When Lord Foxley shows up, everything changes. Intrigue, romance and eroticism abound! Part 2 in a brand new online serial!
And you can get the first book in the series, So You Want to be a Vampire, free at Kobo!
London, England, 1751
The lad sitting hunched on the floor of the cell was seventeen or eighteen years old, by Lord Henry Foxley’s estimation. He was tall and lithe and had that scraggly, underfed look that Foxley had come to associate with the commoners of this land. His clothing was much like he was—stolen and haphazardly patchworked together.
According to the story Foxley had gotten from the bailiff, the lad had worked at a whorehouse before his incarceration. He had watched over the doxies for the master of the house, and had probably done some light prostitution himself. He had killed a bloke in a hand-to-hand skirmish only the day before. Again, such things were quite common in this realm, but the means by which he had killed the man had been rather unique. Apparently, the man who had been killed—a powerful judge, from what Foxley had gathered—had been using a bridle and riding crop on his doxy. When the girl’s cries had grown too loud, the lad had intervened. He had used the riding crop to beat the man to near unconsciousness, then squeezed the life right out of him using the reins of the bridle as a garrote, his rage and strength so great that he had broken the man’s neck in the process.
The bloke who had been killed was an overfed mountain of a man of over three hundred pounds. The lad who had killed him was less than half his weight. Foxley was impressed.
“You are he?” Foxley asked with some interest. “The man to be hanged this evening?”
The lad sat there, clutching his updrawn knees, staring right through Foxley. He said nothing in response.
“What did it feel like to kill a man?” Foxley persisted. “Did you enjoy it? Did you come?”
He was almost afraid the lad was of low intelligence, or was in such a state of shock that he would never speak again, but then he lifted his head, and Foxley saw the eyes of the murderer to be hanged tonight beneath. They were cunning and not a little bit dead beneath the curtain of his unwashed, dirt-matted hair, and of a startling, unnatural wolf-amber hue, like fire behind church glass. Dark, unhealthy rings lurked beneath them, giving him an undead look. Foxley decided he liked the lad’s eyes very much.
“You ain’t alive. Farking corpse,” the lad said, slurring his words through his Cockney accent so badly that Foxley had to strain to understand him.
Foxley laughed at the boy’s audacity. “The same could be said of you, lad, in approximately…” he consulted his pocket watch for dramatics, “…two hours.”
He expected to see fear, horror, the reaction of a sane man about to die in just under two hours. But the lad behind the bars was not sane. He didn’t look afraid, only resigned, tired. Tired of life. Tired of being hungry and hopeless. Tired of struggling. Tired of trying. Foxley inhaled swiftly and sifted a myriad of information through his senses. The lad was young, strong, and certainly not hard on the eyes. He would clean up beautifully. But he was almost finished already. If the hangman’s noose didn’t take his life tonight, the syphilis that he’d picked up in the whorehouse most certainly would, and not in some very distant future. He had two, three years, tops, by Foxley’s estimation. Starvation and the toxicity of this city would erase the lad as if he had never existed at all.
Foxley gave it all approximately two seconds of thought before saying: “Would you like to live forever?”
The boy laughed. It was a hard, contemptuous sound, at least a decade older than his years. His thin shoulders shook, and then he began to cough hoarsely. Foxley scented the blood in the lad’s sputum and imagined his disease slowly eating its way through him, unknown to the lad. He wiped a drop of blood off his broken lips. “You offering, guv?”
Foxley leaned against the bars of the cell and smiled nicely, being sure not to show any teeth. “What do you think?”
“I think you’re a farking kid playing. Some waif in fancy dress.”
Foxley smiled widely at that, not offended. The lad caught the gleam of his teeth and flinched noticeably. “I’m hardly a child…my child. I’m twelve thousand years old. I’m older than many mountains. I’m older than this nation. I was alive ten thousand years before your primitive, redhaired, flesh-eating ancestors ever came to this land and cooked their first meat. I’ll be here ten thousand years after England falls.”
