In this shocking finale to the bestselling series that began with Stalking Jack the Ripper, Audrey Rose and Thomas are on the hunt for the depraved, elusive killer known as the White City Devil. A deadly game of cat-and-mouse has them fighting to stay one step ahead of the brilliant serial killer -- or see their fateful romance cut short by unspeakable tragedy. Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have landed in America, a bold, brash land unlike the genteel streets of London. But like London, the city of Chicago hides its dark secrets well. When the two attend the spectacular World's Fair, they find the once-in-a-lifetime event tainted with reports of missing people and unsolved murders. Determined to help, Audrey Rose and Thomas begin their investigations, only to find themselves facing a serial killer unlike any they've encountered before. Identifying him is one thing, but capturing him---and getting dangerously lost in the infamous Murder Hotel he constructed as a terrifying torture device---is another. Will Audrey Rose and Thomas see their last mystery to the end---together and in love---or will their fortunes finally run out when their most depraved adversary makes one final, devastating kill?
Release date: September 10, 2019
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Print pages: 448
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Capturing the Devil
The fact that the moon was not only full, but also a putrid shade of yellow, had Nonna muttering the kind of warnings that normally made my father bolt the doors. Thankfully he and Uncle Nino were in the dining room with a bottle of limoncello, pouring after-dinner drinks for our customers. No one left Sea & Vine without sipping the dessert liqueur and feeling the utter satisfaction and bliss that followed a good meal.
“Mock me all you like, but it’s not safe. Demons are prowling the streets, searching for souls to steal.” Nonna chopped cloves of garlic for the scampi, her knife flying across the worn cutting board. If she wasn’t careful, she’d lose a finger. “Your sister is foolish to be out.” She stopped, immediately shifting her attention to the little horn-shaped amulet around my neck. Worry lines carved a deep path around her eyes and mouth. “Did you see if she was wearing her cornicello, Emilia?”
I didn’t bother responding. We never took our amulets off, not even while bathing. My sister broke every rule except that one. Especially after what happened when we were eight.…I briefly closed my eyes, willing the memory away. Nonna still didn’t know about the luccicare I saw shimmering around humans like a glittering lavender aura, and I hoped she never would.
“Mama, please.” My mother raised her gaze to the ceiling as if the goddess of the sky might send an answer to her prayers in the form of a lightning bolt. I wasn’t sure if the bolt was meant for Nonna or my mother. “Let’s get through dinner service before worrying about the Wicked. We have more pressing problems at the moment.” She nodded to the sauté pan. “The garlic is starting to burn.”
Nonna mumbled something that sounded suspiciously like “So will their souls in Hell if we don’t save them, Nicoletta,” and I bit my lip to keep from smiling.
“Something’s terribly wrong, I feel it in my bones. If Vittoria isn’t home soon, I’ll go looking for her myself. The Malvagi won’t dare to steal her soul around me.” Nonna brought her cleaver down on an unsuspecting mackerel, its head flopping to the limestone floor.
I sighed. We could’ve used it to make fish stock. Nonna was really getting herself worked up. She was the one who’d taught us the value in using every part of an animal. Bones, however, could only be used for stock, not spells. At least those were the rules for us Di Carlos. Le arti oscure strictly forbidden. I scooped the fish head into a bowl to give to the alley cats later, banishing thoughts of the dark arts.
I poured some chilled wine for Nonna, adding orange slices and sugared peels to sweeten it. In moments, condensation bloomed like morning dew across the glass. It was mid-July in Palermo, which meant the air was stifling at night, even with our windows open coaxing a breeze.
It was especially hot in the kitchen now, though during colder months I still wore my long hair up because of the soaring temperatures created by our oven fires.
Sea & Vine, the Di Carlo family trattoria, was known across Sicily for our sinfully delicious food. Each evening our tables were crowded with hungry patrons, all waiting to dine on Nonna’s recipes. Lines formed in the late afternoons, no matter the weather. Nonna said simple ingredients were her secret, along with a touch of magic. Both of those statements were true.
“Here, Nonna.” We weren’t supposed to use magic outside of our home, but I whispered a quick spell, and, using the condensation dripping onto the stone, slid the drink along the counter in front of her. She paused long enough in her worrying to sip the sweet wine. My mother mouthed her thanks when my grandmother’s back was turned, and I grinned.
