Home > A Cold Legacy (The Madman's Daughter #3)(12)

A Cold Legacy (The Madman's Daughter #3)(12)
Author: Megan Shepherd

I couldn’t speak. My head spun with the flood of information Edward was giving me. Could the Beast really be nothing more than a symptom of a diseased brain? A foe I’d fought so hard against reduced to nothing more than a hybrid strain of rabies and a botched surgery?

Lucy spun to me, eyes wide. “Can it truly be done, Juliet?”

I knew little of diseased brains, but the books I’d read did support his theory. I’d heard of men who had suffered damage to the posterior lobe suddenly speaking with a foreign accent they’d never had before. One kindhearted man had been shot through the cortex and developed a violent new personality.

“I don’t know.” My voice faltered. “Maybe. Montgomery is a more gifted surgeon than me.” I glanced back toward the hallway, wondering what he would think of all this. Even though Edward was like a brother to him—biologically, at least—Montgomery wouldn’t hesitate to kill him if he was any sort of threat.

Edward coughed. His lips moved, but I couldn’t make out the sound.

“What is it, Edward?”

“Not letting me die . . .” He coughed again, and his voice hardened. “You’ll come to regret that.”

I jerked upright. That voice. It wasn’t Edward’s. It belonged to a creature with claws and glowing yellow eyes. “Lucy, get back!” I nearly wrenched her arm off as I dragged her away from the bed. “It’s the Beast—he’s there, too.”

She stared with eyes as wide as my own. Edward coughed once more, and then his head rolled back onto the pillow. Unconscious again. I stared at his waxy face. It might not look like the Beast’s, but I would know that voice anywhere.

Lucy tore away from me. “Edward?” She shook him. “Edward?” Her hand fell on the chain, her fingers fumbling with the lock.

“Stop!” I said, pulling her back. “You heard him—he can’t keep fighting the Beast forever. If you unlock those chains, we don’t know what you’ll be setting free.”

“We can’t just do nothing! We have to tell Montgomery!”

I paced at the foot of Edward’s bed, trying to figure out the best way to handle this.

“No. We’ll wait for Elizabeth to return. She’s studied surgery. She’ll know if there’s any truth to what he’s saying. We have to keep this secret, Lucy. If Montgomery thought we were still in danger from the Beast, he might do something drastic.”

She gaped. “Montgomery wouldn’t hurt Edward. He’s like his brother!”

“He might not be Edward for much longer.” I finally convinced her to come out into the hall with me and locked Edward’s bedroom, testing the lock to make certain it held.

“Are you certain we can trust Elizabeth?” Lucy said. “She lied to us. She said she had no children, but there’s that little boy with the strange eyes.”

“Elizabeth has risked everything for us,” I said. “Even now she’s out there trying to keep the police off our trail. The professor trusted her and that’s good enough for me. She’ll know what to do.”

Lucy let out a deep breath filled with reservations. “I hope you’re right.”

I gave her a long hug and reassured her again, then walked her to her room. Alone in the hallway, I pressed my ear against Edward’s door, listening to the sounds of him—or the Beast—breathing. My heart beat a little too fast. I tried to put Edward’s cryptic few words out of my head, along with the strangeness of this place—Elizabeth had warned me, after all, to be prepared for people out of touch with normal society. I reminded myself that we weren’t in danger here, and that this was also the safest place for Edward. Elizabeth had her reasons for keeping secrets from us. Despite Montgomery’s fears, the greater danger by far lay out there, beyond the moors.

SIX

WE WOKE IN THE morning to find the rains from the storm had caused the bogs to overflow the levees and flood the road to Quick. I didn’t mind being cut off, especially with the police searching for us, except that it might slow Elizabeth’s return. I was anxious to ask her about Edward’s claims that the Beast had discovered a cure, as well as some of the more peculiar details of the manor—like Hensley.

Mrs. McKenna took the opportunity to lead us on a tour of the grounds that weren’t flooded. Over the next few days, she showed us the goat barn and the goose pond, the glass-enclosed winter garden off the ballroom, the vegetable cold storage in the basement, and even took us through the plain and tidy servants’ floor. She explained Valentina’s educational program for the younger girls, how she taught them to read and write and do sums, and how she was slowly schooling the older girls in the more sophisticated workings of the manor. I admired the self-sufficient nature of the estate, but the secret passages and plentiful locked doors seemed to trouble Montgomery. Likewise, Lucy found little to appreciate about the dusty manor and its pale-faced staff. The only thing she seemed to enjoy, in those rare moments when she wasn’t by Edward’s bedside, was Mrs. McKenna’s hearty cooking.

“Mama never lets me eat like this,” she said over a breakfast of bacon rashers. “She says if I don’t watch my figure, men won’t give me a second look.”

Valentina made a disparaging noise in her throat. She hunched over the buffet table, teaching two of the girls to polish silver. “Girls weren’t made to be trussed up like Christmas hens. A woman needs weight on her bones, especially in winter.” She had her gloves on today, hiding those strangely pale hands. “Any man who thinks otherwise would certainly not be welcome here.”

She and Mrs. McKenna looked pointedly at Montgomery. He stood by the window, surveying the moors as though he expected ghosts to rise. At our silence, he turned.

“Pardon?” he asked.

“Don’t worry about him,” I said. “He’s as wild as the moors themselves. He certainly doesn’t care if I have an extra scone or two.”

He turned to us, seemingly unaware of our conversation. “There are fresh wheel ruts in the courtyard,” he observed. “Does that mean the road is passable again?”

Mrs. McKenna nodded. “Carlyle took the mule to Quick as soon as the sun broke. I’d wager it’s muddy as the devil’s bath, but it’s passable.”

Montgomery forced a smile. “Juliet, you and Lucy should take the day and walk into Quick. Some fresh air would do you both good. You could meet with the dressmaker about your wedding gown.”

 

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