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Lillian’s expression was nothing but amused at the reaction Frederick had to her cutting open her hand. “Be careful, it almost looked like you cared.” She said with a smirk as she watched him take the shoe from her hand. She might have guessed that he would come out with something wildly inappropriate and in true Lester fashion he did there and then. “Oh Mr Lester, the [I last] thing I want to do is take my dress off around you.” She said with a smile just as he inspected her hand. It wasn’t exactly an ideal situation to be in. They were in an unfamiliar hotel with only the clothes on their back and now she had a cut on her hand that they had no way to properly clean yet. It could wait a while because now they just needed the exchange to be done.
Lillian nodded as he began to make his way towards the door and she followed him so that she could lock it as instructed. When his form disappeared out of sight she closed the door and made sure that it was locked before turning around and pressing her back against the door. She was filled with nerves now. Something could go wrong and they might not believe him if he was not convincing enough but then he had been so convincing around her earlier that night. She could only hope that their employers would stay true to their word and that Frederick’s payment, whatever it may be meant that he could help her now.
She had thought about using this time to disappear now. Lillian had wondered whether she needed Frederick’s help at all since she would have to survive on her own at some point. However, she knew that realistically she needed a little more than to just disappear into the night and she would not get very far on foot and for her to disappear she needed to go far away from here. She pushed herself away from the door and made her way into the bathroom so that she could start to clean herself up. She was still covered in dirt from throwing herself from the window. After she washed herself down she took the hair grips out of her hair and let if fall in loose curls to her shoulders.
Now she made her way back into the bedroom she caught sight of her reflection in the mirror and for a moment she stood and looked at herself. She was no longer the same person and she wondered how long it would take her to get back to the woman she was before all of this happened; before she was forced to work for employers who had asked her to do unspeakable things. Lillian forced herself to look away from the mirror and started to make her way towards the bed, laying down on it and staring up at the ceiling. Exhaustion was taking over but she could not go to sleep yet. She might even have to sleep in the car if Frederick decided that they should go the minute he returned. That is, [I if] he returned.
The exchange did not take as long as Lillian expected and shortly there was a knock at the door causing her to sit up straight but she did not approach the door until she heard Frederick’s voice through it. Even though it was an involuntary response. She felt relief swim over her as she made her way towards the door and unlocked it. Lillian almost laughed at his greeting but shook her head as she opened the door. “We really should think more carefully about our names.” She said as a yawn escaped her.
Freddie’s smile only widened as she complained about her fake name. It was the name of his childhood horse and in a way, Lillian reminded him of her. Pretty to look at but willing to kick you hard enough to crack a few ribs. He would not tell her that, despite being willing enough to walk into a fight with a group of armed men, he did not fancy getting on the bad side of the little beauty in front of him. Instead, he focused on her name.
“Lillian, that’s pretty. Like the flower or the actress.”
It was almost too quick for Freddie to register, one moment she was suggesting that she hit him multiple times and the next her fist came into contact with his face. He took a staggered step back, more from the shock than the force of her hitting him. Freddie had not believed she would actually punch him and she was much stronger than he had anticipated. He lifted his hand to his face and rubbed his jaw, wiggling it a bit to check she had not done any damage more than the red imprint that would soon turn into a bruise.
“I think just once will be enough. Let us not get carried away now, kitten.” He said and walked into the joining washroom to check that she had done enough to seem convincing.
His jaw was red and only getting darker by the second. His hair was a mess and his shirt had a few tugs and dirt smudges from their window jumping activities anyway. Freddie turned to walk back into the room just as she sliced her hand open.
“Christ woman! What the heck do you think you’re doing?” He walked over to her about to drag her to the wash basin but she was letting the blood stain her shoe. He caught on quickly what she was doing and as she spoke it made sense. Dumping her in the river meant they would not have to produce a body and the shoe covered in her blood would be enough proof without giving away too much. After all, they were not supposed to know they were employed by the same person anyway.
He watched her rip the bottom of her dress and he shook his head, rolling his eyes.
