Ms. Dawes walked past the gate to her farmhouse mansion. The white columns with the more old-English architecture gave it a very rich look, which it practically was. Anybody who glanced at it could only guest the wealth of the person who lived there. It truly was a blessing to live there than anywhere in town. Most if not all wealthy people did live outside the town. The woods offered complete privacy, and Irene loved it from the lack of people ever pestering her. Besides, nobody probably knew this place existed off the beaten path.
The cows and horses in the back of the house were heading to their shelter for the night, as Irene set her newly stolen horse into the barn she and her father had built with their bare hands. It was one of the buildings that managed to survive through the fire surprisingly. Was it a symbolism that some form of the Dawes family hadn’t died, that the legacy Robert Dawes set up for Irene wasn’t going to die? No, it was just a stupid old barn that was lucky to avoid the blazes of fiery destruction.
Her father was the mayor of Tomoha; he certainly wasn’t anymore. When Irene was around the age of fourteen, her father was brutally murdered, and all the money he worked for gone and taken. The death of her father was a bullet to the heart for Irene. Her pride and joy was gone, her reason for living was gone. Her mother’s depression only got worse, and her older sister just moved out with her new husband only a year after. The house was destroyed, partially, and well, nobody wanted to live in the dump anymore. Everybody except Irene who had to repair it all over again. She couldn’t even remember what it originally looked like, except that god awful white marble floor. That was the only thing she remembered, and it was the first thing she replaced.
Irene was the only one at the house when it had happened. She wasn’t really cooperative on talking about it either. Every time she did tell someone, they honestly didn’t believe her, so why go out and spread the news? Besides, there wasn’t a lot of evidence she could use. Maroni already had his story set…and yet, he still didn’t reveal her location to the authorities. It was a game, or was it? Irene had an advantage over him. She didn’t have much evidence from what she could find, but she did have a deal breaker. Labels were everything.
She jumped off the horse she recently stole and pulled him into the barn. There was hardly enough room for the horses because she seemed to gain a new one every time she could get her hands on one when needed. She could certainly sell them for a good price as well. Horses were hard to come by, especially when an ‘outlaw’ kept stealing them. It was just another way to make profit. Either that, or she would seriously need to build a bigger barn.
“Rest up ol’ boy,” she said, patting his head, “I might need you tomorrow. I’m heading to town.”
The horse just pretended like it understood and neighed. Irene needed the comfort of some animals, no matter how dumb they could be. The hole in her heart couldn’t be replaced by anything, a pet, friends, or even a man; but it could be soothed. Her decisions to influence men and seduce them, wasn’t very enjoyable for her, but if it was to getting “revenge”, or if they were in the way, so be it. The rope attaching the sack of stolen property fell to the dirt and she picked it up, seeing only stacks of greens. Sighing, she grabbed the bag and carried it back into the house, taking a deep breath before walking into the warmth.
The silent walk of shame almost killed her, until the door opened and she spotted Sophie; her maid and best friend. Her blonde hair was in a nice bun as usual, and she wore a simple black dress, not one of wealthy stature, but also didn’t give her a dirt poor look. To Sophie, it fit her perfectly. The original black dress made her look elegantly simple, just as a maids life should look like. At seventeen, Sophie found her life perfectly normal and she was very contempt with it. Her life now was certainly better than her previous one. Ms. Dawes found her alone on the street, and took her in to work for her. Sophie had asked for no money, but only a place to stay while she worked.
Irene lived in a mansion, and she was such a good person she couldn’t deny this girl to not stay at her place. Nobody else lived there anyways with her, it might be good company. The whole “adoption” act turned into a habit, she had hired some very good cooks, a few more maids, and a groundskeeper to take care of the grass and feeding. All she needed was a nice cowboy to take care of the livestock, if such a man would ever work for her. However a man hasn’t stepped inside this house for nearly ten years, and Irene preferred it that way. Only women, girls, and small boys had a place in this home.
“How much tonight Ms. Dawes?” Sophie asked as she polished fine china, looking as if she was about ready to get some tea set up. It was one of her favorite pastimes: making tea for her mistress, and Sophie did it so perfectly, no professional tea brewer could make it better.
“Sophie,” she gave her a look. Irene actually despised bragging about money or kills; that's how a person morphs into a creature of greed and sin. She took a more humble approach to her so called "accomplishments”, even though they were hardly enough to be happy about. The only time she really did brag about something is when she made a fool of someone, especially Maroni. God, she would love to just see a look of shock on his damn old face.
