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The Man, or the Monster

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In the weeks since her marriage to her beloved Henry Jekyll and her subsequent arrival at 46 Harley St., it had become Emma’s custom to await her husband’s presence in their shared bedroom before descending together to dinner. What the rest of the household did not know – could never know – was that as the clock struck six each evening, the man who emerged from the laboratory to meet his wife upstairs was not the man she had wed.

Emma no longer dared to say so, of course; as far as Edward Hyde was concerned, he was just as much her husband as the good doctor – and she just as much his wife. He had made that perfectly clear with both words and deeds, threats and cruel injuries from which she still recovered, and which she wished never to endure again.

That first night, their wedding night, when he had revealed himself – told her the truth of Henry’s recent absence and the experiment gone so terribly, horribly wrong – she hadn’t believed his claims until he struck her. But it wasn’t the blow that convinced her. It was his eyes, those dark voids so utterly bereft of humanity, of mercy, of the man to whom she had pledged her body and her life. They had gleamed with carnal intent, remorseless yet somehow morose, as he demanded a husband’s privilege.

Through her tears and her terror, she had tried to deny him, but there had been no stopping the monster insistent upon claiming her as his own. She had yielded to his eager hands and mouth as they teased and tasted her lips, her neck, her breasts. The stolen kisses and secret, tender caresses of she and Henry’s courtship, promising such joys as this, had ignited in Emma a craving for that body, and with closed eyes and memories of a gentler touch, she imagined the man she had wed in place of the scoundrel who had usurped him.

Before she could even understand the desire surging deep within, his ravenous tongue was between her legs, devouring her sex. A joy unlike anything she’d known had torn cries and sobs of bliss from her throat, and when at last he filled her, the sting of first entry giving way to ecstasy, she had screamed her pleasure long into the night.

Would the man she loved have satisfied her so well? She must think so, but could not know; upon waking, Henry had recoiled in horror, distraught, and had since refused her company. Every morning, despite the eager arousal pressed against her back, her husband absconded from their bed in haste, staying just long enough to assure himself of her safety – or, upon finding her injured, tended to her with tears and apologies that could not begin to sooth her loss. Only his love could do that – and it was denied to her.

The man with whom she had first shared her marriage bed had taken everything: her innocence, her husband, her happiness. He would never have her heart.

The clock chimed upon the fireplace mantle, foretelling Edward’s imminent arrival, and Emma contemplated the bottle of fine liquor he kept there, wondering if it might steady her nerves. More likely, it would only prove a mark against her; how dare she drink without him? Instead, she turned to the window, her last moments of solitude spent watching the firelight dance upon the glass.

She needn’t wait long. It was only minutes before the sound of footsteps approached behind her, softened by the lush carpet, and a second reflection appeared over her shoulder. The cold of encroaching winter and the heat of the fire had clouded the windowpane with condensation, a fog through which Emma could only scarcely make out the man at her back. His long dark hair was mussed, stray locks casting shadows over his eyes. A strong hand rose to brush her cheek, warm, so gentle, and a flicker of desire kindled within her. She almost dared hope…

“Who is it?” she asked, leaning into the touch.

“Who do you want it to be?”

His tone was neutral; were it not for the mocking nature of the question, she couldn’t have said which of them had asked it. Her Henry would not have made such a query without the sorrow and doubt that so plagued him – alongside the fear she might, in secret, prefer his darker half. The answer her true husband refused to demand of her, she would readily have given: she loved him. Henry. Always him, and no other. Not even the man who at that very moment held her body captive as surely as her husband’s own.

“Does it matter?”

“No. But I have to wonder why you asked,” Edward said, his voice resonating now with that unmistakable dark timbre. “Was it to spare your dear Henry from hearing my name upon your lips – or did you simply wish to know which name to scream?”

A heated kiss to her neck assured her a promise, not a threat, had been made. He knew very well how Henry neglected her. Still, it would be unwise to rise to Edward’s taunt. She would never cry his name in pleasure – the household would at once presume a humiliating circumstance upon hearing of Henry’s “colleague” in their bedroom, if they did not suspect her of adultery outright – and he must know that as well.

She could not, however, say the same of pain; if she should be made to beg for the avoidance of violence again, her tongue would not know caution in naming her tormentor. The revelation of Edward’s identity to their servants was almost guaranteed, along with the carnage that would result. It was bad enough she need endure this. She would not have innocent blood on her hands as well.

“Will an honest answer bring me pain?” she asked, almost a whisper, and steeled herself against a cold shiver of fear in anticipation of his cruel answer.

“Not as much as a dishonest one,” he replied, tracing her jaw with teasing fingertips. “Or silence.”

The warmth of his caress did little to soften the chill his words sent through her racing heart, and the heavy fog of terror crept ever closer, counting down to her ruin with each tick of the nearby clock.

“I wanted to know if I should fear the man behind me.” She drew a shallow breath, praying she had not unwittingly invited him to respond with reason for her to do so, and quickly added, “You have already answered that question.”

The reflection grinned, his voice somehow darker for his cold smile. “And are you afraid?”

“Yes. Terribly.” Tears threatened at the corners of her eyes, a slight waver in her voice turning quickly to panic. “Please, don’t hurt me tonight.”

“That depends upon what you are.”

Emma met his gaze in the glass. “What I am…?”

“Are you my wife?” he asked, sliding a finger down into the cleavage of her bodice. “Or are you my whore?”

Her breasts heaved against their confinement, nipples hardening at his touch. Not even the insult of his question could quell her body’s response to his seduction – and therein lay the answer. Was she not both? She was a whore, but it was her husband’s body with which she lay, and it was to him alone that her love belonged. She was a wife, but her husband was gone, somewhere within the black depths so coldly focused on her reflection, asleep or else trapped in a waking nightmare.

Henry had described to her a nothingness, with only the occasional fleeting image of his time spent dormant in his own mind, like trying to recall a fading dream. Did he ever see them together – the cruelty of Edward’s demands, her own disgraceful submission, their rapturous joining? She had never dared to ask.

“I am your wife,” she replied, “and you have vowed to cherish me.”

A low growl rumbled in her ear, shocks of fright tingling down her body. “I will cherish when you obey.”

“But I have—”

His hand held fast to her throat in warning, firm but not yet painful. She swallowed against his palm, her measured breaths escaping in unsteady sighs from her lips. When he said nothing, waiting for a plea or an apology, she spoke.

“Promise you won’t hurt me, and I will obey.”

Even to insist upon an assurance was a risk, for a demand on her part had often led to threats of pain far worse than that which she wished to avoid, but should he relent, there was some safety; despite his cruelty, he could always be taken at his word.

“Very well.” His hold loosened, fingers tracing her neck once more in an idle caress. “Obey me, and I promise no harm will come to you.”

Emma nodded, and he turned her head toward him, his dark gaze meeting hers with erotic intent. “Are you willing?”

No. She was compliant, even complicit when passion moved her to seek satisfaction, but she would never be willing. That implied her body was freely given, and a choice between pain and pleasure was no choice at all. Nor was there any agency in her answer; she would give the response he wished to hear, for it was the only one that would save her from his wrath. It was the one lie with which he found no fault.

“Yes,” she whispered, tilting her chin up, and pressed her lips to his.

He returned her kiss with a ferocious hunger, both frightening and exhilarating as he made love to her mouth, each stroke of his tongue recalling the wild thrusts that sent her careening into bliss. She began to turn, longing for his embrace, only to be stopped by his grip upon her waist.

“Stay where you are, my love,” he said, and she looked back to their reflections as his hand strayed downward.

He cupped her sex, his palm pressed hard against the sensitive bud at its crest, separated from his touch by mere layers of soft satin and delicate skin. A shiver of lust weakened her knees, and she melted back into his chest. Why would he tease her this way, when nothing more could be done until she’d been disrobed?

Then his hand began to move, stroking the aching nub in circles, and a blissful pressure built between her thighs. Heat streaked through her body, less intense than the skillful manipulation of his fingers or tongue, yet just as pleasurable. She moaned, yearning to be bare beneath him, and when his fervent kisses descended upon her neck, a desperate plea sounded from her parted lips.

“Is your cunt wet?” he demanded.

She winced at the foul word, only nodding as desire dripped hot from her entrance. At her encouragement, he deepened her torment, rubbing harder, faster, until she felt she might cry with the need for release – indeed, may even reach it with just a little more—

He denied her, abandoning this sweet torture to urge her closer to the window. His fingers threaded through her loosely bound-up hair, pushing her head forward until she bent and braced her hands against the windowsill. Emma peered outside, watching passersby and carriages below. Dusk had fallen; they must be cast in silhouette by the firelight, visible to all those in the street beneath them. Behind her, Edward unbuttoned his trousers. Did he really mean to—?

“Should we not wait until after dinner?” she asked.

“At the moment,” he said, scraping his teeth along her earlobe, “I am most hungry for you.”

A blush reddened her cheeks. No. No, they shouldn’t be doing this – anyone might see their writhing forms, bearing witness to her shame.

“No. Not here,” she whispered. “Please…”

“Obey.”

Just that one word, and Emma quieted. She bit her lip, another refusal on her tongue, but she dared not voice it.

She watched his reflection gather her skirts and petticoat over her hips. Her informal evening housedress had no bustle or crinoline, only pantaloons remaining between them, the linen over her sex soaked through with her desire. As he yanked the last barrier down, his rigid manhood thrust hot and hard against her backside, and a helpless cry of lust rasped from her throat.

The wetness his teasing had wrought became a torrent, dripping down her thighs. They spread wider to bare her eager sex to him, and she whimpered as the smooth head thrust into her trembling folds.

Oh, how he filled her. The long, thick instrument of her pleasure drove slow and hard, his girth stroking her aching passage so thoroughly a new spasm of bliss seized her with every breath. The greatest pleasure lay in the deepest place within her, and when at last he hit the very end of her sex, Emma cried out in joy.

His dark laugh echoed behind her. He took a fistful of her hair and pulled, making her arch her back as he bent and whispered in her ear.

“Your cunt belongs to me, wife.” When she only moaned, too lost in sensation to speak, he rammed into her hard, forcing a cry of bliss from her enraptured body. “Isn’t that so?”

“Yes!”

His reflection smiled with gritted teeth, releasing her hair to grasp her hips, and pulled back. Emma screamed as he impaled her sex completely, the thick head of his manhood hitting that sweetest, deepest place.

“Who owns your cunt?” he demanded.

“You,” she sobbed, tears welling up in her eyes; whether they were from pleasure or shame, she could not tell.

“Call me by name.” He took her with a brutal passion, pounding so furiously that the sound of their bodies crashing echoed along with her whimpers. “Tell me. Tell me who owns your cunt!”

“You own m-my…” she stuttered, more out of bliss than humiliation, “my cunt, Edward!”

No sooner had she cried his name than the ecstasy she had begged for seized her entirely. Lust spilled from her quivering sex with every shudder of release, as it often did in this position, gushing hot and wet at each deep thrust, and Emma screamed in joy.

“Yes, my love. Scream for me,” he said, leaning down to growl in her ear. “Scream my name!”

The pleasure didn’t relent, and neither did her cries; as a second, even more intense orgasm sent her into pure delirium, she obeyed.

“Edward!”

Her voice soared with rapturous abandon, and his own pleasure followed, his bellowing shouts matching hers. At last, their pleasure reached its peak, and Emma wept as it faded into convulsions of bliss, until all sensation had ceased. Her limbs ached and grew weak, her bound chest heaving with shuddering breaths. The window had clouded completely with the heat of their passion, and Emma realized it had been so for many minutes now; perhaps they had not been seen.

Better still that they had not been heard. Their home, though luxurious, was not as large as the grand manor she had known in recent years, nor the walls of solid stone like the family estate, but the name must have been muffled both by her soprano pitch and the oaken doors. Long moments passed with only their ragged breaths to be heard, no hurried footsteps upon the stair or calls of concern in the hall. Perhaps she had been drowned out by Edward’s own shouts of pleasure. She could only pray it was so.

Still impaled upon him, Emma reveled in his embrace. She relaxed as his lips brushed the nape of her neck, and bared her throat for the possessive kisses that so often accompanied the aftermath of their lovemaking. Instead, a low, menacing growl rumbled in her ear.

“It’s a shame that you disobeyed me.”

Her still-racing heart skipped a beat. “Disobeyed you? When?”

“You said ‘No’ to me, Emma.”

His voice bore the tone of a final judgement, not a mere warning. Had so meek and careless a protest endangered her?

“I only meant to ask that we—”

“You refused.”

“I relented,” she said, too harshly, and her voice shook as she tried to appease him. “Please, Edward, be charitable toward your wife.”

He withdrew from her without warning, buttoning his trousers. The sudden emptiness left her cold, and not only from his absence; no longer joined, the thought of what he might do sent chills of fear down her spine.

“A wife shows her husband love and devotion,” he said, and set his hands upon the window frame on either side of her. There would be no escape. “Tonight, you were my whore.”

He had not said which woman was more likely to suffer his wrath, but if a whore was what he claimed Emma to be in his anger, it was the wife he had hoped for that she must play.

“If it is my love you desire, you will only win it with kindness.”

It was meant to be a plea; as the words left her lips, they became a bitter reprimand, and she cursed herself for not holding her tongue.

“Your love will be mine in due time. For now, your obedience will suffice.” He gripped her jaw, forcing her to look into his merciless eyes. “And it is won with pain.”

“You promised you wouldn’t hurt me!” she replied, beginning to sob.

“Only if you obeyed. You should not have defied me.”

He had made up his mind; arguing would be fruitless, and dangerous besides. There was nothing more to do but persuade him to have mercy. As he pushed away from the window to begin whatever tortures awaited her, she turned and fell to her knees.

“I’m sorry. Please, Edward.” She moved to take his hand, but it had already risen beyond her reach, poised to strike. “Please forgive me.”

His fingers took her chin in a bruising grip, and she waited for a demand to be made, offering a chance at redemption in exchange for some sordid act. Instead, he only looked deep into her eyes; there, she found nothing but cruelty.

“No.”

In one swift motion, he dragged her to her feet, sat upon the bed, and bent her over his knees. She dared not struggle as he snatched up her skirts, her pantaloons still low about her thighs and her buttocks bared for his punishment. Emma trembled in fearful anticipation of the first blow, wiping away her tears upon her useless satin sleeve.

“Please,” she whimpered, peering up at him in a last, desperate attempt to still his hand. “I’m sorry.”

His fingers entwined in her hair, but did not pull, and his dark eyes considered her for a long moment – almost enough to give her hope.

“Please, Edward,” she begged once more, searching for any trace of her beloved within the monster staring back.

After what seemed an eternity, his hand cupped her face. “I will spare you the pain, on one condition.”

“Yes,” she whimpered. “Anything.”

He smiled a victor’s smile, savouring his triumph as he lay his hand upon one rounded cheek, still warm and tender from the wild crash of their bodies.

“The next time I bend you over, I’m going to stretch every one of your holes wide open.” His fingers slid into her dripping folds and thrust slow, finding the spot that drove her to madness, and she clung to the pleasure with a moan. “Every. Last. One.”

He withdrew, leisurely dragging their hot lust up toward her buttocks – and over the small, sensitive hole between them. A strange shiver seized her body, tensing every muscle and stealing her breath. She bit her lip to stop herself from protesting at once. What was this? Fear, certainly, and surprise, but something else as well. A delicious ache pulled from within, so deep she could not know its origin: her eager sex, or this new, forbidden place?

His thumb caressed the tiny opening in circles, and it quivered in delight, as if to draw him in.

“Yes. Open for me, my love.”

He entered her slowly, sinking all the way down to his knuckle. A finger slid into her sex, stroking just where she needed it, and when a third began to pleasure her swollen peak, a sweet pressure built around his thumb.

“Edward,” she moaned.

“Do you want more?”

The twin pleasures of his fingers overwhelmed her, so close to climax she could scream.

“Yes!”

“Good,” he said, grinning. “Because tonight, you’re going to take all of me.”

She grasped for a place to anchor herself against the impending bliss, and as she clutched the side of his thigh, her sleeve brushed the massive erection straining beneath his trousers. The proud manhood fully matched her forearm’s length, and was thicker besides; even aroused to the point of desperation, her sex could barely accommodate him. How could he mean to…?

Emma gasped at a sudden shock of joy, not from within her sex, but where his thumb thrust slow and searching inside her. This was a new pleasure, strange and wonderful. Another stroke, and she was undone, keening his name on the very edge of bliss.

“Do you want me to make you scream again?” he taunted.

“Yes!”

She arched, readying herself – and right on the brink of her release, he withdrew. Emma whimpered in protest.

“Please finish it, Edward. Please!”

“This is your punishment, Emma,” he said, and she cried out in pain and pleasure both as he dealt her buttocks a blow that sent fiery shivers of bliss through her core; had the strike been any harder, she may have reached fulfilment from that alone. “You will not know satisfaction until I have claimed you entirely.”

A second slap rained down upon her other cheek, and with the promise of pleasure gone, the force of it scalded her like a flame.

“Please stop!” she sobbed. “You promised me no pain.”

“So I did.” His warm fingers stroked the reddened flesh, soothing the lingering sting. He pulled her up onto his lap for a slow, deep kiss before guiding her hand to his throbbing arousal. “On your knees.”

She obeyed, trembling as he unbuttoned his trousers once more, the thick length smooth and hard as sculpted marble, yet warm and silken to the touch. He swept her hair back in his hands and urged her closer, and she caught the intoxicating scent of her own desire as she drew nearer to the crimson head still slick with her lust.

This was an act she always dreaded. The taste of him was not entirely unpleasant, but the thick invasion of her mouth was too much, far too much. Her lips drew him in with difficulty, stretched tight over his tip until her tongue found the ridge, and with a rumbling moan, he plunged deeper. Tears welled up in her eyes as he hit the back of her mouth and pushed forward, thrusting deep into her throat.

She gagged upon him, her body’s painful attempt to rid itself of him only adding to his pleasure. There was none in this for herself; it was, at times, almost unbearable. She could not draw enough breath through her nose, and dizziness set in, clouding her view of his enraptured face as his climax approached.

With a shout, he yanked her head back and pulled out to take himself into his hand, furiously stroking his shaft. Emma closed her eyes as he roared, spurting great torrents of his seed hot and thick upon her face. When his groans of satisfaction faded, she looked to him, and though she had long since denied him her humiliation in this filthy act, tears streamed down her cheeks.

“Well done, my love,” he said, taking a handkerchief from his pocket and offering it to her. “But I have much left to teach you.”

Emma made no reply, wiping herself clean with the soft cloth embroidered with her true husband’s initials, and gazed up when she had finished, unable to help admiring the seductive body before her. Even newly spent, his manhood remained erect and massive, and she moaned as an involuntary rush of lust dripped from her sex.

Edward laughed; she had been caught staring. He wrapped his hand around his generous girth and thrust long and hard into his fist, as if filling her deep. “Is this what you want?”

“Yes.” Her body trembled in need, almost angry that such passion had gone to waste. If only he had taken her again and ended this torturous ache…

But what of his demand? Could a woman even beget a child in that way? If not, was to partake in it a sin? The pleasure of his intimate caresses she could readily accept, for it made the act of lovemaking so much sweeter, but this?

