Deleted scene - silver and secrets

Rebecca and Elizabeth were quiet when they came out, and they stayed close together as they walked along the road.

At the corner, Juliet paused. If they went straight on, they’d be home quicker, but to the left was a little mews her stepmother used to cut through on her way home from the Academy, when Juliet was still a pupil there. If something caught her eye in one of the boutiques, she might stop long enough for Juliet to snatch a few moments at the most interesting of the window displays, before she was moved on with a snapped-out Now please, Juliet, as though she’d been the one wasting time.

With a little push of defiance, Juliet turned off the main road, leading the younger girls through an ironwork archway and into a narrow, cobbled space, lined with old-fashioned bay windows. She walked past the peacock-bright displays to a shop halfway along. It was her favourite, despite – or perhaps because of – the incomprehensible uselessness of the things on display. The late afternoon sun glinted on silver thimbles, engraved powder cases and letter openers inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Some of the more obscure items had been there for as long as she could recall, but the bulk of the stock changed regularly enough to suggest that there was an unexpectedly healthy market for antique pillboxes and silver-backed hairbrushes.

Juliet pressed her fingertips to the glass, playing the game she’d always played here. If she could choose one thing, what would it be? Not something big. Something tiny that she could tuck away like a secret. When people looked at her in that way people look at others, thinking they have them all figured out, she could put her hand in her pocket, close her fingers around that little hidden glint and think There’s more to me than you know.

What would it be?

That box with the filigree lid? The compact that looked like a shell? The pendant shaped like a silver ballet shoe?

Beside her, Rebecca and Elizabeth fidgeted, looking along the street.

‘What would you buy?’ Juliet said, trying to draw them into the game. They used to have all sorts of secret games, the three of them. ‘If you had enough money for anything, what would you choose?’

Rebecca shrugged, her hands shoved into the pockets of her school blazer. Elizabeth peered through the window for a moment, her brow creased, before lifting her hand to point at an engraved needle case.

‘That one?’ Juliet leaned over to look. ‘Why?’

Elizabeth mirrored her sister’s shrug, looking down at the ground.

‘Can we go home?’ Rebecca said.

With a twist of annoyance, edged with a sharper bite of hurt, Juliet stepped back from the window. The little haze of her breath immediately started to fade from the glass.

‘Fine,’ she said, and turned to walk along the street.