Catching Smoke: Ch. 4

catching smoke cover

Emma was scared. No, terrified. In the fifteen years she’d spent running with an ever-changing identity, she’d never come across someone who had more information than she did. Typically, the people who knew her, the real her, were the people she had the most information on, information that would keep them quiet for as long as she needed them to.

She didn’t even know his name.

This was going to be a problem. Emma wasn’t used to not having the upper hand and she certainly wasn’t used to having absolutely no clue how to handle a situation. The last time she ever felt this uncertain…

No, she wasn’t going to let herself go there. Not tonight. Not ever. She had buried her past and all it’s skeletons a long time ago.

“Madame?” There was a knock on the door. “Your car is ready.”

She looked at the diamond-encrusted watch on her wrist. It was almost seven-thirty, and it would take about forty-five minutes to get to the gallery. It would also take about forty-five minutes to disappear. She thought. She looked in the full-length mirror she was standing in front of. White was Madame Delveux’s signature staple, and so this morning she had been presented with a long, silk and lace dress in the most perfect shade of ivory, a hand-made gift from the designer. It never ceased to amaze her how generous the wealthy were to the powerful elite, especially considering nobody was able to recognize that Emma wasn’t technically one of them. Did these people really give such extravagant gifts to people they have obviously never met personally?

She stuck an extra pin in her bleached hair that was coiled tightly in an elegant bun at the back of her neck, and swiped another coat of black-cherry lipstick onto her ample lips. She was ready.

Approche!” She called, grabbing her clutch on her way to the door.

Her butler, Francois, was waiting for her patiently by the door. 

“Apologies for the delay.” She said. “A lady must always take the time to prepare her best.”

Vraiment.” He agreed, taking her clutch and offering her his elbow.

She took it graciously, though she didn’t quite understand why this was necessary. The first time Francois had offered his elbow to escort her to the car, she had almost scoffed in his face. She was able to walk to the car just fine on her own, thankyouverymuch. But she was not Madame Delveux, a girl who apparently couldn’t manage to do anything herself. Except get her identity stolen, but that was an entirely different matter of discussion.

“Bon soir, Francois.” She said when they reached the car.

The driver, Geoffrey, already had the car door open for her.

“Bon soir, Madame.” Francois said.

Geoffrey shut the car door, and for the few seconds it took for him to get in the driver’s seat, Emma allowed herself to have a mild panic attack. This could be my last night. She thought. My life could be ending tonight. Geoffrey opened his car door, and she took a deep breath, smiled, and then relaxed into the I’m-too-important-to-care expression of Madame Delveux. Her panic attack was over. It was all business now.

But she was still afraid.

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