IN THIS EPISODE: …Victoria is on the prowl for her special victim…
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CHAPTER 32 – Victoria’s Fury
Victoria Duprix – 1951 Fisher St.
Wednesday: Evening of the First Night of the Full Moon
Victoria paced angrily in her room on the second floor of the manse. “How dare he!” she fumed. “How dare he treat me like a common trollop?! After I’ll I’ve done for him… the risks I’ve taken…!”
From her dark mirror, Erzsebet Bathory chuckled. “Do not conssscern yourssself, my dear. He isss but a man, and all men are cattle.”
“Then I should slaughter him,” Victoria hissed.
“If you wisssh.”
Victoria’s hazel eyes lit up as the flame of a wicked idea sparked in her brain. “Would he do? Would killing him tonight make me like you?”
Erzsebet frowned. “Perhapsss. But girlsss are better.”
“But would it work? Could killing Paul—or my worthless husband—give me eternal youth? Would it make me immortal?”
The woman in the mirror shrugged and, turning her back to Victoria, paced further into the reflection’s darkness. “Who can sssay? I had little tassste for killing men.”
“It should be a woman, then,” Victoria mused. She couldn’t risk this not working. There was no guarantee she’d get another chance.
She cursed herself for not nailing down the details previously, but she’d been so obsessed with striking back at Vincent, who seemed the perfect victim (though Paul now fit that bill as well), that she hadn’t arranged any alternatives.
Now she had little time to find anyone else.
So, perhaps one of the men would suffice. Certainly, it would be a pleasure to kill either of them.
For a moment, Victoria imagined plunging her slender knife into Paul’s neck, feeling the warm spurt of his blood covering her naked body, reveling as his life energy flowed into her, restoring her youth.
Yes. One of the men would have to do. She didn’t know where her husband was at the moment, but Paul remained close at hand.
Unless he leaves, she thought, and the notion leant urgency to her quest.
“Remember,” Erzsebet said, as if reading her thoughts, “you mussst drain the blood into my tub and bathe in it by the light of the full moon—and the blood mussst be fresssh!”
“I remember,” Victoria said.
“And I mussst be there asss well. It requiresss my magic for you to become… one of usss.”
“Yes,” Victoria replied. She would have to move the mirror down into the Chamber of Horrors, as it would be too difficult to bring Bathory’s tub up to the second floor. Fortunately, the girls’ Bathory display was not too far from the servants’ stairway.
But where were those two bubbleheads now? Had they returned to their apartments after closing, or were they out with their young men? She hoped she wouldn’t find either of them in the chamber. But if she did…
I can’t let them get in my way, she thought—and then imagined bathing in their blood as well.
A smile crept across Victoria’s wicked face. Wouldn’t it be delicious to kill all her enemies in one night?
“And you ssshall, if you wisssh,” Erzsebet said, again reading Victoria’s thoughts. “Onsssce you have joined usss, no power on earth can ssstop you. The whole world will be our… your prey.”
“Yes,” Victoria replied.
She went to her wardrobe and fetched the bottle of chloroform that she’d secreted there. She couldn’t kill her victim and then, afterward, take them to the tub, not tonight. This time, they needed to be alive, to be sacrificed at the proper time—time that was nearly upon them.
Victoria opened the hope chest at the foot of her bed and took out her stiletto. The blade was slender but strong, perfect for piercing necks. Part of her wanted to lick it, to see if she could still taste the blood of her previous victims.
But there would be enough time for such indulgences later. Now she had to secure tonight’s victim.
Shaw will have to do… before he can escape.
“Yesss…!” Erzsebet urged. “Claim our prey! Tonight is oursss!”
“Vincent?” Victoria said softly as she exited her chambers, wanting to make sure he wasn’t around to interfere with her plans. (Or, if he was, to become the victim she needed.)
She saw no sign of her husband in the rest of their apartments, though the doors to his bedroom and the studio remained closed. Listening, she heard no indication that the old scoundrel was about, either.
Perhaps he’s working downstairs, she thought. He seemed obsessed with the exhibits of late, especially the new Egyptian one. And if not there, perhaps he’d gone out to meet his current lover, whomever she might be.
I’ll have time to find and kill her later, Victoria reminded herself. Once she had the power she craved, she’d enjoy torturing the name out of him. First, though, she had to become immortal.
Time to kill Mr. Shaw.
