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I stood in front of the refrigerator, staring at the images of our children with my hands curved around my belly. Where had the month of September gone?
The three-dimensional ultrasound pictures of Baby A and Baby B—Matthew and I had elected not to learn the sexes of our two children—were uncanny. Instead of the familiar ghostly silhouette I’d seen in friends’ pregnancy scans, these revealed detailed images of faces with crinkled brows, thumbs rammed into mouths, perfectly bowed lips. My finger reached out, and I touched Baby B’s nose.
Cool hands slid around me from behind, and a tall, muscular body provided a strong pillar for me to rest against. Matthew pressed lightly on a spot a few inches above my pubic bone.
“B’s nose is just there in that picture,” he said softly. His other hand rested a bit higher on the swell of my belly. “Baby A was here.”
We stood silently as the chain that had always joined me to Matthew extended to accommodate these two bright, fragile links. For months I had known that Matthew’s children—our children—were growing inside me. But I had not felt it. Everything was different now that I’d seen their faces, crumpled in concentration as they did the hard work of becoming.
“What are you thinking?” Matthew asked, curious about my extended silence.
“I’m not thinking. I’m feeling.” And what I was feeling was impossible to describe.
His laugh was soft, as though he didn’t want to disturb the babies’ sleep.
“They’re both all right,” I assured myself. “Normal. Perfect.”
“They are perfectly healthy. But none of our children will ever be normal. And thank God for that.”
He kissed me. “What’s on your schedule for today?”
“More work at the library.” My initial, magical lead that had promised to reveal the fate of at least one of the Book of Life’s missing pages had turned into weeks of hard, scholarly slogging. Lucy and I had been working steadily to discover just how the Voynich manuscript came into Athanasius Kircher’s hands and later into Yale’s possession, hoping to catch a trace of the mysterious tree image that had remained superimposed on the Voynich for a few precious moments. We’d set up camp in the same small private room where I’d worked my spell so that we could talk without disturbing the growing number of students and faculty using the Beinecke’s adjacent reading room. There we’d pored over library lists and indexes of Kircher’s correspondence, and we’d written dozens of letters to various experts in the United States and abroad—with no concrete results.
“You’re remembering what the doctor said about taking breaks?” Matthew asked. With the exception of the ultrasound, our trip to the doctor’s office had been sobering. She had drummed into me the dangers of premature labor and preeclampsia, the necessity of staying hydrated, my body’s additional need for rest.
“My blood pressure is fine.” This, I understood, was one of the biggest risks: that through a combination of dehydration, fatigue, and stress, my blood pressure would suddenly spike.
“I know.” Monitoring my blood pressure was my vampire husband’s responsibility, and Matthew took it seriously. “But it won’t remain that way if you push yourself.”
“This is my twenty-fifth week of pregnancy, Matthew. It’s almost October.”
“I know that, too.”
After October 1 the doctor was grounding me. If we remained in New Haven where we could continue working, the only way to get to the Bodleian Library would be by some combination of boat, plane, and automobile. Even now I was restricted to flights of no more than three hours.
“We can still get you to Oxford by plane.” Matthew knew of my concerns. “It will have to stop in Montreal, and then Newfoundland, Iceland, and Ireland, but if you must get to London, we can manage it.” His expression suggested that he and I might have different ideas about what circumstances would justify my crossing the Atlantic in this hopscotch fashion. “Of course, if you’d prefer we can go to Europe now.”
“Let’s not borrow trouble.” I pulled away from him. “Tell me about your day.”
“Chris and Miriam think they have a new approach to understanding the blood-rage gene,” he said.
“They’re planning to trawl through my genome using one of Marcus’s theories about noncoding DNA.
Their current hypothesis is that it might contain triggers that control how and to what extent blood rage manifests in a given individual.”
“This is Marcus’s junk DNA—the ninety-eight percent of the genome that doesn’t code proteins, right?” I took a bottle of water out of the fridge and popped the cap off to show my commitment to hydration.
“That’s right. I’m still resistant to the notion, but the evidence they’re pulling together is convincing.” Matthew looked wry. “I really am an old Mendelian fossil, just as Chris said.”
“Yes, but you’re my Mendelian fossil,” I said. Matthew laughed. “And if Marcus’s hypothesis is correct, what will that mean in terms of finding a cure?”
His smile died. “It may mean that there is no cure—that blood rage is a hereditary genetic condition that develops in response to a multitude of factors. It can be far easier to cure a disease with a single, unequivocal cause, like a germ or a single gene mutation.”
