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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.”
So maybe climbing out of the window wasn’t the smartest idea. Luckily the window faced the back of the house and the garden below was essentially empty apart from one or two people smoking. From where Freddie stood, leaning his head out the window trying to calculate the drop, they could now see him in the dark. He would need to be silent. Filling his lungs with the cold night air, he placed his hands on the top of the window and swung one leg out, settling it on the narrow ledge. His knees shook and for a breath, he wondered if it would be easier to go back to the room where the pretty lady with hair like spun gold waited for him.
If it weren’t for the mess that had been thrust upon him, the situation that seemed to have no clean way of extraction he would have turned around and gone back. Images of her flashed into his head, her parted lips, breathless from their kiss. She had caused things to stir inside him that had been asleep for a long time. Intrigue and curiosity. Freddie tried to think back to her name, he would call upon her when all this was done, pick up where they left off. She would forgive him for leaving her, maybe even look back and laugh about it after he had gotten a chance to see her, all of her, properly.
A stiff breeze blew against his face, knocking all thoughts of the woman from his mind. Focus was what he needed now, not a pretty girl willing him to take her to bed. It was the final stretch now. Months of planning, hours of pouring over documents and blueprints, sleepless nights. It would all be over in mere minutes. Get in, get the diamond and get the hell out of sight. The collection point was down at the port, upon exchange the ‘situation’ would be resolved and he could return home, cleaning all thoughts of tonight from existence.
Placing his other foot on the small ledge outside the window he pivoted his body so that his face was against the glass, hands now grasping onto the crevices in the bricks. Shuffling slowly he willed his body to move across the ledge towards the window on his left. He was so close. Chest pressed to the stone, the wind pushing against his straining muscles. If his brother could see him now, how he would laugh. Growing up his brother had climbed all manner of object. Walls, trees, buildings. Freddie had always rebuked him, telling him there were other things worth his energy. His brother would have given anything to see him now, which much was for sure. Freddie made a mental note to retell his adventure in the future. He was at no risk of his brother going to the police or the court about his midnight heist.
Fingers grasped the window ledge and Freddie let out a breath that he hadn’t realised he had been holding. Carelessly, he pulled open the window, not even checking through the glass to see if the room was occupied. The door had been locked only moments ago, who would have arrived in that time? In a swift motion, the man swung his body through the window, landing in a, less than graceful, thump on the wooden floors.
The room was dark and with the light from the moon, it took his eyes a moment to adjust. Freddies gaze fell upon the diamond first, even with his body blocking the window it seemed to catch every ounce of light sending tiny lights like rainbows onto the person who was now touching it.
If a body could turn to stone, that was exactly what happened to Frederick. Pale fingers brushed against the jewel, fingers that had only moments ago been running down his chest. Had she come looking for him? The first thoughts entering his mind were ones of innocent panic. He had taken longer to get into the room than planned, maybe she had gotten restless and gone exploring.
Yet, the door had been locked. Freddie didn’t move, only his eyes shifted, moving to look at her face, then the diamond, then back to her again. She had broken into the room. A curl of hair was hanging against her shoulder and as his mind whirled with adrenaline, trying to make sense of what he was seeing, he knew she had picked the lock.
Freddie tried to still the fear that was now inside of him. Was she there to steal the diamond or was she just curious? Panic had now spread from his chest and was in every nerve ending in his body. He had to act fast.
“Care to explain what you’re doing?” He asked, tilting his head to the side with a feigned calm.
There was something about his demeanour that suggested he had more on his mind than what she was saying. His look was hungry and almost promised that he would close the distance between their lips once more but she knew she couldn’t let that happen. Now she needed to keep her mind focused and find an excuse to get out of that room and disappear from this party so that no one would notice her missing. At least if they did notice her disappearance, they might suggest that she left with Fredrick Lester. To be assumed one of his conquests might be mildly better than to be found a thief.
She looked towards him, seduction in the form of words were dripping from his lips and Lillian was sure that if she did not have other things to focus on throughout the evening she might have believed him. His idea of worship was sure not to match up with her idea as it was likely that he meant a temporary worship that was only intended for the bedroom and something that he clearly only intended to last for that one night. He didn’t seem like the type to worship one woman again and again.