Moving stealthily, Victoria took the apartment’s exit to the main stairs. Shaw would have to come this way to leave the building; the servants’ stairs exit remained locked, and only the Duprixes and Cushings had keys.
But as she stepped onto the landing, a noise from above froze Victoria in her tracks.
“Topaz?” called an urgent feminine voice. “Topaz, are you up there?”
Victoria looked up and saw Opal above her, half way up the flight to the next floor, bellowing to her blonde sister as she went.
Victoria tried to step back inside her chambers—she didn’t want to be seen—but before she could, the girl spotted her.
Opal stopped in the middle of the next flight, peered down at Victoria, and asked: “Have you seen my sister?”
Victoria shook her head, being careful to conceal the chloroform and rag behind her back. (The stiletto she’d secreted in her bodice.) There was no furtively escaping back into her rooms at this point. “Not today. No,” Victoria replied.
The brunette descended the stairs to the second landing, a frown creasing her young brow.
“You’re not going to see Paul again, are you?” the girl said, her blue-green eyes steely. She was standing only an arm’s length away from Victoria now, and behaving as though the two were equals.
Victoria drew herself up haughtily. “No,” she lied. “But I don’t see that it’s any business of yours, even if I were.”
Opal didn’t seem to believe her. “My sister and I know what you’ve been up to,” she said, “and honestly, we don’t care. However you carry on in private is your own business. But you have to let Paul go. He can’t stay here any longer. He has to leave.”
“I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about,” Victoria said, but her eyes narrowed involuntarily. How dare this little slut pass judgement on her?!
“Fine,” Opal said, though it was clear she didn’t believe Victoria. “Good. Because if you weren’t going to let him go, one of us might have to let your husband in on what’s been happening in the servants’ quarters.”
“If I had any idea what you were talking about,” Victoria said, “I might consider that a threat.”
“Take it any way you want. Just, please, for his own sake—for everybody’s—let Paul leave.”
“I’ve told the handyman that he can quit at any time,” Victoria said, wheels of fire and vengeance spinning in her mind. “If he goes today… so much the better.”
“Good,” said Opal. “Now, excuse me. I need to find my sister and make a phone call.”
She turned to go upstairs.
Victoria covered the distance between them in two quick steps.
Before Opal could even cry out, the older woman had the chloroform-soaked rag over the girl’s mouth and nose.
In only a few moments, Opal slumped into Victoria’s arms, unconscious.
Victoria sneered. “Little tramp!” she whispered. “Thought you could blackmail me, did you? Thought you could protect your precious Paul? Well, you will—but not in the way you intended.”
Swiftly, almost silently, she dragged the girl’s limp body back into the Duprixes’ apartments.
“Erzsebet said that girls were better for this,” Victoria muttered to her new victim, “and now here you are, falling right into my arms—practically begging for it! And the best part is, Paul will never know that you sacrificed your life and saved his.” Victoria chuckled, soft and low, as she heaved the girl toward her bedroom.
As she crossed the threshold, though, someone called:
“Vincent…? Is that you?”
The voice came from her husband’s bedroom—a woman’s voice.
For a moment, Victoria froze. Then she realized who it must be:
Jealous rage welled up inside Victoria, overwhelming her lust for revenge on Paul and the Cushing girl.
Hastily, she dragged Opal’s limp body into her closet and shut and locked the door.
“I’ll finish things with you later,” Victoria whispered, and in her mind, she imagined herself bathing in the pretty brunette’s blood. Her body tingled at the thought. But that pleasure could wait.
Catlike, Victoria crept out of her bedroom.
“Vincent…?” came the soft, sweet call again.
Silently, Victoria crept down the hall and cracked open the door to her husband’s bedroom.
A woman sat at his dressing table, alone in the room and half dressed, her fashionable clothes laid neatly over a nearby chair. The woman was brushing her long blonde hair.
Her back was to the door, but Victoria recognized her instantly.
In her wildest speculations, Victoria had never suspected Vincent’s current lover was…
My own best friend!
The betrayal seared into Victoria’s brain like a red-hot poker. Unwanted erotic images of her friend and her husband—together—sprang up in her mind and swirled into a cyclone of night-black hatred.
“Did you get rid of your wife, darling?” Lily asked, her back still turned to the doorway.
Victoria padded silently forward, her lips pulled back in a merciless grin.
“No,” she replied. “No, he didn’t…!”
TO BE CONTINUED…!
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