“Can the contents of my genome help?” There had been much discussion of the babies since I’d had my ultrasound, and speculation as to what effect a witch’s blood—a weaver’s in particular—might have on the blood-rage gene. I didn’t want my children to end up as science experiments, especially after seeing Benjamin’s horrific laboratory, but I had no objection to doing my bit for scientific progress.
“I don’t want your DNA to be the subject of further scientific research.” Matthew stalked to the window. “I should never have taken that sample from you back in Oxford.”
I smothered a sigh. With every hard-won freedom Matthew granted me and each conscious effort he made not to smother me with overpossessiveness, his authoritarian traits had to find a new outlet. It was like watching someone try to dam up a raging river. And Matthew’s inability to locate Benjamin and release his captive witch were only making it worse. Every lead Matthew received about Benjamin’s current location turned into a dead end, just like my attempts to trace Ashmole 782’s missing pages.Before I could try to reason with him, my phone rang. It was a distinctive ringtone—the opening bars of “Sympathy for the Devil”—which I had not yet managed to change. When the phone was programmed, someone had irrevocably attached it to one of my contacts.
“Your brother is calling.” Matthew’s tone was capable of freezing Old Faithful.
“What do you want, Baldwin?” There was no need for polite preamble.
“Your lack of faith wounds me, sister.” Baldwin laughed. “I’m in New York. I thought I might come to New Haven and make sure that your accommodations are suitable.”
Matthew’s vampire hearing made my conversation with Baldwin completely audible. The oath he uttered in response to his brother’s words was blistering.
“Matthew is with me. Gallowglass and Miriam are one block away. Mind your own business.” I drew the phone from my ear, eager to disconnect.
“Diana.” Baldwin’s voice managed to extend to even my limited human hearing.
I returned the phone to my ear.
“There is another vampire working in Matthew’s lab—Richard Bellingham is the name he goes by now.”
“Yes.” My eyes went to Matthew, who was standing in a deceptively relaxed position in front of the window—legs spread slightly, hands clasped behind his back. It was a stance of readiness.
“Be careful around him.” Baldwin’s voice flattened. “You don’t want me to have to order Matthew to get rid of Bellingham. But I will do that, without hesitation, should I think he possesses information that could prove . . . difficult . . . for the family.”
“He knows I’m a witch. And that I’m pregnant.” It was evident that Baldwin knew a great deal about our life in New Haven already. There was no point in hiding the truth. “Every vampire in that provincial town knows. And they travel to New York. Often.” Baldwin paused. “In my family if you create a mess, you clean it up—or Matthew does. Those are your options.”
“It’s always such a pleasure to hear from you, brother.”
Baldwin merely laughed.
“Is that all, my lord?”
“It’s ‘sieur.’ Do you need me to come there and refresh your memory of vampire law and etiquette?”
“No,” I said, spitting out the word.
“Good. Tell Matthew to stop blocking my calls, and we won’t have to repeat this conversation.”
The line went dead.
“That f—” I began.
Matthew wrenched the phone out of my hand and flung it across the room. It made a satisfying sound of breaking glass when it hit the mantel of the defunct fireplace. Then his hands were cradling my face as though the violent moment that came before had been a mirage.
“Now I’ll have to get another phone.” I looked into Matthew’s stormy eyes. They were a reliable indication of his state of mind: clear gray when he was at ease, appearing green when his pupils enlarged with emotion and blotted out all but the green rim around his iris. At the moment, the gray and green were battling for supremacy.
“Baldwin will no doubt have one here before the day is done.” Matthew’s attention fixed on the pulse at my throat.
“Let’s hope your brother doesn’t feel he needs to deliver it himself.”
Matthew’s eyes drifted to my lips. “He’s not my brother. He’s your brother.”
“Hello the house!” Gallowglass’s booming, cheerful voice rose up from the downstairs hall.
Matthew’s kiss was hard and demanding. I gave him what he needed, deliberately softening my spine and my mouth so that he could feel, in this moment at least, that he was in charge. “Oh. Sorry. Shall I come back?” Gallowglass said from the stairs. Then his nostrils flared as he detected my husband’s overpowering clove scent. “Something wrong, Matthew?”
“Nothing that Baldwin’s sudden and seemingly accidental death wouldn’t fix,” Matthew said darkly.
“Business as usual, then. I thought you might want me to walk Auntie to the library.”
