Justine Holloway prepares for her debut into society, compliments of her godparents, while the underworld of London groans with unfettered abhorrence. The Varius are refugees from a parallel universe who shift their form while others channel the forces of magic, an element that once flowed freely between both worlds. They seek refuge in Victorian London, hidden in the slums, easily forgotten until a human ends up incinerated or sucked dry. It is the job of the Council, created for the protection of humanity, to step in and eliminate the threat.
What Justine does not realize is her godfather runs the Council right under the nose of polite society, much to the dismay of his genteel sister. Justine suspects something mysterious is brewing when the handsome Egyptian Ambassador heals before her eyes. It’s an image she can forget and a mystery she wants to solve.
When a deadly vampire makes his devious intentions known, her survival might depend on this strange Egyptian. Unfortunately, he can’t figure out why he’s so drawn to her, or whether he must kill her to save humanity.
A lanky man wearing the livery of a deckhand strode to the side of the captain’s cabin and peered into one of the portholes. He licked his lips and dug inside his pockets. At first, Justine contemplated going to her cabin but his gaze did not alter as he stood, eyes fixated on the room she’d just left.
“Excuse me…can I help you?” Justine ventured. “Is there someone inside you wish to speak to? The captain perhaps?”
The man did not respond. He acted as if she was invisible. Whatever drew him to the cabin smothered any sense of life or breath. Without looking down to see what he brought out of his pocket, Justine noticed a metal necklace, a medallion of sorts, clutched in his grasp. He brought the trinket to his face near the porthole glass, hot breath fogging the glass. His long fingers rubbed the shiny metal, twisting it this way and that as if ready to smash it through the window.
“The Master said this’d find him…” His words came out in an elated whisper. The young man’s attention darted from the necklace to the window and back. He licked his lips again and finally blinked in rapid succession. Then, he smiled. The expression of delight brought a childlike innocence to his intense errand but it did not last. As before, he twitched, his hands trembling. “Why is it not working?”
Justine stepped back, fearing he’d throw the necklace to the floor in a rage. Snarling, saliva seething from his mouth, he beat the medallion. Was the man mad?
“Excuse me?” Justine repeated. “Are you alright?”
Whatever haze clouding the deckhands mind cleared. He jumped and stared at her, no doubt startled at her appearance. There was nothing between her and his pale eyes, so empty and devoid of color. It was as if she looked through a window into an empty room where nothing lived. Something vile animated his corpse, legs and arms moving towards her like a marionette. The railing was the only thing separating her from the frozen water below. Cold metal burned through her gloves. Justine shivered wishing she’d had run away when she had the chance. His breath brushed against her exposed skin, a putrid smell that made Justine feel compromised, unclean.
“Stop…you’re frightening me,” Justine whined. Nothing wanted to move. Her legs turned to stone beneath her. All she could do was stand there, desperately wanting to get away, to put as much distance between herself and the vile creature as she could. He was close enough to reach out and wrap his hands around her throat.
Oh God, please, let this not be Jack the Ripper. Justine had read the headlines of the murder stalking London.
The deckhand never touched her, yet she still felt his body. “Tell him to fear me for I know his secret.”
“Wh…what? What secret?”
Raised voices echoed from the cabin. Shoving whatever necklace he held back into his jacket, the deckhand ran down the length of the deck and disappeared.
Justine wasn’t quite sure what just happened. Had the man been speaking about someone in the cabin? Mr. Tinnen or the captain? Of course the easiest answer could easily have been the man was mad, but that did little to ease the panic. Her hands trembled and not from the cold. Justine grabbed the ends of her shawl and wrapped them tight around her. Every time she blinked, she saw his eyes burning into hers. She fled to her cabin and locked the door behind her.
Jen Corkill is a stay at home geek in rural Nevada where she gardens, sews, paints, and weaves magic into the daily lives of her three beautiful children and amazing husband. Every day is a blessing. Sometimes, she even finds enough calm moments to write…sometimes. Her interests include Star Wars, Victorian Literature, Bioware, power metal, and enough coffee to float her to Helstone.
Release for Season of Mists: December 2014