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Whatever she was thinking had to be right. Her employers with vindictive and it made complete sense for them to send two people after the same thing. That way they were pretty much guaranteed to get what they wanted. It was quite clever when she thought about it. She did not know what this man had been offered to do the job but she was offered money and freedom. If they offered him anything similar then the perfect way to clean up after themselves and save resources would be to send two people to the same place. One of them would make it out alive and they would only have to keep their promise and make their payment to one person. Very vindictive. Very clever.
Frederick began to use his commanding voice again, claiming that it was too dangerous for her. He clearly did not understand how much danger she was already in or had much she had experienced in the last year or so. Lillian shook her head, knowing that his solution would not work.
“[I If] I am right, making the exchange on my behalf simply will not work. I think that only one of us was supposed to make it out of this alive and if we say that we worked together and you are handing it over for both of us…well…I cannot envisage both of us getting what we have been promised.”
As silence filled the car once more as she returned to her thoughts. Perhaps she could make something work for her. All she wanted was her freedom and she was being presented with a way out but she could not do it alone. Whether or not her brother was freed did not matter to her anymore. It had not for a long time. It was time for her to start thinking about herself and making decisions of her own.
“I have an idea but I need to know I am able to trust you. I will not simply hand over the diamond to you. I am going to need your help and if you agree to do this you will likely put yourself in a dangerous situation with our employer. If they found out you were lying…” Lillian shook her head. “Maybe it is a bad idea.” She thought out loud. “But…one of us needs to deliver this diamond and it looks like this might be your only way out. Me…I might have another way.”
Driving had always helped to clear the mind, at least to Freddie it had. So when the car turned onto the open stretch of road, headlights passing by in white blurs, Freddie's mind began to calm and clear. He was glad that she suggested them moving, his hands were becoming restless, now tapping against the steering wheel with impatience as the cars speed picked up. Thanks to the snow earlier that evening, the roads were quieter than normal and Freddie weaved his car in and out of others with a skilled ease. Whilst he would not normally drive in such a way with a woman in his car – not that he had many women in his car – he felt time pressing against his pack, lurching him forward towards the docks.
There would be one stop before his destination though. There was no way in hell that Frederick was bringing a woman, a lady or commoner, to the docks with him. His throat tightened as she revealed that she too was due to make the exchange at the dock. It had to be a coincidence. It did not make sense that his employer would have sent two people after the same item. There were many other items worth collecting in the city, why risk the two going for the same thing. Unless-
Freddie shook his head and glanced from the road to the woman. He still felt uneasy that he didn’t know who she was and whilst curiosity was nagging at his sleeve, prompting him to ask for her name, he kept his mouth sealed shut. Forming attachments to her, of any kind, would make crossing her harder. A name made her human.
“This is not just any diamond though. Many people would be all the more fortunate to hold such an item.” Freddie swallowed the lump in his throat. Though he had not said it yet, he was starting to see where she was coming from. Such a bold move to send two people after the same item and yet, it made sense. He knew so little of his employer, other than the fact that they had given him a large sum of money in exchange for him stealing the diamond. There had been a time limit, a plan and an enormous amount of pressure for it to go right.
“If you are thinking what I believe you are, then we are in more trouble than just stealing.” Freddie exhaled sharply as though his words were making the situation all the more real. He grasped the steering wheel tightly and started to change their route.
“You are not coming to the docks. It is far too dangerous for you. You will give me the diamond and I will make the exchange for both of us. If you are right… and we have been set up… then both of us will not walk out of there.” His voice had changed back to the commanding tone that he had first used on finding her in the room.
The last thing Lillian wanted to do was tell him her life story, mostly because it was not of importance to him. Everyone had their own past and their own issues to deal with and she could tell by his demeanour and the look in his eye that he had a very similar experience. What Lillian wouldn’t give to be able to go back to the life she used to lead; the life where she had whatever freedoms she desire; the life where she did not live in fear of it.
She expected Frederick to be heartless, ruthless even but as he shifted his weight towards her she could see that whatever fuelled his physical aggression earlier had subsided. She was beginning to feel as though perhaps he would not hurt her after all but she could not be sure. When his own whisper confirmed that he would not kill her she felt relief wash over her. While her life may be protected for one more night, from one more person, it still did not offer a solution. The diamond was still causing a problem for both of them. That was when he began to explain what his plans were for the evening.
