I'm in Love with a Stripper (a One Direction Fanfiction)

After the tragic loss of her parents, Leila Karim abandons her life in Bradford and sets her sights on London. Working as a stripper at Victory Strip Club under the stage name Bambi, ex-best friend and pop superstar Zayn Malik is the last person Leila expected to be sitting in the audience watching her undress. Will Leila find herself falling for Zayn all over again or will cheeky Harry Styles win her heart instead?

168Likes
161Comments
35261Views
AA

20. Happy Birthday Louis III

A/N: Thanks for reading everyone, and enjoy the final installment of Happy Birthday Louis!

 

Happy Birthday Louis (Part III)

 

Leila’s P.O.V:

Scanning my eyes across the various bottles of champagne lining the wine cellar walls, I at last located the 1890 Laurent-Perrier that Louis had requested to have served at his that night. Standing on the tips of my toes, I plucked it from the shelf, Harry’s green eyes flashing across my mind for the thousandth time that hour. Cradling the bottle of champagne to my chest, I let out a shaky breath, squeezing my eyes shut and suppressing the urge to cry.

I think I might love you, Leila.” Harry had whispered, his hand caressing my cheek, his green eyes filled with conviction.

How could I go on hurting Harry this way? Would pretending to be his girlfriend, pretending to be in love with him only hurt him more in the end? Would this whole charade result in his heart broken worse than if I had ended things right away as I had originally planned?

Say something, please.” Harry pleaded, only causing me to panic further and launch into an inquisition about his friendship with Fiona. I could not bring myself to reply to Harry, lie to him further by telling him the words that I had reserved for Zayn and eternally so.

Taking a deep breath to compose myself, I poked my head outside of the wine cellar, sighing in relief when I saw that McCrae had not yet managed to find me. I was sure that he was looking however, especially after the scene he had witnessed in Harry’s room not long ago.

Darting up the servant’s winding staircase as quickly as I could, I pushed open the door leading into the foyer, freezing in place when I saw Lucy and Louis speaking in hushed tones not a meter away from me. Descending back into the shadows, I held my breath and listened.

“Your cousin Edward sent word again, my Lord,” Lucy began nervously, never having been able to address Louis without stuttering. “As did your Uncle Frederic.” She concluded, awkwardly continuing to balance the tray of desserts she was holding.

Louis gave Lucy a clipped smile, apparently finding it difficult to suppress his annoyance. “And what did they say, Lucy?” Louis inquired, something unreadable flashing across his turquoise eyes.

“The same as before, My Lord,” Lucy answered, averting her eyes from Louis’. “Requesting to see your Father’s will.” She lowered her voice at this, looking from left to right to make sure no one was eavesdropping.

Louis nodded absentmindedly, having plunged deep into thought. “That will be all Lucy, thank-you.” Louis trailed off, the pallor of his face white as he entered the drawing room, Lucy following behind him.

Wondering why anyone besides Louis or Liam would need to see Robert Lunkenheimer’s will, I straightened my back, carrying the Laurent-Perrier into the drawing room. The first thing my eyes locked with was Zayn’s dark gaze, only holding me for a moment before returning to the stack of cards he was shuffling. A tuxedo clad Liam and Harry sat around a low table, various piles of poker chips and loose gold coins sitting in front of them, Zayn sitting on the very opposite side acting as what appeared to be the house dealer. Harry’s green eyes found me then, lighting up when they met with mine, a cheeky smirk appearing on his lips at the sight of me. Offering Harry a small smile, I glanced over to the footman at the far end of the room, expecting it to be Charlie but seeing Andrew, the stable boy that Lucy had been flirting with the other night standing in his place.

Andrew was clad in what Charlie usually wore, black trousers, a white dress shirt, and black waistcoat, looking like he had bathed for the first time in months.

“Where’s Charlie?” I whispered to Andrew once I approached him, noticing that the poor dark-haired boy was shaking, most likely thrust into the situation without any warning at all.

“He’s taken ill.” Andrew replied quietly, his eyes flickering over to Louis nervously. “How do I look?” He stammered, beads of sweat appearing on his forehead.

“Not a hair out of place.” I assured him, handing the champagne to him. “Is there anything else I need to bring from the kitchens?”

Andrew shook his head, focusing all of his attention on opening the champagne without it exploding everywhere. Stealing a quick glance at Louis, I saw that him and Eleanor looked to be in the midst of an argument by the grand piano, Eleanor looking demure in a deep purple gown. Snapping at him one last time, Eleanor stormed off towards Danielle, Charlotte, and Fiona on the far side of the room, shooting me a quick wink as she passed. Watching Eleanor’s retreating back, I saw that from a distance, Fiona’s eyes were burning a hole into my skull.

“Does anyone know how to play this thing?” Louis exclaimed drunkenly, knocking back a glass of the champagne with one gulp and gesturing to the piano with a white gloved hand.

“Forgive me my Lord, but I do believe Miss Leila knows her way around a piano.” Lucy mused playfully, coming up behind me with a smile tugging at her lips.

Louis’ gaze as well as the rest of the room’s inhabitants fell upon me, my face erupting into flames at the attention. “Lucy!” I hissed below my breath, regretting having told her about my favourite pastime other than reading.

“Is that right?” Louis drawled, waving over Andrew in order to fill his cup once again. “Then by all means, play.” Louis offered in what felt more like a command than a suggestion.

