All arguments and accusations forgotten, Prim edged closer to Rue and snapped open her fan, the better to whisper behind it. “Oh my goodness, are those kilts? I’ve never seen them outside the history books. They are an appealing fashion statement, aren’t they?”

Rue could not help but agree – after all, how often did one get to admire a gentleman’s knees in polite society? “Practical,” she said. “I suppose they allow for a certain breeziness in this heat.”

Primrose was clearly on the road to becoming a great admirer of the apparel. “Don’t they just? Do you think they wear, uh, bloomers underneath?”

“I should think, as werewolves, they’d have my problem with bloomers.”



Prim’s fan fluttered excitably at the unspoken conclusion – nothing at all under kilts. “My, but they do grow them large and handsome in the north now, don’t they?” Prim’s interest in Lieutenant Broadwattle was entirely forgotten in the face of this new invasion.

Rue had thought never to encounter a man as big as her father, but now she realised he was merely representative of the breed. She felt almost dainty. The rest of the assembled garden party seemed to be doing their best to ignore the newcomers, quite a feat given their size. Mrs Godwit had said something about the pack being in disgrace, the loss of Mrs Featherstonehaugh and the taxes placed in their paws.

The kilted masculinity rippled at a disturbance from the back, and an unlikely individual pushed her way roughly through the sea of plaid. There stood, feet braced, an ill-dressed older woman to whom the pack instantly deferred. She was also quite tall and tough as old boots, her expression uncompromising and her stance one of controlled power. Her long greying hair was plaited like a schoolgirl’s, showing off strong features and a face that no one would ever call pretty.

Without waiting for an introduction, the lady marched across the lawn straight at Prim and Rue – who were still hiding behind Prim’s fan.

Primrose hastily closed the fan and tried not to stare at this odd female.


Rue, on the other hand, regarded her with open interest. She knew of Lady Kingair. Who didn’t? The only female werewolf to have been made in generations. Bitten into immortality by Rue’s own father. But to meet the legend in person? To encounter the stuff of nightmares – it was thrilling.

Lady Kingair was dressed in a way that suggested all sense of style had been sacrificed on the altar of practicality. Her gown was made of sensible muslin in deference to the heat, with copious pockets and a wide leather belt from which dangled various useful objects including a magnification lens, a medical kit, and a bar of soap.

Lady Kingair stopped in front of the two girls. She was not confused by their similar appearance. She focused on Rue, narrowing a pair of awfully familiar eyes. Those eyes were the same as the ones Rue saw in the looking glass each morning before breakfast. Eyes that were such a pale brown as to be almost yellow. Rue’s father’s eyes. Rue’s eyes.

“Good evening, auntie. We meet at last,” said Sidheag Maccon, Lady Kingair.

Rue played along. “Niece!” she said, tempted to throw her arms around the woman. She held back because hugs were not acceptable conduct at garden parties, even among family members. Maybe in the Americas, but not here, not even at the fringe of the empire.

Rue continued, eyes twinkling. “What a pleasure to meet you at last, niece.”

Lady Kingair seemed taken aback by Rue’s enthusiasm. “My, but you are different from your parents.”

“What a lovely thing to say!” crowed Rue, even more delighted to meet this long-lost relation. Because it seemed to unsettle her relation, Rue acted even more bubbly. She bounced a bit on the balls of her feet and coloured her gestures with awkward, barely supressed energy – like Spoo.

Lady Kingair shook herself slightly. “And how is old Gramps?”

“Paw was fine when we left London – topping form, really.”

“Oh indeed? Isn’t he getting a little… old?”

Rue blinked at her. What is she implying? All werewolves were old, except the newly made ones, of course. “You’d never guess it to look at him.”

“Of course not. But I didn’t intend to ask after his appearance, more the state of his soul.”

Rue didn’t understand the question and so misdirected it. “He was in good spirits when I left London.”

Lady Kingair tilted her head, as much as to say she respected Rue for avoiding all direct questions.

Rue accepted the unspoken accolade and said, “But I am remiss. Please allow me to introduce my travelling companions. This is the Honourable Primrose Tunstell and Mr Lefoux, and that is Professor Tunstell.”

“Indeed? Fine company you keep, auntie.”

“Primrose, Quesnel, this is my great-great-great-great-niece, Sidheag Maccon, Lady Kingair. I think that’s the right number of greats.”

Prim and Quesnel made polite murmurs. They did not find the relationship confusing, having grown up among vampires. Very strange things happened to family trees once immortals got involved. The Tunstell twins experienced similarly baffling relationships regularly. Their mother had been bitten to immortality when she was only a few years older than they were now. Primrose and Aunt Ivy looked, in effect, like sisters. Eventually, as Prim got older, her mother would look younger than she, like a daughter, and then a granddaughter. Vampires and werewolves had all sorts of rules in place to stop such things, but Ivy Tunstell had been made vampire by accident. And Rue’s entire existence was a massive mistake. Lady Kingair had been made werewolf under even more unusual circumstances.

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