I wasn’t sure why Nonna was so agitated tonight. Over the last several weeks, my twin had missed quite a few dinner services and had snuck in well past sunset, her bronze cheeks flushed and her eyes bright. There was something different about her. And I had a strong suspicion it was because of a certain young vendor in the market: Domenico Nucci Jr.
I’d stolen a peek at her diary and seen his name scribbled in the margins before guilt had overtaken me, and I’d tucked it back under the floorboard where she’d hidden it. We still shared a room on the second floor of our small, crowded home.
“Vittoria is fine, Nonna.” I handed her some fresh parsley to garnish the shrimp. “I told you she’s been flirting with the Nucci boy who sells arancini for his family near the castle. I’m sure he’s busy with all the pre-festival celebrations tonight. I bet she’s passing out fried rice balls to everyone who’s overindulged. They need something to soak up all that sacramental wine.” I winked, but my grandmother’s fear didn’t abate. I set the rest of the parsley down and hugged her close. “No demon is stealing her soul, or eating her heart. I promise. She’ll be here soon.”
“One day I hope you’ll take signs from the goddesses seriously, bambina.”
Maybe. But I’d heard stories about red-eyed demon princes my whole life and hadn’t met one yet. I wasn’t too worried things would suddenly change now. Wherever the Wicked had gone, it seemed to be permanent. I feared them as much as I worried about dinosaurs suddenly returning from extinction. I left Nonna to the scampi and smiled as music filtered in between the sounds of knives chopping and spoons stirring. It was my favorite kind of symphony—one that allowed me to focus entirely on the joy of creation.
I inhaled the fragrant scent of garlic and butter.
Cooking was magic and music combined. The crack of shells, the hiss of pancetta hitting a hot pan, the metallic clang of a whisk beating the side of a bowl, even the rhythmic thwack of a cleaver against a wooden cutting board. I adored each part of being in a kitchen with my family. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect way to spend an evening.
Sea & Vine was my future and it promised to be filled with love and light. Especially if I saved enough coin to purchase the building next door and expand our family business. I’d been experimenting with new flavors from across Italy and wanted to create my own menu one day.
My mother hummed along while forming marzipan into fruit shapes. “He’s a nice boy, Domenico. He’d make a good match for Vittoria.”
Nonna tossed a flour-coated hand in the air, waving it around as if the idea of an engagement with a Nucci stunk worse than the streets of the nearby fish market. “Bah! She’s too young to worry about marriage. And he’s not Sicilian.”
My mother and I both shook our heads. I had a feeling his Tuscan roots had little to do with Nonna’s disapproval. If she had it her way, we’d live in our ancestral home—in our little quarter of Palermo—until our bones turned to dust. Nonna didn’t believe anyone else could watch over us as well as she could. Especially a mere human boy. Domenico wasn’t witch-born like my father, and therefore Nonna didn’t think he could ever fully be trusted with our secret.
“He was born here. His mother is from here. I’m fairly certain that makes him Sicilian,” I said. “Stop being grumpy. It doesn’t suit someone as sweet as you.”
She harrumphed, ignoring my blatant attempt to charm her. Stubborn as a mule, as my grandfather would’ve said. “Sardines washed themselves onto the shore. Gulls didn’t touch them. You know what that means? It means they’re no fools. The devil’s stirring the seas, and they’ll have nothing to do with his offerings.”
“Mama,” my mother groaned and set the almond paste down. “A boat carrying kerosene crashed into the rocks last night. The oil killed the fish, not the devil.”
Nonna shot my mother a look that would sink lesser souls to their knees. “You know as well as I do it’s a sign the Malvagi have arrived, Nicoletta. It’s been eighteen years. They’ve come to collect. You’ve heard of the bodies. Is that a coincidence, too?”
“Bodies?” My voice shot up several octaves. “What are you talking about?”
Nonna clamped her mouth shut. My mother whipped her head around, forgetting about the marzipan again. A look passed between them, so deep and meaningful that chills crept down my spine.
“What bodies?” I prodded.
Our restaurant was busier than normal while we prepared for the influx of people attending the festival tomorrow, and it had been days since I’d listened to gossip swirling around the marketplace. I hadn’t heard anything about bodies.
My mother gave my grandmother a look that said You started this, you finish it, and went back to her candy shaping. Nonna settled onto a chair she kept near the window, clasping her wine tightly. A breeze lifted the oppressive heat. Her eyes fluttered shut, as if soaking it in. She looked exhausted. Whatever was happening, it was bad.
“Nonna? Please. What happened?”