Clearing my throat awkwardly, I trudged over to the grand piano, Louis watching me with great interest as I dusted off my skirt and slid fluidly onto the black stool. Splaying my fingers across the ivory keys, I began to play Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’, Louis muttering “marvelous, marvelous” and then returning to his game of poker. Peering over my shoulder towards the poker table as I played, I could sense that Zayn craved to meet my gaze as I craved to meet his, the both of us denying ourselves however on the account of Harry Styles sitting not a meter away.

Zayn’s P.O.V:

Harry was grinning at me from across the table and so I refused myself another glance at Leila, already having risked one a few minutes before when she had entered. Louis made his way back to the poker table, straightening out his tuxedo before taking his seat next to Liam. Leila’s playing calmed me as I shuffled, settling into the rhythmic pattern of dealing and flipping cards. Earlier that day I had had been summoned by Louis in order to sit in as house dealer, being told not to bother with my chauffeur cap but to still dress presentably. I was beginning to grow more and more annoyed at how seriously Louis was taking the whole murder mystery thing, what with staying in character at all times. Apparently Niall had been doing such a good job of it that we hadn’t even seen him yet.

“I call and raise you six thousand.” Louis countered Harry’s bet with a smirk, tossing a small pile of green chips into the middle of the table.

“Can you really afford to do that, Louis?” Liam snapped, a notable grimace appearing on his face and his brow falling into a heavy line.

Ignoring Liam, Louis instead turned his attention to Harry who was peering down at his cards. “So Styles, do you plan on incorporating those new lighting techniques I’ve heard are all the rage in Hollywood?” Louis inquired, plucking a fat cigar from his breast pocket and lighting the bottom of it.

“With you backing the project, we can do anything you’d like Mr. Lunkenheimer.” Harry riposted jokingly with a shrug. “I’ll raise you ten thousand.” He added, tossing a blue chip into the middle.

At this Liam jumped to his feet, a mixture of anger and revulsion written across his face. “I think I’ll go lay down for a bit, I’m suddenly feeling quite ill.” He hissed at Louis who simply puffed away at his cigar. And with that Liam stormed out of the room, Louis not bothering to stop him.

“He never could hold his liquor!” Louis let out a hearty laugh, eccentrically blowing a tuft of smoke out of his mouth and loosening his bowtie with his spare hand.

Placing the fifth and final card down for them to see, I had completely reached my limit with Louis and his eccentricities. “Honestly, Louis, couldn’t we have celebrated your birthday at a pub for a change?” I leaned over, muttering through clenched teeth. “Each year it gets more and more ridiculous!”

Not acknowledging what I had said for even a second, Louis leapt to his feet and screamed “FULL HOUSE!” vigorously thrusting his cards onto the table, revealing a pair of pocket aces to accompany the three jacks that had been dealt by the house. “You’ve been had Styles!” Louis said, letting out a mocking laugh.

With this Harry laid his losing hand of a two of hearts and six of spades out in defeat, glancing at me across the table. “I blame it on the dodgy dealing.” He said playfully, a slow smile finding his lips, leaving me wondering if beneath it all, Harry meant what he said.

Glaring at Harry across the poker table, I imaged him kissing Leila, holding her, and involuntarily began to shake, but was drawn from my thoughts when the housekeeper Ms. Croft materialized next to Louis, her wiry blonde hair slicked back into its usual bun without a hair out of place, her cool grey eyes surveying the three of us with indifference.

“Pardon my intrusion my Lord,” Ms. Croft began ceremoniously, her hands clasped behind her back. “There is a telephone call for you in your study, and according to the caller it is urgent.” Ms. Croft concluded, emphasizing its importance.

Glaring at Ms. Croft in slight annoyance, Louis let out a defeated sigh, blotting out the butt of his cigar on the silver ashtray. “Right, duty calls boys.” Louis announced with grandiose, hoping that adjusting his crooked bowtie would convince Ms. Croft that he wasn’t as drunk as he actually was. “Don’t even think about pinching my chips while I’m gone.” He pointedly told me right before setting out towards his study, Ms. Croft gracefully following him out of the room. This of course left Harry and I with only each other for company, Leila’s soft playing having left most of the room’s inhabitants in a lull.

Since officially starting things up with Leila, I had avoided Harry the best that I could, dodging his phone calls and nights out with the lads, but with our UK arena tour rapidly approaching, it would prove to be more difficult. Already having shuffled the deck of cards far more than was necessary, I spared a glance at Harry whose serious green eyes were focused on Leila, his expression unreadable as he gazed upon her. Finally allowing myself a glance at Leila, I watched as her small hands moved languidly across the piano, her hair falling in a heavy black curtain against her tanned cheek. Leila was so immersed in her playing that she completely was unaware of the both of us watching her from a distance. Realizing that I had looked for too long, I glanced back at the table, having no choice but to shuffle the deck of cards once more.

Beautiful, isn’t she?” Harry suddenly spoke up from across the table. Glancing up I saw that Harry had focused his gaze on me, his lips twitching upwards into his usual cheeky smile.

Tensing my jaw, I began to nod my head slowly, not breaking Harry’s gaze. “Very.” I agreed. “You’re a lucky man, Harry.” I said with a smile, hoping that my eyes would not betray my want to throttle his neck.

