The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Author:Mackenzi Lee [Lee, Mackenzi]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Harpercollins
Published: 2017-06-26T18:30:00+00:00

18

The opera is Friday evening—Helena reminds us over breakfast that morning. Dante nearly faints. I have a strong sense both that this is his first time out of the house in a long while, and that he’s not going willingly.

We haven’t clothes fit for the outing, so Dante lends Percy a wine-colored suit—noticeably too short in the sleeves, but they’re built similar enough that it’s passable. I get black silk breeches and an emerald coat that swallows me, but it’s the only thing that fits in the tails and the cuffs, after I roll them. Twice. “It’s my father’s,” Dante says, with seemingly no understanding of how disconcerting it is to be wearing a dead man’s clothes.

When I come into the bedroom, all attempts to convince my shoulders to fill out a smidge abandoned, Percy’s perched upon the bed, still not dressed. He’s got one leg pulled under him and his violin clenched between his chin and his shoulder. A set of weathered sheet music is spread before him.

“Is that the music Dante picked?” I ask.

He nods, the violin bobbing. “It doesn’t translate as well as I hoped—it’s all written for the glasses. Well old-fashioned, too.”

“Let me hear.”

He twists the end of his bow, arranges his fingers, then plays the first line of the song. It’s got a formal sound to it, swallowed and courtly, until Percy confuses his fingering and the strings squeak. He whips the violin out from beneath his chin with a frown, then tries the measure again, plucking out the strings instead of bowing them, with no real mind for the timing.

“That was beautiful,” I say.

Percy jabs me with his bow, right to the stomach, and I flinch with a laugh. “You are a menace.”

“What’s that one called?”

He squints at the title. “The ‘Vanitas Vanitatum.’ Oh.” His brow creases. “This is the song.”

“What song?”

“The one Dante mentioned. The summoning song, for the spirits of the dead.”

“Trying to call the soul of Mateu Robles? He might be the only one in this damn house willing to tell us about his work.”

Percy sets his violin on the bed, then reaches for the clean shirt laid over the headboard, already pulling his arm through his own sleeve. “How soon are we leaving?”

“Ah, not sure,” I reply, forcing myself to avert my eyes as he pulls the shirt over his head. “I’ll meet you below, shall I?” I snatch up my shoes from beside the door and flee. I’ll not torment myself with a half-naked Percy any more than is absolutely necessary. Entirely clothed Percy is almost more than I can bear.

Dante seemed to be hoping that if he sulked above-stairs for long enough, he might be accidentally left behind, and I can’t imagine Helena is very quick in dressing without a maid, so I assume I’ll be the first one down. The study door is shut, and I pause beside it, tempted to try the handle.

My fingers brush the latch when, from behind the door, I hear Dante’s voice, pitched in a whine.



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