Even so, she fell eagerly into his arms as he pulled her up and backed her into a bedpost, hiking up her skirts. She quivered with lust at the stroke of his fingers teasing her slick nub, then plunging deep into her sex. When he hit the spot that wrenched a desperate cry of pleasure from her lips, he withdrew, stroking the other, more delicate opening. Slowly, he thrust inside, his entry eased by her hot lust, and found again that most pleasurable spot.

“Edward,” she whispered, gasping.

“More?”

“Yes. Please. Please.”

He took her lips in a wild, passionate kiss as he denied her the ecstasy of climax, prolonging her pleasure by alternating the skillful teasing of both aching, eager holes. She moaned and whimpered into his mouth, begging for release. His fingers plunged deep inside that forbidden place, and when at last he curved them into the spot she craved most, she braced herself for what would surely be the most joyful—

“I told you this was your punishment,” he said, breaking their kiss, and his fingers stilled inside her. “No release until I’ve stretched this hole wide open. And you’re ready, aren’t you, my love?”

“Yes.” She clenched around him despite her fear of his anger, desperate for the pleasure she’d been denied. His fingertips pulsed, intense shocks of pure bliss racing through her body as she begged for more. “Please, Edward. Now. Please. Take me. Take me!”

Then his dangerous eyes looked deep into hers, and he smiled, watching her arch and writhe against him.

“No.”

He withdrew one final time, parting from her without so much as another word, and she wept, falling to her knees. The ache within her turned from a sweet yearning into the pain of overstimulation. Oh, how she had been used. She could not decide which was crueler of him – to have forced such exquisite pleasure from her that first night, or to deny it now.

Behind her, she heard him wash his hands in the vanity basin; in the window, she watched his reflection run a comb through his hair and select a house coat from the wardrobe. As he donned it, the clock upon the mantle chimed, announcing seven o’clock.

“Come, my love. It’s time for dinner.”

Clearing away her tears as best she could, Emma adjusted her pantaloons and skirts and stood, Henry’s soiled handkerchief falling to the floor. Her eyes shone with desire as she accepted Edward’s waiting arm, eager to descend – for when they retired to bed, the pleasure he promised would, at last, be hers.

She would always be Henry Jekyll’s wife, but until the day her husband returned to her bed, she would remain the whore of Edward Hyde.

Chapter Text

Henry.

The name flitted through Emma’s mind, gentle and warm as the sunlight pouring through the window, urging her to open her eyes. She peeked from behind a hand with a bruised wrist, and gazing upon the blueish hue, her smile faded. Though the man beside her was the man she had dreamt of, he was not the man who had shared her marriage bed.

It was her husband’s movement which had woken her, and as Henry rose, Emma sat up and saw where Edward’s – indeed, Henry’s own – seed had spilled from her, staining the sheets beneath them. She covered the splotches with the unsoiled sheet gathered about her waist and clutched it to her chest, though the nearly sheer white fabric provided little in the way of modesty.

Her nipples hardened to sensitive points at the sight of her husband’s retreating naked form, his powerful body perfectly built to enfold her in his arms, and when he turned to approach the wardrobe, just a glimpse of his rigid manhood made her sex stir with lust. He was more than ready for her; why would he not be her husband in every way?

“Henry?”

“Yes, Emma?” he answered, retrieving his undergarments and laying them aside.

“Shall we have breakfast together?”

He spared her only a glance as he selected a pair of trousers, draping them over a chair before the vanity, and set about obtaining a shirt and waistcoat. “I’m due at the hospital this morning.”

“At nine o’clock. It’s not yet seven.” Did he forget she knew his schedule? Heaven knew there was little else to occupy her time but to memorise such details. “Please, join me.”

He met her gaze in the vanity mirror, his eyes darkening with irritation… or was it lust? His jaw clenched as he swallowed, seeming to linger upon her reflection. At last, he looked away, parting his hair with a comb and tying it back.

“Apologies, my love, but I cannot.”

Though his words were endearing, they carried the tone he took with too-familiar strangers; indeed, Emma realized, that was what she had become to the man she loved.

“Henry,” she said, a single tear sliding down her cheek. “Please don’t leave me here alone.”

His reflection glanced to her once more, and his stern expression softened. After a moment’s hesitation, he retrieved a robe and tied it tightly about himself, though it could not conceal the evidence of his desire as he returned to their bed.

“Emma.” He sat upon the edge of the mattress, laying his hand over her own by her side. When he said nothing more, she entwined their fingers, leaning in for a kiss – one she was denied.

“Please,” she said, craning to follow as he turned from her, “tell me why I may not kiss my own husband.”

Tears glistened in his eyes as he looked back to her, and he brought her hand to his lips, barely brushing her knuckles with the softest of caresses. The sensation sent shivers of dangerous fire through her affection-starved body, desperate for the touch of her beloved, and his gentle fingers cupped the side of her face in the most tender of gestures. This alone was bliss, but still, she detested that he made no move to give her the kiss she so craved.

“It is agony to have touched you… tasted you… been one with you, yet to never know the pleasure of it.”

“You can, Henry,” she whispered, and kissed his palm. “Right now.”

Henry’s eyes closed at the caress of her lips, and she felt a shudder of lust course through him. Yet, when he looked back to her, he shook his head.

“Believe me, Emma, I would give anything to take you in my arms and make love to you the way you deserve,” he said. “But I dare not.”

“Why?”

“While Hyde lives within me, I cannot take that risk.” He set her hand upon the sheets, letting go. “If he were to know we had shared this bed… I cannot bear to think what he might do.”

Emma drew her fingers into a fist. Why did it matter what Edward thought? How absurd to use Henry’s memory to claim her for his own wife, yet deny her the company of her true husband.

“He doesn’t have to know.” She reached for Henry’s hand again, but he stood and retreated to the lifeless fireplace, his back to her once more.

“He will.”

“How can you be so certain?”

“Because I would know.” He glanced at her over his shoulder. “He will see it in your eyes, and he will hurt you.”

Emma looked to the bruises on her wrists, thinking of other, more intimate wounds only recently healed. The pain of Edward’s fury was nothing to the agony of Henry’s loss.

“He has already hurt me, Henry. If it means you will be my husband, it is a risk I will gladly take.”

“But I will not,” he said, his tone harsh, too like the very man he loathed, and Emma flinched.

The tick of the clock echoed in their silence, and as Henry turned to resume dressing, Emma could bear it no longer.

“Has he told you we are not to make love?” she asked, her pulse racing as the robe fell about Henry’s ankles, baring again the body she desired with such passion.

“He doesn’t need to. The way he described you…”

Emma’s brow furrowed. Described her? The two of them – for two men, they certainly were – surely did not speak to each other; Henry had made that clear enough the first time she had inquired about their interactions, for lack of a better word. Her curiosity was piqued. How, indeed, did they communicate? And what had Edward said of her?

“He believes you belong to him,” Henry said. “That is enough.”

“I belong to no one, but I am your wife, Henry. Only yours.”

Emma shifted beneath the sheet, intending to go to him, but Henry rushed to her side and took her hands in his. She allowed it, indulging in only a quick glance at his nakedness, though she knew his nearness was only a means to prevent her from tempting him with the body he had forsaken.

“As it should be, my love, but you cannot let him know it,” he said. “Please, Emma, I beg of you, do nothing to anger him. If something were to happen to you, I…”

His voice was rough with tears that now threatened to spill, and Emma squeezed his hands in hers, wishing with all her heart that she dared embrace him, but she could not risk his leaving again. He turned from her, as if to do so would take from him his weakness. She waited until he looked to her again to gently lay her hand upon his cheek.

“I will try. For your sake, I will endure this, but it cannot go on forever. There must be some way to be rid of this… this monster.”

“There is. I’m certain of it. But it will take time, and caution. If he should become aware of my continued efforts to eradicate him… I believe it would mean the death of everyone I have ever cared for.” He choked back a sob. “Please, Emma, I cannot lose you.”

“Hush now, my love,” she said, softly caressing his cheek. “It will be all right. I’m here. I will be here, always.”

Slowly, she brought his hand to her lips as he had done, kissing each finger, and Henry seemed to relax; only when he made a soft moan did she look down and see just how severe his arousal had become. His rigid shaft strained with throbbing veins, the head of his manhood flushed deep crimson. A clear drop of lust spilled from it, as if weeping for release, and her sex responded in kind, a rush of wet heat to match the demanding pulse between her thighs.

Emma gasped, and when her eyes at last returned to his, she saw within them a need so powerful that it stole her breath. This time, he did not look away.

“Are you in pain, my darling?” she whispered.

“Yes.” His jaw was tense, a fist clenched upon his knee.

The hand which still cupped his face slid down to his chest, beginning a slow descent. Luxuriating in the sensation of his warm skin and solid muscle, she waited for a response, but Henry said nothing, only closing his eyes as if to savour the touch until she had reached the soft dark curls between her and the object of her greatest desire.

“You don’t have to,” he said, his voice deepened with lust, and lay a hand over her own. “I would never insist—”

“I want to.” She pulled gently at his bicep, urging him closer. “Please, Henry, allow me to do this for you.”

“All right,” he said, nodding. Carefully, he climbed upon the bed, straddling her. “But we cannot…”

“I know.”

At last, she took him in both hands, lacing her fingers and spreading them wide to grasp as much of his great length as she could. Henry groaned as she began to stroke him, only lightly grazing his shaft with her fingertips, and Emma smiled.

She had received so much joy from his body, but to know that it finally belonged to her beloved made her exploration all the sweeter. This wonderful instrument of pleasure was hers to touch, to tease, to savour as it filled her completely and made her whole… if only he would let her.

Gently, she traced the ridge of his tip, eliciting a gasp. She glanced up at him, unsure, and realized that if he were to spill here, it would be as Edward often did, cruel and degrading; the thought was sickening. Henry must have read the worry in her gaze, for he lay a hand upon her wrist.

“Wait,” he said. “I want to be closer to you.”

She let go as he shifted, stretching over her. Hopeful, she bent her legs and hooked her uncovered feet about his ankles. There remained nothing but a sheet between them, and as she gripped his manhood once more, it took all of her self-control not to cast the covering aside and draw him into herself. Instead, she slid her hands down to his base and tightened them into fists as best she could. Then, she began to pump hard.

“Emma!”

His moan was intoxicating, deep and rumbling in a way so familiar, but filled with such love and need that she thought of only him. Matching his ragged gasps of lust, she licked her lips as she looked to his own, an invitation to accompany the question in her gaze – and finally, he answered her with a kiss.

Emma moaned into his mouth, reveling in the skilful strokes of his tongue, and the pearl of her sex throbbed with the need for its attention. His kiss was so different from Edward’s, yet she knew that the man she hated and the man that she loved shared this much in common: a passion that would not rest until they had reached ecstasy together. But the pleasures her beloved offered would be shared between them, not merely forced upon her, and their joy so much greater for it. She wanted nothing more than to take him into herself, and when he moved with her strokes, thrusting against her thigh, her sex quivered with desperate need.

“Please, Henry, I need you,” she begged. “Make love to me.”

Her plea, at last, broke his resolve. He pulled the sheet away, baring her eager body. His dark eyes roamed it with admiration, the torturous fire of her arousal igniting into an inferno under his gaze.

“We shouldn’t do this,” he whispered. “I shouldn’t…”

“It’s all right, my love. I am your wife; be a husband to me now.”

He cupped her breast, and she moaned as he lavished the aching nipple with swift, circling strokes. Then his hand descended, trailing down her stomach and through the fine curls above her sex, and found the sensitive peak pleading for his touch.

“Henry!” she cried, his deft fingertips expertly rubbing her into absolute bliss.

All but screaming with joy, Emma wrapped her legs around his back to draw him closer as she furiously stroked his manhood, intent on being filled before she reached climax, but it was too late. Just a few more strokes of his fingers, and she would—

Henry withdrew his hand, shouting her name as he spilled, gushing hot upon her sex. It dripped down her swollen lips to her aching entrance, mixing with her own lust, and Emma whimpered at the pleasurable warmth.

“I’m sorry,” he cried, recoiling as if he had been struck. Extracting himself from her embrace, he turned and stumbled from the bed. “We should not have done this.”

“No, please!” Tears fell down her cheeks, weeping with the maddening emptiness of unrequited passion. “Henry, come back.”

She found his gaze within the vanity mirror, his eyes aflame with anger – at her or at himself, she could not know. Still, he made no response.

“Henry, please—”

Without another word, he gathered his clothes and hurried through the door joining their rooms, slamming it shut behind him.

Chapter Text

It was not until the clock struck ten that Emma awoke from a second, even more fitful sleep. She had wept into her pillow; the fabric was still damp against her cheek, and she turned to face instead the empty room.

Henry had gone hours ago, leaving her distraught and aching for the union of their bodies. How could he deny her? If he were unwilling, that was one matter; no, it was his unholy alliance with the monster who had taken her virtue, not his own reluctance, which had stolen from her the pleasure of her husband’s company.

Yet, it was this same monster who, later that evening, would be the one to relieve her of this agony. Though the thought repulsed her, Emma’s senses tingled with an anxious anticipation, each tick of the clock drawing closer to the hour her captor would return and give her the bliss she so craved.

Twelve hours of the day for Henry, and twelve for Edward. That was the arrangement, and just as his time was divided by half, so was Emma’s. By day, she played the dutiful newlywed wife of the eccentric but respectable Dr. Jekyll; by night, she was whore to her husband’s twisted, sinful other self.

Since her husband had fled to his offices at St. Jude’s, she dressed, descended to breakfast, and went into the Morning Room to attend to her own duties, fruitless though the effort may be. Her father had, in her deceased mother’s place, taught her the settling of household accounts; this she had attempted, but there was little point. Though Henry had given her access to all paperwork necessary for the task, Edward’s expenditures were many and undocumented; she could not bring herself to question him about them, and so they remained unaccounted for.

There was also one other peculiarity: the laboratory. It was the one part of the house that remained forever locked, and its owner alone had the key. The ordering of chemicals was done exclusively by Henry, and it seemed that for weeks now, both price and contents had been unspecified in the ledger; they were simply allotted some ten pounds or so for each order. She had not yet found occasion to inquire of Henry why their exact nature might be concealed.

There was no sense in dwelling upon it. Instead, she focused her attention elsewhere, selecting the week’s menu with their cook, receiving and sorting Henry’s correspondence from the hospital, and authoring excuses to friends as to why the newlywed couple had not yet been seen at any public social occasion.

With their honeymoon having been delayed, supposedly due to her health – and indeed, had anyone been allowed to visit her, she may have appeared ill from the burden of Henry’s great secret – Emma had spent many days in isolation. Since Henry had abandoned her, Edward was her only company.

As the hour of the change drew near, Emma returned to her room to be dressed for dinner, and dallied once her maid had left. Not once since her wedding night had she slept in her own bed. Her room was but a daytime refuge, housing her personal library and favourite reading chair. Unless she had need of her water closet, seldom did she retreat there once her maid had dressed her for sleep. But then, it was hours before she found any rest; Edward’s appetite for lovemaking was near-insatiable, never content with a single joining, and it was with a blush of shame that she admitted to herself that she, too, was voracious in her pleasure.

But last night had been different.

With Edward’s carnal intention known, Emma had slowly come to dread their ascent after dinner, and no amount of seductive whispers as they disrobed could soothe her nerves. The deep caress of his fingers had, as always, teased from her pleas for release, but it was only to ease the way for his own pleasure, and she was denied.

She had shaken with fear as he mounted her, the thick head of his manhood prodding and pushing against her buttocks, such pressure that she almost dared demand that he stop. It was too much, entirely too much; only the rapid stroke of his fingers upon her aching nub allowed him to enter at all. Frightened whimpers had joined her moans of bliss as he began to thrust. She had braced herself for pain, but despite the great pressure within her, there was none. He sank deeper, deeper, caressing the forbidden place that had made her beg for more, and demanded that she take all of him before she found satisfaction; the moment he sheathed himself fully inside her, she had reached the ultimate joy.

The peculiar soreness the act had left her with had, thankfully, diminished overnight. More painful by far had been the agony of arousal which Henry had wrought, and it reclaimed her now. She had marked for some years a pleasant heat and sensitivity to touch in the days which preceded her monthly bleeding, though she could not have known its cause – and tonight, her desire had reached its peak.

When the clock chimed the expected hour, Emma went into Henry’s room to await Edward’s return. She prayed his curiosity with taboo had been satisfied, and they might resume the more familiar pleasures she so yearned for; perhaps then, she would forget it was her husband, not her captor, who had left her in so cruel a state.

She turned her head at the sound of the door opening, but did not move from where she sat upon the edge of the mattress, facing the window. It had become Edward’s custom to pursue her, to prey upon her as though she were unsuspecting, and so she waited for him to do as he willed.

“Emma.”

The word sent shivers down her spine – it was not a low, seductive command, but a plea barely above a whisper. It could not be…

“Yes, Edward?” she replied, her voice hushed lest a servant pass by the room, but there was a note of irritation. What did he mean by affecting her husband’s tone? How dare he mock her thus?

The door closed with a soft click. “No. It’s Henry.”

Emma looked back at him, sweeping a long glance over the body of her lover. Indeed, his countenance was that of her husband – dark eyes tempered by gentle passion, a posture proud but not intimidating, and lips ever-ready to murmur the sweet endearments which had claimed her heart. But if Edward had had a lifetime of observing his nemesis, as the villain himself had suggested, this might well be a ruse. And did he not mimic her beloved each day, convincing even his oldest servants and closest friends that he remained the good doctor?

“This is too cruel,” she said, standing and rounding the bed. “I will not allow this.”

She dared not get too close, expecting a slap for such an act of defiance. But he made no move to harm her, motionless as she stationed herself by a bedpost.

Slowly, he offered her his hand. “I swear to you, Emma, it’s Henry.”

She recoiled from the gesture, certain that the moment she accepted it, she would be pulled into a devil’s grip and beaten for his amusement. Yet not so much as a glimmer of malice shone within his eyes; indeed, there were tears there, on the verge of being shed.

Could this truly be her beloved?

“How can I know that?” she asked.

He stepped closer, and Emma backed into the bedpost behind her, watching for any sign of impending violence. Instead, he knelt before her, once again offering his hand.

“Would he do this?”

Emma shook her head. While Edward had often positioned himself thus between her legs, it had never been upon his knees; she doubted he could bear such subservience.

“Not freely,” she said. “But to deceive me? I believe so.”

“Ask me something only I would know. Something only we have spoken of.”

But there had been so little said between them since the morning after the wedding – nothing that Edward would not know as well, or of such detail that they might both remember with accuracy.

A secret, however, they may yet share.

“How did you leave me this morning?”

“I… allowed myself to be seduced,” he answered. “If I had stayed a moment longer, we would have made love, but I fled in shame.”

The account was true, but might Henry have told Edward of the event? Perhaps he had hoped that, by confessing their sin, he might stem Edward’s fury and spare her pain? It might even be that her attempt to seduce her husband was the very reason for this act – a punishment, allowing her to think Henry had returned to her only for Edward to crush that joy the moment she believed the lie.

There was but one more thing she could think to ask – and if it was not her beloved before her, the consequences would surely be dire.