“Two girls were murdered last week. One in Sciacca. And one here. In Palermo.”
Sciacca—a port town facing the Mediterranean Sea—was almost directly south of us. It was a little jewel on an island filled with visual treasure. I couldn’t imagine a murder there. Which was ridiculous, since death didn’t discriminate between paradise and hell.
“That’s awful.” I set my knife down, pulse pounding. I looked at my grandmother. “Were they… human?”
Nonna’s sad look said it all. Streghe. I swallowed hard. No wonder she was carrying on about the Wicked returning. She was imagining one of us lying discarded in the streets, our souls being tortured by demons in Hell while our blood slipped through cracks in the stone, replenishing Earth’s magic. I shuddered, despite the sweat beading my brow. I didn’t know what to make of the murders.
Nonna often chided me for being too skeptical, but I still wasn’t convinced the Malvagi were to blame. Old legends claimed the Wicked were sent to retrieve souls for the devil, not to kill. And no one had seen them wandering our world in centuries.
Humans murdered each other all the time, though, and they definitely attacked us when they suspected what we were. Whispers of a new band of strega hunters reached us last week, but we’d seen no evidence of them. But now… if witches were being murdered, I was more inclined to believe human zealots were to blame. Which meant we needed to be even more careful to avoid discovery. No more simple charms where we could be seen. I tended to be overly cautious, but my sister was not. Her favorite form of hiding was not hiding at all. Maybe Nonna was right to be worried.
“What did you mean about the Malvagi coming to collect?” I asked.
Nonna didn’t seem inclined to respond, but saw the determination in my eyes and knew I’d keep asking. She sighed. “There are stories that claim the Wicked will return to Sicily every few weeks beginning now, searching for something that was stolen from them.”
This was a new legend. “What was stolen?”
My mother stilled before shaping the marzipan again. Nonna sipped her wine carefully, gazing into it as if she might divine the future in the pulp floating on the surface. “A blood debt.”
I raised my brows. That didn’t sound ominous at all. Before I could interrogate her further, someone rapped on the side door where we brought in supplies. Over the chatter in the small dining room, my father called to Uncle Nino to entertain the dinner guests. Footsteps thudded down the hall, and the door creaked open.
“Buonasera, signore Di Carlo. Is Emilia here?”
I recognized the deep voice and knew what he’d come to ask. There was only one reason Antonio Vicenzu Bernardo, the most newly appointed member of the holy brotherhood, ever called on me here. The nearby monastery relied heavily on donations and charity, so once or twice a month I made dinner for them on behalf of our family restaurant.
Nonna was already shaking her head as I wiped my hands on a towel and set my apron on the island. I smoothed down the front of my dark skirts, cringing a little at the flour splattered across my bodice. I looked like a queen of ash and probably stank like garlic.
I swallowed a sigh. Eighteen, and doomed to reign over fish carcasses forever.
“Nonna, there are already plenty of people in the streets celebrating Santa Rosalia before the festival tomorrow. I promise I’ll stick to the main road, make dinner quickly, and grab Vittoria on the way back. We’ll both be home before you know it.”
“No.” Nonna was out of her chair, ushering me back like a wayward hen toward the island and my abandoned cutting board. “You mustn’t leave here, Emilia. Not tonight.” She clutched her own cornicello, her expression pleading. “Let someone else donate food instead, or you’ll find yourself joining the dead in that monastery.”
“Mama!” My mother scolded. “What a thing to say!”
“Don’t worry, Nonna,” I said. “I don’t plan on dying for a very, very long time.”
I kissed my grandmother, then snatched a half-formed piece of marzipan from the plate my mother was working on and popped it into my mouth. While I chewed, I stuffed a basket with tomatoes, fresh basil, homemade mozzarella, garlic, olive oil, and a small bottle of thick balsamic that Uncle Nino had brought from his recent visit to Modena. It wasn’t traditional, but I’d been experimenting and loved the flavor of vinegar lightly drizzled on top.
I added a jar of salt, a loaf of crusty bread we baked earlier, then quickly ducked out of the kitchen before I was wrangled into another argument.
I smiled warmly at fratello Antonio, hoping he couldn’t hear Nonna condemning him and the entire monastery in the background. He was young and handsome for a member of the brotherhood—just three years older than me and Vittoria. His eyes were the color of melted chocolate, and his lips always hinted at the sweetest smile. He’d grown up next door to us, and I used to dream about marrying him one day. Too bad he’d devoted himself to chastity; I was certain half the Kingdom of Italy wouldn’t mind kissing his full mouth. Myself included.
