Deathly Secrets, Chapter X

He'd come in without so much as a "by your leave."

Alina had been working late into the night - partially because she was behind on her alterations and partially  because she was too worked up to go to sleep - when he'd knocked on the door. Alina had just begun to unlock the door to let him in when he'd marched inside her home, a cocky grin on his face. "Hello, trinket. May I have some tea?"

The situation had been so sudden that Alina had stood there stupidly for a moment before fetching him some tea. Yes, he was the same man she'd seen that day in the square...but what was he doing in her home?

And now, the criminal was sitting at Alina's table, drinking Alina's tea, and piquing Alina's curiosity - and fear.

"Well," said the criminal, as soon as he'd finished the tea in several long gulps, "You're probably wondering why I'm here."

Alina crossed her arms and backed up against the wall, subconsciously trying to get as far from the evildoer as possible. She wanted to say something - anything - but her tongue seemed frozen. Furthermore, her heart was racing what seemed like one million miles a minute.

"Listen, I know my words in the letter I wrote to you seemed cruel and menacing, but that was far from my intent. I just wanted to get your attention. I'm not like most other villains." The man's eyes underwent a change from overconfident to sincere. "I just want you to listen. It's complicated. Always has been."

"I will never, ever so much as lift a finger for your service again," Alina vowed.

"I know you don't understand what happened in the square today. I don't expect you to understand. But I can guarantee that as long as people play by the rules, humiliation will be the worst part of my game. At least, for the people of Summeridge."

Alina put her head in her hands. "What do you mean, 'at least for the people of Summeridge'? Will other people in other towns get hurt?"

The man shook his head and shifted his gaze to his empty teacup. Alina saw a vulnerability on his face that she hadn't been expecting. "All I'm saying is, I don't know how this'll turn out. The only person at risk of more than humiliation"

Alina couldn't help her curiosity. "How would this hurt you? Can't you just leave and -"

"Yes, I can. But I won't." He swore under his breath. "You don't understand. You wouldn't." He reached into his coat pocket and withdrew a letter. "These are your next instructions," he said gruffly. "Plan accordingly."

"Wait," said Alina as the man rose to make an exit. "Why did you deliver this in person?"

The man tossed a wink over his shoulder. "Never question the ways of a criminal," he responded.

Alina waited until he left her home before she read the letter. 

The End

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