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Tilly Wallace

Galvanism and Ghouls

Galvanism and Ghouls

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Together, beyond death…

A new Unnatural horror is about to rattle Hannah Miles’ quiet existence, and it’s not the short-tempered viscount prowling the hallways of her home. Someone is creating monsters by stitching together pieces of different people. When a limb attempts to escape, Viscount Wycliff is called to investigate. All of London knows there is one mad scientist among them capable of creating such an ungodly monster: Sir Hugh Miles.

Hannah’s father is suspected of a most heinous crime and she is determined to clear his name, even as Wycliff works to see the murderer hang. Buried secrets that touch all their lives threaten to surface…and one such secret could tear Hannah’s world apart.

With Hannah and Wycliff on opposing sides, can they find the real monster? Will it be the hand that wields the scalpel, or the creature hiding in the dark?

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A wraith feasted on the carcass of an innocent soul as Hannah watched from the doorway.
She placed a hand over her heart to steady her nerves before venturing forth. If she attracted its attention, it could turn on her and rend her life in two. With careful, deliberate steps, she eased into the breakfast room.
She might have indulged a slight sense of the melodramatic. The black shadow sucking down the life force of a soft-boiled egg was Viscount Wycliff. But they were practically the same thing in Hannah’s mind.
“Miss Miles.” The viscount looked up and half rose from his seat to acknowledge her presence.
Hannah stopped in her tracks. The man was bordering on civilised, but she wouldn’t be fooled. He still had the wariness of a wild dog used to fighting over every scrap, and she would make no sudden movements that might provoke him.
“Good morning, Lord Wycliff.” Hannah kept her eyes averted as she took her seat diagonally opposite the viscount. It was as far away as she could sit while still remaining in the same room, and it removed him from her direct line of sight. She fussed with her napkin before reaching for a piece of toast. Next she poured a cup of tea, the sound of liquid hitting the bottom of the china cup overloud in the silence. Given what she knew of the man, she doubted he would entertain light conversation about the weather.
The viscount had been in residence at Westbourne Green for a week now, and Hannah thought it an experience comparable to a malevolent poltergeist deciding to haunt their gothic mansion. He had been given a suite of rooms on the first floor—mercifully at the opposite end of the hallway from her own. A study on the ground floor near the library had been allocated for his use. A leggy black mare had appeared in the stables, and a glossy top hat adorned the stand in the entrance foyer.
It was all far too much for Hannah to bear. If her mother were playing some jest, it had gone too far. Whatever would she be forced to endure next—his smalls on the line outside on laundry day? A glimpse of him in a state of undress as he shaved?
The image her mind conjured made Hannah snort and inhale tea at the same time, which resulted in a coughing fit.
The man in question looked up and arched a dark brow. Now she had disturbed his morning perusal of the newspaper. He flicked the paper as she caught her breath and muttered an apology.
“What news is there today, my lord?” She braved a conversation starter, since she had inadvertently attracted his attention.
“Salacious nonsense about a monster roaming the fields around Chelsea.” He spoke to the newspaper.
“A monster? How intriguing. It could be possible—there are many different types of Unnatural creatures. Perhaps one has moved to the area. It would be quite affordable for a monster of means.” Her father would love to examine a genuine monster. If he heard the rumour, he might take to stalking the fields himself at night, hoping for a chance encounter.
“It is most likely a drunk who lost his way home.” The newspaper snapped rigid and the viscount was hidden except for the long fingers curled around each edge.
Hannah wished her mother would appear in the breakfast room. Not that Lady Miles needed to eat with the family; she only held an empty cup for the sake of appearances. But Hannah longed for her mother’s quiet conversation to settle her nerves. She also needed another body in the room to create a barrier to the viscount’s dark presence.
Hannah cast around for a metaphoric shield when she caught sight of Mary out of the corner of her eye. The maid crept past the half-open door on tiptoe.
“Oh, Mary,” Hannah called.
The maid froze, glanced at her with wide eyes, and then retreated until she was hidden by the door.
“Mary, where is Timmy this morning?” Hannah addressed her question to the panelled door, since it did not appear the maid would emerge from where she sheltered.
“Tucking into his breakfast in the kitchen, miss. He’s like a feral kitten, that one, and doesn’t seem to believe he’s allowed in the house.” Her voice came from offstage.
“Thank you, Mary, that will be all.” Hannah held in a sigh. Neither the maid nor the young lad would be standing between her and the wraith. Even her father was absent, which was decidedly odd.
Then she remembered it was the first Monday of the month, which meant he had his regular meeting with his fellow scholars investigating Unnaturals in general and the Afflicted in particular. He was probably packing his bag with notes and materials he wanted to share. How she wished she could accompany him, but the presence of women was frowned upon, especially if the group had a cadaver to autopsy. While Hannah assisted her father in his home laboratory, some men clung to the old-fashioned belief that the weaker sex was unfit for such study.
Then, as though summoned by her thoughts, a voice boomed along the hallway. “Hannah! Where are my samples?”
Should she shout back? Family members yelling up and down the halls might send the viscount scurrying away, horrified at their uncouth behaviour. Except she couldn’t bring herself to yell. It was such an indelicate thing to do. Despite the autopsies she attended, she held to some of society’s rigid rules about manners.
“Excuse me,” Hannah murmured as she dabbed her lips with her napkin and rose from her seat. “Father is attending a SUSS conference over the next two days and needs to prepare.”
“Suss?” One black brow shot up and the opposite eye narrowed.
Hannah paused at the door. “The Society of Unnatural Scientific Study. They are a group of scientists, surgeons, and theologians at the leading edge of studying Unnaturals and the Afflicted.”

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