It was a wonderfully crisp morning, with the unexpected London sun greeted them as all the three stepped out of the flat on 221B Baker Street. Emma might still be on the run but that didn’t mean she couldn’t enjoy the city for what it was worth. She did consider herself a sort of tourist despite the circumstances. Smiling a little bit more at the thought, Emma let her mind wander as John hailed a cabbie for the three of them.
They all climbed in; John in front with Mister Holmes and herself in the back. Emma looked out of the window as the two men started talking, but it went in one ear and out the other for her. She was far away, too busy enjoying what her American eyes saw; the old architecture of the buildings and cobblestone roads, juxtaposed next to modern offices and swanky high rise apartments. The St Mary Axe was awe inspiring to her, its glass windows seemed to dance with each one another as the building spiraled upwards to the sky. They passed through the financial district, finally stopping in Burlington Arcade on Picadilly Drive. The shopping center was a lot ritzier than Emma was used to. Not that she couldn’t afford it; she just preferred comfort and mobility over glamour and gaudy. Unfortunately for her since she didn’t know where to shop in London, she left it up to Mister Holmes and John to decide.
They paid the driver and walked into the mazes of high end retail stores: Chanel, Harrys of London, House of Cashmere, and the least intimidating to Emma, Barrie. She knew she could find sweaters and pants, focusing on the black tie outfit for later when she would call her connection. They had another few weeks until that was happening, anyway.
“Wow,” John said his eyes wide, “This place is absolutely massive. And expensive.” His eyes grew even wider as he saw a price tag. Emma shrugged and continued to browse around, picking out comfortable sweaters, slacks and jeans, socks and even some hat and gloves. She was making her way to the women’s changing room when she stopped in her tracks, turning around to the two gentleman behind her.
“What do you think you two are doing?” She asked them, “This is the women’s changing room. You can’t come in here.”
“Nonsense,” Mister Holmes said, “We won’t be inside the stall with you. We will be outside of it.”
“As nice as the concern you that you both have for me,” Emma began dryly, “If there are any women in there, they won’t appreciate it. They would probably would find it a bit off putting, and let’s be honest here, a bit creepy. Besides, let’s not draw attention to ourselves, shall we? Why don’t you go look around or something. I will only be a few minutes. Meet back here in fifteen minutes?”
“Boring,” was Mister Holmes response, while John nodded in agreement.
“Fine, fifteen minutes,” he firmly said, “But not a minute more.” And with that they left Emma by herself. She sighed in relief. It was nice to have them around but she appreciated the few moments alone. It was like having helicopter parents, and she shuddered at the idea of that.
Walking into the fitting rooms Emma was relived that she was the only one in there, and that breathing space made her all the happier. She chose a stall near the end of the hall closing the pale cream colored door behind her and started to get changed.
Emma had just finished taking off her shirt and started to unbutton her trousers when there was a knock on the door. She huffed in frustration.
Can’t I have five minutes of peace? Emma thought wearily to herself. The knock echoed in the hallway again.
“Hold on for a second, please,” she answered impatiently. The knock became more persistent. Emma huffed as she buttoned up her pants and picked up a random green knit sweater to put over her chest trying at least to cover a little bit. “Alright, what do you-” Emma gasped.
She was expecting a store attendant or even John or Mister Holmes, but it was a different man. Shorter than Mister Holmes stood a man with dark, slicked back hair. His eyes were just as dark, almost black and was dressed in an impeccably nice suit while wearing a smile that did not quite reach to his dark colored eyes.
“Are you a Miss Emma Rose?” The mystery man asked, his voice proper and light. Emma’s heart began to race but she stood her ground. She squinted her eyes at him, surveying him up and down. She tried to see if the man was carrying any sort of weapon on himself but she couldn’t tell.
“And who is asking?” She asked curtly. Emma couldn’t help but feel something was off about this guy, something that made her feel very uneasy about him. He smiled even bigger, and if were possible, even more fake than his first smile. The man chuckled slightly while Emma stood still as a marble statue, trying to read the man standing in front of her but it proved to be impossible.
“Oh pardon me. Where are my manners?” He cleared his throat, and bowed slightly, “The name is Jim.” His voice was too sweet for Emma’s liking, “And now that you know my name, could you please tell me yours?” She swallowed hard, trying to hide the fear that was rising in her stomach. It kept flipping, and a voice in the back of her head screamed at her to get out of there.
“You know what?” Emma started, "I’m not comfortable with this to be quite honest Jim. So if you don’t mind, could you please kindly get the hell out of here. I am not decent as you can tell.” The man, Jim, chuckled darkly. His dark eyes scanned her up and down in a way that made her skin crawl. Emma hugged the sweater tighter to her chest, hiding behind it like a shield.
“Such a mouth,” he said silkily, “Well, if it’s any consolation I think you are far more than decent.” He reached out to touch her face and that’s when Emma sprung like a feral cat.
She caught his wrist, twisting it harshly around the man’s back and shoved his face against the wall of the small stall with her free hand. Instead of crying out in pain though, Jim only laughed. “Oh, so you like it rough, too?” He grunted out, his face pressed against the wall. He struggled for a minute but Emma kept him steady against the hard surface, her knee in his back for added support.
