The first thing Harold Saxon sent her were flowers - roses, actually. They came the night after they had met, an experience that still sent Lucy’s heart thudding in her chest — thump, thump, thump.
The roses were pink, fat, and perfect. They were just the kind of good opening gambit of any young man looking for a polite way to flatter a possible love interest.
Her mother and her older sister cooed over them, said they couldn’t believe Lucy warranted such beautiful things. Her brother was cleaning his hunting rifle, and barely gave them a second glance except to say it looked like Lucy might actually not die a shriveled up old maid.
She brought them to her father’s bedroom, and he took one look at them and snorted softly. “Boring, Lucy. Far too typical. It’s a ploy.” He tapped his nose, nearly dislodging the respirator placed in his nostrils. “He’s feeling you out, trying to see if you’re just another well-bred sop. Don’t let him catch you out of your foxhole.”
There were reasons she loved her father, best.
So Harold Saxon got a very polite, very distant, “Thank you, Mr. Saxon, for the flowers. Shall we get to work?”
She tried to ignore the way his eyes flashed fire and thunder as she turned her head back to the manuscript before her, how she could feel him watching her, even though her back was turned to him. She honestly tried to push aside the fact that she liked it a great deal.
It was hard, but she managed not to sneak a look, once.
* * * * *
The second gift he sent her was a box of chocolates about a week and a half later — Aphrodite Homemade Chocolates, no less. She took one look at the golden box, tied with a pretty pink ribbon that incongruously matched the roses, and bypassed her mother, sister, and brother altogether. She dropped on her father’s bed, opened the box, and lifted one pale eyebrow, her voice soft with no little sarcasm. “Chocolate?”
Her father eyed the box, then her disbelievingly, and then the box again. He pulled out one, shaking his head a little. “He’s got an odd sense of humor, this one.” He popped it into his mouth, chewed slowly, sharing a sharp little wolf’s smile with Lucy. “I like him.”
She plucked out a chocolate herself, smirking as she curled up next to him. “I do too.”
The next day, while Harold Saxon was perching on her desk, slim and seductive as he leaned over her, she thanked him sweetly, but yet again distantly. “Thank you, ever so much.” She held for a beat, and added with a touch of poisoned sugar, “My father adores caramels. I gave him the entire box.”
She held his gaze this time, long enough to see the sparkle of satisfaction within the depths of his eyes, the small smile that graced his lips. She returned it, before she tapped the page before her. “Now, your days at Cambridge … this isn’t ringing as quite true to me. We might want to rework this a little more.”
“Nothing but the truth, and the whole truth for you, Ms. Cole?” He arched one eyebrow at her.
“Nothing but, Mr. Saxon.” She answered smoothly, folding one hand over the other, delicately, atop his story of inconsistencies. She knew he was a liar. He knew that she knew.
All that just added to the attraction that was growing, day-by-day.
* * * * *
The third present that Harold Saxon gave her came gift-wrapped in pink paper, with a big pink bow, and had the accompanying note, on all things, pink notepaper. Exactly three weeks, she noted, after they had met. She had been out at a society luncheon when it had arrived, and her mother had gotten to it first.
“You don’t deserve someone this sweet,” her mother said as she handed off the package with a sniff.
“Really, Lucy, I don’t know what he sees in you,” her sister chimed in.
“Guy sounds like a poof,” her brother said shortly, as he reloaded his rifle for more hunting.
She nodded her head meekly with all these assessments, before taking the package up to her father, her meekness fading into wicked amusement as she looked inside the wrapping. When she entered her father’s room, she took a moment to pose, Harold’s card in hand, so her father would put down his paper and watch her as she quoted, “ ‘Roses are red, violets are blue, poetry is just lovely, and so are you.’”
Her father stared at her for a long, long moment, before he adjusted his reading glasses on his nose and picked back up his paper. “Oh, he’s just messing with you now, Lucy. What did he send you?”