“Why?” Matthew asked.
“Miriam called. She’s in a mood and wants you to ‘get out of Diana’s knickers and into my lab.’”
Gallowglass consulted the palm of his hand. It was covered in writing. “Yep. That’s exactly what she said.”
“I’ll get my bag,” I murmured, pulling away from Matthew.
“Hello, Apple and Bean.” Gallowglass stared, besotted, at the images on the fridge. He thought calling them Baby A and Baby B was beneath their dignity and so had bestowed nicknames upon them.
“Bean has Granny’s fingers. Did you notice, Matthew?”
Gallowglass kept the mood light and the banter flowing on our walk to campus. Matthew accompanied us to the Beinecke, as though he expected Baldwin to rise up out of the sidewalk before us with a new phone and another dire warning.
Leaving the de Clermonts behind, it was with relief that I opened the door into our research room.
“I’ve never seen such a tangled provenance!” Lucy exclaimed the moment I appeared. “So John Dee did own the Voynich?”
“That’s right.” I put down my pad of paper and my pencil. Other than my magic, they were the only items I carried. Happily, my power didn’t set off the metal detectors. “Dee gave the Voynich to Emperor Rudolf in exchange for Ashmole 782.” It was, in truth, a bit more complicated than that, as was often the case when Gallowglass and Matthew were involved in the transfer of property.
“The Bodleian Library manuscript that’s missing three pages?” Lucy held her head in her hands and stared down at the notes, clippings, and correspondence littering the table. “Edward Kelley removed those pages before Ashmole 782 was sent back to England. Kelley temporarily put them inside the Voynich for safekeeping. At some point he gave two of the pages away.
But he kept one for himself—the page with the illumination of a tree on it.” It really was impossibly tangled.
“So it must have been Kelley who gave the Voynich manuscript—along with the picture of the tree—to Emperor Rudolf’s botanist, the Jacobus de Tepenecz whose signature is on the back of the first folio.” Time had faded the ink, but Lucy had shown me photographs taken under ultraviolet light.
“Probably,” I said.
“And after the botanist, an alchemist owned it?” She made some annotations on her Voynich timeline. It was looking a bit messy with our constant deletions and additions.
“Georg Baresch. I haven’t been able to find out much about him.” I studied my own notes.
“Baresch was friends with de Tepenecz, and Marci acquired the Voynich from him.”
“The Voynich manuscript’s illustrations of strange flora would certainly intrigue a botanist—not to mention the illumination of a tree from Ashmole 782. But why would an alchemist be interested in them?” Lucy asked.
“Because some of the Voynich’s illustrations resemble alchemical apparatus. The ingredients and processes needed to make the philosopher’s stone were jealously guarded secrets, and alchemists often hid them in symbols: plants, animals, even people.” The Book of Life contained the same potent blend of the real and the symbolic.
“And Athanasius Kircher was interested in words and symbols, too. That’s why you think he would have been interested in the illumination of the tree as well as the Voynich,” Lucy said slowly.
“Yes. It’s why the missing letter that Georg Baresch claims he sent to Kircher in 1637 is so significant.” I slid a folder in her direction. “The Kircher expert I know from Stanford is in Rome. She volunteered to go to the Pontifical Gregorian University archives, where the bulk of Kircher’s correspondence is kept, and nose around. She sent me a transcription of the later letter from Baresch to Kircher written in 1639. It refers back to their exchange, but the Jesuits told her the original letter can’t be found.”
“When librarians say ‘it’s lost,’ I always wonder if that’s really true,” she grumbled.
“Me, too.” I thought wryly of my experiences with Ashmole 782.
Lucy opened the folder and groaned. “This is in Latin, Diana. You’re going to have to tell me what it says.”
“Baresch thought Kircher might be able to decipher the Voynich’s secrets. Kircher had been working on Egyptian hieroglyphs. It made him an international celebrity, and people sent him mysterious texts and writings from far and wide,” I explained. “To better hook Kircher’s interest, Baresch forwarded partial transcripts of the Voynich to Rome in 1637 and again in 1639.”
“There’s no specific mention of a picture of a tree, though,” Lucy said.
“No. But it’s still possible that Baresch sent it to Kircher as an additional lure. It’s of a much higher quality than the Voynich’s pictures.” I sat back in my chair. “I’m afraid that’s as far as I’ve been able to get. What have you found out about the book sale where Wilfrid Voynich acquired the manuscript?”