“If you wanted to take your dress off you should have just said, you didn’t need to cut your hand over it.” The corner of his mouth turned up, a playful comment again to take the edge off. He took the shoe from her and took her hand in his own, turning her palm up to check her mishap bandage. He would need to get something to clean the wound with otherwise it would risk infection, especially as her dress was far from clean. She would also need new clothes if she were to get away without drawing suspicion.
“I won’t be long, hopefully.” He lifted the shoe and waved with it then picked up her purse, tucking it under his arm. “Wish me luck, don’t miss me too much and lock the door behind me.” He said and left the room. Getting out of the hotel was easier than it should have been and Freddie couldn’t help but wonder how many people had left the hotel with bloody shoes undetected before? He drove the short distance to the meeting and could see someone waiting for him by the docks.
The silhouette turned out to be the person he had spoken to once before, a young man with a more than sinister look to his face. Freddie walked over to him but stopped keeping a distance. He threw the shoe at the man, watching him watch it without flinching. Clearly, blood didn’t bother this man.
“She got in my way.” He said, watching the other male eye him with a distrust. He took in the bruising red mark on his jaw and his state of dishevelment. Freddie inhaled slowly trying to remove the fear in his voice. “I don’t take kindly to people who get in my way. Nor do I appreciate you sending someone to take over if I messed up. I’m a freaking Lester, we don’t make mistakes.” He said and held out the diamond that had been moved from the purse to his pocket, for the man to take.
“Where is her body?” He said simply, checking the diamond over in his hands. Freddie thought back to what Lillian had said and he rolled his shoulders, trying to seem as nonchalant as possible. “I dumped her in the river. I couldn’t have someone finding her, it would look bad for me.” He paused and then decided to push the boundaries. “Why? Was she important to you?” He said, narrowing his eyes at the man. The man put the diamond in his jacket pocket and raised his hand in a strange motion, signalling for the boat to collect him.
“She owed us a debt but that’s been paid in blood. I should thank you.” The man said, smiling at Freddie with a cruel smirk. If he had less patience, less self-control he may have hit the man, but the deal was almost over and so he said nothing, only put his hands in his pockets.
“We are done.” The man said and nodded to Freddie. It was that easy? The months of fear and anxiety all washed away with this man’s say so?
“My sister?” Freddie said, keeping his voice even. The man nodded again and threw something wrapped in brown paper at Freddie. He hesitated a moment before moving forward to pick up and open the parcel. It was a severed hand, one wearing the wedding ring that belonged to his sister’s husband. Freddie swallowed the bile rising in his throat and took the ring off the hand, loathing the feel of dead skin against his own. He slid the ring onto his right hand and dropped the parcel onto the deck.
“I didn’t pay for the hand, just the ring and my sister. I expect her to be home tomorrow, unaware of what has happened. That was our deal” He said and turned away, making his way back to the hotel.
Once back he knocked on the door and pressed his face close to the wood so he could call through. “Gladys my love, it’s your husband”
Within a matter of minutes the car started to move again now that they had some kind of solution. They just had to figure out the details now and they were running out of time with every second they spent sat stationary in the car. Lillian kept hold of the diamond and they drove and they remained in silence for the rest of the journey. He seemed to settle on a hotel quickly but she barely took notice of the kind of the place they were staying at. She had stayed in her fair share of questionable establishments and this would not phase her. Perhaps this would be her life now and she would have to get used to it anyway.
When they stopped she looked towards him and watched as he face changed from serious to cocky. His smile alluded to the Frederick she had met in the first instance; the Frederick who might have seduced her successfully if the two of them did not have ulterior motives. Lillian let out a frustrated sigh and she shook her head towards him as he helped her out of the car. “Oh no, I’m so disappointed.” Her tone was laced with sarcasm and her expression echoed the same. They walked arm-in-arm towards the hotel. “Is this really necessary?” She asked before she understood that the only way they would be getting a room was if they fabricated a relationship. Why else would a man and a woman need a hotel room? Any other excuse would have looked suspicious so she simply had to play along. When he referred to her as his wife she plastered on a fake smile and told herself that she would just need to get through the night.
