Silk on the skin—luxurious, luscious..lethal.
The city is in a panic as Jack the Ripper continues his murderous spree. While the Whitechapel police struggle to find him, Detective Inspector Rudyard Bloodstone and his partner are working feverishly to find their own serial killer. The British Museum’s beautiful gardens have become a killing ground for young women strangled as they stroll through.
Their investigation has them brushing up against Viscount Everhard, a powerful member of the House of Lords, and a friend to Queen Victoria. When the circumstantial evidence points to him as a suspect, Rudyard must deal with the political blowback, and knows if they are going to go after the viscount, they’d better be right and have proof.
As the body count grows and the public clamor for the detectives to do more, inter-department rivalries complicate the already difficult case.
What would you do to stay young: Lie, Manipulate..kill?
Excerpt of Silk
He wrapped an end in each hand and pulled. His fingers crept up the silk and he tugged a bit harder still. The material pressed deeper into the flesh of her neck. Bright pink dotted her cheeks and radiated down to her jaw. The veins in her temples popped out and pulsed in time to her heartbeat. She moaned, pushed her hips upward and writhed against him. Her soft pubic hair tickled his testicles. Isabeau’s unsubtle way of letting him know she wanted him inside her. He obliged.
Her hands encircled his wrists. She tugged hard outward, harder than usual. A choked sigh escaped her. He paid no attention. This was standard. Isabeau always insisted he maintain pressure until she signaled for him to release his hold. In the past, when she reached the edge of consciousness, she’d beat along his upper arms. This time she thrashed her head back and forth, something he hadn’t seen before. Her eyes bulged in an unattractive way and she clawed at him. Her nails gouged the skin on his hands, drawing blood.
She hurt him and he wanted to slap her. He almost let go of one end of the scarf to do that. Instead, he pulled tighter. Isabeau tried to insert her fingers into the spot where the material crossed over. Her mouth opened and shut, soundless and fishlike. She swatted at the mattress wildly. Red-faced to the point of being near purple, she bucked beneath him.
She fired his blood with her lack of inhibition. Never had she responded with such intensity. Raw power surged through him, primitive, animalistic. He pumped hard. Ready to climax, William clenched his fists, twisting the scarf one last turn. Odd, feathery touches tapped his biceps, feminine and subtle grazes, and then she went limp. Spent, he released his hold and collapsed on top of her, his heart pounding while he caught his breath.
Isabeau didn’t move and her head stayed turned to the side. She hadn’t cried out the way she normally did when sated. Perhaps she was disappointed with his effort. He gave the thought a mental shrug. At the end of the day, it really didn’t matter. He’d arrange for her departure first thing in the morning.
William rolled over and slung a sweaty arm over his eyes. He tried to decide which was worse, telling her tonight the affair was over or waiting until morning. The idea of doing it after such a rambunctious sexual endeavor seemed bad form, but he wanted to get it over with. He turned onto his side, prepared for histrionics, caterwauling, great tears and verbal abuse.
“Isabeau, look at me. I’ve come to a decision and it will likely distress you.” Nothing. She didn’t stir. “Isabeau?”
He shook her by the arm. Still no response. William let go and her arm dropped listless to the mattress. He raised her arm again and let go. Again, it fell listless. He straddled her and patted her cheeks. Nothing. Her head twisted without resistance first right then left depending on the direction of his pat. He slapped her harder. Nothing. Vacant eyes stared fixed on the ceiling. He bent an ear to her chest. Nothing. William leapt from the bed, snatched a silver mirror from the dressing table, and held it under her nose. Nothing.
“Bitch.” William hurled the mirror against the wall. “Bitch, whore,” he raged and paced along the side of the bed. “I will not allow you to make my life a nightmare. This was your doing. I told you to leave me alone.”
Events of the day and the potential satisfaction of giving Napier a bloody nose dwindled. Questions about the murder crept back into Ruddy’s thoughts. Morris joined him at his table in the rear of the pub with a Guinness, the popular beer of choice in hand. “You’ve got the look of a man whose thoughts are a long distance from London.”
“No, sadly my thoughts are fixed here in the city. I’m trying to figure out a clue. Ellis’s roommate said she’d sometimes meet with a well-dressed man, a man of means the victim indicated. They’d meet up at the fountain by the British Museum.”
“Don’t know the spot but then the museum isn’t my cup of tea.”
“Not the point. I’m saying it’s odd. What member of the upper class chooses to stroll through a public garden other than Hyde or Regents, where they can see and be seen by one of their own?”
“I agree the wealthy prefer the parks filled with others of their kind but it doesn’t mean a man can’t enjoy someplace different.”
“We interviewed the guard again. The one that discovered the body walks that half of the building. He told us the majority of their male patrons are natty dressers, but he never saw a man like that loitering by the fountain.”
“My guess is: the man is married and can’t afford to run the risk of being seen by a friend of his wife’s. Or, he might live or work in the area and the spot is convenient.”
“Or, he’s a murderer who’s noticed the victim walking through the park on a regular basis, saw it as an opportunity and cozied up to her.”
Ruddy took another swallow of his ale, mentally debating the merit of each theory. “I don’t think he lives in the area. If so, he’d have cut through the park more and been seen by the guards. Not sure about the married man having a tryst idea.”
To Ruddy’s way of thinking, if the man was married and looking for a tumble, he’d have met her someplace other than the gardens and at a better hour.
Instinct drew him back to his original sense of the culprit and crime. “I feel like this was a crime of opportunity. I’ve thought it all along and can’t shake the sense.”
“If he was just seeking a victim, then why haven’t you had more murders like this?” Morris asked.
Ruddy downed the rest of his beer and put his tankard on the edge of the table where June would refill it. “Everyone has to start somewhere. She might be number one.”