A/N: Thanks everyone for all the reviews ;) So things are still moving at a slowish pace but urgh details! But rest assured, things to escalate soon so bear with!
"More!" she panted, body writhing against her and the bed. "Yes, yes!"
Rosamund pulled the woman closer, twisting her fingers and, pushing her off the brink she had brought her too, she sunk her fangs into her neck that was presented without qualm. The woman let out a cry of pleasure but mixed, at first, with a little pain. Yet as Rosamund continued to drink, she moaned and her hips rocked to a slow rhythm, her hands wandering up Rosamund's naked back and spearing through her thick coppery hair.
When she finished, Rosamund carefully retracted her fangs and made sure to close up the wounds. The blood sung in her veins, wiping away any dreariness and sharpened her focus. She lay for a moment entangled in the woman's embrace but when she inhaled; it broke any of the illusions (the fantasy) she had created for herself. Lavender soap and cheap perfume washed over her – not lilies and nightshade. As quick as that, any satisfaction she had felt was robbed and restlessness took over.
She sat up, disentangled their limbs and then left the bed, scooping her discarded clothes off the floor and chair. The woman in the bed raised herself up onto her elbow and reached across to the bedside table to pick up a cigarette and matches. She took in two big drags before she decided to speak.
"I thought you didn't like to take it from the neck?"
Rosamund didn't answer her as she tugged upon the laces of her corset, almost fumbling with them. Marigold smirked and shifted under the covers. Rosamund had been coming to her for almost a year now but it was clear that whatever passed between them, Marigold was just a substitute (and a poor one at that) for someone else. She herself didn't mind as she was more than used to playing a variety of roles for different customers but with Rosamund she would never know who exactly she was supposed to be.
Rosamund dressed herself quickly before reached for her purse. She paused for a moment, thinking something through, then started to place the money on the small table which had some half-dead flowers within them.
She had made a mistake, gone too far in her own perverse fantasy and it had stop. She needed to be rid of her.
Marigold sat up quickly with a frown. From what she could see, Rosamund was being more than generous this time. "I'm not complaining but you do know that's a lot more than what is agreed?"
Rosamund glanced back and offered a quick, tight smile before she closed her purse and turned to face her. "Yes, I am aware. This is for-"
"I know," Marigold cut across, rising to her feet and pulling on an old red silk dressing gown and tied the sash loosely around her waist. "You're paying me off and ending our arrangement," she sighed.
She counted the money that Rosamund had placed down with an appreciative smile. Marigold would be sad to see her go – her tips were much needed.
"I'll miss you."
Rosamund let out a wry chuckle. "You mean my money."
"But we had a good time, yes?" Marigold reached up and pressed a small kiss on her cheek. It was the most affectionate thing she had ever done towards her and it seemed to have caught them both by surprise as Marigold blushed a little.
"Yes, we had a good time," Rosamund murmured and with a small smile, she opened the door and made her way across the landing. Marigold leaned in the doorway, all tousled dark hair and a sultry smile as she watched her before she turned her attention to a group of women that were reclining on the landing, overlooking the bannister to observe the people below. Picking out potential customers.
Reaching the ground floor, Rosamund made her way to the front room which was set up with a few tables for cards which were being used and, just as she thought, she found Thomas trying his luck at billiards.
"You've finished early," he mumbled as he took his shot and then grinned as it was a perfect strike. He turned his attention to her then and took himself out of the game. "It's alright, I was winning anyway."
"No doubt," Rosamund remarked dryly as he drained his drink and plonked it on the side. "Is she free?"
"Yeah, but I'm telling you, she's in a rotten mood."
Leaving the room after picking up a light, they made their way through the house, walking down a narrow hall that was out of bounds to anyone but a small handful. At the end there was a door and Thomas pulled out a chain with three silver keys, using the smallest to unlock it. It was the doorway that connected this house to the one it backed onto which was used as Sarah's private home (as well as some of those employed by her) and little dress shop. Ushering her inside the room which was used for storage, he locked it once more and then lead her out and into the main house. It was like entering two different worlds, the gilded, shady and sensual world and this one of rather modest establishment. You would have never of guessed the mistress of both was one and the same.