Fredrick ran his hand smoothly from her shoulder to her own hand, pulling it up to his lips so that he could attempt to seduce her further with a kiss on her wrist. She flinched for a moment, looking at the spot where he just kissed, catching sight of the final bit of evidence that her wrists had been bound in the past. The scars still remained and for now he did not seem to notice because he was so focused on her lips. At least that meant that she did not have to deal with the questions that usually came moments after someone seeing the scar upon her wrist. There was barely a cover story that seemed to make sense without it appearing as though she experienced some kind of abuse or that she was troubled in some way. He then moved in and placed a kiss upon her lips and dropped her hand so she subconsciously pressed her hand flat against her thigh as if to hide her wrist.
As time passed she was trying to think of an excuse that would allow her to leave without raising suspicions. However it seemed that perhaps she wouldn’t need to come up with an elaborate story because Frederick’s high maintenance lifestyle was coming into play and his expensive taste meant that he felt the need to find some champagne for the occasion and he was stepping around her and slipping out of the room. It really was the perfect moment for her to slip out and steal what she came to take. Lillian turned to face him as she heard his voice from behind her. “I do not plan on going anywhere.” Her smile was just as false as their other interactions but she made it seem as natural as possible.
The moment she was alone she ran her hands over her dress and let out a breathy sigh; one that would have told anyone just how nervous she felt about her task but luckily there was no one around to witness this. She couldn’t go out of the room just yet because she didn’t want to risk him seeing her leave already but after letting a full minute pass she decided that she had left it long enough for her to make sure Frederick was not in sight. Lillian placed her hand on the door and pushed it open, putting her head outside of the door just to check if there was anyone walking the corridors but when she saw that it was empty she stepped out and made her way towards the door the housed the diamond.
When she was in front of the door she checked to see if there was anyone around and when she was confident that the coast was clear she reached out and tried the door. Of course it was locked, how careless was she expecting such a rich couple to be? Luckily she had plenty of hair pins and she had been taught how to pick locks by those who had asked her to complete this task. Lillian reached up and removed a pin from her hair and started to work on the lock, listening for that click that would let her know she had been successful and when she heard it, her hearts started to skip a beat. This was happening now. It was time.
She pushed the door open and stepped inside swiftly and took a look around the room. It wasn’t exactly hard for her to find the diamond she was supposed to steal. Her eyes widened at the sight of it. While she had been told of the grandeur of it before now, it was a different feeling seeing it in person. Lillian took a few steps towards it until she was close enough to touch it and spent a moment admiring it with a smile upon her lips. She understood why someone would want such things even if she did not enjoy them herself. She extended her hand out to the diamond and caressed it gently with the tip of her fingers.
Frederick watched her lips as she spoke. The kiss had left them pink and inviting and it was taking all of his control not to pull her into another kiss and ignore the words that fell from her pretty little mouth. Her breathlessness from their kiss only made him want to repeat the action, however, he let her speak. This was not a woman he could lose himself in, as much as he wished he could, she was little more than another pawn in his bigger game for the evening. Somehow she had created distance between them, not enough for him to worry that she had no interest, but enough that he could no longer feel the warmth of her skin against his. Frederick drew his gaze from her mouth back to her eyes and raised an eyebrow.
“I can assure you, Miss, that I know very well how to worship a woman.” Seduction dripped from his words and he knew his meaning was clear. That was the problem with the female population, they dreamt of elaborate declarations of love and loyalty. Anything other than the perfect Prince was seen as unworthy. Frederick offered something different, one night – or morning, the time of day mattered little to him– of heated passion, and in those few hours, he worshipped the heck out of that chosen woman. This was then followed by a swift goodbye and a promise, to see her again, that both knew was never going to happen.
Frederick took a slight step towards her so that his back was no longer pressed against the wall. Fingers grazed her shoulder and made their way down her arm until he took her hand that had recently moved from his chest. He bought the hand to his mouth and kissed her wrist.
