhaps, once some time had passed, she wouldn't feel so strangely detached from it all.
Snapping her phone shut, she tossed it into her bag. She pulled the spare clothes she had packed out of the duffel bag in her boot, changing quickly in the gas station’s bathroom and using baby-wipes to clean the blood away.
Once again she studied herself in the mirror, marvelling at the strange creature that stared back at her…the coldness in her eyes, the strange smile that played over her lips.
Soon, very soon, she would go home.
And he would be waiting for her.
Written by Chastity De Vice.
All characters and story lines remain the property of N.Ristovski and the Underground. All character writings within the Underground are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2014. Natalie Ristovski.