“What’s wrong with her?”
“I don’t know yet, my friend.”
“I don’t want to be apart from her when she’s unwell. She …” I sat down in a chair and dropped my face into my hands. “She loves me regardless, and I need to be with her. I’ll take her home.”
“What on earth do you mean by that, sir? ‘She loves me regardless’ is a strong statement.”
With that, I reached behind my head and undid the mask, revealing my face to the doctor. His eyes widened with interest as I tied the mask back in place.
“She loves me in spite of this hideous face. I would die for her, and every pain that she feels is my own.”
“I’ll call on her tomorrow at your home if you’ll give me an address. For now, she really must be kept quiet.”
I called for my carriage and delivered Claire to our home. Then, reverting to a pattern I had long thought behind me, I had Michael take me to the Chinatown at Limehouse, where I sought out the arms of Morpheus in an opium den. — Excerpt from In The Eye of The Beholder
Limehouse is a district of London near what is now referred to as the Docklands. It’s name comes from the lime oasts, or lime ovens, that were operated by pottery makers in the area during the 14th century.
Because it had better access to London by river (the land route was marshy), Limehouse was part of an active maritime center on the Thames. As such, it also had active rope-making, chandlery, and shipbuilding communities. The wharves were a place where casual seafaring labor could be picked up, including sailors from China, the Arab world (the Lascars), and Africa’s Guinea Coast.
A large Chinese community sprung up in Limehouse during the late 19th Century, and the area became notorious for the number of opium dens there.
Are you enjoying this series so far? Intrigued enough that you would like your own copy of In The Eye of The Beholder? Here are the blurb and purchasing links.
When French equestrian Claire Delacroix loses her fiancé in a tragic accident, she comes to live at the Paris Opera during its 1890s heyday. Life is not easy for a woman in fin de siècle France, where her rights are determined by a male guardian. Claire, both intelligent and independent, chafes under the strictures of her time.
Whilst working at the opera, she meets a mysterious, masked stranger: Erik. Is it possible that the two of them will heal the pain of each other’s past?
Updated for 2015 with glossaries of equestrian terms and French words used in the text.
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