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A Cold Legacy by Shepherd Megan

A Cold Legacy by Shepherd Megan

Author:Shepherd,Megan
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi
Publisher: Balzer + Bray


UNCORRECTED E-PROOF—NOT FOR SALE

HarperCollins Publishers

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TWENTY-TWO

OVER THE NEXT FEW days, a despondency fell over the house. The servants were used to strange experimentations—they bore the scars of Elizabeth’s surgery themselves—but nothing could have prepared them for the Beast. I tried to explain that two souls had shared his body, one evil and one kind, but they hadn’t known Edward like I had.

Montgomery avoided dealing with Edward’s death by throwing himself into work: the pony trap strut had broken on our ride back from Inverness, and he pounded away at it with hammers and nails until his hands bled. Lucy also went about her work as though his death hadn’t affected her, nannying the younger girls and helping Balthazar with his reading. I watched her closely for signs of mourning, but saw none, and it only made me more uneasy.

We held a small funeral service in the cellar chapel. McKenna came out of kindness, wearing her thick rubber galoshes, hovering in the doorway like she was afraid her presence might disturb us. We formed a loose circle around the shrouded body. Elizabeth had performed small repairs on the cadaver to make it presentable: stitched up wounds, replaced the heart in his chest cavity. Lucy picked at her fingernails. I would have expected her to be hysterical, but her eyes weren’t even red.

Balthazar drew something from his vest pocket and set it on Edward’s shrouded chest. A paper flower, clumsily made, but sweet and childlike.

“That’s lovely,” I said.

“The carnival folk taught me how to make it.”

I looked back at the paper flower in surprise. Leave it to Balthazar to make friends with drunken transients and shysters. McKenna produced a Bible and Balthazar offered to recite some passages, thumbing through the delicate pages with big graceless fingers but reading with a study voice.

“‘Help us find peace in the knowledge of your loving mercy,’” he read, finger tracing the words. “‘Give us light to guide us out of our darkness.’”

What’s wrong with the darkness? the Beast’s voice echoed in my head. Without darkness, there is no light. Without me, there’s no Edward. Without your father, there’s no you.

A shiver ran through me.

After the funeral, I paced the house restlessly until everyone had gone to bed, and then knocked on Montgomery’s door. He was in bed, reading by the light of a candle, but one look at my face and he closed the book.

“Juliet. What’s wrong?”

I pinched the bridge of my nose as I sat on the edge of his bed. “Listening to Balthazar read at the funeral today got me thinking. Father could have saved Edward, I know it. I didn’t tell you this, but I had my fortune read by the fortune-teller, Jack Serra. He said I was destined to follow Father’s footsteps. I think . . . maybe he was right. If I had, I could have saved Edward, too.”

I turned, afraid my confession would only drive Montgomery further away. But instead he smoothed my hair back gently. “Just a fortune, that’s all. You know how those carnival types work.



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