“Shakespeare’s Sonnets.” She answered, going to sit with him, her eyebrows raised sardonically.
“God.” Her father laughed, his blue eyes sparkling with evil mirth. “He really is a mocking bastard, isn’t he?”
“There’s something about him … it’s not quite right.” She mused, leaning her golden head back against his headboard. She craned her neck a little, looking at her father. “He’s not like everyone else. He’s got so much power — and it feels like he’s holding it in, on purpose.”
“Well, as far as I can tell, that makes him the only person in the world worthy of you, my dear.” Her father glanced over at her. “I fully expect my little girl to be sitting at the side of the most powerful man in the world.” He snorted. “Even if he does give ruddy awful gifts.”
The next day, she walked into her office, to find him leaning against her desk, arms folded over his chest, a keen expression on his face. She paused in the doorway, holding up the book before him, giving him a cool, disdainful look. “Really, Mr. Saxon. If you wanted to be any more trite, you should have gone with Emily Dickinson.”
“Oh really?” He raised an eyebrow, smiling in a way that made her knees go liquid. “Funny, I thought one piece of sentimental garbage was very much like another, when it came to poetry.”
“Obviously, you’ve never read T.S. Eliot.” She returned, stepping fully into her office, dropping the book of sonnets carelessly on her desk as she moved past him. Suddenly, his hand was around her arm, pulling her back to face him.
His brown eyes pierced hers, and his voice was a gentle whisper, hiding so many dark things. “You’re a puzzle to me, Lucy Cole. I’m not complaining, though. I love puzzles.” His fingers stroked, and she shivered uncontrollably. “What is the key to winning you, I wonder?”
She exhaled slowly, her breath brushing across his lips. “My father always says, Mr. Saxon, to be yourself. Why don’t you try that?”
He released her arm, letting her take a step backwards. He still watched her, a cat trailing a mouse. “Aren’t you afraid of the real me, Lucy?”
The way that he said her name made heat throb in her stomach, and she nearly had to lean on the desk to keep her balance. Composure, good old-fashioned British composure, allowed her to straighten. “Oh yes. Frightened to death.” She smiled serenely at him. “But that’s half the fun, isn’t it?”
He smiled — not the one with all those sharp white teeth, but that private one that crept over his mouth. It sang of his approval, and she basked in it wholeheartedly.
* * * * * *
Harold Saxon’s fourth gift came in a plain brown envelope, and he had attached a post-it note on it. Her mother handed it off to her with a disapproving look, which Lucy blissfully ignored as she read the note. It said simply, ‘Play me.’
She looked at the CD inside the case, and smiled as she climbed the steps. This time, she merely poked her head around the bedroom door to see her father resting with his eyes closed. She kept her voice quiet, as she spoke. “Father, I’m going out. Do you want anything?”
Lord Cole’s eyes cracked open slowly, and he smiled, a hint of his old fire from his political days. “Just tell Mr. Saxon I said hello.”
“What makes you think I’m going to see him?” She asked, lifting her chin a little.
Lord Cole chortled softly, shifting a little, pain ranging all over his wasted features. “Because despite the popular opinion of asinine polite society, I did not raise three fools. I only raised two. Go on, Lucy. Go claim your destiny.”
* * * * * *
She hesitated, momentarily, before pressing the CD into the player in her car, starting up the engine and pulling out to swing her car down the long, wooded drive. There was the rasp of silence, and then the song beat started, low and intent, fast and quick like the pulse of a heart. It pulled a pleased noise from her throat. She found herself moving her fingers almost immediately, imitating Harold’s tap-tap-tap against her steering wheel.
The song whispered into her ears, as she hit the gas pedal the moment she cleared the front gates. Everybody wants me to be their angel - Everybody wants something they can cradle. She turned her car away from the outlying country, but rather towards London’s suburbs. They don't know I burn. She didn’t want the peace of the rolling hills. She needed the lights, the noise, something to drive away the silence of all her thoughts. They don't know I burn. She had told him, ‘I loathe the quiet’.