Lillian’s eyes narrowed slightly when he said that he was due at the docks. Is that not where she was supposed to meet those who had forced her into this? She looked at him with caution and listened to his next words carefully before she started to think this through. While things were slowly beginning to make sense in her mind, she did not want to voice the similarities just yet.
“Mr Lester, I fear that if we remain stationary, neither of us will be going anywhere with the diamond. Might I suggest that we start moving before they realise that it is gone. Surely we can discuss our predicament while we get away from here.” The suggestion seemed to register with Frederick and he must have agreed with her because moments later the roar of the engine filled the silence between them and the car had started to move out onto the road. When they put some distance between them and the house she started to feel a little more relief and she could only assume that Frederick’s destination would be the docks, since he seemingly had an appointment there. That was when she decided to voice some of her concerns.
“Do you not find it strange that two complete strangers need the same thing? Of all the diamonds in existence, we both require [I this] one. Something else I find most peculiar is that we both seem to have a meeting set up at the docks.” Her voice echoed the confusion she felt but it did not take a genius to start putting some of the information together.
The anxiety that had been sat in Frederick’s stomach all night was turning into something different. Anxious, yes, but something else. Relief? Possibly. It was clear that the woman next to him was in a bad position, like him. Whilst he couldn’t share his own story with her, the reason he needed the diamond, he could sympathise that what they were doing was awful, gut-wrenching and soul-crushing. Not just the stealing, but the running and the lying. It snowballed up and if Freddie was honest with himself, he could not see an end. Yet there was some relief in the fact that the two sat there, side by side in his cold car, shivering slightly, were both feeling the same fear.
When she spoke, the panic in her voice was evident. His suggestion to go to the police was an honest one and though he knew they would favour him – due to his family – he did not know her reasons for being there with him that night. Prying wasn’t on his agenda but his interest was now spiking. Why wouldn’t they make it through the night? Of course, Freddie had never been to a police station or been to jail and they certainly would be held overnight for taking the diamond, but his father would pay bail. Maybe even for both of them. What it meant was that her situation was as dire as his own. If it was not for the police then it had to be serious.
“We won’t go to the police but only one of us can walk out of here with that diamond.”
She had shifted her body to face him and reluctantly he did the same. Locking his gaze with hers had been a mistake. The look on her face sent a strange protective need through his chest and he strangely wanted to take her in his arms and tell her than anything she going through could be fixed. He didn’t. He had seen that look before, the desperation and fear, it had been the look in his sisters eyes the day before his life had turned upside down and yet he had ignored her pleas for help. He had made a mistake that night and now he wouldn’t let anything stop him from righting that wrong. Not even this girl, no matter how sad, scared or beautiful she was.
“I am not going to kill you.” He said, his voice matching her whisper. [I Nor will I let anyone else kill you. ] It was a bold statement and without knowing what her situation was he couldn’t promise her anything and so the words stayed in his mind rather than being spoken aloud.
“We need to decide who leaves with the diamond. I don’t have long and though we should not rush something like this when it is clear we both have much at stake, I am due at the docks in a few minutes.” Even as the words left his mouth he knew he had given too much away. She could run, tell the police where he was going and he would get caught. Freddie only hoped that she would not.
“I am sure, if we think this through we can both leave here without risking our lives… or the lives of others.” Wishful thinking on his part. Whilst his sister would be alive, she would not be safe. Freddie owed a life debt, one that could not be paid with money. His employers had been very specific it was the diamond or his life in exchange for helping his sister.
They did not exchange another word on the way to the car. While pity would usually be the first thing she felt in this situation she was no stranger to it herself. She could not pity someone who found themselves in a similar predicament to her but she understood. The silence was merely there to show that she did understand. Besides, she was still far too concerned that someone might have already noticed that the diamond was gone. Someone could so easily have the whole place locked down in minutes and the two would never be able to leave in the car without having the diamond discovered and they would both be implemented now.
When they arrived at the car he ordered her to get in and then he leaned closer to explain that they would just be talking. Lillian swallowed hard and nodded before lowering herself into the car. Once she was seated he closed the door and walk around to the other side. She used the seconds to try and calm her nerves by simply staring out of the window before her. Even when Frederick took his place next to her, neither one of them felt desperate to fill the silence between them yet, they were both desperate to get this over and done with.