“Buonasera, fratello Antonio.” I held my basket of supplies aloft, ignoring how odd it felt to call him “brother” when I had some very un-sisterly thoughts about him. “I’ve been experimenting again and am making a sort-of caprese-bruschetta combination for the brotherhood tonight. Does that sound all right?”
For his sake, I hoped so. It was quick and easy, and though the bread tasted better brushed with olive oil and lightly grilled, it didn’t require a fire to make.
“It sounds heavenly, Emilia. And please, Antonio is fine. No need for old friends to stand on ceremony.” He gave me a shy nod. “Your hair looks lovely.”
“Grazie.” I reached up and brushed my fingers against a flower. When we were younger, I began weaving orange blossoms and plumeria in my hair to set me and my twin apart. I reminded myself Antonio was involved with the Almighty Lord now and wasn’t flirting with me.
No matter how much I sometimes wished otherwise.
While he studiously ignored the tinny sound of a pot hitting the stone floor, I internally cringed.
“Most of the brotherhood won’t return to the monastery until later,” he said, “but I can help, if you’d like.”
Nonna’s hysterics grew louder. He was polite enough to pretend he didn’t hear her dire warnings of demons killing young women in Sicily and stealing their souls. I gave him my most winning smile, hoping it didn’t look like a grimace. “I’d like that very much.”
His attention slid behind me as Nonna’s cries reached us, a tiny crease forming in his brow. Normally she was careful around customers, but if she started screaming about demons and protection charms where he could overhear her, our bustling family restaurant would be ruined.
If there was one thing humans feared as much as the Malvagi, it was witches.
WEST WASHINGTON MARKET
MEATPACKING DISTRICT, NEW YORK CITY
21 JANUARY 1889
A blast of frigid air greeted me as I unlatched the carriage door and stumbled onto the street, my attention stuck on the raised axe. Watery sunlight dribbled off its edge like fresh blood, tricking me into recalling recent events. Some might call them nightmares. A feeling akin to hunger awakened deep within, but I quickly swallowed it down.
“Miss Wadsworth?” The footman reached for my arm, his focus darting around the throng of dirt-speckled people elbowing their way down West Street. I blinked, nearly having forgotten where I was and who I was with. Almost three weeks in New York and it still didn’t seem real. The footman wet his cracked lips, his voice strained. “Your uncle requested you both be taken directly to the—”
“It will be our secret, Rhodes.”
Without offering another word, I gripped my cane and moved forward, staring into dull black eyes as the blade finally came down, severing the spinal cord at the neck with a wood-splintering thwack. The executioner—a sandy-haired man of around twenty years—worked the axe free and wiped its edge on the front of his bloodstained apron.
For a brief moment, with his shirtsleeves rolled back and sweat dotting his brow, he reminded me of Uncle Jonathan after he’d carved open a corpse. The man set his weapon aside and yanked the goat’s body backward, neatly separating the head from its shoulders.
I drew closer, curious that the animal’s head didn’t tumble off the butcher’s block as I’d imagined—it simply rolled to the side of the oversize board, gaze fixed permanently toward the winter sky. If I believed in an ever after, I might hope it was in a better place. One far from here.
My attention drifted to the goat’s carcass. It had been killed and skinned elsewhere, its exposed flesh a map of white and red, crisscrossing where fat and connective tissue met with tender meat. I fought the growing urge to quietly recite the names of each muscle and tendon.
I hadn’t inspected a cadaver in a month.
“How appetizing.” My cousin Liza finally caught up and looped her arm through mine, tugging me out of the way as a man tossed a stuffed burlap sack across the sidewalk to a younger apprentice. Now that I was paying closer attention, I noticed a fine layer of sawdust around the butcher’s feet. It was a good method to easily soak up blood for sweeping, one I was well acquainted with thanks to time spent in Uncle’s laboratory and at the forensic academy I’d briefly attended in Romania. Uncle wasn’t the only Wadsworth who enjoyed cutting open the dead.
The butcher stopped hacking the goat apart long enough to leer at us. He crassly slid his gaze over our bodies and offered a low, appreciative whistle. “I can snap corsets open faster than bones.” He held his knife up, his attention fixed on my chest. “Interested in a demonstration, fancy lady? Say the word and I’ll show you what else I can do to such a fine figure.”
