London, England: 1837
The party guests were arriving in their best evening wear: men in black and white tuxedoes and women in all sorts of beautiful gowns. The hostess of the party herself was wearing a beautiful gown made of gold silk that billowed around her slim figure, accentuating her curves. Her long, dark hair was tied up and adorned with a hairpiece made of glittering rubies and sparkling crystals. Her wrap was red silk, and the lace over her corseted bodice was white. Her gown trailed behind her several feet, as was in high fashion now.
She stood on the balcony above her arriving guests, their coats and wraps being taken by doormen. She moved to the top of the grand marble staircase and silenced them.
"Welcome to my housewarming party! I have arranged this party specially to show off my new home to you all. Is it not lovely?"
To this there was general applause. She beamed and continued on.
"Enjoy the company and the music, and if any of you have questions, I will be here all night. Not necessarily wearing this wrap, but in this dress. Alright, thank you! Have fun!"
There was more applause and then the band began playing. As couples danced around the grand foyer, the hostess hid breathlessly behind a marble column. A guard standing nearby held out his hand.
"Miss Blackwell, are you alright?"
"Yes, thank you Jeremiah. I am simply tired from my newborn child crying all through the night."
"Alright. Let me know if you need anything."
She smiled up at him.
"Actually, will you please take my wrap? I am feeling quite warm."
She unwrapped herself and handed her wrap to Jeremiah. He took it and went away.
She watched as his figure grew small down the hallway, and when he was out of sight, she turned and placed her hands on her bodice.
"Blasted corset! Why they tie these so tightly is beyond me." She said to herself in frustration.
She then bent and removed her shoes, red satin heels, and placed them aside. Feeling slightly more comfortable, she then smiled and returned to the top of the stairs. There she stood, swaying to the music by herself as the couples below her moved in time to it.
After an hour, she needed to use the bathroom. She asked one of her guards to escort her, and they went. She went into the bathroom and looked at herself in the mirror. Her hair was still in place. Outside the door she heard a faint shuffle, as if someone were rushing by, but she took no notice of it; possibly a guest having too much to drink.
After satisfying her needs, she moved to exit the bathroom, and when she opened the door, she found her guard on the floor, his throat slit. Blood had stained his shirt red, and there was spray on the walls of the small hallway off the main corridor. The door to the bathroom closed behind her and when she was about to scream, a hand came over her mouth.
"Hello, Anastasia. Your breasts look exquisite tonight. And that dress is ravishing on you. Although a dress such as that should really use a necklace. Luckily, I can provide you with one: a red one, which will match your dress."
As he spoke, he pulled a knife from his pocket. This was no ordinary knife. The blade had strange carvings in it. They shone a bright orange, as if hell's fire was trapped inside.
"This location for your death will not do, however. Somewhere more public, I think." He pushed her forward, not releasing his grip on her hands, which he had held together. Her mouth was now uncovered, as a result. "Walk."
She passed her maid and good friend, who stopped and tried to free Anastasia.
"Whitney, please! Keep my child as your own! Raise her well. If I do not live through tonight, you must tell her the story. She is a Blackwell. She will be very valuable someday. Tell her I love her!"
"Silence, woman!" The man then released her hands and recovered her mouth.
She began to resist him, kicking and biting and yelling when he loosened his grip. At the top of the stairs, the patrons below began to stare at the scene unfolding. The band stopped playing and the entire room became silent.
"Dear guests! This woman is a demon! Using money as if it grew on trees is a despicable habit, and wasteful. She is also magical! She uses spells and potions in her dungeon basements throughout the world! Conducts experiments on the living and the dead! Here you will see the justice that must be done this very night!" He lowered his voice to speak to Anastasia. "Red does look spectacular with this dress. Good luck in hell, my dear."
"I shall surely see you there, you fool!"
With that, he slit her neck. The crowd below gasped as one as her body crumpled to the floor and her head rolled down the stairs, hair undone and blood trailing down every step. The room seemed to freeze for a split second in shock, and then chaos erupted throughout the room. Several people began disappearing into thin air; others ran to the front doors. The guards standing by attempted to overtake the killer, but he turned and killed them all, one by one. He then turned to the scene of chaos and blood below him, smiled evilly, and turned away.