“Where did you spill upon me?” she whispered.

He glanced away, and Emma’s heart thundered. Was Edward’s cruel ploy over at last? Her knees shook, ready to fold beneath her at the first sign of an impending blow. Instead, his hand slid up over her skirts, barely grazing the fabric, and paused before her sex.

“Here.”

His fingers could not be close enough to give heat, but at the slightest pressure, the building ache within threatened to consume her with fire. She took his hand in one of her own, and with the other, lifted the silken hem.

“Show me.”

After a moment, he gave a reluctant nod. She gathered the front of her skirts about her waist, and her knees weakened in lust as he pulled down the linen over her sex. His gaze lingered there, that morning’s pained arousal written on every feature, before returning to her eyes once more.

“Here,” he whispered again.

Emma whimpered as his finger stroked her soft, wet folds, promising such pleasures she could cry for want of them. Hot desire gushed from her core and dripped down the insides of her thighs, and when his fingertip traced the entrance weeping for him to fill her, she moaned her husband’s name. Whether it belonged to him remained to be seen.

“Make love to me, Henry.”

It was the only way to know which man knelt before her. If this was her husband, he would refuse; if he was not, Edward would end this charade and take her as he always did, forcing her relentlessly to absolute satisfaction. At least then, this torturous ache would end. She would not think of what may happen thereafter.

“I should not,” he said, but his fingers spread her folds, baring the sensitive pearl of her sex as his hot breath drew nearer. “I should not…”

With a slow, hard stroke, his tongue pleasured her, and as if in ecstasy at the taste, he moaned as he caressed the throbbing nub into tremors of joy. Emma shrieked in delight, her hands entwining in his hair to hold him to her as he fervently feasted upon her.

She cried out with each swift lick and curve of his tongue, marvelling at how familiar this haze of bliss had become – and yet, how strange this new sensation. Henry was just as thorough in his attentions as Edward, and every bit as skilled; but where Edward forced pleasure from her, Henry gave it unconditionally. There was no teasing or denial, only ecstasy, and as the beginnings of her climax stirred, she wept, wishing for nothing more than to share this pleasure with him.

“Wait!”

His strokes stilled, and he looked to her with concern. “What is it?”

“I…”

What could she say? Though she longed for him, she lacked a vocabulary with which to express her desires, for she would not use Edward’s harsh terms, and knew no others.

“Ask anything of me,” he said.

Trembling, she sank to the ground, facing him upon her knees. “I ask that you be my husband now. In every way.”

He took her hand, bringing it to his lips, and offered her the first smile she’d seen since this nightmare had begun. “As you wish, Mrs. Jekyll.”

She lay back against the side of the bed as he lifted her skirts once more, and her gaze fixed on his arousal. As he had tasted her, her husband had hardened, thick, muscled flesh lengthening and arching upward until his trousers stretched taut to reveal each ridge and curve of him. The buttons strained to hold him back, and Emma reached to free him – but his hand caught hers.

“No.” He pressed a soft kiss to her palm. “Not yet.”

Slowly, his hands stroked up her legs. Emma closed her eyes and relaxed as he stripped her of stockings, garters, and undergarment. When the last had been laid aside, she looked to him once more, but said nothing. Instead, she followed his gaze as it roamed over her and lingered where she most ached for him. Gripping the skirts about her waist, she spread her legs.

Her husband swallowed, a small sigh of appreciation falling soft from his lips as he stretched over her and braced himself with one hand by her side, the other trailing up her thigh.

Emma’s breath caught at the warm caress of his fingers along the delicate folds of her sex. Its crest throbbed almost painfully, but her yearning pulled strongest from within, and as his lips descended upon hers, she arched into his palm.

At her unspoken command, two fingers delved deep inside her. He broke their kiss to look into her eyes as he thrust up and forward, exploring, searching – and found that most ecstatic place.

“Henry!”

His fingertips retreated and curved into that wondrous spot again, her cry of bliss in tandem with his question. “Here, my love?”

“Yes,” she whimpered.

She held her breath, clutching his bicep as his he drove her into madness, and readied herself for release; yet, though it was agony, she would deny herself to gain a greater pleasure.

“I need you inside me, Henry,” she said, gasping. “Now. Please.”

At once, he withdrew and hastened to obey, unfastening his trousers, and Emma’s heart raced anew, as if seeing his nakedness for the first time. But gone was the fear she might have known upon their wedding night, and for that, she blushed with shame. In place of that apprehension was a terrible lust, pure and primal, anticipating the exquisite joys her husband’s body had already provided – ones another man had given.

Henry sat back upon his heels and lifted her onto his lap.

“Lower yourself onto me,” he whispered, gripping himself at the base, and Emma aligned herself with the rounded, throbbing tip.

Lust dripped hot from her entrance, easing the way for her descent, and ragged moans and whimpers fell unbidden from her lips as her sex embraced his rigid shaft. His generous girth stroked each and every pleasurable spot along her aching, quivering walls, one after another, and the deeper she took him, the greater her joy, threatening to send her spiralling into climax. At last, she seated herself – and cried out in shock.

The thick head of his manhood hit the very end of her sex, that place of absolute ecstasy from which Edward had so often forced from her screams of joy. Struck helpless in bliss, she dared not move, shying away from the pleasure. It was one thing to be given this sweet release; it was another to seek it for herself, and she did not think she could bear it.

But Henry was there to guide her. He grasped her buttocks and rocked her toward him, rubbing deep with every motion, and she arched her back, eyes closing as her mouth gaped open in awe.

“Look at me.”

A shiver of terror struck through her heart. In his lust, Henry’s voice had deepened, and for just a moment, she could have sworn—

Her eyes met his, and the loving gaze she found there left no doubt: this was her beloved. Her fear had been but an apparition, a waking nightmare come to punish her for wayward thoughts, and she would pay no heed to the echo of commanding growls or primal moans, though the heat of their memory made her sex quiver with pleasure.

Henry’s gentle kisses caressed her lips, her neck, her breasts, leaving a blazing trail of fire wherever they went, and Emma felt there must be no greater bliss.

Yet, as he began to thrust, Emma yearned for more, remembering a tighter grip, a faster pace, a harder stroke—

“More. Please,” she begged, gasping.

Henry held her waist to keep her steady, his head cradled in her chest as he jerked his hips. But his thrusts were too gentle, as if he feared to hurt her, and these shallow strokes held none of Edward’s sweet anticipation – that promise of greater ecstasy which was the reward for her denial. She sobbed, struggling to find the words to plead for her release.

“Henry!”

But it was too late. His seed spilled, his shout of bliss drowning out her anguished whimpers. His thrusts slowed, and his manhood taunted her, spent yet undiminished within, leaving her in agony. Stunned, Emma did not move, only looked to Henry with yearning eyes. When the lustful gleam in his gaze had cleared, he smiled and kissed her.

Had he mistaken her attempted plea for proof of release? She could not bear to think so, but neither did she dare entreat satisfaction now, for how could she claim to deserve it? She had thought of another while she lay in her husband’s arms, and it was in the other’s embrace that she had first found ecstasy. The memory of that joy had brought her closer to completion when it should have repulsed her. It was only right that she should be denied when it had been wickedness that had led her into temptation.

He took her hands and carefully lifted her off him. As they lay back against the side of the bed, Emma cradled her head in her husband’s shoulder to conceal her tears.

Henry was not to blame. He simply did not know her body as Edward did – her secret wishes, unspoken needs, and deepest carnal desires. The villain had studied her with utmost care, not to please her, but to exploit her every weakness. If he gave her ecstasy, it was because it pleased him to do so, and he denied her release just as often as he granted it, to remind her to whom she owed that joy. Only when she begged for mercy did he relent – but oh, how sweet the surrender…

Emma breathed deeply, trying to steady her racing pulse as lust dripped from her anew. Phantom sensations tormented her – his swift tongue devouring her sex, his fingers thrusting relentlessly just where she needed it, his manhood impaling her completely and pounding mercilessly right into—

“This cannot happen again.”

Emma’s eyes snapped open, and she tilted her head up to look at her beloved. “What do you mean?”

“Until I am certain I have found a cure, we cannot risk being discovered. I may be able to offer my time tomorrow in recompense for tonight, but I dare not go any further.”

“A cure? Is it possible?” she asked.

“I cannot say that it is a cure – not yet. I will not give myself false hope. The last time I believed I was rid of him, I awoke to find the monster had…”

Henry sighed, trailing off, but she knew well enough what he meant: the monster had raped her. No amount of pleasure she’d received in the act could change that fact. To spite her hatred, Edward had forced from her such joy that her body craved him with a terrible hunger, one so desperate that not even her husband could satisfy her appetite this night. But they had been given these precious few hours together, and she would not squander them.

“What matters is that you’re here with me now,” she said, and gave him a kiss that was almost chaste; any more than that, and the ache would return.

“Not for much longer, I’m afraid.”

Emma’s smile faded. So soon? But perhaps it was for the best – she would not have time to succumb to temptation again. She glanced at the clock; it was nearly seven. “Then we must go to dinner.”

Henry shook his head. “I cannot be seen with you tonight.”

“Why not?”

“I must make some excuse as to why I did not take the formula. Feigning sleep before the appointed time is the safest course. I will retire shortly, and you should do the same – to your own bed.”

And sleep alone. Had it been only weeks since she had last done so? The thought of a cold, empty bed depressed her; she had grown to welcome the warmth of an arm about her as she drifted off, the accidental caresses as they sought to make themselves comfortable, and the rhythm of their contented breaths following them into sleep. It was only in those last moments that she finally felt safe.

“How much time do you have left?”

“Another eleven hours, if the antidote holds, but I cannot be certain. He could return at any moment – and if he does, you must run to your room and say nothing of this. If all goes as planned, you can expect him at dawn.” He stood, offering his hand, and pulled her to her feet. “Until then, I must not be seen. That is why I must ask a favour of you.”

“Anything, my love.”

Henry retrieved a large, golden key from his trouser pocket and placed it in her hand.

“This is the key to the laboratory. Within, you’ll find a set of red vials labelled ‘HJ7’, and a case of needles beside them. Bring me one of each.”

The laboratory? This was her chance to finally obtain answers to the questions she had not dared to ask – or secrets she may wish she had never learned. But even with Henry’s permission, there was still danger in this task.

“And if he has returned?”

“Tell him I had just woken and sent you for them.”

Emma nodded. “You will not confess this to him, then?”

“No.”

“Neither will I.”

“Confess to what happened this morning. If you admit to a misdeed, he should not suspect you of a greater crime.” He kissed her hand. “Now go.”

But she didn’t stir. While it lay within her power, she could not leave him. There was no telling what Edward might do once he awoke. What if he saw through her confession and beat the truth from her? Worse still, what if he were to forbid her from seeing Henry even in passing? It was more than she could bear.

Would she never know the joy of meeting her beloved in ecstasy? To sleep safe in his embrace and wake to find him smiling back at her? What if this was her last chance?

She squeezed his hand, refusing to let go. “Henry?”

“Yes, Emma?”

Take me. Now. Show me that you love me. More than he ever could.

And yet, she knew Henry’s fear should be her own. If Edward were to find out they had made love, the punishment for her disobedience would be severe, and while she dreaded the pain, it was Henry who would suffer most. The only way to spare him was to deny herself.

“I love you,” she said.

He smiled and caressed her cheek. “And I love you, Emma.”

With a long, last kiss, they parted, and Emma made her way downstairs. She dared not look back as she approached the laboratory; the only way through this nightmare was forward, and secrets beckoned within.

The key kept true to its purpose, and at her push, the metal door creaked open. The last of the day’s light shone through the dome of glass overhead, crowning what was once a conservatory; in its place stood a surgical theatre, the circular room enclosed by tiers of wooden benches that had never been used. From a latticework of machinery, lighting fixtures descended from the ceiling, fitted with wiring for electric light. Below them, Henry’s laboratory table, a labyrinth of compartments adorned with a chaotic collection of scientific instruments. And there, in the middle of it all, was Emma’s prize.

Beside the crystalline tubes filled with crimson liquid, and the case of hypodermic needles Henry had requested, lay a large, leather-bound open book. On its pages were entries written by two opposing hands: one, Henry’s quick flowing scrawl, almost indecipherable to any but himself, which Emma had taken great pains to study and comprehend; the other, more legible for its harsh strokes but no less hasty, must be Edward’s.

Oct. 6th, 10:45 PM

We are here alone.

Terrible. More terrible than any beast stalking its prey.

It seemed a lifetime ago that she had read those words. They had haunted her ever since. She had wondered at the “we” Henry had written of, guessing he had meant himself and the subject of his experiment; she could not have known that the two men were of one body – and that she would soon become prey of the beast her beloved had described.

Had she not been interrupted, the secrets she would have learned that day may have stopped this madness… or would they have led to even greater carnage? Without the protection of matrimony, however tenuous, she had no doubt that Edward would have killed her to keep her from naming the St. Jude’s Killer. If she should pose a threat to him, he still may.

Emma could not bear to think on it, and in any case, it no longer mattered; their secrets were now her own. Was it not right, then, that she learn more about this experiment – indeed, about the monster her beloved had created?

She turned the pages back, searching for a specific date, and found her own name exactly where she expected it to be.

Oct. 26th, 6:00 PM

Emma is mine at last. If only you could have witnessed our wedding night – but then, should it not be denied to you, as you attempted to deny me? She, too, fought me at first. It is a shame that my bride required pain to accept me as her husband, but once she did, she was as eager as any whore.

Emma’s cunt is even sweeter than we imagined, dear Henry, both to taste and to fuck. Her moans are temptation itself, and her screams of pleasure exquisite. I am going to enjoy making her beg for more.

Yes, my wife and I will be very happy here.

E. H.

Emma’s hand covered her mouth, stifling a cry of shock at his explicit recollection. No wonder Henry had presumed Edward’s claims to be threats. Yet, as she read over them again, she realized Henry was wrong; however hurtful Edward’s taunts, he hadn’t expressly forbidden them from making love.

With a sigh, she thought how foolish she must be. Here were deepest mysteries of the human mind, of death and rebirth, of the nature of man’s soul itself; to have such devastating truths before her and think only of her own pleasure was obscene. Yet, she feared to turn the page. Perhaps these secrets were not ones meant to be uncovered.

She startled at the sound of a clock chiming. It was already seven o’clock – and if she did not return to Henry before dinner, he would wonder at her delay. Returning the journal to its former state, she took up the objects Henry required, and made her exit.

If Henry suspected her of prying, he said nothing, only thanking her for her service as if she were one of their maids, and with some relief, she returned to him the golden key. She left him there in his distracted state and did as he had said, taking her dinner in her room and retiring shortly thereafter to a blissful sleep.

She awoke to Henry’s voice in the next room, shouting and sobbing. Within moments, cries of anguish merged with furious bellows. Leaping out of bed, Emma ran to the door, but remained frozen on her side of it, fearing what she may find. Was this her husband’s death? Had the monster finally destroyed him? She opened the door, but before she could step through the threshold, he had quieted.

There stood Henry, leaning against a bedpost with his back to her. He was naked, and Emma paused in the doorway, searching his body for some sign of injury, but found none. What had happened to her beloved?

“Henry?”

He turned, and when their eyes met, she knew him at a glance.

“No. Not Henry,” she whispered. “Edward…”

Emma swallowed and shuddered under his lustful gaze, a torturous arousal seizing her senses in an instant. Her breaths quickened, her nipples hardening into aching peaks at the sight of him. His massive length stood at full height, the thick, curved shaft straining as if poised to fill her, and she quivered to think of herself impaled upon him. Her sex wept with desire, dripping hot lust in a torrent of desperate need. At the helpless moan that rasped from her parted lips, Edward smiled.

He offered her his hand.

“Come.”

And she obeyed.

Chapter Text

Edward was not there when Emma awoke.

She supposed that was for the best; to see him in daylight would be most disturbing. The eyes she thought of as black would, under the sun, be a deep golden brown – Henry’s eyes. If she must see him, it should be by candlelight, so she did not see so clearly the man she loved within the man she hated. Edward belonged to the nighttime, when deepest fears roamed in shadow, and the mysterious dark beckoned with dangerous temptations.

During the Season of her debut and those that followed, she had danced many an evening in the arms of suitors whose thoughts were wicked, no matter the triviality of their conversation. Even Henry, with his gentle manner and courtesy, could not conceal the true intent of his embrace. His kind smile belied the desire in his gaze, and she had found there unspoken promises of both love and pleasure; only to him did her soul and body answer yes, though her lips had remained silent until the moment he’d knelt and asked her to be his wife.

She had seen Edward, too, though she could not have recognized him. In moments of frustration or anger, of confusion and doubt, there had been glimpses of the monster she would come to know. On the very night of their engagement party, Henry had berated her father for chiding his efforts toward progress, and though she had tried to keep him from embarrassing himself further, the force and swiftness of his rebuke had frightened her. His arm had slipped through her fingers, a hand raising so far that, had she thought him capable of violence, she may have feared a blow for her interference. It was in that instant she knew she would never rule him; until then, she had never wanted to.

There was a righteous fury to Henry, but it was born out of love, not hatred. He believed so strongly in the inherent goodness of mankind – that they were corruptible, but in their hearts, pure. How, then, had Edward Hyde come to be?

If Henry had sought to purge himself of all that was bad, was the Henry that remained wholly good? If that were so, how could he have carried on this experiment when each night, his hands returned drenched in blood? How could he have married her, knowing she may suffer the same fate as Edward’s other victims – worse, for she would look him in the eye as it was done and know the man she loved had condemned her to death?

No, she decided, even her Henry was not all good. And if that was so, then neither was Edward wholly evil. Wicked, yes, but not made up entirely of all that tainted the soul. He had, in small moments, shown kindness. The pleasure he had given her was a testament to the love he professed, and this he had shared in abundance. Their joy was so pure she could not believe it was sinful in itself; it was the hate between them that gave their embraces such shame. If she loved him as well—

No. She never could. Even if he was not evil, Edward’s deeds were beyond forgiveness – but then, so were Henry’s. No matter whose hand held the knife, both were to blame for the harm it caused. Weren’t they?

A single body and two minds. Did they have two souls as well? If the truth were revealed, the law would show no mercy, but might Henry redeem his soul with his confession? To do so would be to die, and Emma wept at the thought of losing her only love. All her life, she had been taught it was better to martyr oneself than to live in sin, but she no longer believed it was so. There was always something left to live for; if she could be that for Henry, she would be content.

But until her true husband returned, it was Edward she must contend with. Even as her heart warmed with Henry’s love, memories of ecstasy tormented her senses with heat of another kind.

Last night, she had hastened to Henry’s room at his sounds of distress, and found Edward there, his body bared to her and his eyes beckoning. At a word, she had rushed into his arms to claim the pleasure he offered, and taken it with a greedy hunger – one which, at long last, he had satisfied completely.

Afterward, she’d wept as he held her in his arms. She’d tried to avoid his questioning gaze, hoping he would think her tears were shed only in the name of her humiliation at having been so wanton, but guilt made her fears plain.

“What have you done?” he’d asked, his grip upon her chin almost bruising.