Nodding with a hint of a smile still on his lips, Harry got to his feet, reaching into the inner pocket of his suit jacket and pulled out a few banknotes, emphatically placing them on the table. “To start you on that loan you need.” Harry smirked, painstakingly sliding the banknotes across the green felt until they were directly in front of me. Looking up from the banknotes to Harry, he had already sauntered over to the other side of the room to chat with a sulking Danielle who appeared to be bored-to-death with whatever Fiona and Charlotte had been chatting about. Swallowing hard in order to contain my anger, I found myself glancing over at Leila to see that her worried brown eyes were already on me, her fingers hovering over the keys of the piano. Nodding once, I wordlessly promised her that I would control myself. A relived smile appeared on Leila’s pink lips; however it did not last for long.

Leila’s P.O.V:

A blood curdling scream echoed throughout Wrotham Manor, bouncing off the ancient walls and embedding itself into every hidden corridor. The screaming grew louder and more hysterical, Charlotte letting out a horrified gasp and letting her glass of champagne slip from her hand, Fiona heavily rolling her eyes at her friend. Jumping up from my seat at the piano, I frantically looked towards Zayn who had already bounded out of his seat and was heading towards the door.

Stay here!” Zayn discreetly whispered as he passed by, the expression in his stormy brown eyes telling me that he was not joking around.

Opening my mouth to refuse, I defiantly followed behind Zayn towards the door, Danielle’s wide eyes stopping me in my tracks, warning me that I was on the verge of making things obvious. Striding over to the door, Zayn poked his head around the corner, attempting to identify the source of the screaming. Closing my mouth and stopping my approach, I felt Harry’s strong arm pull me back, his green eyes peering down into mine. “Wait here.” He told me sternly, his gaze flickered to Zayn whose brown eyes were slowly travelling up from Harry’s protective arm on my waist. “We’ll go see what’s happened.” Harry added resolutely.

At this, Zayn nodded determinedly. “Let’s go.” He said, tensing his jaw, his eyes flickering out into the hallway instead of towards me. And with this Harry stepped away from me, the both of them darting out into the hallway.

He’s dead, he’s dead!” The screaming at last formed into distinguishable words before stopping altogether, and with a quick look around the room I realized that Eleanor was indeed missing. Charlotte had sat herself down onto the chaise lounge and was vigorously fanning herself, Danielle sitting down next to her and gently rubbing her back, her worried brown eyes momentarily locking with mine. Peering over my shoulder I saw that Lucy and Andrew were leaned against a wall at the very back of the drawing room; Lucy curled into Andrew’s broad chest, shaking with fear, Andrew gently stroking her arm although he too look terrified.

 

Fiona however, stood with her arms stubbornly crossed over her chest, her blue eyes narrowed in anger. “Are we just supposed to sit here and wait to be murdered as well?” She spat in annoyance, purposely avoiding my gaze, most likely embarrassed by what she had said during our altercation earlier.

“I for one, don’t intend to.” I declared with mock courage, Fiona’s blue eyes unwillingly flickering towards me. “I’m going to go see what’s the matter.” I announced, not wanting to disobey either Zayn or Harry but also wanting to make sure that they were alright.

With this I started towards the door, Fiona’s shrill voice suddenly speaking up. “Wait!” She proclaimed, her blue eyes blazing. “I’m coming with you!” She said firmly, striding towards me and hiking her gown upwards in order to move easily. Wanting to refuse her at first, I thought better of it. Even if Fiona was my enemy, at least I would not be wandering the halls of Wrotham Manor alone. And so with one final glance at one another, the both of us wordlessly ducked into the dark hallway as unlikely allies.

*

Tip-toeing towards Louis’ study, we saw that the doors had been left slightly ajar, light from the room pooling into the darkened hallway. As we drew closer, the distinct chatter of voices could be heard from inside, as well as a series of uncontrollable sobs. Taking a backwards glance at Fiona, she nodded her blonde head once, silently agreeing that we should go in. And so with one deep breath, I pushed through the doors, Fiona following behind me. Harry and Zayn’s heads both shot towards the doors at our entrance, Zayn not bothering to hide his displeased look at my arrival. Harry was seated on the red leather sofa nearest to the entrance, a still sobbing Eleanor weeping into his shoulder.

“Leila, I told you to wait in the drawing room!” Harry tsked in disappointment, attempting to untangle himself from Eleanor’s iron grasp.

He’s dead, he’s dead!” Eleanor wailed, blowing her nose into a white handkerchief. “My beloved is dead!”

And with one final stormy look, Zayn took a step to the right, revealing a very dead Louis Lunkenheimer slumped over in his desk, a knife protruding from his back.

My God.” I uttered in terror, raising m hand to my mouth while Fiona took in a sharp intake of breath, her already light countenance paling further.

Just then, Ms. Croft and other members of the staff came barreling through the door, her eyes widening in horror and a shaky breath emerging from her lips. “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.” She whispered, leaning onto Philip who looked equally frightened. “Is he…” She trailed off weakly, her eyes traveling to Harry who grimly nodded his head of curls in reply.

Just then in a blur of orange and yellow, Collin, Virginia, and Victoria crashed through the doors, the twins letting out petrified shrieks at the sight of their just murdered Master, Collin simply freezing in place, his blue eyes about to pop out of his head.

“I’m sure nothing’s the matter, Charlotte…” Danielle’s comforting voice could be heard approaching the study, and within seconds her and Charlotte were standing at the mouth of the room, their mouths dropping at the sight of Louis sprawled across his desk, Lucy and Andrew’s ghostly white faces visible behind them.

