Hello and welcome to the rewrite of my Jamie Todd stories! I've grown so much as a writer since originally posting those stories so here's a (hopefully) much better version!
It was so bittersweet, coming across those words. They were both heartbreaking and oh-so-satisfying. Jamie closed the book and leaned back in the passenger's seat, the seatbelt cutting into her neck.
"Good read?" Bella asked, glancing over to Jamie.
Silenced followed, a bitter taste in the air. It was coming from Jamie, radiating from her. Bella huffed, gripping the steering wheel tighter.
"Could you at least pretend to not be so miserable? You're making me feel like a wicked witch holding a princess captive."
Jamie didn't look at Bella; she continued to stare out of the window as an unfamiliar world zipped by. She brought her hand to the key she wore around her neck and began toying with it. The truth was: she did feel like a princess being held captive, but not by a wicked witch. Bella was too nice to be a wicked witch, making it difficult to be angry with her about moving across the ocean, leaving upstate New York behind.
"At least be a little pleased that my job moved us to London instead of bum fuck nowhere."
The corners of Jamie's lips twitched upward into a small smile. "Fair point."
"And that you're already done with high school so you don't need to worry about dealing with all that mess."
"Or uniforms," Jamie added, wrinkling her nose. "That would have been tragic." She giggled.
Bella laughed, glad to see her niece smiling; it was such a rarity. Moving sucked, but it could be worse.
"Not to mention that the place is really nice." Bella was looking forward to that the most. A place suitable for two people instead of a cramped apartment with one bedroom and a futon. "The year will fly by. Hey, maybe you can visit some universities while we're here!"
"Yeah, maybe." Jamie didn't sound enthused about that. High school was over and done with, and while Jamie had said she would just take a year off, she didn't have any desire to go to college. "Gonna try and find a job first."
"Oh good, something to fill up your time." Bella sounded distracted, not really listening anymore; she was focused on the roads as they drew nearer to their new address. "Ooh this is it!" Bella pulled into the driveway of what once had been a large mansion and was now divided into apartments.
Bringing all of her belongings into her new bedroom didn't take long; Jamie didn't have much. She left the cardboard boxes in the middle of the floor and then went back into the living room. Bella already had boxes opened and was trying to decide on which décor to put where.
"I'm gonna go out," Jamie announced.
"'Kay," Bella answered absently as she rummaged through her things, bubble wrap popping and newspapers crinkling.
Jamie wasn't even sure if Bella registered what she had said. Oh well. Geared with only her cellphone, Jamie left the apartment.
She traipsed along the Thames as gray clouds came gliding through before settling and filling up the sky. Already the September air smelled of rain, and Jamie wished she brought an umbrella or at least a jacket. She turned to cut through a street, hoping that it would be shortcut.
As raindrops began falling, Jamie picked up the pace. In mere seconds, the drizzle turned into a downpour. Jamie took a sharp right into a building without looking where she was walking into.
There was no light, and no warmth, only darkness and the smell of mildew and old age. Jamie took out her phone and turned on the flashlight app.
Whatever this place was, it was abandoned. A thick layer of dust covered everything, and every step she took kicked up small clouds of it.
There were some tables, a counter; could this be a restaurant? Some kind of café from nine hundred years ago? It seemed likely.
A strong urge to explore bubbled up in Jamie's chest, but her head was stronger and her head was saying to hold back. The place was dark, and there was something else. Something about this place was giving Jamie uneasy vibes.
Her feet moved forward, kicking up more dust. How was it that this place looked so undisturbed? She couldn't imagine that no curious teens ever broke into this place. The rain continued to pelt the roof and Jamie stopped suddenly, realizing that she had walked further into the place, as if there was a Jamie Magnet drawing her in.
The rain started to let up, now back to only a drizzle. Had she been standing there that long, or was the weather really that temperamental? If it was the latter, then she ought to leave now before the rain picked up again. Yet Jamie didn't move. Her knees were locked up and her feet were numb. She needed to stay.
Her skin prickled, as if a breeze had just blown through the room. But there had been no such breeze. With her stomach twisting, Jamie forced herself to walk back out the door. It was far from easy, but as soon as she was outside, the spell was broken, and her whole being relaxed.
She started in the direction of her new home, but didn't quite make it as she came upon a café, one that wasn't abandoned. She went inside, and golden warmth washed over her. Jamie stopped shivering almost immediately, which she didn't realize she had been doing.
"Care for a cuppa, lass?" a man standing behind the counter asked.
Jamie almost said yes; a warm cup of something would do her some good. But then she remembered that she only had her phone with her. "I don't have any money," Jamie answered. "But thanks anyway."
The man waved it off. "Then we'll say you owe me one." He started making her a fresh cup of tea, filling a tea ball with earl grey tea leaves.
His generosity struck Jamie as a little odd, but she didn't get any bad feeling, not like when she had been in that weird abandoned restaurant. "Thanks," she said, wandering further into the little shop. The counter was made of a display case filled with baked goods, and the back half of the café looked to be a bookstore with shelves filled with all different kinds of books organized by genre lining the walls. It was cute, and Jamie felt comforted.
"Here for a visit, or did you move?" the man asked, making small talk as she was the only other person there.
"Living here for a year…" Jamie trailed off for a moment, reading the titles of some of the books. "Hey, do you know anything about that abandoned place down the road?"
The man didn't seem at all surprised by the question. He handed Jamie her tea, and as she poured milk from a pitcher, he said, "An old pie shop from the nineteenth century. Good location and all, but no one'll touch it. People think it's haunted."
"Indeed. You see, years ago, something happened there. Something not very nice."
"What, like murder or something?"
That made Jamie raise her eyebrows. "A serial killer?" she asked, clearly intrigued.
"Aye, and one more deadly than the Ripper." His eyes sparkled; he loved telling this story, but everyone who lived here already knew it. "A killer and his accomplice once lived there. He was a barber who sliced the throats of men who came for a shave. She would grind up the bodies and bake them into meat pies. It was the perfect crime; went on for nearly a year."
"If it was so perfect, how did they get caught?" Jamie brought the tea to her lips as she waited for the answer. If the crime was so perfect, then how did people find out about it? Surely a perfect crime went completely unknown?
There was a long pause, and the man no longer looked thrilled to be telling his story. Instead, he looked grim. "No one knows what happened exactly," he said slowly. "The barber was found in the bake house, his throat slit. He was cradling a dead woman."
"That's just the thing: it wasn't the baker. The baker was never found."
Jamie took a large sip of tea to rid herself of the chills that settled into her bones. "The baker killed the barber and ran off?" she suggested.
The man didn't know, and shrugged his shoulders. "Certainly is a possibility, but no one can say for sure. Her name was Mrs. Lovett."
"And the barber, what was his name?"
"The people of London dubbed him the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. His actual name though was Sweeney Todd."
Jamie stiffened and her blood ran cold, a kind of cold that a warm drink could not get rid of. She knew it was a coincidence, but she still felt unsettled. "I should go; my aunt's probably worried. Thanks for the tea. I'll be back tomorrow," she promised, though she didn't sound thrilled about it.
"I'll keep an eye out for you, then. Didn't quite catch your name, lass."
Jamie hesitated, and then said, "It's Todd. Jamie Todd."