A Hunt By Moonlight (Werewolves and Gaslight Book 1)

A HUNT BY MOONLIGHT

Shawna Reppert

Copyright Shawna Reppert 2013-2016

Cover art by Lisa Colgrove, using images © 
Unholyvault
 | 
Dreamstime.com
 
(Vintage Street at Night) and © 
Mikael Males
 | 
Dreamstime.com
 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by an electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the express written permission of the author, except where permitted by law.

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real people, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Dedication:

To all the people who believed in me even at those times when I didn’t believe in myself. These are as much your books as they are mine.

Acknowledgements

With much gratitude to all those who supported me with financial or in-kind assistance, most especially Dale and Mary Jo Mosby, Julie and Mike Zamudio, Graeme Skinner, Buff and Lisa Oliphant Brown, Lisa Colgrove, Ebon Morse, Seonaid Welch, and many others. This book would not have been possible without all of your support! Thanks also to editor Mary Rosenblum for applying the right combination of patience, encouragement and tough love. Much gratitude to Alanna, whose enthusiasm for my writing kept me going when I was ready to quit.

Praise for some of my other books:

On Ravensblood: “The setting, the magical rules, and the world building are impeccable, the plot is clever and suspenseful, and all the characters are well-drawn and interesting. . . .” The reader is dumped right into the middle of the action and expected to keep up, and that gives the book a sense of immediacy. The stakes are high and very personal. . .

Carrie S., Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

Ravensblood
: “Ms. Reppert is an expert at creating damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situations that tax relationships and personalities to the exploding point. Complication piles on complication, with the freedom of the nation’s population at stake. We become involved with characters with believable goals and ideals, placed in dire but believable circumstances where we really care whether they win (survive) or not. The suspense is palpable.

The whole thing piles up to an ending that, despite all the author’s careful hints and preparation, still knocks our socks off.” . . .

On
Raven’s Wing
: “As one learns to expect from Ms. Reppert, this book abounds with entertaining characters, tight suspense, and enough steam to satisfy diehard Romance readers.”

And on
Raven’s Heart
: “As usual in a Reppert story, the personal, interpersonal, and external conflicts are tightly woven together. Thus when any one of them gets out of balance, the whole thing begins to unravel, providing great conflict and suspense.”

Review by book blogger Gordon A. Long, Airborn Press

On
Ravensblood
: “I am a sucker for urban fantasy, for elegant, sarcastic heroes struggling against their indiscretions on the wrong side of the moral spectrum (especially when they’re powerful mages). . . Therefore, Ravensblood hit the spot quite nicely for me. Corwyn Ravenscroft is the sort of character I adore: cold, passionate, highly intelligent, and believing that he’s not worthy of the things he wants due to the mistakes he’s made in his past. . . the ending was edge-of-the-seat suspenseful. . .”

On
Raven’s Wing
: “I enjoyed the story a great deal. Reppert is a skilled writer with a great feel for dialog, emotional interactions . . . and worldbuilding. The world of the Three Communities and its people felt real for me, and I was disappointed when I had to leave it at the end of the book. I’m looking forward to the next one, which promises, based on the end of this one, to be big indeed. That, and I want to see more of Raven.”

And on
Raven’s Heart
:

Raven's power, ingenuity, and loyalty to his friends are all tested to their utmost as he heads toward a showdown with his old master, a man he hates passionately, but still feels an odd kinship with.

All the bits I liked in the previous two books are here: Raven is his cool and charming self, his relationship with Cassandra is strong as ever, and he continues to learn to trust and accept others who care about him. It's got heartbreak (seriously–I got pretty misty at one character's death), moments of humor, and the emotional connections I come to expect from this series.”
 

Review by R. L. King, Amazon best-selling author of
The Alastair Stone Chronicles

“While the Ravensblood is the device that powers each plot, both books’ greatest strength lies in the complex characters of their two protagonists. . .If you like a dark, character-driven fantasy with a strong romantic theme, this series is for you.”
Review by author Barb Taub

On
The Stolen Luck:
 

“This is a well written piece full of adventure, tension, and a slow-burn romance. It full of twists, turns, and surprises. . . . If I were to judge by this debut novel, I would say that Shawna Reppert is an author to keep your eyes on.”

Review by book blogger Crissy, JoyfullyJay.com

On
Where Light Meets Shadow:

“Healing magic. Bardic magic. Intrigue. Strife. Two nations that should have been united by love, instead driven apart by hate. And at the center of it, an unexpected friendship and a reluctant love might just hold the key to everything...
AND it's well-written, to boot? Jackpot!”

Review by Amazon customer

One

Inspector Royston Jones straightened up from his examination of the mutilated body of the shop girl. The night patrol had found her in the narrow alley between the butcher’s shop and the chandler’s and had immediately sent for him despite the hour.
 

Parker, the constable who had led him to the scene, looked about nervously. “They say it’s the Ladykiller, come back.”
 

“Nonsense.” Royston kept his tone firm, matter-of-fact. “Blackpoole is dead. I saw the body myself.”

 
“They say he’s come back,” the constable whispered.

“He had his throat torn out by a werewolf. A man doesn’t come back from that.”