“What is all the commotion?” I could hear Liam exclaim in irritation, and within moments he was breaking through the small thicket of people crowding the doorway of Louis’ study, his usually content face falling at the sight of his unresponsive brother. “Louis?” He inquired weakly, his face growing more and more terrified with each passing second. “Louis?” He repeated again, yelling this time and sprinting to Louis’ side. “Who did this?” He screamed hysterically, realizing that Louis indeed had been murdered.

It could’ve been anyone.” Collin spoke up quietly, shrinking back against the wall when the whole room turned to look at him in discontent.

“Have the police been called?” Ms. Croft interjected suddenly, finally having regained her composure. She was no longer leaning against Philip any longer, but instead was standing at her full height with a look of determination in her grey eyes.

“No, not yet.” Eleanor sniffed from her seat at the sofa, reaching up to dab her handkerchief at the corners of her eyes.

Ms. Croft’s cool gaze flickered over to Zayn who had leaned himself up against a book shelf, his hands stuffed into his pockets. “Zayn,” Ms. Croft began placidly. “Drive to the police department in town and fetch Inspector Horan.” And with a curt nod, Zayn kicked off the wall and strode towards the exit, his dark eyes fleetingly meeting with mine.

Wait!” Harry stepped forward, his green eyes blazing with anger. At this Zayn halted his retreat, turning slowly to cast his gaze upon Harry. “How do we know that Zayn isn’t the one that killed Louis?” Harry continued sourly, directing his statement to Ms. Croft. “If that’s the case, we’re arranging his get-away for him!”

Ms. Croft let out a sigh, the events of the past few minutes seeming to have exhausted her already. “It’s a risk we’ll simply have to take Mr. Styles,” Ms. Croft informed Harry, turning to Zayn once again and nodding her head. “Go.” She permitted him, and without another word, Zayn was on his way, his stormy eyes trained directly in front of his as he exited Louis’ study.

“And until they return, no one is permitted to leave Wrotham Manor,” Ms. Croft went on ominously, taking the time to observe each of us with her frigid grey eyes. “This is the scene of crime. A murder has been committed and we are all suspects.” She concluded. And with that, I along with everyone else present in Louis’ study began to glance discreetly at one another, realizing that amongst us was indeed a killer.

*

Trekking quietly into the servant’s quarters, I walked along the hallway deep in thought, a tray of soup, tea, and a buttered bun balanced in my hands. Just under an hour ago, Louis Lunkenheimer had been viciously murdered in his very own study, a knife having been jammed into his back. It was not yet evident who had killed Louis; however I could not shake the suspicion that the one person who had conveniently been absent the whole night might have something to do with it.

 

Stopping in front of McCrae’s door, I gently knocked on it twice, seeing that a shirtless Charlie was sprawled out in bed upon entering. Jolting upwards into a sitting position, Charlie’s mouth fell open when he saw that it was me who had come calling.

“To what do I owe the pleasure?” Charlie inquired in astonishment, the usual flirtatious tone in his voice absent for once.

“I thought you might be hungry.” I gave Charlie a guarded smile, approaching his bed and placing the tray of hot food on him lap. Charlie was blinking at me in confusion, his cheeks flushed, from fever or from the exhilaration of murder I wasn’t sure. Charlie watched me as I perched myself on the side of his bed, his expression unreadable.

Thanks.” Charlie sniffed after a moment, glancing down at the food on his lap skeptically. Picking up his spoon, he thrust it into the steaming bowl of soup. “Croft told me about what happened to Master Louis.” Charlie spoke quietly, slurping at his soup. “Completely maddening.” He shook his head in disbelief, his brown eyes flickering to mine.

I nodded in agreement, allowing my eyes to scan the contents of Charlie’s room. “Ms. Croft says that we’re all suspects,” I said, turning back to face him. “That any of us could’ve done it.” I added nonchalantly, Charlie freezing in place at my statement, his spoon just inches from his mouth.

Lowering his hand, Charlie glanced up at me with narrowed eyes. “Is that what this is about?” He spoke quietly, his eyes blazing. “Do you think I murdered Master Louis?” He accused me, his nostrils flaring.

“I wouldn’t blame you if you did, McCrae.” I exclaimed passionately, thinking that if McCrae had in fact murdered Louis that I would not be angry at him, that I would pity him if anything. “He treated you like garbage!” I went on, Charlie’s face falling at my words.

Closing his eyes, Charlie took a deep breath. “I may be a prick, Leila.” Charlie began softly, his brown eyes fluttering open. “But what I am not is a murderer.” He told me in earnest, placing his hand atop of mine to emphasize what he had said.

Peering into Charlie’s sincere eyes, I could not help but believe what he said and the distinct feeling of both guilt and regret began to course through my body. I let out a breath and shook my head, wondering what had come over me. “I’m sorry, Charlie.” I whispered, withdrawing my hand from beneath his, unable to look him in the eye.

“Water under the bridge, Miss Leila.” Charlie gave me a boyish smile. Picking up the buttered bun, he took an enormous bite from it. “This is good.” He said waving the bun at me.

Shaking my head with a grin, I hopped to my feet, the day’s events suddenly weighing heavily on me. “I think I should be getting to bed, then.” I told Charlie with a pointed smile, my eyes drifting towards a framed photograph on his bedside table. Taking a step towards the picture, my blood ran cold when I saw that the photograph was the very same one that I had seen in Robert Lunkenheimer’s secret office, a woman with a scarf covering her hair lovingly kissing her son on the cheek. My heart began to thud rapidly in my chest. Could it be? Was the woman in the photograph Helen?  And was the little boy in the picture Charlie McCrae?