Before long the two were being handed the keys to a room and they disappeared quickly. To an outsider they simply looked like a tired couple who just wanted to sleep when really their urgency was due to something else entirely. When they were inside he shut the door behind her and she rolled her eyes.
“Gladys, really? I do [I not] look like a [I Gladys].” She said as she turned to face him and watched as he prepared the room. “My real name is Lillian.” She sighed in frustration. “You’re right it is going to be hard to make them believe that I am dead. They will want proof and the story needs to be clear.” Lillian watched as the man took off his jacket and watched as his expression changed into something entirely different. For what he asked next seemed to humour him deeply. Luckily, Lillian was not opposed to hitting him and she actually smiled towards him. “Of course you can’t.”
Lillian thought for a moment before moving towards him, dropping the bag on the bed and clenching her fist. “I might have to hit you more than once to leave a mark on the [I perfect] face of yours.” She said just as she allowed her fist to collide with his face. This was not the first time she had hit someone but usually it was on the order of those who had taken control of her life. It felt good to let out some of her frustration and she did not shy away from letting the pleasure spread across her face in the form of a smile. Lillian looked him over and saw that his jaw was beginning to redden. “Do you think I need to hit you again or will that do the job?” She laughed slightly before starting to think about how they might prove she was dead.
She reached into her bag and pulled out and knife and sat down on the bed. “You should tell them you dumped my body in the river. That way they won’t look for me.” She said as she pulled the blade over her hand, clenching her teeth slightly to stop herself from crying out in pain. When there was enough blood she reached down to take off one of her shoes, knowing that the blood would stain the silk material of it. Lillian held her hand here for a minute, trying to ignore the throbbing that came from the cut on her hand and when she was satisfied there was enough blood to constitute a murder she ripped off the bottom of her dress and wrapped it around her hand.
“Here, this might go some way to proving you killed me.” She said as she rose from her bed and held out the shoe for him to take.
Freddie let his hand drop from her face and placed it on the steering wheel. He didn’t take the purse from her, instead, he started to drive again. Though he had made up his mind to help her, after all, hadn’t be been the one to suggest them working together, he still needed to think things through properly. He was still aware of the time that was getting close to his deadline. He drove a short distance and pulled up to one of the better-looking hotels in the small village. It was not the sort of place he was happy to leave a lady, but their situation did not exactly allow for him to be picky.
Turning the car off, he waited a moment before getting out. He had so many questions but it would be better that they spoke inside the hotel. Freddie went around to open the door for her, letting her keep the purse until they were inside.
“We will get a room here.” He paused and looked at her, a smile breaking out on his face even though it was a most inappropriate time. “Don’t get any funny ideas, I know I’m irresistible but we have a murder to commit and as much as I wish we could pick up where we left off, we are on a tight schedule.” His words were playful and came so naturally to him that for a moment he forgot their circumstances.
Taking her arm in his, once again, he led her into the hotel. He hoped he would not be recognised and as he rarely ventured to this part of the area, he prayed they would not draw suspicion. Freddie walked to the front desk where an older man was sat, half asleep. The woman was still on his arm and as he spoke, the lies came far too easily.
“I’m going to be needing a room for tonight. My wife and I have just come in on business and I’m not up for driving to the city so late at night.” Freddie silently cursed himself as he looked down at the woman on his arm. They were dressed far too lavish to have been on business and he looked like he had jumped from a window – which he had.
The man barely looked at them as he picked up a set of keys off the side and handed them to Freddie. “What’s your names?” The man said as he opened the ledger. Freddie flashed a wicked grin at the woman and then looked back to the man.
“ This is my wife, Gladys and I’m Norbert.” He said with a feigned seriousness to his voice that seemed to make the man opposite them nod and scribble their names. Freddie reached into his pocket and handed the man paper bills before walking up the stairs to the room.
Freddie ushered her inside the room and pushed the latch shut so that no one could get in.