“I can promise you, kitten, that if you give me the chance, I’ll show you just how good at worshipping you I can be.”
Just beyond her pretty blonde head, Frederick could see the moon high in the sky. It flooded the room with a glow that illuminated the girl in front of him. The sound of the people moving, drinking and dancing below them was nothing more than a soft hum. It was the perfect setting and yet he could not make the most of it. His plan had now fully formed in his head and he was ready to detach himself from the irresistible thing in his arms and secure his ultimate prize.
Straightening up, he lifted his other hand and gently brushed his thumb across her lower lip before kissing her once more, quickly. Freddie would not have been a Lester if he didn’t take one more kiss from her before leaving. Though the task at hand was one that caused anxiety and still seemed impossible in the back of his mind, he would take the opportunity to get his times worth with this woman.
“Why don’t I go sneak us a bottle of champagne and you make yourself comfortable?” Freddie said. He tapped the tip of her nose and stepped around her before she could protest. “I’ll be back in just a few moments.”
It had to be, potentially, the worst of crimes – next to murder. To steal from your own kind. People who put their trust in you, foolish as they were. To top it off he was about to leave the first woman that had elicited excitement from him in what felt like forever. Freddie placed his hand on the door and looked over his shoulder, his smile did not quite reach his eyes this time but it would be enough.
“Don’t you go anywhere” He said and stepped into the hallway, closing the door behind him.
Freddie didn’t give himself time to breathe or gather his thoughts for fear of turning around, deciding to forget the whole thing and go home to tell his father about his sins. The white shirt was no longer pristinely smoothed against his chest and he pushed a hand through his dark hair, now out of place. Suddenly his feet were moving, trying to step lightly. Five, six…. ten, eleven…. Freddie placed his hand on the door and pushed gently, it didn’t move.
As foolish as his friends seemed, they were smart enough to lock a room that contained a priceless jewel. Slipping his hand into his jacket pocket he felt for the metal pins he had stored there. [I Shit. ] He had to have dropped them back in the room or maybe the bar. There was no time to go back now. Frederick hissed through his teeth at his clumsiness and pressed his palms against his eyelids in frustration as he wracked his brain for another way to get into the room.
[I The window. ] Freddie threw his head back and dropped his hands in a silent hysterical laugh. Of course, this wouldn’t be easy. Everything had gone swimmingly until this point. Taking a few steps back, he pushed the door of the room before his desired location and entered. Jacket discarded, he lifted open the heavy window and looked down before whispering a string of vulgar profanities. This would not be fun.
Although Lillian was completely focused on the diamond that sat in the room two doors down, she was able to ensure that the seductive smile that she had perfected in the last few weeks masked the task at hand. If Frederick was the playboy his reputation painted him out to be, it would be so easy to keep up her pretence with him. As her fingers played with the material of his shirt, she looked up at him from underneath her beautifully long lashes. Even though she played her part well, she was not willing to offer him more than temptation. Her virtue would not be tainted along this journey. Lillian wanted to maintain [I some] part of her old self for when this was all over.
She could feel his body react to her words in the form of a shudder and it only widened her smile, knowing that she now had the control. Her eyes locked with his as his low voice found her and she could not help but raise her eyebrow at his reply to her. There was his arrogance again and she hoped that this was something that would benefit her in the next few crucial minutes. She could only imagine what methods of entertainment he used in the past and now she was only slightly nervous that she was perhaps leading him on when she had no intention of entertaining him in that respect.
Frederick’s arm moved to her waist, pulling her close enough that she was sure he would be able to detect that the motion caused her heart beat to quicken. His words instigated a heat to rise to her cheeks, tinting them a light shade of pink before he took her chin in his hand. He was beginning to regain control of the situation and she felt her mind slipping away from the task at hand, especially when she could almost feel his breath upon her lips. Before she could even react, his mouth collided with her own, gently at first as if to test whether he had permission to kiss her. Lillian couldn’t protest even if she wanted to. For that moment, she forgot that she had decided to be careful around Frederick Lester and she was beginning to learn just how easily he could break down a woman’s walls.