Maintaining my composure, I picked up the frame off Charlie’s bedside table, bringing it right up to my face in case I had made a mistake. “Who’s this in the picture, McCrae?” I asked weakly, attempting to suppress the shaking of my fingers.

“My Mother and I.” Charlie murmured, plucking the photograph from my hands to observe it for himself, a sad smile appearing on his lips. “It’s not much, but it’s all I have of her.” He told me, gently placing the frame back on his bedside table, his brown eyes falling to his lap.

I attempted to suppress the look of horror on my face, struggling to find the appropriate words to say. “I’m so sorry, Charlie.” I whispered, having known the loss of my own Mother and the emptiness that came with it. “Do you remember her?” I inquired softly. Charlie McCrae, the illegitimate son of Robert Lunkenheimer? My head was sent into a dizzying spin. Was I to tell Charlie of my suspicions or was I to confirm them first?

“No,” Charlie told me, a self-deprecating smile finding his lips. “I don’t even know her name.” He trailed off. “Was raised in an orphanage my whole life until I found work here at Wrotham when I was sixteen. It’s a real wonder they’d functioned at all before I came…” Charlie prattled on.

Her name is Helen, I wanted to tell him. To give Charlie something other than an old photograph to hold on to. But first I had to be sure of my suspicions, to have tangible proof before turning Charlie’s life upside down. And I knew just where I could get it.

*

Creeping silently down the hallway adjacent to Louis’ study, I could hear the sound of indiscernible whispering, Ms. Croft and none other than Niall Horan turning the corner. Niall was clad in a tweed overcoat, his shock of blonde hair tucked into a matching hat, and a wooden pipe secured in his right hand. Slithering back into the darkness before I was seen, I held my breath, praying that they would not spot me.

“What news do you have Inspector?” Ms. Croft queried, securing a powder blue shawl around her shoulders as they walked. There were dark circles around Ms. Croft’s eyes, suggesting that she had not yet slept.

Niall sighed, taking a puff from his wooden pipe. “There is no doubt in my mind that this was deliberate, Ms. Croft.” Niall told her quietly, taking a quick glance around to ensure that no one was listening. “It was no accident.” He emphasized, his blue eyes wide.

Ms Croft let out a groan, rubbing her face with her hands. “Have you any idea who did this, Inspector?” She let out a desperate sigh.

“I’m sorry, Ms. Croft,” Niall apologized, “But even if I did, I couldn’t tell you.” He informed her just as they passed by where I was hiding. Pressing myself up against the wall, Niall and Ms. Croft were at last out of sight, the hallway silent except for my quiet breathing. Waiting a moment to ensure they didn’t return, I trailed along the wall until I reached the doors to Louis’ study, slowly turning the handle and slipping inside.

The study was illuminated by a series of gas lights, Louis’ body noticeably missing from his desk, a faint outline of chalk as well as a smear of blood left in its wake. Inching towards Louis’ desk, I was relieved to see that his safe had not been moved. Crouching down in front of it, I attempted to pry it open, disappointed to see that it had been locked as I suspected it would be. Staring at the dial in concentration, I attempted the date of Louis’ birthday first.

“12,” I said beneath my breath as I turned the dial to the right, certain that the combination would work. “24,” I turned it to the left. “19,” To the right, “91.” Turning the dial to the left, I pulled viciously at the handle, groaning when it did not budge. “Eleanor’s birthday?” I pondered aloud, surveying the dial. “Or…” I trailed off, a smile finding my lips as an idea popped into my head. “7,” I turned the dial to the right. “23,” To the left, “20,” To the right, “10!” I exclaimed, turning the dial to the final digit of the date that One Direction formed as a group, the door of the safe popping open. “Bingo.” I whispered, seeing that the brown envelope Louis had placed in the safe the previous night was still there. Plucking the envelope from the safe, I reached my hand inside, pulling out a small stack of documents.

The Last Will and Testament of Robert Edward Lunkenheimer, the front of the document read.

Flipping over the page, I furiously began to scan the document..

…It is with great regret that I REVOKE my first son Louis William Lunkenheimer of all entitlements to the Lunkenheimer estate. I BEQUEATH my second son Charlie Theodore McCrae as sole heir, followed by my third and final son Liam James Lunkenheimer after him. I APPOINT Liam James Lunkenheimer as the executor of this will and employ him to see out my final wishes as stated in this document.

I would like to EXPRESS my deepest apology to you Charlie, I am sorry that I was unable to be a father to you, forgive me. Liam, I would like to EXPRESS my hope that one day, you will come to accept Charlie as both your brother and your equal.

My heart was beating erratically, my mind racing at the words I had just read. I glanced down at the document once again, assuring myself that I had not hallucinated the whole thing. It had been worse than I originally thought. Charlie was not only the son of Robert Lunkenheimer; but he was also the Lord of Wrotham Manor itself.

*

Early the next morning, a sharp knock sounded at my door, Ms. Croft notifying me that Inspector Horan would be holding interrogations in the drawing room and that I was next on his list. Quickly dressing in my uniform, I spun my hair into a French twist. Securing my bonnet into it hurriedly, I pinched my cheeks to bring some colour to my tired face, dark circles having chiseled themselves beneath my eyes after a nearly sleepless night.

Rushing towards the drawing room, I halted in my tracks when I saw that a still ill looking Charlie was in the midst of being questioned by Niall. Ducking behind the limestone carving of a gargoyle, I was able to catch the last few sentences of their exchange.