Liza stiffened beside me. People often called women of supposedly questionable morals “fancy ladies.” If he thought I’d blush and run off, he was sorely mistaken.
“Unfortunately, sir, I find I’m not terribly impressed.” I casually slipped a scalpel from my wristlet clutch, enjoying the familiar feel of it. “You see, I also eviscerate bodies. But I don’t bother with animals. I butcher humans. Would you care for a demonstration?”
He must have seen something in my face that worried him. He stepped back, his calloused hands raised. “I don’t want no trouble, now. I was just havin’ some fun.”
“As was I.” I gave him a sweet smile that made him blanch as I turned the blade this way and that. “Shame you don’t feel like playing any longer. Though I’m not surprised. Men such as yourself boast in a grandiose fashion to make up for their… shortcomings.”
Liza’s jaw practically hit the ground as she angled us away. She sighed as our carriage finally rumbled off without us. “Explain to me, dearest cousin, why we left that warm, lavish hansom in favor of wandering through”—she motioned at the rows of butchers’ blocks with her parasol, each stall featuring different animal parts being wrapped in brown paper packages—“all this. The smell is positively horrendous. And the company is even more foul. Never, in all my life, have I been spoken to in such a wicked manner.”
I kept my skepticism on that latter point locked away. We’d spent more than a week aboard an ocean liner cavorting with a carnival known for debauchery. Being acquainted with the ringmaster for five minutes proved he was a devil of a young man. In more ways than one.
“I wanted to see the meatpacking district for myself,” I lied. “Perhaps it’ll give me an idea for the perfect main course. What do you think of roasted goat?”
“After witnessing its beheading or before?” she asked, looking like she was moments away from vomiting. “You do know that’s what cookbooks are for, correct? Inspiration without the labor. Or carnage. I swear you miss being surrounded by death.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. Why would you even think such a thing?”
“Look around, Audrey Rose. Of all the neighborhoods in this city, this is the one you chose to stroll through.”
I tore my attention away from a plucked chicken that was seconds away from joining the dismembered goat, my expression reserved as I took in our surroundings. Blood steadily dripped down many of the wooden blocks lining the storefronts, splattering onto the ground.
Judging from the multihued stains, the streets weren’t washed even after a busy day of hacking animals apart. Veins of crimson and black wound through cracks in the cobblestones—tributaries of old death meeting the new. The scent of copper mixed with feces pricked my eyes and thrilled my heart.
This street was death made tangible, a murderer’s dream.
Liza sidestepped a bucket of frost-coated offal, her warm exhale mimicking steam rising off a boiling teakettle as it mingled with the cold air. I wasn’t sure if the amount of entrails or their near-frozen states offended her more. I wondered at the darkness swirling within me—the secret part that couldn’t muster up an ounce of disgust. Perhaps I needed to take up a new hobby.
I feared I was becoming addicted to blood.
“Honestly, let me hail another hansom. You shouldn’t be out in this weather anyway—you know what Uncle’s said about the cold. And look”—Liza nodded toward our feet—“our shoes are sopping up snow like bits of bread in soup. We’re going to catch our death out here.”
I didn’t glance down at my own feet. I hadn’t worn my favorite pretty shoes since the day I’d taken a knife in my leg. My current footwear was stiff, boring leather without a delicate heel. Liza was correct; icy dampness had found its way in through the seams, soaking my stockings and causing the near-constant dull ache in my bones to intensify.
“Stop! Thief!” A constable blew a whistle somewhere close by and several people broke off from the crowd, scattering like plague rats rushing down alleyways. Liza and I moved aside, lest we become the unwitting victims of fleeing pickpockets and petty thieves.
“A whole roasted pig will be more than enough food,” she added. “Stop worrying.”
“That’s precisely the issue.”
I pressed closer to the building as a young boy ran by, one hand on his newsboy cap, the other clutching what appeared to be a stolen pocket watch. A policeman followed, blowing his whistle and dodging through vendors.
“I can’t stop worrying. Thomas’s birthday is in two days,” I reminded her, as if I hadn’t already done so one hundred times over the last week. The constable’s whistle and shouts grew further away and our slow procession down butchers’ row resumed. “It’s my first dinner party and I want everything to be perfect.”
Mr. Thomas Cresswell—my insufferable yet most decidedly charming partner in crime solving—and I had danced around the subject of both courtship and marriage. I’d agreed to accept him, should he ask my father first, and hadn’t expected everything to unfold quite as quickly as it had. We’d known each other for just a few short months—five now—but it felt right.
