My hands shook uncontrollably as I washed away the blood in the black waters of the shingled cove. Her blood. It ran into the icy liquid with little whorls, dissipating quickly in wispy clouds. I had finally done it—provided the 'accident' I had wanted since the day I married her. My hands must have left the sea on their own, for at that moment my thoughts were interrupted by the sensation of needles stabbing at my fingers and palms by mental state continued to sink and overtook the sensation; I barely felt anything. I could hardly wrap my mind about any thought. I killed her. I killed Rebecca.

My head turned instinctively away from my fingers and toward the dim outline of Manderley in the distance. Manderley… my Manderley… The very reason I had bowed before Rebecca's every whim. I had turned the other cheek and a blind eye each time she took her leave to go to London and sleep with any that would have her. The only cause of biting my tongue for so long when that witch began bringing her guests to the boathouse. But now we were free. I was free. Manderley was free. Perhaps we were both forever changed, but we were free of her lies and poisonous affairs.

My back stiffened when a shuffling gait shattered the silent ravings of my thoughts. Oh my God. Someone witnessed it. Someone knows I—

I spun around, coming face-to-face with Ben. Ben could… what if—

"She… she ain't comin' back no more… is she?"

I drew a shaking breath—how much did Ben see? "No. No, Ben," I said carefully, "She'll never bother anyone again."

Ben nodded slowly. "I reckon the fish'll get her now. All'a that blood oughta draw'm in… no… she won't bother anybody with the asylum… they cruel to them people in there."

I could stand it no longer; Ben had seen. "Ben!" I hissed, grasping his shoulders, glaring into his blank eyes, "Ben, you must never tell anyone of what you have seen here!"

"Eh?"

"Ben, if you don't listen to me now, by God, I'll lock you in the bloody asylum myself! Now you must never speak to anyone of this!"

"No, please!" he begged, his eyes wide with panic, "Not the asylum… they cruel there… them people horrible…"

"Then promise!" I hissed, shaking him. "You must never speak to anyone about what happened tonight! You can stay here as long as you say nothing of this!"

"I ain't sayin' nuthin'… nuthin'…"

I finally released Ben's shoulders, my fingers stiff. "I'm going to Manderley now. I was never here, Ben, you hear? …I was never here."

"Eh?" grunted Ben, continuing to shuffle down the beach.

My feet staggered to Manderley on their own. I straightened my clothing before the front door, checking for bloodstains, seawater, anything that would give me away.

I killed her. I killed Rebecca.

I made it to my room without any recollection of the trip up the stairs. I changed into my nightclothes with a strange calm, avoiding the dark window and trying not to hear the angry roar of the ocean. Instead, a nervous rap at my door interrupted the water's hiss.

I decided to be practical, quelling the fear rising in my chest. The commissaire could not have arrived yet. I opened the door a crack. It was Mrs. Danvers. The only missing piece of my alibi. She would be the one to figure it out—I couldn't hide forever.

"I'm worried about Rebecca," she said quietly, "There's a storm brewing outside, and she said she was going sailing…"

"I am sure she will be fine. Rebecca is a good sailor; she's probably just going to spend the night down there to avoid the storm. Now, if you will excuse me, my trip today has left me very exhausted."

I shut the door dismissively, simultaneously turning the key in the lock.

The angry roar of the sea just outside my window was deafening.

I killed her. I killed Rebecca.

I wandered shakily to my bed, slipping carefully under the sheets, avoiding any glance toward her bed. A sickening chill descended upon me. I shivered.

A clap of thunder shook the foundations of the house. Or perhaps my room only. I would swear I heard a cold, cruel laugh. A viper's smile across her lips. Her eyes cold, triumphant.

I did not sleep all night.

I killed her. I killed Rebecca.

Before the sun began to creep above the horizon, I was out of bed again, and dressed, too, before I could register a single thought. Soon I stood in the darkness of the library, waiting for the chill to seep into my very being. Staring. Her cold eyes just kept staring.

This time it took three shrill sounds before I realized—the telephone was ringing. I swallowed the lump in my throat and took it off the receiver.

"Where the Hell is Rebecca?" hissed a voice I knew only too well in my ear.

I was silent for a moment.

"Well?" growled Jack Favell.

"She's not at the boathouse? That is where she told Mrs. Danvers she would be last night." The quaver that may have accompanied my voice was nonexistent. Was I truly upset about murdering her?

"No. I arrived there at three in the morning to visit her, and found her gone!"

"Perhaps she went sailing. You know how much she loves it."

"No. She would have been back."

"I will send someone to fetch her, then."

"You had better. Have her cal me when you find her, Max," Favell hissed, and cut the connection.

I set down the phone on the receiver with a shaking hand. They would not find anything.

I killed her. I killed Rebecca.

I rang for Frith and he sent Robert out to find her. I sat wearily in my chair before a blazing orange flame. Had Frith lit it before he left?

There was no longer any time. No sense at all. I just kept staring into the flames. Just staring. A log collapsed with a crackle and shower of red embers, flowing through the air like her blood. Oh, so much blood.

"SIR! MR. DEWINTER!"

My head turned slowly, just glimpsing Robert as he fumbled with the doorknob, tripping over himself and the carpet to reach me.

"M—Mr. deWinter!" he panted. "R-Rebecca—she… the boat… they're gone! They—in the storm… nowhere to be found… she—!"

Frith appeared at his shoulder, looking composed but for his wild eyes. "Sir, it is true. Your wife is nowhere to be seen. Her boat, too, is gone! She… sir. In the storm last night, she must have drowned."

My mouth went dry. What was I to say? What any man in deep mourning would.

"Is… are you certain?"

"Yes, sir. I am afraid so."

"Make arrangements, then, Frith. A search. But… I need to be alone now."

Frith and Robert inclined their heads, creeping silently out the library door.

My hands shook again, and I stood, pacing, in front of the fire.

They wouldn't find anything. There would be no divers—not for a small yacht and its captain, even if she were the deceased Mrs. deWinter. I covered my trail… and Ben… well… they would not talk to him about it. There was no need for witnesses, for as far as they were concerned, there was no crime. A yacht lost at sea, that's all it was.

The fire crackled again, hissing as another log collapsed into the ashes.

I killed her. I killed Rebecca.

There was no body. They would find nothing. I would simply be required to give a speech, have a funeral, and it would be over. Mrs. Danvers would have to stay. If I threw her out now… it would be too bloody suspicious. All I had to do was last two weeks, maybe more, and this business would be over.

I turned, stopping to face the hearth. A single vase of white azaleas laughed at me, glaring at me with their flawless sheen. No. I would never be free.

As soon as this was over, I would have to leave Manderley. Go away on an extended holiday because I just could not stand this sudden loss. No one would look at me twice for doing it.

My shoulders shook with silent, bitter laughter. Rescue Manderley and then flee it. Rebecca, you are a bloody lovely piece of work. Kill you and lose. Lose it all anyway.

Her cold eyes glared at me, reveling in her success even in death. A shadow of dread crept over me. Rebecca would win no matter how far I go. Her wicked laugh, the resounding shot, the crimson rivers ravenously descended upon my thoughts.

I killed her. I killed Rebecca.

And I still lost.