As their lips became more acquainted, he moved his hands into her hair and she pressed her hand flat against his chest, feeling his heart beat underneath it. Lillian allowed herself a moment of enjoyment before she started to regain her composure. Soon their kiss would end but she would wait for him to be the one to end it. As much as she did not want to admit it, she did not mind if their kiss lasted a few moments more. Who would have thought that her alibi might have offered her a little more than [I just] an alibi? Luckily, she remembered that Lester would do nothing more than use her for his own pleasure so it was easy for her to regain her right mind.
Eventually, he pulled back from her, leaving her a little breathless from the kiss they had shared. She used the break to put a little bit of distance between them, but not enough that might make him believe that he had offended her. Now that his hand was trailing down her back she allowed her eyes to find his again as he presented her with one of his famous charming smile.
“I do not believe that the Frederick Lester I have heard about knows how to worship or adore a woman. My understanding is that you see them more as a conquest. I find it hard to believe that someone such as myself might have changed your mind about such things.” She said with a smile as she removed her hand from his chest. Lillian sighed and almost laughed at the thought. Even if she did not have other things to think about on this evening, she did not think that she would have found herself spending more than a second conversing with Frederick. Her reputation would have already been tainted, no doubt. She knew that guests would be talking of their disappearing act and what they might be getting up to. It would be worth it the moment she had that diamond in her hand and she would never have to lay eyes upon Frederick again.
It had been a long time since the use of his name caused such a reaction. Women had used it in passion, anger, hope and betrayal over the years, his father often used his full name when voicing his disappointment and his siblings used it when they wanted something. The woman pressed against him used his name with a charm that caused an excitement to stir inside him. Any man who had been with as many women as he, knew that the exhilaration and attraction soon wore off. It was a habit, a distraction from his responsibilities.
He could feel the beat of her heart beneath his hands as he brushed the jewels and as the thought of kissing each one crossed his mind, she pushed against him, backing him up against a wall. She was bold and he took her move as a further invitation to him and had he the time, he would have accepted it wholly.
Frederick let his eyes linger on her lips a moment before looking back up to her. All thoughts of carrying out his plans vanished from his head as she whispered. The combination of her breath on his ear and her words erased all sense, causing a slight shiver to work its way up his spine. He could not remember a time when a woman had caused him to lose words, he always had the upper hand. Yet he could hardly remember what she had said as her nails trailed down the front of his shirt. It took all his strength to force his thoughts back to the present moment, instead of letting them play over everything he wished he could do with her if he had the time.
“I’m not sure my methods of entertaining are for a woman's ears,” He said, his voice low. The way the necklace glittered in the moonlight, enhancing her flawless pale skin, made it impossible for him to stand still. He wanted to touch her, to trace her collarbone with his finger, just to feel the warmth of her skin along the base of her neck. Instead, he snaked an arm around her waist and pulled her to him, his body pressing against hers.
“How about I show you instead?” He said and gave her the space of a heartbeat before he captured her chin with his other hand and lowered his mouth to hers, barely touching her lips at first. He waited to see if she would push him away if she would resist but after a shallow intake of breath, he decided that she would not run from his arms. So Frederick kissed her. It was only supposed to be a kiss to test the waters, to give her enough indication that he had bought her here out of lust and not as a diversion, as an alibi, but the moment he felt the gentleness of her lips he lost all rationale. The hand that had been holding her chin gently in place moved, his fingers intertwining in her hair. Her mouth was soft and warm and he bit back a groan. He would need to move away from her before he went too far. She smelt like sunshine and something else, it would be easy to become addicted to such a woman.
Frederick wondered if she knew. If she could feel his heart beating through his chest and feel the heat that seemed to radiate from every inch of his skin. She was beautiful, more than beautiful. If he had not been so cynical he would have believed her to be a goddess. Of course, it was just his luck that he finally met a woman who made him feel again and it all be part of a plan that had no place for her much longer. He pulled back, ignoring the cool air kissing his body now she was no longer pressed against him.
