By Mary D. Bowman
Camille Leone rested her head against the wing back chair’s buttery soft leather and watched as the man sitting across from her began
the ritual of pouring their evening tea. A delicious scent of almonds filled the air as the steam from the delicate china pot formed a
swirling misty barrier between them. As he pushed a filled cup towards her, she shifted her gaze from his face to his pale long-fingered
hand--the same hand that had gently cupped her elbow during the many long walks they had shared together after their first meeting a
few months ago. She lifted her eyes back to his classically handsome face and saw that he was staring at her. Keeping her face as
expressionless as possible, she returned his stare. Even seated, it was obvious that he was tall, well over six feet. His ebony colored hair
and deep gray eyes stood out against his pale skin like dark pebbles on a white sandy beach.
In addition to his undeniable good looks, she knew that he could be extremely charming and there was no doubt that he was brilliant.
So there it was, he was handsome, charming, and intelligent--everything a single woman could ask for in a man. And yet, she hated him.
Hated him with a passion so overwhelming that it consumed her thoughts day and night like a flesh-eating virus intent on destroying
When they had met a little more than two months ago, he had seemed so different. He had made many promises that she now knew
were nothing more than cleverly crafted lies meant to convince her to come here with him. Here being a huge gray-stoned mansion
that sat on half an acre of much coveted city ground on the city/county line in a small town in Virginia.
When she’d arrived a few weeks ago, she had stood on the herringboned-patterned brick sidewalk just outside the estate’s ornate iron
gates and felt her heart swell with hope and promise as she took in the mansion’s overwhelming size and elegant sweeping design. It
had looked to her like something out of a Victorian novel, with its dark stone façade winding aimlessly yet gracefully around numerous
chimneys and turret rooms.
There was a large English-styled garden than ran across the front of the estate where she had been promised long walks any time she
chose. But so far, she had not been allowed to walk in the garden or to sit on the front porch without being escorted and constantly,
constantly watched. The estate house contained dozens of formal and informal rooms including a delightful ballroom with intricate
inlaid wooden floors and elaborate wainscoting. She had only been allowed inside the ballroom and a few other rooms since she her
arrival and then, only after asking and receiving special permission from him. She had stopped asking for anything.
Now, she no longer thought of the house as lovely or gracious. She no longer yearned to walk the grounds or to discover the
antiquities held within the gray stone walls. She wanted only to escape—she wanted to leave what had now become a cold-hearted and
She knew that she had only herself to blame for her current predicament. She had lowered her well-honed defenses and allowed
herself to be taken in by lies. She had thought he could help her to escape her past but instead she had simply traded one kind of
prison for another. She had believed his promises and now she was paying the price for her own stupidity. She clenched her small
hands into white knuckled fists with such intensity that she could feel her nails breaking through the soft skin of her palm. She
welcomed the pain that she knew she deserved for allowing herself to be so naive.
She had tried to get away from him once. It had been almost two weeks since the night of her failed escape. She had waited until the
house was wrapped in silence except for the deep creaks and groans that cried out from the aged walls and floors as if to protest her
being held here against her will. She had packed a small bag that evening just after dinner, which she had hidden under the bed and
had sat waiting for him to settle in for the night. With no flashlight to guide her, she’d been forced to find her way down the dark halls
by running her hands along flocked papered walls, age-old oil paintings and a few cobwebs that had been missed by the cleaning staff.
Thankfully, the light from the entrance hall had allowed her to descend the wide marble stairs without fear of tripping. She had just
reached the front doors when out of nowhere she had heard him call her name.
“Camille,” he had said, “You know you cannot leave here, leave me. Please don’t make this any harder than it has to be.”
He had grabbed her by her arm then and pulled her into the sitting room where a member of his staff had taken over the task of
getting her back to her room. She had sat on the bed in total defeat as she listened to the click of the lock followed by the receding
footsteps. She had no intention of giving up, however. Next time she would have to have a better plan, a foolproof plan. She would
do whatever it took to get away from here, away from her cold-hearted captor. But it would take time, which was not a problem since
time was the one thing she seemed to have on her side.
Pushing those thoughts to the back of her mind, she turned her face towards the multi-paned window that overlooked the corner of
Walnut and Ward Streets. The mid October weather had quite suddenly turned unseasonably cold and wet. Furious raindrops scurried
down the window as though trying to escape the raging storm. The few remaining commuters who waited on the corner for the last
bus of the day, stood huddled together in the hopes of sharing a bit of body heat. One couple in particular caught her eye. They were
an attractive couple that looked to be in their mid-twenties. The girl had her arms wrapped around the young man’s chest so that he
could use his trench coat to shield them from the wind and rain that snapped nastily at them from all directions. With hats pulled
down as far as possible and noses turning red from the frosty air, they stood watching her as she was watching them. She wondered
just what they would think of the scene that was being played within these heavy walls.
