I read A LOT though you’d never know it by my abominable spelling and punctuation. Once I had decided the time frame and location of my story I read a few novels that corresponded. It was very helpful and torture free. Again it put me in a good frame of mind to write THIS story. They were also helpful in adding a few facts about the time that I hadn’t come across on my own while web surfing. So without further ado here is chapter two. Hey that rhymes!
August 31st 1888. Extra extra read all about it murder done in Whitechapple. Murderer on the loose. (Mary Ann Nichols Murder 1)
The Hansom pulled up at 28 George Street in Hanover Square, the current location of the Royal Photographic society. Glorrianna was not nervous or so she told herself. When was the last time she had ever ventured out in anything but black or grey skirts she thought? It seemed a lifetime. Glorianna stepped out of the cabriolet to the outstretched hand of the driver, she self continuously smoothed her fashionable bronze taffeta feeling a bit conspicuous even though bronze was hardly harlot red.
Silvie always the height of fashion was dressed in glaringly demure pale blue. She joined Glorianna on the walk and linked her arm through Glorianna’s whispering in her ear “Common love, it’s a club meeting not a death sentence.” her friend said on a low chuckle. How Silvie could make a debutantes colored skirts look lascivious was beyond Glorianna. It was simply Silvie she guessed. The dark haired pixie could be wrapped in burlap and still exude sex Glorianna thought.
The two women entered the establishment and gave their outerwear to the footman standing at attention by the door. It was August and although the regular season had just ended there was already a foggy chill in the air but then again this was London.
Silvie glided in as if she was the lady of the manor all smiles and nods of her head. Gloriannna sailed along with her until Silvie brought them to a stop before a distiguished gentleman presently being served a drink by an attentive server. “Well hello Mrs. Babbet, what a pleasure it is seeing you again.” He said.
“Hello to you as well Dr. Melton. May I introduce my friend Mrs. Glorianna Lockley.”
Dr. Melton bowed elegantly over Glorianna’s hand kissing the air just above her knuckles, “a pleasure it is Mrs. Lockley.”
Glorianna took in a breath of fortitude as she looked upon the good doctor. He was a handsome specimen much younger than she would imagine a doctor to be perhaps in his late thirties? He gazed at her with stone grey eyes and a quirk to his sensual lips and she replied. “A pleasure indeed Dr. Melton.”
“Is this another model you bring to us Mrs. Babbet?” Dr. Melton said in a seductively soft voice.
“Oh no indeed.” Silvie said with a chuckle. “You will never see Glorianna in the altogether anytime this Sunday or next I should believe.” Still smiling coquettishly, “Glorianna is just here as my guest to soak in the scene as you will.”
“Ah well, that is indeed a shame I can honestly admit that I wouldn’t mind photographing Mrs. Lockley in a state of undress.” said Dr. Melton never once taking his eyes off Glorianna. She felt utterly undone by his frank approval. A shiver of awareness traveling down her spine.
“La Dr. Melton,” silvie said with a swat to his arm, “ I know for a fact that you do not shoot artistic nudes.” With a sterner expression she continued. “ You are discomposing Glorianna unduly and she is far to lenient in manners and far to proper to understand your little joke.”
“Lenient,” Glorrianna asked with a confused lift of her well shaped dark brow looking from one to the other.
“Yes Lenient,”shot Silvie to her. “He is the Doctor in charge at the Tooting Asylum in Surry. His interest in photography is for medical purposes not artistry. He’s never shot a nude in his life I’m sure.” Silvie rolled her eyes for only Glorianna to see, “he’s bamming you Glorianna.”
“Ah I see,” Glorrianna smiled graciously. “I hope then never to see your nudes on display Dr. Melton.” She could give as sure as she could get Glorianna thought.
“A sorry sight they would be for sure Mrs. Lockley.” Dr. Melton chuckled in return. “It’s lovely to find a woman so lovely who also possesses a sense of humor. Don’t you agree Mrs. Babbet?”
Silvie gave a noncommittal snuff in return. To agree would be to admit that she herself had no sense of humor as she alone had taken offense. Silvie decided the better option would be to saunter off and include herself in another conversation. Glorianna was surely holding her own here.
“So Mrs. Lockley what do you think of our little club thus far?” Dr. Melton leaned down indecorously close to speak in her ear. It was a familiarity Glorianna had not invited but could not find distasteful. In fact it sent a shiver of awareness down her neck where his breath had fanned that was delicious. The young doctor was indecently handsome for his profession Glorianna decided. That could be the only answer. Glorianna was usually not so intimately aware of men. But she could not mind. Being the object of interest in such an attractive man made a reproach impossible.
Glorianna studied him thoughtfully from beneath her lashes as she contemplated her reply. “I find the gathering erm stimulating.” she said with a half smile.
Chuckling Dr. Melton took her elbow quite gentlemanly, “You are quite a delight Mrs. Lockley, but it would be remiss of me to monopolize such a lovely guest.” “Come he said with polite smile lets see if we can find more ‘stimulating’ things.”