“They’re saying maybe Blackpoole wasn’t a man, sir.” Parker glanced over his shoulder as if expecting Blackpoole’s shade to creep up on him as he spoke. “They’re saying he was something else.”

Royston put a hand on the man’s shoulder. “You’re a good man, Parker, but you’ll never make inspector if you keep spouting superstitious nonsense like that. Truth is, people don’t want to think that one of their own, a human just like them, could be capable of such things. They especially don’t want to think that there could be more than one such human predator. It was one of the reasons Blackpoole was able to misdirect suspicion onto werewolves, despite the evidence.”

There was a distant sound of hooves on the cobblestones. Too light and quick to be the first of the morning delivery carts. It might be the last of the night’s theater-goers or gambling hell rakes heading home.

He nodded toward the dead girl. “She bled out, but not here. The cuts were clean, made with a sharp knife. Killer had some knowledge of anatomy, but the unevenness of some of the cuts show that the victim was alive through at least some of it.” His throat tightened on the last bit.
 

Pale beneath his high, rounded helmet, the constable looked ready to vomit then, but he had already emptied the entire contents of his stomach behind some empty crates at the back entrance to the chandler’s shop. Parker was a solid man with a few years’ experience, but these killings would make anyone sick, and Parker had a wife at home and two little girls that would someday be young women out in the world. Royston, even with his longer service, held his composure only because he’d been working late at the Yard and had missed his supper.

Think like the criminal, his mentor, Jacob Godwin, always told him. But who knew why this madman killed. Because it’s a day that ends in a ‘y’? The only one who could understand would be another madman. Should he apply to Bedlam for help?

“Just like the others,” Parker said unnecessarily.

Royston couldn’t fault his desire to break the eerie silence. The infamous London fog wrapped the night in a funeral shroud and dimmed the yellow haze of the gaslight street lamp in the adjoining a cobblestoned street. Anything could be hiding in the shadows.

His eyes were drawn back to the girl. Neat-trimmed, clean nails, good skin. She had been pretty in life.

 
“May as well cover the poor thing,” Royston said. “We’re not going to get more from the body until the coroner has a look.”

And he wasn’t any closer to catching the killer than he had been after the first murder, or the third. Big Ben chimed five times. Soon his London would be up and about its business, watching over its shoulder for the monster that lurked somewhere in its midst.

***

By that afternoon, Royston had a name for the victim. Her flatmate had run up to the constable on their beat in tears. Kitty hadn’t come home that night, and it wasn’t like her, Kitty was such a good girl, and with these murders, well. . .

The constable had already heard of the latest victim found and escorted the flatmate to the morgue, where, according to the attendant, she collapsed into a dead faint on seeing the victim’s face. Upon being revived with smelling salts, she had provided a name. Kitty Harper, nineteen years old, come from her family’s failing farm to seek her fortune.
 

She’d had better luck than many such girls, having secured a respectable job at a dry-goods shop. Better luck, that is, until her luck ran out. Royston had tea brought into the interview room. Tea was a comforting ritual even when there was no comfort to be had. It gave the interview subject something to focus on when the words tumbling out of her mouth were too horrible to bear without distraction.

He gave her a moment to settle in and take his measure. Royston knew himself to be one of the Yard’s less impressive physical specimens. His hair was a nondescript, mousy brownish-blonde and he was among the shortest men ever to be accepted onto the force. But in interviews, his appearance worked in his favor, and he accentuated it with a deliberately mild manner that put witnesses and sometimes even suspects at ease, made them feel as though it was safe to speak freely.

The flatmate, pale blonde and blue-eyed, had the sort of complexion that betrayed emotion in a range of color. At the moment, her bloodless-white face carried blotches of pink high on her cheeks. The look of high fever, or great distress. Royston wanted to comfort her, to change the topic to a more agreeable one, to suggest that she go home and rest and have a friend bring her tea in bed.

Instead, he asked question after question about the dead girl, knowing all the while that the flatmate couldn’t speak her friend’s name without seeing her dead on the slab, couldn’t think of her without imagining what horrible wounds the coroner’s stark white sheet had hidden.

“It were him, weren’t it?” she asked. “The one the papers are calling Doctor Death?”

Why did the papers have to sensationalize everything? This case was bad enough without screaming headlines and clever monikers.

“That is one avenue we’re exploring.”

She narrowed her eyes. To hell with proper form. He’d get nothing from her if she didn’t trust him, and she wouldn’t trust him if he remained all proper and procedural. “Probably, yes,” He softened his tone, but nothing could soften the words.

She gave a choked cry, stifled it with the handkerchief he had loaned her. It was one thing to suspect, another to have one’s suspicions confirmed. He gave her a moment.

She continued in a high, tight voice. “What the papers said, about how those other girls died?”

“You don’t want to know about those things, Miss.” And, oh, God, he didn’t want to talk about them. Certainly not with someone who had known the victim in life.

She sobbed into the handkerchief. He waited out the storm. Crying women always made him feel helpless.

Other books

Wolf in Man's Clothing by Mignon G. Eberhart
A Burnt Out Case by Graham Greene
TEEN MOM TELLS ALL by Katrina Robinson
DEAD SEXY by Caitlin Falls
Following Isaac by McMillin, Casey
Trapped (Here Trilogy) by James, Ella
A Forge of Valor by Morgan Rice