tagNon-EroticA Study in Sepia

A Study in Sepia


Only eighteen hours had passed between when last I had entered this room and now. It was only under Sir's direct order that I was in there now, eyes downcast at the young woman that sat shivering on the couch in front of me.

Despite her being a disheveled mess, she was, otherwise, pretty enough. She had dressed in the way that he had liked, draped in a rich, red silk that suited her and was plunged scandalously low in the back. There were diamonds on her fingers and at her lobes, and diamonds encircling her right wrist. An exaggeration if my opinion counted for anything, but, she had clearly dressed with a purpose. From the look for her, she'd also had diamonds adorning her neck. But they were gone now. Discarded because they'd choked, or felt confining... Or removed because they had been in the way.

It seemed that she couldn't stop moving her trembling hands, rubbing feverishly at her neck, her brow, her arms and her legs. The girl was beyond scared. More along the lines of terrified out of her mind.

I didn't know her name; I didn't need to. If her name had been important enough, I would have been told by Sir upon his return home the previous evening. As it stood, Sir had told me nothing, and I refused to waste the breath it would have taken to ask.

I stood in silence and I watched her, and I could tell that it was her neck that plagued her the most. Every time she went to touch at the sensitive flesh, she would flinch, and she would recoil her hand as if it had been burned.

Immediately, my hand went to searching through the small clutch I had been carrying. I pulled out two small, white pills and sat them down on the end table nearest her. "Aspirin," I said, matter-o-factly.

The girl didn't seem to notice. And if she had, she said nothing.

Her belongings were scattered from one side of the room to the other, and I began to pick them up one at a time, slowly returning order to the room and learning more about the young woman as I went along.

A solitary tube of lipstick. Scarlet red and scarcely used. I suspected it had been used only once, and that that once had only been last night for her meeting with Sir. A compact of rouge. A white embroidered handkerchief. A lengthy strip of paper which lay unraveled across the floor. And a make-up pencil--whose color perfectly matched the scribbled words on the scattered paper. I didn't have to read her scribbling to know what it was she had been writing about. Or rather, who.

All these things I neatly returned to her own small clutch and lay it gently on the empty space of couch by her side.

"Last night, " I began. "Was that your first meeting with Sir face to face?"

Slowly, the young woman nodded. She then took a breath as if to speak, but instead said nothing.

"Hmm. And I suspect that you were fully aware of what Sir is before you met with him."

"Yes," she whispered, her voice hoarse. "For about a year now."

She took a moment to compose herself before finally raising her eyes to meet with mine. There was no fear there when she looked at me. She knew exactly what it is that I was, though there was still a question in her eye in concerns to the who. Instead, she exuded and air of curiosity and intrigue that surrounded her like a second skin. Why, she even smiled at me, or began to, as she, at long last, pulled herself upright to sit and began on the arduous task of tidying her mussed hair.

"So," she said at long last. "What will become of me?"

Plainly and simply I told her. "That is completely up to Sir." I figured that by now, the two of us were well past games of deception and deceit. At least, as far as each other were concerned. "I suppose, however, since he chose to bring you here rather than leaving you to the rats and the Reaper...that he has other plans in mind for you. More--permanent plans, as it were."

The young woman began to nod again but stopped as she remembered herself and the pain that lingered in her neck. Remembering the pills I'd sat out for her, she took them up and swallowed them. Without water or complaint.

This intrigued me.

"In all the time that I have studied you," she began to confess, "I have never heard Sir call you out by name. And, I suspect, that that was a request made recently on your part."

Now it was my turn to nod. And it was as I had expected, that this unassuming young thing was far more intelligent than Sir had given her credit for. "Paige," I said simply. "Miss Paige Turner."

In skepticism, the young woman arched a single brow. But, just as quickly, she seemed to understand and at the same time accept the terms of our association.

"Now, let's say I brief you on the rules of The Game." Turning away from her, I began on my path towards the single standing door of the room, hoping that she would need no prompting to follow. "It would be a shame to have you begin your immortality completely ignorant of the rules."

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