Chapter 18: La Disappearance

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"He came in here?"

Lucie walked into that sitting room, dreading what she was about to see. "There is something I neglected to tell you."

Floating along toward the couch, Lucie felt disconnected from the world. She was living in a nightmare.

"It is too dark in here, Lucienne. Let us get a lamp first. Bastien might be hiding here—"

Behind her, Lucie heard Olivier's footsteps walking away. "Does anyone have a lamp? A candle, perhaps? The servants did not light this room across the way."

She drifted on toward that cursed couch. She had her knife; Bastien was not a concern for her. More of concern was her standing with Olivier. Perhaps he did not like the fact that she wanted to murder someone, but thus far he did not believe she had acted upon her impulses. And Lucie was certain that if she could properly explain, she would be able to convince him not to hate her.

But if he saw Chretienne, murdered with a weapon similar to what Lucie held in her hand, he would believe she had murdered Chretienne. She had blood on her knife now, after all. "I should have told you the moment I met you," she said, only a step or two away from the couch.

She stopped, full of regret. She had been all too eager to forget her deadly intents. She had wanted that old life back, even if only for a few moments. The way Olivier had smiled at her, had cared that she seemed upset. She had longed for someone to see her as someone other than a peasant or a fallen noble, for someone to look at her without pity in their eyes.

"What did you say?"

Her own shadow flickered into view ahead of her as Olivier approached, carrying a candlestick, which he shielded from the wind of movement with one hand.

"I should have told you when I first met you," she repeated, and pointed at the couch.

"Told me what?" he asked.

In the flickering candle light his face was rendered into darkness and light.

She pointed to the couch again. "Look."

Eyebrows knitted together, Olivier cautiously moved around the arm of the couch. "What is it, exactly, that I am meant to be looking at?" he asked.

He should have seen her. Lucie hurried to his side, and looked down at the empty couch.

She still had a chance.

"Nothing," she said.

Olivier turned to her, raising his eyebrows.

"Fine," she said, and sat down on the couch, in the same place she had sat before. She could not help but look at where Chretienne had lain. "When I first met you, I had just come from this room – do you remember?"

"Yes. And I asked you what was wrong."

"Yes..." Lucie tore her eyes from the spot. "I did not tell you, because I worried that you might think I had done it."

Olivier stilled. "There was another body," he guessed.

"Chretienne Laurent. I had spoken to her when I first arrived. After I had spoken to Bastien. She was quite drunk, and we did not say much to each other, but enough that I had an urge." She continued, seeing the look in Olivier's eyes. "We parted ways, and I had an encounter with Nicholas Lamoignon, quite a humiliating encounter, I might add, and I ran upstairs to escape the party. I was alone, and when someone else arrived, I darted into this room. It was dark, and I could see very little, but I was able to find my way to this seat here." She gave the couch a little pat.

"In the moonlight it appeared as though Chretienne was simply passed out. I sat here for some time before I realized she was dead."

"You tell the truth?" Olivier asked.

"I knew you wouldn't believe me," Lucie said, standing and heading out of the room.

"Wait!" Olivier ran to physically place himself between her and the door. It was better than him grabbing her arm, at the very least. She folded her arms across her chest, keeping the stiletto at attention so that he might see it and know she did not wish to be touched again. "I do believe you," Olivier said. "Why would you tell me about a body that has disappeared? None of this makes sense. I do not get the sense from you that you would willingly set out to murder these inconsequential ladies. I saw the rage on your face just now in the salon. I cannot imagine you would have such a rage against some ninny like Chretienne Laurent, or against Jeanne-Baptiste Montpelier."

"I did, momentarily," Lucie contradicted. "I wished both of them dead as I spoke to them. I even imagined their deaths as they happened. And then... and then..." Her face twisted up. "And then I discovered them just as I had wished it. I did not kill them unless a thought might kill a body."

"Do you have access to poison?" Olivier interrupted.

"Poison? No. I did not bring poison. But I did wish for some while I spoke to Jeanne-Baptiste. I had a mind to poison everyone here, and cleanse Paris of these awful people."

Olivier reached out his hand and took one of hers – the one not holding the knife. "And I am of a similar mind," he said.

"What?" Lucie demanded.

"Oh, have I interrupted something?" came the haughty voice of Nicholas Lamoignon. 

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