 

“I’m telling you I was in bed sick the entire night!” Charlie insisted, coughing viciously into his sleeve, a cool sheen of sweat coating his forehead.

Niall leaned back in his chair, assessing Charlie with a hint of skepticism in his blue eyes. “Giving you all the more opportunity to sneak off and murder Mr. Lunkenheimer in cold blood!” Niall exclaimed heatedly.

“No!” Charlie exclaimed, his outburst causing him to launch into a series of coughing once again. “I would never hurt Master Louis, no matter how he treated me!” Charlie emphasized, his brown eyes pleading.

“We’ll see about that, Mr. McCrae.” Niall countered, his eyes flickering over to where I was leaning discreetly against the gargoyle statue. “You may go now; I see that Ms. Karim has arrived, albeit early.” Niall added, his blue eyes dancing.

Leaping out from behind the statue, a harsh blush raised on my cheeks, Charlie turning his head to examine me as he got to his feet, likely heading back to bed to recover. Charlie, the Lord of Wrotham Manor.

“Miss Leila.” Charlie nodded his blonde head at me in greeting, the small smile on his lips conveying his thanks for the hot meal last night.

I gave him a nervous smile, forcing myself not to blurt out what I had discovered the previous night, remembering that I had decided to give the information to Niall instead. “Charlie.” I greeted him, casting my eyes to the floor as I trudged past him towards the seat he had just been occupying.

Niall watched on with great interest, his clear blue eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Please have a seat, Leila.” Niall motioned to the seat across from him, and so I perched awkwardly in the upholstered easy chair, an almost humorous silence settling in between us.

A faraway grandfather clock chimed in the distance, Niall opening his small notebook to survey its contents. “So you had a few questions for me, Niall?” I inquired, leaning forwards in an attempt to see what he was scribbling.

Abruptly shutting his notebook closed, Niall glanced up at me. “So Leila,” He began, a small smile on his lips. “You’ve been a housemaid here for a total of three days, is that correct?”

“That’s correct.” I answered haughtily, not wanting to feign signs of guilt for a crime I did not commit.

Niall nodded his head in thought, plucking his Inspector cap off his head. “Do you remember how Mr. Lunkenheimer was killed, Leila?”

Taken aback at Niall’s question, I began to frown. “Yes, he was stabbed.” I told him with a grimace. “In the back.”

Correct!” Niall answered cheerfully, an amused smile on his lips. “However, the night that Mr. Lunkenheimer was killed, there was a second attempt at his life, although unsuccessful.” And with that Niall reached his hand into the pocket of his tweed coat, pulling out the very same bottle of Mort aux Rats that Ms. Croft had given me to treat the rat problem in Louis’ study. “Poison.” Niall told me ominously, my face losing all colour as he waved the bottle around. “Slipped into Louis’ evening brandy.”

I cleared my throat, attempting to maintain my composure. “And you think I did this?” I asked Niall, panic rising in my throat.

“Things are looking quite grim for you, Leila.” Niall shook his head. “Helen maintains you took far longer than you should have when tending to the rat infestation in Mr. Lunkenheimer’s study.”

My head shot up from my lap at Niall’s words, my blood running cold. “Helen?” I clarified, my eyes popping out of my head.

“Yes, Leila. Helen Croft.” Niall rolled his eyes, returning the rat poison into the inner pocket of his coat. “The housekeeper of Wrotham Manor and the woman you’ve been working under for the past three days.” He concluded with an annoyed sigh.

At this I leapt to my feet, my heart slamming against the walls of my chest. “Niall,” I breathed. “I know who killed Louis.”

*

Niall had promptly gathered everyone in the drawing room; from the stable boy Andrew to the gardener Mr. Finnegan to Charlie McCrae, each inhabitant of Wrotham was present, save for Louis of course. A dapperly dressed Harry sat across from me, his green eyes flickering to mine in silence. My stomach began to churn when I recalled the words he had spoken to me on his bed, “I think I might love you, Leila.” Harry’s words replayed over and over again in my mind. The fact that this temporary sabbatical from reality was ending meant that Harry could no longer go unanswered, that Charlie wouldn’t be there to interrupt the next time he told me he loved me and expected an answer in return. Shifting my eyes to the other side of the room, I stole a glance at Zayn whose dark eyes were trained on the floor. I knew that Zayn was frustrated, upset at the situation that we had ended up in, the both of us powerless in changing anything so long as I was the girlfriend of Harry Styles. Deep inside however, a small voice pondered if we were doomed to fail, doomed to be pried apart and left with only our memories of Bradford, and of each other.

“Thank you all for joining me.” Niall announced, the dull chatter in the room dispersing when he began to speak. “I have gathered you all here in order to reveal the findings of my investigation.”

“We don’t need you to know that it was Lady Lunkenheimer who did it!” A female voice, likely Victoria’s, exclaimed from the back of the drawing room.

Me?” Eleanor exclaimed incredulously, her hand pressed to her chest.

At this, the entire room joined in, viciously accusing one another of murdering Louis.

“Phillip did it!” Andrew barked out nervously, pulling Lucy close to him. “Master Louis hated the way Phillip makes duck and so he killed him for it!”

 

“It was Leila.” Fiona’s voice drawled from where she was perched daintily on an easy chair, a cruel smirk forming on her lips. “She failed with the rat poison, so she stabbed Louis in the back when he wasn’t looking instead!” She concluded, her amused gaze flickering to mine.

