April 1, 2015 from Bold Strokes Books.
April 1, 2015 from Bold Strokes Books.

Ira Adler’s third book is coming in April! Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite!

(c) Jess Faraday

June 1895

My friend Bess Lazarus once said that some people come into our lives to teach us a lesson. I’m quite certain she wasn’t talking about Cain Goddard when she said it—Bess being a cornerstone of her church, and Cain Goddard being, aside from my most memorable former lover, one of London’s most feared crime lords. But the idea fit nonetheless. Goddard had come and gone from my life too many times in the past seven years, causing too much havoc each time, for any of it to be a coincidence. And though I wasn’t quite ready to start seeing a Divine Hand behind it all, when I truly thought about it, I knew there had to be a reason, even if it was just my own stubborn nature, that I hadn’t been able to dismiss him completely from my mind.

“Somebody’s thinking deep thoughts,” Lawrence said, stretching lazily in the patch of sunlight streaming through the bedroom window onto his naked form. A compact twenty-five-year-old with muscles rippling under creamy skin dusted with golden hair, he knew he was appealing but wasn’t smug about it. I rolled over and kissed his perfect pointed chin.

“Nothing worth worrying about.”

“Nothing is, I find.”

“And that’s why I enjoy your company so much.”

“Deep thoughts give you wrinkles.” He traced the creases at the edge of my right eye with his square finger. “Though I must say, they suit you.”

“You just like older men.”

Smiling sleepily, he shrugged his wide shoulders. His main accomplishments at Cambridge had been leading the rugby club to glory and sleeping his way through his college. He led his adult life in much the same way. “What can I say? Men my age are empty-headed, flighty, and only after one thing.”

“Which is why I like you,” I said.

He stared at me for a split second in mock affront, then clouted me with his pillow.

I’d met Lawrence several years earlier, at the American Bar. My life had been a screaming mess at the time, but I’d remembered his open smile and the kind twinkle in his eyes. I’d gone back every now and then to look for him, and one of those times I’d found him. He was as easy a companion as his smile had suggested he would be. Enthusiastic and undemanding. Exactly the balm my bruised spirit had needed after Cain Goddard had turned my life upside down—again. We looped in and out of each other’s orbits a couple times a month—always companionable, never deep enough to argue over anything. He probably maintained a handful of similar companions, and I didn’t mind. What we had was pleasant, ephemeral, and limited.

Lawrence would never, for example, see my flat.

We always met at his—that is, the set of rooms his parents maintained for him in Chelsea. Lawrence came from money and would have been horrified at my single room on Aldersgate Street. My room horrified me at times. But we never discussed my lodgings, or the fact that I supported myself as a secretary-typist, or spent my free time educating street children in Spitalfields. Our days and nights passed like spun sugar and the smoke from fine tobacco. Theatres, restaurants, the occasional party—always ending up between the starched, lavender-scented sheets of his overstuffed bed. If I were to disappear, he wouldn’t miss me for long before the next handsome face caught his eye. And I liked it that way.

“What are your plans for the day, then?” he asked, his gentle way of indicating that our time was coming to an end.

“I’m not sure,” I replied. “Perhaps I’ll go for a walk in the park.”

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