by Jess Faraday
London 1891. Former criminal Ira Adler has built a respectable, if dull, life for himself as a confidential secretary. He even sits on the board of a youth shelter. When the shelter’s landlord threatens to sell the building out from under them, Ira turns to his ex-lover, crime lord Cain Goddard, for a loan. But the loan comes with strings, and before he knows it, Ira is tangled up in them and tumbling back into the life of crime he worked so hard to escape. Two old flames come back into Ira’s life, along with a new young man who reminds Ira of his former self. Will Ira hold fast to his principles, or will he succumb to the temptations of easy riches and lost pleasures?
“So,” Goddard said, taking a long sip from his glass. “You never told me why you decided to contact me after all this time.”
“Well…” As I searched for the right words, he quietly set his drink on the polished wood floor. “It’s funny you should—”
The kiss came as such a surprise that I scrambled backward across the divan and almost tumbled over its rounded arm. Whiskey sloshed over the rim of my glass, splashing silently onto the Chinese rug. What remained I belted back in one go before setting the glass on the floor and wiping my shaking fingers on my trousers.
It wasn’t that I was averse to the idea of kissing him, but I really hadn’t expected it. In fact, if I’d seen him start toward me in the first place—he was remarkably quick for a man in his mid-forties—I’d have assumed he was going for my throat.
Goddard chuckled under his breath. “Sorry. Did I startle you?”
“You might say that.”
I was also taken aback by the presumption. I had always liked it when he took control, and the hard, whiskey-flavored slickness of his mouth had left me aroused. All the same, I was no longer his plaything. Part of me felt as if he should have at least asked permission.
I forgot my objections when he leaned in a second time, slowly, and cupped my face in his smooth, muscular hands. Now that I was expecting it, the kiss felt like coming home after a long, unpleasant journey. For just a moment, all of my troubles dissolved, and nothing existed except his fingers in my hair, the traces of his jasmine and bergamot cologne, and the smooth, familiar contours of his mouth.
And then as suddenly as he had moved in, Goddard pulled back, leaving me confused, disappointed, and blinking in the gaslight and shadow.
“Why did you come, Ira?”
“To ask you for money,” I said.
I know. I know. But every drop of blood in my head had surged to my cock, and I found myself incapable of the higher functioning required for either diplomacy or deceit.
Perhaps that had been the idea.
Jess stopped by the neighborhood today to talk about her favorite vacation spot!
This is going to sound weird, but the best winter vacation I ever had was in Paris. I know. Paris in January! It was snowing. It was blustery, gray and cold, and the streets were deserted. But that’s how I like it.
I spent a little more than half my childhood in southern Arizona, which is hot, hot, hot. So hot that walking one block barefoot will give you huge blisters on the balls of your feet and between your toes. So hot that it’s possible to feel, intimately, the difference between 115F (46C) and 119F (48.3C) —and to consider anything below 110F (43C) a gift.
So hot that, no joke here, one year, the plastic that surrounded my car stereo speakers melted and dripped down the insides of the doors.
The photon storm is unrelenting, and I am seriously over it.
By contrast, Paris in January is fresh, cool, and invigorating. This lovely, fluffy white stuff falls down out of a gray sky that provides a protective layer of clouds between oneself and the photon storm. The resulting light is like twilight at midday—very refreshing. Makes a person want to walk the streets all day rather than scuttling between one air-conditioned place and the next.
And speaking of the streets…. Calm. Sane. Not filled with loud tour groups or smelly coaches. Just regular people getting on with their lives, and happy to receive some off-season tourist income. Also? No lines. Eiffel Tower? No problem. Catacombs? There you go. Quick trip through the Louvre—well, ok, 2-3 leisurely days to see the best stuff? Come in the door, because there’s no one else here. And I don’t even need to mention off-season pricing.
Now, Paris is one of my favorite cities in general, so it’s hard to do it wrong. But if you’re going to do it, I suggest doing it in winter.
Jess Faraday is the author of the Ira Adler mysteries and the standalone steampunk thriller The Left Hand of Justice. She also moonlights as the mystery editor for Elm Books.
- Twitter: @jessfaraday
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jess.faraday
- Buy link: http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/9781602829879.html