His Lordship Possessed Page 23

“I doubt it. They hardly ever hang women.” A cramp in my right shoulder made me adjust the drape of my arms round the back of the chair. The five-link chain between my shackles jingled. “You’ve no body, no credible witnesses. How could I have done him, what with me being such a young, helpless female and all?”

“I’ve better.” He bent to one side, took something from his case, and placed it on the table between us. A small, flat square, carefully swaddled in soft black cloth. He didn’t have to unwrap it to show me what it was.

I stared at it, fascinated. “You’ve glass.”

“Aye, I’ve glass.” He braced his hands on the table and leaned over it. “Why did you kill him?”

It had to be a trick, the glass blank, the threat empty. Unless—“Show it to me.”

Tom unwrapped the cloth to expose the plate inside.

Silverblack mottled the slick surface with splotches and lines. They formed the reverse image of a long dock, a tall woman, and the possessed lover she was straddling. This tint showed the finer details. The tears in her bodice. The blood on her mouth. The iron spike she was just about to thrust into the monster’s chest.

Damn me, he had it all on glass. “That’s not what it looks like.”

He picked up the ambrotype showing me killing Lucien Dredmore. “This is not you shoving a rail tie through the man’s chest, then.” Hot blue eyes shifted to the remains of my bodice. “And I suppose that’s not Dredmore’s blood all over your tits.”

“No.” Well, most of it wasn’t his blood.

“You’ve a homicidal twin sister tucked away somewhere?”

“Sorry.” I grimaced. “Only child.”

Tom checked his pocket watch. “After you didn’t kill Dredmore, did someone else kick him over the side of the dock and send him for a bathe?”

“I don’t recall.” I wished I could explain, but he’d never believe it. “Tommy—”

“Inspector Doyle to the likes of you.”

“Inspector Doyle.” So much for the tender bud of that relationship. “I did not stab Lucien Dredmore in the heart or pitch his ass in the bay. I may have wanted to—I may have even dreamt about it now and then—but I am innocent of these charges being filed against me.”

“You’re lying.”

I smelled piss again and glanced down. No wonder the floor and the seat felt tacky; the chap they’d brought in before me had disgraced himself. Maybe the Yard hadn’t cleaned it up very well in order to break down the resistance of subsequent suspects. The stench was certainly working wonders on me.


“Can’t you see what’s happening here?” No, he couldn’t, that much was obvious. “Think about it, Tommy. I hate the bleeding bastard. Everyone knows that. They wanted him and me out of the way. One stone, two birds. So they arranged to make it look like I killed him, and we’re both done for. Oldest trick in the book.”

“So you’re being framed for Dredmore’s murder.”

I kept a straight face. “Yes.”

“There’s just one problem with that.”


“I’m the one who took this, and the others.” He shoved the glass across the table at me. “I was there at the docks the entire time, Kit. I watched you kill him. I arrested you at the scene.” His blond brows formed a vee over his bright blue eyes. “And I will testify.”

So he would, because that was the sort of man he was. If things had gone differently, Tommy and I might have been mates. Another thing to regret, but not enough to keep me from hanging myself. It didn’t matter. My life had ended hours ago when Zarath had shoved that spirit stone down my throat.

I had to finish this.

“I’ll say that we’ve slept together,” I said. “My barrister will use it to destroy your credibility—”

Pain exploded across my face and my head snapped to one side as his swinging hand connected with my cheek. I spat some blood-streaked saliva on the floor and rolled the bottom of my jaw.

“Very good, Inspector. Go on, hit me again. Use your fist this time. I deserve it, lying bitch that I am.” If I were very lucky, I might be able to goad him into breaking my neck.

“So you can use the bruises to discredit me?” He shook his head. “What happened, Kit? What did he do to you? How in God’s name did he drive you to murder? You were lovers.”

I laughed. “I’d rather bed a jackal.”

Doyle took something from his pocket and tossed it down in front of me. The last time I’d seen the old chain, Dredmore had made it vanish. Now, looking at it and the crystal-encrusted stone pendant hanging from it, I could hardly take in enough air to form words. “Where did you get this?”

“We recovered it,” he snapped. “We also have the murder weapon, which was recovered from the docks. It’ll be tested. They’ll find his blood on it.”