The prepared excuse scalded her tongue, burnt to ashes before it could be put to use, and she abandoned Henry’s ill-conceived counsel. If she should lie, she would be beaten, and she could not withstand the pain. Edward would have the answer either way – and the truth, at least, might grant her mercy. Her lips trembled as she spoke what she feared to be her last words.

“I made love with Henry.”

She’d closed her eyes, shaking with terror as he let go, and shuddered at the stroke of his hand descending between her legs. He parted her folds, taking the tender nub between his fingertips. Emma held her breath and looked to him, but could read nothing in his gaze. Was this a caress, or the beginning of some intimate, unfathomable torture?

“Did you seduce him?” he asked.

“Yes,” she answered, praying her honesty would spare her the worst of his wrath.

Edward nodded, as if he had expected her reply. “What did he say?”

“That you had forbidden it.” She glanced away. “And that you would hurt me.”

His free hand wrapped around her neck, and his lips pressed to her ear. “He was right.”

She stroked his arm. “Please—”

“There’s no point in begging for mercy tonight. You should have heeded his warning.”

Emma trembled with fear, her sex arching unwittingly into his hand, and the sweet friction against her aching bud made her whimper with pleasure even as she anticipated pain. Was there no way to earn his pity? She had to try.

“I only wanted to know if…” She stopped, suddenly struck with fear that her explanation might worsen her punishment, but it was too late to recant. “If I would feel loved.”

“Did you?” he asked, tracing the quivering folds still dripping with his seed, and her sensitive peak throbbed with the need for his touch again.

“Yes,” she said, recalling with warmth the care in Henry’s embrace – and the desperate ache it had left in its wake. “But—”

“But you thought of me, didn’t you?” Before she could answer his question, he teased her nub into tremors of bliss, a silent scream stealing her reply, and thrust two fingers deep inside her, curving right into the sweet spot where she ached. “You closed your eyes and wished it was me inside you, pounding your cunt until you scream.”

She tossed her head back as his fingertips pulsed, tearing a cry of joy from her lips. “Yes!”

“Did he make you scream?” he asked, and stopped, leaving her breathless and shaking with lust.

“No,” she whispered, a tear falling down her cheek.

“No. Only I make you scream.” He thrust a third finger deep and began again, harder, seizing her pleasure once more in his merciless grip. “Isn’t that right?”

“Yes!”

His free hand grasped her breast, pinching the sensitive nipple until its pleasure joined the ache within her in one terrible, desperate need. “You want me to make you scream right now, don’t you?”

Emma arched, yearning for the climax just beyond her reach. “Yes!”

His thumb beat against her nub as her climax neared. “Beg.”

“Please, I beg you,” she whimpered, clutching his hand upon her breast. “Please make me scream.”

He turned her head toward him, growling against her lips. “I own this cunt.”

With one last stroke, she screamed in ecstasy, writhing against him and tossing her head back to curve into his shoulder. Hot lust spilled from her quivering sex, drenching his hand as he prolonged her pleasure, his fingers thrusting until her shudders of bliss had finally ceased. In the last moments, she sought his lips, and in her kiss was more than she could ever say: gratitude for an end to her sweet suffering; an apology for her betrayal; and a plea to spare her the punishment she so feared.

But his kiss was cruel and hard, with a fury he had not shown since the first night she had defied him. As he pulled back, he slapped her across the face, smearing her cheek with their lust. She winced, but had no time to beg forgiveness; he thrust his fingers into her mouth, making her gag upon them.

“You are mine. First, always, and only,” he said, forcing her to lick him clean before he released her, only to take her chin in a bruising grip. “You are never to touch him again.”

Emma sobbed. She had dreaded pain, but this was what she feared most. Must she lose what little comfort she had in her beloved? Would she never again see the wonders of his pleasure, or at last know her own as she looked into his eyes? Never again kiss him as she proclaimed her love? Was there nothing left for the villain to take?

But even this could not defray the price of her betrayal, and as Edward’s gaze burned into her own, she knew at once the agonies yet to come.

“If you so much as lay a hand on him, I will break every bone in your body, one at a time. As each of them heals, I’ll shatter another, and another, until you are an invalid, good for nothing else than to be fucked like a useless whore,” he said, taking her left hand in both of his. “I’ll start with this.”

He gripped her finger, the words engraved into her wedding band biting into her skin, and began to twist.

“No, please!” she cried. “I’ll never touch him again, I swear it!”

She winced as he let go, and recoiled against the headboard.

“That was your only warning,” he said.

His arms wrapped about her, pulling her back into his embrace. They said nothing for awhile, and Emma relaxed into that place between sleep and wakefulness, only conscious of his hand idly tracing her stomach.

“What did Henry say when he couldn’t satisfy you?”

“He doesn’t know,” she whispered.

Edward laughed.

“Tell him.” He tapped her cheek to make her look at him. “That’s an order.”

She nodded and sighed, resigned, but her relief was short-lived. With a rough yank, he’d pulled her onto her knees before him and, taking his manhood in his hand, had made her choke upon him until the sun began to rise.

Her throat still ached now, hours later, and though she’d revile the sight of Edward in daylight tomorrow, she’d prefer a full day’s reprieve to seeing him again that night. But which of them would return this evening? Until he stood before her, she could not know – and in the meantime, all she could do was wait.

But when six o’clock arrived and a half-hour passed without any sound in the room save the ticking of the clock, Emma stood and went to the door, peeking out into the hallway. Had something happened to Henry? Or to Edward? She would not ring for her maid to ask where her husband might be; with any luck, she would find him herself before long, and descended the stairs.

The laboratory door, as always, was locked; she knocked upon it, but received no reply. Listening intently, she waited in the office for a further fifteen minutes, crafting careful supplications to use should Edward emerge and find her forwardness to be cause for punishment. Still, there was no sound from within, and when the clock struck seven, she sought him elsewhere.

The dining room was bare but for a single place setting to the left of the table’s head – her place. Her husband’s had not been made ready.

“Poole, where is Henry?” she asked the elderly butler as she entered.

“Dr. Jekyll is gone.”

A cold shiver wracked her body.

“What did you say?” she whispered.

“Pardon, ma’am,” he said with a slight bow. “He is from home this evening, Mrs. Jekyll.”

She let out a breath of relief, chiding herself for being so anxious. There was nothing ominous about the butler’s answer; she had merely caught him by surprise.

“Oh. Yes. I’d forgotten,” she lied. “When did he leave?”

“Not half an hour ago, ma’am.”

But if their allotted hours had changed, and Henry was due this evening, where might he have gone? Did he not wish to see how she fared in the wake of Edward’s fury? What else could have taken him from her side? Until she knew, her mind would find no rest.

“Did he say when he’ll return?”

“No, ma’am.”

She dined alone, and when the final course had been finished, she could not bring herself to make the journey back upstairs, for nothing awaited her there but a discontented sleep. Instead, she took a glass of sweet wine in the drawing room and set out her embroidery. Perhaps she would sew something for Henry – a handkerchief for a token he may keep with him through the day, to remind him of her love in their absence.

But nothing she made for him would be his alone, and the thought of Edward making use of her affection for some trifling or sordid purpose was worse than giving nothing at all. And any favour she might grant her beloved may be scorned by the one she hated, subject to mockery at best – and some violent humiliation at worst.

Begrudgingly, she rang for her maid and bid the girl bring a selection of novels from her library, which she skimmed with little interest and set aside. Another glass of wine, and she settled back to rest. There was nothing else to do but wait.

When the bell rang at the front door some hours later, Emma woke with a start, and listened intently as Poole saw to the visitor. She rose and stood by the drawing room doorway to hear who had come to call, but he spoke too quietly to be known from voice alone.

“I shall inform her at once,” said Poole. “If you will follow me, Sir Carew—”

“Father!”

Emma broke into a smile, turning the corner to greet her most welcome visitor. It was perhaps indecent to receive company so late while her husband was from home, but this was her father; no one could fault her. Without a moment’s hesitation, she embraced him as he stepped through the threshold.

“How I have missed you,” she said, tears gathering at the corners of her eyes.

There was so much to say, yet she dared not speak without great caution. He could not know anything of what had happened these past few weeks, or indeed for months prior; should any suspicion fall upon Henry, or his wicked pseudonym ever be connected to the St. Jude’s murders and traced to this household, she would be made a widow before the month was out.

Though she loved her father dearly, he could not be trusted with this secret. Son-in-law or not, the elderly Knight would contend that her husband’s life was forfeit to justice; she would lose the only man she would ever love.

“And I, you,” her father said, pulling back.

He seemed older even than his advancing age, new lines etched into his face and a haunted look clouding his eyes, as if some great weight had settled upon him. It was not until he looked to Poole, who stood uncertain by the open door, that she realized just how tense her father had become.

“Shut the door, man!” he snapped.

The butler hastened to do so. Even once it had been closed and locked, her father peered at it as though he could see into the darkness beyond, searching for something – or someone.

“Father, what is it?”

“What I have to say is for your ears alone,” he answered.

Emma nodded. “You may retire, Poole. I will see to my father.”

The butler bowed and retreated as she led Danvers into the drawing room; once there, he paced by the window to check for any movement outside. Emma settled in a chair by the fire and waited for him to tell her the purpose of his unusual visit. At last, he spoke.

“We are all in very grave danger.”

Her father had said as much several times over the past few months, but not since the last Board Member had died; only now did she truly believe him. It had been at her insistence that they’d remained in London despite all that had happened. Had it not been for the imminent wedding, they may have escaped to their country estate, far from the threat of death which loomed over the hospital and the city it served.

It was no coincidence that the recent murder victims had all been connected to St. Jude’s; one would have to be daft not to see the correlation between their positions on the Board and their untimely deaths. The papers shouted gossip and theories from each headline, some assuming the killer to be a former patient or a family member of one who had died in their care, seeking retribution for the hospital’s many faults. Others believed it was the Board’s social circle, not their service, which made them vulnerable targets to an equal or greater adversary – a threat from within.

If only they knew.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“Simon Stride called upon me tonight. We had all thought he’d left for Edinburgh the day after your wedding, but he has concealed himself here, among his more… scandalous holdings.”

Emma nodded. The rumours of Simon’s business dealings, not the least significant of which were a collection of brothels and other sinful establishments throughout London’s East End, had been reason enough for her to disregard his affections almost from the outset. Though she had suspected this to be true, she had never had any proof – until now. If her father confirmed it, it must be so.

“It seems he has decided to resign his position at St. Jude’s, and advised me to do the same. He thinks it best we all retreated from public life until the killer has been found – you and Henry included. I agreed that we should meet with the both of you to discuss this, but just as we had ordered the carriage to be brought, a stable boy was found killed.”

Emma’s mouth went dry. “How?”

“The poor child had been beaten to death, and the door to the stables left open. Had we not sent Jarvis to see to the carriage when we did, whoever’s done this may have been lying in wait for us. I have no doubt the St. Jude’s Killer has struck again – and I believe we are marked to die next.”

It was plain, then. Edward must have reclaimed his nighttime domain; his absence this evening could only mean that this was his doing… and his next intended victim none other than her own father.

Unless…

Yes, of course. It was Simon, not Danvers, who had surely been his target; he and Henry had never been on good terms, and now that Edward had the man he so hated within his grasp…

“Did you see him? The killer?” she asked, but it was little more than false concern. If Edward had been identified, it would have been the police, not her father, who told her of her husband’s monstrous deed.

“No. Jarvis found the boy’s body in the open, and saw only a shadow fleeing as he roused the household from the safety of the servant’s entrance. The killer had not had time to conceal what he had done.”

Emma said nothing more, standing to embrace her father with tears in her eyes. Even if Edward had not wished him harm, that the monster had brought death to her father’s doorstep had put him in grave danger indeed. And if her father had gotten in his way…

“Where is Henry?” Danvers inquired.

Scarcely had he asked the question than they heard the metallic scrape of a key turning within the front door, and Danvers parted from her, turning to face the drawing room entrance. His wizened hand gripped his walking stick until his knuckles shone white, readying for an attack as a shadow crossed the foyer.

“Henry?” Emma called.

Slowly, the man turned, revealed in the fireplace’s light – Henry, it would seem, though his hair was unbound and his worn black Inverness coat one she had not seen before. Danvers sighed slightly, no doubt with relief, but Emma could only stare. It was her husband’s face, but who lay beneath?

“Sir Danvers,” the younger man said as he entered, removing his coat and top hat, but kept the silver-tipped walking stick he carried. “I had just gone to call on you when I saw the police outside your home. What happened?”

“A murder, dear Henry. If we had been but one minute later, there may have been more.”

“'We?'” He looked to her. “Was Emma—”

“No, thank heaven – it was myself and Simon Stride.”

Her husband didn’t bother to conceal his distaste for the man. A small grimace played upon his face at the mention of that name, but it was not Edward’s hateful sneer. Yet, he would not meet her eye for more than a moment at a time – was it Henry most concerned with attending to the matter at hand, or Edward avoiding her suspicious gaze?

“I thought he had left London,” he said.

“So did we all. We were mistaken, and it is a good thing we were.” Danvers stepped aside, no longer shielding Emma from impending attack, and stood by a settee as if to sit at an expected invitation. “Simon and I are in agreement that we should all leave London, yourself and Emma included. We were about to call upon you when this tragedy occurred.”

Emma followed, settling in a chair so that they might be seated as well. Her father joined her. The other man did not.

“Simon wishes to travel alongside us?” The irritation in his voice was palpable, but well-controlled; she could not imagine Edward would bother to censor himself.

“We had not discussed any arrangements. We had hoped to speak with you first.”

The man turned to stand by Emma’s chair, out of her line of sight. “And where is Mr. Stride?”

An almost innocent question. Did Henry seek an audience – or did Edward seek his victim?

“I don’t know. When the police arrived, an officer escorted him away for his own safety before I could inquire where he might go.”

“Father, perhaps you should stay here tonight,” Emma suggested.

Though it would mean proximity to a killer, it may be better to keep him close. Surely Edward would not dare attack anyone under his own roof; the risk of discovery was too great.

“No,” her father said, standing once more. “Home would be the safest place. I cannot imagine the killer would return to the scene of the crime.”

Unless he had an open invitation.

Had her husband – whichever of them stood before her – not been present, she might have insisted on her father’s company, if only to ease her loneliness. But dangerous secrets still lurked here, and one wrong question could mean disaster. It was best if her father returned home.

Emma shivered as her husband moved to stand behind her chair. She looked to her father, but his attention had turned to the window once more. One strong hand gripped her shoulder as the other snaked up the back of her neck, entwining about a lock of hair at the nape, and at a slow, painful pull, she met her husband’s gaze.

Edward. He had played the part of her beloved so well that had he not chosen to reveal himself, she could not have known it was him. Though her heart raced in fright, she lay her hand upon his own, a silent plea that no violence should befall them this night.

He lifted a finger to his lips in warning, and when she nodded her understanding, he released her from his subtle, sinister grasp and looked to her father.

“Shall I send for a carriage?” he asked.

“If you would. I dared not use my own.”

“I dismissed Poole for the night,” Emma said.

Edward stepped away. “Then I shall go myself.”

“Much appreciated, my boy,” her father said, and the two of them made to leave.

But would Edward return with safe passage, or a knife in her father’s back? If Emma did not speak now, she may never see either of them again.

She stood. “I’ll wait with you, Father.”

Though Edward’s back was turned, she saw him tense, muscles coiling like a predator readying to maul its prey. Her knees shook with fright, and it was just as well that she could not see his eyes, for if his gaze should show her the terrible fate her defiance had surely wrought, she may have fallen to her knees and begged to recant her disobedience.

Her father, of course, noted none of this. As Edward left to hire a carriage, they said little, their silence heavy with grief, and could not withstand further discussion or idle pleasantries. Even their farewells as her father departed, though truer now than ever, rang hollow.

The newlywed couple watched from the drawing room window as the carriage pulled away. Edward’s expression was stern, but betrayed nothing; only the harsh grip of his arm linked with hers belied the violence simmering beneath the surface.

Emma held his arm fast. For this night, at least, her father would be safe. Once foiled, she doubted Edward would attack again so soon, and now that he was home, she could assure herself of his whereabouts. If that meant she must suffer his fury in her father’s stead, so be it.

But she would not resign herself to martyrdom just yet.

“Edward,” she whispered as the carriage drove out of sight, “please—”

“Not a word until we are upstairs.”

He turned and left the drawing room, fairly dragging her with him, but her trembling legs matched his pace. Each step further into the darkened house was one closer to ruin; she felt, as they ascended the stairs, that she walked to the executioner’s block. Holding back her tears, she prayed it was not so.

But as they approached the bedroom door, her every sense screamed in warning. She stumbled, kept upright only by Edward’s iron grip yanking her forward, and her legs lost their strength as he turned the knob.

No sooner had the door shut behind them than Emma was upon her knees, her face buried in her hands, and tears fell down her shaking fingers. Heaving sobs overtook her; even if she had found the words to beg for safety, her tongue would not obey. Instead, she waited – for a strike, the slash of a knife, or one last taunt before a fatal blow.

It never came. Yet, she felt him near, standing at her back for a moment, then moved aside, pausing at her shoulder. Did he circle her as a hunter does his quarry, deciding how best to dispatch the helpless creature before him? Or was he content to witness her terror, delaying his wrath until her fear ceased to amuse him? She kept her head down, her grief concealed; she must not let him see how she had broken, for the moment she did, all hope was lost.

The gaze she felt upon her was surely one of contempt, and behind dark eyes, he must plot her doom. Though he had not described his heinous deeds at length, she could imagine only too well his murderous acts, for the methods of the St. Jude’s Killer were infamous, and his victims’ ends brutal. The violence he had shown her thus far would be nothing compared to the agonies she was certain to suffer.

At last, he stood before her, and she wept anew, praying he would speak and allow her time to craft a plea for her life. But he only drew closer still, the heat of his body warming her cold, tear-streaked fingers, the last pleasure she would ever know as he stepped back to deliver a deadly blow—

—and passed her by.

Had she been spared? No, she could not believe that; perhaps he went to retrieve some weapon more agreeable to his purpose. If so, he moved at his leisure, and did not hasten to return.

She waited, motionless save for her heaving breaths, and minutes passed that seemed to last days, but she remained untouched. Slowly, her weeping abated, and sensation returned to her limbs, the sharp pinpricks a painful, wondrous reminder that she still lived. When her heartbeat no longer thundered in her ears, she peeked through wary hands to find that Edward sat in a chair before the fire, his back turned to her.

If she dared, she could withdraw from the room and make her escape before he had taken notice. But should the floorboards falter in a treacherous note, or the silken brush of her skirts sound too swiftly, she would be undone in an instant. As long as Edward remained near, she was yet his prisoner.

Why had he not spoken? What could he be planning? If he did not intend to kill her, there was no sense in remaining on her knees. But she could not yet find the strength to rise, and while all she knew was in peril, there was one other truth she could scarcely fathom.

“A child,” she whispered. “You killed a child.”

Edward didn’t deign to look at her. “He should not have gotten in my way.”

“How many more must die before you have had your fill of bloodshed?”

Emma clutched her skirts to keep from cowering as Edward stood and drew near, wrapping a hand about her neck.

“Only those who oppose me.” His grip tightened until she felt her pulse beat against his skin. “And those who know too much.”

