The Ripper's Daughter
Ten years ago, Jack the Ripper killed my sister. Now someone’s murdering the city’s prostitutes. One of them, my friend, has been kidnapped and I fear she’ll be the next victim.
A mysterious young woman may be the key to solving the crimes. Except I’m no longer a detective inspector investigating the case. I’m just a tavern owner who happens to be a vampire.
Because I know something about the Ripper no one else does. If that young woman is his daughter, they’re more dangerous than anything the police have dealt with.
Hell, I wouldn’t want to face his daughter alone.
But if I’m to save my friend, I have no choice.
I was about four blocks from home when I saw them. My heart plummeted, exploding in a gush of disbelief and horror. I staggered back, bile rising in my throat, and pressed my hand against my nose and mouth. Taking a deep breath, I ordered myself not to vomit.
The two drunks dangled like macabre scarecrows on the spikes of a wrought iron fence. Their throats had been slashed, torsos ripped open, guts hanging loose, glinting with fat in the glow of a gas light. A large pool of blood coagulated on the cobblestones.
I ran home, denial pounding in my brain in counterpoint to the slapping of my soles on the pavement. No. No. No. Oh, God, Stephen, why ? I clenched my fists as I tried to push the gruesome images out of my mind.
How could he have done this? I nearly wrenched the doorknob off the front door.
Stephen met me in the foyer. I stormed past him into the living room.
“Is everything all right?” he asked, voice filled with concern.
I wanted to grab him by the shirt collar, throttle him, scream and demand to know why he’d killed those men. I wanted to hate him and myself for trusting a monster, a demonic being now showing his true face. Instead, I sank into the upholstered chair, head in my hands. If Stephen was what I’d become, I wanted to die now.
Stephen didn’t approach me. Considering my rage, probably a wise decision.
I stared at him, fingers pressed against my temples. “You don’t know? Or are you in denial?” I paused. Maybe he wasn’t aware. Maybe in a fit of rage, he’d blacked out.
I didn’t know my lover as well as I thought, even after ten years.
Did this mean I didn’t know myself?
He looked hurt at my accusation, his brow furrowed. “No, I’m sorry, I don’t.”
I placed my hands on my knees and drew a deep breath. “Those two men who assaulted you in the bar. They followed you, didn’t they?”
Stephen nodded. “But you figured they would, right?”
“Did something happen to them?”
I told him, my voice dispassionate. Funny how the deaths of the prostitutes and Rosie’s mother had not garnered the same reaction from me as the murders of the two drunks.
But that was because the man I loved, or thought I loved, was possibly their killer. The one person I trusted was possibly betraying me.
He shook his head when I’d finished. “I can’t believe you would think that.” Pain, anger, and frustration filled his voice. “You really think I’m capable of doing that, especially knowing how your sister died?”
Guilt overwhelmed me. Now, sitting there, talking to him, I realized how foolish my initial thoughts had been. Stephen never killed indiscriminately.
But if he hadn’t killed them, who had?
My stomach roiled. The Ripper. Somehow, he’d followed Stephen and murdered the men.
A chill washed over me. Did he know where we lived? Would he try to kill us during daylight, when he had the advantage?
Stephen headed for the front door.
“Where are you going?” I asked.
“I want to see those bodies. Maybe we can find a clue.”
I hurried outside after him, apprehension making my legs tremble. I’d no desire to see those mangled corpses again.
“Show me where the bodies are,” he said.
I pointed down the street. “There.”
We drew closer, gaslight lamps casting our shadows across the cobblestones.
“Where?” Stephen asked.
Impatient, I jabbed my index finger at the iron fence. “There!”
I dropped my arm to my side and stood, slack-jawed.
No bodies hung there. No pools of blood. No sign of murder.