Lillian barely even noticed the cold, even though her body shivered slightly but when Frederick started to talk and she glanced over towards him she noticed his breath escaping into the cold air of the car. For the first time she adjusted the way she sat so that she was facing him now. He still did not seem to understand that no amount of money would help her and she simply shook her head at his words. When he mentioned the police she knew she had to speak up. With wide eyes and fear lacing her voice she spoke.
“No! If we go to the police…neither of us will make it through the night.” She had already said too much. At least now it was confirmed that was [I was] in trouble. Lillian sighed and shook her head, more to herself than to him. How did this become so messy? Every single detail had been planned; no one else was supposed to be there yet here is was wanting…[I needing] the same thing that she did. What were the odds of that?
His demeanour seemed to shift. Whether he was tired of arguing or whether it was something else she did not know but he did not seem to have that burst of anger fuelling him anymore. “I…I wish I could walk away.” Her voice was barely even a whisper now. She wanted nothing more than to walk away from this life and everything she had become just to steal this diamond. Lillian often wondered how far she would get before they caught up with her. Surely her brother would be dead in an instant but perhaps that is what he deserved. “If you take the diamond. You might as well kill me.” She said, looking at him directly now. There really was no other way. If she didn’t produce the diamond she would be killed anyway so she really had nothing to lose.
Freddie gave a polite nod to the couple who passed them. Their faces were unknown to him but he was sure, by the way, the woman whispered in her partner's ear, that she knew him. Or possibly the lady on his arm. Now he wished he had not said anything. She looked at him with less anger in her eyes and it was going to make what he had to do next difficult, especially if she pitied him. Frederick did not need pity. He needed the diamond.
He let them walk the rest of the way in silence. She made no move to speak to him and he, in return, kept quiet. It was clear that anything they had to say to each other would not help the situation. The air felt too still, to silent, as they moved further from the house. Every nerve was on edge, waiting for the hordes of people to come running out the house after them, once they realised the diamond was missing. No one came and the car was only a few feet away.
It was a small mercy that he had drove that evening. The original plan to leave his car and walk to his destination was now gone, the car being the only private place they could sort this dispute out between them, without prying eyes. Freddie had half a mind to take her home with him. He would have the upper hand in his house, on his territory, but his timeline had already been pushed back by her appearance and driving to the other end of the city was not an option.
Upon arriving at the car Freddie place a hand on the door, opening it for her and the other still grasped around her arm.
"Get in." He snapped. Before she could look at him in horror or assume she was being kidnapped, he rolled his eyes and leaned closer. "I'm not going to drive, we just need to talk."
Freddie waited for her to get into the car and closed the door, walking around to the driver's seat and settling in. He waited, to see if she would speak first. Gathering his thoughts was not easy, they both appeared to be in dire need of the diamond and Freddie, being who he was, still knew he would be the one to leave with it that night. Helping her was just the less messy way to get it.
"If it's money you need, I'll find it for you." He said after a while. The inside of the car was cold and he could see his breath on the night air. "If it is something else, if you are in trouble..." He paused and wondered if she knew he was in trouble, if she had seen the fear in his eyes and the desperation on his face "...I will take you to the police station now if that helps."
He wasn't looking at her as such. Her movements were registered out the corner of his eye if she tried to run he would catch her. His gaze did not meet hers, nor did he look at her purse. Instead, he fixed his eyes on the window, the night's sky looking down on them. If she ran and he did not catch her, how long would it be before his sister... before his employers kept [i their ] promise to him. Days? Hours? There was nothing else he could do except succeed tonight.
"I can not let you take that diamond. As much as I wish I could drive away from this mess right now, I can not." His voice, though still cold, was a little less harsh and quieter. The adrenaline in his blood had subsided.
"This is your last chance, kitten. Walk away."
Frederick did not waste much time in joining her on the ground but she kept a look out all the same just in case someone was to happen upon this. She was sure that neither of them would have a good enough excuse to explain why they were jumping out of a window but she hoped that it would never come to that. Luckily it did not.
Lillian straightened out her dress and ran a hand through her hair as she waited for him to join her. She used the time to think about why Frederick needed the diamond. He seemed just as desperate as she was and she could almost recognise that look in his eyes but she would not ask him, nor would she expect him to tell her. Lillian certainly was not on planning telling him why [i she] needed the diamond unless she absolutely had to. All she knew in this moment is that they needed to get out of here together. Whatever happened after that point was totally up in the air. Neither one of them could have possibly planned for this.