Looking around in the grandeur of the house, he said simply this.
"Such a shame she will not be able to enjoy this masterpiece."
He then disappeared into the night.
New York City, Modern Day
Lacy was sitting in a chair in her hotel room eating Chinese food out of the carton. On the table in front of her was the murder file, lying open. She had been reading into it as much as she could. As she flipped the same page for the hundreth time, Jeffrey came out of the bathroom.
"Oh for heaven's sake Lace; would you give it a rest? You've been reading and re-reading that file since six this morning! It's now past midnight! Don't you ever sleep?"
Lacy let the page fall from her fingers and turned to look out the window. She set her Chinese onto the table next to the file and stood. Her silk pajamas flowed around her as she walked, and it made the moment graceful. The look on her face was anything but calm and graceful. It was highly troubled.
"Lacy? What's wrong? I'm your partner, talk to me."
"Jeffrey… That woman, Agatha, told me something troubling yesterday."
"What did she say?"
"She told me to look into my family tree if I wanted to solve this case. She said that it would help me to understand my own past if I did."
"What does your family have to do with this case?"
"I don't know."
"Well, aren't you at least the slightest bit curious to know why she said that?"
Lacy turned to him, eyes wild.
"It's killing me to know."
"Soooo……why don't you start?"
"I- I'm not sure where to begin."
"Well, I have a laptop with me. I brought it along because you asked me to stay the night. There are websites that you can go on to look up your family history."
"There's a small problem with that."
"Jeffrey, I don't know my real birth name. I know this name, because I was called it all my life. But beyond that, I have no idea."
"Well then, I think it's time you called your parents."
"Jeffrey, it's after one in the morning. I don't think-."
"They will be awake. You've always said they like to stay up late reading."
Lacy sighed in defeat.
She went to her bedroom and grabbed her phone. She returned to her chair and under Jeffrey's watchful and curious eyes, she dialed the number.
Long Island, Modern Day
The phone rang at the fifty-something year olds' house. The couple had been together for a long time, almost thirty years, and their adopted daughter was the joy of their lives. They had stayed up late every night for twenty years reading the paper or a book so they could keep their minds functioning well. So they were awake at one forty-five in the morning to answer their daughter's phone call.
"Hello?" answered her father.
"Hi, dad; it's me, Lacy."
"Lacy? Is everything alright?"
"I'm fine, but I need to ask you something. Something very important that can't wait until morning."
"Alright, let's hear it."
"Dad, what is my birth name? Just a last name would be fine, if you remember it."
"Your birth name? Oh, honey, that's an easy one. Your birth name is Alesha Blackwell. Why is that important though?"
"Well, I have to figure that out still. Thank you dad; I love and miss you, and I'll call again soon. Sometime earlier in the day."
"Alright dear. Goodnight then."
At that the line went dead. Lacy's adoptive mother entered the room then.
"Who was that?"
"It was Lacy. She wanted to know her birth name for some reason. She said it was important but she didn't know why yet."
"Well, that's bizarre. I'm sure we'll find out why when she does though."
"Oh, I'm sure."
Lacy's mother got under the covers on the bed and turned toward her husband.
"Well, I'm done reading for the night. Are you staying up?"
Lacy's father put down his book and took off his glasses.
"No, I think I'm done as well. Goodnight sweetheart."
They turned off their nightstand lights and settled into bed for the night.
New York City, Modern Day
Lacy put down her phone after writing down her birth name on a napkin. Jeffrey looked on in interest, and when she was finished writing, he went to retrieve his laptop. He powered it on as she finished her call and hung up.
"Well, it's a very pretty name. It suits you well."
"Blackwell. It sounds old. Like, really old."
"We'll have to figure that out, won't we?"
With that, he went to the internet and typed in a Google search for family history websites. He clicked on one of the more promising-looking links and they instantly typed in the necessary information. What popped up next bewildered and shocked both of them so much that they continued reading until they collapsed asleep from exhaustion in the wee hours of the morning.