Just as Lucy opened her mouth to reply, a librarian rapped on the door and entered.
“Your husband is on the phone, Professor Bishop.” He looked at me in disapproval. “Please tell him that we aren’t a hotel switchboard and don’t usually take calls for our patrons.”
“Sorry,” I said, getting out of my chair. “I had an accident with my phone this morning. My husband is a bit . . . er, overprotective.” I gestured apologetically at my rounded form.
The librarian looked slightly mollified and pointed to a phone on the wall that had a single flashing light. “Use that.”
“How did Baldwin get here so fast?” I asked Matthew when we were connected. It was the only thing I could think of that would make Matthew call the library’s main number. “Did he come by helicopter?”
“It’s not Baldwin. We’ve discovered something strange about the picture of the chemical wedding from Ashmole 782.”
“Come and see. I’d rather not talk about it on the phone.”
“Be right there.” I hung up and turned to Lucy. “I’m so sorry, Lucy, but I have to go. My husband wants me to help with a problem in his lab. Can we continue later?”
“Sure,” she said.
I hesitated. “Would you like to come with me? You could meet Matthew—and see a page from Ashmole 782.”
“One of the fugitive sheets?” Lucy was out of her chair in an instant. “Give me a minute and I’ll meet you upstairs.”
Rushing outside, we ran smack into my bodyguard.
“Slow down, Auntie. You don’t want to joggle the babes.” Gallowglass gripped my elbow until I was steady on my feet, then gazed down at my petite companion. “Are you all right, miss?”
“M-me?” Lucy stammered, craning her neck to make eye contact with the big Gael. “I’m fine.”
“Just checking,” Gallowglass said kindly. “I’m as big as a galleon under full sail. Running into me has bruised men far bigger than you.”
“This is my husband’s nephew, Gallowglass. Gallowglass, Lucy Meriweather. She’s coming with us.” After that hasty introduction, I dashed in the direction of Kline Biology Tower, my bag banging against my hip. After a few clumsy strides, Gallowglass took the bag and transferred it to his own arm.
“He carries your books?” Lucy whispered.
“And groceries,” I whispered back. “He would carry me, too, if I let him.”
“Hurry,” I said, my worn sneakers squeaking on the polished floors of the building where Matthew and Chris worked.
At the doorway to Chris’s lab, I swiped my ID card and the doors opened. Miriam was waiting for us inside, looking at her watch.
“Time!” she called. “I won. Again. That’s ten dollars, Roberts.”
Chris groaned. “I was sure Gallowglass would slow her down.” The lab was quiet today, with only a handful of people working. I waved at Beaker. Scully was there, too, standing next to Mulder and a digital scale.
“Sorry to interrupt your research, but we wanted you to know straightaway what we discovered.”
Matthew glanced at Lucy.
“Matthew, this is Lucy Meriweather. I thought Lucy should see the page from Ashmole 782, since she’s spending so much time searching for its lost siblings,” I explained.
“A pleasure, Lucy. Come see what you’re helping Diana to find.” Matthew’s expression went from wary to welcoming, and he gestured toward Mulder and Scully. “Miriam, can you log Lucy in as a guest?”
“Already done.” Miriam tapped Chris on the shoulder. “Staring at that chromosome map isn’t getting you anywhere, Roberts. Take a break.”
Chris flung down his pen. “We need more data.”
“We’re scientists. Of course we need more data.” The air between Chris and Miriam hummed with tension. “Come and look at the pretty picture anyway.”
“Oh, okay,” Chris grumbled, giving Miriam a sheepish smile.
The illumination of the alchemical wedding rested on a wooden book stand. No matter how often I saw it, the image always amazed me—and not just because the personifications of sulfur and quicksilver looked like Matthew and me. So much detail surrounded the chemical couple: the rocky landscape, the wedding guests, the mythical and symbolic beasts who witnessed the ceremony, the phoenix who encompassed the scene within flaming wings. Next to the page was something that looked like a flat metal postal scale with a blank sheet of parchment in the tray.
“Scully will tell us what she discovered.” Matthew gave the student the floor. “This illuminated page is too heavy,” Scully said, blinking her eyes behind a pair of thick lenses.
“Heavier than a single page should be, I mean.”
“Sarah and I both thought it felt heavy.” I looked at Matthew. “Remember when the house first gave us the page in Madison?” I reminded him in a whisper.
