by Wendy

She knows who I am. And I know her. Maybe not who, or what she is, but I know her. It's strange what you remember when you're being buried alive.

Simon would have probably put the whole event down to womanly jealously, if I ever told him. Nobody forgets the Baroness Miranda Cross or her name. I can be Emily or Eliza or just plain Emmmm, but no one would dare to forget her. I'd wager that she doesn't carry her own valise, or clumsily trip on her dresses. And she just smoulders. If I hadn't known better, I would have almost believed the Arcadian's claim that she entranced men with her beauty.

She certainly had a strange aura. The gargoyles seemed to work for her, and every investigation Simon and I now pursue seems to lead to her. Even the folly of Lightbourne and the near complete demolition of Partington seems connected to her. It could be just because I'm spending too much time with Simon - or more frequently trying to find Simon, and be his replacement. It is only to myself that I admit that I am an inadequate one. Especially as Miranda's aura enraptured me too.

I did not expect to meet her in the powder room at the Mayor's reception. She'd been too busy telling the worthies of our fair city of the beauties Kharibast. As being ignored is not something I like, and neither is being eyed up by waiters, I beat a hasty retreat. Wainscott Manor has a reasonably elegant powder room, though not as opulent as the one in the Mayor's mansion or the Grande Hotel, and it has plenty of seating and soft music. I was surprised that it was empty to begin with, but I remembered that wives had either been left at home that night, or were glued to their husband's sides to keep them away from the Baroness.

It was then that Miranda made her grand entrance. A sudden jarring cacophony of music and noise from the main room and then silence as she regarded me slumped in one of the many chairs. I was tempted to draw my legs together and sit up straight at her look, but instead remained as I was, impolitely glaring at her.

She smirked, as if at some private joke, and sashayed past me. Almost to the inner sanctum of the room, she turned to me and said, "Do they know you for another impostor, Emma?"

"I don't know what you are talking about, Miranda dear." I retorted, and looked in the mirror, and studied casual behaviour. She stormed across the room and grabbed my chin, turning it roughly towards her.

"It is not becoming of ladies such as ourselves to play games. I know you for what you are." And with her face held so close to mine, I did the only thing I could think of. I reached up and drew her lips to mine. Startled, she did not move.

As the kiss ended, she fled once more to the far side of the room. I followed her, right into the very cubicle, not allowing her to close the door and provide her with a modicum of escape. "I know you, Miranda, for what you are."

The door closed behind me as she pulled me into her embrace. The quick peck on the lips that I had given her was pursued into something rather more passionate. I was suddenly glad that I was wearing such a low cut gown as her rather chilly fingers liberated my heaving bosom. Gasping with pleasure, I slid the straps of her gown over her shoulders, baring her magnificent breasts. It was only natural then that I slid to my knees and slowly lifted the many petticoats underneath her dress. Her hands shot out to support her as my fingers reached the top of her legs and slowly slipped into her. Soon Miranda doing all the gasping, as well as some rather complimentary moaning. As she whimpered my name, I withdrew my hand and carefully got to my feet, fluffing my hair a little.

"But games are such fun, Miranda dear. Perhaps you need some time to yourself. You're a little flushed." And with that bon mot, I was the one who, for once, swept from the room.

I think that they've finished filling in the grave now, as I can't hear any other earth falling on top of the coffin. And instead of panicking, I'm going to think my way out of this as calmly as my confrontation with Miranda. I'm not a stranger in this country for nothing.


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