“I’m sorry Irene,” Sophie blushed from embarrassment, knowing it was not polite to just barge into business like that. Irene didn’t mind so much, the questioning that is. She had to tell someone about all that had happened, and it might as well be her best friend.
“Ten thousand,” Irene decided to reply and walked towards a nice, red cushion couch, swiftly collapsing on it and relaxing. There was nothing like settling down and relaxing after a long day of observing and killing. She never reflected on what she had done, she only thought about what she would do next. As of right now, it was trying to find a way to get rid of this new Marshall. Rumor has it he has a real charm about him. Well, Marshall’s ain’t supposed to have charm; they just need a good brew of justice and perseverance. This new man in town would need a lot more than that to get Irene.
“Miss, that’s a lot of money!” Sophie almost shrieked, looking at her with bewilderment. Sophie couldn’t even imagine having ten thousand dollars in her lifetime, let alone have it be sitting in a bag in the middle of the house.
“Aw hell, who keeps that much money in a bank anyways? I thought he would ‘a put it in some separate banks, or even put it in a bank that wasn’t his. I guessed wrong though, he kept a load of money in the bank,” Irene sighed, both relieved at Maroni’s stupidity, but also shocked at how stupid he had been. It seemed as of right now Irene could outsmart him in anything, but maybe that’s what he wanted from her, to make her conceited.
“...And... miss, how many people did you kill?” Irene hated it when Sophie had asked that every single night. Well, it wasn’t every single night. It was just the nights when Irene had left to go do business. Most of the times she didn’t kill, but she at least maimed or harmed one person a day. She had to make a reputation somehow.
“Five,” Irene grunted. She hated braggin’ about her kills the most. It was not something to be happy about. It was necessary, but not something she had enjoyed doing. If she could go a few weeks without killing, she would. But when a gun is pointed to her head, what else is a woman supposed to do but point one back and pull the trigger quicker?
“Well, that’s less than the last scramble,” she sighed but had a slight smile, “You’d like some tea miss?”
“Yes please, Sophie,” Irene had a faint smile. Sophie went to reach the antique, shiny white teapot sitting on the small table between them. She poured a small portion into a teacup similar to the teapot, and added a few sugar and cream. Just the way Irene had liked it.
“There you go miss,” she said and handed it to her mistress. Irene drank it, the warmth traveling through her cold veins. Tea made her feel special, like she was the only person in the world. It was only the true thing that could comfort her the most during her hardships. She could taste the hint of peppermint through the flavors of herbs and spices. If Sophie wasn’t the best at making tea, Irene had no idea who was.
She looked up at Sophie. Sophie was staring at Irene with a discombobulated face. Something was wrong. She had seen that look before, and Irene didn’t like it one bit.
“Is something the matter?” She put her cup of tea down, looking at her with slight worry.
“‘Fraid so miss,” Sophie looked around and back at Irene, “Mrs. Rebecca and Mr. Lionel are coming to visit you soon.” Great. Rebecca and Lionel. Probably the worst two people in existence that could arrive here. Irene would rather have the Devil and Maroni over for dinner and she could easily enjoy it. But Lionel and Rebecca together, now that was a challenge. Not only did Rebecca ditch Irene for some wealthy slime ball of a lawyer, she pretty much disowned Irene because of her actions. So why did they always come to visit?
Lionel needed some good investment money to help his advertising and reputation as a lawyer.
“Hell! Sophie! I have to go change out of this dress,” Irene groaned and jumped off the couch, looking paranoid.
“What is wrong with it?” Sophie grabbed Irene and looked at the front, grabbing the hem and finding nothing wrong with it, until Irene had spotted it out.
“The huge ugly blood stain on it!” Irene moaned and pointed directly at the blotch of red caused by a bloody nose.
“Here,” Sophie went out towards the kitchen. Something smelled good in there, which caused Irene to be excited for dinner. Irene could barely eat outside her home because there was nothing better than the chef’s homemade cooking. Marie would make the most savory chicken in the world, and Brienne would make the most delicious of pastries. Why would Irene ever want to eat anywhere else? Sophie came back with a small pitcher of a strangely clear liquid.
“The hell is that?” Irene asked, noticing it was not water.
“Vinegar and salt. I use it on your outfits all the time to get the stains out in a jiffy,” Sophie smiled and dabbed a small portion on the mixture on her pink dress. She scrubbed it until the dark spot was no more and her dress was back to its pretty self.
