Encounter: Clockwork Mikala Ash All rights reserved. Copyright ©2016 Mikala Ash Warning: This e-book file contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language which some may find offensive and which is not appropriate for a young audience. Changeling Press E-Books are for sale to adults, only, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers. Clockwork The last thing Lady Miranda Fessington-Smythe Jones, widow of the famous aeronaut Viscount Loftby, expected when she left her house in Bedford Square was an erotic encounter. During her year long period of mourning there had been only a few opportunities which she had been able to take advantage. Now that depressing ritual of black crepe, drawn curtains and social isolation was over she was keen to express her freedom in new and exciting ways. But first there was a mystery to solve, a puzzle which had brought her to the home of the famously eccentric inventor and president of the Astronomical Society, Sir Cedric Rawlings. She stood in the doorway of the esteemed scientist’s study for a moment to allow her eyes to adjust to the gloom and wondered why he hadn’t installed gaslights anywhere in the house. A desultory red glow from the fireplace was the only illumination, and the only sound was the ticking of an anniversary clock on the mantle. Across the room she discerned a thin shadow, a slither really, hunched over a cluttered table. “Hello?” she ventured, her voice was immediately lost in the shadows as if soaked up by a sponge. “You’ll have to speak up.” The voice from close behind made her jump. She turned in alarm to find a shadowy figure looming over her. “My father is rather hard of hearing, you see.” Lady Miranda was at once captivated by the man’s dark eyes, where red catch lights from the fire danced and glowed. It was as if a volcano simmered somewhere behind, a powerful force that if roused would overwhelm all that fell before it. She shook her head to dispel the strange imagining. “I’m sorry to intrude,” she said finally, her voice thick and husky. “Your butler didn’t return.” “It’s alright now,” he said. “Giles fetched me.” Unable to break their mutual gaze, Lady Miranda sought desperately for something to say. “My name is Randolf,” he said at last, grasping her hand in his massive palm, and squeezing it gently. He held it for longer than was appropriate in polite society. Miranda felt strangely thrilled by his breach of etiquette. She squeezed his palm in return, a sensual reflex which made her blush in surprise at her own forwardness. She found enough voice to introduce herself. He recognized her name. “I am sorry to hear of your husband’s death.” His tone was genuine, which surprised her, as her husband had not been universally liked. “You knew my husband?” “Only through his dealings with my father.” “That is why I am here,” she said. “To learn what those dealings involved.” “Then we should distract my father from his project.” Without releasing her hand he led her deeper into the room. The old man, she now discerned, was adjusting the spring mechanism of a brass orrery, a model of the solar system. The base appeared to be a hexagonal box upon which sat a framework supporting a complex arrangement of gears and springs. Above this was a large transparent globe, no doubt representing the sun. Around this, attached to the end of thin spokes were numerous balls of varying sizes representing the twelve planets of the solar system. “Behold, the sun!” Sir Cedric flicked a switch and stood back as the model began to hum. Steam vented from the base and the whole model began to rotate. Then a burst of brilliance erupted from the central sphere.