Welcome to my new multi-chap. I have six chapters currently written and I imagine there'll be a chapter posted a week, maybe a couple, but we'll see.
I hope you enjoy it :)
There was a run in her stockings. It had been catching on the back of her shoes for the entire length of the street, but she wasn't about to turn back. The heels were high, and many other women would have struggled on the cobbles, but she'd grown used to the rushed walk after doing it every night for the last few years. It wouldn't be long and she'd be back inside.
The moon was high tonight; it almost managed to shine its light on the cloistered street through which she walked. But the moon wasn't her friend; it hadn't been for over ten years. Give her sunlight and a place with no shade, only then would she be safe.
Crossing the bomb site, she dodged bloody mattresses and soiled sheets, as she ignored the catcalls from the meths drinkers and homeless children that played in the rubble. Men tried to stop her, thinking her a prostitute from Cable Road, but she stopped them with a steely look; she'd dealt with things far more dangerous than some addicts.
There were no streetlights in this part of London, all bulbs had been smashed so often that the council refused to fix them. It made the streets dangerous, for those who didn't know their way. However, she'd lived in and around the docklands for many years now, since the middle of the war - the longest she had spent in any of her hiding places - and while other women would feel frightened in those forgotten streets, she only felt protected.
Finally she reached the club, an actual club, too, not like those brothels masquerading as cafes she lived above. She walked in the front door, and greeted some of the regulars, passing Wilf at the bar and giving him a playful wink, before heading through to the untreated brick back room.
It was always freezing, but she was used to being cold. After removing her camel wool coat and fur stole, she touched up her lipstick in the cracked mirror and fixed her tight fitting dress that stretched down to her knees. After tutting at her torn stocking - there was nothing to do about it now - she sashayed out into the bar and picked up a tray to begin her night.
There was always such a variety of life in the bar; dock workers with a little extra in their pockets and no family to go home to, business men from town who fancied themselves a little dangerous dabbling in the east-end bar, local couples with no children - though from the look of some it wouldn't be long. She waited on them all, silently picking up empty glasses and replacing them afresh. By the time ten o'clock rolled her eyes were horrifically tired, but the night wasn't over yet.
At ten on the dot, the piano man who'd been playing all night gave her a nod, and she disposed of her tray and took to the small stage at the back of the room. The building had managed to survive the blitz, and this little corner bar with its stage and upright piano was something left from the twenties, back when everyone tried to replicate American speakeasies. There was a microphone in front of her, but it wasn't connected to a thing, they couldn't afford that. With no introduction she began to sing, new things she'd heard on the radio, and oldies that her mother used to listen to through the gramophone.
She sang for an hour, and after a smattering of applause left the stage. She collected the last of the glasses, and Wilf rang the bell for last orders, though none ever came. In dribs and drabs their few customers vanished into the night, and by midnight they were locking the doors.
"You were good tonight," Wilf complimented, as together they upturned chairs onto tables.
She shrugged. "Same as every night."
Wilf gave her a look, a look she'd been seeing a lot from him but not one she could reciprocate. Her heart was caged off, broken years before and scarred from the pain. But his eyes made her feel warm and worthy of being loved, so she returned his smile with a cautious one of her own.
After the floors had been swept and the glasses cleaned, she collected her coat from the back room and headed back out into the cold London streets. At that time of night, even the meths drinkers were asleep, holed up in the foul smelling bomb sites, while the children cowered in abandoned or condemned doorways. All was silent as she walked and she enjoyed the quiet.
There was a blister on the back of her heel, and under a working street light she unhooked her shoes and carried them on two fingers. In the dark night she felt almost carefree, something she hadn't been for over a decade, and she reveled in the feeling of whimsical freedom; until the hairs on the back on her neck stood on end.
She'd always had a good feeling for danger, something that had failed her a decade previous, but not now. She knew the fear that was creeping upon her. One of them was behind her.
She stopped; she couldn't out run it. But nothing came. Taking a deep breath she overcame her nerves and turned back to face her foe. Her eyes were used to the dark, and could see the outline of something standing a few yards away.
She didn't say anything, until the dark became too oppressive and her nerves too frayed for her to remain silent any longer.
"Well," she said, "aren't you going to kill me?"
"Look could you get it over with?" Her tone would have suggested nonchalance, were it not for the tremor in her voice.
"Why would I kill you?" a voice penetrated the dark. It was male and rough, she thought he sounded thirsty, which was never a good thing with the sort she was dealing with.
The thought occurred that perhaps he didn't know who she was, that maybe he wasn't pursuing her and this was all some sort of coincidence. She had a feeling she'd blown her cover, though.
"Sorry," she said, forcing an embarrassed smile. "I was just startled."
The shadow grew closer, though she heard no sound of his feet. Her stockinged feet shuffled back out of fear, ignoring the threat of broken glass on the street.
"Would you like me to escort you home?" he asked.
"No, no, that won't be necessary; I only live round the bend. Thank you, though."
"As you wish. What's your name, by the way?"
In her heart of hearts she knew she shouldn't answer, that it could be worst possible thing she could have done, but she simply couldn't stop herself. "Isabella." She turned quickly away from the stranger, before turning suddenly back. "What's your-" her breath caught as her heart leapt. Where there was once a dark shape there was now only the darkness of the night.
As Isabella ran to her dingy flat, ignoring the glass and filth she trod through, her only thought was that she had made a terrible, terrible mistake.
Let me know what you think :)