Chapter 2

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Davenford House had never been as crowded as in the week following Bernard's murder. Poor Jeeves was so overwhelmed Evie had to power him down to stop him from combusting.

First, it was the Scotland Yard detectives tromping through the house like they owned the place. All but one were augmented with glass optical magnifiers embedded into their eye sockets--the Earl of Westmorland's work, in all likelihood. To Evie's knowledge, there wasn't another man in England who could graft the devices without scarring. Scotland Yard's finest, then. Westmorland was expensive.

The detectives left after interviewing the entire household, including Evie, with a promise to return. But word must have spread quickly, because less than an hour later, the journalists showed up on her doorstep. The grisly murder of London's greatest inventor would sell thousands of papers--the more gruesome the details, the better. They recorded their notes with their Remmington Dictaphones—one of Evie's first inventions to sell under her husband's name—and asked even more pointed questions than the detectives. Eventually they'd leave, but every day they came back, and every day there were more of them.

Despite all the noise and commotion, Evie was grateful for the distraction. She didn't fear grieving; she feared not grieving her husband enough. What kind of wife would that make her? What kind of person would that make her? She didn't want to know.

In the rare moments Evie was alone, she retreated to her laboratory and buried herself in her work. The laboratory was her territory, had always been hers. It was her sanctuary, the only place in this world where she was truly happy.

A laboratory conjured up images of cold, sterile slabs of metal, institutional lighting and everything perfectly in its place, but Evie couldn't work like that. Invention required imagination, and imagination could not thrive in an environment of rigid order. She preferred organized chaos. Half the floor space was taken up by large steam turbines and a labyrinth of hydraulic pipes and cylinders.  Wrenches and ratchets and sockets were scattered everywhere. Labeled crates with miscellaneous parts—screws, nuts, bolts, roller chains and a wide variety of gears and ball bearings—were shoved into a corner. In another corner were her old inventions that she couldn't bear to part with: the first clock she ever rebuilt from scratch, a wind-up toy butterfly that could actually fly, a parasol that transmogrified into a chair and then back again. And in the back of the laboratory she had her own smithy, with a massive hearth and self-inflating bellows. There were also separate, reinforced chambers where she tested her most dangerous—and often explosive—inventions, as well as a small library where she noodled over her schemas, usually late into the night. After falling asleep in the library one too many nights—and waking up with a painful crick in her neck—Evie finally caved and bought a small cot.

Exactly one week after Bernard's murder, one of the detectives—Detective Michael O'Doyle, a gargantuan Irishman with a thick red beard and nearly handsome despite his eye contraption—found her dozing there. She awoke with a shriek, clutching the sheets to her chest. Fortunately, she wore a robe over her night clothes, or the detective would've seen much more than he bargained for. And at least she'd managed to wash the soot her face and hands before collapsing into sleep.

The detective coughed, his ruddy cheeks stained with pink. "Begging your pardon, Mrs. Remmington. I didn't expect to find you here."

"How did you get in?" she asked, rather sharply.

"The servants let me in, ma'am."

Evie clenched her jaw. The servants weren't supposed to allow anyone into the laboratory without her or Bernard's express permission. They'd listened to Bernard, but now that he was dead, they likely saw no reason to continue to follow his orders.

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