“Well ain’t you a magician,” Irene cracked a grin. Sophie laughed, placing the pitcher down and observing the dress. Sophie did love this dress, and Irene stole it from her closet just for this night. Normally, or well never, would Irene wear something this elegant. Of course all the dresses belonged to Irene, but since she never wore any of them, she figured all the guests and employees of the houses deserved them. Irene just had the option to take one if she ever needed it.
“Does my hair look okay? I feel after a long night, it would be messy as hell,” Irene asked, looking up at her hair, as if she could actually see it. It did feel rather messy from both the small tussles and an extreme horseback ride.
Sophie gave a long look and hummed, “Well, the hair is perfectly fine. Your manners and your swearing could use some work though.”
Irene cracked another smile. Sophie and Irene certainly had a fun time making fun of one another, but not in a harmful way of course.
"Ding!" The doorbell scared Irene as it chimed throughout the whole mansion. Irene sucked out a big sigh and headed to the door. She opened it with a false smile and false ambition. Just like she always did when they visited. Perhaps this wouldn’t be a brood visit, so why should she make it one with a frown on her face?
There was her lovely sister. Her blonde-peach colored hair and freckles were the only pretty thing about her. Her eyes were an ugly shade of green, which she often admitted herself, though Irene would never say it out loud to Rebecca. She wore a long purple dress and her hair was in a style that made her have bread rolls in her hair. Irene tried her hardest to not laugh at how ridiculous they both looked. Her husband, the tall, skinny Mr. Lionel, was nothing other than a rude dainty cowboy lawyer who knew only how to attract woman. Woman other than his wife of course...which Irene had often pointed out to Rebecca. Rebecca had failed to see the truth, as she did with pretty much everything.
Her sister was not her favorite family member, but not the least. Many a times, Rebecca would grab their mother along for dinner. Of course mother would hardly speak to Irene, but rather boast around her favorite child. If anyone really was to speak to Irene, it would be harassing or very childish. It was a good thing mother had not come, otherwise Irene would probably have a lot to explain. Last time her mother was here, Irene barely had any reputation.
“Oh Irene!” her sister hugged her with joy, “It’s like I haven’t seen you in forever!”
Irene took the slight hug and felt her sister’s coldness of the skin, “I’m sorry. It must be getting very um, crisp and chilly outside. You’re allowed to come in.”
Irene glanced at Lionel. He winked as he walked in, a small flirtation that always annoyed her. Irene never fancied such a man. A man was to like one woman, not many, and was to respect the woman with all the manners possible. Irene knew Lionel married for two reasons: money, and to get close to his wife’s younger sister. Irene obviously had no interesting in such a scumbag, and Lionel was too plain stupid to see it. Rebecca was just ignorant of it all. As soon as Irene had allowed her guests in, she noticed the pile of money that was left on the table. Her widened eyes motioned Sophie to quickly grab all the greens into the sack, not wanting to just reveal about her new spoiling’s. Sophie quickly threw it across the room underneath a small table. After all, Irene’s main excuse was that she never had much money.
“Did I just see your servant just throw something across the room?” Rebecca asked curiously, pointing in the direction of the money, which was now covered by the tea table. Irene took a deep breath and glared at Sophie, who seemed rather innocent about the whole thing. Sophie was great at looking innocent, even to the point Irene forgot she wasn’t even close to that.
“What? I never saw such a thing,” Irene said blankly, keeping it cool. She had to keep it like that. No outbursts, no surprises, just a simple dinner; that’s just how Irene personally liked it.
“Oh,” Rebecca replied quietly, “how... quaint.”
“You know, I have always loved the particular shade of this house. It’s an outstanding white,” Lionel motioned his jaw in a curious motion that made Irene think he was making fun of her. He kept pointing at the architecture, which really wasn’t anything to get giddy about. There was no doubt he was trying to get Irene testy about his opinion. She never really was keen on his opinion on anything.
“It’s white. Not a very sparking color,” Irene walked towards the dining room, helping Sophie address the table with extra plates and silverware. It seems Sophie hadn’t prepared for them to stay for dinner either, so the telegram probably came last second, or Sophie had indeed forgotten.
“Irene! Don’t be so harsh,” Rebecca said. She always had to back up the slob of a husband of hers, for what reason she did not know. Rebecca was either ignorant of their romance, or just plain stupid to notice he was cheating on her constantly. It’s almost like she had a fantasy world where Lionel truly did love her; obviously Rebecca was living in that dream.
“Please, do sit down for dinner,” Irene ignored her comment and motioned them to sit down. She looked at lonely Sophie in the corner, “Sophie, please gather the maids ‘round and tell them it’s time for supper.”
