Friday, December 11, 2009

Majesty Mysteries: Silver Spider by Lena Austin

Majesty Mysteries: Silver Spider
by Lena Austin

Cover art by Marteeka Karland

ISBN: 978-1-60521-368-2
Series: Majesty Mysteries


Madge Majesty is a harpy mystery writer and amateur sleuth in Edwardian Britain with a nose for murder and her faithful chauffeur Hayden, who is a gay telekenetic ex-thief. This time, the secretive Duke of Aberstwyth invited her for a murder mystery party, but he’s the first victim! Now it’s up to Madge to solve whodunit from the motley assortment of gays, bisexuals, and very nervous heterosexuals, all of whom have more than just their sexual foibles to hide! Is it the cross-dressing vampire, the packless werewolf, the fag hag doctor, the straight gargoyle major domo, or the promiscuous man who seems bent on getting everyone in his bed, including Hayden?


Time was running out, and she had no notion of who was the murderer. Worse, Madge couldn't even rule out who it was not. It seemed everyone had a secret in this place. Why would Jazz, who was very careful about every detail, hire Reuben Proctor? Did Jazz know about Reuben? Well, she could ask. Madge turned around and marched back inside the castle with a startled Hayden trailing in her wake.
Jazz's office door was once again closed, but not locked. The cook, bustling around preparing supper, could spare them only a glance and a shout across the table. "Gone to the station to pick up those Hereford vampires! 'E told me to tell you to put the keys in the top drawer of his desk when you were done with 'em, Mrs. Majesty. Said 'e trusted you."
Hayden leaned close. "Providence, Madame. Shall we check Mr. Proctor's employee file? You know Mr. Jazz is sure to keep everything neatly recorded."
Madge fished the keys out of her pocket and waved thanks to Mrs. Grater. For once, she could brazenly walk into a room and snoop. For a few moments, Madge did permit herself the pleasure of running her fingers enviously over Jazz's enormous desk, made probably right in the room since she doubted anything less than four strong men could lift the heavy English oak. As usual, the surface was polished to a high shine with the same beeswax and lemon, and the whole room was as neat and sparse as a priest's cell.
Hayden dropped a black cloth over the mirror, his lip curled with distaste. Poor darling really did value his privacy more than one might assume. Since he was more experienced in where things were located, Madge stepped back. With expert ease, he picked the lock on the only drawer large enough to contain employee files.
Of course, the drawer was neatly alphabetized, but in Old Latin. Naturally, since Jazz was nearly as old as Madge, he'd make things comfortable for himself and assure a small measure of security. Most humans and many paranormals couldn't read Old Latin.
Madge could, and she did. Reuben Proctor's file had little in it but a newspaper clipping from -- aha! -- Rome. "I found a clue, Hayden. It seems Mr. Roberto Proctorio was arrested out of his hotel room and accused of jewel theft a few years ago. However, he was acquitted."
"Very interesting, Madame. What else is in there?" Hayden knelt beside her on the floorboards. He pulled out Mr. Proctor's file, and a photograph, caught between that file and the next, slid out. "Oops. Sorry."
The photograph showed a younger Reuben standing in the gazebo of the castle grinning happily and tearing up a certificate. The grainy nature of the picture -- clearly not one of Mr. Vandergriff's superior works -- made reading the certificate impossible, but the gold seal and placement of the illegible words made it clear what it was.
"Interesting, isn't it Madame?" Hayden handed her the file and clipping. "I do wish we could read the nature of the cer..."
She'd turned to listen to him, and found herself nose to nose with Hayden. His warm breath caressed her cheek, and Madge was inexplicably struck with the urge to put him on his back right there on the oak floor of Jazz's office and have her wicked way with him. An absolutely foolish lustful moment, she told herself rather sternly. After all, Hayden preferred men, as far as Madge knew. So why did she keep staring into his blue eyes?
Likewise, Hayden kept staring into hers. Madge wondered what he saw. Did he see Hel in her amber-colored eyes? For three heartbeats, his gaze lowered to her mouth before snapping back to her eyes. He cleared his throat. "What perfume are you wearing, Ma-Madame? I should like to get you something for your birthday."
Had he actually considered kissing her for that brief space in time? Her mind, normally so sharp it cut the wind, faltered. Madge uttered the truth in the same hushed tone he'd used. "I don't have a birthday."
His firm lips curled upward. "Neither do I. Perhaps we should choose a date to celebrate together?"
"Yes." Madge meant agreement to more than merely the birthday suggestion, and they both knew it. What deviltries made her do it, Madge couldn't say. She leaned in and brushed his lips with hers.
His arm slid around her waist and pulled her closer, and they deepened the kiss. She'd forgotten how strong Hayden was physically. Plastered up against him, Madge couldn't help but note the solidity of his chest and -- oh, my! How well she remembered that lovely cock. Erect and pressed against her lower belly, it felt as hard and massive as the oak desk they knelt behind. She couldn't wait for him to shove the enormous cock deep inside her until they both screamed for mercy. Then, abruptly, he let her go.
Madge fell back against Jazz's chair, reminding her of where they were and what they were supposed to be doing. Her heart hammered, she couldn't get her breath, and she desperately needed to change her knickers before dinner. Madge hadn't been slammed that hard with lust since... well, never. That was even more shocking. She couldn't think. So, did she keep her mouth shut? No! "I thought you preferred men?"
Hayden gave her a crooked smile. He too breathed heavily, and his trousers tented out to make a rather impressive bulge in his uniform. He reached out with a trembling hand and caressed her cheek. "I do, under normal circumstances, but it's only a preference, Madame."
"Eh?" He frowned. "What?"
"Madge. Given the circumstances, it seems out of place to be formal, don't you agree?" Madge babbled like a schoolgirl! No matter that she recognized what she was doing, Madge couldn't shut up. "It's not my real name, but... um..."
"You're flustered." His smile was one of wonderment and delight. "I've rattled you. What a feeling of power. I'm delighted." He leaned in and kissed her again, very briefly, and not half of what she wanted. "What is your real name?"
Whatever lust god had hold of her also was the god of truth. Her face heated as if she'd turned toward the sun. No one but the Furies knew her name. Why was Madge about to tell a human? "Marigold." She closed her eyes and waited for the laughter at a vicious harpy with the name of a flower.
"My favorite flower. No wonder I can't help myself." He brushed her lips once more. "Marigold, that orange and red color of flames. Like your eyes of amber and flame. You're irresistible to me, Madge." He got up and pulled her to her feet. "But I've forgotten my place terribly. Forgive me. I'll take a walk to cool my... head." He strode out of the room before Madge could utter a word.
Madge put the photograph back in the file with the newspaper clipping and filed it neatly in its place. Then she shut the drawer. "Well, that's that. I believe I'd like to ask Mr. Vandergriff when he came to live here. I do hope he's dried his tears by now!" Her voice growled with rage and frustrated lust.
Perhaps Hayden wasn't the only one that needed cooling off. Madge put the keys in Jazz's desk drawer as he'd asked, whisked off the black cloth, and made a dignified exit. She walked up the stairs, found her room blindly, stripped, and stepped into the bathroom. Perhaps a soak in the tub might work. Then Madge picked up the sea sponge awaiting her need and heaved it against the tiled wall of the bathroom. "Perhaps I should just soak my head!" If there were a few tears adding to the bath water, no one would know.

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