Joseph is an Alchemist, looking for the fountain of youth.
By Rosaline Saul
As a serial killer lurk in the darkness, hunting innocent victims in the largely impoverished areas of London in 1888, and drains them of their last drop of blood, Count Joseph Burke practises alchemy within the shadows of an old church.
Maggie Abbot is a tutor, but it is not easy keeping a job when you are a pretty girl. When she gets dismissed from her latest job because the man of the house has roaming hands, she does not look forward to going home where her dad lives with her new stepmother.
Joseph convinces Maggie to tutor his ward, Beatrice, who has run away from home one too many times.
He did not expect to meet a girl who would steal his heart away...
He did not expect the thirst for blood after he discovered the fountain of youth.
About this book
Amazon ISBN 9798844175961
Ingram ISBN 9781393549932
eBook ISBN 9781393318460
Imprint: Fiction for the Soul
Date First Published: 29 April 2011
Paperback Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.34 x 8.5 inches
For readers aged 13 and up
Read the beginning of this story
SILHOUETTED AGAINST THE dark afternoon sky there stood a church. The massive tower of the church loomed over the poor and desperate crowd in the street down below, throwing shadows across the roofs of grim Victorian tenements, dark alleys, and lanes.
Nearby, several girls stood about, and among them, there was a beautiful young girl with long auburn hair and large sad eyes. Every now and again, she moved the weight of her body from one leg to the other, waiting for a trade to come along so she could start earning some money, the only way she could. She wiped her hand across her tired eyes and felt her stomach spasm with hunger.
Then she noticed the girls around her change their stance, standing up straighter, they stopped talking amongst themselves and she saw a man walking along the street in their direction. He looked well to do, a gentleman.
All the girls here needed the money, so she prepared herself to sell her body as best she knew how.
The man looked the girls up and down until his eyes focussed on her, and then he walked closer to her.
“You seem new,” he said, with a smile.
She said softly, “I’ve been here only a couple of days.”
“How much?” He asked.
“Eightpence,” she replied, with a tiny hint of hesitation.
He smiled slowly, knowing she was charging him more because he showed an interest in her above the others. “How much for straight up? In the alley?” He asked
“Three pennies,” she suggested.
“There's a lane 'round the back,” he said, waiting for her response.
She nodded her head in agreement. “We can do it up against the wall.” She saw him hesitate, and scared she would lose the trade, she quickly added, “It looks dark enough.”
Without saying anything, he started walking toward the narrow lane and she followed him. They moved through the shadows behind the tenements. There were several passageways branching off the narrow lane, and it was a labyrinth of deserted alleys, broken down hovels and towering walls.
He led her deeper and deeper into the maze, and when he turned back to face her, he had a knife in his hand. Without warning, he slashed the knife straight across her throat.
She tried to scream but the sound only gurgled from her lips. Keeping her eyes on him, trying to memorise his face so she could describe him to the police, she noticed he was a young man, with dead eyes.
As she slumped into his arms, he leant closer and with the flick of his tongue, he licked the blood from the wound in her neck.
As the life ebbed from her body, she heard him drinking her blood greedily.
THE WEATHER IN London had been unusually sweltering hot, with remarkably clear blue skies and sunshine, but as she walked along the dusty pavement, Maggie could see grey clouds massing along the edges of the city, coming in from the channel.
Out of one storm, straight into another, she thought remorsefully as she lifted her skirts in her hands to prevent them from sweeping through the dust as she took a step onto the busy street.
The traffic was heavy this morning. Horse-drawn carts and coaches were everywhere in a makeshift fashion of each direction keeping to its own side of the wide road.
Her first storm this morning had not been created by nature but brought with it, her immediate dismissal from teaching the children of a wealthy English family. Now, she had to find her way back to the countryside, back home. All because the master of the house where she had been employed had wandering hands and eyes to match.
So Maggie had packed her bags, said a sad goodbye to the children, whom she had grown fond of and then accepted the balance of her wage from the Head Matron, who had been instructed by the Lady of the house to get rid of Maggie without any delay. If it had been left to the Lady of the house, she was sure she would have been thrown penniless out into the street, and admittedly she was surprised to receive any money.
For two months, she ignored Lord Richard's lustful glances and soft remarks whispered so that only she could hear him, even when in the same room as his wife. She tried her best to avoid any physical contact and was grateful she could lock her bedroom door at night. However, she had not always been able to avoid him in the large house with its spacious rooms. Her skin crawled as she briefly recalled how he would press himself against her in a doorway or the sly groping of his hands.
When he had found Maggie by herself in the dining room this morning, he not only tried to kiss her but slipped his hand in under her bodice as well. That was when Lady Eleanor entered the room and the reason why Maggie now found herself unemployed.
She did not really want to go back home, but now she had no choice.
John Abbott's remarriage after her mother died five years ago, changed Maggie's own plans. It meant she had to leave home earlier than expected to find a job as a tutor immediately after she completed her studies.
Cathy, her father’s new wife, made it clear from the start that staying at home for longer than necessary was no longer an option. Cathy wanted no reminders of John's previous marriage in the shape of a grown-up daughter, living in the same house.
Maybe the close resemblance Maggie had to her mother was what really bothered Cathy. Every time Cathy looked at Maggie, she saw the dark chestnut hair which was such a harsh contrast to the pale creamy complexion, the dark eyes flecked with bronze and the wide mouth which always looked about to break out in a smile.
Also, Cathy's possessiveness over John prevented John and Maggie from remaining as close as they always used to be.
However, Cathy seemed to make her father happy and to Maggie, this was all that really mattered, or so she kept convincing herself.
It had not been easy for Maggie to leave the safety of her home in the country and to move to the big city of London, but she was fortunate to find, almost at once, her very recent position as a tutor. The same position she no longer held.
As the first drop of rain fell onto the tip of her nose, Maggie glanced up and grimaced. She was still miles away from home. She had decided to walk home along the small dirt track, let her fingers brush along the tips of the long grass on the side of the road. She did not want to spend any of the money she had just received as her severance because she undoubtedly knew they would need the money at home, and if she gave the money to Cathy upon her arrival, she might be welcomed friendlier than if she arrived without a penny.
Seconds later the rain became a deluge, drenching Maggie from head to toe and turning the dust on the cobbled roads and unpaved sidewalks into mud almost immediately. Her long skirts dragged through the mud and soaked into her shoes.
Hurriedly, she ducked under the protection of an overhang in front of a bakery. She would have to wait here for the initial burst of rain to pass.
The rain was like a curtain, sweeping in great swathes across her vision. She watched as people around her scurried for shelter.Copyright © Rosaline Saul (published by Fiction for the Soul). All rights reserved.