When they brought the ragged woman before Kenton Overgaard III and plopped her in the Louis the XIV lounge, his two servants, Carrick and Majordomo, and his chauffer, Oliver, stood back to allow his inspection of her. She was like a filthy rag doll, reeking of body odor and urine. She wore several layers of oily, street grim coated rags and was too tired to utter an intelligent response to her unusual opulent surroundings.
Casually, Kenton strolled over to the comatose woman and lifted her face for inspection. He looked past her soot-covered features and saw the regal bone structure he had been searching for. “She’s fine. Clean her up.”
After her third shower, bath, and scrubbing, the woman became aware and demanded to know where she was. The heavyset maid, who seemed to be in charge, answered, “My dear, you are the guest of Madame Wallingford-Overgaard’s residence...”
The woman recognized the name of the third wealthiest woman in America and decided to just enjoy the ride. Eventually, after being perfumed, layered with make-up, and dressed in an elegant gown, she was presented to Kenton, who had a scrumptious meal laid before her. She indulged herself cramming the food in her mouth as if she was a junkyard dog and looked up only once to see if she offended her host. He wasn’t offended.
“Miss,” he said when he was satisfied she had been satiated.
“My name is —"
"I don’t need to know it,” he interrupted her. “From this day forth you are my wife, Adele Wallingford.”
He opened a laptop computer and showed her a short newsreel of an elegant woman waving to reporters.
“That’s me!” the woman exclaimed.
“Not yet,” Kenton corrected, “but after a week of training, you will be her in nearly every way. You will look like her; you will have her gestures, her walk, and speech rhythm. And, when I think you are ready, you will become her.”
With a napkin, the woman wiped away the crumbs clinging to her lips and asked, “Why? Did your wife die?”
“She’s very much alive enjoying a luxury retreat in Barbados. She will be there for another two weeks.”
“And when she comes back,” the woman suggested, “you will murder her, and I will take her place as a properly controlled employee. I will do whatever you tell me to do — unlike her.”
“I’m impressed,” Kenton said. “You are an educated woman.”
“Architect,” she informed him. “But when my husband left me for —"
For the second time he interrupted, her. “I’m offering you the luxury you lost. Replace Adele and all this is yours for as long as you live. “
“You’ll never get away with it. Adele must have relatives who’ve known her all of her life. You can’t possibly hope to fool a favorite uncle or cousin she played with as a child.”
“That is my concern, not yours. If you say no, Carrick will drive you back to where he found you.”
Five days later, the woman and Kenton were in their rooftop garden when Dory showed up unexpectedly. Dory was that childhood playmate cousin.
“Hello, Kenton,” she greeted. “I had heard that Addie was coming home a week early, which is why I stopped by.”
“Did you say a week early?” Kenton asked in a slight panic.
“I thought you should know. You’ll want to go ahead with things sooner, so I won’t stay. This one is wonderful. If I didn’t know better —"
Kenton ushered Dory to the exit and then returned to the woman. “It’s time.”
“But she’s not home yet. How can you murder her if she isn’t here?”
“This way.” Kenton ushered the woman through the garden until they reached a dead end. She turned and as soon as she faced him, he slipped his fingers around the woman’s neck and began to tighten them. The woman tried to scream, but her voice box was in a viselike grip. He watched as her face grew red and her eyes began to water and bulge. His eyes grew wider with excitement as his grin grew across his face and became sardonic. She lost consciousness and, with her final breath, lost everything.
“Was it good for you, Sir?” Oliver asked as he removed the dead woman from his clutches.