Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1)

Can't say I'm surprised you were here. You have the curiosity of a cat and the common sense of a goldfish.

Curiosity is a strong fire, and once ignited, it is not easily put out.

Don't think I'll look after you, though-the world would be better off with one less princess."

"I'm not a princess," I huffed, beating my brain for some worthy retort.

"A queen then?"

"No! That's not what I meant-"

"Oh, an empress. I see. Pardon me, Your Majesty." He swooped into a crouched bow, and when his torso sprang back up,a smile floated at the edge of his lips.

"N-no, not an empress either. I-I'm just..." The more I stuttered, the more pompous his smile became.

"You're exasperating," I finally groaned.

Eleanor," Daniel said. "Miss Fitt! Wake up!"
I fluttered my eyelids open. "I'm not a misfit anymore," I rasped. "I thought I told you that.

even the greatest feats of man lose their luster when one’s head is filled with storm clouds.

Even the greatest feats of man lose their luster when one's head is filled with storm clouds.

How could I dream when I knew I could act instead.

How long have you been standing here?"
"Only a moment." I fluttered my lashes. I am as innocent as a baby bird, I tried to say with my eyes.
"Really." He spoke it as a statement, and frowned. "You know, eavesdropping is most unladylike."
My jaw dropped. "Eavesdropping? I was doing no such thing."
"No?"
"Certainly not, Mr. Wilcox. And false accusations are most un...most un-manly-like." The retort was a stuttered failure, but I puffed out my chest anyway. "What were you doing outside?"
"Getting fresh air."
My eyebrows shot up as if to say "Really?" He squinted at me, and I glowered back.

I brandished my parasol at him like a rapier. "You, sir, are an abominable scalawag of a man, and I'll be damned if I let you threaten me.

I can't believe she listened to you." I turned a wide-eyed gaze on Clarence.
A grin tugged at his lips. "Yes, I imagine I'm the only person she'll listen to."
"Well,I'm impressed." A warmth eased through my body. Despite his perfect features, he was not so difficult to talk to.
"No doubt you'd do the same with your brother."
"Not precisely." I smiled ruefully. "To be honest, I don't take orders well."
"Then I shall be sure I never give you any.

Just before Jie and Daniel reached the street, Daniel stopped. He twirled around and gazed up at me, as if he had sensed my eyes on his back. He strode a few steps toward me, paused, and then strode two more.
He slung off his cap and pressed it to his chest. Then,with the casual grace that marked all of his movements, he dropped to one knee and bowed his head.
He was declaring fealty to his empress.
I laughed-I couldn't help it. The absurdity of it all. The bittersweet sting.When he lifted back up, I saw he too wore a smile.He waved with his cap, and after flopping it back on his head, he swiveled and trotted to the street. Then,without another look back, the Spirit-Hunters left.

Mama forbade me to attend the Exhibition after an over-heating spell, yet she insisted I gallivant in the park in the midafternoon sun. I almost wanted to pass out again just to spite her.

Miss Fitt, you know curiosity gets men killed."
I grinned. "Then I daresay it's good I'm a woman.

Miss Fitt, you know curiosity gets men killed."
I grinned. "Then I daresay it's good I'm a woman."
He groaned-an amused sound. "No wonder Allie finds you confusing. You've a retort for everything."
"No,only for Wilcoxes."
He rolled his head back and laughed. "All right, all right. If you promise to keep my secrets and enjoy this drive"-he opened his hands to gesture at the sun-dappled carriageway before us-"then I will explain."
I blinked. Really? All it took to get an answer was a witty turn of phrase? It only it were that simple with men like Daniel Sheridan.

So,Miss Fitt," Clarence said once we turned onto a tree-lined road beside the river, "you are no doubt wondering why I invited you out."
I swatted the ribbon from my eyes. "And here I assumed it was my unsurpassable good looks."
He chuckled. "That was, of course, part of my motivation."
"Only part?" I slid my gaze left and watched him from the corner of my eye. "Well then,the rest of your reason must be that bribe you mentioned the other evening."
"Something like that.