Most young women of my station married at about twenty-one years, but my soul felt older, especially after the events on the RMS Etruria. With my approval, Thomas sent a letter to my father, requesting an audience to make his intentions clear. Now that my father, along with my aunt Amelia, was en route from London to New York, the time was fast approaching when we’d begin an official courtship followed by a betrothal.
Not long ago, I would have felt invisible bars closing in at the thought of joining myself to another; now I irrationally worried something might bar me from marrying Thomas. He’d almost been taken from me once, and I’d kill before I allowed that to happen again.
“Plus”—I pulled the letter from the premier chef of Paris from my purse and waved it playfully at Liza—“Monsieur Escoffier was quite specific about obtaining the best cut of meat. And Uncle isn’t the one who’ll deal with a stiff leg,” I added, leaning a bit more heavily on my cane. “Let me worry over that.”
Liza looked ready to argue but held a perfumed handkerchief to her nose instead, her gaze snagging on the mechanical canopy above us. A conveyor belt with hooks swept by, a constant loop of gears clicking and metal clinking, the noise adding to the clamor of the streets as butchers staked hocks of fresh meat to it. She watched the dismembered limbs jostle their way into the buildings where they’d undoubtedly be broken down further, seemingly lost in thought.
Likely she was searching for another reason I ought to stay inside and rest, but I’d done plenty of resting in the weeks we’d been in New York. I needn’t hear from others what I could and could no longer easily do. I was more than aware of that.
While it was true I wanted Thomas’s eighteenth birthday to be special, it wasn’t the whole truth behind my obsessing. Uncle hadn’t permitted me to leave my grandmother’s home much for fear of fracturing my leg further, and I was going mad with inactivity and boredom. Throwing Thomas a party was as much for me as it was for him.
Though I was grateful for my cousin—she and Thomas had taken turns entertaining me by reading my favorite books aloud and playing the piano. They had even put on a few plays, much to both my amusement and my dismay. While my cousin had the voice of a nightingale, Thomas’s singing was atrocious. A cat in heat held a note in a more pleasant manner than he did. At least it proved he wasn’t limitlessly skilled, which pleased me to no end. Without them or my novels, things would have been much worse. When I was adventuring between the pages of a book, I wasn’t sad over things I was missing outside.
“Your grandmother’s kitchen staff is capable of doing the shopping to Mr. Ritz’s instructions. Wasn’t he the person who recommended Mr. Escoffier? These are not the sort of scenes one should be subjected to prior to a dress fitting.” Liza nodded at the eyes being pried from the goat’s skull and set in a bowl, while its belly was sliced open to remove organ meat. “No matter how accustomed you may be to macabre things.”
“Death is a part of life. Case in point”—I jerked my chin toward the fresh meat—“without the death of that goat, we’d starve.”
Liza scrunched her nose. “Or we could all learn to simply eat plants from now on.”
“While that sounds valiant, the plants would still need to die for your survival.” I ignored the tweak of pain in my leg as a particularly icy blast of wind barreled over the Hudson River and slammed into us. The sky’s gray belly bulged with the promise of more snow. It seemed like it had been snowing for a month straight. I was loath to admit that Uncle was right: I’d suffer the consequences of today’s activities later this evening. “Anyway, my fitting is in twenty minutes, which gives us plenty of time to—”
A man in a dark brown cutaway coat and matching bowler hat jumped aside as a bucket of waste splashed onto the street from the tenement window above, narrowly escaping a most unpleasant bath. He crashed directly into me, knocking my cane to the ground along with what appeared to be a medical satchel filled with familiar tools. Forgetting about his bag, he held fast to my arm, preventing me from tumbling onto our items and potentially getting impaled on anything sharp.
While I steadied myself, I eyed a rather large bone saw peeking out from where it had come undone in his bag. There was also what appeared to be an architectural drawing. Perhaps he was a doctor building his own medical offices. After he made sure I wasn’t in danger of falling, he let me go and quickly snatched up his satchel, stuffing the medical tools back in and rolling the drawing back up.
“Apologies, miss! M-my name is Henry. I didn’t mean to—I really should learn to watch where I’m going. I’ve got my mind full of a million things today.”
“Yes. You should.” Liza swiped my cane from the ground and gave the man a scowl Aunt Amelia would be proud of. “If you’ll excuse us, we must be on our way.” The man turned his attention to my cousi
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