“What do you want from me?” She spat out, twisting his wrist harder behind his back but he only let out another giggle. It was unnerving to Emma.
Is he insane? She thought to herself.
“So you are Emma!” He exclaimed happily, “Good!”
Out of the corner of her eye, Emma looked up and saw a little red dot of light on the wall above them and then watched as it crawl down the wall like a spider, deftly landing on her left shoulder. The man, Jim, tsked her.
“Silly girl,” he said, “You have no idea who you are dealing with, do you?” Emma slowly released him, putting her hands in the air and took a step back looking around to see if she could track where the beam of light was coming from. It traveled with her, landing on her bare chest. Emma looked at the sweater on the ground, the only shield in the room. Jim checked himself in the mirror near by, brushing himself off nonchalantly and took a step towards her. She refused to let him intimidate her, so she glared at him. It was the only thing she could do, but he continued to act as though he didn’t care in the least bit.
“So pretty,” Jim mused sadly, “It's too bad I have to let them know you’re still alive.” Dread hit Emma in the stomach like lead; hard and heavy. He snapped his fingers and the red dot disappeared and Emma instantly reached down to grab something to cover her chest, and steadied her breathing; she needed to regain composure. Emma knew better than to ask but she needed to know the answer.
“Tell who I’m alive?” Emma ventured and Jim laughed again.
“Come on girl,” he said chillingly, inching closer to her face, “You and I both know you are smarter than that. You and I both know who exactly I am talking about.” She remained perfectly still as he leaned in to kiss her on the cheek, Emma feeling his hot breath hit her like a wrecking ball. She tried to make no reactions but as soon his lips were touching her flushed skin, she let out a slight whimper, precisely when Mister Holmes and John walked in.
“It’s been fifteen-” Mister Holmes stopped dead in his tracks, as did John with his mouth agape. Emma scarcely breathed, another dot now landing on Mister Holmes and one more on John.
“Oh for Christ’s sake,” Emma said under her breath, “How many do you have in here?” Jim just smirked at her.
“Don’t under estimate him, Emma” John said, his arms up in the arm, “Moriarty is unpredictable and more dangerous beyond reason.” Jim, or rather Moriarty, stepped away from Emma towards the two gentlemen, his face contorted into a devilish grin.
“How dare you interrupt Miss Rose and I’s little chit-chat,” he said with disdain dripping in his voice, “How very rude of you. Haven’t you missed me in the slightest bit, boys? It's been so long.” Mister Holmes looked annoyingly calm, while John’s face was a mask of worry.
“Hmm, can’t say that we’ve had. After the first time in the pool, what with the little red lights and threats, this is just boring now. I figured you to be more creative than repeating yourself like this."
"Now the question is, what do you want with her?” Mister Holmes asked, his eye hinting that fear hid behind them and Moriarty saw it. He smiled a sickening grin, looking at Emma who still stood strong and proud but her brown eyes caught Mister Holmes’ and then Moriarty’s, his smile wide and eyes still dead like a shark’s.
“There might be a change in plans,” he said, snapping his fingers one last time making all of the red dots disappear. “I see that Sherlock still likes to keep pets.” He hummed to himself as he began to text on his phone, “Ciao everyone. I’ll be seeing you all very soon, don’t worry. Ooo, this just got more fun.”
Moriarty walked back to Emma leaning up to her ear, “And Emma, it was so lovely meeting you today. I personally cannot wait to see you again. That red brazier looks absolutely amazing.” He said, all the while Emma glared at the man in front of her. Moriarty winked at at them all as he left the fitting room area.
As soon as the well dressed psychopath exited out of the fitting rooms Emma started to bolt to the door when both John and Mister Holmes caught her by her shoulders, trying to hold her back. She hissed in pain, muttering again profanities under her breath; Mister Holmes had grabbed her bummed shoulder. “Why aren’t you going after him?!” She said through gritted teeth fighting them. All she saw was red. The only thing that mattered to Emma at that very moment stopping the psychopath any way she could.
“Because personally,” John said surprised, struggling a bit to keep her still, “I like living. Now is not the time to act too rashly.” Emma stopped struggling and slumped to the ground, her head hanging. She started sniffling and tears started to fall. Not waterfalls, just a few stray tears streaking her cheeks. They were from exhaustion and fear finally settling in. She had to admit to herself that she was not invincible, and that she needed John and Mister Holmes’ help more than what she previously thought, especially if that man was now part of the mix.
“Are you okay?” Mister Holmes asked taking her face in his hands. His tenderness shocked Emma. “He didn’t hurt you, did he?” She shook her head no, her eyes still down. Emma didn’t want to look at the detective, nor at John. Surely they would think less of her, but Mister Holmes made her look him and she wasn’t quite prepared for what she saw; she saw concern swirling in his green-grey eyes.
“Good,” he finally breathed, “John, will you take a look at her shoulder? I think I might have been too rough.” John immediately bent down to tend to her, “What did he do to you? What did he say?” Emma took in a deep breath.
“He’s working with the Kosevos,” she managed, “He- Moriarty- said that he needed to let them know that I was still alive. Who is he? Why is he helping them?” She had so many more questions that needed answers. All that she knew was that this Moriarty person was dangerous. It didn’t take a genius like Mister Holmes to figure that out.....