Including you. The words were unspoken, but his meaning was clear. If there were ever a time to beg for her life, it was now. Yet she sensed, even as he held her completely at his mercy, that his threat was merely a taunt. If he wished to kill her, he’d have done so already; it was her pleas he waited for, and she would not oblige him while bravery might better ensure an answer.

“Who is there left to oppose you?” she asked. “The Board of Governors are dead or resigned; they cannot do you any harm.”

Her courage was rewarded; he released her from his deadly grasp. But he pulled back only to retrieve a knife from a sheathe hidden in his waistcoat, and Emma gasped, frozen in terror as he held the blade aloft. He watched it catch the firelight, running a thumb along its edge as if to slice his victim’s flesh.

“I will slaughter every last one of them,” he said.

Emma sighed, assured now that the weapon was not meant for her. In her relief, it was long moments before a second fear seized her in its icy grip.

“Edward,” she whispered, “my father is on that board.”

He brought the knife down slowly, and she followed its arc as it came to rest by his side, just near enough to her face that she dared not move; when she looked back to him, he was smiling.

“So he is.”

Emma took a panicked breath, shaking her head. “You couldn’t—”

“If the boy hadn’t been discovered, it would already be done.”

And may have been just now, had I not interfered, Emma thought. It was a wonder Edward had not bound her fate with her father’s, but that offered little consolation; while she still lived, she could not abandon him to Edward’s cruelty.

“No,” she said, sobbing as she spoke. “Not my father. Please.”

But Edward didn’t acknowledge her plea, even to reprimand her for contradicting him. “We have always detested him.”

“We?”

“Henry and myself. He may be the weaker man, but there is much we have in common.”

How could that be so? Her father had been Henry’s mentor – more than that, he had been his friend, long before the two were bound in her union. What could have given her beloved cause to hate him? And how could she not have seen it?

“I never knew…”

“Perhaps you don’t know your dear Henry as well as you thought,” Edward said, sheathing the knife once more. “And to think, if Sir Danvers had not delayed the wedding for so long, it may have been your precious husband in your marriage bed.”

He laughed, the sound harsh and bitter, and she shut her ears against it as she lay a trembling hand upon his leg.

“Please don’t harm my father,” she begged. “Please, Edward, I beg you. I will do anything.”

Her fingers slid upward, and she feigned a gaze of lust as they neared the bulge of his manhood, heavy beneath his dark trousers. With a sneer, he yanked her to him by the hair and thrust against her mouth.

“There is nothing you can offer me that I cannot simply take.”

Desperate to inspire some need of her within him, she stroked her lips up and down his shaft, and he moaned as he hardened, massive and straining against his confinement. He was right: he would take her now, however he wished, and her sex ached, eager to accept him. But she could not lose control until she had gained what she sought.

He released her to unfasten his trousers, and she lay a hand upon his own as if to assist, looking him in the eye.

“There is something, Edward: my love,” she said. “If you kill my father, I will never forgive you. But if you spare him… I cannot promise that I will love you, but I swear to you, I will try—”

She screamed in pain as the back of his hand smashed into her face, thrown to the ground by his devastating blow. Never before had he hit her with such brute force; she feared she’d exhausted what little mercy he had, and wept as she cupped her reddened cheek, disoriented and blinded by her tears.

“Never lie to me,” Edward growled.

When she said nothing, he grabbed her wrist and yanked, dragging her toward the bed. She writhed and struggled, but it was no use; she feared to strike him even now, lest she risk her life for a mere moment of freedom. He tossed her onto the mattress and pinned her down, his knee parting her thighs.

“I won’t let you do this!” she said, her eyes blazing with anger. “I will warn him—”

He gripped her throat and slammed her into the headboard. “The last woman to betray me lies butchered in a common grave.”

She lay her hands upon his own, but dared not pry at them; his was no idle threat. Her only safety lay in one terrible truth. “If I die, Henry will destroy you both.”

“Are you certain of that?” Edward asked, his voice laced with menace.

It was the only thing she could be certain of anymore.

“Yes.”

Edward’s grip slowly eased, and Emma closed her eyes to keep him from seeing her relief.

“You’re right. He lives only for you, but his control weakens with every passing day. The time will come when I am rid of him forever – and if you should lose my love, I will slit your throat the moment I am free.”

Emma clenched her fists, wracked with shivers at the stroke of his finger along her neck.

“Until then, you may yet be of some use to me,” he said, and she expected his touch to descend where he thought that use might be, but his hand rose to grip her chin. “If you wish to spare your father, you must offer a life in return.”

She froze, opening her eyes to search his. Did he mean her own life? She had given him all of herself, save only her heart – must she die in her father’s place as well? No, she could not believe he would destroy her just to slake his bloodlust; he was too fond of tormenting her. There must be some other victim he sought, though why he thought she could assist him was a mystery.

“Whose?”

“Simon Stride’s.”

Of course. Her former suitor, too, would have been dead this night if Edward had had his way – and now that Simon knew for certain he was next, Edward’s prey would be even more elusive than before.

“I don’t know where he is. How will I contact him?”

“That’s for you to decide.”

It would be difficult, but with the right connections, not impossible. Wed though she now was to a lowly doctor, as Sir Danvers’ daughter and niece to an Earl, she had access to places even her husband would find barred against him. Long before their brief, failed courtship, she and Simon’s ties to the aristocracy had been an unfortunate commonality, and the power of a few well-placed calling cards was immeasurable in her skilled hands. But as for the reason to be given for these summons, she was at a loss.

“What do I tell him?”

“That your husband beats you, and you fear what may happen if you should anger him again,” Edward said with a grin; that much would be the truth. “Say you want to leave, but you must be certain of another marriage first. Accept the proposal you refused before and offer him proof of your love.”

In other words, seduce a man she hated almost as much as the killer before her – perhaps more, for the thought of even enduring his leering gaze again made her stomach turn, to say nothing of inviting him to lie with her. Even if she should find the opportunity to try, who was to say she’d be successful?

“What if he declines?”

“He lusts for you just as I do. Even if he has no intention of marrying you now, he’ll hasten to your bed.”

“And if he should suspect…?” she asked.

“He’d never suppose the pitiful doctor could get away with murder. He gives Jekyll even less credit than I do.”

Until a month ago, she wouldn’t have thought it possible, either – but her husband had gotten away with murder, hadn’t he? Had Henry killed these people, knowing the carnage Edward wrought yet doing nothing to stop it? Or was he as much a victim as they, held captive by his own mind under threat of horrors worse than even the slaughter already undertaken? Yes. Just as she feared the monster before her, so did its creator; what happened while bound to the devil was no fault of his own, nor hers.

It was Edward alone who bore the guilt of this deed, and she would pray for their souls until the day she joined the dead.

“All right,” she whispered.

With a nod, Edward released her. “Allow him to set the date, but I will decide the place.”

And Simon would not leave it alive. It would have to be somewhere isolated, where the murder could not be interrupted or the body found before they were long gone. Their home was out of the question – one of Simon’s own holdings must suffice.

With her father resigned, the Board itself would be obliterated. New members would take the place of the fallen, of course, once the scandal had subsided, though she couldn’t guess who they would be. The aristocracy and the politically-savvy would shy away from what was once a prestigious post; perhaps more learned people, even actual medical professionals, would serve in their stead. If that was all the good that would come of this bloodshed, so be it.

“And Simon will be the last?” she inquired, though she meant it to be more of a statement; with his objective achieved, surely the murders would cease.

Edward shook his head. “There is one more who must die. His knowledge is too great a risk.”

“What does he know?”

“As much as you. Perhaps more.”

What more was there to know? She knew the method and means of his killing now; the motive for, and even the inalienable proof of, these murders were in her hands. There could be no other with greater knowledge of these secrets than she, save her own husband, and Edward would not commit suicide out of spite.

“Who?”

Again, Edward shook his head. “You will know when it is done.”

His tone was final, and Emma dared not press further. Perhaps Henry would know; whether he would tell her and risk Edward’s wrath was another question. Emma lay back against the headboard, exhausted from these deadly trials, and waited for Edward’s inevitable seduction.

It was not until a cold blade scraped her neck that she saw the knife in his hand.

“There are fates worse than death,” he said, pressing the sharp edge to the artery at the base of her throat. “If you betray me, I will give you such agonies that you will beg me to kill you long before I am through.”

In her terror, Emma could not breathe, nor shiver for fear of slicing herself open. Even her tears stilled before they could be shed, blinding her. Only her lips moved, trembling and murmuring something that may have been a plea for mercy; whatever it was, it must have pleased him, for when her vision cleared, the knife had been sheathed again.

Edward pulled back, and Emma cowered, shaking now with fear as the horror of his threat set in. What tortures had he imagined for her? Had he thought of them even while he’d been inside her, or dreamt of them as she’d lain contented in his arms? How could she have ever given herself to such a beast?

The predator closed in even now, dragging her down to the mattress, and pinned her wrists over her head as she turned her face away from him.

“Now, submit to your husband,” he growled into her ear, his manhood pressed hard between her thighs.

Perhaps it was the madness of grief, but she laughed, a bitter, hateful sound, and met his gaze with a defiant glare. “You are not my husband.”

This time, she saw the blow coming, squeezing her eyes shut as the back of his hand smashed into her injured cheek. Streaks of white, red, and black danced across her vision, and waves of nausea rose with tides of dizzying pain. It was a wonder he hadn’t broken her jaw, though he may yet; she braced herself for another strike, but none came.

“I would prefer not to force you.”

His voice was eerily civil, an echo of Henry’s own, but beneath it simmered a dangerous rage. Even so, a giddy sensation rushed through her veins; he could not kill her, and that was more power than she’d had since this nightmare had begun.

“And I would prefer that you returned to the Hell from which Henry summoned you,” she replied, looking him in the eye once more, and tasted blood where a tooth had cut the inside of her cheek.

As his hand rose again, she flinched, regretting her insult. But a gentle finger stroked along her jaw until she glanced up, and a glimmer of a smile shone in his eye.

“You’re right. I am not your husband.” His hand closed around her throat. “But I am your Lord and Master just the same. And you, my willing slave.”

“I am your prisoner, nothing more.”

“You are my whore,” he said, his free hand cupping her breast, and his lips drew near. “Choose, Emma: pleasure, or pain? I will have you either way.”

She shuddered, the delirium of her fury fading into sorrow. It was no longer death she feared, but agony; if he should force himself upon her now, she may never know ecstasy again, and to be denied the joys she had come to love was more than she could bear. Even now, her sex ached for him, dripping with lust at the teasing stroke of his rigid manhood, thrusting against her with every breath.

So be it, then. She would take the pleasure he offered without remorse, for it was all the solace she had, and would blame no one but the devil who had cursed her with this sin.

With a gentle arch, she slid her hand up to the nape of his neck and pulled him down for a bloody kiss.

Chapter Text

Mrs. Henry Jekyll
46 Harley St., Marylebone, London
Receives Mondays and Wednesdays, 1-3 PM

Emma set the stack of newly-arrived visiting cards upon the Morning Room desk while she searched for her silver card-case. A quick search through the drawers revealed only a deluge of celebratory cards from friends and welcome notes from new neighbours, neither of which she’d yet found the courage to acknowledge. Until today, she’d not even had the means.

It had been a full month since she and Henry’s wedding. In that time, she’d hardly set foot outside, and had been reprimanded for what few errands she’d been able to undertake, no matter their increasing necessity. Though the first snowfall was due any day, she had not even been able to visit her seamstress for a winter wardrobe or plan a proper social schedule for the new season – in fact, Edward had expressly forbidden her to do so.

Emma resolved to entreat freedom from this confinement, and what cause had he to deny her? The injuries he had made had healed, and the excuse of ill health for her absence from society could only be used for so long. Though she had forsaken the lofty circles of influence a loveless marriage to some titled suitor would have granted, she was not so obscure now that reclusion from public life would go unnoticed.

If he would not consent to her liberty, he should at least uphold matrimonial tradition and take her away from here. A month-long honeymoon was the current custom, journeying somewhere secret and private, where the newly-wed could spend time learning all the intimate things etiquette had forbade them to know until marriage. It was a time of new beginnings, love, and freedom. Instead, she had been imprisoned in a place that was at once familiar and strange – too like its master.

It was perhaps presumptive to expect a doctor with work to do – a “profession,” her high-born acquaintances had scoffed at the news of her engagement, as though it were something vile – to leave the city for so long. But though he often gave his time and skill to charitable endeavours or scientific exploration, Henry’s primary role was as personal physician to the nobility, most of whom had left London at the end of the Season in August. Should they not do the same?

She longed to retreat to the family estate in the countryside. But even if she could convince Henry to go, it was Edward she worried about most. It was one thing to keep this secret in a townhouse of five staff; a grand country house with a retinue of dozens and frequent curious guests was another matter. Only Henry and Edward in consensus could say for certain whether it would be safe. She would approach the idea gently if she found the time tonight.

At last, she remembered where the silver card-case had gone – it was not in the desk at all, but still in the green silken reticule hanging upstairs in her bedroom, and had not seen the light of day since the morning of her wedding. She’d retrieve it later; for now, the matter of to whom the cards must be sent was most urgent.

There were friends and family, of course, most of whom had attended the wedding ceremony, and others who had been delayed in the country or detained with affairs of state. The latter had sent the profusion of cards laid out before her now – but among those who had witnessed her marriage, there was one person whose visiting card she had not yet received: Simon Stride.

Whether it was a knowing affront to her husband, or a wise wariness toward making himself visible in the wake of the St. Jude’s murders, Emma could not know. He had been polite enough at the reception, thankfully saying little and making his presence scarce whenever Henry happened by; no one wanted to see the debacle should a soon-to-be husband come to blows with his fiancée’s former suitor. The moment the newlywed couple had departed the church after the ceremony, Simon had hastened to escape the city – or so it had seemed, until he met with her father the week previous, intending to urge them all to flee with him.

If he was so cautious, why had he insisted on meeting? Emma’s only comfort was that it meant he could not suspect her husband of being the St. Jude’s Killer, for if he had, the invitation never would have been extended to Henry, or to herself, for that matter. It was ironic, really, that Edward’s failed attempt on Simon’s life had led to his intended victim’s disappearance once more; had Edward simply waited a few more days, his prey may as well have handed him a knife and bared his throat.

Emma touched her own neck over her lace collar, tracing the path Edward’s blade had threatened to cut the night he entrusted her with the task of hunting his prey. Simon must be found, and soon, or it was her father’s life – and her own – at stake.

Before she could think further how to proceed, there was a knock at the door.

“Yes?” she called.

Poole entered carrying a silver calling-card tray, but not in presentation; he merely stood in the doorway with a polite smile.

“Pardon my intrusion, Mrs. Jekyll, but may I ask when Dr. Jekyll will be returning?”

That much, at least, she knew; there was some lecture at the nearby Royal College of Physicians, of which Henry was, of course, a member. He had attended professional functions more often this past week than at any other time since their wedding; was it due to renewed hope in the future, or an excuse not to look at the awful bruise Edward had left upon her cheek the night the devil’s deal was made? The latter had faded, nothing more now than a slight blush. It was a shame it was taking so long to find Simon – that injury would have made the true account of her husband’s abuse that much more heartfelt.

“Three o’clock,” she replied; it was now half-past two. “Why do you ask?”

“Mr. Utterson has come to call, ma’am.”

There was a single card upon the tray, and peering closer, Emma saw the upper-right corner had been folded; the request had been made in person.

“Is he still here?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I should like to see him. We’ll have tea in the drawing room while we wait for my husband.”

Emma thought she saw a glimmer of a question in the butler’s gaze, but he said nothing as he bowed and retreated. She disregarded the unspoken query, for there was no scandal in Mr. Utterson’s visitation even in her husband’s absence; he had been a family friend since before she and Henry had even met, albeit one on the periphery and due more to neighbourly proximity than shared social interest. He lived not far from Cavendish Square, where her father’s townhouse stood adjacent to that of her uncle, the Earl of Amhurst, and had been a frequent guest at their home for many years. Given the fact that he had served as Henry’s best man at their wedding, it was most fitting that John should be the first to call upon them with congratulations.

She found John sitting in a chair facing the foyer, his hat and walking stick still in his hands. Most unusual, since he intended to wait for Henry, and rather rude; combined with his dour expression, the thoughtless breach of etiquette could only mean something troubled Henry’s dear friend.

“Mr. Utterson,” she said, and smiled as he rose to greet her. “It’s a pleasure to see you, and I’m sure Henry will agree.”

“I’m not so certain of that.” He took her hand and held it between both of his own for a brief moment, a merely perfunctory gesture. “Forgive me, but I’m not here solely to offer congratulations.”

Emma’s smile faded. “What is it?”

“There’s an urgent matter I must discuss with your husband.”

Emma’s eyebrow rose at that. Your husband, not Henry. John had never been one for formalities; his friendly and trustworthy countenance was well-suited to the confidential nature of his work. Why, then, this sudden coldness toward her beloved?

“Anything there is to discuss, you can share with me.”

John shook his head, attempting a tight-lipped smile. “Not this, I’m afraid.”

“Yes, I see that you are,” she said. “What is it you’re afraid of?”

They turned at the sound of rattling china and moved to the seating area as their tea was served; only when the maid departed did John answer her question with one of his own.

“How much has Henry told you of his experiment?”

Emma suppressed a sigh. “More than I wish to know.”

“And you have been here all this time?”

“Yes.”

“Then you must have noticed certain… changes in Henry.”

Yes, her husband had changed, and not merely by yielding to the darkness within; the passionate, driven man she had fallen in love with had, over time, become a shadow of his former self. The fear and guilt of this accursed experiment had left him cold and distant, stealing from her the husband she had pledged her life to.

But what changes could John be speaking of, other than those already known before the wedding – Henry’s obsession and seclusion, seemingly remedied just in time for the nuptial day? John’s month-long absence, too, called his meaning into question. Unless he had spoken to Henry recently, he could not know the depths to which Henry had fallen, or the burden her husband bore with such terror. Even with Edward’s presence notwithstanding, the man she loved was no longer the man she once knew; that much, she would concede.

Emma nodded. “You could say he has not been himself.”

John picked up his tea, studying the steaming, murky liquid for some moments before setting the cup down with its brim untouched.

“A few weeks before your wedding, Henry charged me to keep a collection of curious letters, only to be opened under dire circumstances. When Henry secluded himself to the point that we feared for his life, I took it upon myself to open the letter addressed to me.” He paused, as if weighing the impact of his next words. “It was a will, leaving his estate to someone I had never heard of. Henry described him as a colleague, but I knew at once this person could only be the subject of his experiment – a man now bent on Henry’s destruction. His name is Edward Hyde.”

Emma’s teacup fell from her trembling fingers, its contents spilling over the polished wooden table between them. Her heart raced, eyes darting from the lawyer to the open drawing room door, as if her captor’s name alone would conjure the man she so feared.

This was the dangerous knowledge Edward had spoken of, and the man before her, his next victim. The monster was right – John’s betrayal could lead the police to Henry’s terrible secret, and their ruin. Only by remaining silent could Emma hope to quell these suspicions, even if it meant Edward would soon fulfill his deadly intent. No. If it was within her power to spare John’s life, she must do so; she only prayed he would heed her warning.

