“How do I look, Lizzie?” Adelaide asked of her very best friend as she paused in the dark alley, and glanced upward. The dark brick walls of the compacted buildings seemed to fall in towards each other. Narrowing predawn light made her momentarily sway, still tipsy, and she touched the gritty brick to steady herself. Sounds of the establishment they had just left seemed distant and muffled by the tightly woven alleyways.
Soot hung heavy in the predawn air, and she wrinkled her nose. Adelaide knew the smell was too common in this area of London. She caught her image in the dark glass of a small, dirty window. Reflections of royalty stared back through emerald eyes. She admired the silhouette as if it weren’t her own, finding few imperfections. Her porcelain skin was held in shadows. Long cinnamon hair that began the night in a stylish up-do had fallen over the hours of dancing and drinking and gambling. She hiccupped a laugh and turned from the glass. The behavior was completely outrageous, and she adored it, every minute of the raucous frivolity.
“You look horrid, Addie,” Lizzie replied with a soft chuckle. She took Adelaide’s hand and draped it over her forearm. “You’re going to get in trouble with the palace, you know,” she said as they began to walk the corridor.
“Yes,” Adelaide said, her smile becoming a flat line. “Mother will not be pleased,” she murmured. She felt instantly sober at the thought, and annoyed. She gave her friend’s hand a gentle squeeze as they stepped once more into the deep, lingering shadows.
Lizzie pulled up abruptly as the obscure figure of a man suddenly appeared, blocking their way.
“Ladies,” he murmured, almost purring. “I need a moment of your time.”
“Oh,” Lizzie replied, “We are not those kinds of ladies.” She moved a step forward.
“It wasn’t a request,” the man growled.
Adelaide jumped back a step as a gloved hand burst from the blackness. She gasp with the flash of violent moonlight as a knife went to Lizzie’s neck. Her friend’s scream was muffled by the gloved hand. Adelaide wheezed as she was splattered with drops of hot blood. The rush of air made her faint. She watched in horror as strong arms reached out of the darkness and pulled Lizzie’s gasping, dying form to his body. He nearly caressed her as he drew her close, her back to his heart. In the shadows Adelaide was sure she heard a whispered endearment as her friend was pulled away from her.
She gasped again and huffed, feeling her heart crush in an infinite moment.
“Now you,” the man said, his voice sharp like cut glass.
A hand reached out of the shadows for her. Adelaide spun on her heel, and ran.
The man growled from the shadows and looked down upon the young woman crumpled at his feet. He wanted desperately to take what he needed from her. He needed time, and realized a mistake had been made. The woman beneath him was dressed well, much better than his normal prey. His menacing eyes flashed from the body to the figure of the running woman. He needed to finish her so he could have them both. A pleasurable surge rushed his body, he needed them both. His feet began moving before he consciously made the decision. She would have to die too.