Glorianna was a bit shocked at her flirting and instantly thought that the doctor would try to steer her to a more private area. She was not used to flirting and she decided she had been quite bold. Bolstering herself to have to pull away hoping not to cause too much embarrassment, she was surprised when Dr. Melton angled her instead into a group apparently discussing a display of wall mounted photos.
“Gentlemen, Ladies,” Dr. Melton said in smooth tones, “may I have the distinct pleasure of introducing our newest curiosity seeker and guest Mrs. Lockley.”
The gentlemen and ladies of the group nodded politely introducing themselves. “Mrs. Lockley a pleasure I’m sure.” One blond gentleman inclined his head.”
“Ah Inspector (clive) Levinson.” Dr. Melton intoned. “Is it a happy coincidence that we find
you here or are you attending in a more official capacity?”
Inspector Levinson smiled sheepishly. Putting an attractive dimple in his cheek Glorianna noted. “I must admit that I was hoping to find you here Dr. Melton. I find that I am anxious for your help in the matter you are aware of.” Inspector Levinson’s brow furrowed with a bit of worried intensity making his what were lovely blue eyes gleam. He was an exceptionally attractive man in a distinctly roguish way. His evening beard was in on what would normally she guessed a clean shaven face. He had wavy honey colored hair worn quite short. He was distinctly out of fashion in that manner but his tall straight figure looked quite fine in his evening ware. “I find the interview we had scheduled later in the week a bit too tardy with circumstances that have recently come up.” Shooting Glorianna an apologetic glance he said to the Doctor, “Forgive me for the rudeness of importuning you in at a social gathering but my need for a few professional answers must override manners in this case I’m afraid.”
Doctor Melton frowned with a slight pursing of his wonderful lips. “Well if it cannot wait I suppose I can forgive the presumption.”
“Mrs. Lockley if you will excuse us I fear I must leave you to societies members tender mercies. However before the good inspector appropriates me I wonder if you would mind if I could have the privilege of calling upon you some time to further our acquaintance?”
Glorianna realizing she was loosing not one but two gentlemen she could honestly see forming a liaison with, tried to hide her disappointment with a smile. “That would be lovely Doctor,” Glorianna said a bit shyly, “and of course I won’t keep you from something of such seeming importance. Go with my best wishes of a happy resolve.”
With a curt nod of the head Dr. Melton excused himself from the group. “Gentlemen, Ladies…” turning towards Inspector Levinson who he caught in a covert examination of Glorianna herself. Dr. Melton frowned.
Inspector Levinson gave her a last lingering glance that to Glorianna seemed to smolder. “Mrs. Lockley, it was a pleasure to meet you. Perhaps our paths will cross again soon.” Levinson said with dark meaning as he caught the doctors frown and a slight smirk curved his full mouth. The two men then took themselves off. Most likely to a more private study to discuss their business Glorianna thought.
With a small sigh Glorianna turned back to the group who were now engrossed in a lengthy discussion of photographic lighting. Some expounding on the virtues of pyrotechnic flash powders, some arguing the safer time tested method of magnesium ribbons and another who was testing the use of electric bulbs.
As she let the conversation roll about her, Glorianna became conscious of a shivering awareness that suddenly traveled down the nape of her neck and down her spine. It was a sensation that settled low in her belly, heating her from the inside out. She had not felt it in oh so long. She had not felt it since the attention of “‘that man who must not be named’ had suddenly disappeared from her life. Surely she was attracted to the sensual Doctor and even the roughly attractive inspector. But it was much too early to expect either one of them to have that kind of power over her already. Wasn’t it?
Glorianna examined her feelings more closely now ignoring the conversation around her. Thank goodness she was too new to the society for anyone to expect her to add to the conversation. Try as she might she could find no alteration in those long lost feelings she had had so long ago for that man. Curiosity won out over fear and in a split second decision she spun around..and immediately gasped.
Silvie must have noticed her sudden distress and glided to her side whispering over her champagne glass, “Darling whatever is the matter? Your white as a ghost!”
Glorianna stood there in shock. Her eyes riveted to a spot across the room. A pain in her stomach like a punch to the gut bloomed to encompass her heart. “It’s him” she said in a choked whisper to her friend.
“Him who,” Silvie said confused, quickly scanning the direction of her friends frozen gaze. Suddenly her eyes lit on the cause of her friends distress. A very tall gentleman who’s face rivaled a Greek god. A fantastic looking brunet lady clung to his arm oblivious to the byplay that was happening across the the room. Silvie herself felt faint at the smoldering look he had trained on her friend.
“Him, him,” Glorianna whispered back trying to hold her sudden tears at bay. “Oh god Silvie, he’s back…”
Understanding dawned on Sylvie’s face. “Good god dearest lets get you somewhere private. You look ready to cast up your accounts on the spot.” Her friend took a firm grasp of her elbow and steered her calmly but firmly toward the foyer discreetly imploring the footman to bring their wraps and hail a hansom for they wished to depart immediately. The well trained footman did her bidding with the subtle urgency her request had implied. Within moments they were ensconced in the cab and were rolling towards home. Silvie still clasping Glorianna’s cold clammy hand in hers, both women absorbed in their own tumultuous thoughts.