High Risk – Ep. 25 of “The Marquis”

Jeanie and I watch them from the round window in the attic. The place I once called my “haven” now feels like a nest of vipers as Northville’s finest and most respectable personalities pour inside my parental home. Inspector Jeremy Simmons has been holding meeting after meeting to instigate them against the Marquis.

He has policemen guarding the building to make sure anyone intent on seeing me stays out, and he rarely shows himself to avoid my wrath. Jeanie is my only authorized company, as well as my mother, but I’ve refused to see her.

“He’s invited the elite,” Jeanie says as she places her tea on the table. “Your father – sorry, Gunnar Lothar – was one of them, and they’re easily moved by his murder. They’ll use their influence to make nasty propaganda against the Marquis among the town’s people.”

“The elite,” I whisper as I watch the arrogant suited men getting out of their fat cars, and the women clutching handkerchiefs in false sobbing under large designer hats. “I wonder how many of these rats were among Catherine’s rapists, and how many of these starving wretches open their legs in exchange for yacht rides and handbags despite knowing it.”

“I understand it’s hard on you, but try not to think about that,” Jeanie says. There’s something different about her today. Something jumpy, her eyes darting around every now and then as if she expects the walls to actually grow ears.

“Believe it or not, it’s easier than thinking about Gunnar’s rotting two meters beneath the earth.”

She leans in and touches my forearm to make me look her in the face, acting like someone who’s using a brief moment of opportunity.

“I did what you asked and talked to Joyous to arrange you a meeting with the Marquis, Saphira. It’s happening tonight.”

As my mind wraps around the idea joy fills my chest. I grab Jeanie’s hand in anticipatory anxiety. “And you think it’ll work? Jeremy will sure have men on my tracks, he’s had me followed for days.”

Jeanie gives me a sly smile. “Joyous organized a pub party with masquerade theme. We won’t be leaving the house wearing or carrying masks so Jeremy won’t suspect that we’re going to that pub of the whole bunch in the Old Downtown, but the hostess will hand us our fake visages once we’re in, and his men will lose our trail.”

“You’ve thought of everything, haven’t you?”

“Joyous has.”

I wrap my arms around her, and barely manage to restrain my glee for the rest of the day. I can only think of Kieran, and that I’ll actually see him again tonight.

When the moment comes for Jeanie and me to descend the stairs in the evening I’m anxious but determined. I’ve defied worse men than Jeremy by now, to put it mildly. I’m wearing leather trousers and high heels, but underneath I have fishnet stockings and in my bag there’s a scarf that I can use as skirt. We’re planning to change in the ladies room at the pub so Jeremy’s men don’t recognize us by our outfits.

We bump into Jeremy at the front doors, blocking our way out. He stands flanked by two of his policemen, hands on the holster, gun easy to see. Being muscular and dressed in black he’d make an impression on anyone who’s seen and experienced less than me lately. His sister overhauls me and walks straight to him.

Despite her red skirt, black pumps and leather jacket she looks like a milky-skinned, fluffy schoolgirl. Her shiny curls bounce down her shoulders, and I realize – maybe for the first time in my life – that Jeanie Simmons, the little girl who used to watch with her nose stuck to the window as her older brother played with us in the yard has grown into a young woman. But her face is still as innocent as back then, and her skin as beautiful.

“Jeremy, you promised,” she whines at her brother. “Saphira has had enough grief, she needs something to help lift her spirits.”

Jeremy looks me up and down. I know he wants me – he’s always had a thing for leather pants and high heels. His eyes are on me, but he speaks to his sister.

“And I’m not in your way. But the boys here will be coming with you, and they won’t leave your side. The Marquis could be lurking.”

“But Jeremy, they’re wearing uniforms and they carry guns! They’ll freak everybody out!”

Jeremy glances at them. “Okay, get civilian jackets and hide your gear,” he commands the men, who do as told and escort us to the car while a frowning, suspicious Jeremy watches from the door.

Jeanie and I can’t talk on the way to the Old Downtown, since the men’s ears are surely funnels that lead straight to Jeremy, but we’re both restless. Our plans have gone to waste. Even if the hostess gives us masks at the door, we won’t be able to lose the men.

“I wonder why Jeremy didn’t come himself,” Jeanie spews and folds her arms across her chest like a pouty child as the men escort us among the crowd and the pubs in the Old Downtown.

“He didn’t want a fight with me.” I sound as defiant as I feel. “He’ll be avoiding me for a while longer until he thinks I’ve calmed down.”

The air is wet and chilly, soaking my flesh. Like Jeanie, I hug myself to keep the cold out of my bones and hurry awkwardly in my ouchy shoes.

There’s great hustle at the entrance to the Black Horse. Once inside the foyer and among the aspiring attendees the wet cold turns to sweaty heat. Bodies crush Jeanie and me into our companions, some people rub between us, but the policemen hustle their way back in position quickly.

I’m ever more desperate that we won’t be able to lose them as we approach the hostess, who imparts coupons and gesticulates, establishing some order. She’s costumed as a witch, but she manages to get the chaotic crowd through as efficiently and fast as a jail warden. Soon I’m right in front of her. She looks me straight in the eye, and I recognize Lord Barkley’s secretary from the lunatic asylum.

