Chapter 25: Le Meurtrier

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"Yes, yes!" Olivier said from somewhere behind her.

Justine barreled toward her, mouth wide and screaming in joy. When she saw Lucie, she attempted to swerve out of the way, but Lucie mirrored her.

Then Justine saw the blade in Lucie's hand.

It was too late, by then, for Justine to stop and turn around. Oddly enough, she never stopped smiling. She plowed on toward Lucie, even as Lucie lifted her hand to prepare to strike, laughing like this was simply another challenge to her game. Fury gripped Lucie and she swung, too soon, enabling Justine to duck and dodge, and continue sprinting up the path. "You crazy bitch!" Justine laughed, once she was out of the way. She kept on running, her footsteps crunching on the path.

Lucie recovered herself and spun to face her nemesis, only she encountered some resistance.

Face to face with Guillaume, Lucie felt a hot, sticky substance slide over her hand. She could not look away from Guillaume's open mouth and the light slowly dying in his eyes. A stray dark curl hung in his face as he lifted his hands to his abdomen, where Lucie's stiletto had lodged. She pulled it out now, feeling bile rise up in her throat at how it came away so easily.

"What," Guillaume said. His eyes vacantly searched for something to alight on. "Help," he managed to say next, fixing his gaze upon Olivier.

"Why should I help you?" Olivier demanded, taking a step closer. His cheeks were pink, his eyes bright in the torchlight. He looked, Lucie thought, alive. "What have you ever done for anyone else?"

As Lucie looked back to Guillaume, she saw how red his lips looked against the paleness of his face. "Help," he said again, as if he could not comprehend Olivier's words. As if he could not understand that he had been stabbed. On that word, bloody spittle sprayed from his mouth and misted across Lucie's face.

For one long moment, Lucie just stood there while some of the larger drops ran down her cheeks.

Horrified, Lucie stepped back and dropped her blade in a fumble for her reticule. She needed her handkerchief, now. It took her a few moments of fumbling to realize that it did not matter if she ruined her white gloves, or her gown, and then she was wiping at her face, trying to get that blood off. It was smearing, she could feel it smearing.

A scuffle beside her finally distracted her from the sticky blood on her face, and then she was pushed back by Olivier, as he plunged Lucienne's dagger straight into Guillaume's chest.

Guillaume's mouth was full of blood, so the only sound he could make was a gurgled moan as he fell to the ground.

"Olivier!" Lucie cried. She glanced down the path for Justine, but the other girl had continued her chase.

"I – I'm sorry," said Olivier, straightening up with the blade in hand. He gave Lucie an earnest look and held the dagger out to her. "Did you wish to strike the final blow?"

Lucie had no words. Her mouth gaped open. "I did not mean to kill him!" she said.

"What's done is done," Olivier said with a shrug. "What's one less?"

"I don't believe Justine saw what happened." Lucie stared at Guillaume's body, convulsing as he struggled for air. Her thoughts were coming quickly now. "But if she sees him, she will know that I killed him, and she'll alert the others. Quickly, we must move him into the bushes."

"We killed him," Olivier corrected. "And he's not dead yet."

"Whatever!" Lucie cried, and grabbed one of Guillaume's arms. It jerked in her grasp and slipped through. She snatched it up again. "Get his feet!"

Olivier sauntered over and tucked the bloody stiletto into his belt. "I don't see what it matters if Justine knows," he said as he hefted up Guillaume's ankles. Guillaume kicked and Olivier dropped him. "Here, let me finish him off," he said.

"Just grab him! We must hurry!" Lucie said, still struggling to maintain a grip on Guillaume's blood-covered wrists.

Olivier marched over and Lucie had no choice but to get out of her way. He hauled Guillaume up by his clothes and slung him over his shoulder. Lucie could not help but be impressed. She hadn't imagined Olivier would be so strong, given that Guillaume stood almost a hand taller. And that Guillaume still struggled, although less than before.

Following Olivier through the thick, thorny bushes, Lucie found herself looking up at the row of apartments that formed one of the arms that embraced the garden courtyard. "Anyone could look down and see us!" she exclaimed.

"Shh," was all Olivier said. He dumped Guillaume off his shoulder, then took up the stiletto again. Grabbing the front of Guillaume's hair in one hand, he slashed down with the other. Blood spurted from the neck wound. Lucie cringed back again, while Olivier remained impassive, allowing the blood to fly in his face as he stabbed the stiletto down into Guillaume's chest again and again.

Finally, Guillaume stopped moving.

Lucie peeked through her fingers. The dark and the shadows of the bushes hid much of what she knew lay before her, but Olivier's white vest and jacket and face defied the shadows. The fresh blood covered his front, making the paint that had been purposefully placed there appear fake and garish. His face wore a huge grin as he looked at her. "We have done it," he announced.

And that was when she kissed him.

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