It wasn't that Molly had dreamt of anything romantic - she had been far from doing so for a while, although the crush she had on the detective was quite persistent - but finding the double room decorated for a candle-light dinner had indeed triggered at least some hope. As soon, though, as they had sat down at the table, she had realised that it was just business and Sherlock wouldn't eat much anyway. She even had to force him to have at least a little bit of the very delicious food since he hadn't had anything for at least the entire time they had spent together and Molly could see that the sleuth was on the verge of collapsing, although he would never admit it.
In the privacy of the hotel room, Sherlock had instructed Molly very carefully and with every necessary detail what she was supposed to do. Mrs Campbell was currently staying in this hotel for no obvious reason. Sherlock assumed, no, stated matter-of-factly that she was man-hunting and Molly had briefly wondered how on earth he could know something like that without ever having experienced the feeling of loneliness. Or had he?
Some time in the middle of the night after endless repetitions of what she would be saying, Molly's head had just become too heavy and the last thing she had felt was the mild pain of her stretched back muscles when her chin dropped onto her chest.
When she woke up again, she was lying in the king-sized bed - alone, and Sherlock was nowhere to be seen. It was bright daylight and the rays of sunshine were caressing her face with their warmth. A pang of excitement ran through her body: Today would be a crucial day for Sherlock, therefore also for her - and particularly for her feet that would be squeezed into the high heels for the rest of the day, pretending they belonged there. Getting out of the bed, Molly noticed that she was wearing a silken night dress that hadn't been on her the evening before. It dawned on her that she hadn't put it on herself when all of a sudden the room door swung open, Sherlock rushed in and quickly shut the door behind him, before turning towards her with a terse "Morning."
"M...morning," the woman replied unsteadily, blushing, because it struck her that yet another time after the unlucky events with the truffles, Sherlock had apparently undressed her without her even noticing anything. There had been far too many unwanted revelations in the form of nakedness lately for her liking.
Apparently sensing that Molly was uncomfortable, the Consulting Detective tried to soothe her. "Relax, Molly, I'm getting used to it."
Blushing even more, she mumbled, "But I'm not," turned around and hurried to the bathroom to escape the awkwardness of the situation. After a long, hot shower and the sobering shock of turning it to ice-cold for the last few seconds, Molly sighed deeply - she had forgotten to take her clothes to the bathroom. Wrapped in the plush towel, she carefully opened the door, only to find a curtain in front of her eyes. Examining the supposed curtain closer, she recognised one of the dresses that were held out to her.
"Thought you might need this and wouldn't want to wander through the room in little more than nothing again," Sherlock remarked without any noticeable undertone in his voice and Molly gratefully took the hanger from him. He had selected the light dress with the swinging skirt the pathologist had instantly fallen in love with at Mr Romeo's, and had hung the underwear and stockings she needed beneath the garment.
Dressed and styled as a lady, her mood having improved a lot, she left the bathroom.
"Ta-dah!" she sang and presented herself to Sherlock, stretching her arms and bending one knee so that her weight was resting on just one foot, accentuating her hip.
"Well done!" he praised her after a careful examination and Molly was happy.
When Molly stepped into the elevator, her heart sank and she was suddenly terrified that she would be unmasked instantly, which could be very dangerous for both her and Sherlock. The latter didn't know how exactly Mrs Campbell was pulling the strings, he only knew that she wasn't as wealthy as she appeared to be, so someone was clearly funding her.
Upon entering the breakfast room, Molly instantly spotted the woman she was looking for. Dressed extravagantly, wearing a fur collar at this time of the year and dripping with jewellery, it was obvious even to the pathologist that this woman wasn't of the same ilk as thosewith noble descent and inherited money. She, however, wanted to let people know she was rich. Molly herself wasn't wearing any jewels, but her dress was fine enough to make any further embellishment redundant. Strangely enough, she felt slightly superior to the woman she was supposed to make contact with, and having gained new confidence, she strutted to the buffet to put Sherlock's plan into action.
"Ooops, I'm so sorry," Molly warbled, raising her hands apologetically after spilling her tea over her table next to Mrs Campbell's. "I'm just so clumsy sometimes. I'm really sorry."
All tables in the room were occupied, some of them by only one person, as Sherlock had predicted, and hers was now soaked with tea. At the instance, a waiter hurried to her, pulling her chair back so that she could stand up, asking her politely if her clothing had suffered damage. No matter what he was really thinking, the waiter didn't show any disapproval or reproach. Instead, he went over to Mrs Campbell's table, asking her, embedded in innumerable apologies, whether she minded sharing her table for a short while until the other one was cleaned and newly laid. Sherlock had instructed her never to show any embarrassment but rather to cover it by holding her nose high. It worked quite well as she was offered to take a seat at the neighbouring table, opposite the target person. This had gone well indeed.
