From the moment she met Jim Moriarty, Elie knew she was different. He radiated an aura of power, and she was inexorably drawn towards it like a dog to the smell of bacon. All the other girls shunned him because he was so much younger, but Elie couldn't help herself. As a little girl, she'd fantasized about being swept off her feet by a handsome prince charming, and Jim had fulfilled that role. When he asked her out for the first time, she was overwhelmed with joy. It was a dream come true.
Most people didn't choose a boy three years younger for their first teenage romance, but Elie Darner wasn't most people. She was the only girl on maths team, and she didn't mind it. She liked being the only female presence in a room; it made her feel special. Her mother went through three husbands in Elie's lifetime alone, so she was no stranger to the use feminine charm and seduction to get a man's attention. The man Jim had met when he took her on his date had divorced her mother as soon as Elie left for university. Both Elie and her mother were surprised he lasted even that long. Her biological father had vanished just after Elie was born, so she'd never known him.
Because of this, she'd been wary of men and their alleged loyalty, fearing they'd abandon her at the first sight of something potentially more enticing. But Jim had been the perfect stepping stone, a first foray into the world of romance. There was little risk of him leaving her because of his relative age to all the other girls in their class. He was lucky to have her, not the other way around, so she had the upper hand. That was the way she liked it.
She let their relationship run its course for a while, and then ended it before things could go sour. She knew of the conflict it had caused between Jim and Sebastian, and she secretly relished the sense of accomplishment she felt knowing she initiated such an argument. She considered accepting Jim's request to date as her first ever power play; it all snowballed from there. She was elated when Jim requested her help in his Ben Carlton scheme. That guy was a jerk who always flirted with her inappropriately, so she was more than happy to utilize her talents to put him in his place.
She remembered making that fateful phone call that set Ben up for failure. She'd dialed the number Jim had given her and waited for three rings before someone picked up.
"Hello? Is this the Carlton residence?" she'd asked.
"Yes, who is this?" a voice, presumably that of Ben's mother, asked.
"This is Elie Darner. I'd like to speak to Ben. Is he home?"
"Yes, he's upstairs. I'll go get him."
"Great. I can wait a little bit," she said. She waited approximately two minutes before a voice she recognized and despised rang out on the other end:
"Hello?" Ben greeted.
"Ben?" she confirmed.
"Yes, this is Ben."
"Hi, this is Elie."
"Elie who?" She thought this was just a ploy to make it seem like he was more popular than he really was. She knew there was only one Elie in their class, and Ben must've known it too. What an idiot.
"Elie Darner from your history class."
"Oh. Why are you calling me? Did you miss the homework assignment?
"No, I don't need to know what the homework was. I was wondering if you'd like to hang out with me sometime."
"Is this some sort of a joke? Tell whoever it was who put you up to this that it's not funny."
"No, it's not a joke. I'd like to get to know you better. Are you free Friday night?"
"Yeah, I think so."
"How about we go out to dinner or something?" she'd suggested.
"Okay. Do you like Italian food?"
"Yes, Italian sounds wonderful. I know a great place downtown. You can pick me up at eight."
"Wonderful. What's your address? I'd hate to show up to the wrong house," he'd commented. Elie had to suppress a chuckle at the dramatic irony of that statement.
"I live at 221 Sanner Street," she'd stated, using the fake address Jim had given her.
"Great! I'll see you Friday. Bye." She'd hung up the phone and scrunched up her face in disgust.
"I can't believe I just did that. Even though it was acting, hearing his voice react to me saying those things just made me cringe. I pity the poor girl he ends up dating for real," she'd remarked. It was true; she'd cringed in disgust hearing his turned-on tone.
"Thank you so much for doing that. Hopefully this time, Ben will learn not to mess with us," Jim had told her.
"I hope so too. That guy's been a total moron for as long as I've known him. And I'm pretty sure he and his buddies do nothing but smoke and drink."
"People like that are just so unnecessary to society," Sebastian had stated. This comment had made her slightly suspicious, but she still didn't suspect he'd go so far as to kill Ben. In hindsight, it was a clear hint he'd had murder on his mind. Elie found that she was totally okay with Sebastian killing him. People like Ben Carlton deserved to die, and she was glad to have played her part in his demise. In fact, she felt completely exhilarated, a sensation she wanted to experience over and over again.
So this became Elie's game throughout the remainder of secondary school and through her university days: she used men's attraction to her to get what she wanted. And it worked. Ninety nine percent of the time, Elie could wheedle her way into a man's heart and bend him to her will. It made her feel like a secret agent, except she worked only for herself and not for some clandestine branch of the government.
University was also the time period in which she met Kate, her best friend. They'd met in some mandatory class for first-year students, and had immediately clicked. Their relationship reminded Elie somewhat of that Jim Moriarty had with Sebastian Moran. Kate was undeniably her inferior, riding her coattails and going along with whatever she did, but this wasn't a negative trait. She was always willing to help Elie pick out the perfect dress for a night out or do her makeup for her. Kate provided a lovely contrast to Elie's magnificence, and was great for scutwork. Best of all, she didn't seem to mind the hierarchy; it was a win-win partnership. Because of this, it lasted long into adulthood.
During this time, she also kept in touch with Jim Moriarty, just as friends, and was pleased to discover he'd eventually vanished into the criminal underworld. She presumed he established himself as the supreme leader of England's miscreants, and she could tell when a major crime was orchestrated by him. He had a certain signature, a vibe that would surround his work and let people know on a subconscious level that Jim Moriarty was responsible. The man himself remained invisible, the puppet master with all the talent and know-how that hides beneath the stage.
At one point, Elie considered contacting him to request a position in his organization, but realized she could do so much more with her life than be a subordinate to another man. So she founded her own network: a network of people who bowed to her because she knew what they liked. While reading one day, she stumbled upon a term that perfectly summarized her line of work: dominatrix. She loved that word, and used it whenever someone asked what she did for a living. She also had fun leaving out the definition of the word and watching their silly little brains ponder over it, wondering what the hell it meant.
But before she established herself, she gave in to one childish whimsy she'd hung onto since she was young. She'd read lots of Agatha Christie and spy novels in her youth, and the concept of simple but deceptive code names had always intrigued her. So she decided to change her name to something else. Only a clever person would notice the connection to her old name—Jim had immediately recognized her when she first contacted him under the new alias—but the connection was obscure enough to slip below the radar of ordinary people. But anyone who was told of its connection to her old name would smack themselves for not realizing how simple it was.
She shuffled the letters in Elie Darner to spell something else that wasn't too similar and had a nice ring to it.
Dina Leerer? No, leering was a word for staring awkwardly. And Dina was frankly a stupid first name.
Ane Dierrel? Nobody spelled Anne with only one N.
Adine Lerre? Better, but people would assume Lerre was French or something. Choosing a foreign name would be risky.
After a few more scrambles and many crumpled sheets of paper, Elie Darner found the perfect anagram. It wasn't an uncommon or exotic name that would arouse suspicion, and it flowed nicely across the tongue. Best of all, it sounded just a tiny bit sinister.