In a reimagined 1890’s London, where steam-driven airships rule the skies and monsters roam the streets, the Galileo Observatory’s Club for Gentlemen welcomes all — gwr, shape-changers, vampires, and lords. A high-stakes game leads more than a few men astray.
Poindexter Fitzhughes, renowned hero and scientist, learns just how much trouble a full-blooded gwr can be when he attempts to cure his lover, Lord Seth Maitland, of the disease. But when their backs are against the wall, the two must learn to trust in each other, and more importantly, in their true natures, to prevail.
Meanwhile, Duncan Farnsworth discovers being a vampire has not improved his social life, his chances of finding love, continuing the family line, or getting a bite to eat. Maneuvering his way around a sarcastic butler, his spinster sister, a run-in with an amorous werewolf, and a confrontation with a dead soldier and a French airship captain, Duncan finally finds exactly what he is thirsting for.
The man was a ghost, or wraith, or some other sort of incorporeal beast. He barely seemed to touch the ground at all. People made way for him without seeming to notice he was there at all. He made no sounds as he moved. He spoke to no one. He ate nothing. Nigel couldn’t help but watch him. It was astonishing how the stranger drew no other attention. His hair was golden brown, curling just slightly around his collar, and he had the face of a fallen angel. Lucifer himself was not so handsome.
Nigel shook his head and backed away from the server’s door. There would be dancing next, and couples slipping away into dark corners. It wouldn’t do to have anyone living stumble over him. The captain got enough grief from the groundlings for her crew without having anyone actually risk touching one. Nigel snorted. As if death was somehow contagious. As if they, themselves, would not one day be dead.
Below decks, the sailors tucked away into their bunks, or met for a quick game of Bones and Daggers in the galley. Nigel allowed himself his dry, mocking smile as he heard Ginger squeal with glee at her success, the groans and curses of her peers a rapid undertone. She had always been clever with the ivory.
Nigel came up short. The golden-haired god-like man was slinking below decks, close behind a pair of gentlemen who noticed him not at all. Nigel narrowed his eyes, stood motionless and watched. The two gentlemen were speaking quietly to each other, intense and personal. There was a sense of the world wrapped away from them. As one laid a hand lightly on the other’s arm, indicated the smithy door, there was a sense of affection, longing, and desire. Lovers, then. The fair-haired one glanced around nervously before leading his partner into the smithy, but his gaze saw neither Nigel nor the golden god.
Dr. Poindexter! Nigel recognized the cogged hero with a start. He pressed his hand against his silent chest, grimacing with the pain of blood that wanted to rush, a heart that wanted to pound. Poindexter was a hero to the cogger underground — his countenance with its replacement eye and gleaming scars down the cheek had graced several of the tattered penny-dreadful novels available for purchase at the paper-stands.
The other must be Lord Maitland. Rumor had it that the two were fast friends; the more scandalous suggested that they’d become lovers. Nigel would not have heard such rumors at all if he hadn’t been so obsessed with the career of Dr. Poindexter. Perhaps, Nigel felt, there was some heroic act he could perform that would allow him some dubious form of return to society. Poindexter was a beacon of that hope, that light in the darkness that covered all those who had replaced flesh with bronze.
The golden god watched them, his eyes glittering with avarice, a strange, deep hunger that pierced Nigel to his bones with unexpected sympathy. Right up until the god-like creature drifted toward the smithy where the doctor entertained his lover.
Oh, no you don’t, Nigel seethed, striding easily across the rough-planked floor of the under gondola, his hands curling into hard fists. The gilt deity leaned against the door, peering through the loose-fitting wooden slats, his hand curling around the latch. For a moment, just a brief passing instant, the man faded almost entirely from sight, a ghost. Apparition. A quick blink and a shake of Nigel’s head, and the man was right there, the look on his face like a starving man facing a feast-table.
The two men visible between the door’s slats provided a brief distraction.
Lynn Townsend is a geek, a dreamer and an inveterate punster. When not reading, writing, or editing, she can usually be found drinking coffee or killing video game villains. Lynn’s interests include filk music, romance novels, octopuses, and movies with more FX than plot.