I gritted my teeth, my face flushing in anger. So it had been Fiona who framed me. If only I had been sadistic enough to have thought of it first!

“Zayn did it.” Harry interjected suddenly, Zayn’s head shooting up at the mention of his name. “He’s guilty, I’m certain of it!” He added, his green eyes shining.

Zayn took a step forward, a deadly storm brewing in his dark eyes. “What’d you say mate?” Zayn retorted, his jaw clenching.

I said, I think you did it.” Harry raised his eyebrows, also taking a step forward.

My eyes darted back and forth from Zayn to Harry, and in a panic I jumped up onto the chaise longue, the entire room turning to stare at me in bewilderment. “Ms. Croft killed Louis!” I yelped at the top of my lungs, hoping that my distraction would diffuse whatever was about to occur between Zayn and Harry. “And I have proof!” I added, various gasps sounding from throughout the room at my bold statement. Reaching into my apron, I pulled out Robert Lunkenheimer’s will, tossing it onto the table. Niall reached it first, opening the document and scanning his eyes over it. After a moment he glanced back up at me, his mouth gaping in shock. Ms. Croft froze in place, her face draining of all colour.

I glanced over at Charlie who was standing at the very back of all the servants, apologizing with my eyes for what I was about to do. “Charlie,” I began, Charlie parting through the others until he was standing in front of me. “Ms. Croft is your Mother.”

The countenance of Charlie’s face paled, leaving him looking even sicker than he had a moment before. Charlie glanced at Ms. Croft in horror, his frightened gaze flickering back to me. “…What?” He uttered in terror, suddenly looking so much like how he did as the small boy in the photograph.

It’s true.” Ms. Croft spoke softly, having reverted from her catatonic state, her eyes trained on the floor.

I swallowed hard. “And,” I paused, attempting to maintain my composure. “Robert Lunkenheimer was your father.”

Charlie’s eyes widened, his face slowly turning green. “How is this possible?” He croaked weakly, his voice barely a whisper. “This can’t be true!” He exclaimed hysterically, clutching his head.

Charlie.” Ms. Croft’s voice cracked, her face wrought with pain, the first evidence of her maternalism leaking through her normally iron-clad façade. “You must understand, I had no other choice but to give you up.” She whispered, her lower lip trembling.

Charlie’s face contorted with anger, hot tears flowing freely from his eyes. “You left me!” He screamed. “You left me in that hell hole for sixteen years!” He roared, his entire body shaking.

“Because it took sixteen years of convincing Robert to have him let me bring you here!” Ms. Croft roared back, also in tears. “So I could watch you grow, so I could watch my boy grow.” She sobbed, her face falling into her hands.

“Charlie.” I called, McCrae’s crazed eyes turning on me. “When Robert found out what Louis was really like, he redrafted his will. He took Louis out of it and put you in it.” I began, unsure of how to continue. “You are the Lord of Wrotham Manor.” I told him. “Louis got hold of Robert’s will and no one knew the truth, that you were the true air to Wrotham.”

Charlie’s brown eyes stared blankly at me, his mouth opening and closing various times to speak. “I, I need to sit down.” He sputtered out, collapsing heavily onto the nearest sofa.

No.” Ms. Croft announced resolutely, her red eyes trained on me. “I am guilty of abandoning my son, but I did not kill Master Louis.” She spat, a crazed look appearing in her eyes.

I stared back at Ms. Croft, at a loss for words. “Then who did?” I whispered, when suddenly Liam stepped forward, guilt wrought on his face.

“It was me! I killed Louis!” Liam announced hysterically. “I, I…” He trailed off, a momentarily confused look appearing on his face. Reaching his hand into his pocket, Liam pulled out a small piece of paper, glancing at it for a moment before looking back up at everyone. “I murdered my beloved brother Louis because he was spending all of our money on Harry’s stupid film!” Liam exclaimed, not realizing he had completely broke character. “He was going to ruin the legacy our Father left!’

Danielle began to shake her head, lowering her face in embarrassment.

“Hey!” Harry countered with narrowed eyes, apparently offended by Liam’s statement. “My movie’s going to be good!”

An irritated sigh emerged from behind us. “Well done, Liam. You really pulled it off.”

Whirling around on the sofa, I saw that Louis Tomlinson was leaning against the doorway, his arms crossed over his chest. “I knew choosing you was a bad idea.” Louis chirped sarcastically, a contagious smile finding his lips nonetheless. Louis was dressed in the very same tuxedo he had been sporting the previous night, however with one exception. He was no longer dead. “Take him away, Niall.” Louis nodded his head, and so Niall handcuffed Liam and lead him out of the drawing room, the rest of us busting into a chorus of cheers, celebrating a job well done as well as our highly anticipated return to normalcy.

*

We had just about finished loading our luggage into the numerous town cars set to drive us back to London. Struggling to carry my suitcase towards the car, with a cheeky grin, Harry took it from my hands, placing it into the boot of the car for me.

“Thanks!” I told him gratefully, collapsing against the car to catch my breath.

Harry smiled, his green eyes sparkling. “No problem, babe.” Harry whispered, leaning in to press a sweet kiss to my cheek and wrapping his arms around me. From the corner of my eye I could see Zayn pause to stare at us, his dark eyes blazing.

“You sure you didn’t forget anything?” Liam asked Zayn, materializing beside him.

