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A Predicament for Phillipa

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The official story was that August Moriarty was dead, and Phillipa Moriarty was under house arrest for poisoning Leander Holmes. It was in the papers and the police files and both Lucien Moriarty’s and Milo Holmes’s security footage.

Officially, someone named Bella Spellgrove drove the ambulance transporting August’s body to the morgue. Officially, one Patricia Donleavy filed the appropriate paperwork. If anyone thought it odd that both of them vanished into thin air so soon afterwards, they wisely kept their mouth shut. It was a difficult business to begin with, and no doubt Bella and Patricia feared being dragged into the interminable legal battles and ensuing media circus. Perhaps they just weren’t cut out for this kind of thing, despite their scrupulous professionalism. Few people were, after all. 

There would need to be photographs at some point, Phillipa reflected, for Milo Holmes’s murder trial, but those could be approximated and provided later. Or, if Hadrian or Lucien tried to involve her in anything further, sooner.

 

She had had it out with Hadrian, over the phone, after someone whose identification placed them as one of Green’s colleagues had led her away and after an ambulance staffed by her people had confirmed that August was still breathing. People like Lucien and Hadrian and Alistair Holmes’s vile children always got distracted by the need to to win.

Phillipa didn’t want to win. She had better things to do than run a flower shop in Connecticut, of all places. She didn’t want to control the narrative, shape how people thought of her family or the Holmeses. In her line of work, it was always better when people didn’t think of you at all. You stood a much better change of still standing after the sort of men who shaped nations had been taken out by ambitious underlings or felled by convenient illnesses. Phillipa Moriarty knew the value of surviving, even when you had to be other people to do it. August knew it, too, when he bothered to think about anything beyond his work and wanting to fix things.

All of that fixing, and yet he was the only one of them broken. Let all of them think him dead, then. It would scare off that Watson boy, and show that girl firsthand exactly how Alistair Holmes had taught her brother to solve problems. It would keep Lucien from using his safety as a pawn. And, if her sources were correct, it would absolutely crush Milo Holmes. Good. She wasn’t sure which part of the plan was more satisfactory.

 

They deserved it, too, all of them, no matter what nonsense August might try and tell her when he was in his right mind once more. None of them had thought to check. All of those geniuses saw August fall, saw Milo Holmes rush forward holding a sniper rifle, and none of them felt for a pulse. The basement of the Holmes mansion had been outfitted into a tiny hospital for Emma Holmes’s poison research, and no one suggested moving August inside. Even Hadrian had taken off to trail Alistair. Lucien was probably already gleefully writing the next month’s headlines. 

Phillipa was prepared, and had been long before the stunt with the auction and the helicopter and the cold day in Sussex. She didn’t honestly think August would come back to them of his own free will, as she had told those children at lunch, but she wouldn’t put it past either Alistair or Lucien to attack him to force some kind of confrontation. She had suspected as much when she first caught wind that August was alive and working for Milo Holmes, living in that garish tower. It was the role he had always played, for both the Holmeses and the Moriartys. The innocent academic, who was so shocked by everything and who actually thought he could walk away from it all after daring to expect something like pity from any of the Holmeses. The sort of person who made such an easy pawn in the games people like Alistair and Lucien played. Even if by some wild stretch of the imagination, Charlotte and Milo Holmes actually cared for August they couldn’t protect him forever. There would always have been some kind of tragedy. It was only right that Milo and Charlotte think themselves responsible.  

 

This would fix everything. August would stay with her until Lucien and Alistair managed to destroy one another. When the dust settled and the danger of falling back into that girl’s self-destructive orbit passed, he could go on under whatever name he wanted. As could Phillipa. She always did.