So tell me, Miss Fitt, do you know when your brother will return?"
"No." I wet my lips. "Do you know Elijah?"
He looked off to the right. "I know of your brother."
"Oh?"
"Of course." He folded his arms over his chest and returned his gaze to me. "Everyone knows of the Philadelphia Fitts.I even know of you."
"You mean Allison told you about me."
His lips twitched. "Certainly."
I stroked my amethysts and made my expression passive. I didn't care one whit about her gossip-though I did wish she wouldn't talk about me to Clarence. I'd prefer if eligible young men learned my faults after meeting me.
He flashed his eyebrows playfully, as if knowing where my thoughts had gone. "You needn't worry. She's said nothing unkind. She finds you amusing-she likes to talk, you know?"
"I hadn't noticed," I said flatly. Saying Allison loved to gossip was like saying birds enjoyed flying. It was not so much a hobby as part of her physiology.
Clarence's smile expanded, and his eyes crinkled. "Apparently there was an insult you gave her a few days ago, though...She had to ask me what it meant."
My face warmed, and I looked away. "I believe I might have called her a spoiled Portia with no concept of mercy."
He laughed and hit his knee. "That's right. Portia's speech on mercy in the final act of The Merchant of Venice. Allie had no idea what you meant."
"In my defense, she was taunting me-"
"With no mercy?"
"Something like that," I mumbled, embarrassed he'd heard abou tit.
"Oh,I have no doubt. One of Allie's charms is her childish teasing." He laughed again and shook his head. "Next time, though, I suggest you use less obscure insults. They might hit their mark better.

The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose."
"And the foolish can cite Shakespeare.

The fault is not in our stars," I whispered to the ceiling. "But in ourselves. This was my choice.

There was no heaven here. Eternal life meant waking up as a putrid corpse.

They each wore ill-fitting black suits and well-fitting black scowls.

To pile on the agony, once we reached Shantytown-a collection of shacks around the Exhibition that fed off the scraps of rich tourists—the ribbon on my bonnet decided today was the day it wanted freedom. It dangled before my face in a taunting display of rebellion.

What did you drop?"
"Nothing. Stand aside, Empress."
"So you were hiding."
He set his jaw, and I noticed his face was freshly shaved. It made his skin look soft.
"I've places to be," he growled. "So if you don't step outta my way, I will move your imperial figure myself.

Whatever mischief you're up to, I'll be there for it. Besides, someone must ensure that you behave like a lady."
I skittered to a stop. "Like a lady? Which is how exactly?" My voice was shrill. He had picked a poor moment to antagonize me.
"Biddable."
"Biddable? Biddable!" Somehow my pitch was even screechier than before. I kicked my bottom high and dipped my chest low-a perfect display of the Grecian bend. "It it's a camel you wish to have,sir,then you are on the wrong continent!

While Mary brushed my pistachio silk carriage dress, Mama tugged the laces of my corset as tight as they would go. She grunted and I groaned, and we sounded like the giant hogs I'd seen at the zoo-except that, rather than play in the mud and eat to my heart's content, I was forced to sit daintily in the parlor without lunch. For two hours. With my mother for company.

Why do you ask?"
"Because I can."
"You can what?"
"I can go in the private collection!" I scurried toward him. "My father had a lifetime subscriptioin, Mr. Sheridan, and not just that, but he had special privileges. I'm certain I could use his name to get you into the private collection."
Daniel's jaw fell. "Why didn't you say so before?"
"What?" I recoiled. "How was I supposed to know you needed it?"
"We could've gone ages ago!"
My enthusiasm transformed into outrage. "In that case, why didn't you say you needed it?"
"Because I didn't know you had a subscription!"
"Aha!" I cried, thrusting a finger at him. "Your argument's a circle!"
Daniel sprang up. "We wasted all this time-"
"Silence!" Joseph roared. "You are like squawking parrots, and I have had quite enough. Miss Fitt, I would ask that you take Mr. Sheridan to the library immediately. Daniel, I would ask that you keep that big mouth of yours silent.

You have the curiosity of a cat and common sense of a goldfish.