My hand shook as I scraped my fingers against the table, catching the chain and using it to tug the nightstone to me. As soon as I covered it with my palm, I felt something like tiny gears inside turning a notch. Before Zarath had possessed him Lucien had said he would be where Harry had been . . . and then I knew. I knew it all.

“Where’s the body?” Without thinking I tried to stand, only to be jerked back as my shackles cut into my wrists. “Where is it?”

“Down at the docks in a skip net,” he said. “Awaiting transport to the morgue. And why the devil do you care?”

The pendant changed everything. “I want a vicar.”

Outrage flagged his cheekbones red. “You don’t get—”

“I’ll confess,” I said quickly. “To all of it. Everything. In my own hand, if you like. After I speak to my vicar.”

He stared. “You’ve never been Church.”

I ran my tongue along the seam where my cheek met my gum line. “Remorse has converted me. It’s a miracle. Now, the vicar, if you please.”

Fury left Doyle speechless, and he stalked out. As soon as the door slammed I hooked the hairpin nestled next to my bottom gum with my tongue and caught it between my teeth. I turned my face as far as I could to the left and spat it carefully over my shoulder. It fell neatly into my cupped hands. I took a moment to work my wrist until it felt looser, stretched out the chain between the cuffs, and went to work.

The air vent was too small, and I’d never make it to the end of the corridor outside. That left the window, and the lock on the inside grid. Once I’d opened it I shoved it up, catching by reflex the old pomander as it fell. I left it on the table along with my shackles for Doyle.

The pendant I took with me.

Chapter Twelve

Escaping Rumsen Main in the middle of being questioned by Inspector Doyle proved almost comically simple; perhaps Tommy thought someone who had essentially just confessed to murdering the most important mage in the province incapable of such a feat.

As I jumped from the window to the alley, I hoped his anger and outrage over what he thought he’d seen at the docks would keep him from returning to the questioning room for at least another half hour. I needed to put some distance between me and all the beaters Tommy would be sending out to hunt for me. Once again on foot, I made haste down the alleyways.

I wrapped the broken chain of my pendant round my fist. I’d cherished it as a gift from my parents, and worn it practically every day of my life, but now it felt like an iron ball. As soon as this was over I’d find a nice big furnace to toss it in. And then there was the stone in my belly, waiting like some slumbering, poisonous snake. Somehow I had to get that out of me before something woke up Zarath’s queen and she had my spirit for tea.

I halted at the corner of the next street, forced to wait on a long row of hog carts coming down from the smoldering remains of the mansions on the Hill. Someone had piled costly furnishings, paintings, and other trappings of wealth in the back of the carts, right on top of the old, filthy straw. Even what didn’t end up stained with the former occupants’ waste and fluids would definitely absorb the distinctive stench.

Servants would have set fire to their masters’ possessions before permitting them to be hauled away in pig carts.

I caught up to one of the tired-looking nobbers providing escort for the carts. Soot blackened the end of his nose, his eyebrows were gone, and patches of burnt flesh showed through the rags he’d tied round both hands.

“Evening,” I said as I stretched my legs to pace him. “Are you lads back from the Hill? Were you able to save anything from Walsh’s Folly?”

He spared me a tired glance. “Piss off.”

“I’m Lady Diana’s cousin and companion, actually.” I tried to pitch my voice to sound half-snobby, half-forlorn. “Her husband got himself killed last night. I’ve just come from the morgue, and now I’ve got to break the news to her.”

“Tha’so?” He looked a bit uncomfortable now. “Pitiful, this night’s business. Bloody Talians.”

“Where are you taking all this?” I gestured to the cart.

“Some bigwig said move what we could down to the cargo houses.” A glimmer of sour humor came over his features. “Wouldn’t give us naught for hauling, ’course, so we had to make do.”

Evidently the nobbers had loaded the ton’s treasures deliberately into pig carts—and everyone said they had no sense of humor. I let him hear a little of my chuckle before I turned it into a polite cough. “That’s where I’m headed. Milady and her maids were taken down to the docks for their safety. Can’t find a cabbie to save my life, though.” I tugged at my bloodstained bodice. “I’d walk, but I’ve already been attacked once by some bloke covered in blood. Be all right if I walk with you, then?”

He looked doubtful. “With this pong, you’d want to?”

I shrugged and let my voice quaver a little. “Better than going on alone.”

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