“You allow your servants to sit at the table?” Rebecca sounded aghast, as if she had never been in this house before for dinner. She had asked this every single time, which wasn’t much of a surprise. Rebecca probably sent so much time with other snobs like her husband that she had forgotten what one dinner was like for Irene. She wasn’t always like this…as a kid she saw everyone as equals…but influences from Mother and the death of Father seemed to change that.
“Yes, I do. Why?” Irene asked, acting as if this question had not been asked a thousand times. Sometimes she just had to play along and act as if this was indeed their first night here. Perhaps they got so drunk off Irene’s rich wine that they never remembered a night here. Irene despised it when they got drunk; she could never get them to ever leave!
“They’re filthy Irene, you shouldn’t have those... those monkeys sitting around all over the table!” Lionel said. Had Lionel even seen a monkey in his life before? Honestly he looked like a monkey more than her maids have ever acted like one.
The maids stopped behind the wall and eavesdropped on the conversation, which Irene undoubtedly noticed. They had every right to sit here along with everyone else. Money, family, and clothes did not determine a person. Only character would do that, and if that were true at the moment, it would be Rebecca and Lionel having to eat supper in the kitchen alone in silence.
“They are my friends, I respect the ones who sit at my table. I do respect you, and now you must respect my friends. Ones who sit at the table must be respected and respectable,” she shot a look at Lionel, “Anyone who does not do so is not welcome in my house.”
Irene waved the maids over, and they sat in the table in silence, careful not to insult their guests further. Irene noticed the silence as the chefs placed their meals on the table, covered in fine silver, but decided that with talking, it would certainly only make things worse.
“What is for dinner anyways?” Rebecca broke the silent silence, glaring at her own reflection from the pure silver coverings. Surely now she should see how ridiculous she looked.
“Duck, miss, grilled with a red wine and some mashed potatoes on the side,” Sophie smiled and the plates were revealed. Irene's stomach grumbled quietly at the beautiful sight of food. Nothing was more brilliant than coming home after a long day of fighting and thinking to a delicious plate of homemade cooking.
“Huh,” Lionel pretended to be interested as he stared at his plate. He poked at it with his fork as if it were a plague-filled rat. The overdramatic lawyer acted as if it were filled with a peculiar poison. Irene as of right now certainly did wish his was filled with it.
“I thought you didn’t drink sister?” Rebecca noticed the flaw in the cookery. It was true, Irene also despised any kind of alcohol; it turned people into who they weren't, and made people say things they didn’t mean. She didn’t mind if other people drank, she just never believed alcohol was a necessity to have a good time.
“I don’t. Sophie recently found out that cooking the flavorful drinks I very well hate takes away the alcohol, causing only flavor and not drunkenness,” Irene smiled, sipping her newly poured tea, the best substitution to alcohol. Although, one of the chefs did pour wine into their guests glass, which means they did have alcohol rolling around somewhere. Irene was going to oppose of it, but at the sight of a wine bottle, Lionel was quick to latch onto it.
“Sophie?” Rebecca pardoned, which caused Sophie to look up, “Are you very intelligent?”
“I guess you could say so miss,” Sophie smiled. With all these people in the room, Irene could definitely say Sophie was the most intelligent, excluding herself of course.
“Not very intelligent creatures you got here,” Lionel smiled. Sophie frowned, ignoring it and looking down at her food. Irene clenched her jaw tightly. Well, that was very disrespectful and harsh.
“Lionel! Please be respectful in my home,” Irene corrected his mistake, "Sophie is one of the most intelligent girls in Tomoha."
“You mean our home,” Rebecca quietly said, but Irene happened to hear it. That was always her excuse. This was ‘Rebecca’s home too’, but it certainly was not. Was she there to help rebuild the place after it was half destroyed by a fire? Was she the one who invested her money and time to help keep this home stable? No. She was the one who deserted the place, all for a man who found no satisfaction in this mansion anyways.
Irene choked on her duck, “Excuse me?” She wished she could shout out every insult at her and every excuse Rebecca didn’t have for calling this her own home.
“Yes, I mean…you couldn’t keep this place up and running without our help and money,” Rebecca smiled and looked at the maids, “How much do you pay them?”
“I don’t pay them at all. They have free-will to do what they wish in my house; and I can perfectly afford this place by myself!” Irene now started to get red with fury. They were the ones always pleading for money. Irene couldn’t even recall a time when she had asked them for anything!