“He means to kill you. You must leave London. Today, if you can.” She swallowed, a shiver of terror bringing tears and memories of Edward’s knife to her eyes. “If he finds out that I warned you, he may kill me, too.”

John made no move to go, only giving a slow, resigned nod. “He would.”

The lawyer’s words rang with absolute certainty. There was only one way he could be so sure.

“You’ve… met him, then?”

If he had been recognized, her husband’s secret was revealed. Why, then, the mystery surrounding this visitation – and more importantly, what did John intend to do with this deadly truth?

“Yes,” John said. “The very night that—”

“Welcome home, sir,” came Poole’s voice from the foyer, buoyant and cheerful in his usual way; was it Emma’s imagination, or had he been rather too loud? “Mr. Utterson has come to call. He’s waiting with Mrs. Jekyll in the drawing room.”

Two shadows played upon the marble floor, one waiting upon the other as a coat was removed and hushed whispers were exchanged; Emma strained to listen, but could hear nothing. John stood, the walking stick in his hand an idle weapon at the ready.

“John,” the man said as he entered, turning his back to close the doors behind him.

“Henry,” the lawyer replied. “If I am not mistaken.”

Her husband faced them, his expression weary, with no sign of the monster within. But was this yet another performance, designed to lower their defences until he could strike a sudden, deadly blow?

“It’s me.”

She believed him – from the broken, pained voice, it could only be her beloved. Still, she studied him as she stood, watching for a gleam of coldness in his eyes, but his gaze was fixed on John.

“Can you prove that?” the lawyer asked, his hand settling upon the metallic knob at his side.

“Before six, it’s Henry,” Emma said. “Isn’t that so, my dearest?”

Her query drew his attention at last – that same remorseful glance she’d received all week, fleeting, as if to merely look upon her would cause further injury. But Edward might have guessed as much, and adopted this morose countenance for the sake of his deception. How could she truly know if the man before her was her beloved?

There was one way to be certain, but the risk it carried was great – and if she was wrong, the consequences could be fatal. Still, it must be done. At his nod, Emma approached, offering her hand, and as his tentative fingers reached for her own, she summoned her courage.

Her palm struck his cheek with a hard smack, stinging with the force of the blow. She flinched even as he stumbled back, her shaking knees prepared to fold beneath her should Edward’s rage follow her reckless act. But it was Henry who looked to her as he righted himself, eyes wide with shock and glistening with tears, their pain matched only by her own.

“It’s him,” she said.

If Edward had a weakness, it was his anger; had it been the monster she’d struck, he’d have attacked her without a second thought and revealed himself. It may have even been her death, had he been so prepared, but better that she should die for the truth than let an innocent man fall prey in her place.

“I’ll trust your word,” John replied, unmoving, “but I will not wager my life.”

“I’m sorry, Henry.” Emma reached out to lay a soothing hand upon the injury. “I had to be certain—”

He recoiled, turning from her to face his former friend.

“Why are you here, John?”

“I left hoping you had conquered your demons. I’ve returned to find that your demons have conquered you,” John said.

“I have not lost yet.” Henry stepped forward, but halted his approach when John moved to draw his blade. “I am making progress. I—”

“You killed a child, Henry!”

Emma looked to the door, praying no one without had heard John’s accusation. “John, please—”

I killed no one,” Henry replied, his voice hushed, yet insistent.

“But you are to blame.”

“Don’t you think I know that?” Henry edged forward once more, casting only a wary glance at John’s hand poised to unsheathe the sword. “You knew the truth six weeks ago. Six lives had been lost, yet you did nothing. You stood by my side at my wedding and didn’t even say a word.”

Was it true? Had John known of the monster she had unknowingly wed, and, like her beloved, condemned her to this fate? What if he had told her the truth? Would she have stayed, knowing that within Henry’s heart lurked a merciless killer waiting to once again be set free? Or would she have tried to escape… and likely died in place of the innocent so cruelly lost?

“I didn’t know. I suspected, but I didn’t want to believe. I had hope.” John shook his head. “It died with that child.”

Then why hadn’t he reported Henry to the authorities? If his intent was to stop the murders, there was only one way to do so; that he had called upon his fallen friend instead of the police meant there was yet hope within him. Was the blade by his side only a precaution, or had he meant to kill Edward, if it had been the killer he’d found? Did only Henry’s presence stay his hand, or would he kill his friend along with the murderer he so reviled?

“I know I can never make amends for the lives he’s taken,” Henry said with sorrow, soon eclipsed by righteous indignation. “But if I succeed, at least they will not have died in vain.”

John relaxed his threatening stance to place a hand on Henry’s shoulder.

“If you fail, more will die, and for nothing more than your own vanity. End the experiment now.”

So that was his great endeavour: a last, futile plea for peace. Emma had begged as much of Henry for months, even before the discovery of Edward Hyde, and to no avail. Did John think his friendship would accomplish what her love had not?

“I can’t.” Henry shied back from the friendly gesture. “My antidote is not yet complete. If I should cease taking the formula, he will return, and he will kill in retribution.”

Henry glanced toward her, and terror lanced through Emma’s heart. Despite Edward’s claims of love, even she was not safe from his vengeance – and if he should find himself betrayed, she would be the first to die.

“The bloodshed will never end,” John said, as if to himself, then looked to Henry. “I must take you to the authorities.”

Henry’s eyes closed as he exhaled. When they opened again, his distant gaze glistened with tears.

“I wish you hadn’t said that.”

He gripped the back of a nearby chair, and a pulse beat at his brow, sweat beading on his forehead as if at a sudden fever. Was he ill?

“Henry?” Emma asked, moving to assist her beloved.

“Stay back,” John warned. “It won’t be Henry much longer.”

But she didn’t heed him, laying a hand on her husband’s arm; still, he would not look at her, staring out into an abyss only he could see.

“He’s right,” Henry whispered, his voice hoarse. “Hyde is coming.”

With a cry of agony, he collapsed, and Emma hastened to kneel by his side. “Henry!”

“Don’t touch him!” John said.

Emma scarcely heard the warning over Henry’s anguished bellows, his body convulsing as he grasped for her hand.

“I’m here, my love.” She soothed his brow and cupped his tear-stained cheek. “I’m here.”

He quieted, still shaking, and pulled her closer.

“I love you, Emma,” he whispered.

“I love you, Henry.”

But he was already gone. One moment, she looked into the eyes of her beloved; the next, she gazed at the man she most hated. Edward’s brow furrowed, looking with confusion to her fingers gently caressing his face, and lay his hand upon her own.

“Edward,” she whispered, “please—”

The piercing screech of steel cut her off. John had unsheathed his blade, and in the next instant, Edward was on his feet, dragging Emma up with him. He spun her around to face his foe, an arm about her waist keeping her still as the gentle hand she’d held gripped her throat. Emma cried out in fear, tears springing to her eyes, and could not speak for her captor’s deadly grasp. Would he kill her to escape?

“Hello, John,” the monster said.

“Let her go.”

But she knew he would not; he could not, if he wanted to live. She was his hostage now, a shield against the lawyer’s blade, and to relinquish her was certain death.

“Even if I did, she would stay. She wouldn’t want anything to happen to her dear Henry,” he said, a sneer in his voice. “Isn’t that right, my love?”

He loosened his hold just enough so that she might speak, but she would not answer his taunt when a plea could bring a bloodless end to this feud. She only prayed the lawyer would set his righteous pretensions aside long enough to listen.

“Please, John, put the weapon down.”

“Not until you are safe,” he said.

“She is perfectly safe with me.”

Though the words carried a mocking tone, there was truth to them – Edward had no reason to hurt her unless John forced him to.

“Edward won’t harm me,” she said, her voice steady as she lay her hand upon her captor’s own.

“Nevertheless, you must step away,” John replied.

But she could not. Edward was right; she would stay by her husband’s side, no matter which of them stood beside her. To do otherwise was to condemn her beloved to death.

“No,” she said.

Neither lawyer nor madman moved, unflinching, and Emma scarcely dared to breathe. Finally, Edward broke the silence.

“Throw the sword down, and I give you my word, I will release her.”

John’s gaze wavered, and even though Edward had conceded, she knew the killer had won. But would Edward honour his promise?

She would never know, for as the sword began its descent, Edward shoved her across the room. Emma caught herself upon John’s shoulder, and he stumbled, dropping the weapon at her feet. When they turned back, there was a pistol in Edward’s hand.

He had been armed all along – and so had Henry.

“Emma, pick up the sword and give it to me.”

She froze. Though the gun was aimed at John, she dared not make herself a target – or worse, distract Edward and encourage John to run.

“Now,” Edward commanded, his eyes still fixed on his intended victim. “If I’m forced to shoot, the servants will come running, and I will have to kill everyone in this house.”

Once again, Edward was right. The staff finding John impaled on his own sword after an attempt on Henry’s life was one thing; gunfire was another. Anyone within hearing distance was a threat, and in their panic, they may try to disarm him, or even yell that there’d been a murder. Either way, Henry was as good as dead. There was no choice.

“I’m sorry, John.”

Slowly, Emma bent and took up the sword, turning it downward to surrender it to Edward as she carefully returned to his side. He all but snatched it from her, brandishing it in his left hand as he switched the pistol to his right.

“Please, let him go,” she said.

Edward smiled. “No.”

He brought the blade to the side of John’s neck and stepped closer, as if to savour the kill. John’s chest heaved.

“You’ll be hanged for this!” he whispered.

“Not if you attacked me first. I have a witness.”

Emma almost nodded past her tears. Even without her testimony, John had come into this room armed, against all custom and etiquette; the servants could attest to that. The lawyer had intended to kill Henry, and the doctor had acted in self-defence. If Emma wanted her husband to live, this was the only way the story could be told.

“Stand still now, and you needn’t suffer,” Edward said.

“I altered my will. If I should die under any circumstance, it will be revealed to the public, along with all of your crimes.”

It was a panicked claim, perhaps untrue and borne out of desperation, but it was possible. Had Henry not changed his own will, and in doing so, brought this suspicion upon himself to begin with?

Edward laughed. “Ridding the world of a few vermin is hardly a crime.”

“The courts would think differently.”

Did Edward believe him? Emma could see only his back, but watched John’s terrified eyes as the killer played along.

“A pedophile. A war criminal. A corrupt judge. A pair of inbred swine,” Edward said. “Each of them slaughtered more people in a day just by being what they are than I could kill in an entire lifetime.”

“And Lucy Harris? What was she, that she deserved to die?”

The last woman to betray me lies butchered in a common grave. Edward’s threat rang in Emma’s ears. Was this the woman he had spoken of?

“Was it you who delivered the letter?” Edward asked, almost bemused.

John nodded slowly, mindful of the blade’s edge.

“If you’d stayed a few minutes longer, I could have slain both of you at once and saved myself the trouble now.”

He drew back for the killing blow, and John flinched, his eyes closed.

“If you kill me, you forfeit your own life!”

Edward paused, the blade poised to slit the lawyer’s throat. “And if I let you live?”

John looked to him and slowly exhaled. “I will never speak of this again.”

A long moment passed in silence. Would Edward risk his life to let the lawyer go, or strike him down and live with the consequences?

The killer lay a hand on John’s shoulder.

“Well done, Solicitor. You’ve won your case.” He gestured to the door with John’s own weapon. “Now get out.”

John hastened to do so, taking his leave without so much as a backward glance at the woman who had both betrayed him and saved his life. Not until the front door had closed did Edward lower the sword and holster the pistol. Emma turned from him to watch John hail a carriage at the corner. What would he do now?

She flinched as Edward caressed her cheek.

“You needn’t be afraid,” he said, drawing near. “You’re safe now.”

Emma looked to him, struggling to hold back her tears. “Am I?”

“Yes.”

He kissed her then, and despite everything – the threats, the pain, the horror – she found solace in his embrace. Even the sword still by his side, so close to shedding blood this day, could not quell Emma’s relief, and she gave into his seduction as readily as she would her husband’s own.

“Upstairs,” Edward said, though he kissed her still, scarcely leaving her breath to answer.

“It’s not yet four o’clock,” she whispered against his lips. “This is still Henry’s time.”

“I saved his life. He can spare a few hours for our pleasure.”

She dared not protest any further; besides, the sooner she and Edward retired, the sooner Henry would return.

“All right.”

He parted from her to sheath the sword and deposit it in the foyer, leaving her alone for but a moment.

Edward was wrong. It had been she who saved Henry’s life, and Edward’s own. Had she chosen rightly? She could not say, but this was all she needed to know: Henry would live.

If John should betray them, she would do whatever she had to if it meant her beloved remained safe; better a madman’s whore than a doctor’s widow. Until then, she must see her husband again.

Edward beckoned to her from the staircase. With once last glance out the window, Emma turned, and followed.

Chapter Text

It was nightfall when Emma collapsed to the mattress one last time, breathless from Edward’s lovemaking. He had taken her in every way she’d yet known – and several she had not – for hours, and she hoped his ravenous appetite was appeased now, for her limbs were weak with strain and her vision blurred with exhaustion. She was prepared to beg for a reprieve should he insist they begin again, but he, too, lay back to rest, and pulled her into his arms.

In the month they had been wed, never had he taken such care in her pleasure, though he had loved so long to torment her with her own sinful weakness. He had teased her, tasted her, taken her until she cried and begged for sweet release; this night alone, he had granted it at her every desperate plea.

Why this sudden mercy? That very afternoon, he had taken her hostage, as if she were nothing more than a pawn in his deadly game. If John had dared to sacrifice her, Edward may have even killed her to escape – and she would not be the first woman to die by his hand. One, she had known well; the other, she knew only by name.

“Edward?” she asked.

“Yes, my love?”

A tremor of fear wavered through her tentative whisper. “Who was Lucy Harris?”

Before she could even draw breath to scream, his hand clamped tight about her throat, his fingers digging painfully into her skin. Panicking, she pried helplessly at his forearm, to no avail, and her heart thundered in her ears; only when she went limp did he release his deadly hold.

“Never speak that name again!” he growled.

Emma coughed, her chest heaving. He had nearly killed her; she could not be certain whether it had been merely a threat, or if he had spared her only at the last moment. Either way, she shook with terror beneath him, tears streaming down her face.

“Why?” she asked, sobbing.

His hateful sneer faltered. “Do you really want to know?”

“Yes.”

Edward settled on his side, looming over her, and his treacherous grasp upon her chin ensured her attention.

“She was mine, just as you are,” he said, laying his hand upon her sex. “A whore who didn’t know her place. I offered her a life she never could have dreamed of, so long as she would be mine alone. But Jekyll convinced her to betray me.”

Her husband had known of this woman, too – there were so many secrets from those dark days which he had yet to reveal, and those he kept had killed yet more. If he had tried to save this woman, he had shared more with her than with his own wife.

“Henry did?”

“Yes,” Edward said.

“How?”

Edward hesitated, for perhaps the first time since she’d known him, and she feared she had dared too much, but there was no reclaiming the question now. If she did, it could only be to ask something she would surely be struck for: what had this woman meant to him – to both of them?

“He wrote a letter begging her to leave London – to leave me,” Edward said at last. “If I’d arrived before John delivered it, her life might have been spared. But it was too late.”

Too late for what? Had, perhaps, Henry’s interference given her the deadly knowledge of Edward’s true nature, and may have led the authorities to her beloved if he did not act? Or was it merely that Edward had feared to lose his whore? Either way, his affection toward her had not moved him. Love would not stay his hand.

“And so you killed her?”

“Yes.” He yanked Emma onto her knees, and she held her breath as he embraced her from behind, his arm across her chest. “I pulled her close, whispered in her ear – and the moment she thought she was safe, I stabbed her in the back and slit her throat.”

Emma shivered under the caress of his finger, drawing a slow, deliberate line along her neck.

“Do not betray me.”

He said nothing more, and nothing more needed to be said. Though exhausted, she lay awake in the arms of her enemy, and did not know she had slept until a shout shattered her half-remembered dreams.

“Henry?”

She felt him sit up in a panic, his chest heaving, and though she could barely see him in the dull grey light of dawn, she knew his terror. His eyes were both wide and unseeing, as if he still dwelled within his nightmares.

“You’re safe now, Henry,” she said, sitting up beside him, and lay her hand over his heart.

He looked to her, relief easing his tormented expression, and embraced her without a word. She held him close, a slow smile warming her tear-stained face. How she had longed for something as simple as this – yet, it was fear, not happiness, that had brought him into her arms at last. Even this embrace was not free of their horror, and whatever joy she might have known was stolen by his worry as he pulled back.

“You’ve been hurt,” he said, tracing the bruises on her neck. “Did Hyde—?”

Emma nodded, prying his hand from the injury. “I’m all right.”

“And John, is he—?”

“He’s alive.” She glanced away, warding off the memory of that frightful afternoon. “Edward spared him.”

Henry was silent for a moment. “I don’t understand.”

“John said he had changed his will, as you had yours – if he should die, you would be accused of murder.”

“And Hyde believed him?”

Perhaps, or else he thought a murder in his own home was too great a risk. Whatever he believed, she could only be certain of this: it had not been her plea that had moved him.

“I don’t know,” she replied.

“Do you?”

Emma studied her husband’s anxious gaze, finding there a trace of Edward’s darkness. Could it be that Henry regretted John yet lived? No – he could not wish such a thing against his friend.

“I believe John will honour his promise to say nothing.” She looked to the clock on the mantle; it was just past six. “If the police haven’t arrived by now, it must be so.”

Henry nodded and settled back against the headboard, gazing out across the room. The floor was strewn with their clothing, Emma’s vast array of feminine garments tossed carelessly wherever Edward had deigned to undress her. Of his own accoutrements haphazardly discarded, there was but one missing: the pistol, laid aside before they had moved to the bed. It rested now inside the top-most drawer beside them.

“Why were you armed, Henry?” she asked.

“What?”

“Edward had a pistol, but only because you carried one.”

Henry hesitated before giving a resigned sigh. “It’s for protection.”

Protection from whom? He had not yet been accused, if indeed he were suspected at all, and if he were hunted, no mere pistol would save him from capture. Violence would only beget more violence, leaving even greater bloodshed in its wake.

“Against the police?” she asked.

He shook his head. “Against Hyde.”

Emma could not decipher her husband’s distant gaze, and it was long moments before the weight of his meaning settled upon a terrible answer.

“You mean, suicide?” she whispered.

“Yes.”

“You carry it in case he kills someone else?”

“Not someone.” Henry swallowed, at last looking to her once more. “Only you.”

“He won’t,” she said, her eyes filling with tears even as she denied their cause, and she took his hand, anchoring herself against a rising panic. “Please, tell me he won’t.”

Henry entwined their fingers and cupped her cheek, on the verge of weeping himself. “I wish I could be certain of that. Until I am, I will keep it by my side.”

Till death do us part. That ominous oath would loom over her all her days. Would this end with his execution, or her murder? However that fatal vow came to pass, it would be by his own hand.

She held it still, wondering that such care and cruelty could be within the same grasp. It tortured, and caressed; it healed, and it killed. This hand was forever bound to hers, but what of his heart? Henry loved her; of that, she had no doubt. Edward had professed the same. Whether it would save her from this dreadful fate remained to be seen.

