Write about leaving...
Connor Graves, swept the silky lock of shockingly white hair off his brow, studiously hiding the wince of pain that accompanied the gesture. He lifted himself slightly, adjusting his position on the silk settee causing a fresh gush of blood from the gaping wound in his side. A woman knelt at his side, her deep plum velvet skirting gathered into wads which she used to apply pressure to the wound.
“Even your magic, Rita, will be unable to save the cushions, I fear.” Although his life dripped through the sieve of fine Viennese silk and pooled on the Persian rug, Connor’s famous charm warmed the room and heightened the sense of impending loss.
“You must tell Just,” Connor went on as if he were detailing the day’s itinerary as normal, “that he is not to blame. I would not have allowed him to miss the funeral of his father and were he here then he would most likely be in the same condition as I am, and then who would look out for my Kitten?”
“Hush now, Connor. Don’t waste your breath. Lizbet has gone for the surgeon.” The woman’s voice shook with the awareness she refused to acknowledge.
“Now Rita, you and I have never spent our breath in orders and demands, there is certainly no reason to begin now. And regarding now, these words are all I have with which to take my leave, I do expect you to honor that and let me speak.”
Rita choked back a sob and bowed to his will. When Connor James MacMillan Graves set his mind to a thing, that thing was accomplished.
As his business partner, madame and friend ceded the ground, Connor’s mouth quirked with the ghost of a smile.
“Kitten will need looking after, and I want her to know nothing of the circumstance of my demise. The villain who did this has earned his just reward and I am content for the Lord Almighty to deal with him. What is most important is that the Palace, the girls, you and Just Fletcher must soldier on. Without the income from the winter cruises, Kitten will not be able to finish school. You must see that she is kept from the knowledge of this. Rita? Do you hear me? Katherine is not to know.”
“But how?” The Madame’s face drained of blood as the import of his words struck her. “Connor, you cannot mean the girl is not to be told of your…” She choked on the words, horrified at what he was asking.
“No one is to be told dear Rita. You must remove my body when my spirit has fled. Take it to the aft hold and pickle it if you have to, but remove all evidence of my death. When Kitten has passed her 6th forms, and the season has come to a successful close, only then can you let it be known that I have expired.”
A fine sweat broke out on Connor’s normally pristine forehead. “I am afraid my dear that I have no more time. Do this for me. Make the Winter season into a long farewell. Make excuses. Say I have gone to conduct business in farthest Araby. Write letters to Kitten in my name. Say all the things a father should say to a daughter upon taking his leave. Above all, you and Just must keep her...”
As elegantly as he had lived his life, Connor Graves slipped into death. Rita stood, her bloodied skirts falling sodden over her petticoats. She moved as an automaton, laying the body of her employer and friend neatly onto the ruined carpet, straightening the room, hiding the settee under a luxurious fur throw. If Connor wanted to keep his death a secret, then she would have to save her mourning for another time.
The winter season of 1894 would forever be branded in her mind as the season of the long goodbye.