Wait Until Midnight

Wait Until Midnight

by Amanda Quick

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Overview

The sins of Adam Hardesty's past have been discovered. And if he does not hunt down his blackmailer quickly, his secrets will be revealed to all...

But there is an obstacle in his way: sensation novelist Caroline Fordyce. She knows that Adam's quest for justice could shatter her own reputation - and mire her family in lethal scandal. And she fears what he may find.

Together, they will navigate the shadow side of London, venturing into an underworld of cutthroats, connivers, and illusionists. And as the mystery grows ever deeper and the danger circles ever closer, they must guard not only their secrets but their lives...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780515138627
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/28/2005
Series: Jove Historical Romance
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 198,707
Product dimensions: 4.22(w) x 6.73(h) x 0.97(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Amanda Quick is a pseudonym for Jayne Ann Krentz, the author of more than fifty New York Times bestsellers. She writes historical romance novels under the Quick name, contemporary romantic suspense novels under the Krentz name, and futuristic romance novels under the pseudonym Jayne Castle. There are more than 35 million copies of her books in print.

Read an Excerpt

Wait Until Midnight


By AMANDA QUICK

JOVE BOOKS

Copyright © 2005 Jayne Ann Krentz
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-515-13862-2


Chapter One

The face of the dead medium was a ghostly blur beneath the bloodstained wedding veil.

In life she had been quite pretty. The long, heavy skirts of a dark blue gown were crumpled around shapely legs clad in white stockings. The iron poker that had been used to crush the back of her skull had been dropped nearby.

Adam Hardesty moved across the small, shadowy room, willing himself to push through the invisible barrier created by the peculiar scent and chill of death. He crouched beside the body and held the candle aloft.

Through the gossamer veil he saw the glitter of the blue beads that trimmed the necklace around Elizabeth Delmont's throat. A matching pair of earrings dangled from her ears. On the floor next to her pale, lifeless fingers was a broken pocket watch. The glass had been shattered, the hands forever locked at midnight.

Removing his own watch from the pocket of his trousers, he checked the time. Two-ten. If the timepiece on the carpet had, in fact, been smashed in the course of the violent struggle that appeared to have taken place in the chamber, Delmont had been murdered a little more than two hours earlier.

A mourning brooch decorated with black enamel rested on the tightly laced, stiffly shaped bodice of the blue gown. The brooch looked as if it had been deliberately positioned on Delmont's bosom in a grim parody of funereal respect.

He picked up the brooch and turned it over to look at the reverse side. The flickering candle illuminated a small photograph: a portrait of a fair-haired woman dressed in a wedding veil and a white gown. The lady appeared to be no more than eighteen or nineteen. Something about the sad, resigned expression on her beautiful, unsmiling face gave the impression that she was not looking forward to married life. Under the picture a lock of tightly coiled blond hair was secured beneath a beveled crystal.

He studied the woman in the photograph for a long moment, memorizing every detail visible in the tiny picture. When he was finished, he carefully repositioned the brooch on Delmont's bodice. The police might find it a useful clue.

Rising, he turned slowly on his heel to survey the room in which Elizabeth Delmont had been killed. The space looked as if a violent storm had blown through it, leaving a trail of wreckage to mark its path. The large table in the center was overturned, revealing an odd mechanism underneath. Delmont had no doubt employed the concealed apparatus to cause the heavy wooden object to float and tilt in midair. Gullible sitters took such activities as a sign that spirits were present.

Two drawers had been built into the side of the table, just beneath the top. Both stood open. He walked closer and experimentally closed each drawer. As he suspected, when shut, they were undetectable to the eye.

He ran his fingertips around the entire edge of the square table, searching for other cleverly concealed drawers. He found none.

Several chairs were scattered carelessly about. A variety of odd objects littered the carpet, including a flute, a voice trumpet, some bells and a set of musical chimes.

A telescoping rod, a slate and some padlocks were tumbled in a heap near an open closet. He scooped up one of the locks and examined it in the light of the candle. It took only a few seconds to find the hidden spring that could be used by the wearer to unlock the device.

Next to one chair lay a deathly white arm that appeared to have been neatly amputated at the elbow. The gracefully shaped hand was still attached. He nudged it with the toe of his shoe.

Wax, he concluded; carefully detailed, right down to the white fingernails and the lines on the palm.