Zayn turned his head from us, shifting his gaze to Liam instead. “Yeah, actually I did.” Zayn began, slamming the trunk closed harder than was necessary. “Forgot to bum a smoke off one of the actors.” He said, storming past us and towards the small group of people assembled by the front doors of the manor.

Narrowing my eyes in anger, I watched Zayn’s retreating back approach the actor who had portrayed Andrew. Nodding vigorously, Andrew offered Zayn his pack of smokes, Zayn plucking a cigarette out and placing it between his lips. Lighting it with his Zippo, Zayn took a fulfilling drag, his eyes drifting over to Harry and I once again. Sighing deeply, I knew that this was the only way that Zayn knew how to deal with stress, and that always seeing Harry and I during our close encounters was driving him mad.

“Leila?” Louis appeared next to us, ticking off both Harry and I on his head count. “Would you mind telling Fiona we’ll be leaving soon? I think she’s still inside.” At this, Harry’s grip around me slackened, and he turned to glare at Louis.

What?” Louis frowned in confusion.

“Not at all!” I told Louis with a smile, although I wasn’t too thrilled at having to converse with Fiona for longer than I already had the past three days. Slipping out of Harry’s arms, I squeezed his hand. “I’ll be right back.” I grinned, leaving Louis and Harry to bicker, heading up the steps of Wrotham Manor.

“Leila!” A voice called out. Turning in my tracks I saw that a normally dressed Charlie McCrae was bounding up the steps, Collin stumbling up the steps behind him.

Charlie, Collin!” I exclaimed in minor shock, almost having forgotten that Charlie wasn’t actually the butler turned Lord of Wrotham Manor. “You both look so,” I struggled to find the word. “Strange, actually!” I laughed. Charlie was clad in a pair of fitted dark wash jeans and black leather jacket, a motorcycle helmet tucked in the crook of his arm.

Charlie smiled at me, his brown eyes on mine. “Right well, I just wanted to say goodbye.” He began, lowering his voice to a whisper. “And that if you ever finish with these popstar duds you should give me a call. I’m at the Oxford school of Drama.” He said, slipping a piece of paper into my hand and flashing me a brilliant white smile. Stammering and unsure of what to say in reply, Charlie took the opportunity to slip his helmet over his head, dashing down the steps. “Let’s go Collin!” Charlie called over his shoulder.

Collin was staring at me, his mouth hanging slightly agape and his cheeks flushed. Also, it appeared that he was shaking. “Or call me.” He whispered suddenly, leaning in and placing a quick peck on my cheek, and placing a second piece of paper into my hand. Leaving me completely dumbfounded, Collin stumbled awkwardly down the stairs after Charlie.

Blinking after them for a moment, I could not help but smile, turning on my heel to continue into the manor. Sweeping my eyes around the archaic country home for what would likely be the last time, I made my way towards Fiona’s room, thinking that she would most likely be there. Gingerly knocking on the door, I waited patiently for her to answer, but none came for over a minute.

“Fiona?” I called out hesitantly, wishing that Louis had sent someone else to fetch her. “It’s Leila; Louis wanted me to tell you that we’ll be leaving soon.” I said, leaning my head against the door. After another minute, I decided that I’d been polite enough and turned the doorknob, slipping into Fiona’s room. One glance around told me that she’d likely had a far more comfortable stay at the Manor than I had, but of course she would probably have it no other way. Glancing ahead, I saw that the door to Fiona’s washroom had been left ajar, and so I approached, pushing the door open.

Fiona was bent over the counter, her finger covering one nostril while she used the other to snort up the remainder of a line of cocaine. Jolting upwards, Fiona was staring at me, her blue eyes wide in shock. My jaw dropped, and I took a step backwards, my mouth opening and closing but no words managing to come out.

Fiona’s shock quickly turned to anger, her face contorting. “Get out, get out, GET OUT!” Fiona screamed viciously, pushing me out of the loo and slamming the door shut in my face.

Staring at the door for a moment, my heart was racing. Gathering myself, I dashed out of Fiona’s room and made my way back to the front doors of Wrotham Manor. Slipping out into the bright December morning, I made my way towards the town car, opening the door and sliding into my seat next to Danielle. Squeezing my hand, Danielle gave me a reassuring smile. Smiling in return, I glanced out the window and back towards Wrotham Manor where Fiona still was, knowing that I had most definitely seen something I shouldn’t have. I shifted my eyes over to Zayn who was still conversing with Andrew. Sensing my gaze upon him, Zayn cast his brown eyes upon the town car, his eyes meeting with mine for a fraction of a second. Who was I to judge Fiona? Because after all, everyone had their secrets.

 

A/N: PHEWWFFF! So happy to be done with that one! Thank you all so much for your interest and for your lovely comments! I will be getting back to you all ASAP! For outfits, music, and fanart, check out my tumblr blog iminlovewithastripperfanfiction . t u m b l r . c o m !

ALSO, if you love I'm in Love with a Stripper, vote for I'm in Love with a Stripper by Jamdirection for 'Best Zayn' fic here: H t t p s : / / d o c s . g o o g l e . c o m / f o r m s / d / 1 Z c A h _ E V j a P y I q f h F 9 e Y 5 a H 1 a 4 v 1 1 3 4 R z m X E X P Z K U n T Q / v I e w f o r m (remove spaces!)

LOVE YOU ALL

XO

Join MovellasFind out what all the buzz is about. Join now to start sharing your creativity and passion
Loading ...