Everyone Has What He Wants
The killer picks her up in a Manhattan night club. Another trendy victim of the latest downtown scene. Young. Fresh. Healthy. Perfect. The police find her body in a Bronx park. Pale as a ghost. Peaceful in death. Her life has been drained away. Slowly. Methodically. Brilliantly...
No One Survives What He Takes
NYPD profiler Lee Campbell has seen the gruesome handiwork of the most deranged criminal minds. But this is something new. Something unbelievably twisted. A blood-obsessed lunatic who chooses his victims with deadly, loving care--and forces Campbell to confront the demons in his own life. No matter who wins this game, there will be blood...
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December 06, 2011
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Excerpt from Silent Kills by C.E. Lawrence
Candy Nugent wandered into the cavernous room and looked around. She was feeling insecure, which increased her determination to act utterly confident. Her fingers fiddled with the laces on her leather corset before flitting nervously to her face. She had tied the corset too tight, and could barely breathe, but she liked the curve it gave to her thin torso, pulling in her waist and shoving what little flesh she had on her chest upward, so that her breasts nearly spilled out of the lacy blouse she wore underneath the corset. Her black skirt was short and snug against her hips, showing off her slim legs in their black fishnet stockings.
She especially liked the ankle-high boots with their spiky heels and lace-up buttonholes--sixteen of them in all. The only real problem with her outfit was the goggles, which kept slipping on her shiny hair, falling down to her forehead and over her eyes. She put her hand up and pushed the goggles back on top of her head. They weren't meant to be worn over her eyes, Francois had told her--they were just decoration, part of the look.
Francois knew way more about steampunk than she did. Candy was a follower, and always had been, whereas Francois was an innovator. At least that's what he called himself: an innovator, ahead of the pack, a trendsetter. There could be worse things, she supposed, than having a brother who was a trendsetter--or thought he was. She had learned that with Francois it was usually easier to go along with him than to argue.
And so here she was: in New York City's "first bona fide steampunk club," way downtown in the no-man'sland east of Chinatown. Even the cabby had trouble finding it--and the entrance wasn't marked, which was part of what made it so cool, according to Francois.
The room was dark, but the copper fixtures on the walls gleamed and she had to blink to adjust her eyes. A huge brass boiler in the center of the room dominated the space. Red leather banquettes lined the walls; in front of each was a low table that looked to be made of industrial steel. At the far end of the room a long bar of burnished walnut sported a polished brass railing; to either side of it thick tapestries hung from the ceiling. A lavish chandelier in the center of the room was the brightest source of light, though even with the gas- burning wall sconces, the atmosphere was dark. Plush Persian carpets covered the concrete floors, as deep and soft as summer grass. She took a few steps forward, searching the crowd for a sign of her brother.
She was pleased to see that she fit in--at least as far as her wardrobe was concerned. The room was filled with other people dressed in much the same fashion as she was. The men wore nineteenth-century waistcoats, vests, and cravats; the more elegant ones were dressed in tails and top hats. Some were dressed more informally, in knee breeches and leather aviator caps--always with the ubiquitous goggles. The women wore anything from long Victorian gowns to short skirts like hers, but the scene was just as Francois had described it: nineteenth-century elegance meets industrialized goth fashion.
A tall brunette in a red satin gown approached her and gave her an appraising look. Candy seemed to meet with her approval--a smile flickered across the woman's face and she nodded grandly as she swept by. As she passed, Candy inhaled the aroma of an old-fashioned perfume . . . was it patchouli? She wasn't sure.
She turned to see a young man sidling toward her. He was tall and thin, but in the wiry way she liked, with long, stringy muscles and taut pale skin. He had shiny black hair that bounced when he walked, and full red lips. He wore his grey morning coat and striped stovepipe trousers with such ease he looked as though he had been born in them. A maroon cravat was tied rakishly around his throat, and he carried an elegant black silver-tipped walking stick.
"Why, hello," he said in an affected English accent. "I say, I haven't seen you around here before. What's your blood type?"
She stared at him, then burst out laughing. "Does that really work for you as a pickup line?"
He smiled down at her. "Don't you think it's better than asking what your sign is?"
He shrugged and glanced around the room, twirling his ebony cane between his fingers like a baton. She couldn't help admiring his long, delicate hands and perfectly manicured nails. She also noticed the handle of the cane was a grinning skeleton head.
"Well?" he said. "I'm waiting."
"Why do you want to know?"
He tapped the top of his head lightly with the cane.
"Call it ghoulish curiosity. Haven't you heard? We're all mad scientists here. Come along, humor me--there's a good girl."
"I'm O Negative," she said, looking around the room for any sign of her brother. The crowd at the bar was thickening, and was now three bodies deep.
"Ah," he said, "lucky you--the universal donor."
"Hey," she said, "do you know my brother, Francois?"
His face broke out in a grin. "Francois's your brother? I should say I do know him!"
She smiled at the mannered British accent. That was an aspect of steampunk she found kind of--well, geeky. All these nerds and geeks walking around pretending to be English gentleman scientists and explorers...it was actually kind of embarrassing.
"Is he here yet?" she asked.
"He jolly well is," the young man replied. "He's in the Boiler Room."
She frowned. "The Boiler Room?"
"Oh, we just call it that," he said. "It's a separate room off the main one, and it's a bit stuffy, so we call it the Boiler Room."
"Oh," she said, craning her neck to see through the crowd.
"I say, shall I take you there?" he asked cheerfully.
"Walk this way," he called over his shoulder, striding away from the crowd toward a more secluded corner of the vast room.
Candy gave a last glance behind her at the swarm of people laughing and drinking and flirting at the far end of the room. The aroma of--mutton?--floated to her nostrils, and her stomach burbled with hunger. Saliva spurted into her mouth, and she had a sudden desire for whatever it was they were serving to the guests at the party.
"Come along, now!" he barked at her, tapping his cane impatiently on the floor. "Mustn't keep Brother Franky waiting!"
"Coming!" she chirped, scurrying after him as fast as her spiky heels would allow. The notion registered dully in her head that no one who knew her brother ever called him "Franky"--he always insisted upon "Francois." But the thought evaporated as swiftly as it had formed, like a soap bubble bursting in midair.
Later, no one at the party could remember having spoken with her, though one or two people vaguely remembered seeing her. One of the guests, an elegant woman in a red satin gown, remembered her and thought that perhaps she was the same girl who left the party early, looking very drunk, but she couldn't say for certain. She was leaning on the arm of a tall young man, and appeared to know him--but the witness saw them leaving only from behind, and couldn't positively identify either one of them.