WARNING: Charlotte is insulted and there’s some disturbing implications.
We meet Aubrey in the flesh and learn more about Charlotte’s past.
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London – 1839
I smacked Aubrey into the furry wall and twisted his arm up ‘til he could’ve scratched between his shoulders.
‘Cock-sucking whore,’ his voice was a muffled mumble with a face full of wall and moss.
I whacked his head against the wall. In the logical world it was best not insult someone who had you pinned to a large solid object.
‘You could’ve been the queen of thieves, is being a whore really better?’ he murmured in the quiet way he always used when he was trying to wriggle his fingers under people’s skin. ‘Spending your time getting pawed and fumbled over by some buck fitch, suffering his ineffectual thrustings, never satisfied.’
‘Done?’ I asked
I knocked his head against the wall again. ‘Didn’t want to interrupt your grave digging.’
He hawked blood at our feet. ‘You’re not going to tell me Lot Maguire’s got a soft spot?’ He laughed. ‘Do you like him? Do you care for him? Can you care?’ He laughed harder. ‘His face. He’s so desperate for you to love him it’s pathetic.’
‘More pathetic than a drunk banging on my door at all hours of the night?’ At the time I’d been thankful I had a door, not everyone did, on my way to my door I ascended a narrow staircase lined with people who didn’t have doors but would rather sleep on a staircase than go the poorhouse.
He was very quiet as if it somehow surprised him that I remembered. It might’ve become a boring routine by the end but it didn’t start that way. Hardened criminals don’t start as harden criminals.
I pressed in close. ‘Nothing’s forgot, Brey.’
‘You owe me, girl.’
‘You could’ve been someone once but now you’re just a whore, selling your cunt like every other whore.’ He laughed. ‘Does the paddy know you’ve seen more wear than a navvy’s boots?’
I considered the back of his shoulders for a moment then asked, ‘You put the lamb in the lion’s den what do you think will happen?’
He made a wet snorting sound and spat blood. ‘You really are well broken in.’
‘Who said I was the lamb?’ I whispered.
He went very still.
I wondered why I hadn’t killed him. Eventually I worked out that if I opened the door often he’d stumble in and pass out on the floor, especially if I gave him a bottle as he came in and if he was banging on the door other members of the gang weren’t. He was useful. He was a drunk but stood behind him marked as his woman I was invisible. I watched and I learned.
‘Stay away from Bran, Aubrey, or you won’t live long enough to wish you had.’ I hit his head against the wall again then let him go and he dropped to the ground.
I crouched down to his level, and my back scraped the wall behind me. He had a massive ego to be walking down such narrow alleyways at night. Really he needed to alter his route too. He spat blood in my face. I swiped it away with my hand then wiped it on his jacket.
For several second I held his gaze with a feeling I should say something threatening, but he wasn’t worth the effort. I straightened.
He looked at me from his place scrunched up on the muddy floor of the jitty. ‘Ungrateful bitch!’
I left him there, screaming his curses at me, it was the worst thing I could do to a man like Aubrey.