I’m sweating, certain I’m lost. A scream so sharp that it stabs my ears shoots from amidst the crowd behind and a great commotion starts, crushing and swaying us like a violent sea storm.

 

Next episode.

Previous Episodes.

 

Pic source.

9 thoughts on “High Risk – Ep. 25 of “The Marquis”

  1. It’s like a chess game between fanatical opponents. Saphira has risen from pawn to queen and back again in this contest of wills to gain the prize. I have to ask myself is the prize the queen or is the pawn the bait. I’ll just have to keep reading to find out. Delicious fare as always.

    1. Point taken, dear cuzz 🙂 Thank you for pointing it out – character arc shouldn’t allow transformations back to anything the character was before, so I made a few changes that reminds Saphira of who she truly is. Of whom she’s become.
      P.S. I received your e-mail, I’ll write back as soon as I’m at the computer again. Thinking of you. Big strong hug!

      1. Uh Oh! I didn’t really have a point. Just commenting how Saphira overcame the Marquis’ using her as bait then she falls prey to Jeremy using her to get to the Marquis. Of course, its nice to be needed even if it’s as bait to catch the big fish. I suspect Saphira will turn it around. She seems to be a very determined young lady and she knows what she wants. :D.

      2. She sure does, dear cuzz. Jeremy won’t have a chance with her, she’s defied men far worse than him, as she puts it herself. Big strong hug!
        P.S. I won’t be able to write until this evening, but I will as soon as I get to the comp.

  2. It’s interesting.

    A great chapter, Ana.

    Breathtakingly written- a battle of wills and a game of intrigue.

    Daniel and I were talking yesterday in a series of comments back and forth between us about coincidences.

    There was an elderly woman I knew back in the 1990s- a retired U.S. Army nurse who served in the Vietnam War- a devout Roman Catholic.

    I lost track of her about 2007 and don’t know what became of her.

    She may have died.

    But anyways there was two things she always wanted from me.

    One was to become a Roman Catholic (I was raised an Anglo-Catholic Anglican).

    She’d be delighted to know that I became a Roman Catholic in 2010 along with my father just before he died of cancer.

    The other thing was she always wanted me to see the movie Eyes Wide Shut with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.

    Because she knew I studied and researched the history of Freemasonry and other occultic secret societies and wanted me to see the film and give my opinion on it.

    I remember every time I talked to her on the phone from 1999 until we lost contact with one another in 2007, she’d always ask me, “Have you seen Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut yet?”.

    And of course I hadn’t and she’d always ask, “Why not?”.

    Anyways this past weekend on one of the movie channels, they had Eyes Wide Shut on so I finally watched it.

    It was quite the experience needless to say.

    I’m sure I could write quite a lengthy essay on what I saw and noticed about that film and post it to my blog.

    It would be interesting to see if I’d suddenly disappear under mysterious circumstances should I do so and the world would never see or hear from me again.

    But anyhow in your description of the Elite in the 4th paragraph of this chapter, the first thing that came into my mind was the wealthy elite in the movie Eyes Wide Shut -those individuals who think they’re above the law in what they do.

    And of course the central point of that movie is a masquerade party with masks that the elite participate in.

    So imagine my surprise when I get down to the 10th paragraph of the chapter and discover a reference to a masked ball.

    I was already thinking about Eyes Wide Shut when I was reading this chapter and then you clenched it with reference to the masked ball.

    The thing is I always wanted to be a film maker like Orson Welles or Alfred Hitchcock.

    So when I read a story, I always picture it in my mind as a movie I’d make.

    And who would I cast to play certain characters?

    So when I thought about your novel so far, I really hadn’t come up with who would play who in your story as I tried to picture it as a movie I’d direct.

    Then as I was watching Eyes Wide Shut Saturday night and I was watching Tom Cruise who plays the hero of the movie, the thought occurred to me, “You know Tom Cruise might be the ideal actor to play the Marquis should I make Ana’s story into a movie.”

    And lo and behold at two points in this chapter, I was reminded of the plot of Eyes Wide Open in your descriptions.

    1. That’s super interesting, Chris! Thank you so much for sharing! I read your comment with a lot of interest and I’d be honored if you directed the movie one day, with whomever you may see fit to play the characters. I haven’t thought about Tom Cruise myself. There isn’t someone I would consider perfectly fit, but there’s this actor whose picture has introduced some chapters. Ben Barnes is the name, but hey, the cast is open 🙂
      It is indeed quite marvellous how telepathy works. I’m sure there must be a connection.

      1. That’s interesting, Ana.

        Another actor I had also considered to play the Marquis was the actor who played Dorian Gray in a 2009 adaptation I saw on television a few weeks ago.

        I thought I should google Dorian Gray 2009 and see who that was.

        But of course it often takes me awhile to get around to actually doing things- being the artist and writer type that I am- I’m always thinking up ideas and it always takes me awhile to apply them to concrete reality. Like it took me 17 years to finally see Eyes Wide Shut like my friend suggested I should.

        Anyways I never did get around to googling Dorian Gray 2009 the past few weeks.

        But when you suggested Ben Barnes as a possible candidate, I’d never heard of him as an actor so I actually googled him right away.

        And then lo and behold as I was reading the Wikipedia article on him, I noticed one of the roles he played was the role of Dorian Gray in the 2009 adaptation.

        So it turns out I had considered casting Ben Barnes as the Marquis after all.

        LOL !

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