He was a skeptic who had no patience with the current rage for psychical research. Nevertheless, he was well aware that when news of the medium's death got into the papers, there would be no shortage of people who would be more than ready to believe that Delmont had been dispatched by dangerous spirits that she had summoned from the Other Side.

When it came to scandals, he had a single, inviolable rule: Do not become involved in one. The last thing he wanted was for Delmont's death to become a sensation in the papers, but there was little likelihood that could be avoided now. The only thing he could do was endeavor to keep his own name out of the press's reports.

He searched the remainder of the séance room thoroughly on the assumption that it was the place in the house where the medium would most likely have concealed her secrets. He discovered three more hidden compartments, one in a wall and two in the floor, but there was no sign of the diary.

When he finished, he climbed the stairs to Elizabeth Delmont's bedchamber and methodically went through every drawer and the wardrobe.

It was a futile effort. The only item of interest was a small catalog bearing the title The Secrets of the Mediums. The array of items offered for sale included a number of artificial body parts designed to simulate ghostly manifestations, trick mirrors and an odd contraption composed of wires and pulleys capable of producing the appearance of levitation. The firm guaranteed potential clients that all transactions would be conducted in strict confidence and with complete discretion.

Downstairs, he walked along the darkened hall, intending to let himself out of the house through the kitchen door. He had done his best. It was impossible to search every square inch of the house in hopes of finding another secret compartment or cupboard.

When he passed the gloom-filled parlor, he glimpsed a desk amid the assortment of heavy furniture.

He went into the room, crossed the red and black patterned carpet and quickly opened the various drawers. None contained the diary but casually tucked into a cubbyhole was a sheet of paper with a list of names and addresses. Yesterday's date and the words nine o'clock had been noted at the top of the page.

He studied the list for a few seconds before it came to him that he was most likely looking at the names of the sitters who had attended Elizabeth Delmont's last séance.

One of the names was heavily underlined. There was something vaguely familiar about it but he could not quite place it. That in and of itself was disturbing. He possessed an excellent memory. Such a talent had been necessary in the old days when he had sold gossip and other peoples' secrets to earn a living.

He moved in far more elevated circles now, but some things had not changed. He never forgot a name or a face or a rumor. Information gave him power in the glittering, treacherous jungles of Society, just as it had helped him survive on the streets of London in his youth.

He concentrated on the underlined name, trying to summon up an image or an impression or even a trivial bit of gossip. A fleeting memory surfaced. He was almost certain that Julia or Wilson had mentioned the name in passing. Something to do with a piece in the newspaper. Not the Times; he was certain of that. He read it faithfully every day.

The reference must have come from one of the less respectable papers, he decided. The sort that relied on lurid accounts of sensations-violent crimes and illicit sexual scandals-to sell copies.

He had paid no attention at the time because the person mentioned did not inhabit the relatively small world of wealth and privilege that was his hunting ground.

A trickle of ghostly electricity stirred the hair on the back of his neck.

Mrs. Fordyce. 22 Corley Lane.

This time he would not forget the name.

Chapter Two

The mysterious gentleman wore an invisible cloak fashioned of intrigue and shadow. There was something quite thrilling, even a bit unnerving, about the sight of him looming there in the doorway of her small study, Caroline Fordyce thought. Anticipation, curiosity and a strange awareness sparkled through her.

It was barely nine o'clock in the morning and she had never met Adam Grove before in her rite. A lady endowed with a proper respect for the proprieties would never have permitted him to be admitted into the house; certainly not at such an early hour, she thought. But a too-careful observance of the proprieties made for a very unexciting existence. She ought to know; she had been excruciatingly cautious about the proprieties for the past three years, and things had been wretchedly dull indeed here at Number 22 Corley Lane.

"Please sit down, Mr. Grove." Caroline rose from her desk and went to stand in front of the garden window, putting the warm light of the sunny morning behind her so that it illuminated her visitor more clearly. "My housekeeper informs me that you have called to discuss a matter that you seem to believe is of grave importance to both of us."

Indeed, it was the phrase grave importance that had quickened her interest and induced her to instruct Mrs. Plummer to show Grove into her study. Such deliciously ominous-sounding words, she thought happily. The phrase grave importance practically vibrated with the promise of a Startling Incident.

People never called here at 22 Corley Lane with news of grave importance, not unless one counted the fishmonger's young daughter, who had quietly advised Mrs. Plummer to take a good whiff of the salmon before purchasing it last week, as it had gone off. The girl had explained that her father had treated the fish with some substance designed to conceal the odor of decay. She had confided that she had not wanted to be responsible for poisoning the entire household. "As if I'd have been taken in by that sort of sharp practice," Mrs. Plummer had announced, disdain dripping from every word.