“Now, dear wife, I suppose I should know your real name before I tie my fate to yours and yours to mine.” He went over to the windows and pulled the curtains shut then lit the candles next to the bed.
“I’m going to give them the diamond and tell them you died. I don’t think they will believe me easily so we need to think and quickly as time is running out.” Freddie shrugged off his jacket and placed it over the edge of the bed before turning to her. His father had always told him that desperate men do desperate things and Lester’s were never desperate. Freddie almost chuckled as he said his next words, thinking of how his father would react.
“I’m going to need you to hit me, just enough to leave a mark.” He said, tapping the edge of his jaw. “I can’t turn up unharmed, they will expect you to fight back.”
She didn’t expect Frederick to understand her position, nor did she expect him to understand that this really was the only way out for her. There were three options for her really, Lillian needed to die, she needed to give them the diamond or she could try and pull this new plan off. However, Frederick did not owe her anything. He could take the diamond and leave her to fend for herself. She could do it if she really needed to but this way was easier and it meant that they both got something out of the deal. Her eyes widened slightly at the car came to a stop and she detected the hesitation from him way before he started to talk. Perhaps she would need to tell him more about her situation to convince him to help her but the last thing she needed was his pity. Lillian needed his help and nothing more.
Lillian avoided looking at him when he spoke. She knew that she was asking too much of him but this [I was] the only way they could both walk away from this situation with what they want. She looked down at her hands. They absently played with each other as she let out a sigh. “I know I am asking a lot of you. I…I just…don’t see any other way.” Lillian had spent years fighting and to finally have a chance to be alone and live a simple life seemed to give her hope. The silence between them lasted some time now, both of them lost in thought until Frederick broke the silence.
He reached out towards her and lifted her chin so that she had to look him in the eye now. She listened to every single word he said carefully and when he finished she nodded to show that she understood. “No one will even know I’m gone. Not one person at that party knew my name, my real one at least, and I do not have a family that would notice I am gone. You help me disappear and I really do disappear. I never existed and I will never exist again.” Lillian let out and sigh once more. “I will not get caught. I have too much to lose if I do.”
Lillian looked away from him now, looking down at the bag she had clutched in her hand so tightly and offered it to him. Lillian could only hope that he would remain true to his word and help her but there would be nothing she could if he decided to cross her now. “Take it.” She said softly, trying not to show the fear that she felt. “You can drop me off at one of these hotels and we can figure out how we can make it look like you killed me.”
Freddie kept his eyes on the road as she spoke. He could not quite understand what she had meant by her words. Their property? Surely that couldn’t be right. He had seen the way she had held herself, the clothes she wore the jewels around her neck. She did not look like she was anyone property. It was due to a sheltered upbringing, a life of riches and lavish parties that made Frederick struggle to understand her situation. His family had servants, but these were people employed to do a job and they were paid well in return. His family did not own them, despite how they acted sometimes.
The car came to a sudden stop. “You can not be serious?” He asked, facing her now. Was she completely mad? It was not just the idea of lying again, adding another crime to his ledger. Nor was it the possibility that someone would overhear his story and run to tell people. What a scandal, the Lester playboy killing one of his conquests. He could see the headlines now. No, that was not what had caused him to slam hard on the break. This lie, what she was asking him to do, would end both his life and his sisters if he were ever caught. His employers would want a body or blood. They would need proof.
“What you are asking of me. It’s too much.” Freddie rubbed his forehead with one hand, the other staying tightly on the steering wheel. If it worked, which would be a miracle in itself, his debt would be paid, and his sister would be untangled from the messy web she was in and never know otherwise. If it worked then Freddie would be free to go about his life and forget the night had ever occurred. He would forget the stealing and the acting, forget the woman next to him who had used him and then asked him to help her vanish.
“Disappearing is not an easy thing to do. You will have to go away, far away. You will need a new name, a new life. You would spend your whole life in fear of someone recognising you.” Freddie looked at her, trying to judge any emotion in her face. If she was not strong enough to survive on her own, in a new life, she would get caught and his employers would know he had lied. It was risky.
