1842 begins with Charlotte caught bang to rights.

For past episodes of Victorian Mistress see the Weekly Serial page or Wattpad: @JesseQuill

London – 1842

The detective was disappointed. When he entered the cell I was sat cross-legged on the pallet with my hands in my lap and staring at the wall opposite. He stood in front of me, leaving the door open and a constable just inside it.

‘Some of my boys would like to come in here and teach you a lesson,’ he said.

I raised my gaze. ‘That would liven things up.’

He frowned.

‘This is the bit where you come in and tell me you’re protecting me and you can help me more if I tell you want you want to know.’ I leaned forward and rested my elbows on my knees. ‘Blah, blah, blah, bring on the truncheons.’

‘If you tell us who The Reaper is we’ll let you go. It’s him we want, not his girl.’

‘Detect that, did you?’

‘You’ve got yourself in some very serious trouble, girl.’ He crouched down as if he was speaking to a child. ‘If you don’t give us him they’ll just hang you. Justice isn’t fussy.’

‘The law isn’t fussy.’ I sat back and rested my shoulders against the wall, and my knock to the noggin decided to remind me it was there. ‘I wouldn’t confuse that with justice.’

‘You think that’s what he does? Murder as justice? Murder isn’t justice.’

‘Says the man threatening to hang me.’

His jaw clenched.

‘I’m not the one making foolish points,’ I replied. ‘Now if you don’t mind I was enjoying some peace and quiet. Send your boys in later though, I might get bored,’

‘This isn’t the time to be making jokes. All you have to do is give him up and you’re free to go.’

I sighed. ‘At this rate this detecting really isn’t going to take off.’

‘You expect me to believe The Reaper is a girl?’ he said.

‘You’re the detective, you tell me.’

He stood up and flexed his fingers like he was going to slap me. I was surprised he hadn’t tried, perhaps he was hoping to persuade me with niceness. You could never trust the ‘I’m your friend’ act, it was a well-known fact.

The detective scowled at me. ‘The Reaper has been removing gentlemen with the precision of a surgeon. You’re trying to tell me a girl did that?’

‘If maiming and murdering for profit makes a gentleman then they’re no loss.’

He raised a finger. ‘If you really are The Reaper you could give me any name to save yourself.’

‘Tricky. On the one hand I could get rid of someone. On the other they’d get credit for vigilante justice… A shit’s a shit no matter how you shine it.’

He put his face close to mine. ‘A few more hours of staring at that wall and maybe you’ll change your tune.’

He and the constable left and locked the door.

A few hours more of peace and quiet sounded nice but the children would worry if I wasn’t back by bedtime. I gave it a few minutes then got my lock picks out of my boot and unlocked the door. They hadn’t even taken the knives from up my sleeves, just because I was wearing trousers didn’t mean they’d expect a woman to be armed. The constables had certainly been surprised when they tried to arrest me, they failed to appreciate my aversion to truncheons.

I opened the door a crack and peeked out. The corridor was empty except for Bran leaning against the wall looking at his pocket watch.

He snapped it shut and returned it to his waistcoat pocket. ‘I was starting to wonder if I was going to have to open the door for you.’

I grinned, stepped out of the cell and kissed him. ‘Did they walk right passed you?’

He glanced away.

‘If I could make myself invisible no-one would be safe.’

‘I’m not invisible I just tell them not to notice me.’ He tilted his head in the general direction of the main station room. ‘By the time Josef’s done they won’t remember what you look like, just The Reaper’s miraculous escape.’

‘There papers will have fun with that one.’

‘Couldn’t you think of a safer plan?’ he asked

‘They walked me in here passed all their files. Vampire magic or not, searching them through my memory is safer than searching them here. Plus no need for repeat trips. Shall we be off?’

He made an annoyed noise. ‘I thought I’d take the initiative while we’re here. Your detective friend had a heap of papers on The Reaper on his desk so…’ He pulled a package of papers out of his jacket then tucked it back.

‘That’s why you’re perfect.’ I rose up on my tiptoes and gave him another kiss. ‘So… Mrs Stapleton has the children… Josef’s poking people’s brains… fancy a detour home?’

He raised his eyebrows.

‘Just for an hour or two.’ I traced my finger down his chest. ‘I should say I thorough thank you for grabbing those papers.’

He smiled.

‘Have you pre-empted me, Brandon?’ I asked in Irish.

He kissed my cheek near my ear. ‘Maybe.’

‘Why’re we still here?’ I grabbed his hand and started dragging him towards the exit. Not that there was much dragging required.

For past episodes of Victorian Mistress see the Weekly Serial page or Wattpad: @JesseQuill


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