Sarah O'Brien pressed her fingers to her forehead as she stopped the mending she was doing and let out a long suffering sigh. She had the headache the size of France and was in desperate need of a drink even though the night was nearly at its end and a new day would begin. Dirking before she slept always made for a fitful sleep so she avoided that as much as possible. For all her services this was the thanks she got, a constant hounding from the Undead. They were all agitated and so were the others that often came by her way. The whole community was tense and alert and it wasn't making her job any easier as a go-between the living and the living dead.
She found herself thinking of how she had come to this with a weary smile. She had inherited the job from Elsie Hughes, a woman who had stumbled across her one night when she was but fourteen. A young housemaid that found herself cornered by a half-crazed vampire who had come so close to killing her had she not shown up and staked the bastard. Elsie had half a mind to leave the girl but was struck by the way she hadn't screamed or fainted. In fact, her recovery from the shock of it all was lightning fast and Elsie could see a thousand questions forming in the young girl's mind. She decided to walk the girl back to the house she called home and found herself by the end of their encounter asking the girl if she wanted to join her.
She had given Sarah until the end of the week to decide – not that she needed it apparently as the next day she found her on her doorstep, bag in hand and ready to begin.
At times, Sarah wondered if she had made the right decision; to abandon it all and live her life half in the dark. But, truth be told, she could not imagine a life any other way, especially now that she was in charge as Elsie had "retired" to the country (if you could call a vampire safe house retirement). For all the humans that did not know the truth of it, Sarah owned a reasonably sized dressmakers shop that kept somewhat unusual hours. Elsie hadn't made much use of it in the same way Sarah had and she was turning out a good enough profit from it. As for her other house, having built connections with elites, money wasn't so hard to come by.
Her head pricked up when she heard the sound of familiar footfalls and then three soft knocks. She called Thomas in and leaned back in her chair, unsurprised to see him enter with Rosamund a step behind. She was more than aware of who came and went from her place and had expected this usual chat – even if the night was turning towards its end.
"You'll ruin your eyesight in this poor light," Rosamund commented as she swept past Thomas and seated herself on the chaise longue opposite Sarah, smoothing her hands down her skirt. He gave Rosamund a look and then went recline in a large armchair and attempted to read the paper.
Sarah rolled her eyes lightly. "What do I owe this pleasure, Rosamund?"
They were long past formalities and, perhaps, even considered themselves as… friends. Strange as that was. So Sarah learnt to be blunt with Rosamund just to make her get the point.
"No doubt you know what happened this evening with the Assembly?"
"I may have heard something…" Sarah said vaguely and Rosamund scoffed. Nothing went unnoticed by Sarah, her little birds told her everything that went on. "Do I need to be worried? Well, more than I am at the moment. Had the lot of them breathin' down my neck earlier."
"No," Rosamund said but she herself seemed a little doubtful the gave her a pointed look. "And, I assume you will nevertheless hear of this also, I will not being visiting Marigold again."
Sarah arched an eyebrow and glanced at Thomas who pulled a face from behind the page he was reading and Sarah smirked.
"Is that so?"
"She's been paid sufficiently."
"No doubt," Sarah murmured and then set aside her sewing and stood up, stretching her back. Walking towards the window of her sitting room, she pulled back the curtain slightly and peered at the sky before letting it fall back and turned to the side to pour herself out a small glass of wine for herself (one glass wouldn't hurt). She offered to the others but both declined.
"I trust that you got what you were looking for?"
Rosamund eyed her then turned her head to study the room instead. It was one of her favourite rooms with the classic and neat furnishings that didn't clutter the space. It was decorated in shades of blue and cream and on the wall above the small fireplace was a lovely landscape painting. She certainly understood why Sarah chose to spend time in here more than any other room. It was also tucked ever-so slightly away so it offered a little more privacy.