He did not hesitate to return his grip on his arm once he had climbed out of the window. Both of them seemed to brush off whatever pain had come with colliding with the floor quickly. There were more important matters at hand. She wanted to hiss at him, telling him that there was no need to grab her in such a way but she decided against it, not wanting to worsen the situation. She listened to his words and nodded, knowing that they would both be done for if she didn’t follow his instructions. Instead they started to make their way towards the car and as they reached the proximity where the likelihood of being seen increased, he moved his arm to link with hers but did not soften his grip. Maybe he thought that she might still run.
As they walked she plastered on a smile just in time for another couple to walk past them, greeting them with a nod of the head and a wave of a hand. Lillian nodded in return and leaned her head closer to Frederick’s so she could hear what he was saying. He was keeping his voice down so no one could detect what he was saying and to others it might have looked like he was whispering sweet nothings into her ear, especially since she was doing such a good job of not looking miserable in his company. When he finished speaking she looked up at him and their eyes connected. No, he was not a bad person. He was not doing this by choice either and suddenly the anger she was feeling started to fade away.
Frederick watched the emotions race across the woman's face. She looked, for a moment, like she was about to run, but it seemed sense got the better of her. She held onto her purse like it was a lifeline, for Freddie it was and a thought cross his mind that maybe she was in a similar position to him. Maybe it would not be as easy to get the diamond from her. She had said herself it was worth more than life, in his case, it was worth a life. A trade.
Freddie wouldn't ask her why she wanted the diamond. He would not tell her why he needed it unless he had no other choice, and even then, he would change his story so she could never know the full mess. Either to save her or to save himself. In his short time as a criminal, he had learnt - especially that night - that people would use him just as willingly as he would use them.
Her body coming into contact with the ground made a dull thump and Frederick couldn't look out the window after her for a second, in fear she had hit the patch of solid ground or was no longer conscious. It would, however, make taking the diamond from her a lot easier. He could hear the rustling of her dress and he stuck his head out of the window. The all-clear was given and he jumped. The ground was not as soft as it looked and his right arm hit the ground to protect his body. It ached, stung a little, but it would not stop Freddie.
Again, he reached out and took her arm, the purse still tightly in her grasp. He would not let her run now, though he was sure that if she did he would easily catch up to her. His years of playing outside with his siblings had given him stamina, amongst other things.
"We will walk to my car, as planned. Try to smile, if you look so miserable it will draw attention." He hissed in her ear. They were likely to pass people on the way to his car and he needed her to not mess up, not now he was so close. "Women, other than my mother, don't tend to look miserable in my company."
Freddie didn't have a plan for when they reached his car. He was debating taking the purse from her by force but he remembered the flinch, the disgust in her voice as he had touched her. His father had hit his sister as a child, it was normal and many parents disciplined children in that way, however, he had sworn never to hit a woman. He would. If the situation got out of hand, he would do it. He had to do it. There was no other choice.
"This is not money to me either." He said through gritted teeth. He folded her arm into his, his grip still tight. To outsiders, they would look like a couple making their way home. "I have my own reasons for stealing from friends, despite what you think of me, I am not a bad person. I made a promise to retrieve that Diamond and I never, ever, break a promise." Freddie looked down at her, trying to ignore the fact that despite his anger, frustration and anxiety, he was still drawn to how beautiful she was.
Lillian could see the annoyance upon his face. He was entitled to feel that way, just as she was. They had both played each other after all and even though she [I had] let her guard down momentarily with him, she was beginning to regret that now. Everything she had been taught had been forgotten, even if it was only for a split second.
She allowed her eyes to meet his as he spoke with the same cold tone he had previously. He was right. She [I had] used him as an alibi but the difference was the she had not allowed a fake interest to overcome her in order to secure it. Her attraction to him, however brief it may have been, was genuine. Perhaps that is why she felt so angry with herself about it. His had not been and now he was showing her that she never mattered. For a moment she thought that all those things she had drilled into her head were not true but hearing him echo the same words she had always been told only made her remember what it felt like to be worthless.
Lillian heard the movement outside of the door too but she did not allow that to deter her gaze from him. He could easily take the diamond from her if she lost focus for even one second. She silently cursed herself and looked to the window behind Frederick, wondering whether she would be able to make is passed him but he seemed to have other ideas. He suggested that the two should work together to get out of there now.
