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The Boneseeker Chronicles 2
Arabella Holmes—yes, daughter of that Holmes—wants to return to her job as a purveyor of abnormal science. She has temporarily been demoted to a botanist, until her love interest, Henry Watson—yes, that Watson—can help her get her less-than-professional outbursts in check.
Henry is tired of his new role as doctor, tired of the lack of adventure, and tired of keeping Bella's escapades out of the papers.
Five girls are missing. Gone from locked rooms in their own houses. Arabella and Henry are called upon to help solve the kidnappings, but all they unearth is more danger.
Bella ventures undercover into a lunatic asylum, where a mute woman assaults her and scrawls the chilling words—Here the dead wake. Plus, a vial of Bella's research poison has gone missing. Bella and Henry must find it, and the missing girls, before charges can be brought against her.
Page Count: 250
Word Count: 58175
College of Physicians and Surgeons, Fall, 1911
“You must do a better job of containing her, Henry.”
Dr. Earnest’s mutton-chop sideburns waggle and his eyes are bloodshot and bleary—no doubt from another lost night of sleep. His meaty paw slaps the Philadelphia Herald down on the polished wood table.
Since the exposure of the Brotherhood of the Revolution, and the public catastrophe in the train station, the press keeps a keen eye on the Mütter—more specifically, on Miss Arabella Holmes.
One reporter in particular was quick to note not only her unique curation position, but her oddities, leaving her fodder for an interfering, ever-more-sensational, press. The man, Albert Whiffy, much like an expert switchboard operator, knows precisely which buttons to push in Bella’s personality. Which has resulted in more than one public screaming match—complete with vivid photographs of Bella in all her manic glory.
The man is either infatuated with her or detests her. I suspect it’s both. The contrast of her beauty and her complete lack of regard for it draws men to her. She’s been reprimanded more than once for wearing trousers—but Bella is the walking, talking essence of practicality.
But chaps like Whiffy merely want to possess her, to tame her—ride her and put her out to pasture—or more accurately, damn her to their hearth—to join the overwhelming majority of her sex.
I swallow my anger and dig my fists into my thighs.
Squaring my shoulders, I meet Dr. Earnest’s gaze.
“You would do well to keep in mind all the new revenue the hothouse shall soon infuse into the Mütter. Its potential success is the sole reason you now have three digs running simultaneously.” I nearly blurt, none of which I am on. Bella and I are up to our proverbial necks in bloody plants. We were told this project temporarily took priority over my moulages and Bella’s curation.
Earnest’s eyes widen, but it’s barely perceptible, lost in the basset-hound flesh surrounding his eyes. “Potential is the precise word, Henry. Until the hothouse is up and fully functional, we are operating in the red. It is a risky venture despite the funding.”
The newly formed Watson-Holmes Foundation funds an elaborate greenhouse and conservatory where Bella might explore and maintain botanicals from all over the world in the hopes of drawing in a genteel clientele.
And this philanthropical endeavoris no doubt a thinly veiled bribe to assure her ever-teetering curation position remains secured.
The grand opening is but three months away. The conservatory itself is thus far amazing, but not one I am entirely sure Philadelphians shall embrace.
Plants from the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, housed for a time at Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory, are soon to arrive.
Lavish stone walkways traverse and wind through climates ranging from the Amazon ¾ complete with massive lily pads—to the desert and beyond. And Arabella is overwhelmingly in charge of it all, the added responsibility the final snip on her already fraying nerves.
Earnest looks ever more grave. “Just so. The hothouse is an expensive and serious project, no matter who is its patron saint. And at times, Miss Holmes is…” He clears his throat. “Your…feelings for her cloud your judgment, Henry. I thought other measures necessary to assure her success.”
“What? Whatever do you mean?” I shoot up so quickly my chair tips and I scrabble around to catch it before it clatters onto the polished hardwood.
“Might I present Dr. Audra Clifton.”
A woman enters, the click of her sensible shoes muted by the insulating multitude of books lining the library’s walls.
She is British.
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