The SkylarkMature

"Just here. Perfect," she said, tapping on the driver’s shoulder. "Pick me up in three days’ time, please.”

Kat 'Skylark' Summers gently lifted down her hood as the hired Ford pulled into the drive. She shook out the long blonde strands that had caught in her jumper as she unzipped it, and she chucked the tattered item away, revelling in the feeling of the sequined top against her skin. After all, this was Hollywood, full of action and glamour, even if this Blackthorn place didn’t live up to imagined expectations.

The car creaked as the driver brought it onwards up the hill. He had only agreed to make the ridiculous journey for a good price. However, Kat needed her hands free to get ready. She applied a final layer of light lip-gloss, before taking down the mirror she had hung in the backseat. Tired eyes caught the reflection of a young woman. She guessed she would look barely older than nineteen, but that was makeup in life, a deception that hid the worn hollows that work had carved into her face. Kat fingered one certain concealed scar. It still hurt, even if she was imagining the pain.

With a jolt, the Ford cased its movement. ‘Click’ went Kat’s mirror as she folded it back into her bag, before she peered out of the tinted windows, squinting her eyes at the three dots that stood in waiting.

The click of the handbrake and an expectant look followed. Kat nodded to the driver and reached into her handbag, pulling out the wad of notes she had kept concealed there.

“Three days. Please don’t be late this time.”

With that- and leaving half of the clothing she had come in- Kat stepped out of the car. The air outside was cold and stiff, the sound was muted. All she could hear was the crunch as she felt the gravel through the thin soles of her thigh-high boots.

A man and two women were watching her. Kat beheld the man for a moment before turning her attention to the others. The first was pretty in a plain sort of way, but not Kat’s type. The other, however, gleamed in a tough manner, rough around the edges in her leather. Here eyes sparkled with adventure as they met Kat’s own.

“Hi,” the man said, her voice a drone as if he were bored already, “I’m Andrew.”

"I'm Katherine, but friends call me 'Sky'." That wasn't strictly true, from the friends right down to the shortening of her name. Kat didn't care; lying to these people was the least of her problems when she had to decipher the clues in the letter.

The women introduced themselves as Audry and Ryder, before Kat pulled out her invite to study the curled script.

"Oh, you got one, too?" asked Ryder.

"We all got an invite like that, didn't we?" interjected Andrew.

"So it seems. ‘Your presence is requested at Blackthorn Manor on October 28, 2011 at nine o' clock sharp.’ Yeah?"

"Yes." Audry’s voice was tight.

“Good, that means we’re all being treated as equals. I like that.”

“What makes you say that?” asked Andrew.

“I don’t know,” Kat replied truthfully. “It just makes sense, that’s all.”

“It does,” Ryder added with a nod.

Kat turned to her and flashed a smile.

“Thanks.”

“Hey, do you know our host, by the way?”

“No…” It was the only thing that had caught Kat out that evening. “Do you?”

“No one does,” said Audry.

Kat turned away. She let her eyes float, half-noticing, over the shape of the building, her mind working at its usual speed. Nothing made a lot of sense in the dark of the dilapidation; only the creaking of the trees above moved in the way they were meant to.

"So..." Kat mused, pursing her lips. "This is Blackthorn Manor?”

"Yup."

"Well, what are we waiting for?" she said, "Come on."

And with that, Kat turned, ignoring the other guests, and began making her way up the expansive drive.

The End

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