“Mr. Todd, please!” I shouted as I followed him through the door.
“What? You think, that after all the trouble I went through, how long I have waited, I am going to forgive and forget so easily? Well, you, my dear, are mistaken.” he yelled back, and I crossed my arms over my chest and pouted.
“All she wants is a little forgiveness, Sweeney.” I murmured his name for the first time since I had met him, and he turned around.
“Violet, just because she is your sister in law doesn’t mean you have to defend her. You know what she did was wrong, and bringing it up opened a whole new wound.”
Where had the kindness gone? It was not in his voice anymore, let alone in his face. “You know, Mr. Todd, she and Toby trusted you with their lives, and you nearly gave up that trust for one bloody vendetta. Maybe you should… forget about the judge. Go on a vacation.” I suggested, and I heard a scornful snicker. He then started walking around the room and picking up bits of clothing, his razors, and my hair ribbon. When he saw my puzzled face in the mirror, he laughed again. Not the nice, gentle laugh I knew and loved, but a newer, harsher laugh.
“My pet, you know that if I leave, you’re coming with me?” he said, darkly amused. “And don’t pretend to be shocked and refuse. You know as well as I do that you want to come.”
My pout became larger at his words, and he grabbed me by the arm and hugged me.
“Please? Your presence will help me move on faster.” he whispered, the kindness back in his voice. “I’m begging you now, Violet; don’t make me get on my knees.” I’m sure he felt my heart beating out of my chest, because as soon as he let go of me, I nodded my head. Mr. Todd grinned, thrilled as a schoolchild at my acceptance, and said, “Go get a suitcase from Nellie’s room.” I walked out the door, past a customer. I smiled at his ruffled appearance, and then rolled my eyes. They’re not coming back down these steps…
“Nellie!” I called as I walked through the door to the meat pie shop. “Nellie, Mr. Todd and I are going on a vacation. Oh, and there’s a customer.” Just as I said that, I heard the loud thud of a corpse landing in the bake room.
“What kind of vacation?” Nellie asked, wiping her hands on a towel as she came from the kitchen.
“Just… to clear his head about things, Nellie.” I reassured, and opened the door to the oven.
“Beadle.” she said happily as I shoved the thick pie into my mouth. “Finally cooked that one up. Had to get rid of Lucy’s, though, the arsenic would’ve killed all them customers. Or put ‘em in a hospital, anyway.”
“Think Mr. Todd will get the judge someday?” I wondered, drinking the gin she put in front of me. “That’s what the vacation’s for, to make him forget about the bloody judge, but… do you think he’s ever going to get him?”
Nellie shook her head. “Maybe, maybe not. That judge is going to catch on eventually, I wager. But as of today, I don’t believe he will.” We looked up at the ceiling at the loud thuds and thumps echoing through it.
“Oh! I’d better get that suitcase Mr. Todd wanted.” I remembered, and went back behind the counter and gave Nellie a kiss on the cheek. “I’ll be back down for supper.” After grabbing the suitcase, I went back upstairs, bucket of water and trunk in hand to the probably blood-soaked Mr. Todd.
“Good, you’re back, Miss Lovett.” he said quickly as I walked through the door. I placed the bucket on the table and the trunk on the floor.
“What’s wrong, love?” I asked him, and he spun around, fear in his eyes.
“I fear the judge is on to us. We have to leave for that ‘vacation’, soon as possible, or the judge will get me. Like he always wanted to…”
“What? Judge Turpin is on to us?” I repeated, dumbfounded. “We should pack, and leave tonight, at latest.” I started throwing the clothes in the trunk, worried. Sweeney put his hand on my shoulder.
“Miss Lovett, not with such haste. He has no beadle, he cannot see for himself the crimes being committed here. We will leave tonight, yes, at the earliest. If Mrs. Lovett will let us.” he said, and I threw my arms around his waist.
“Of course she’ll let us, Mr. Todd; she’ll have to, to save her own neck. I mean, Nellie may be kind hearted, but when it comes to life or death, she’s rather selfish.” I explained, muttering into his chest.
He exhaled, and placed a hand on my waist and the other on my head. “We’ll go to the sea, Miss Lovett. Tonight. Anthony can get us a cottage. He understands our cause; so does Johanna, they’ll keep the judge off Mrs. Lovett’s case, and we’ll be back in time to help her with the shop. She’ll have to close it down for a few months.” he said.
We finished packing quickly and went down the metal steps, passing Anthony on the way.