So he had been bluffing about turning her over. If he did that he would never get hold of the diamond. It would surely be moved; security increased and everything would have been for nothing. Although she didn’t trust him, she could see the merit in his suggestion. One of them would get the diamond this way, neither of them would if they were caught in here.
He did not wait for her to think about his words, nor did he give her a chance to respond before he grabbed hold of her arm and pulled her towards the window. Any other woman might have complained about the harshness of his grip but Lillian was no stranger to this kind of treatment. Her eyes widened slightly at his proposal before she leaned her head out of the window to judge the distance. It was not enough distance to cause a breakage and she was more than willing to comply but she did not trust him. This could easily be a ploy to simply take the diamond and let her go.
Lillian tightened her grip on the purse and turned towards him. “I will jump. I will go to your car but I will [I not] give you the purse. This may be worth money to you but to me this is worth a life. Maybe even more than one.” She added as an afterthought. Lillian turned away now and enclosed one hand around the purse and her other on the frame of the window to steady herself. She took a deep breath as she analysed the distance once more and a few seconds later she pushed away from the window, allowing her body to collide with the ground below her moments later. She rolled several feet away, protecting the purse at all times. She did not feel pain not but she would later when it started to bruise. Now she just needed to decide if she was going to run. She had not planned to be caught so her original plan meant that she would simply walk out of the party but if she ran, he would catch up with her. It seemed she had made up her mind as she pushed herself to her feet and dusted off her dress, looking around to see if there had been anyone around to witness this. When she was satisfied there was no one there she looked up and gestured for Frederick to do the same.
Freddie saw her flinch as he touched her and he almost rolled his eyes. The movement in her face caused something in him to snap. Of course, she would act as though she didn’t want him now. She had been happy enough to rub up against him only moments before his true aim was revealed, kissing him had not been a problem back when he had been nothing more than a rich playboy, had it? Women always shaded him as a bad guy but they seemed to forget he didn’t force the women he bedded, they came willingly. No one ever called these women out over it, did they? Only him.
Freddie dropped his hand from her face, shaking off her hand. He didn’t need to be removed like some creep. He got the message loud and clear. As she took a step back, he stayed rooted.
“May I remind you that I was as much an alibi for you as you were for me? You can stop the wounded look.” He said, his voice cold. He almost sounded like his father, something he silently hated.
Movement outside the door caused his eyes to shift from the woman to the exit and back again. They had spent too much time in the room already, some would notice them missing and come looking. Freddie ran a hand through his hair and let out an annoyed sigh.
“You’re going to get caught. In less than five minutes someone will come here to check on the Diamond and we can either stand here arguing or we can get out of here and argue somewhere a bit safer.” Freddie knew she would be wary. Heck, he was wary of her. She had outsmarted him, used him, had the diamond and was now making him out to be a monster.
“This isn’t me letting you take the diamond, but it’s far too important to me to let you get caught with it.” Freddie didn’t wait for her answer as the sound of footsteps were coming closer. He reached out and grabbed her arm. His grip was harder than it should have been and yet her pride and a few bruises meant less to him than the freedom that was in her care. “I could care less if you went to jail but that diamond isn’t going with you.”
Freddie pulled her over to the window and lifted the glass so the cold air rushed in. They would jump. The ground beneath this window was grass and if they were lucky, they would walk away with stiff bones and nothing more.
“You need to jump. Give me the purse and I’ll throw it down after you. I’ll follow and then we can head to my car.”
His laugh hit her like a ton of bricks. It was harsh and told her that he wasn’t exactly willing to negotiate with her or leave this room without the diamond. He spat words at her that made her realise that he had the upper hand in this situation. He [i was] friends with the hosts and that meant they were more likely to believe him over her if they were both caught in here. He could so easily suggest that she was trying to steal the diamond and that he was trying to stop her and then she would never have her freedom. As he moved closer she felt the heat rise to her face but she kept her composure even if her breath caught in her throat from the closeness.
Lillian was silently cursing herself for allowing him to have any kind of affect her when he had kissed her. Now the image of him kissing her passed through her mind and she was angry with herself for letting him make her feel that for a moment she could enjoy his company. It was already so clear that she had made her first mistake in leaving that room with him but she had been so concerned with getting out of there that she didn’t really take notice of what kind of person she was associating with.