A ruse indeed. That was all she was and not another conquest. Frederick scolded himself for his shameless thoughts and reminded himself that one night with her was not worth risking- … he had more important things at hand and if everything worked out, maybe he would seek her out. Take his time with her and savour the feeling of excitement that had been missing for so long. He extracted his fingers from her hair and let them trail down her back. A little longer and he would make his excuses to leave the room.
Frederick gave her a stunning smile.
“A woman as attractive as you is not just for entertaining though. You deserve to be worshipped and adored, not just with words.”
For their entire walk, she was slightly ahead of him. She used the advantage to look at those around her. For the second time that evening she noticed just how interested people seemed to be about the company that Frederick Lester was keeping. While she had experienced the stares of the guests up her entrance, this was different. Men had almost fallen over themselves to get a look at her and men did not tend to whisper amongst themselves about a pretty girl. But women; they were different. Jealous stares and judgemental whispers travelled between them, wondering what kind of woman it took to grab the attention of a Lester. If they knew anything about his reputation they would know that it was simply her sex that attracted him to her in the first place. It could have been any woman to leave the busk of the party with him, she was just lucky that she had caught his attention first.
While her positioning did not allow her to see the look of panic of Frederick’s face, she mirrored it. She had expected lots of people to be in attendance because of the cause behind the evening, but it seemed that the image of the Fox couple had drawn in far more people than intended. Where there was once a guest list that might have restricted those who could enter the party, such things had been abandoned when the couple were given an opportunity to show off to more people. Their wealth was their weakness and this might also affect her ability to pull off her crime with ease. Not that she expected it to be easy in the first place but she had hoped that she would manage to get in and out of that room without being seen.
Even though they had left the main room for some privacy, she soon realised that they would not find that here. Lillian almost looked back to observe the look on the face of Frederick who was likely to be frustrated about the amount of people that seemed to hinder their time alone. The entire time they had glided through the crowd, he had his hand pressed against the small of her back. If she was not so focused on her evening task, she might have found his closeness unnerving. After a minute, she felt his breath against her neck and her own hitched in her throat as he whispered towards her. From the reactions of those around her, people had heard his proposition towards her and if she hadn’t been so desperate for some sort of alibi she might have been embarrassed by the judgement towards her. Her short-lived reputation would be tarnished the moment she disappeared upstairs with him but she did not plan on spending time amongst these people when the evening was over. Hopefully by then she would be free to return to her life of simplicity.
Lillian nodded in reply and changed direction with him, noticing the stairs were close. As she walked up to the top of the stairs, the blueprints returned to her mind and she looked towards the room where she would expect to find the diamond. She only allowed her eyes to rest upon the door for a split second. After all, she was supposed to look as though she did not know anything about the layout up here. Lillian looked towards Frederick for a second as his hand moved from her back and tried a door. She could not have asked for a more perfect location. She could excuse herself and return within a matter of minutes without raising any suspicion. Frederick’s movement was swift as he pulled her into the empty room, gently pressing her back up against the door as he closed it.
Her heart started to quicken involuntarily and she swallowed hard as she tried to calm it. Lillian couldn’t allow anything to distract her now but her saving grace was that her obvious nerves could be construed as attraction. Lillian allowed her eyes to meet his and her lips turned up into smile as his hands found her hips.
“My apologies, Frederick.” She laced his name with seduction, hoping to allure him further. She could feel his hand resting above her chest as he found the jewels that lay neatly against her porcelain skin and her eyes followed his hand for a moment. Lillian had not been used to wearing such luxurious items and their presence against her skin did not go unnoticed for more than a second. Jewels were heavy and she found herself wondering how those in high society could stand it. When the night was over she would be glad to remove them and never have to wear them again. She pushed the nerves aside now and allowed her evening task to occupy her mind.
