She was right. Viola did feel better after a hot shower, though the warm cascade of water did nothing to revive her memory. She didn’t understand why she felt different when she took the black cloth from her wrist. She felt uncomfortable in her own skin until she put it back on. Spying the intricate lace and green velvet outfit laid out for her, she was suddenly grateful that her bracelet was black. It would coordinate inconspicuously with anything she wore.
She dressed in delight, enjoying the feeling of the soft fabric against her skin. Jewelry was set out on the gold vanity and, as she stood before the mirror once more, familiarity set in. She found herself at peace with the vision she saw in the glass. Viola felt like a queen in her new clothing. Somehow, she knew that she’d never worn something like this before. Seeing her reflection, wearing the lush green, accessorized with the gold owl earrings, and matching watch, it just seemed right to her.
After being lost and confused for days on end, and despite not knowing where she was, she felt like she’d come home. Her uneasiness with the bald stranger began to fade and for the first time in days, she smiled.
Nieve noticed that Viola was ready and beckoned her. “Come. I have much to show you and little time to do it in. Your arrival was timely. Very timely indeed.”
Unease washed over Viola again, but she dismissed it, and repressed the warnings shouting in her head.
“I don’t understand. Where am I? How did we get here?” she questioned.
“All will be answered in time,” Nieve pulled a watch from inside her blouse. It was gold, with a ribcage covering the timepiece. When Nieve flipped the cover up then snapped it closed, Viola gasped. It fascinated her. “Come! We are running behind schedule.”
Viola followed Nieve down a narrow hallway. Viola took in the crystal doorknobs and the cobwebs that dangled between the arms of the sconces hung in between each closed door along the hallway. Nieve’s knuckles rapped twice on the door at the end of the hall before her fingers turned the doorknob and they entered through it. Another gasp sounded from Viola. A wind of warmth rushed past her. She hadn’t realized how chilly it was until that moment. The room was large and open, and bookshelves filled with books lined each wall. Red carpeting added warmth, coordinating perfectly with the rich browns of the wood shelves, and making the space look larger than it was. The bald man sat behind a large oak desk positioned in the center. A small table sat to the right of the desk, its face marred by scattered papers and rickrack. Four small wooden chairs surrounded the table, hard and uncomfortable, a striking contrast with the rest of the room.
It was to this table that Nieve led Viola, sliding her watch out again and looking at the time. Viola watched her two companions exchange glances and sadness overtook her that confused her. Had she had a love like this before? If so, where was he now? What had happened to him?
Before she could reflect further, Nieve took her hand in hers, letting her other hand cup Viola’s chin. She looked into Viola’s eyes.
“Come!” Stern was her command before she released her. Viola’s eyebrows knit together, but she allowed Nieve to lead her. Nieve pulled a chair out for her and she sat in it, noticing that there was a wanted flyer at the top of the papers. Her eyes quickly scanned the page, noting the man’s name was Cage Ridley, the reward was $100,000, and how his handsome face haunted her. Before she could figure it out, another interruption distracted her. The bald man slid out from under his desk and joined them at the table.
“I am Father Desmond Lee. This is my humble abode and you are my welcome guest.” He smiled gently at Viola, but still she flinched. His smile contorted his face, making it sinister instead of welcoming, despite his words. “This,” he continued, extending his hand out towards the girl, “…is Nieve, my beautiful assistant. Tell me, have you found everything to your satisfaction since your arrival?”
Viola exhaled, releasing the butterflies that had collected in her stomach since her arrival there. “Ye…yes. Everything is beautiful, thank you, but…where am I? How did we get here from the woods without traveling?”
Father Lee held a finger to his lips. “Hush for now, child. First things first. Do as I request and all your questions will be answered.”
“What is it you want me to do?” her voice was almost a whisper.
“You see that man in that flyer?” She nodded. “I want you to kill him.”
The image in the picture above is this week’s Picture It & Write prompt. It fit in perfectly with my Steampunk story, currently titled “In Time”, that is being continued from last week.
I welcome constructive criticism. Please feel free to share your thoughts in a comment. Did I put you in the scene? Can you feel Viola’s fear and confusion? Are you holding your breath in anticipation for the next piece?
Thanks for stopping in and reading!