Give her the diamond or take it. The first was not an option and the second came with a twisted deal. Freddie reached out then and lifted her chin so that she could not look away from him. He had made his decision.
“I will help you in return for the diamond. I will do everything I can, providing it does not risk me or my family. One step out of place and you get caught. You will deny everything if that happens. Once I’m sure you will not be found, we forget tonight existed. You never try to contact me, you never mention my family or my name. Do you understand? I’m not saying this to just cover my own back, this is for your protection as well.”
Lillian started to regret speaking almost instantly. Of course, she could not trust a man like him. Not because he was a Lester, but because he was like her. Someone who was simply in this to save themselves or someone they loved. Surely someone like that would do just about anything and would cross just about anyone. However, he had to be smart enough to make a deal when it meant that both of them could get out of this situation with whatever they desired, or whatever they were being promised.
As he spoke she could not detect his emotions. It was something she had learned to do over time too. Detach yourself from your emotions and that way no one could exploit your weaknesses but she understood why he was stealing the diamond now and as long as he was telling the truth, it meant that he had something to bargain with.
She had barely even noticed that he had slowed down but when she looked out of the window she recognised the village near the docks. He was stalling for time and he was intrigued by her words and he occasionally glanced in her direction. It was now or never.
“I will not go into specific details but I will tell you what you [I need] to know to understand why I would be willing to give you the diamond and walk away. The people I work for…they are not good people as you are aware. I do not just work for them, I am their property. It does not matter why but I am sure that part of the reason we were both sent to do this was because they do not intend to keep their promises to both of us. You…you clearly have someone else’s life to consider here. Me; well I just want to get out from under them. Some of the things they have made me do…” She stopped, not wanting to give away too much and not wanting to make him feel like she needed saving. Lillian cleared her throat. “I wonder if I would even get my freedom if I gave them the diamond. What if you gave them the diamond and traded it for whatever it is that they promised you and when you do so, you tell them that you killed me.”
Lillian waited for a moment and read the expression on his face to gauge if he understood where she was going with this. “If they think I am dead…surely I am free. You help me disappear, I give you the diamond.”
Freddie slowed the car slightly as she spoke. He had turned off the road leading to the docks and was now heading towards the fishing village. It was walking distance from the docks but far enough away that he could drop the woman off somewhere safe until he had completed the exchange. She was probably right, working together had not been his employer’s plan, otherwise, he would have paired them up – or at least warned them of the other's existence. Freddie could not see any other option. He would not kill her or let her be killed but he wasn’t going to let her have the diamond, leaving him empty handed.
Trust him? Why in heavens name would she trust him? He didn’t even know her name, her family, she could have been a known criminal, a killer even, for all he knew. He certainly did not trust her. How could she ask to trust him? Her next words only confused him even more. What would he be lying about … Freddie slowed the car further so they were crawling along the road in time with the other cars.
Whatever her idea was, it looked like he was going to get the diamond. He could lie, tell her he would help her, take the diamond and never look back. It would be easy enough and it wouldn’t be the worst thing he had done in his life. Freddie looked over at her and chewed on his bottom lip for a moment, the silence extending longer than he should have allowed. This would have been much easier if she hadn’t looked at him in such a way.
“I have nothing to offer you to make you trust me, however, if you give me the diamond you will be saving someone very dear to me. Someone that I would happily trade lives with if it were an option.” Freddie swallowed back the emotion, keeping his voice detached from his feelings. “I will make no promise to help you until you tell me what your idea is but if it means we can both walk away from this then I am willing to make a deal.” Lord! How he sounded like his father. Freddie had never pretended to be a knight in shining armour and he wasn’t about to start now but to turn such a dire situation into a deal, he truly was as awful as his father.
The first few houses of the fishing village appeared, scattered apart with their lights off. It was late and a village like this didn’t have a nightlife like his own city. Whilst his car would normally draw suspicion in a place with such a low population and lower class atmosphere, many people used to docks for trading and the few bed and breakfast hotels that sat in-between desolate shops would not blink at a wealthy man needing to spend the night.
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.
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