“You!”

Anne kept walking. The streets in this neighborhood were so loud, filed with so many voices, that it never occurred to her that a stray “You!” might actualy be directed at her. But then she heard it again, closer.

“Annelise Shawcross.”

She didn’t even turn around to look. She knew that voice, and more to the point, that voice knew her real name. She ran.

Her precious supper slipped from her fingers and she ran faster than she would have ever thought herself capable. She darted around corners, shoved her way through crowds without so much as a begging of pardon. She ran until her lungs burned and her nightgown stuck to her skin, but in the end, she was no match for George’s simple yell of—

“Catch her! Please! My wife!”

Someone did, probably because he sounded like he’d be ever so grateful, and then, when he arrived at her side, he said to the man whose burly arms were holding her like a vise, “She’s not wel.”

“I’m not your wife!” Anne yeled, struggling against her captor’s grasp. She twisted and turned, smacking his leg with her hip, but he would not be swayed. “I’m not his wife,” she said to him, trying to sound reasonable and sane. “He’s mad. He’s been chasing after me for years. I’m not his wife, I swear.”

“Come now, Annelise,” George said in a soothing voice. “You know that’s not true.”

“No!” she howled, bucking against both of the men now. “I am not his wife!” she yeled again. “He’s going to kill me!” Finaly, the man who had caught her for George began to look unsure. “She says she’s not yer wife,” he said with a frown.

“I know,” George said with a sigh. “She has been this way for several years. We had a baby—”

“I know,” George said with a sigh. “She has been this way for several years. We had a baby—”

“What?” Anne howled.

“Stilborn,” George said to the other man. “She never got over it.”

“He lies!” Anne yeled.

But George just sighed, and his duplicitous eyes brimmed with tears. “I have had to accept that she will never again be the woman I married.” The man looked from George’s sad noble face to Anne’s, which was contorted with rage, and he must have decided that of the two, George was more likely to be sane, so he handed her over. “Godspeed,” he said.

George thanked him profusely, then accepted his aid and his handkerchief to combine with his own to form bindings for Anne’s hands. When that was done, he gave her a vicious yank, and she stumbled up against him, shuddering with revulsion as her body pressed up against the length of his.

“Oh, Annie,” he said, “it is so nice to see you again.”

“You cut the harness,” she said in a low voice.

“I did,” he said with a proud smile. Then he frowned. “I thought you’d be more seriously injured.”

“You could have kiled Lord Winstead!”

George just shrugged, and in that moment he confirmed all of Anne’s darkest suspicions. He was mad. He was utterly, completely, loonlike mad. There could be no other explanation. No sane individual would risk kiling a peer of the realm in order to get to her.

“What about the attack?” she demanded. “When we thought it was just petty thieves?”

George looked at her as if she were speaking in tongues. “What are you talking about?”

“When Lord Winstead was attacked!” she practicaly yeled. “Why would you do such a thing?” George drew back, his upper lip curling with condescension and contempt. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he sneered, “but your precious Lord Winstead has enemies of his own. Or don’t you know that sordid story?”

“You’re not fit to speak his name,” she hissed.

But he only laughed, then crowed, “Do you have any idea how long I have been waiting for this moment?” About as long as she’d been living as a castoff from society.

“Do you?” he growled, grabbing the knotted handkerchiefs and twisting them viciously.

She spat in his face.

George’s face mottled with rage, his skin turning so red that his blond eyebrows nearly glowed in relief. “That was a mistake,” he hissed, and he puled her furiously toward a darkened aley. “Convenient of you to choose such a disreputable neighborhood,” he cackled. “No one will even look twice when I—” Anne started to scream.

But no one paid her notice, and anyway, she only made noise for a moment. George slugged her in the stomach, and she stumbled against a wal, gasping for breath.

“I’ve had eight years to imagine this moment,” he said in a terrifying murmur. “Eight years to remember you every time I look in the mirror.” He pressed his face close to hers, his eyes wild with rage. “Take a good look at my face, Annelise. I’ve had eight years to heal, but look! Look! ” Anne tried to escape, but her back was jammed up against a brick wal, and George had grabbed her chin and was forcing her to face his ruined cheek. The scar had healed better than she would have thought, white now instead of red, but it still puckered and puled, distorting his cheek into a strange bisection of skin.

“I’d thought I’d have some fun with you first,” he said, “since I never got to that day, but I didn’t envision myself in a filthy aleyway.” His lips twisted into a monstrous leer. “Even I didn’t think you’d be brought so low.”

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