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Home > Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman's Daughter #2)(15)

Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman's Daughter #2)(15)
Author: Megan Shepherd

My heart pounded. He could so easily make trouble for me, being down here where I wasn’t supposed to be, snooping around bodies. The professor’s guardianship could only protect me so far.

“I came to check on the autopsy report for the latest victim of the Wolf of Whitechapel,” he said. “But I would be happy to escort you back to the main floor.”

“That’s not necessary. I know my way. And I really must be going.” I smiled as graciously as I could and turned away, heart pounding, feet unsteady on the tile floor. All I could think of was Edward. All I could feel was a thousand tangled emotions.

“Wait, Miss Moreau.”

My eyes fell closed, only for an instant. I turned around with another shaky smile. The inspector wasn’t smiling now, as he closed the space between us and dropped his voice to a whisper.

“After I met you, I looked up your name. I’m protective of Lucy, you understand, and your name sounded so familiar. I found a police report. . . .” He glanced down the hallway, making sure we were alone. My instincts jumped to attention. A dozen scenarios flashed through my head of what I’d do if he tried to arrest me. All of them ended poorly for me.

“It was self-defense,” I said firmly. “Dr. Hastings attacked me. I was a cleaning girl then; no one would believe me—”

He dismissed that with a wave. “None of that interests me. I’ve no doubt it was Hastings’s fault—it isn’t the first incident of this sort with his name on it. No, Miss Moreau, the reason I recalled your name was because of your father’s crimes, not your own.”

My body froze, afraid to take a single breath.

At my silence, he continued. “I was young at the time, in college training to be an investigator. The case was quite notorious. I went back and read the file on your father, and it seems the case was never closed. He fled England, and no one heard from him again. I hate to leave this sort of thing open, if we can file it away as a solved case. Your assistance, Miss Moreau, would be invaluable to our efforts.”

I stared at him, speechless. After hiding from the police for the last year, now they were coming to me for help? I wanted to laugh, if I hadn’t feared sounding like a madwoman.

“I assure you, you can trust me,” he continued. “We’ll handle the information in the most sensitive manner. It isn’t my intention to cause a sensation, just to solve a long-standing case. It would be a feather in my cap, you see, even lead to a promotion. Together with this Wolf of Whitechapel case, I would be made head of the entire division. Which means I’d be better suited to care for Lucy.”

“Care for Lucy?”

He smiled boyishly. “It isn’t official, of course. I haven’t yet asked her father for her hand in marriage, but I know he’ll give me permission. Any day now, expect to get the news of our engagement.”

There was something undeniably tender about the way he said it. I was quite certain Lucy had no idea the inspector’s intentions were this immediate. My head whirled with the idea of Lucy wed, and Newcastle wanting me to help solve my own father’s case, and among it all, Edward. Alive.

Mrs. Bell rounded the corner and stopped short when she saw us. “Can I help you, sir?”

I took the opportunity to step away from Inspector Newcastle and head for the door. “I’m sorry, Inspector,” I said quickly. “There’s nothing I can help you with. I’ve heard rumors that my father is dead—I might trust those, if I were you.”

Before he could respond, I bid farewell to him and Mrs. Bell, and hurried from the hallways where the electric lights still clicked and sputtered, as if warning me to never come back.

EIGHT

AS SOON AS I left King’s College, I rounded the edge of the building and slumped against the rough brick wall, fighting to calm my erratic heartbeat. The day was clear but bitingly cold. My coat hung open, my hands bare, yet I didn’t reach for my gloves nor do up my buttons. I couldn’t. All I could manage was to slide down the brick wall to the frozen grass and let the cold seep up from the ground into me.

Edward was back from the dead.

If he truly was alive, if he had done this, then he must have been following me for some time. My mind searched through the past few weeks and months, trying to remember if I’d felt like I was being followed. But that was just it—one always felt followed in this city. Always felt eyes, always heard footsteps.

A flock of ravens alighted from the central courtyard, and my head whirled around. Was he following me even now? So many places to hide: behind those skeletal trees, on the rooftop of a nearby building . . .

I hugged my knees tight, not daring to close my eyes. If he knew about Annie stealing my mother’s ring, what else did he know about? Did he know about my secret workshop and my growing illness? Did he know how I was stealing from the professor? Did he know that I’d opened the laboratory door so Jaguar could kill my father?

It terrified me that Edward might know all of my secrets. If he chose to, he could expose me. Hurt me for how I’d hurt him when I’d rejected his love. People loved a good gruesome rumor. If he revealed that the vilified Dr. Moreau’s daughter had murdered her own father, this city would devour me alive.

I ran numb fingers over my face, thinking. Edward was tied up in all those secrets too, though. Exposing my secrets would expose his own—his unnatural origin and his inclination to kill. No, the more I thought about it, the more I was certain it wasn’t my secrets he was after.

Maybe it was my life.

A tingling started deep in my spine. For all I knew, I could be Edward’s next target. He could merely be toying with me, killing those who had wronged me to create a false sense of safety before he struck. After all, I’d rejected his love and then left him for dead. I could hardly expect him to do anything logically. How much control did Edward really have over himself? Where was the line between Beast and man?

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