“Did he love her?” Emma asked, low and quiet, as if to herself.

“Who?”

She held her breath, the tender bruises on her neck a painful reminder of the last time she had dared speak the woman’s name.

“Lucy Harris.”

Henry started in surprise, but said nothing until she caught his eye. He shook his head. “I don’t know.”

But this answer could not suffice. There was something more there, something beyond guilt or simple regret: loss. This woman had been no mere stranger.

“Did you love her?” she asked.

“No. I felt only pity – and it killed her,” he said, his voice soft with unshed tears. “I never should have met her in the first place.”

Edward had said the woman was a whore; had he meant that as an insult, or had such been her profession? If so, that Henry had had occasion to make a fallen woman’s acquaintance left but one suspicion: his betrayal.

“You… knew her?” she asked softly, lest her accusation curtail a truthful answer.

Henry held her hand all the tighter. “Not as Hyde did. I was faithful to you, Emma, I swear it.”

Faithful? His body had lain with another woman even as he awaited his marriage vows. She could not expect a bachelor to be chaste, but they had been promised; the thought of a whore in his arms while she slept lonely was revolting.

Yet, what good would it be to scold him? It was Edward who had defiled him; if she were to blame Henry for his conduct, he must bear the burden of all the monster’s misdeeds. She would not fault him for this, but her question remained unanswered.

“Then how did you meet her?”

“The night of our engagement party, John arranged for a… celebration at a music hall in the East End. It was to be my last temptation before matrimony. I did not succumb, but I did meet a woman there I could not forget. Neither could Hyde.”

How did Henry know this? Had he learned it from the villain’s fleeting memories, or had it been written, in such detail as only Edward could describe, in that book hidden away in the laboratory?

“How long did you know of this?”

“A few weeks,” Henry replied.

It had been those very nights, then, when she had found no rest, pacing her room, waiting and worrying that her beloved suffered that same loneliness – and all the while, his body lay with another woman. What’s more, he had known the danger Edward posed to his whore, and yet had done nothing until the night she died.

“Why didn’t you warn her sooner?” she demanded, squeezing his arm.

“Because if I had, he’d have set his mind on having you!”

Emma recoiled as he tore himself from her grasp. She shuddered at the thought of what may have happened had she encountered Edward before the nuptial day, and the fate she would have known had this woman not appeased his lust. Perhaps it was always so – the ones society scorned as sinful merely served to save those more fortunate from the men both women should fear. She had suffered, and perhaps even died, in Emma’s own place.

But the killing was not yet at an end.

Henry fled from her side, going at once to the wardrobe. She had spoken with him for but a few moments; was he to abandon her again so soon?

“Henry—”

“I must get to work,” he said.

But it was barely dawn – too early to go to St. Jude’s. Only those poor souls whose maladies left them dreamless would be awake at this hour, and they’d be attended to by lesser physicians. He must mean closer to home.

“In the laboratory?” she asked.

With its contents no longer a secret, perhaps she might assist him now, and stay by his side. But he shook his head as he put on a new pair of trousers, ignoring that which lay about his feet.

“No.”

“Then where?”

“You know I cannot tell you that.”

“He has never asked me—” she began, knowing well what he feared, but Henry would not hear it.

“Because he knows I would never risk giving you that knowledge. Please don’t insist.”

Emma slipped from the bed, holding the sheet about herself, and he turned his back to her once more.

“I just want to know where my husband is!” she cried.

She dug her fingernails into her palms to resist the urge to strike him – or embrace him. If she dared move any closer, she couldn’t be sure which was more likely.

“Somewhere secret and safe,” he said after a moment, low and soft, “and I intend to keep it so. I must, if we are ever to be rid of him.”

Emma wept. Did her pleas mean as little to him as they did to Edward? Where one was cruel, the other was negligent; while the man she loathed would not part from her, the man she loved would not spare her even a moment. Both had turned her fondest dreams into nightmares, and her life into a living Hell.

She said nothing, silenced by her tears, and Henry looked to her in the mirror, standing deadly still in a way too familiar. When at last he spoke, it was in a pained whisper.

“Unless you do not want to be rid of him.”

Emma hesitated. What was she to say to this? “I…”

Words abandoned her. He had said himself that any attempt to destroy Edward would bring death when the villain awoke – and if this antidote should be anything less than a cure, it would be her own life at stake.

“Don’t you?” he asked, and when she did not answer, slammed his fist upon the vanity. “Well, don’t you?!”

Emma rushed to him, reaching out to lay a soothing touch upon his cheek. “I want nothing more than for us to be together, Henry, but—”

He turned and grabbed her wrist, wrenching her hand from him. “Then you must obey!”

Through a haze of tears, Emma looked to the man she loved, and found a stranger’s eyes. But it was not Edward she saw within him – and whoever this was, he frightened her more than even the killer who shared her bed.

She cried out in fear, and Henry released her at once, his voice softening. “I’m sorry, my love—”

“Don’t call me that,” she said, turning from him.

Henry’s weak reply was but a whisper. “Emma?”

With a sob, she wiped away her tears and looked back at her beloved, but could not meet his gaze. “It’s what he calls me.”

A long moment passed in silence, and Emma flinched as his fingers brushed her damp cheek.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

Her heart broke at his tender apology; before he could see it shatter, she fled, retreating to her room. He did not follow.

She loved him. Only him. The man whom she had married before God, no matter what words had been forced from her lips by pain and fear. Nothing else mattered, so long as God knew the truth.

And so He did. If He knew all, as she had been taught, her husband’s sins were marked and his soul damned, not by the blood upon Edward’s knife, but that upon his own hands. Aside from a single warning given too late, he had done nothing to save those who had been slaughtered in his name, even if not by his deed.

Emma shook as she lay down; whether in terror or rage, she could not be certain. Though Edward held her captive, it was Henry who had condemned her to this fate. He had risked her life to prove himself superior to his ill-fated enemies – and now, his hubris would be her death.

She woke at a soft knock, opening her eyes to find that it was midday. The sound had come from the door leading to the hallway, not her husband’s room; it was not Henry who beckoned.

Calling out to her visitor to delay, she turned over her tear-stained pillows and slipped on a clean nightdress, buttoning the collar to conceal the bruises upon her neck. It was only her maid, as expected, but it was always safer to avoid questions or encourage gossip; it was bad enough the woman had come to return the delicate silken ensemble Edward had stripped from her the night previous.

Though she had little appetite, she welcomed the prospect of a late luncheon alone in her room, and when her tray was brought, so was a message: her husband would not be home for dinner. Supposedly, he would dine at his club, as many men of Society did – but to her knowledge, Henry was not often one of them, and Edward’s time would overlap his own.

Unless something had changed.

She could only find out from the man who returned to her that evening, whomever he may be, and as evening approached, she waited in his room. Though she would rather have spent an evening downstairs, playing the piano or tending to her small collection of winter blooms, she’d best not bet against the even odds that Edward would be the one to arrive. If he should find her any further than an arm’s length from his bed, she would not make it through his night unharmed.

But temptation lingered in other forms. The bottle of liquor kept upon the mantle shone like a jewel in the firelight, and Edward had often enough shared a glass with her; she would have one now, and pour two glasses, should he wish to join her.

No sooner had she begun to cross the room than the door opened, and Emma froze. She did not turn – that he insisted he greet her first was a small mercy – and caught his reflection in the standing mirror close by.

It was Edward, unmistakably. He closed in on her as a predator stalked toward its helpless prey, his hungry gaze roving her figure, but did not touch her. Instead, he only looked over her shoulder to study their reflections.

“What do you see?” he asked.

A naïve girl and her handsome suitor. A wife and her husband. A whore and a killer. They were all of these at once, and yet, strangers to her.

“I don’t know.”

“What do you want to see?”

“Your hands.”

Edward smiled, his fingers sliding across her stomach. “So you can watch what they do to you?”

She knew it was a taunt, but even so, she must tell the truth – even if it would bring the tears she had fought to keep back these long hours.

“So I know you will not stab me in the back like you did your whore,” she whispered.

Her tone was more an accusation than a plea, and Emma bit her lip, anticipating a painful reminder of her place. His hand drifted upward, nearing her throat. Emma held her breath.

“Then let’s undress.” He unhooked the top button of her collar. “Skin to skin, no weapons.”

She exhaled slowly, thankful to have found him in good humour. Still, she could not rid herself of fear while one question – the only question – plagued her every waking moment.

“Please, Edward. Tell me truthfully,” she asked, a lone tear sliding down her cheek, “are you going to kill me?”

A gleam of anger shone in his cold gaze, and Emma closed her eyes, praying for the answer she knew she would not hear.

“Only if you betray me,” he replied at last, and traced the path she had wept. “It would pain me to lose you, Emma. But I will kill you if I must.”

“If you truly loved me, you could not even think of it!” she sobbed.

Her shoulders shook, and he took hold of them, pulling her back against himself.

“If I didn’t love you, I’d have killed you the moment I finished with you on our wedding night!”

Emma cried out in fear. He embraced her from behind, forcing her arms to stay by her sides; whether he thought she may try to escape, she didn’t know, but she daren’t move. There was no use in fighting him, and only pain to be wrought by resistance. She had learned that lesson too well.

He waited until her weeping had stopped and her tremors had ceased before freeing her, only to capture her waist instead, and she reached for his hand. He entwined his fingers with hers.

“We needn’t say anything more,” he said. “Obey me, and there’s nothing you need fear.”

Emma sniffed, blinking away what remained of her tears. “I wish I could believe you.”

“You know this much is true,” he said, and guided her hand to his arousal, already rigid and demanding. “I need you, and until I am satisfied, you can trust that your screams will be ones of pleasure.”

She sighed in longing at the memory his assurance evoked, but the fear remained. “And afterward?”

“I don’t intend to harm you, but you are trying my patience,” he growled.

Since the first night when he had threatened her, rarely had he offered a warning before he struck; if he deigned to do so now, when she had already tempted his anger, perhaps he was in earnest. It was more generous a gesture than he had yet made – and it was her only hope.

“All right,” she said, and allowed herself to lean back against his chest. “I believe you.”

He nodded. With a tenderness she could never have expected, he wiped her tears away, and she kissed the hand that had eased her sorrow.

Brushing her hair aside, he brought his lips to her neck. His slow, teasing kisses quieted her fears at last, a warmth building within her. Safety was all she had asked for; pleasure was her reward. Despite herself, her sex began to ache with every sweet stroke of his tongue as it mimicked the wonders she’d known by its ravenous hunger, and she wished for nothing more than to know that joy again.

She could not meet her reflection’s gaze as Edward unbuttoned the front of her nightdress. He pushed the fabric aside to reveal her breasts, aching now for his touch, and she moaned as his fingers deftly circled and stroked her nipples. With a sigh, she closed her eyes, revelling in this familiar pleasure.

“Look at yourself,” he commanded, and she obeyed.

Though she had stared long enough these past few minutes, she did not recognize the woman in the mirror, whose cheeks were crimson with passion’s heat and whose gaze shone with lust. Her rosy lips parted, moaning softly at each caress, and she trembled with desire as he slid her nightdress up to her waist and reached beneath the embroidered hem. His strong hand cupped her sex, fingers trapping her aching peak between them, and she whimpered at the slightest pressure, a shock of bliss racing deep into her core.

“Please,” she whispered.

He grinned. “Begging already, my love?”

“Yes. Please.” She caressed his forearm, gently urging his attentions. “Please don’t tease me. I need…”

“I know what you need,” he said, thrusting his thick, rigid manhood against her backside, and Emma gasped. “Submit, and I’ll give it to you.”

“I submit.”

Her knees shook, and they may as well have folded beneath her, for it would not be long before he ordered her to pleasure him. Though Emma begged for release, she hoped he would give the command that would bring their joining closer, even if it meant his satisfaction before her own.

But when he stopped, it was not to urge her to kneel; instead, he turned her toward him and tilted her head up almost gently to meet his eye.

“I love you, Emma.”

Her heart thundered in her ears as a stifling heat warmed her cheeks. Love? What did he know of love? He had threatened her, hurt her, ruined her. He was sin, and hate, and death itself. How could one who killed without remorse possibly love? And what was she to say to this declaration? Would he beat her if she did not reply with the same?

All these questions, she asked herself in a single silent breath. Before she could even glance away to gather her thoughts, he kissed her, sparing her an answer.

It was much the same as all his kisses – deep and passionate, at once giving pleasure and demanding his own. But this one was somehow more, with an ease she hadn’t yet known, and she gave into it eagerly, greedy with desire. It was not until they parted for breath that she realized what had changed: he was no longer forcing her submission.

He was taking what was already his.

Should she not do the same? This was her husband’s body; he would give it freely, if only he were able. Why should she deny herself the joys he offered? There was no sin in their pleasure, for they had been made one before God – even if her desire burned now with Hell’s own fire.

She kissed him then, wrapping her arms about his shoulders to hold him close, and he responded in kind, crushing her to him. For the first time, she was without hatred, or even remorse; in his arms, there was nothing else in the world save for their passion. No secrets. No lies. No fear.

He backed her into the bed, and she caught herself, climbing onto the mattress even as his kisses followed her, teasing her neck, the hollow of her throat, her breasts. He unfastened his trousers as he joined her atop the sheets, and she lay back, too eager for their union to mourn what other pleasures they may have had, but he pulled her up against him, face to face upon their knees. He gripped her waist, leaning back to lift her onto his lap, and Emma whimpered as he entered her.

Henry. Though Edward’s eyes were closed, she couldn’t help but see her beloved beneath her. Why did Edward have to take her as Henry had? But any protest quieted at his first hard thrust, finding the nearest of pleasures within her sex, and she moaned, opening herself to him.

Bracing her with an arm around her back, he impaled her upon him, ramming so deep that she screamed with joy. He laughed and stifled her cries with his kiss as he pounded her, pure bliss building in her core until her toes curled and she wept for mercy.

“Edward!”

At her desperate plea against his lips, he freed her, and she arched, tossing her head back to reach for release like a drowning woman gasped for breath upon breaking the ocean’s surface. At last, the most incredible of climaxes hit her with the force of a tidal wave, shattering her senses, and her wild screams of ecstasy pierced the air.

Her sex quaked as she bore down upon him, meeting his every thrust; bliss rushed through her veins, and did not relinquish its hold until his own bellows of release sounded in her ear. Even when he had stilled, she trembled, utterly helpless.

She’d often known such rapture in his embrace, but never had her pleasure been so complete. Its warmth caressed her for long moments after she had collapsed against him, laying her head upon his shoulder. But as the heat of their joining gave way, an icy shiver ran down her spine.

Her back, though still clothed, was vulnerable – bared to both his caress and the point of his knife. Only one of his hands lay upon her hip; what if, with the other, he reached for a weapon?

That they were still joined meant nothing; as he had killed his whore, so too may he kill her now. His only promise hinged upon her faithfulness, and if her silence at his proclamation of love was proof of her betrayal, her life was at its end.

The point between her shoulders ached, and she shuddered at the phantom sensation of a cold blade against her skin.

“Please don’t kill me,” she sobbed, embracing him.

She whimpered with relief at the caress of his hands, soothing her, but this alone could not ease her fears, and as he pulled back to look at her, she saw only the murderer who haunted her dreams.

“So long as you are mine, you are safe,” he said. “I promise you that.”

I am not yours. I will never be yours. Though she closed her eyes to conceal their anger from him, he could not mistake her disobedience.

“Have you defied me again?” he demanded. When she said nothing, too frightened to speak, he shook her shoulders until she looked to him. “Did you touch him?”

“No.”

That much, at least, was the truth. Her attempt to comfort her husband had been met with the same violence she dreaded now; his heart was forbidden to her, and had been since the moment they were wed – if it had ever been hers at all.

Edward’s rage calmed, his eyes almost caring as he tipped up her chin.

“Then do not be afraid,” he whispered.

Slowly, she nodded. He took her hand, turning it over as he brought it to his lips, and pressed a kiss to her palm. She sighed, remembering such a playful gesture long ago, when a happy couple danced alone upon an empty ballroom floor, with love and laughter as their only music.

But this was not Henry’s tender caress; it was Edward’s seduction, and as he lay her back upon the mattress, for the first time, she wished the memory of her beloved away.

Chapter Text

It was not dawn’s light or the sound of her husband’s departure that eased Emma into wakefulness the next morning, but a sensation – the caress of a warm hand roaming her stomach and breasts as she lay upon her side. Its heat tormented her like a candle’s flame, both dangerously hot and fleeting, and she sighed into her pillow. Was she still dreaming?

The hand moved lower, delving between her legs, and the moment his fingertips stroked the sensitive pearl they found there, she whimpered with pleasure, shocked wide awake. The ache of her sex, so well-satisfied the night prior, returned with all its maddening agony as he swiftly rubbed her into bliss. She cried out, already nearing climax, and as his lips brushed her ear, his thick, hard manhood pressed against her backside.

“Good morning, my love.”

The voice was deep and harsh, not merely rough with sleep, and Emma’s heart thundered.

“Edward?”

Her whisper was more an acquiescence than a question. She’d known, even still half-asleep, that this was not Henry’s touch, and a prickle of fear snaked up her spine. If it was morning and Edward was here in Henry’s place, what had happened to her beloved?

“Disappointed, are you?” he growled, and ceased his sweet attentions.

She tried to face him, but he pinned her wrist to the mattress, keeping her in place.

“No,” she said, still gasping in need. “I’m glad it’s you.”

As much as she loathed to admit it, she’d spoken the truth. The painful memory of her argument with Henry was too tender, and to see him now would scrape that wound raw; until she knew how they might be reconciled, it was best to abstain from his company.

“Good. Because your cunt belongs to me,” he replied, bending her knee up and bringing the thick head of his manhood to her entrance. “And this is why.”

Emma gasped as he thrust inside, slow and hard, angled just right to find each and every one of her sweet pleasures, and her mouth gaped open in bliss at the sensation. He didn’t stop to tease her or demand that she beg for more, but gave her all of himself in one long, deep stroke, filling her completely.

“Yes,” she whimpered.

He rocked his hips, rubbing the spot that sent her hurtling toward ecstasy, and she moaned in pleasure.

“Say it,” he demanded.

She trembled, clenching hard around him. “My cunt is yours, Edward.”

This, too, was the truth. No matter how she hated him, she needed him as she needed breath, and her body knew too well the joys he offered to deny herself now.

His skillful fingers stroked her into madness as he drove deep inside her, hitting his mark with every powerful thrust. Bliss raced through her body, toes curling and fingers clawing at the bedsheets, and she cried her pleasure, uncontrollable whimpers and shrieks of joy pouring from her trembling lips. He growled in her ear, pulling back and pounding her so hard the bed crashed into the wall with each brutal impact.

His fingers clasped her throat as she neared her peak, and she lay her hand upon his wrist. There was no time to beg, even if she should find the breath to do so, nor did she need to; for once, his hold was merely a caress. Gripping his bicep instead, she shut her eyes, bracing for release.

She climaxed with a scream, pure ecstasy exploding deep in her core, and his own shout followed as he arched, grinding right into the very source of her joy. Whimpering, she shuddered upon him, riding out every last incredible wave of pleasure, until finally, her rapture faded, leaving her trembling and breathless. After a few moments, his lips grazed her ear.

