Stretching in bed, the young woman made an incomprehensible noise before pushing herself into a seated position. Stepping from the small bed, she slouched to the bathroom and splashed her face with water to wake herself up. The cold water immediately made her more animated and she quickly donned a clean outfit before taking to the stairs.
“Would you kindly start on that job at the Jefferson house? There are some things I need to finish here beforehand. I can meet you there in about an hour’s time.” His hands were covered in grease. He clearly had started his work before dawn on this day.
Ariadne smiled at him. He was greying around the edges of his temple and throughout his beard but her uncle was still a hardy man. He would not be retiring anytime soon. Upon closer examination, Ariadne noticed he seemed a little off this morning. He wasn’t as laid back as usual. He was tense and distracted, his voice keeping something from her.
“Of course. I’ll just grab my supplies and be on my way.” Winding her way through the cluttered areas of the workshop, the young engineer grabbed a belt fitted with several small holsters and pouches for any wrenches or other pieces she would need. Grabbing what she knew would be necessary for this job, Ariadne patted the pouches, assuring herself she had everything. On her way out she plucked some small goggles from a work table and pulled them over her head to rest around her neck.
“Anything else I can assist you with before I leave, Uncle?” she asked, her eyes scanning his face for any idea as to what was going on with him.
“No, no, dear. Go on ahead.”
“Quickly, Ariadne perched herself on her tiptoes to kiss her uncle on the cheek before grabbing her keys and exiting the backdoor of the workshop, yelling an “I love you” on the way out. In the front was their antique shop. It was filled with gadgets and items people had considered useless and sold to the Bellevoires. But the duo had taken these items and salvaged them. Now they were adjusted, fixed, or their pieces had gone into another project entirely.
Stepping quickly over the cobblestone streets, Ariadne made her way to the Jefferson’s place. The small manor was only a few blocks away and the morning was brisk. Her sensible boots made very little noise in comparison to the hustle and bustle of others around her. It was a busy Friday morning in September and everyone had somewhere to be.
Stopping in at her favorite bakery, the engineer bought a couple pastries to tide her over until lunch. As she munched on the flaky treats, she slowed her pace and nodded to anyone who hailed her with a friendly greeting. Finishing her breakfast, Ariadne rounded the corner on the Jefferson’s street and strolled up to the front door.
Giving a polite but firm knock, Ariadne waited until she was invited inside. Mr. Jefferson explained the various problems he was having with his clock and a few other things in the house. She began working on them and before she was aware, Mrs. Jefferson was offering her lunch.
“Miss Bellevoire, will your uncle be joining you today?”
“He was going to but he probably got caught up with something he was working on,” Ariadne smiled at Mrs. Jefferson. She had put thoughts of her uncle’s odd behavior aside while she worked, shrugging them off to something unimportant. Every now and again he would act strangely for a day or two and then be back to normal. Ariadne hardly let herself worry over it anymore. If it was important, she was certain he would make it known to her.
Afterwards, she went to the last gadget in the house that required her tinkering expertise. As evening set in, the Jeffersons once more invited her to dine with them, but as absorbed in her work as she was, Ariadne declined and finished the work in the late evening.
Standing up, she stretched and declared herself finished. As she wiped her hands clean with a cloth she brought with her, Mr. Jefferson made his way over to Ariadne, thanking her for all her help and handing her payment.
“It’s my pleasure, Mr. Jefferson. If anything gets out of sorts again, please don’t hesitate to ring us up. We’ll be glad to head on over and fiddle with it until it’s set right once more.”
He wished her a pleasant evening as she stepped from the house and sauntered back home. As she came nearer, she began to hear a small commotion coming from her street. Noticing the police at the front door of the shop, Ariadne swore her heart stopped in her chest before beginning to beat frantically. Sprinting the rest of the way down the street, a policeman, Turner, pivoted and called out her name, recognizing her. They hadn’t had much contact over the past few years but their shared history kept them from forgetting the other.
Unfinished questions spilled out of her mouth as he held her back, his hands gently on her shoulders, shielding the view behind him with his body.
“Miss Bellevoire, please, you should not see…Miss Bellevoire,” he continued as professionally as possible. “Ariadne,” he said firmly, trying anything to capture her attention.
At that, she finally stopped trying to work her way around him, stopped trying to protest. She quieted down and looked frightfully into his face.
He shook his head at her and frowned. “Ariadne, I am sorry.”
Another policeman patted Turner’s shoulder and whispered something into his ear. Turner nodded and returned his attention to Ariadne.
“Turner, please. Tell me what happened. Where…? Where’s my uncle?”
As he filled her in on what they knew, she felt herself become light-headed. Turner took her to the nearby steps and sat down with her, still talking. She must have shook her head in disbelief a dozen times. As he tried to explain what they suspected, her eyes caught movement and she lifted her head to see the other policeman carrying away a stretcher, a black tarp over it. Her head followed it before Turner regained her attention.
“Ariadne,” he addressed her softly, “I think you should consider contacting this inspector, Cyril Avery.” Turner handed her a card, continuing, “He’s one of the better ones. Trustworthy and good at his job.”
Ariadne’s watery eyes looked up into Turner’s as she silently took the card from him. His frowned heavily and a moment of hesitation crossed his face. Pulling her to stand once more, he gave her a tight hug. They had known each other for years now but had drifted into the role of acquaintances after school. “Ari, I am sorry for all this news,” his whispered into her hair. She stood stiff in his arms before finally burying her face in his overcoat, her hands clutching at it. Her body relaxed and leaned into his, remembering what their relationship had been like years ago when they were close.
She cried into his chest for some time while he murmured soothing words to her until she came back to herself. “Thanks, Turner,” she said quietly as she pulled away from him. She felt his hands linger a moment longer before letting her go completely. “At least it was you.”
He gave Ariadne a sad smile, knowing what she meant. He knew he would not have wanted to be with strangers during such an event. Ariadne did not have anyone else close to her but her uncle. And now he was gone. She was alone. Turner opened his mouth to ask her if she wanted him to stay with her longer but one of his colleagues called his name and he clamped his mouth shut. “Be well, Miss Bellevoire,” his voice returning to a professional one. “I’ll come by tomorrow around nice o’clock and get an official statement then.”
Ariadne nodded at him before he turned and left with the others. Realizing she was freezing without Turner’s heat, she shakily fished for her keys, letting herself into the shop. Turning the multiple locks behind her, she navigated the store to enter the workshop in the back. Checking the locks there as well, she proceeded upstairs to the apartment above.
Taking a quick shower, she followed routine and dressed herself for bed. Once under the covers, Ariadne realized she hadn’t eaten dinner. But the very thought of food made her sick. Curling up on her side, she cried into her pillow, the weight of the evening barreling down upon her. Eventually she became too exhausted for anything else and drifted into a fitful sleep.