The Strange Case of Finley Jayne Page 24

He shook his head, scowling. “I don’t know.”

“So, if you’re not ‘intelligent’ enough to make metal horses work, do you really think you can make a brain transfer work?”

Lord Vincent stilled, all of the frustration in his expression melting away to pure, determined rage. “I will bring Cassandra back.” He raised the pistol once more, so that it was pointed right at her forehead. “I will have my wife’s forgiveness, and you will not stop me.”

Some deep instinct told Finley to duck even before he pulled the trigger. As it was, she felt the bullet as it whizzed above her, just inches from her head. She hid behind the metal door of Lady Vincent’s frozen tomb.

“How are you going to explain my death, Lord Vincent? Lady Morton knows where I am.”

“Let her go to the police. They will think she’s mad. And they wouldn’t dare search my house. Even if they did, I could have all of this easily concealed. No one will care about you, Miss Bennet. Or should I say, Miss Jayne?”

Finley didn’t react to the sound of her real name. It didn’t matter how he had found out. All that mattered was getting out of this alive. She shrugged. “Whichever you prefer, my lord.”

His smug expression mixed with irritation. “It’s not as though you are really of noble blood, are you? You’re just some freakish little girl Lady Morton hired because she doesn’t like me.”

“That might have something to do with the fact that you plan to give her daughter a new brain!” Finley shouted.

Another shot. This one bounced off the door. She bolted from behind it and dived behind the surgical table. She had to get to him, overpower him.

He fired off three more shots, each of which ricocheted off equipment. One grazed Finley’s shoulder, drawing blood. She cried out.

“Got you, did I?” came Lord Vincent’s pleased tone. “Come on out, dear girl, and I’ll make your death quick.”

One more bullet, Finley thought. That’s all he has. There was a spindly sort of stand next to her that looked like a skeletal coatrack on wheels. She kicked the base of it and it went flying across the room. Startled, Lord Vincent fired another shot at it.

Six. That was it. He was out of bullets.

Before he could reload, Finley lunged to her feet and threw herself at him. He looked up from shoving more bullets into the pistol with a horrified expression.

She hit him hard, sending both of them crashing into the workbench. The tank shuddered. Lady Vincent’s brain bobbed wildly. Suddenly, Finley knew what to do. There was only one way to end this without either she or Lord Vincent dying.

Grabbing him by the coat with one hand, she hauled him close and punched him twice in the face, hard. He fell back with a groan, the pistol falling to the floor.

Finley didn’t waste any time, she grabbed a handful of wires leading into the tank and yanked. There was a squishing sound as they pulled free of the brain, and she winced. Then, she seized the tank with both hands.

“No!” Lord Vincent screamed.

Finley pulled. He grabbed her just as the tank crashed to the floor, splattering its gruesome contents all over the lab.

Everything went eerily quiet—even Lord Vincent. He clung to Finley for a moment, like a child clinging to its mother, before slowly sinking to the floor, sobbing. When he crawled toward the destroyed grayish-pink mass in the middle of all the glass and goo, Finley made her escape. Lord Vincent’s plaintive wails rang in her ears as she ran. “No,” he cried. “Cassanda, no.”

It was heartbreaking—or it would have been had he not tried to kill her, had he not been prepared to kill Phoebe for some mad experiment that probably wouldn’t have worked.

Finley shuddered as she burst through the door of the countess’s bedroom. She hoped it wouldn’t have worked.

She crawled out the window just as servants clamored up the stairs—about time they came to investigate all the shots. When she hit the grass, there was another shot, and she froze. Had Vincent shot one of his servants?

There was screaming from inside the house—lots of it. Lights began to come on in the upstairs windows, and one man shouted for someone to fetch the Watch. That’s when Finley broke into a run. She did not want to be there when the police arrived.

Lady Morton and Phoebe were waiting for her when she returned. The relief on the older woman’s face touched Finley.

“I was so worried when Lord Vincent decided to leave early,” she explained. “I had no way to warn you.”

“She was so distraught I made her tell me what the two of you had been up to,” Phoebe added, with a stern glance at her mother. “Finley, that you would do that for me is humbling, but I would never have forgiven myself if you had been harmed.”

“He tried,” Finley replied. “He had a gun and shot at me, but he wasn’t very good at it.” The spot where he’d grazed her shoulder was already healing, and her dark clothing concealed the blood stain.

“Thank Heaven,” Lady Morton whispered, hand pressed to her chest. Her artificial eye gleamed, as though expressing its own relief.

Finley flopped against the back of the settee. She was exhausted.

“What was he up to anyway?” Phoebe demanded, sitting on a nearby chair. Her posture was much better than Finley’s.

Staring at her, Finley wondered how much to tell. If the police had taken Lord Vincent into custody, how much would be in tomorrow’s papers? Would it be worse for Phoebe to read about it and have people whisper about her? Or would it be better to know the truth?

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