He nodded. “Perhaps it’s something a vampire can’t perceive. Even now that I’ve seen Scully’s evidence, the page feels entirely normal to me.”
“I ordered some vellum online from a traditional parchment maker,” Scully said. “It arrived this morning. I cut the sheet to the same size—nine inches by eleven and a half inches—and weighed it. You can have the leftovers, Professor Clairmont. We can all use some practice with that probe you’ve developed.”
“Thank you, Scully. Good idea. And we’ll run some core samples of the modern vellum for comparison’s sake,” Matthew said with a smile.
“As you can see,” Scully resumed, “the new vellum weighed a little over an ounce and a half.
When I weighed Professor Bishop’s page the first time, it weighed thirteen ounces—as much as approximately nine sheets of ordinary vellum.” Scully removed the fresh sheet of calfskin and put the page from Ashmole 782 in its place.
“The weight of the ink can’t account for that discrepancy.” Lucy put on her own glasses to take a closer look at the digital readout. “And the parchment used in Ashmole 782 looks like it’s thinner, too.”
“It’s about half the thickness of the vellum. I measured it.” Scully pushed her glasses back into place.
“But the Book of Life had more than a hundred pages—probably close to two hundred.” I did some rapid calculations. “If a single page weighs thirteen ounces, the whole book would weigh close to a hundred and fifty pounds.”
“That’s not all. The page isn’t always the same weight,” Mulder said. He pointed to the scale’s digital readout. “Look, Professor Clairmont. The weight’s dropped again. Now it’s down to seven ounces.” He took up a clipboard and noted the time and weight on it.
“It’s been fluctuating randomly all morning,” Matthew said. “Thankfully, Scully had the good sense to leave the page on the scale. If she’d removed it immediately, we would have missed it.”
“That wasn’t deliberate.” Scully flushed and lowered her voice. “I had to use the restroom. When I came back, the weight had risen to a full pound.”
“What’s your conclusion, Scully?” Chris asked in his teacher voice.
“I don’t have one,” she said, clearly frustrated. “Vellum can’t lose weight and gain it again. It’s dead. Nothing I’m observing is possible!”
“Welcome to the world of science, my friend,” Chris said with a laugh. He turned to Scully’s companion. “How about you, Mulder?”
“The page is clearly some sort of magical container. There are other pages inside it. Its weight changes because it’s still somehow connected to the rest of the manuscript.” Mulder slid a glance in my direction.
“I think you’re right, Mulder,” I said, smiling.
“We should leave it where it is and record its weight every fifteen minutes. Maybe there will be a pattern,” Mulder suggested.
“Sounds like a plan.” Chris looked at Mulder approvingly.
“So, Professor Bishop,” Mulder said cautiously, “do you think there really are other pages inside this one?”
“If so, that would make Ashmole 782 a palimpsest,” Lucy said, her imagination sparking. “A magical palimpsest.”
My conclusion from today’s events in the lab was that humans are much cleverer than we creatures give them credit for.
“It is a palimpsest,” I confirmed. “But I never thought of Ashmole 782 as—what did you call it, Mulder?”
“A magical container,” he repeated, looking pleased.
We already knew that Ashmole 782 was valuable because of its text and its genetic information. If Mulder was correct, there was no telling what else might be in it.
“Have the DNA results come back from the sample you took a few weeks ago, Matthew?” Maybe if we knew what creature the vellum came from, it would shed some light on the situation.
“Wait. You removed a piece of this manuscript and ran a chemical analysis on it?” Lucy looked horrified.
“Only a very small piece from the core of the page. We inserted a microscopic probe into the edge.
You can’t see the hole it made—not even with a magnifying glass,” Matthew assured her.
“I’ve never heard of such a thing,” Lucy said.
“That’s because Professor Clairmont developed the technology, and he hasn’t shared it with the rest of the class.” Chris cast a disapproving look at Matthew. “But we’re going to change that, aren’t we, Matthew?”
“Apparently,” said Matthew.
Miriam shrugged. “Give it up, Matthew. We’ve used it for years to remove DNA from all sorts of soft tissue samples. It’s time somebody else had fun with it,” she said.
“We’ll leave the page to you, Scully.” Chris inclined his head toward the other end of the lab in a clear request for a conversation.
“Can I touch it?” Lucy asked, her eyes glued to the page.
“Of course. It’s survived all these years, after all,” Matthew said. “Mulder, Scully, can you help Ms.
Meriweather? Let us know when you’re ready to leave, Lucy, and we’ll get you back to work.”