She tried to picture what this tableau might have looked like from their point of view.
She thought that she must have looked quite content sitting here in her dark green velvet robe, her long white-blonde hair tied back
into a ribbon wrapped ponytail. They would see the oh so good looking man and possibly notice the delicate china tea service that sat
between them on the heavy mahogany table. The spacious library would look quite toasty and intimate due to the flickering fire that
cast a soft golden glow around the two of them. The book-laden shelves that ran from floor to ceiling as well as the dark stained
walnut walls would only add to their impression of a romantic evening being shared by lovers or perhaps a happily married couple
enjoying time together.
She could feel a smug smile lifting the corners of her mouth and quickly stopped herself from allowing it to evolve into a grin.
Allowing him to think for even one minute that she might be enjoying their time together was absolutely out of the question.
“We used to have such pleasant chats Camille. I thought you trusted me.”
Trusted him. Maybe once, perhaps, but no more. She had always been a fast learner and now she knew that she could never trust
anyone again. Certainly not this dark brooding soul who sat as still as a stone across from her.
“Please, Camille, I had hoped that our relationship would have moved forward by now but I can see that it is going to take us both
more time to come to an understanding about what is expected of you here.”
Camille unclenched her hands and looked down at her perfectly manicured nails. She knew already answering him wouldn’t help her.
She had tried that in the beginning but still he had kept her a prisoner and demanded more and more from her. Well, she wasn’t
falling for that anymore. The only way she would ever escape—ever be free again was if she killed him. She felt a cold shudder go
through her heart. And there it was—the only solution was one that would take much more planning and a cold, cold heart.
A knock at the door caused them both to turn towards the library’s entrance.
“Will you be needing anything else this evening?” William Lockley said.
The somber-faced Lockley stood just inside the room not three feet from Camille’s chair. She remembered how roughly he had
handled her when he had taken her to her room on the night she had so nearly escaped.
“Yes,” the man said. “I suppose you may as well take Camille to her room now. It seems we are at an impasse as usual.”
“Just take her to her room, sir? Is that all? Lockley asked with a sly smile.
“Well, perhaps, Camille mind find herself able to relax a bit more easily this evening if you gave her a little assistance. Yes?”
Camille looked at the man across from her and then at Williams as he moved in to take her arm. She knew what was coming next.
The heavy faced Williams would have a handful of pills or a syringe waiting in his jacket pocket—some nasty concoction that would
cause her world to go all fuzzy and dim and eventually put her into a deep tortured sleep. As Lockley guided her to the door, she
noticed a stiletto shaped letter opener sitting on a side table within her reach. Pretending to stumble, she grabbed the opener and slid it
into the pocket of her robe. Had they seen her? Had one or the other of them noticed her furtive movements?
“We’ll try again tomorrow, Camille,” the man said. “I still have a great deal of faith in you and I believe that you will soon come
around to understanding just what I can offer you here. What we can accomplish together.”
Camille allowed herself to be taken to her room without complaint. She smiled to herself at how easy it had been to find a weapon
with which she could end her imprisonment. Tomorrow she would leave no matter what it took. Once back in her room, she changed
into her nightgown and lay down on her bed, with the letter opener held fast in her fist, which she tucked under her pillow. For the
first time in weeks, she went to sleep with a smile on her face.
Back in the library, Lockley had returned to let the man know that his bidding had been completed.
“Oh, my, my, I believe she is quite mad. Quite mad indeed,” he said as he sat in the chair that where Camille had sat minutes earlier.
“Yes, Lockley, unfortunately, I think you are right. She is quite mad indeed.”
“Well, if that will be all, I think I am going to head out for the night but before I go can I ask you a question? What exactly is wrong
with her anyway? She seems so docile and she certainly isn’t hard to look at.”
Doctor Dympna looked down at the leather portfolio that he had taken out of the desk drawer as soon as Camille had left the room.
He didn’t need to open to know what it said. He had read the pages again and again trying to get some insight into the working of her
“She is nothing less than pure evil, I’m afraid,” the doctor answered. “I have come to believe that I should have left her in the asylum,
that she may be beyond my help. I had hoped a private facility like this one would be more therapeutic, but so far moving her has
been to no avail. To date, she has stabbed four men to death. And those are just the ones that we know about. She killed them
brutally using knives and scissors and in one case, even a letter opener. Ah well, I don’t think we are going to have to worry about that
Lockley and the doctor left the room together, turning out the lights, and closing the heavy double doors. Neither of them noticed the
absence of the sharp sterling silver letter opener.