Now he was reaching his hand out to stroke her cheek and she simply tightened her grip around the diamond in reaction to his touch, flinching slightly now that it was not consensual. His touch was cold and the words that followed made her stomach turn. It was not the first time a man had tried to use sex. The experiences that she had taught her that a man would always abuse his power in that respect and assume that a woman would be so willing to give in to their demands.
Lillian’s eyes stared into his eyes and found the cruelty behind them. She simply shook her head and moved her free hand to his and took hold of his wrist, moving it away from her cheek. “You could not pay me to allow you to show me how you worship a woman.” She said, barely even changing the look upon she face. Lillian took a step back from him just to put more distance between them so he didn’t feel like he had all the power anymore. She cleared her throat and started to open her purse as subtly as possible to place the diamond inside.
Freddie watched her pick up the diamond and his instincts kicked in. Every movement she made, every breath she took, his eyes were there, watching, waiting to make his move. She threw his words back at her then, he laughed, a harsh sound so unlike his playboy attitude from earlier in the evening. He knew this woman was different. He had felt it from the moment she stood next to him, what he hadn’t realised was she was different in all the ways that were bad for him. Lulled by her beauty and now blackmailed by her quick sense.
When she finished speaking he raised his eyebrows. She wanted the diamond for herself. The words had revealed that she wasn’t here just to remove him, she was here for his prize, his freedom in the form of a stone.
“Precious friends.” He said the words softly as if he were testing how they sounded. “You’re right. My [i precious friends] will never know I intended on stealing that diamond. If I were to shout, people would come and who would they believe?” He slowly took another step towards her, closing the gap, body moving much like a lion stalking its prey.
“Surely my family has enough money, right? Why would I steal something as meaningless as a diamond when my family have hundreds? But you, how much do my hosts know about you, kitten?” The corners of his mouth turned up and if he hadn’t been playing the part of Lester boy, confident and egotistic, he would have laughed. Ironic that she had used his words against him, he had turned hers back in turn.
“Would they believe their trusted friend or you?”
Of course, he didn’t have to say the words aloud that his father money wouldn’t stretch to even half the value of the diamond in her hand. If only she knew what she grasped in those elegant fingers. Not just a jewel but his freedom, his -… It didn’t matter why he needed it, it only mattered that he got it.
He was so close to her now. He could twist her arm until she relinquished the stone in her hand and yet that dominating male in him wanted her to give it willingly. He reached up and brushed his hand against her cheek, his smile remaining cruel.
“Hand it over and I’ll give you so much more than just a diamond. I told you, I know how to worship a woman properly.”
It was amazing to her how quickly he seemed to change from the man he had showed her only moments ago but she should have known. She had been taught not to trust anyone and although she didn’t trust him, she genuinely believed that his motives with her were as he expressed. At least at this point her wall was up and the words that he harshly threw at her with the intent of hurting her, did not even scratch the surface. She was used to hearing such things and she had hardened herself against them and they no longer seemed to affect her state of mind like they used to. If he was trying to throw her off it wasn’t going to work.
Frederick came closer to her and she blocked him for the diamond with her body, making sure that he couldn’t get to it without her having time to react. When he offered her the money she almost laughed. The diamond was worth more than any amount of money he could offer her anyway but she was sure that he would not understand that money was not her motivation here.
“I do not want your money Mr Lester nor do I believe that I will simply be turning around and leaving until I have done what I came here to do and I’m not about to let your greed get in the way of that.” Lillian looked over him and shook her head. “What do you want with the Cullinan anyway? Surely your family has enough money.” He was unlikely to tell her of his motivations but this was something that she had not planned for. She honestly did not anticipate anyone being at this particular party to do the same thing that she was here to do.
Lillian turned swiftly and picked up the diamond, allowing it to rest in her hand, grasped tightly in her fist so that he could not simply take it from her if he attempted to. “Why do you not simply walk away?” She asked, suggesting the same thing that he had only moments ago. “You could leave this room, leave this party and no one will ever know that you were here to steal something from your precious friends. I would not tell anyone that I saw you here.”
Freddie could have laughed, if not for the immense fear that his plan had just been ruined. There were only two explanations for the girl being stood the other side of the diamond to him. Firstly, she was stealing the jewel for herself. It was the perfect place to take the precious stone, he had made sure of that. What he hadn’t thought of, when planting ideas in the hostess’ head, was that other people could use the opportunity for their own gain. The second explanation, the one that was now stinging the back of his mind in a dark cloud, was that she had been sent to find him.