Such was the nature of gravely important news in this household.

In all probability, this morning's surprise visitor would soon discover that he had got the wrong address and would take his news of grave importance elsewhere, Caroline thought. But in the meantime, she intended to take full advantage of the diverting interruption to her routine.

"Thank you for seeing me on such short notice, Mrs. Fordyce," Adam Grove said from the doorway.

Oh, my goodness, she thought. His voice was wonderfully compelling, low and deep and charged with cool masculine assurance. Another whisper of awareness shot through her. But this time it induced a shiver of caution. She sensed that Grove was a man endowed with a formidable will; the sort who was accustomed to achieving his objectives, perhaps at any cost.

Inspiration struck with the force of summer lightning. Adam Grove was exactly what she had been searching for all morning. He was perfect.

She glanced at the paper and pen on her desk, wondering if she dared take notes. She did not want to alarm Grove or send him packing too quickly. He would discover his mistake soon enough and take himself off to the correct address. Meanwhile, this was a golden opportunity and she did not intend to waste it. Perhaps he would not notice if she merely jotted down a few observations now and again during their conversation.

"Naturally, I felt obliged to hear your news of grave importance, sir," she said, slipping as casually as possible back to the chair behind her desk.

"I would not have called at this hour had not the subject of my visit been of the utmost urgency," he assured her.

She sat down, reached for her pen and gave him an encouraging smile. "Won't you please be seated, sir?"

"Thank you"

She watched him cross the small room to take the chair she had indicated. When he moved into the light, she got a close look at his expensively cut coat and trousers. Her fingers clenched around the pen.

Be careful, she thought. This man was from the Other World; not the unseen realm that was the source of such interest among psychical researchers, but the far more dangerous sphere of Society. It was a place where the wealthy and the powerful made all the rules and rode roughshod over those they viewed as their social inferiors. Three years ago she had had a disastrous experience with a man who moved in privileged circles. It had taught her a lesson she did not plan to forget, regardless of how mysterious and intriguing Mr. Adam Grove proved to be.

She studied him, trying not to be obvious about it. Grove was lean and well-made in a manly fashion. His movements were economical and restrained, yet endowed with a supple grace. One got the impression that he could react swiftly to a threat of danger but that both his strength and will were under complete control. He charged the atmosphere of the room with energy and a masculine vitality that was impossible to ignore.

No doubt about it; he was a perfect model for the character of Edmund Drake.

She quickly wrote Charges atmosphere with masc. vitality in what she hoped was an offhand manner, as though she were merely making a shopping list.

She decided that she should also make some notes regarding his style of dress. It was at once elegant and distinguished and yet quite apart from the current masculine fashion, which favored such eye-dazzling combinations as polka-dot shirts and plaid trousers.

Grove was attired from head to foot in tones of deepest, darkest gray. His shirt was the singular exception. It was a pristine white. The collar was turned back in the new "gates ajar" mode that appeared to be infinitely more comfortable than the usual high-standing styles. His tie was knotted in a precise four-in-hand.

No wonder she had been having so much trouble trying to decide how to dress Edmund Drake. She had been attempting to put him into the sort of boldly striped pants and brightly patterned shirts that she had observed on any number of fashionable gentlemen lately. Such glaringly bright attire was entirely wrong for Edmund. He needed to project menace and an aura of resolute determination. Polka dots, stripes and plaids did not suit him at all.

She wrote Dark gray jacket and trousers without glancing down at the paper.

Grove sat in the wingback chair in front of the hearth. "I see I have interrupted your morning correspondence. Again, my apologies."

"Think nothing of it, sir." She gave him her most reassuring smile. "I am merely making a few notes to remind myself of some small details that must be attended to later."

"I see."

Grove's hair was just right for Edmund Drake, too, she thought. It was of a hue that was very nearly black with the merest smattering of silver at the temples. It was cut short and brushed close to his head. He had not succumbed to the current rage for mustaches and short beards, but she could see the hint of a dark shadow on the hard planes and angles of his face. She realized that he had not shaved that morning. How odd.

Continues...