Lillian bit her lip slightly as she flashed up eyes towards his. It was then that she pushed him back until his back was pressed against the wall nearest to them. It wasn’t that she was stronger than him - that would have been physically impossible, especially considering his size compared to her but she had the element of surprise. Lillian pressed her body against him so that she could feel every contour of his body against hers and she began to giggle as she leant forward towards his ear, lowing her voice into a whisper. “Tell me Frederick, how do you entertain beautiful women?” She asked as she ran her hands down his torso, allowing her nails to scratch the surface of his shirt ever so slightly. Her lips remained curved in her devious smile. This was so unlike her, but then the crime she was about to commit was too. She only needed to wear her mask for a few more hours.
Before the years of debauchery, intoxication and women, Freddie had been an avid believer that his father was the wisest man alive. His words always sat true in the boy's heart and most evenings the family would spend time together, his father telling stories of his own youth. His father had made his money from knowing people, not just beneficial friendships, but really knowing people. He told his children countless times to look for the small things in people, the twitch of an eye, the hitch in a voice, the small things gave away peoples real emotions and when you knew real emotions you could manipulate them. If Freddie had listened to his father he would have seen the small look of panic that crossed across the woman's face as he sprayed her with his drink or the way her eyes glazed over for a moment. Instead, all he saw was a beautiful smiling woman who was willing to leave the party with him.
Keeping his hand pressed against the small of her back, Freddie gently guided the woman from the busy room into an equally busy entrance hall. The party was overflowing from the main ballroom and now the foyer and the room opposite were filled with people. The voices only enhanced and echoed by the high ceilings. Drinks flowed and though the music could barely be heard people still danced. Freddie felt his heart rate increase, the heat creeping up his back. The guest list had not been this long, meaning the auction was not as exclusive as he had believed it to be. How could be have been so stupid? [I Of course ] the Hosts would want as many people present to witness their generosity. He pressed his teeth together, his jaw tensing. With more people, there was a higher risk of someone finding their way upstairs. Though many were not as bold as Freddie, inhibitions were often forgotten after a few glasses of champagne. Thankfully the woman was a step in front of him so she could not see the anxiety that clouded his face. Was he stupid for doing this? Surely there was no way he could pull this off. Maybe if he just spoke to his employer, maybe if he explained how the party had gotten out of control…
Freddie knew it would be no use. There was one way out of this mess and it was up the stairs to the right and nine doors down.
Drawing in a deep breath, he allowed himself a single moment to wallow in the fear of what he was doing before closing all his panic out, like a heavy door being shut. Leaning forward he spoke into the woman’s ear, a whisper that was loud enough for the people stood next to them to hear but still intimate enough to seem like it was just for her.
“It seems we won’t be finding privacy here, Robert has some very nice guest rooms. Let’s find one.”
His words had done the trick, the people beside them rolled their eyes and whispered to each other. Alibi, check. Now he had to get the woman upstairs and somehow excuse himself, grab the diamond and get the heck out of there.
Something felt off, as he steered the woman upstairs he realised he had been trying to convince every one of their attraction but the actual object of his apparent interest. Moving his hand from her back, he pushed open the door of one of the guest rooms – conveniently the one two doors down from the location of the diamond. Thankfully it was empty. He pulled the woman in and in a single motion pushed her up against the door closing it softly. If she were to tell people that nothing happened, that he had simply taken her upstairs and disappeared then it would cause suspicion. He needed to make it believable and he needed to make a good excuse to leave.
It wouldn’t be hard. He didn’t need to pretend he was attracted to her, after all, she was stunning. He moved his hands to rest on her hips and gave her his best charming Freddie smile.
“Though I loved the way you called me Mr Lester, I want you to call me Frederick.” He kept his voice low, knowing that there was no one else he needed to convince but her. He locked his gaze with her own bright eyes and bringing one hand up, lightly brushed a finger across the small green jewels that hung around her neck.
“If I was not so sober, I would have thought you were a dream.” He whispered, leaning in closer to her. “You are truly the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on.” And as he felt the heat of her skin under his hands, and looked into her glittering eyes, Freddie knew that his words were true. It was only a shame that he would not have time to properly get to know her. She was a tool in his plan and nothing more, he reminded himself. He had a job to do, a debt to pay and someone that was relying on him.
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