"Good morning. My apologies for the inconvenience. I'm Molly Hooper," she introduced herself, offering her well-manicured hand to Mrs Campbell, who took it, eyeing her like an eagle on the hunt.
"Hello, I'm Brigitte Campbell," she replied rather coldly.
Molly tried not to be intimidated, which she normally would be. However, in view of what depended on her acting, she forced herself to converse with the woman opposite her.
"Oh, what a lovely name. Is it German? Your first name, I mean."
"Yes, German. Where's your name from? Sounds rather... plain."
Molly, ignoring Mrs Campbell's attempt to insult her as Sherlock had drummed into her head, told her a story of her northern English aristocratic family, who had sent her to London boarding schools from the age of five on, presumably to get rid of her. That was why she didn't have any northern accent anymore. Since she had been sick of her family, who had left her like an orphan, she had decided one day that taking on a plain name was much more convenient. People didn't ask that much and didn't expect much from her. Since she had been the only daughter, however, and apparently her parents had regretted having more or less lost their child, she had inherited everything from them despite the estrangement. Most of the time she had lived in her family home since her parents' death, but she had just recently sold everything in order to move to London and find a nice spot somewhere at the River Thames.
Molly felt as if the woman was drinking the words from her lips, apparently sensing money that she could profit from.
"I'm so sorry. First, I force my presence onto you and then I bother you with my whole life story. Oh my goodness!" the pathologist tweeted in an exaggerated way. She had to admit to herself that she was currently enjoying her role.
"Oh, it's absolutely fine. Sometimes one needs someone to open their heart to, don't they? Call me Brigitte, please," the woman offered, in a much friendlier tone than before.
"Brigitte, thank you. You know, erm,... there's just one tiny problem left."
"Which is?" she asked, intrigued.
Molly's heart beat wildly. This was the hook that the fish had to swallow.
"Erm, I..." Focus, Molly! "There's a cousin who has set his eye on the money and who tries to blackmail me. You know, I haven't always, let's say, behaved and apparently he knows about it. That's troubling me a lot, as you can imagine."
"Why don't you go to the police?" Brigitte asked with a curious but also slightly suspicious undertone.
Molly's hands were wet and she felt a tad nauseous.
The woman smirked and Molly felt displeasure arouse in her. Stretching out her arm, the woman placed a warm hand over her own ice-cold but sweaty hand.
"Don't worry, dear. I could help you with that. I know someone who can easily put your cousin in his place."
"Oh, ok...," Molly replied cautiously.
"I take it, there is no, hmm, official way to stop your cousin, so you might find my way appropriate. Let's meet later, dear, so we can talk about it and see what I can do for you. Think about it."
"Th...thank you. Three thirty afternoon tea in the Palm Court then? My pleasure."
A little too hastily, Molly stood up and had to restrain herself not to run out of the breakfast room. All her confidence had left her and the nausea had turned into real sickness. She needed to get to her room as quickly as possible. Breathe, Molly! she repeated in her mind, exhaling and inhaling deeply.
What had seemed so easy at the beginning had overwhelmed her the moment the woman had offered to do something about her cousin. Going by the cruelty and recklessness of taking revenge for a lost family member by murdering - or at least attempting thus - the descendants of the man involved in killing her next of kin, it was very likely that she was offering to also murder Molly's supposed cousin. The pathologist suddenly felt as if someone had dealt her a blow to the abdomen.
Knowing that she still was in sight of some people, staff and guests, she mustered all her remaining composure and waited for the elevator to arrive. When eventually she reached her room, she fidgeted with the key card and was hardly able to open the door. Sherlock wouldn't help her open the door just in case she wasn't alone, that's what they had agreed on, but now Molly wished nothing more than the bloody thing to unlock. When finally, she managed to enter the room, she slammed the door shut and ran to the bathroom, ignoring the surprised look of the Consulting Detective that followed her.
Regardless of the bathroom door still standing ajar, Molly threw up into the toilet.
Still spitting some bile, she heard Sherlock remark amusedly, "I had been reliably informed that the breakfast here isn't all too bad."
The poor woman flinched. She wasn't even embarrassed by vomiting in Sherlock's presence. There was apparently some kind of shock settling in her.
She flushed the toilet and rinsed her mouth out at the sink. Preparing her toothbrush, she scolded, "I didn't even have breakfast! And now let me brush my teeth!"
"Oh," was Sherlock's only reply.
Molly quickly cleaned her teeth and the detective waited patiently by the door. She put the toothbrush away and slowly turned around, tears springing to her eyes.
"Sherlock, I think... I'm about to set a murderer at you."