Home > Moonglow (Darkest London #2)

Moonglow (Darkest London #2)
Author: Kristen Callihan

Acknowledgments


Again, I must thank my wonderful agent, Kristin Nelson, who always looks out for me. I am so grateful.

Thank you to the talented team at Grand Central/Forever, Lauren Plude, Jennifer Reese, Christine Foltzer, Amy Pierpont, and a host of others who help me in so many ways.

Thank you to my first readers and brainstorming partners extraordinaire, Karina Callihan Escobar and Rachel Walsh. Thank you to beta readers, Jill Archer, Claire Greer, Jennifer Hendren, and Susan Montgomery.

Thank you to Jill Shalvis for keeping me sane during the second-book-revision syndrome. And to Emily Greenwood and Jill Archer for much of the same.

The family: Thank you to my sisters/slave laborers Liz Callihan, for maintaining my website, and Karina Callihan Escobar, for doing all of my graphic design work. And to my brother, Michael Callihan, for putting up with talk of syphilis and my mad plotting that one summer day. And to my mom, Hilde, for listening to general whining—I know you’re used to it!

And, of course, to my wonderful husband, Juan, and my children, Maya and Alex, for always being there for me and always understanding when I had to work late. I love you so much!

And last, but certainly not least, I want to thank my editor, Alex Logan. You are my captain and my wingman. Every writer should be so lucky as to have an editor like you.

 

 

Prologue

 


Art thou pale for weariness

Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,

Wandering companionless

Among the stars that have a different birth…

���Shelley

London, April 1, 1883

Lord above, was there a better sight than a woman flush with passion, her skin dewy and pink, her breasts bouncing from the force of his thrusts? The woman beneath Ian moaned and arched up to meet him, her red-gold hair catching the afternoon light as it spilled over white linen. What could be better than tupping a woman? A paid woman. Did she truly want to be here? Want him? He frowned as his concentration slipped a notch, and with it, the thick knot of pleasure in his balls eased.

Bugger. Stay on point, lad! His locked arms wobbled once. Once. Enough to put him off rhythm. Enough that the smell of penny perfume and stale sheets drifted up to him. Then came the foul scent of oft-used woman and boredom. His pleasure ebbed like seawater off sand. Shit!

The whore stilled, her fine red brows pinching in confusion.

Head in it! Head in it! Alas, neither head was listening. More like retreating. Horror washed cold and sure over his skin as little Ian died a quick, limp death.

“My lord?” The whore was lifting her head now, her green eyes bewildered. So close to the original, she looked. But not enough. It wasn’t enough anymore. “Something amiss?”

For a moment, Ian couldn’t answer. Really, what did one say? He’d didn’t have the experience to know. Her confusion faded, replaced by something worse: gentle pity.

“Aw, now, love. ’Tis all right.” She patted his arm as he remained frozen in shock, save his cock. The lazy bastard slid out of her, shrinking back like a frightened turtle. She had the good grace not to visibly take note, but held his gaze. “Happens to everyone.”

Not to me! He wrenched away and rolled onto his back to face the gilded ceiling. Perhaps the mattress would open up and swallow him whole. “I’ve been tired, ah…?” Did she have a name? Had he asked? His skin grew clammy, crawling along his frame. Ian wanted nothing more than to close his eyes and sleep for a few decades. Oblivion was getting harder to find.

The woman leaned on one elbow to regard him. In the cool light, the lines around her eyes and mouth deepened, betraying a hard life burned far too quickly. “Yes, tired is all.” Another pat, like pacifying a lame dog, and then she sat up. The bed creaked as she put her legs over the side of the bed and tossed the thick mantle of her hair over a bony shoulder. “We needn’t speak of it again.”

He flew upright and rounded on her. “No. We needn’t.”

Her brows lifted, a tremor of fear making her perfume sharper. Ian relaxed his expression and forced himself to breathe. He’d growled. Damn it all. Control. But the wolf within him was getting harder to hide away lately. He tried for a pleasant expression as he reached for his coat. “I didn’t please you, lass, and I’m sorry for it.”

A sound of shocked amusement left her lips and the corners of her mouth twitched. “To speak plainly, sir, it isn’t your job to please me, now is it?”

Ian laughed shortly. “Ah, now, Jeanine, your honesty is a humbling thing.”

Jeanine. That was her name, though more likely Jenny. Despite certain techniques, she was about as French as a pint of blue ruin. He pulled out far more notes than planned and handed them to her. “Consider that my apology.”

Her fingers curled around the money as she eyed him. She was a shrewd one. He didn’t like them stupid. Made things harder in the end. They got ideas of becoming mistresses. Fortunately, with a reputation as a profligate, no one much cared what Ian did as long as it was outrageous. Good entertainment always calmed the savage beast that was London society.

Jeanine-Jenny’s mouth curled into a friendly smile. “ ’Tis a fine apology, me lad.”

Now that they were done, she’d let her Irish show.

Jeanine-Jenny slid from the bed and gathered her things, giving him a flash of firmly rounded arse. Not even a stir of appreciation. Trying not to think of little Ian, the bastard turncoat, he rested his hands upon his knees while she dressed in thick silence. His contentment almost returned as she reached for the door. But her green eyes flashed at him from over her shoulder at the last moment. Every muscle in his body tensed as he read that look.

“I’ll be as quiet as the grave,” she assured.

The door shut with the muted thud of a lid being placed upon a coffin.

 

 

Chapter One

 


London, April 18, 1883

Three hundred sixty-six days, ten hours, fifteen minutes, and… Daisy glanced down at the heart-shaped gold watch pinned to the dip in her bodice, a strategic placement designed to draw the eye. Strategic placement, perhaps, but it made it a bugger to read the time. The tiny face flicked in and out of shadow as the carriage lantern swayed gently overhead.

Seconds needn’t be counted anymore regardless. She was free. Daisy looked out into the boiling gray fog that shrouded the streets of London. Moreover, three hundred sixty-six days, ten hours, fifteen minutes, and however many seconds was quite sufficient a time to stay in mourning over a man one hated. Even if that man had been one’s husband. Especially if, she corrected, smoothing out a wrinkle in her azure silk skirt. Azure. Lovely word. It rolled over the tongue, promising adventure and foreign climes. She loved azure. Loved color. Though, for a time, she had loved black too. Black had been her banner of freedom. A marker announcing the shift from the bondage of marriage to the emancipation of widowhood.

Daisy was finished with black now. One ought to curse the queen for her dogged devotion to mourning, thus causing countless widows to guiltily follow suit. Only it was quite romantic, and Daisy could not fault a romantic heart. As for herself, she’d done her year of mourning, enough to satisfy wagging tongues. Now it was her time.

Barnaby, her driver, called out to the horses. The carriage made a sharp turn down a narrow lane that would take her to her future. Amusement, laughter, life. A place where women did not wear black, unless one wished to be thought of as mysterious. No one had ever thought of her as mysterious. Infamous, perhaps.

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