“With what? The money you steal? We’ve seen your wanted signs and your piles of cash in the living room!” Lionel outbursts his opinion a lot, which had Irene in a tangle. If she dared to argue back, she would be the one yelled at. However, she had to stand up for herself. She had to prove to everyone in this room they couldn’t be trampled over, whether because of being a female or simply because of stature and wealth. Irene wasn’t going to let him get away with this.
“I steal for a reason!” Irene shouted, standing from her seat. They didn’t understand did they!? They thought stealing was easy, as if there was no hard work or dedication to it. They saw it the easy way out of hard work and success. Little did they know what hard work meant.
“And what is that?! For pleasure!? For the enjoyment of being rich and not even having to work for it!?”
“I do work for this! I put in my blood and sweat into this! This ain't some relaxing or luxurious journey. It takes dedication and training!" Irene felt as if her patience was thinning with each stupid word that came out of their mouths. She felt the soft touch of Sophie’s hand against her own, trying to calm her down.
“In what?” Rebecca asked, “Being an outlaw, a vigilante? Killing people? Is that what you’re so damn proud about, sis?”
“You must steal for a reason, come ‘on now, tell us,” Lionel grinned, finishing the rest of his duck. This is exactly what he wanted, to expose her, to get her to a boiling point where Irene had no choice but to send them away.
“I steal for our father,” Irene was out of her seat, she was no longer interested in finishing the rest of her dinner. Her appetite had been lost as her hunger seemed to quench it all.
“Oh no, not this again,” Lionel rolled his head around. Obviously he heard this excuse multiple times. It was the only excuse Irene had, probably because it was the truth. She had no better reason nor explanation.
“You steal for our father?! Our father was a great man! Not a criminal! I think he’d be disappointed with you!” Rebecca was now out of her own seat.
“I’d think he would be with you! You snobby little....” Irene stopped where she was and sat down. Her appetite was gone, and she didn’t want to say much anymore. It had fallen silent, except for the occasional clatter of the utensils used by the maids. The maids stared at Irene, knowing that she was upset. She was right in being angry, but Irene lacked the strength to fight, not after all that had happened anyways.
“Well,” Rebecca put her napkin on her untouched plate and stood up, “I have lost my appetite; shall we go Lionel?”
“Sure, just let me use your John’ real quick,” he got up in a hurry, leaving only the two siblings alone with a table full of maids and cooks. There was a longer pause as Irene stared at her plate, while she saw Rebecca staring directly at her. Irene could tell she was upset at such a short visit. Not even a half an' hour passed, but Irene didn't even want them here anyways. What was the point, it only ended in this anyways.
Her voice was soft now, “We’re sisters, why do we always have to fight?” Well, why did people fight? Ignorance, violence, different viewpoints, stupidity…and the list goes on and on.
“Because we have different views of things,” Irene whispered, having only a reply to that to help her out. This was no longer an argument she could win, but rather something she would just have to push through.
“Shouldn’t we respect those opinions though?” Rebecca asked, her own voice drifting away from the tension. It was at this moment Irene truly saw her real sister. She did care, but it seemed Lionel and Mother had a way of changing her. She was still there…just piled under a brainwashed mind.
Irene gave her a look, “Why don’t you give it a try?” Sure, it was harsh, but she just wanted them out of her house.
She scoffed and headed to the door, “You know what you need? You need a respectable man who can show you what it’s like to be loved, the only problem is I don’t think you could ever be loved by a man who is respectable!” She slammed the door and walked out. Lionel walked out and did a small sexual gesture before having to attend to his wife. Irene pointed to the door as he left, and then slumped down in her seat.
The hurt her more than anything else in the world.
Irene ignored her dinner as they left. The maids stared at her as she left the dinner table and walked up the long flight of stairs. Sophie stood, hoping she might comfort her friend, but Irene only glared at Sophie with a sad look. She calmly shut the door and locked it. She didn’t want to be disturbed, not now... perhaps not until morning.
She stripped quietly into her nightgowns, and then slowly climbed into bed. The tears on her face stained her nice white pillow, and it made it harder to sleep. Her eyes closed as more tears came out slowly. She was only tearing up and not bursting into tears... and that made it worse. She hadn't cried in a long time.
She dreamed if there was a man out there, who could love her like Rebecca had described. How could there be such a thing? A respectable man? She’d have to resort to someone like her brother-in-law, who was the farthest thing from respectable. Irene would give anything for a respectable man who showed her just one glimpse of understanding and love.
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