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The crew filed in, one by one, grinning and teasing, the old jokes and inside stories, some heading to the mini bar to pour a glass of rum or wine and others to the fire to shake off cold, wet outerwear. Coats were hung to dry, the rum and wine bottles looked at, drinks chosen, the talk turning to what everyone had been up to, when they thought the weather would turn. The room filled, the crew always did enjoy being together and the mystery of the map brought an extra edge to the gathering. The final layer was discovered in the Peabody home, no one but James and Bette had seen the complete map.
Snow fell all night, heavy and wet, blanketing the castle and the walkways, all but ensuring no one would be coming to the castle or leaving for some time. There was passage from one side of the castle to the other but trips to the dock or into town were impossible. Bette stood at the table, her hands on either side of the map as James added one layer of filament after another, Helena’s final piece making the final destination clear. She studied it for the umpteenth time, making sure her head was in the right place, that she knew what plan she wanted to finalize. In the background she heard a voice, Helena had arrived to her own aplomb, acting like it was a party, one of her own making.
“Well, well, well… what do we have here? Have we met?” Helena purred, approaching Tina, eyeing her up and down without shame, her voice dripping honey and sweetness, reaching to shake hands as she introduced herself.
Her hand held Tina’s a little too long, kisses on both cheeks lingering, all but gushing her admiration for the pretty blonde. “My goodness, don’t you look like a vision and smell like a flower garden? Is that lavender or lilac?” she asked, making Tina blush. Stammering to respond, Tina smiled softly, unsure what to say.
Bette’s eyes narrowed, watching as Tina tucked a stubborn strand of hair behind her ear, the same strand Bette herself had tucked not thirty minutes ago back in their suite. The same strand that tended to fall in Tina’s eyes when they made love or when she leaned for a kiss. The blonde’s smile was friendly, innocent, a lamb to the slaughter. There was a sweetness to Tina that Bette cherished, she was innocent about the ways of the world, sheltered most of her life.