Finally, the lad looked impressed, interested. Foxley had gotten his attention. Good.
Foxley continued by saying, “I’ve lived for twelve centuries, my boy. I’ve sailed countless seas. I’ve conquered a billion people. I’ve killed and consumed a million more. One day I will be a million years old. Ten million. A billion. I will outlive this land, this planet, this reality that you know. Then, one day, I shall go to the stars and conquer other people, other nations, other realities. I am immortal, impervious, unstoppable.” Foxley smirked. “Oh, I’m hardly a child, my little child. I will never die, and no one will ever stop me. In that way, I am like a god on earth, your god…or the closest thing you’re ever likely to get to a god.” He paused to let that sink in. “Maybe one day you, too, can be twelve thousand years old. A godling standing at my side, conquering nations, bending human beings to your will. Why not consider it? What else have you to do with yourself?”
The lad narrowed his eyes with suspicion as he considered Foxley’s offer. “Why me?”
Foxley brushed invisible lint from his tailcoat. “Well, it certainly isn’t your level of education, of which you have none, I suspect. Or the way you smell, like a dog that has rolled in its own shit. Do you want the truth? Of course you do. Then the truth is shall be.” Foxley clutched the bars of the cell. “You’re young and beautiful, and I love young and beautiful things. That’s the main reason. But you’re also a remorseless killer, and I like things that kill without remorse. I like owning them. I like using them.”
For the first time, the boy looked less sure of himself, his swagger failing. “Is that what you’d have me do? Kill?”
Foxley offered the lad a direct look. “I would have you do whatever I choose. That’s the deal, my young friend—my small, trembling child. When you become mine, you’re mine forever. I’ll do with you whatever I wish.” He wet his lips with the tip of his tongue, enjoying the pale look of horror washing over the lad’s face. He even touched the crude wooden cross under his ragged shirt, as if that would save him.
Foxley knew he looked small and harmless until he did that, until he smiled—the young, blond, grey-eyed ragamuffin—and then, when his victims saw that ageless, godlike look—that look that said they would die, and not swiftly and not painlessly—they usually shit themselves just before they gave in. There were men who had gone mad just looking on Foxley, the unnatural juxtaposition of youthful face and ancient, reptilian eyes. But not this lad. He looked at Foxley defiantly, a young man who had stared into the face of death too many times to care one way or another. “Do we have a deal?”
The lad didn’t answer at first. At first, he watched as the Head Executioner returned to take the child from the cell across from his out to the town center where he would be hanged for the entertainment of the crowd. The kid wasn’t more than twelve years old and had stolen a loaf of bread to feed his family. The kid screamed and cried to God the whole way. He threw himself to the dirt floor and offered to give himself to the Head Executioner if the man would only grant him one more hour, one more minute…
Foxley paid the boy’s dramatics no mind. He was not here for that sick, pathetic child. He wanted the beautiful, heartless murderer just beyond the black iron bars. Suddenly, he wanted this lad very much…and he always got what he wanted. He waited, his eyes on the lad with the wolf eyes. The lad watched the condemned boy as he was led away, touched the wooden cross around his neck once more, and then said, “Yeah. All right. Whatever you want, guv.”
“Excellent,” Foxley said. “You’ll make a lovely Heir, my sweet. And one day you may even be my Enforcer, perhaps even a Lord yourself.” He slid his hands over his breeches, over the throbbing desire there, then away as a myriad of possibilities filled his mind and imagination. Foxley had a very vivid imagination. “May I ask your name, lad, if I might?”
The rangy boy stood up and swallowed hard, his Adam’s apple bobbing. Foxley could smell the fear on him, the terror of entering unto this death-in-life, but the lad had made his decision to be damned and live rather than to be damned and die. Foxley knew he was not the type to renege on a decision. The lad approached him and puffed out his chest with pride, saying, “My name Edwin Oliver Wodehouse McGillicuddy.”