It was a simple caper that should have gone smoothly.
They had planned it, him and his partner.
They'd seen the expensive necklace in person i it had been commissioned by the old king for his wife - an obscene, diamond necklace that was a beast for the jewelers to work on, a row of seventeen diamonds large like shallots, linked together with silver links in gluttonous decadence. It proved egregious to sell, even the current queen refusing it despite their begging.
They'd feigned correspondence - the foolish nobleman handing them the necklace on a silver platter to be taken apart like meat on a slab, and they butchered it meticulously, ready for it to be sold all throughout the black market.
But then the damn boy got greedy, demanding a higher cut, and nearly taking off his shoulder with his revolver, and his whining was getting almost unbearable and he couldn't think straight through all of his hysterics.
So he shot him in the chest.
He didn't quite account for the ricochet to be so loud, and for the police to find him so quickly with blood on his hands and a dead body at his boots.
He had woven through the winding alleys and the labyrinth of the city before he finally sought his opportunity for escape from the men in blue, their horses determined to catch him as they charged at him furiously.
But his legs are far more nimble, jumping over fences and rooftops with ease, the men barrelling straight into carts and angered vendors.
He'd escaped to the docks, stealing one of the rowboats that almost no ever used - the wood damp and the rope nearly corroded to bits as he cut it in one fell stroke with his pocket knife.
Now he finds himself drifting on the sea, like Charon ferrying the dead across the river Styx. His limbs are tired and his favorite overcoat is drenched, but it is a small price to pay for freedom, unless he would prefer the rouge choker from the guillotine, his head fetching a fine price. The sea rocks him gently, the air kissing life into his lungs as his arms burn with exhaustion as he aggressively works his oars, determination fueling and outweighing the lethargy, with a dash of adrenaline.
Eventually in his half tired state and wandering in the little boat, he finally sees a large. ornate villa in the distance, on the very coast of nothing but trees and forest, the clouds shrouding the needy sunlight, its desire to blind inhibited.
It finally drifts onto its coast, and he looks up at the grand place in awe. Perhaps it's owned by a solitary aristocrat - housing its very own Calypso. Perhaps her coffers are filled with gold - her collections of art fetching a fine price. He knows that any minute the sun will depart, and he cannot allow himself to be stranded and left to the whims of the night's fickle desires.
The front doors are made of mahogany, carved in intricate, ornate patterns, like roses. He knocks on them with his weather beaten knuckles, and it opens to reveal a woman. She is statuesque, towering over him as she gazes down at him through cavernous violet eyes. Her pallid face is angular and smooth, the curve of her red lips regarding him with slight amusement. Impressive jewels line her gloves and neck, a garland sitting on her shoulders as she's clad in a long, black gown. A wide brimmed hat sits atop her head.
"Can I help you, Sir?" She says with an almost hypnotic voice, the kind that dances and wafts around you, that could lull hardened soldiers into a thousand year slumber. "I don't think I've ever seen you around these parts before."
He almost forgets to speak - that any breath he draws will be stolen by her and savored, but he composes himself, preparing his lies like a row of cards in stress and musters up his best approachable, solemn face.
"I regret to intrude on you like this, Madame," he begins. 'But I just went through a dreadful spell of bad luck and the most horrendous journey. I was on a trading ship to Venice, and a horrible storm struck and I barely escaped with my life. I ended up stranded here."
A little white lie. She doesn't need to know all the minor details.
"I'm only asking for a place to stay for the night. I don't have anywhere else to go and I promise I'll be out of your hair come sunrise."
He tries his best to bear the shreds of his soul that he can offer - the parts that still remain.
"How do I know you're not trying to swindle me?" The woman lifts her chin at him, folding her arms. "There are many who come here and lie about their intentions. What proof do you have of your honesty?"
He takes the ring off his finger - the only thing he's earned genuinely in his life. It serves as a reminder of what parted with him far too soon, a piece of his heart that died long with it.
He gives it up to her, like an offering to a deity.
She inspects its emerald, eyes stirring with an emotion he can't quite discern.
"Alright. But only for one night." The woman says, moving aside to offer him passage. "Come in."