Based on Lucy’s avid expression, we had plenty of time to talk.
“What is it?” I asked Chris. Now that we were away from his students, Chris looked as if he had bad news.
“If we’re going to learn anything more about blood rage, we need more data,” Chris said. “And before you say anything, Miriam, I’m not criticizing what you and Matthew have managed to figure out.
It’s as good as it could possibly be, given that most of your DNA samples come from the long dead—or the undead. But DNA deteriorates over time. And we need to develop the genetic maps for daemons and witches and sequence their genomes if we want to reach accurate conclusions about what makes you distinct.”
“So we get more data,” I said, relieved. “I thought this was serious.”
“It is,” Matthew said grimly. “One of the reasons the genetic maps for witches and daemons are less complete is that I had no good way to acquire DNA samples from living donors. Amira and Hamish were happy to volunteer theirs, of course, as were some of the regulars at Amira’s yoga classes at the Old Lodge.”
“But if you were to ask for samples from a broader cross section of creatures, you’d have to answer their questions about how the material was going to be used.” Now I understood.
“We’ve got another problem,” Chris said. “We simply don’t have enough DNA from Matthew’s bloodline to establish a pedigree that can tell us how blood rage is inherited. There are samples from Matthew, his mother, and Marcus Whitmore—that’s all.”
“Why not send Marcus to New Orleans?” Miriam asked Matthew.
“What’s in New Orleans?” Chris asked sharply.
“Marcus’s children,” Gallowglass said.
“Whitmore has children?” Chris looked at Matthew incredulously. “How many?”
“A fair few,” Gallowglass said, cocking his head to the side. “Grandchildren, too. And Mad Myra’s got more than her fair share of blood rage, doesn’t she? You’d be wanting her DNA, for sure.”
Chris thumped a lab bench, the rack of empty test tubes rattling like bones.
“Goddamn it, Matthew! You told me you had no other living offspring. I’ve been wasting my time with results based on DNA and three family samples while your grandchildren and great-grandchildren are running up and down Bourbon Street?”
“I didn’t want to bother Marcus,” Matthew said shortly. “He has other concerns.”
“Like what? Another psychotic brother? There’s been nothing on the Bad Seed’s video feed for weeks, but that’s not going to continue indefinitely. When Benjamin pops up again, we’ll need more than predictive modeling and hunches to outsmart him!” Chris exclaimed.
“Calm down, Chris,” Miriam said, putting a hand on his arm. “The vampire genome already includes better data than either the witch or the daemon genome.”
“But it’s still shaky in places,” Chris argued, “especially now that we’re looking at the junk DNA. I need more witch, daemon, and vampire DNA—stat.”
“Game Boy, Xbox, and Daisy all volunteered to be swabbed,” Miriam said. “It violates modern research protocols, but I don’t think it’s an insurmountable problem provided you’re transparent about it later, Chris.”
“Xbox mentioned a club on Crown Street where the daemons hang out.” Chris wiped at his tired eyes. “I’ll go down and recruit some volunteers.”
“You can’t go there. You’ll stick out as a human—and a professor,” Miriam said firmly. “I’ll do it.
I’m far scarier.”
“Only after dark.” Chris shot her a slow smile.
“Good idea, Miriam,” I said hastily. I wanted no further information about what Miriam was like when the sun went down.
“You can swab me,” Gallowglass said. “I’m not Matthew’s bloodline, but it could help. And there are plenty of other vampires in New Haven. Give Eva J?eger a ring.”
“Baldwin’s Eva?” Matthew was stunned. “I haven’t seen Eva since she discovered Baldwin’s role in engineering the German stock market crash of 1911 and left him.”
“I don’t think either of them would appreciate your being so indiscreet, Matthew,” Gallowglass chided.
“Let me guess: She’s the new hire in the economics department,” I said. “Wonderful. Baldwin’s ex. That’s just what we need.”
“And have you run into more of these New Haven vampires?” Matthew demanded.
“A few,” Gallowglass said vaguely.
As Matthew opened his mouth to inquire further, Lucy interrupted us.
“The page from Ashmole 782 changed its weight three times while I was standing there.” She shook her head in amazement. “If I hadn’t seen it myself, I wouldn’t have believed it. I’m sorry to break this up, but I have to get back to the Beinecke.”
“I’ll go with you, Lucy,” I said. “You still haven’t told me what you’ve learned about the Voynich.”
