I’ve given myself a deadline to have two books finished before the new baby arrives in June (possibly three if I don’t rest on my laurels) and so to help with that, I’m going to share an excerpt from one of those works-in-progress every Monday, just to help keep me moving forward.
Today’s snippet is from Dust and Silver, a historical paranormal set in the Victorian era. There will be werewolves, witches, secret societies, and so very much more! For some context, we have Lady Drummond and Mr. Muir working – grudgingly – together to solve a series of extraordinarily violent murders.
The knife is out before he’s finished speaking the final syllable of my name. I find his throat in the darkness, or where his throat should be beneath layers of collar and silk necktie. That he doesn’t flinch deflates some of my confidence, though he does raise a gloved hand, palm towards me, fingers crooked in a relaxed manner.
“What the hell are you doing here?”
Not until the words are out do I realize it’s the second time I’ve asked this question of him within the last six hours.
“You really should see about hiring a new driver.” Mr. Muir’s tone is purely conversational, not a quaver in his voice despite the pressure of the silver edged blade nestled against the underside of his jaw. “I’m sure you’re rather loyal to Melchett after all these years, but the poor man hardly blinked when I let myself into your vehicle.”
“He let you in?”
“Perhaps you need to question his loyalty to you. To have a servant in your employ who will let any ruffian in off the street…”
I apply more pressure to the knife, until I see the dark blot of blood appear on his skin. “Are you checking up on me? Are you my nurse, come to see that I’ve had my porridge and tonic and am tucked safe in bed for the night?”
He raises his chin slightly, so that the small bead of blood trickles down towards his collar. “I’d be more worried if that’s all you got up to at night.”
I pull the weapon back, snapping the blade into its engraved handle. It is not until the sharpened edge is put away and out of sight that Mr. Muir visibly relaxes – a breath slipping out of him, a small slump to his shoulders – no matter how casual he managed to appear as I drew that single thread of blood from his throat.
“What fool notion made you come all the way back to London when there’s someone going about ripping apart young women’s necks, hmm?” The knife again in my sleeve, I plant my hands on the tops of my thighs and lean against the seat. I want to close my eyes and tip my head back, but I cannot look away from my fellow passenger, at least not while he is in such close proximity. “You should have remained safely tucked away in Venice. No one would have any reason to suspect you then.”
“So they do suspect me?” Is that a whisper of pride underlying his words?
“Not for the first two, at least. But this business with Mrs. Butler…” I dig my fingers into my legs, pushing at the layers of skirt and petticoats and flesh underneath until the urge to lash out again recedes. “They want to question you, as they call it.”
He scoffs. “Want to see my pelt tacked to the wall, is what you mean.”
“They will not relent. Even if they do manage to lay their hands on the true culprit.”
Mr. Muir puts his own head back, allowing me a view of his throat and jaw, stubbled with dark hair and the stain of the injury I gave him. “They’re beyond their levels of comprehension with this case. They’ll be responsible for the deaths of another dozen victims before they understand that a bit of bigotry and brute force will not be enough to give them their victory.”
The seat creaks beneath me as I lean forward, hands sliding down to wrap around my knees. “You know something. What is it?”
“Not enough,” he mutters to the roof of the carriage. And then he shakes his head. “Creatore di mostro.”
The Italian clashes with his accent, and it takes me a moment to decipher the words from their original language. “Monster creator?”
“And there’s the rub.” He regards me in the low light of the carriage; eyes, hair, hat all blurring into the smudge of shadows behind him. “Find one of these killers, and there’ll most likely already be another to take its place.”
And stay tuned for next week’s excerpt!