Chapter 14

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"You!" Sylvia gasped. "How...?" She let the sentence dangle unfinished, but I knew what she was thinking. How could three diverse people have the same ability?

"Are we related?" I asked. "You, Jack and I? Is there some connection between us?"

"We're not blood relatives." His voice sounded disembodied, and it was difficult to tell from which direction it came. "However there is a connection."

Metal scraped and a chain rattled, a macabre sound in the darkness. Sylvia whimpered and clung tighter to me. There was some comfort in her closeness. It would have been worse to be alone.

"Mr. Tate, sir," came a slurring, heavy voice. It belonged to a man and he wasn't near us, but that's all I knew. I didn't recognize the speaker. Whispers followed as Tate and the other man exchanged words. I strained to hear, but caught nothing.

"Light something," Sylvia said, voice low.

"I can't."

"Just try it."

I flicked my fingers out. Nothing happened. I snapped and shook them, but still no heat rose, no sparks flew. "Damn," I muttered.

Tate chuckled. "Are you trying to form a flame, Miss Smith? You ought to know by now that it's futile." He seemed to have finished his conversation with the other man, but I could see no one else in the darkness. Not even a shadow.

"Why?" Sylvia asked.

"I've tried to control it," he said. "Tried to create it when I wanted it and stop it when I didn't. I failed, time after time. As you would have too, Miss Smith."


I pinched Sylvia's arm, and she fell silent. I didn't want her telling Tate anything that may be to our advantage. If he didn't know that Jack could start fires at will, then Jack could take him by surprise when he came. If he wasn't already there.

Oh Jack, where are you?

Someone grunted. It came from the far end of the factory. It could have come from the slurring stranger, but I didn't think so.

"Jack?" I called out at the same time Sylvia did. "Jack, is that you?"

"It's me," came Tommy's thick, sleepy voice.

"Tommy!" Sylvia let me go, but I held her back.

"Wait," I whispered.

She said nothing for a few pounding heartbeats, then called out, "Tommy? Are you all right?"

The chain rattled again, followed by more grunting. "Bloody 'ell! What's goin' on? Miss Langley? Is that you?"

"Yes," she said. "Where are you?"

"Don't know. I can't see a bloody thing. There's chains around my wrists and I can't move my legs."

Brightness flared in the depths of the factory as Tate lit a gas lamp. The small circle cast yellow light on the prone figure of Tommy lying on a bench, his wrists attached to chains and his ankles cuffed to the table. Dried blood smeared his bottom lip, and a shadowy bruise cupped one eye. Behind him stood a huge man with a jaw shaped like a brick and just as hard. His shoulders were wide and hunched as if he carried a heavy weight on them. His brow bulged over dull, vacant eyes.

"My God, what have you done to him?" Sylvia cried.

"He's a friend of yours?" Tate asked. "Ham said he was looking around the factory. I can't allow that. Who is he? Another one of Langley's so-called nephews?"

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