“Mr. Todd! Mrs. Lovett sent for me, and…” he started, but I interrupted.
“He’s onto us.” I said simply, and Anthony’s face registered shock.
“You’re not lying?” But after he saw the serious looks on our faces, he withdrew.
“We need your help, Anthony.” Mr. Todd said, “We need to get a cottage by the sea, to stay there for a while.” I shifted carefully. “Miss Lovett and I are going to take a little… vacation. We have to get away from London for a few months; hopefully Johanna and yourself can keep Mrs. Lovett sane while we’re gone. She’ll have to close up shop.” he explained.
“Of course, Mr. Todd. Remember, I’m forever in your debt; you kept Johanna safe for me.” Anthony agreed. I hugged him briefly, he and Mr. Todd gripped hands, and we ran down to the awaiting carriage. “All you have to do to get to the cottage my parents used to own is…” I tuned out as Anthony told Mr. Todd how to get to the cottage. I waved to Nellie, who was standing at the doorway.
“Oh, Anthony, darling, tell Johanna I said hello!” I called as the carriage pulled away from the curb. Mr. Todd pulled on my shoulder, back into the carriage and away from the window as we passed the Judge’s house. He was walking out the door in his wig and cloak, accompanied by the newer, much less nosy Beadle.
“Stay back, love.” he murmured in my ear, and I shuddered a bit. His low voice was comforting yet intimidating. “We don’t want the judge to send any constables our way, now, do we?” I shook my head and back up into Mr. Todd’s chest. He cradled me there, and I felt closer to him than ever. Was it possible that this was a kidnapping? I mean, I wanted some much to go with him… but could this be illegal? We’re considered criminals, fugitives, even. Maybe I was trusting Mr. Todd too much, but I have faith in his intentions.
“Miss Lovett, Violet, love, wake up. We’re here.” I felt Mr. Todd’s cold hands on my face.
“Mr. Todd?” I opened my eye to the harsh sunlight. “It took us all night to get here?” I asked, peering out the window and absorbing the new sights.
“Yes, it did. We took a bit of a pit stop in Buckingham, but we made it!” He sounded jubilant. I hugged him, and he hugged back.
“Oh, darling, I know it’s always been Nellie’s dream, but-but I couldn’t be happier!” I was ecstatic; it was him, me, and the sea…
“Good, because we’ll be here for a while.” he said, and we took our things out of the back of the trunk and sent the driver on his way.
We walked into the small brick and stone cottage, feeling on top of the world as we tossed our things into the dressers and set up house.
“Go write a letter to Mrs. Lovett, tell her we settled in nicely. She won’t worry about us that way.” Mr. Todd told me. I nodded and took my ink, quill, and parchment into the drawing room.
Mr. Todd and I have settled in quite nicely in our cottage by the sea. He seems to be much happier now that it comes to it, and I wrote this letter to reassure you about our welfare. I’ve never seen the poor man happier, and I hope it stays that way. Quite sorry you had to close up shop, but it was for the best, deary. Well, lots of love and kisses. I know you’re lonely without Albert to keep you company, but Anthony and Johanna will see that they keep you company. Perhaps you could give Johanna that motherly affection you’ve been dying to give her. I love you, Nellie, and hopefully your sanity stays about you.
Your darling, Violet.
I put the letter in an envelope and gave it to Mr. Todd. He took one look at it and nodded. “Keep that handy.” he said, and I placed it on the kitchen table.
“Want some tea, love?” I asked him, and he nodded once more. “I’ll set to work, then. What’re you working on, anyway?”
“Some new… identities for us.” he muttered, and I put the pot down on the stove and peered over his shoulder.
“Mr. and Mrs. Todd Harnett?” I laughed, and I cocked an eyebrow. “Well, then, what’s my name?”
“You have a say in that.” he replied, and I placed a hand on my chin and thought about it.
“Hm… perhaps Katherine?” I wondered, and he nodded.
“Todd and Katherine Harnett. Perfect.” he murmured happily. “Although, of course, we’ll need a marriage certificate… and they aren’t easy to forge…” We sat there, trying to figure out how we could make it seem we were married.
“Perhaps… we may not have to forge it.” I suggested, and he looked at me in wonder.
“Speak.” Mr. Todd said, and I exhaled.
“We can’t forge a certificate, obviously, so maybe… we shouldn’t fake it. We could…” I trailed off, hoping he would understand what I was trying to say.
“Get married…?” he proposed, and I looked at him, a severe blush on my face.