December Writing Challenge: Day 5

Prompt: „Call me Xavier, you will join me in the end, and you will be the last“

We’ll see where it goes… [Part 1] [Part 2]

Penelope stood in front of the squat London apartment, staring at the business card in her right hand. The streets here weren’t particularly safe for a woman of her standing, but she couldn’t quite grasp up the strength to walk inside. It was the next Tuesday, and as Xavier had foretold – she could resist the invitation. He had kept her company throughout that night as promised, but wouldn’t tell her a word more about what was awaiting her. Adrenaline was pumping through her veins, as she wryly thought to herself – at least this was more interesting than tea and cakes.

Stepping forward, she rang the doorbell and waited impatiently as a set of footsteps made their way calmly towards the front door. The door was pulled open from the inside and Xavier leaned out, taking stock of Penelope. “I told you, you’d come.” She flushed angrily, but ignored his statement, choosing instead to brush past him in the house. The inside foyer seemed normal enough, but when she went to continue her investigation – his hand had attached itself to her upper arm.

“Excuse me. This is highly irregular, please release me.” Pointedly, she looked at her elbow, where his fingertips dug small crescents into her arm. He favored her with a light raise of his eyebrows. “It’s highly irregular for a woman to be visiting a man alone, and you didn’t even bring a carriage.” He clucked his tongue as though he were admonishing her. “Does anyone even know you’re here, Penelope?”

The phrase wasn’t malicious from the onset, but as it set in that she had told no one of her trip today, it sunk in. “I told my carriage man.” She lied blithely, “He’s waiting for me at Hyde Park, near the south entrance.” He didn’t seem convinced, still sporting an unnatural smile on his face, but he did release her arm. “At least you didn’t tell anyone.” He walked forward, “Let me lead you to the office.”

“Are we to do business?” Her footsteps couldn’t quite keep pace with his, she noted infuriated. “Of a sort.” Vague responses, as always. Though, once they had settled into the office and Penelope was offered coffee and scones while they sat face to face across a mahogany desktop- she could admit that she was intrigued. “You said you needed my help.” She prompted, when they didn’t begin immediately.

“I did say that, didn’t I?” He mused. “It’s true. I require your services as a woman of society – I need information of a sorts on the wife of the Minister of Defense.” Her eyebrows raised. “You can’t possibly think I’m that well thought of in this day and age.” Mildly, she placed her coffee down, while continuing to stare at him. “We don’t run in the same circles.”

“I would compensate you.” He offered, and she sneered – not one of her better traits, according to her mother. “Like I need the money.” At this response, his mouth widened into a smirk. “I wasn’t suggesting that the compensation be monetary.” Her first response was to flush in embarrassment while leaning back in her chair, to distance herself from this man. Seconds later, the full meaning of the phrase sunk in, and she had to look away in order to not turn an even brighter shade of pink.

“You are out of line.” Her voice didn’t sound as confident as she would have liked, she disparagingly noted. His eyes had followed the blush as it spread across her face, and at her comment – he locked back onto hers, causing her to bite her own tongue. “Despite that… it doesn’t sound like you want me to stop.”

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