He’d stuck to the schedule, the diamond would have been with his employers within the hour so it couldn’t have been them. They wanted the diamond and they would not risk losing their only chance. It left only one possibility. The man who had his life in his hands, the one he had borrowed the money from his employers to pay, had sent a woman to dispatch of him. Freddie narrowed his gaze at the woman. She looked harmless enough but didn’t’ that made sense? Who better to send to lure him into a trap than a beautiful woman? His reputation was known by most and he had been so easily tricked.
And now, [I now] she dared to accuse [I him] of using her as an alibi. Hadn’t she been the one to stand by him at the bar? Looking like she did, how could he have not approached her? He was only a man. Realising that it had been a few seconds since she spoke Freddie looked back up from the diamond to her face. He slowly took a step towards them both, cautious of every move she made.
“My alibi?” He paused his movements and a wicked smile crossed his face. “What else would you be? Did you really think that a Lester would be interested in someone like you?” He gave out a harsh laugh and reached up to straighten his shirt out. Freddie was very aware now that he did not know this woman. Her mystery had excited him, he hadn’t seen her before and thus she was new blood to him. How he now wished that he had taken the time to find out who she actually.
He took another step forward, hoping that his cruel words had distracted her enough. Slowly, he would make his way closer to the diamond.
“We do seem to have a problem darling. Why don’t you be a good girl, turn around and leave? I’ll make sure my family pay you handsomely for your discretion.” Even as he said the words they felt wrong. How many had he paid to keep quiet in the past? Passing money here and there, to silence a servant from telling their master who had been in his partner’s bed, a gentleman to assist in dealings and keep it discreet. All things that seemed so meaningless at the time. But now he was asking this woman to accept his families money to ignore the fact he was stealing a, very large and expensive, diamond. If she truly had been sent to kill him then she would not accept his offer.
Freddie’s muscles tightened as he awaited her reply. He was close enough that in a swift step he could grab her, should he need to. He wasn’t keen on the idea of hurting a woman but if he needed to do it, for his sister, he would. There were no limits to what he would do.
Lillian’s eyes were completely fixated on the diamond. A diamond that was supposed to free her from the life she had been living over the last year. A debt that she owed would be paid the moment she took the diamond and left that house as long as she delivered it to those who had commandeered her services. Not that she had a choice in the matter. She had been used for all sorts of tasks, ranging from stealing items to researching others but she was promised that she would no longer owe them anything the moment they delivered this diamond to them. Then she would move on with her life and forget about them and her brother.
Her brother had managed to get himself in a lot of debt with some people who had a lot of influence and power and he had been unable to pay off his debt, he had practically ensured that Lillian’s freedom had been taken away from her with the threat of death being held over her. The death of her brother as well as her own life. Perhaps she would never be able to forgive her brother for what he had put her through but she didn’t necessarily want him to lose his life nor did she want or deserve to lose her own. That is why she had to do this.
As her hands closed around it she saw movement before her and her head snapped up instantly and she found herself looking at the man who had left her only moments ago. It was then that her mind started to race with different thoughts but since he had come in through the window it was obvious that he was here for the same reason as her and that posed a problem. Now she was wondering whether he was using her just as much as she had been using him. His seduction towards her had been just as false as her reaction yet it still seemed to make her feel...offended? Perhaps the fact that he might be interested in her made her feel a little less controlled. She had been told over and over again that she was worthless and that she was better off working for these men because no one would ever want her. Frederick, as silly as it may have seemed, made her feel like they might have been wrong. Now she was thinking that they had been right all along.
Lillian pulled her hand back from the diamond but stood as close to it as she possibly could. She would not let him take the diamond; she [i couldn’t] let him. As his voice filled the silence between them she looked towards him with a confused expression. It hardly seemed fair that he was entitled to question her when he was clearly in an out of bounds area too.
“I could ask you the same thing.” She said simply running her hand through her hair so that the curl rested behind her ear. Her eyes flashed from his face to the diamond. “I was your alibi wasn’t I?” Lillian laughed gently, almost as though she was trying to show him that it didn’t bother her even though she was doing the same thing. “I might have known. It appears we have ourselves a small problem.”
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