Tenfold More Wicked

Tenfold More Wicked by Viola Carr

Book: Tenfold More Wicked by Viola Carr Read Free Book Online
Authors: Viola Carr
    â€œBolivia,” put in Lafayette. “That’s what I read. But it didn’t say you were married.”
    Penny winced. “I sympathize. My gentlemen colleagues make the press, and it’s all about art. Any publicity I get is about my figure and the cut of my gown.” She made a rude face as she lit a fresh cigarette. “Now, let’s see. We all endured Dalziel’s dinner. Everyone arguing politics, frightfully dull. I’m afraid we left rather early, about half past one.” Penny sighed. “I’d simply love to tell you that Sheridan lurked behind and bumped Dalziel off in a fit of smug insufferableness, but it isn’t true. He and I rode a cab to the coffee house.”
    â€œI thought you didn’t like Mr. Lightwood.”
    â€œPositively loathe the greasy-nosed runt. Doesn’t mean he can’t pay for my cab. Carmine was there, too, playing cards. Carmine Zanotti, I mean, of Eve and the Serpent . Have you seen it? It’s simply wonderful. What a surprising new talent. We didn’t shamble home until the sun crept up.”
    â€œAnd home is?”
    â€œHere, of course. The Academy has student rooms.”
    â€œWhich coffee house?”
    Penny frowned, vague. “You know. The place we go. In Soho.” She waved across the way. “I say,” she called, “Sheridan, you disgusting little toad, we were just discussing your poor bartered soul.”
    Lightwood sauntered over. A picturesque fellow, his long locks tied in a ribbon. He wore an antique long-fronted waistcoat in rainbow colors beneath his tapered black coat. “A bad bargain, as it turned out,” he said. “I’ve waved my magic wand a dozen times and you still won’t drop dead.”
    â€œWhat do they all see in you?” muttered Penny. “It certainly isn’t talent.”
    Sheridan smirked. “Charm, fame, and good looks? More than your talented friend Carmine has to offer.”
    â€œI wouldn’t join that measuring contest, if I were you.” Penny grinned like a hyena. “Are you done with this evening’s petty conquest? I hear Lady Fleet’s newly available.”
    He narrowed dark eyes at her. “Forgive me if my heart’s not quite in it this evening.”
    â€œOh, dear. Have you been blubbering over Dalziel again? Poor thing, your face is positively bloated.”
    â€œWhat do you want, Watt? The sight of you’s already making me queasy.”
    â€œThis lady’s asking about the murder. I thought you might like to help, as you were such good friends.”
    Lightwood studied Lafayette, and then Eliza, unfocused, as if he looked through her. Short-sighted? Bad news for a watch-maker’s apprentice who wanted to be an artist. The victim of a perennial sick headache? Hmm. What odds he was chasing the dragon? Pale, bad-tempered, that elusive, faraway cast to his gaze . . . but somehow, not so vague as he seemed.Observant, perhaps memorizing details for some future sketch. Once again, sly fingers tickled her memory . . . but she couldn’t place him.
    â€œForgive Miss Watt, madam,” he said. “She’s far too worthless a degenerate to properly introduce us.”
    â€œFor heaven’s sake.” Penny waved her cigarette. “Dr. Jekyll and Captain Lafayette, meet rude, drunken gutter-snipe who thinks he’s God’s gift to ladies and art lovers both. Sheridan, meet eminently sensible professional who’s so clearly out of your league that I’m tempted to watch you try, and the fellow who’ll thrash your lights out if you do.”
    â€œThat about covers it,” murmured Lafayette with a cold smile.
    Sharply, Lightwood bowed. As he bent over her hand, Eliza’s senses prickled. His mingled scents drifted: claret, yes, he was halfway drunk, but also a sickly-sweet fruity smell that burned her palate.
    She wished for her optical. Chinese opium, or some

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