It wasn't unusual for Lucy to be running through the tube station at 7:45 in the morning, her overly dull black plimsoles slamming against the tiled steps leading up the busy London street. She gasped at the fresh air she was finally able to breath but didn't slow down, beginning to push through the large crowds of people gathered around. They were all most likely on their way to work like she was, but that didn't mean she spared them any sympathy. She was running late and had 15 minutes to travel down five streets, almost one and a half miles, and into the deserted area of Kensington Gardens.
The black tunic she wore didn't at all hide the profession she belonged to, neither did the way her hair was scrapped back away from her face and secured with grips into a neat bun. But if even that wasn't enough, the pair of bright yellow rubber gloves and the new, unopened packet of multipurpose clothes settled any doubts. Lucy Scott would be lying if she said she had aimed and worked hard to be a housekeeper at the age of 27, in fact, had she of known during her years at university that this would be her fate she would've probably killed herself then.
"Excuse me." It was a hushed request under her breath as she squeezed past two elderly women crawling along the path by the side of the road. But then she carried on running, unwilling to let the tightness building in her chest slow her down. Burning lungs would be a better consequence than having to listen to a lecture from her boss and Mrs Samson, the latter of which she may have to spend the next 4 hours with.
It wasn't that she felt intimidated by the slightly older gold digger, just if Lucy was forced to listen to her whining for that long she wouldn't take responsibility for her actions. But the chance of that happening seemed less and less of a threat as she turned a corner and saw the path was clear right to the end. If she ran she might even be early...only by a minute or so but still.
After ten more minutes of giving an uncanny impression Miss Piggy from the Muppets, arms flaying and hair blown back from her face, the front gate to the large Townhouse came into view. Her sigh of relief couldn't be ignored, neither could her internal craving for nicotine but that would have to wait until her break to be satisfied. Still however, she took a few seconds on her journey to appreciate the beauty of the area, like she did every week when she visited this house.
Everything was spotless. And it always was. Lucy could not recall a morning she had walked down the street and seen one thing out of place. Every house, every garden, every sparkling car that stood parked against the curb was perfect as if it was part of a storybook setting. It was silent too, only the sound of the wind sweeping through the trees reaching her ears...and the sound of her feet slapping against the slabs of concrete of course.
With a glance at her watch, she pushed open the black pristine gate and replaced it before trotting up the large stone steps to the front door. She didn't knock, the Samson's hated it when she knocked as it 'distracted' them from whatever they were doing. Instead, she took the large abundance of keys squashed onto one tiny key ring and plucked the correct one out.
7:59...almost perfect timing, though she would have rather been stood there without the sheen of sweat on her brow.
Looking around, the hallway was empty and so was the living room from what she could see through the open door at the end of the corridor. Maybe the house was empty? It would be welcomed by Lucy but unfortunately, just as the thought passed through her head the sound of heels clicking on the hard wood floors broke the silence.
"Ah, I was wondering where you were." The bright voice of Abigail Samson spoke as she descended the stairs to the ground floor.
Abigail Samson was a...strange woman. Strange in the sense that looking at her, you would think she was a very pleasant woman. Abigail was immaculate at all times of the day, her bleached hair styled and make up impeccably done even if it was a bit much sometimes. But under the suffocated skin and expensive clothing was a shallow woman. Looking down her nose at everyone around her and speaking in such patronising tones sometimes Lucy really wanted to slap her on the rare occasion. Just because she was married to a lonely and desperate business man in his late 50's, she thought she was the bees knees. She got the lovely house and the glittering diamonds for nothing, she didn't even love the poor man who slaved over a desk for 16 hours a day.
"Sorry, the Tube was running late." Lucy lied, but the older woman would never know. She'd be surprised if Abigail had ever rode the Tube.
"Erch." Grimacing, Mrs Samson looked to her as she pulled on a pea green trench coat. "I don't know how you can go on that thing. Wouldn't you rather get a taxi? Much nicer."
"But more expensive and slower I'm sad to say." Lucy forced a smile, playing the ever so polite housekeeper. But Abigail just hummed in response, watching Lucy remove her falling apart flats and replacing them with a plain pair of dusty pink slippers. Most of her clients preferred house shoes, so she obeyed. "Is there anything you want done in particular today Mrs Samson?" She also didn't like being called Abigail, pompous prat.
"No, not today. Although there is a light which needs changing in the upstairs bedroom." Moving past Lucy, Abigail paused with her hand on the brass handle of the front door. "I'm going to be out lunching with the girls until the early afternoon but I assume you'll be done by then. As for Mr Samson, he has already left for work." Without another word, which resulted in quite an awkward exit, Abigail left the house and slammed the door behind her.
She was by far the least favourite of Lucy's clients. Maybe it was jealousy. Lucy wouldn't deny that she lusted over some of the items Abigail owned. You always wanted what you couldn't have right? Maybe that's why she would take them from her. Not just her of course, that would become a little bit obvious as the months passed.