Excerpted from Wait Until Midnight by AMANDA QUICK Copyright © 2005 by Jayne Ann Krentz. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Quick approaches a new project as if novel writing were a just-discovered pleasure she can't wait to share."—Publishers Weekly

Interviews

A Letter from Amanda Quick

Dear Reader,

Those of you who know me as Jayne Ann Krentz also know that I write historical romantic thrillers as Amanda Quick. Until now the majority of my AQ books have been set against the backdrop of the frothy, glittery Regency period. But with my new paperback original, Wait Until Midnight, I wanted to try something a little different; a story that was edgier and a bit darker.

I chose to go with the atmospheric Late Victorian era. Think: Gaslights, hansom cabs, and lots of eerie fog. This was a time when "psychical research" was trendy and midnight séances were all the rage. How could I resist? The story starts with the murder of a mysterious medium...

I am very excited about Wait Until Midnight. Not only is this the first paperback original Amanda Quick that I have done in some time, it stakes out fresh territory and a new feeling for my novels of historical romance and suspense. I hope you will enjoy it.

Sincerely,
Amanda Quick

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Wait Until Midnight 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read most of Amanda Quick's books and have liked them all. The characters here are well-written. However, this was not one of her more interesting books, but it was a nice enjoyable read. Would recommend.
Darla on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wait Until Midnight is a Victorian romance-mystery with a mystery that keeps you guessing and a romance that has you rooting for the h/h to end up together and a style that won't let you put it down, even if it's 2 a.m. and your eyes are crossing.We first meet Adam Hardesty as he's discovering and investigating a murdered medium. Adam currently moves in polite society, as one of the heirs of a wealthy man, but he didn't always, and it's the secret of his past that has his searching the medium's abode for the diary she was attempting to use to blackmail him. With the diary missing, he assumes the killer has taken it, and so sets about finding the killer before the blackmail attempts begin again. The investigation leads him first to Caroline Fordyce, who attended the medium's last seance.Caroline Fordyce is a sensation novelist--that is, she writes sensational novels that are serialized in a newspaper. Her next novel will feature a medium--hence her research into the world of psychics. When she meets Adam, it immediately strikes her that he's the perfect model for the villain in her current novel. Their first meeting is at cross-purposes, and entirely entertaining, setting the stage for their whole courtship.The two both have secrets in their pasts, and those secrets are revealed as the mystery is unraveled and as their trust grows.It's always difficult with a mystery to say enough about the book to explain it without saying too much and giving away the surprises. Suffice it to say that the mystery developments were both surprising and logical.The same night I read Wait Until Midnight, I watched the classic movie You Can't Take it with You. It struck me how similar the Vanderhof home in the movie was to Adam's home in Wait Until Midnight--both took in "strays", with no regard to reward or propriety.It's been some time since I've read an Amanda Quick historical, but the engaging characters and smooth, page-turning style, the kind that makes me forget I'm reading a book, is what I've come to expect from all the various incarnations of Jayne Ann Krentz.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Main characters are likable. Plot a bit unbelievable, but it is fiction. Read the novel in a single day. One of my favorite authors. I felt a bit sorry for the villain and would have enjoyed reading more about Adam's siblings.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent read
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this one.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
THE SPARKS FLY BETWEEN CAROLINE FORDYCE AND ADAM HARDESTY FROM THE VERY FIRST TIME THEY MEET! MRS. FORDYCE IS INTRIGUED BY THE COMMANDING PRESENCE AND MYSTERIOUS AURA THAT SURROUNDS ADAM HARDESTY. ADAM IS AS BAFFLED AS HE IS ENCHANTED BY CAROLINE'S SPIRIT AND RELUCTANCE TO BE INTIMIDATED. WHILE THEY EMBARK ON A TRAIL OF MURDER, AN UNDERLYING PASSION THEY SHARE SURPRISES THEM EVEN MORE THAN THE SECRETS THEY UNCOVER. I AM A LONG TIME FAN OF AMANDA QUICK,(HOOKED SINCE THE FIRST TIME I READ MYSTIQUE), AND HIGHLY RECOMMEND WAIT UNTIL MIDNIGHT AS ONE OF HER BEST. AQ ALWAYS MANAGES TO WEAVE A ROMANCE AROUND CHARACHTERS WITH INTELLIGENCE, SPIRIT, AND INNER STRENGTH, DESPITE THE OBSTACLES THEY HAVE TO OVERCOME OR THE INDIVIDUAL VULNERABILITIES THAT ENDEAR THEM TO US.