Masque of the Red Death
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Desire is contagious
A devastating plague has decimated thepopulation, and those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles around them. So what does Araby Worth have to live for? Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery makeup . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.
But in the depths of the club, Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club, and Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Both have secrets. Everyone does. And Araby may find not just something to live for, but something to fight for—no matter what it costs her.
smile. I almost expect him to use an inappropriate endearment like he does at the club. “Is Araby your girlfriend?” Elise asks. Will chokes and then says, “No.” So quickly that it feels like a slap in the face. When the little ones aren’t looking, he raises one eyebrow at me. He knows that he’s insulted me. For just a moment, he’s the Debauchery District guy, and not this surprising domestic creature. When he described the girls who attracted him, he might as well have held a mirror to me.
happy to help,” he calls after me. At the bottom of the stairs I sink to the floor, leaning against the tapestry. I’m shaking so hard that I’m not sure that I’ll be able to stand back up. I might have to sit here on this disgusting dirty rug forever. Elliott should have been waiting for me. And Will… I want Will. But there is no one here, and I can’t stay. Someone could come into this room at any moment, and both books are just lying beside me. I pick up Elliott’s precious book and the other
my mother say if she knew I was in Elliott’s bedroom? But the room we’re in is a study rather than a bedchamber. In the center is a wide table, thick and angular, functional rather than decorative. An open doorway leads to his bedroom. He puts out his hand. I give him the book. “Good girl.” I sit and take a deep breath. The air here is just like the rest of the club, scented with sweat and a hint of subversion. “You told me it was dangerous,” I say. “But there was a man who said that he’d
my goals. Do. Not. Trust. Anyone. Especially me.” He pulls me in. When I move, one of my toes touches the wood railing. The deck is below me, but I’m still too afraid to struggle. His thumb caresses my cheek. “What’s wrong with you?” I gasp. “I don’t know.” His sincerity is almost more frightening than anything else. He is actually panting as he pulls away my mask and searches my face. His is already gone, though I have no idea when he took it off. He kisses me. I’m trembling all over from
am terribly afraid right now. “I’m glad you had such faith in me,” he says. He carries me down a set of narrow cellar stairs. He only stumbles once. In a subterranean boiler room, illuminated by gas lights, a young man is bent over a table, fiddling with pieces of porcelain. Above his mask he is wearing a pair of thick spectacles, and there is a magnifying lens on the left side. He doesn’t look up as Elliott bursts through the door. “I was expecting you yesterday with the money. I can’t