Allegra sat at her vanity and considered the contents of her jewelry box, her lips pursed but her brows unknitted. Her mother had been very adamant against scowls and unpleasant expressions, not only for the unsightly nature of the expression in the present but for the lines they formed in the future. “The skin remembers Allegra-darling,” her mother had always said as she’d run her smooth fingers over her daughter’s forehead. Since her mother’s skin had remained largely unlined until her death just a few years senior from Allegra’s own age, she’d taken her mother’s advice to heart. Be it genetics or habits, Allegra's pale skin was youthfully smooth which was a strange contrast to the streak of silver in her hair to the left of her forehead.
She dipped her finger into the contents of the box and finally pulled out a short strand of small pearls. They were becoming but not too valuable or ostentatious. She was uncertain of the location but considering the company she was about to keep it seemed that being understated was a good course. With deft fingers she fastened the pearls, put on the matching earrings and stood, smoothing out her skirt. She was wearing a custom tailored black suit, gray silk shirt and a pair of black Louboutin heels that were as understated as she got when it came to footwear. She gave herself a last once over, smoothed her fingers over her forehead in an offhanded, habitual manner and then left her quarters.
Her heels made a soft clatter as she walked down the hall to the elegant staircase she used to slide down so long ago. It was a trick taught to her my Maisey one of her first friends long before she’d learned that there were certain things one simply didn’t do when one was a Montgomery, One being slide down banisters, another being talking to long dead slave girls with half-burnt faces. She descended the staircase, ignoring as she always did the pair of wide brown eyes that watched from the shadows near the top of the stairs, eyes that hadn’t changed since those long ago days when they had played together. It used to hurt to walk past that spot, so much so that she’d used the servant stairs for years when she was young, but like most difficult things, one got used to it. Maisey had too and it was all for the best.
She headed for the foyer and smiled lightly to see her butler cum chauffeur, Richard, poking his head out of his sitting room.
“Will you be needing me to drive Miss Allegra?” he asked in his rumbling basso voice.
“No, I’ll drive myself. Would you pull the silver around?” she asked
He nodded his ascent and headed off to fetch her car. She walked past the couple sitting on her settee, both dripping wet with bloated faces turned blue whose eyes followed her hungrily as they clutched at each other’s hands. On the side table there was a large bouquet of gladiolas and greens and she spent a few minutes rearranging the blooms until she heard the purr of a car engine near the front door.
“Just a moment of your time Ma’am”
She ignored them, just as she had for the past week and headed for the door. They would go, learning eventually that pleas didn’t work with Allegra Montgomery or she would grow used to them so that they barely registered. As it was her eyes flicked to the mirror near the entry way as she passed it, and saw them in their pitiful state and felt an errant tug on her heart. Her heart which should very well have known better. She hadn’t acknowledged them, but somehow they knew and they seemed almost brighter as she slipped out the front door. One moment of weakness undoing weeks of hard work. She was disgusted with herself but did not let it cross her smooth porcelain face.
This was why she had even agreed to the meeting she was heading too. Things were not right in the world of the dead and it was seriously starting to infringe on her carefully orchestrated life. That simply wouldn’t do. She’d not gotten a good night sleep in some time because of the way things had been shaping up. So when she’d received the note the other day about the meeting she’d only dismissed it for an hour or two before several unsettling encounters had convinced her that she might want to at least see what he had to say.
She slid into the car with the help of Richard, gave him a few last instructions and then sped off for the meeting and hopefully a few answers. She tapped the screen of her in-dash GPS and headed into town, her stomach a knot of anxiety as she ignored the mauled woman slumped in the back seat whose one good eye stared daggers at the back of her head.