I apologize for skipping a week on The Man Who Made Monsters. I can't promise it won't happen again, but I can promise it won't happen often. I can also promise that if I ever skip a week of Monsters, I will not also skip that week's Out of Shadows update.
For the full chapter list of Out of Shadows, go here.
Perry could not contain his glare of annoyance at Felicity Hely. She looked every bit as beautiful as ever, every bit as imperious as ever, and every bit as loving as ever and he hated her for it because he knew she would see right through him. They had known each other too long.
She met his glare with another smile, and before he could answer, Miss Bentley stepped forward, offered her hand and said, “You must be Miss Hely. My name is Lettie Bentley. Can I get you anything? A cup of coffee, perhaps?”
He could have kissed Lettie. Felicity was distracted and it gave Perry a little time to recover and prepare his lies and put his poker face on once more.
“Yes, please,” Felicity said, and Lettie, already entirely too familiar with his office, found a kettle and jugs of water and started the coffee. Perry realized his feelings about Lettie could change by the minute, vacillating between interest and irritation, like a young schoolboy with a girl when they are dancing on the line between being disgusted with and charmed by the opposite sex, and before he knew it, he was distracted from his discomfort at Felicity’s sudden appearance.
Further respite came from another quarter. Dominic found a chair and settled into it, and, quite as if he knew Felicity Hely as well as Perry did, asked, “Is Mr. Morgan well?”
Felicity’s eyes narrowed. “You were there the day our engagement was ended, Mr. Bentley. You fought him over the cause of it.”
Perry arched a brow, distracted from Lettie, and looked between the two. “I beg your pardon? Bentley, were you-”
“No,” Dominic said with an impish grin. “Morgan and I were dueling over an actress, and that duel brought the actress to Miss Hely’s attention. Morgan lost the actress and the heiress.”
Lettie slammed the pot down rather harder on the burner than was entirely necessary, and snapped, “And we were forced to leave Worthington. I knew I recognized you from somewhere.”
Perry tilted his head. “You were going to marry James?” he asked.
Felicity sighed airily. “It was a secret engagement. His father did not approve. The Speaker and my father did not get along well. Now, to the matter at hand.”
Dominic was enjoying himself too much to let it go, and as aware as Lettie that Felicity needed to be distracted. “Did James try to win you back?”
“He has more dignity than that, thank heaven. Please. What of my machine?”
Perry sat behind his desk, kicked his feet up, and took pity on her. “We are tracking it down. We were out all night looking for the damn thing. It would help us to know what enemies you may have out this way.”
Felicity gave him a disbelieving look. “If enemies in Moorgate Hollow stole the machine, they would already be using it.”
“Maybe they’re clever and are waiting for some sort of opportune moment,” Perry said. “Best time to strike at you. Or maybe they just don’t want Mayor Ashworth to have it. Why were you selling it to that old goat?”
Felicity drew herself up. “My business is my own.”
Perry decided to try a different tactic and said cajolingly, “Fee, you know if I took anyone’s side in any battle, it would always be yours, even if your side was the terrible one. Did it have anything to do with your father?”
Felicity’s eyes narrowed again at her childhood nickname, and she said sharply, “Yes, if you must know. He signed the contract with Ashworth and I had to uphold his promise to deliver the item. And now it has gone missing and I can’t uphold that promise unless it is found. Ashworth is getting tremendously impatient and I am going to have to give him back his money if it isn’t found, and then possibly pay fines to the state if it has fallen into the hands of one of the militant groups and-”
“Who arranged shipment of the machine?” Dominic asked suddenly, interrupting her enumeration of the expenses she incurred with each passing moment.
Perry and Felicity both looked at him, and Felicity arched a brow.
“I only ask,” Dominic said slowly, thinking, “Because if Ashworth made the arrangements, then some of the responsibility would fall upon his shoulders, wouldn’t it? I’m given to understand that most of Hely Industries’ machine shipments are sent by rail because trains are cheaper than airships, and if something happens to the machine-”
Lettie completed his thought. “It is easier and less expensive to contain it it if happens on land than in the air. The only reason to transport the machine by air is if you cannot wait to have it transported by train.”
Felicity considered this carefully, her brow furrowed with thought. “Ashworth made the arrangements,” she said finally. “Any court would find him partly responsible for any damages. I can put him off for a little while longer.”
Dominic smiled. “Giving us a little more time to find it.”
Perry smiled. “Now, tell us a little about your enemies in Moorgate Hollow.”
Teague barely managed to contain the grunt of irritation that would have given him away. He stood, secreted in shadow in the upstairs hallway of Perry’s building, listening to his quarry divert Felicity Hely’s attention from the location of the machine, and more irritatingly, Felicity letting him divert her. He knew Perry was lying. He knew Felicity must know Perry was lying. But then, she had been friends with the man when they were young. That might be clouding her judgment.
He only needed some clue to its location. Where had they been all night?
Felicity suddenly said his name. “Isaac Teague. I think he’s working for the people who tried to steal the machine.”
“Who are they?”
“I don’t know. I did not plan to be in charge of Hely Industries for another ten or twenty years at least and I was busy with other endeavors. I do not know all of my father’s enemies.”
“Do you think it might be the group that tried to kidnap you when you were young?” Perry asked.
“My father believed that he destroyed them all,” she replied.
“Do you know why Ashworth wanted the machine?” Perry’s associate asked. “That might lead us to his enemies.”
“Or is it possible that Ashworth himself was behind it, as a way to get out of paying?” the other woman asked.
The room below fell silent for a moment. Felicity finally said, “That is a possibility. As to Ashworth’s reasons, I believe he fears something beneath the city and wished to have a weapon to fight it, if his fears proved to be true.”
There was silence at this, too. Then Perry said, “Do you think you can find out for sure?”
Felicity said triumphantly, “You do know where it is.” Some uncertainty in Perry’s face at her pronouncement of dangers beneath the city must have tipped her off.
Perry replied stubbornly, “I want to know why Ashworth wants it. That will help us produce it.”
That was a careful choice of words. Not help him find it. Help him produce it.
Felicity didn’t miss it either, but she said, “I will find out.”
Teague thought, So will I.