GENRE: Gay Historical Mystery Erotic Romance
LENGTH: 90,819 words
Part of the Thomas Newton series
It seems like the right time for Thomas Newton to close the door on his past. The hypocritical crusaders of the Society for the Reformation of Manners have stopped their raids and scattered. The arrogant aristocrat who tried to kill Christopher and Pierre, Thomas’s lovers, has been executed for treason. The old threats have vanished.
But in 18th Century London, nothing is ever quite what it seems. When a series of murders begin plaguing the city, Thomas and Pierre are called to solve them. The crimes may conceal a plot against the king.
After Thomas enters the Den of Thieves in disguise, Pierre himself is arrested for the murders and Christopher disappears from London, on the search for Thomas’s real father.
The past is a shadowed hallway where every door opens onto another and every love divides the heart. Will the three ever see each other again?
Note: may contain sexually explicit scenes of a homoerotic nature.
As I crossed through Ludgate leaving central London behind, the streets became deserted, darker, and more threatening. I was less than a few hundred yards, when I realized there were footsteps behind me as if they came out of nowhere. I slowed my pace. The footsteps slowed. I stopped and so did the footsteps. When I started again, they commenced. I suddenly felt ill at ease. I knew these streets better than most, but something told me a chase would not end well given my current state of intoxication.
I paused remembering the sword Pierre had given me and the edge of my discomfort faded. No one would attempt to rob an armed man. I gripped the handle with my right hand but did not draw. I stopped. The footsteps continued to close in behind me. I turned around and drew my sword, but instead of fleeing, the man stopped and laughed.
“You are a dead man, Mr. Newton.” The stranger spoke with an accent I did not recognize, or perhaps I was too drunk to be able to decipher between the languages. I began to sober the minute I saw the stranger pull out his sword and charge me. I wanted to turn and run but knew if I did I would lose any ability to fight back. Instead, I readied myself as Mother Clap had taught me. Our swords clashed, their metal song drifted in the dead of the night air. As he moved passed me, he kicked out with his foot. The impact threw me off guard. I fell to the ground.
I used my feet to push myself along the ground as I swung my blade out in front of me, hoping to fend off the stranger until I could get on my feet. As he approached, I swiped the blade toward the ground hoping to strike a leg or foot. He skirted around my awkward swordsmanship and avoided injury. The maneuver gave me a few additional seconds to right my footing. I stood and faced him. My head ached from the whiskey laced fear running through my body. I felt sick in the belly and knew there was no way out. One of us would die in the street tonight. I was determined the dead body found in the morning wouldn’t be mine.
We began to walk around each other in a wide circle. I, waiting for him to make the first move as he did the same toward me. As we danced to the silent music of our duel, I had to ask myself, why me? Then a terrifying thought came to me. This was not a random street robbery. I was the intended target. He knew my name. I remembered the warning Mr. Wilcox gave me. The man must have followed me from the Goose and Gridiron.
I tired of the wait and decided to make the next move. I tightened my grip on the handle, raised the sword in the air, and ran toward my assailant. I was not skilled at any level in the art of the sword, all I knew was to hit with force and with intent to kill, while at the same time avoid being struck. Our swords clashed into a strange cross. We came within inches of each other. I stared into the face of the man, who wanted me dead and did not recognize him. With all of my strength, I threw my arms out in front of me sending the man stumbling backward. I charged him and leaped forward aiming for the man’s chest.
He used his sword to deflect mine, ducked under my raised arms, and came up behind me. Before I could turn around, I felt his foot slam against my back. I cried out in pain and landed against the stone wall of Ludgate. I felt the damp chill of the surface of the stone caress my cheek. I closed my eyes knowing he could, at any minute, end my life.
“Your death shall not be an easy one.” The man pressed the tip of his sword against my cheek. “Turn around you wanker and fight me like a man.” He flicked his wrist as he pulled the sword away. I felt the sting of his blade slice into my cheek. I winced from the burning pain as the sharp edge of the blade split my skin open. The warmth of my blood trickled down my face. I gritted my teeth and readied myself for another bout.
Without so much as a warning to my attacker, I swung my sword in a backhanded arch and caught him off guard. I heard the blade sing through the air. He let out a cry of pain. I knew I had hit him. A thrill of victory rushed through me with a glimmer of hope that I might, in fact, survive the night. I turned around bringing the sword in a large sweeping motion back out in front of me. He raised from his crouched position. His shirt torn across his chest. Even in the dark, I could see the mark of my blade etched across his pale chest.
“Fucking wanker.” The mysterious man raised his sword and struck my wrist as I was bringing the sword back down for another attack. The pain in my hand was immediate. The sword flew from my grasp. I heard it strike the street, but it was too dark to see where it landed. The stranger laughed and charged. I fell to the ground and scrambled away on my hands and knees. His blade whistled through the air. I rose to my feet and turned around to have the blade poised at my throat. I raised my hands and stepped back knowing my life was about to end.
“You shouldn’t meddle in matters you know nothing about.” With the point of the sword pressing against my throat, he backed me up against the wall.
“If I am to die at your hands, at least have the fucking courage to tell me who has taken my life.” I swallowed hard and felt the edge cut into my skin.