It started a year ago. It was worse a year ago. A year ago she would have scrubbed on her hands and knees for days on end because of the stress she was under. She was always worrying about everything, most of all money. After moving from Luton to study English and Creative Writing, Lucy had looked after herself. Payed her own pills, got a job to help afford the small one bed apartment flat she was still living in. She had planned to graduate and get out of there, being able to secure a better of job and build her life from that point on. But but six years later and here she still was, oh how the time had flown by. She could barely afford to eat, or have a hot shower or even get the Tube. Every penny was a sacrifice towards being able to afford the next months rent. Three years of studying had led to this. All that work, all that money she had payed to the damn government...and it had allowed her to achieve this. Cleaning for the upper class of London 9 hours a day, six days a week.
But all of that was a little less of a reason for her heart palpitations now. There was less stress, it was still there but it had dulled. All because she had snapped. One day, that's all it had taken.
These people, people like The Samson's could break a person if you stayed around them for too long. And that's what happened to Lucy Scott. She spent too long around them, and after meeting the tenth married couple living in the stately home with the same snobby face and rude attitude, she had enough. She worked fifty times the amount of hours yet earned one hundredth of the pay. They owned too much stuff to count, forgetting everything that really mattered to them which proved obvious when she'd taken that first necklace off the Watkins's.
Her blood had pulsed through her until she reached home, and even then she couldn't sleep as the stolen goods lay on her bedside table. But then she'd wore them, the green glimmer of of the stone satisfying her taste for the finer things in life for a few days. That was until she got her rent request from her land lord. She had gone to trade them in...and a lust for the act took over. £400...just for that string of beads. Enough for rent for one month.
Lucy had once been a quiet girl, a nice girl...decent as most would probably describe her. That was if they even noticed her in the first place. But the never did. She was just the shadow at the back of the room, or the already taken desk at the front of the lecture hall. Her face blurred in most minds, not that she complained. It was those sort of people, the quiet people who sunk into their surroundings, that could get away with murder. Or day light robbery in her case, it wasn't the most awful thing in the world but she knew she could be prosecuted for it. That's what had scared her at first...but now...now it just added to the danger. She got off on that almost, the excitement of almost being caught. Like having sex in public.
But she didn't do it often, only every other couple of months and always from a different household. Just to help her get by, the excitement got to her head yes but she only did it for the money. She'd be able to stop now, but the bills would never stop. Besides no one had even noticed yet and if they hadn't by now she bet they never would.
The muscles in her arms were starting to ache and cramp up as she reached and vacuumed up the nonexistent cobwebs from the master bedrooms ceiling. Almost done.
She had vacuumed, dusted, cleaned, sanitised and wiped down everything in the house over the past four hours. Four floors, one hour each, twenty minutes per room. That was her aim and what her boss expected of her. But she had got used to it and each surface sparkled by the time she was done. She'd changed that stupid light bulb and did the dishes which were left in the sink. But you know what the best part was? Knowing that she got to walk one street west and do it all over again for the Donovan Family before she was able to clock off.
"At least they're never in." Lucy muttered to herself as she stepped down on the bed and turned the vacuum off before straightening the sheets out again, erasing her slipped prints from the clicked, cheat looking satin. As long as Mrs Samson got her hair styled every Thursday, they could go without real glamorous bedding. "Apart from that damn dog." Listen to her...she sounded crazy. But it was a long day.
Not only did she have work, but then afterwards she was meeting with Samuel about a watch she had taken a couple of weeks back. It wasn't anything special, nothing she swiped ever was. She didn't risk stealing anything that valuable, just the little knick knacks lying about. But it had a brown leather strap, crack with age and wear, and the face was a dark cream. She'd take what she would get for it, or at least what Samuel was willing to offer her.
Lucy gave the final room a quick once over and then grabbed her becket full of clothes,cloves, dusters and the vacuum cleaner before heading back down to the ground floor. The whole house had that nice clean smell and feel, where you didn't want to touch anything incase it made a mess. That was the only satisfaction Lucy got out of her work but it was very dull, she was sure it would be much more fulfilling to come home to a clean house like this and call it yours.
It was just as her for touched the last step of the stairs, when the front door opened right in front of her. Abigail was back.
"Oh!" She seemed to gasp in fake fright. "You're still here? I thought you would be finished by now." So much for a thank you for cleaning my stupidly cluttered house.
"I am, just putting things away and I'll be gone." She wasn't even sure if her words and weak smile were noticed by the woman as she just slid her jacket off, hanging it on the antique coat stand, and walked past Lucy straight into the kitchen. No second glance, no smile...she was going to enjoy taking from her.
She didn't say goodbye as she left, after tucking the bucket and vacuum into the cupboard under the stairs. The front door slammed behind her and the cold air of the London autumn hit her straight in the face, the wind blowing her hair into her eyes. It was going to be a long day.