“You are mine,” he growled.

His claim was no longer a warning or a threat, but a twisted declaration of love. Though she would never belong to him, union with his body – with her husband’s body – was the most perfect thing she’d ever known, and it was to her beloved that she spoke.

“Yes,” she whispered, still panting. “I’m yours.”

He tilted her head up, and she shifted to meet his kiss. It was deep and possessive, yet unhurried; she melted into it, dizzy with the sensation, and mourned the loss of his lips as he pulled back.

At last, he withdrew from her, his warm seed dripping onto her thighs. He must have caught her looking, for he smeared it onto his fingers and brought them to her mouth. She opened for him, cringing at the bitter taste, and sucked him clean.

Edward smiled. “You’ll taste me again before long.”

Emma closed her eyes and nodded, not daring to argue. He spoke of an act she still detested, though she did so enjoy stroking him, feeling her husband’s need for her. But the moment he ordered her to open her mouth, any pleasure she may have known was gone. There was nothing pleasurable about her aching jaw as he stretched her lips wide open, plunging deep into her throat and choking her mercilessly. He forced her to look at him with tears welling up in her eyes, and only when his climax overtook him and he released her did he show even the slightest hint of pity for her pains.

If only he allowed her to ease into it, to explore him at her leisure and learn how best to please him in her own way, she may have come to enjoy herself as well. Watching his eyes close, hearing his deep moans, feeling him strain for more. Her beloved would have. If only it were Henry—

But it wasn’t Henry, and if Edward had his way, it never would be.

She cursed herself now, that she had not drawn him inside herself the first morning she dared touch him; under his attentions, her climax had been so close she was sure to have screamed his name in only moments. Or later, when he’d returned to her, bringing her to the edge of ecstasy with his tongue and fingers, pulling her onto his lap and sliding deep inside her. If she’d only asked, he’d have taken her faster, harder, made her scream for him. Why hadn’t she?

Because of Edward. His hands forever pinning her down, his deep growls demanding her obedience, his torturous denial whenever she tried to take her own pleasure. It was because of him that she hadn’t dared to make a demand of her beloved, hadn’t insisted on meeting him in ecstasy – and now, she never would.

His fingers traced her jaw, and she looked up to find her captor staring down at her with an almost tender gaze. In the morning light, his eyes were Henry’s eyes, and his hands Henry’s hands; were it not for the fear still beating at her breast, she would think her beloved had returned to her.

“I’ve waited too long to wake beside you,” he said, and took her lips in a brief but ravenous kiss. She moaned as his fingers stroked her dripping sex, desire building anew. “I could pound your sweet cunt all day. But first, there’s something I must do.”

“What is it?” she asked, lamenting the end of his caresses.

“That is none of your concern,” he said, and gripped her chin. “Now, where is Henry supposed to be today?”

A shiver of terror raced up her spine. Henry was still working on a cure, in some secret place that would not be on his schedule – if indeed he adhered to it at all. If Edward should follow it and discover Henry’s absences prior, the question of his whereabouts would bring the killer to a dangerous conclusion. And if he thought she had lied to him as well…

“The office at St. Jude’s from nine until noon,” she said, reciting from memory, for his schedule rarely changed now that consulting hours were no longer conducted at home. “Luncheon at the Athenaeum. The Royal Society of Medicine from one to two. St. Jude’s again until five.”

Henry had been right not to tell her anything more. Even though she hadn’t lied, she all but trembled just from withholding their secret, and prayed Edward would not see her deceit.

He nodded. “And when he returns home?”

“In the laboratory, I believe. I don’t see him.”

“Just as well,” he said, tracing the bruises upon her neck, and she shivered. “I would hate for you to do something foolish.”

Emma held her breath. Did he suspect her of keeping a secret, or was this merely a reminder he’d forbade her to touch her husband? She said nothing, but to ease her fears, she grasped his arm and gently urged him closer, looking to his lips. He obliged her with a deep, lingering kiss, so warm and full of passion she could not believe he meant to harm her. But it ended all too soon, and with it, her safety. She must tread lightly.

“It’s time to serve your husband, wife,” he said, parting from her, and stood.

Her gaze flicked to his manhood, satisfied for now but so easily aroused again. He laughed, no doubt at her apprehension, and gripped her chin again.

“Eagar for a taste, are you?” he taunted. “But I’ll deny you for now. Come. You’ve neglected your duties long enough.”

She followed his lead and served him as she’d been taught her husband would require, washing him at the vanity and assisting him as he dressed, receiving a scolding once or twice for her clumsiness. It was true she hadn’t much practice, for though Henry had forgone the convenience of a valet since her arrival, he had refused her help. But this wasn’t about caring for her husband; it was about serving Edward in Henry’s place, and she dared not refuse him.

Her bare body tingled as she went about her work, aching under his gaze, and yet, he didn’t touch her. Only when she had finished arranging the red satin ascot of his morning suit did he take her hand and guide it to his trousers, making her feel how he had hardened again. He grinned.

“Now you may kneel.”
-
Once Edward departed, Emma busied herself with finally answering the many cards from friends and family which had accumulated over the past month, afraid to think of her captor lest she tempt fate and bring about his return. But neither could she let her thoughts linger upon Henry; there were too many questions to plague her. Foremost among them: when would he return?

She rarely woke now at Henry’s nightmares, which she had slowly come to understand were not nightmares at all, but Edward’s reversion back into his original self as the formula broke its hold. It was only supposed to last for twelve hours. How was it possible that Edward had remained so long after the formula should have lost its effect? Had Henry taken it again before she had awoken? Or had he transformed under duress, as she had so recently witnessed, because he could not bear the thought of seeing her? Had she driven him away?

The hours dragged on, and she abandoned her well-intentioned productivity, for all she could think of was Henry’s apology. If only she had accepted it and stayed with him to ease his sorrow. His secrecy was for her own safety, and his outburst only a reflection of his fears; she saw that clearly now. The next time she had the chance, she must assure him of her love and forgiveness.

Perhaps the experiment’s pattern had reversed somehow, and Henry would be the one to greet her that night. It was best if he and Edward returned to their former arrangement, and despite his earlier sentiment, she was certain Edward would agree; she could not imagine he would rather spend days at work than nights at leisure.

Still, she dared not risk Edward’s displeasure, and waited in Henry’s room as he had commanded. But as six o’clock passed and her captor did not make his presence known, she could not help but wonder if something greater was amiss. He had been so adamant that he would join her in bed whenever his mysterious errand had been completed. What would have kept him from her side?

When the clock struck six-thirty, she could bear her questions no longer. Where was he? Which of them now held control? What had delayed him? She must find answers, and as she descended the stairs, icy tendrils of fear scraped down her back; whether it was terror at the certainty of Edward’s wrath or worry for Henry’s safety, she could not be certain.

Their steadfast butler was already at his post in the dining room, setting out the china, and ceased his task as she entered.

“Poole, where is my husband?”

“He is in the laboratory, ma’am.”

She breathed a silent sigh of relief and thanked the man, hurrying through the office to the locked door. Her hand trembled as she forced it into a fist and knocked, praying her fears were unfounded, and listened carefully. Footsteps sounded, and her knees shook with fright, prepared to fold in an instant should it be Edward within, enraged at her defiance.

The door opened, and Emma held her breath. The man who appeared before her still wore Henry’s finery, his hair tied back in his signature style, with no indication he should not be her husband. But his eyes regarded her with a suspicion bereft of her beloved’s compassion, and Emma’s blood froze into ice.

“You were to wait for me upstairs.” Edward kept his voice low, but it seethed with anger. “What are you doing here?”

Emma cursed her impatience, struggling to keep tears at bay as she made her excuse.

“It’s six-thirty,” she whispered, determined now not to beg unless commanded to do so; she doubted it would do any good. “I worried something had happened to you.”

Edward sneered. “To Henry, you mean.”

“To either of you,” she insisted. It was the same thing; their fates were intertwined, and her own entangled with them.

He pushed the door open. “Inside.”

She obeyed without question, though her legs trembled and her heart thundered with fear. Had he invited her within only to beat her for her disobedience? But he made no move to harm her, and her eye was drawn to the leather-bound book upon the table. It had been moved from its previous place on the side nearest the door, and now lay open closer to the centre – Edward must have been writing in it. What had he and Henry been discussing?

“You’ve been here before,” he said, following her gaze as the clock chimed fifteen minutes to seven.

“Yes.” She would admit to her visitation before she and Henry had married, if asked; he needn’t know of her more recent return.

“I remember.”

“You remember?” she asked. How could that be so?

“Jekyll told me of your midnight rendezvous,” he said, and a faint smile played upon his lips. “A shame it wasn’t me you found.”

“Why?”

“Because you wouldn’t have left this room until I’d had you.” His grin faded, and he stalked toward her with a lustful gleam in his eye, backing her into the centre of the laboratory table. “Would you have succumbed willingly?”

Henry had been so distraught that the thought of it hadn’t crossed her mind. If he had begged the comfort of her company, even before their marriage, would she have conceded to ease his pain? Yes, she believed so – and so long as Edward had not given her reason to believe that anything was amiss, she may have surrendered herself to him.

But if he had made himself known, and she had refused him—

“Yes,” she replied, not wishing to dwell on such thoughts. He had long since claimed her body, and she would never deny him again; there was too much pain to be wrought, and so much more pleasure to be had.

She moaned as his lips brushed the sensitive spot beneath her ear, and wished his cruelty had not merited the high collar she wore to conceal the marks he had left upon her neck. Nevertheless, she arched back, bracing herself with one hand upon her beloved’s journal, and hoped Edward would do away with the irksome buttons keeping his mouth from all the places she yearned for him to kiss.

Instead, he cleared the space behind her and lifted her onto the table. She sat upon it with some difficulty, encumbered as she was with bustle and heavy skirts, but she daren’t complain. Edward pulled up the many layers of fabric and yanked down her undergarment, leaving her lower half bare save for her stockings, and made her hold her knees up, her sex bared to him completely.

“I’d have taken you right here on this table,” he said, stroking his fingers through her wetness and up to her slick, throbbing pearl. “Gently, to begin with…”

Emma gasped with bliss as he swirled and circled over the aching nub, searching for just the right angle. When he found it, she cried out and arched into his hand, and he stifled her whimpers with his kiss. Joy coursed through her veins and lust dripped down her thighs, and she trembled with the need for more, moaning her pleas against his lips.

He pulled back, grasping her chin. Their eyes locked as he eased two fingers inside her aching sex, rocking his hand in slow, hard thrusts, such sweet friction that she clenched around him, eager to be filled completely. His thumb beat against her throbbing peak, and as his fingertips began to pulse, she could withstand his teasing no longer.

“Please,” she whispered, staring up into his merciless eyes. “Please take me.”

“I’d have made you beg then, too, just before I made you scream,” he said, his grip on her jaw hardening into iron, and a cold shiver cut through the fiery ravages of her pleasure. “But tonight, you disobeyed me.”

He quickened his pace, plunging his fingers deep until she quaked on the edge of ecstasy. Her mouth gaped open, and she struggled to form an apology or a plea, but all that came out was a shriek of joy, cut short as he withdrew.

“No.” He pinched her aching peak. “You are not allowed to scream. If you do, you will be beaten without mercy. This is your punishment. Do you understand?”

Emma’s chest heaved, and she fought not to buck into his hand, for she would shatter in a second. He had so often delayed her satisfaction, but only to hear her beg for it or leave her suffering in his absence; for him to deny it entirely would be the cruelest of agonies.

When she did not answer, he gripped her throat, the lace and embroidered beading of her collar digging into her skin, and she went dizzy with need for air – yet, the maddening ache between her thighs only pulsed harder, her peak quivering between his fingers.

“Do you understand?” he growled once more.

“Yes,” she whispered, and gasped as he released her.

He let go of her sex as well, running his hand over the bulge beneath his trousers. “Good.”

With a few deft maneuvers, they fell open, and his hard, throbbing manhood sprung forth, jutting into her thigh. Emma whimpered, overcome with lust for her husband’s body – and the terrible fear of her captor’s wrath. It was one thing to steel herself against the caress of his fingers, but she had no defense against his deep, hard thrusts, for once he had found the source of her ultimate pleasure, there was no holding back her ecstasy.

He gripped his shaft, and she moaned as he teased her slick nub with his tip. If he did not mean to give her pleasure, why did he taunt her thus? She trembled, her lust drenching the head of his manhood, and at his first slow, driving thrust, she wept with desire, praying he would take what he needed and be done before her body betrayed her.

But if she had thought his possession would be quick and reckless, she was cruelly mistaken. He arched deliberately against the aching walls of her sex, seeking out each pleasurable spot within her, and when he found his first mark, utter joy crashing through her, she could not help but beg.

“Please,” she whimpered. “I’m sorry, Edward. I—”

She bit down on her lip to stifle a cry as he rammed into that spot again, nearly blinding her with pleasure. He took her chin between his fingertips once more, forcing her to meet his gaze as he pulled back with a wicked gleam in his eye, and she knew her fate was sealed.

He impaled her completely, the most torturous bliss racing through her body, and it took all of her strength not to give in to ecstasy. She wept in exquisite agony, clenching around him to urge his own release, but he ground up into her most sensitive of weaknesses, and she went slack with shock, thoroughly undone.

“Don’t scream,” he taunted, pounding hard right into the end of her sex. “Don’t scream…”

Her aching core quaked with the need for release, pure fire forced through her veins. At any moment, she would lose control, and his fury would not be far behind.

“Mercy!” she cried, sobbing. “Mercy, I beg you!”

There was no sense in fighting it any longer; he knew she would succumb, and her surrender was only an excuse for the greater punishment that awaited her. At least satisfaction would soften the pain of his blows.

But the moment before she could lose herself in joy, he withdrew with a shout, stroking himself furiously as he spilled. Emma whimpered in surprise, closing her eyes so that she needn’t witness the pleasure she’d been denied.

When his groans had ceased, she felt his hand upon her cheek, but refused to look at him. Even his rough, demanding kiss did not move her, and not until his passion became tender, his lips grazing softly against her own, did she dare respond.

“How could you be so cruel?” she asked.

He was silent for a moment, his ragged breaths filling her ear. “You should not have disobeyed me.”

“If you wish to beat me, then beat me,” she snapped. “Do not force excuses to harm me.”

She regretted her challenge the instant she had spoken. Her punishment would not stand in recompense for this defiance – and now she would suffer the very pain she had just been spared. She shook with fear, but did not trust her lips to form an apology; nor did she expect his tender kiss upon her neck.

“I do not wish to harm you. If I did, I would not have shown the mercy you begged for.” He pulled back, and at last, she looked to him, finding a deep melancholy within his dark eyes. “I love you, Emma.”

Love. Each time he had professed thus, she questioned it less. Perhaps one night, if his abuse and his threats ceased, she would believe him. Tonight was not that night.

But only by appealing to this fondness could she hope to win her safety, and with trembling fingers, she lay her hand upon his cheek. “Then do not break my heart.”

His brows furrowed, eyes studying her own for a long moment. Then, his gaze softened, and he leaned into her touch, kissing her palm. The unbearable sweetness stilled her tears, the terror beating at her breast fading with each caress of his lips. It was as if Henry were there with her, and if she should close her eyes, she could imagine her beloved had returned.

She succumbed as he sought her mouth, returning his kiss now with an ardour truer than any time before. He pressed closer, his manhood thrusting against her inner thigh, and she moaned in anguish.

“Are you still aching, my love?” he asked.

Emma panted, her senses on fire once more, and looked to him with yearning eyes. “Yes.”

She refused to say anything more – she would not beg for that which she had earned by his own pleasure. He would grant it, or he would deny her; she had already suffered the agony of unsated lust, and could not bear it again.

“Very well. You’ve endured your punishment,” he said, and gripped his shaft. “Here is your reward.”

He entered her slow and hard, guiding himself deeper, seeking the places that still trembled in want of him. She moaned in bliss at each driving thrust as he stoked the fire within her, such heat building inside her core that she could hardly breathe for its suffocating flames. Her arms shook with strain from holding herself open for him, and he wrapped her legs around his hips instead, allowing her to lean back and brace herself against the table.

Her sex drew him into their carnal embrace, and when at last he seated himself completely inside her, she could not help but close her eyes again, savouring the feeling of fullness. Yet, with each heaving breath, the ache within her only grew, needing more – needing him.

She almost thought he meant to taunt her again, waiting for her to beg, but his fingers found her throbbing pearl and began to rub, tiny shocks of pleasure so sweet she cried his name. She clenched harder around him, earning Edward’s ragged groan as he began to thrust again.

These twin pleasures would have been more than enough to satisfy her, but then he reached beneath her as well, a finger prodding at her back entrance. Emma’s eyes snapped open, and she cried out in shock as he eased inside, slowing the tempo of his thrusts to find the most secret of pleasures deep within that lower, forbidden place. He found his mark with dangerous precision, knowing her body so well that he had pushed her to the edge of climax before she even realized she had cried his name again.

“Please,” she whimpered, breaking her vow. “Please, Edward, may I…?”

“Yes, my love.” He leaned down for a breathless kiss, and growled into her ear. “Scream for me.”

Righting himself, he pulled back and thrust deep and hard, pounding into her as his thumb beat against her quivering nub and his finger plunged into her second aching hole. Each of these pleasures was so joyful they brought her to tears; together, they made her climax in a blinding ecstasy so rapturous she screamed his name with wild abandon.

Her body shuddered in pure bliss, and she writhed, arching for more even as she quaked with stunning aftershocks. He withdrew his finger and buried his manhood deep inside her trembling sex, spilling with a moan, until both of them had stilled and fell silent save for their heaving breaths. Across the laboratory, the clock chimed seven.

Tears streamed down Emma’s cheeks, not of mere fear or sorrow, but a new, raw terror that left her sobbing and helpless. She had long since surrendered her body, but this was something else, something more. Her heart felt heavy and her skin ached for contact, every part of her vulnerable and crying out for comfort. The exquisite fullness of him inside her was her only solace, and if she should lose his touch, she felt something within her would break.

He had taken too much – she had given too much. It was not simply their bodies that were joined tonight; there was some deeper connection, beyond what flesh alone could create. Of this new feeling, she knew only one thing:

It was not love.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

The words came with an odd, breathless ease, though she detested them even as they left her lips. He would just as easily have denied her, or even beaten her, if it had suited his whim; it was not him to whom she owed her gratitude, but chance. Nevertheless, she met his kiss with an equal passion, her tears ceding to contentment.

“Always, my love.”

At last, he withdrew, and her body ached, sore and sweating beneath her fine gown. Edward pulled a handkerchief from his waistcoat pocket and offered it to her, and she looked down to find his seed had not only dripped down her thighs, but splashed upon her petticoats and shoes.

One thick white drop had even landed below his last writings in the journal beside her; with a lust-slickened finger, he used it to trace a near-invisible pattern upon the page, grinning all the while. It wasn’t until he stepped away to cleanse his hands at the basin nearby that she realized he had signed his monogram.

With Edward’s back turned, Emma dared peek at the journal’s contents, finding there two entries. Henry had written a long, rambling passage she hadn’t the time to even skim. Beneath it, Edward had written a single sentence:

I have won.