He knew, didn’t he, about her? That she didn’t like the quiet places in her mind — didn’t like what they meant about her. Maybe there's a devil (or something like it) inside -Maybe there's a devil (or something like it) inside of me. She abhorred violence, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t vicious. She wasn’t clever or witty, but that didn’t mean she lacked wiles. Devil inside of me. He saw all that. He saw the real her. Jealous angel deep inside me. So who was the real Harold Saxon?
The song repeated itself, reverberating through her veins. You don't know cuz you're too busy reading labels. Crooning to all those darker impulses buried deep within a proper British politician’s daughter. You're missing all the action underneath my table. Trained to be such by an unsympathetic mother and imprinted on by two older siblings who enjoyed inflicting casual cruelty on the baby in the family. I'm waiting for my turn. Only her father knew what swam to the surface. Waiting for my turn. Of course, until recently, it was only her father who encouraged those thoughts. Just waiting for my turn -Just waiting for my turn.
She pulled over, and put on the parking brake, turning to look at the house she had stopped in front of. A light burned in the front window, welcoming her. She turned off the car, the song still playing inside her head as she closed the car door, shivering a little in the cold London night. She opened the gate — did the curtains flutter open briefly — past the well-tended but tiny front garden and up to the large black oak door.
Her hand was raised to knock, when the door opened, and she found herself staring up at the man who called himself Harold Saxon, silhouetted in the dim light. He looked different — she wasn’t sure if it was because he was dressed only in slacks and unbuttoned white shirt, his hair mussed — or the look in his eyes. Like he knew that she was coming, that it was inevitable that she arrived here. She looked at him, speaking quietly, her breath turning to smoke. “Who are you, really?”
He held out his hand, and she placed her gloved one within it, letting him draw her inside. The door shut behind her, but all she could see now was him. His face was so solemn, so serious, as he took her other hand and started to draw off her gloves, his voice soft. “I’m darkness. I’m rage embodied. I’m absolute madness.”
He held her hands now, skin against skin, and he pulled them to him, placing them against his chest. Her eyes widened as she felt two separate beats beneath her fingers. He leaned closer, making her hands brush across his bare skin, whispering. “I’m an alien — a Time Lord — a Dark God who has traveled the length of space and all known universes.”
She moved closer, pressing her cheek against his bare chest, listening to those heartbeats — thudding along - drumming peacefully in her ear. Her voice was soft. “Why are you here?”
“To conquer, to destroy. To rebuild in my own image — a better, purer world.” His hands slid along her shoulders, pulling her coat away, tossing it on the floor. “Then maybe the drums … the drums will let me rest. Can you hear them, Lucy? Can you hear the drums?”
“Yes … yes and they are glorious.” She sighs as she leaned back, looking at him. “Why am I here?”
“Because I want you. Because I need you.” He touched her cheek, his voice gentling. “Surely you know — there’s no one else like you. I need a companion — and you are perfection.” He leaned in to her, and his skin was so warm, and his hearts beat so loud. “I’ll give you everything. I’ll give you the world, Lucy Cole.”
She sighed. Yes, yes. This is what she had been waiting for. Her fingers slide up his chest, down his stomach. “Oh … you know. I don’t know what to call you.”
He smiled that little smile, tilting in. “I’m called The Master.”
“Appropriate… but not so much for public appearances? Definitely not in your biography.” She murmured, silenced as his lips touched hers, and they were fire and ice — every star in the universe dying at once.
He smiled again, and the stars smiled with him against her mouth, as he muttered. “Call me Harry.” He kissed her again, and she held on as they burned the stars together.
Maybe there's a devil somewhere really deep inside me - Devil inside of me
Jealous angel deep inside me.
Time to make it burn - This is how I burn.