Maelstrom (Whyborne & Griffin #7)
by Jordan L. Hawk
Cover Art by Jordan L. Hawk
Available December 11. Order it now at:
Between his father’s sudden—and rather suspicious—generosity, and his own rash promise to help Christine plan her wedding, Percival Endicott Whyborne has quite enough to worry about. But when the donation of a mysterious codex to the Ladysmith Museum draws the attention of a murderous cult, Whyborne finds himself in a race against time to unlock its secrets first.
Griffin has a case of his own: the disappearance of an historic map, which quickly escalates to murder. Someone is sacrificing men in dark rituals—and all the clues lead back to the museum.
With their friends Christine and Iskander, Whyborne and Griffin must discover the cult’s true goal before it’s too late. For dark forces are afoot at the very heart of the museum, and they want more than Whyborne’s codex.
They want his life.
I awoke to a sharp rapping on our door.
The bedroom was dark, without even the light of the moon to seep in through the window. A soft breeze stirred the curtains, bringing with it Widdershins’s distinctly fishy scent. We’d thrown back the coverlets, and I felt Whyborne stiffen beside me, his naked skin lightly filmed with sweat where our bodies touched.
“That isn’t Christine’s knock,” he whispered.
My mind sorted through possibilities as I sat up. A potential client in dire need? A neighbor in some sort of distress?
The knock came again, this time much more heavily. “Mr. Flaherty!” a voice called from the front yard. “It’s Detective Tilton. Open the door.”
Whyborne let out a soft gasp, and my heart started into my ribs in fear. Wild images chased themselves through my mind—the police bursting in, finding Whyborne and I in bed together. Hauling us off to jail. Standing beside him in a docket, both of us facing ruin at best, hard time in jail at worst.
“Go,” I said, switching on the light and reaching for my nightshirt.
He didn’t have to ask, sliding out of the room and into the darkened corridor. A moment later, the light in what was ostensibly his bedroom came on. He’d remember to muss the bed sheets, I told myself, even as I snatched up the pillow his head had rested on and arranged it behind mine, as if I’d used it as a prop. Damn, I should have given it to him, to exchange for the one in his bedroom, the dampness of sweat a guarantee he’d indeed slept on it.
It was too late now. I tied my dressing gown about my waist as I left my room and paused in the study. A photo taken by Iskander showed Whyborne and I on the couch together, and I tossed it hastily into a drawer for concealment, before making my way down the stairs.
Had my theft of the crime scene photograph provoked Tilton too far? Or, as with the investigation that had ended with me in his jail years ago, had my prying angered the wrong people?
“I’ve got the door, Whyborne!” I called once I reached the hallway, loud enough for Tilton to hear. Just a landlord assuring his friend and lodger that the situation was under control, and there was no reason to bestir himself from his entirely separate bed.
Tilton stood on the stoop, dark rings around his eyes. From the stubble on his face, I guessed he’d been roused from bed himself not long ago, and in too much haste to shave. I gave him a look of concern. “Detective Tilton, is everything all right? You don’t seem well.”
He shook his head, and for a moment seemed to be at a loss for words. “I’d say everything is far from all right, Mr. Flaherty. I’ve come about your client. Dewey Lambert.”
The tight knot of fear loosened in my gut. He hadn’t come for Whyborne and me after all.
Then his words registered, and a new kind of fear touched me. “Mr. Lambert? Is he all right?”
It was a stupid question; Tilton wouldn’t have been on my doorstep at this hour if nothing was wrong. “I’m afraid Mr. Lambert died tonight in his cell,” Tilton said, a tremor in his voice. “The circumstances surrounding his death were…odd.”
Odd. The same word Lambert had used when he came to me in the first place. And now the poor bastard was dead.