Stephen retrieved candles and another matchbox, a wounded shin to show for his troubles as he misjudged navigation around a coffee table in the dark. He searched quickly to speed his return to his lovely companion. The majority of his life thus far was a solitary existence. For his safety his true family kept him at arm's length and he internalized their paranoia, daring to trust few in his adulthood. Miss Genevieve was the closest thing he had to a friend in nearly a decade. Merely thinking of her made him smile. As the months passed he increasingly looked forward to her visits and found himself morose after her departure. He never intended to burden her with his family's terrible legacy, nevertheless, he felt a weight lifted from his shoulders by relating the tale. She was kind, intelligent and strong-willed. If anyone in the world could understand it would be her.
He reentered the sitting room, the candle nearly falling from his hand, Genevieve staring at her reflection. He set his supplies on the nearest table before he raced to her side, frantically covering the mirror. Even after the dark cloth was in place, Genevieve continued to stare as if in the trace. He called to her as he took the candle from her grasp and placed it on the mantle, but she did not blink much less respond. He shook her shoulders forcefully until finally her eyes fluttered, gaze focusing onto him.
"Genevieve, what is the matter?"
"Nothing. I was waiting for you."
Perhaps it was a trick of the light or his imagination, but her voice sounded deeper, eyes darker somehow.
"It's freezing in here. Did you open a window?"
Instead of answering she drew closer, frigid fingers brushing against his hand.
"Do you think I am pretty?" she queried coquettishly, her unusual question seemingly unprovoked.
"Yes, I think you are a beautiful woman."
"Do you want to kiss me?"
Stephen could barely breathe as she subtly moved nearer still, the space between them intimate. While he found her fascinating and attractive she showed no signs of desiring a romantic attachment until now. Her sudden boldness was enticing and unnerving.
"Genevieve..."She laid an icy finger gently against his lips silencing him and his train of thought. The moment she kissed him all doubts disappeared. So enamored was he of the woman in his arms he did not observe the grey cotton slip from the mirror, pulled away by unseen hands.