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About Dead Handsome
Clara Allen needs a husband in order to keep a roof over the heads of her assorted dependents, a roof her nasty grandfather will re-appropriate unless she is married by her 21st birthday, only a few days away. Strong-minded, unwilling to take orders from any man, she decides to solve her problem by raising a murdered prisoner from the dead and marrying him. She expects an empty-headed puppet; she certainly never dreams he’ll be so devastatingly handsome.
Liam McMahon doesn’t recall much about his life before his hanging in the prison yard, other than being Irish. He does remember the kiss Clara bestowed as she brought him back to life. Every time he looks at her, his desire gets out of hand. But his former life is chasing him down like a steam engine, and when a couple of mad geniuses decide he’d make a fine experiment, he wonders if he’ll live long enough to claim Clara’s heart or if he’ll die all over again.
“Now remember,” Clara whispered to her husband, “don’t say anything about having been in jail. Or having been dead.”
“What do you take me for?” Liam shifted uncomfortably inside his suit and adjusted his tie one more time. They stood on the doorstep of a splendid house – a mansion, really – on Delaware at Edward Street, waiting for the door to open. And all he could think about was tearing the dress off his wife’s body and having his way with her yet again. As if twice had not been enough. Quite possibly, he could not get enough.
The taste of her still lingered on his lips, the sweetest thing ever to grace them. He remembered the places he had put his tongue and felt half mad to put it there once more. By God, she –
The door swung open and he found himself faced with a mechanical man. He’d heard of them, of course, but could not remember – for he could remember so little – if he had ever seen one up close.
“I should have warned you,” Clara murmured. “My grandfather keeps a number of mechanical servants – the ordinary sort will not stay with him long.”
“Good afternoon, Miss Clara. Please come in.”
The butler’s voice box clicked when it spoke. Its body, made of silver alloy, stood as tall as Liam but was much thinner and its surface had been sculpted to resemble a suit of clothes. It turned to lead them with a distinctive puff of steam. Clara knew it had an internal combustion chamber where a human’s guts might be.
“Thank you, Max,” she said and tightened her grip on Liam’s arm. They stepped in.
And oh, the house was like a picture drawn to intimidate, everything perfect and in place, not like walking into a real dwelling at all. A large entry hall opened from the door, with a black and white marble floor and flowers on tables so highly-polished they gleamed. A double staircase curved in two branching arcs just ahead but the steam butler led them to a door on the right.
“Miss Clara, your grandfather had us bring him down to receive you in the parlor.”
“How is he, Max?” Liam admired the calm in Clara’s voice but he could feel her tension flowing into him through the contact point of her arm on his.
“Much the same, Miss Clara.”
The butler hauled the door of the chamber open; they went in.
A vast room, well-proportioned, languished in gloom. Even though the sun shone brightly outside, the draperies on all the windows had been drawn. Liam found it difficult to locate his host at first. But a lamp burned on a table and beside it sat a wizened figure in a push chair. Clara’s fingers dug into his arm again.
Aye, and he would be careful. He understood what was at stake–his right to her bed, for one thing.
About the Author
Born in Buffalo and raised on the Niagara Frontier, Laura Strickland has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. To her the spunky, tenacious, undefeatable ethnic mix that is Buffalo spells the perfect setting for a little Steampunk, so she created her own Victorian world there. She knows the people of Buffalo are stronger, tougher and smarter than those who haven’t survived the muggy summers and blizzard blasts found on the shores of the mighty Niagara. Tough enough to survive a squad of automatons? Well, just maybe.