She turned to her sharply then relaxed, realising she had not answered her. "No, but it is of little matter now."
Sarah did not believe her yet she knew not to press the matter. Whatever it was, whoever it was, Rosamund was keeping that secret well and truly hidden.
"Has Cora come by?" Rosamund asked, changing the subject swiftly with a mischievous smile and turned attention onto the other woman who shifted on her feet.
"She has not," Sarah replied lightly and shot Thomas a glare when he let out a little snigger. "Besides, why should she? Her dress is not ready."
"Oh, Sarah," Rosamund shook her head as if she was before a child. "When are you both going to stop dancing around each other?"
"We're not doin' anything," Sarah said defensively.
"Precisely. You're not doing anything about it."
Sarah glared at her. "It's nothin' and besides, if she wanted…" Sarah swallowed a little, feeling her ears and cheeks burn and Thomas made a gagging noise that turned into a yelp when she smacked his arm. "We are friends. No, not even that."
Rosamund let out a long suffering sigh having heard all of this before. She got to her feet graciously as she took in the time it read on the mantle clock. It was not as if she couldn't move in the day time – she just had to make sure she wasn't in direct sunlight which meant moving in shadow. It was a hassle that she only endured when absolutely necessary, preferring to spend the day at her home where at least she was safe in the knowledge that she wouldn't be accidently exposed.
"My dear, one day you will hear how ridiculous you sound," Rosamund said with a sad little smile. "Thomas, if you would be so kind to tell Alfred to come out front."
He scowled a little at being ordered around by someone who wasn't Sarah (and even then he sometimes dug his heels) but nevertheless did it and the two women left the sitting room and slowly walked to Sarah's front door. Sarah had seen right through Rosamund's little ploy to get Thomas out of earshot and now she turned to her to see the vampire looking rather grave.
"Is it as bad as that?" She asked with an attempt at sounding light.
"I would advise some extra guards," Rosamund said lowly and Sarah looked at her quizzically.
"I thought you said they weren't goin' after ones like you. And it's not like I have the funds for that."
"I'll give you the money," Rosamund snapped then softened with an apologetic glance. "It's been a long night. He," and Sarah knew who she meant. "Seems intent on an armed response and the Council is of no use, dithering and waiting until it will be too late!"
Sarah sighed heavily.
"I do not wish to alarm you," Rosamund said softly now, taking Sarah's warm hand to give it squeeze. "But more protection is necessary."
"I will do what I can," Sarah replied and then looked over Rosamund's shoulder to see Thomas come up. "Already?"
"He's coming round."
"Excellent," Rosamund flashed them both a large smile and she leaned down to press a kiss to Sarah's cheek. As she stepped away and as Sarah opened the door for her, she suddenly stilled. Her mind went blank and her senses scream.
Nightshade and lilies.
She turned to Sarah who took a reactionary step back as Rosamund stared at her with an expression of confusion and hunger. Thomas moved as if to grab her but Rosamund seemed to right herself for she blinked and shook her head, straightening her spine.
"I'm sorry, I thought…" she trailed off, looking for a moment doubtful and then shook her head once more and she mastered her features into a mask of serenity. "I will be in touch," she said with a tight smile for her eyes and then walked out, leaving Sarah to quickly close and bolt the door behind her. Her hands shook and she cursed herself and Thomas moved on his feet agitated.
"What was that about? You don't think…"
"'Course not," Sarah said sharply. "How could she? If they had met, one of 'em would be dead – and I'm not sure which."
"She's got to go," Thomas reproached as they headed to the back of the staircase where there was a door for the cellar below. Thomas reached for his keys and unlocked it for her as she got herself a lamp. "If anyone finds her…"
"I know," Sarah hissed and held her skirts in her hand as she descended the stairs holding a lamp in the other. "But I can't until I get some answers and," she paused for a second. "Whatever she might be or done, Vera's still my friend."