“After all this science, it’s not very exciting,” she said apologetically.
“It is to me.” I kissed Matthew. “See you at home.”
“I should be there by late afternoon.” He hooked me into his arm and pressed his mouth against my ear. His next words were low so that the other vampires would have to strain to hear them. “Don’t stay too long at the library. Remember what the doctor said.”
“I remember, Matthew,” I promised him. “Bye, Chris.”
“See you soon.” Chris gave me a hug and released me quickly. He looked down at my protruding stomach reproachfully. “One of your kids just elbowed me.”
“Or kneed you.” I laughed, smoothing a hand over the bump. “They’re both pretty active these days.”
Matthew’s gaze rested on me: proud, tender, a shade worried. It felt like falling into a pile of freshly fallen snow—crisp and soft at the same time. If we had been at home, he would have pulled me into his arms so that he, too, could feel the kicks, or knelt before me to watch the bulges of feet and hands and elbows.
I smiled at him shyly. Miriam cleared her throat.
“Take care, Gallowglass,” Matthew murmured. It was no casual farewell, but an order.
His nephew nodded. “As if your wife were my own.” We returned to the Beinecke at a statelier pace, chatting about the Voynich and Ashmole 782. Lucy was even more caught up in the mystery now. Gallowglass insisted we pick up something to eat, so we stopped at the pizza place on Wall Street. I waved to a fellow historian who was sitting in one of the scarred booths with stacks of index cards and an enormous soft drink, but she barely acknowledged me.
Leaving Gallowglass at his post outside the Beinecke, we went to the staff room with our late lunch. Everybody else had already eaten, so we had the place to ourselves. In between bites Lucy gave me an overview of her findings.
“Wilfrid Voynich bought Yale’s mysterious manuscript from the Jesuits in 1912,” she said, munching on a cucumber from her healthy salad. “They were quietly liquidating their collections at the Villa Mondragone outside Rome.”
“Mondragone?” I shook my head, thinking of Corra.
“Yep. It got its name from the heraldic device of Pope Gregory XIII—the guy who reformed the calendar. But you probably know more about that than I do.”
I nodded. Crossing Europe in the late sixteenth century had required familiarity with Gregory’s reforms if I had wanted to know what day it was.
“More than three hundred volumes from the Jesuit College in Rome were moved to the Villa Mondragone sometime in the late nineteenth century. I’m still a bit fuzzy on the details, but there was some sort of confiscation of church property during Italian unification.” Lucy stabbed an anemic cherry tomato with her fork. “The books sent to Villa Mondragone were reportedly the most treasured volumes in the Jesuit library.”
“Hmm. I wonder if I could get a list.” I’d owe my friend from Stanford even more, but it might lead to one of the missing pages.
“It’s worth a shot. Voynich wasn’t the only interested buyer, of course. The Villa Mondragone sale was one of the greatest private book auctions of the twentieth century. Voynich almost lost the manuscript to two other buyers.”
“Do you know who they were?” I asked.
“Not yet, but I’m working on it. One was from Prague. That’s all I’ve been able to discover.”
“Prague?” I felt faint.
“You don’t look well,” Lucy said. “You should go home and rest. I’ll keep working on it and see you tomorrow,” she added, closing up her empty Styrofoam container.
“Auntie. You’re early,” Gallowglass said when I exited the building.
“Ran into a research snag.” I sighed. “The whole day has been a few bits of progress sandwiched between a two thick slices of frustration. Hopefully, Matthew and Chris will make further discoveries in the lab, because we’re running out of time. Or perhaps I should say I’m running out of time.”
“It will all work out in the end,” Gallowglass said with a sage nod. “It always does.”
We cut across the green and through the gap between the courthouse and City Hall. On Court Street we crossed the railroad tracks and headed toward my house.
“When did you buy your condo on Wooster Square, Gallowglass?” I asked, finally getting around to one of many questions about the de Clermonts and their relationship to New Haven.
“After you came here as a teacher,” Gallowglass said. “I wanted to be sure you were all right in your new job, and Marcus was always telling stories about a robbery at his house or that his car had been vandalized.”
“I take it Marcus wasn’t living in his house at the time,” I said, raising an eyebrow.
“Lord no. He hasn’t been in New Haven for decades.”
“Well, we’re perfectly safe here.” I looked down the pedestrians-only length of Court Street, a tree lined, residential enclave in the heart of the city. As usual, it was deserted, except for a black cat and some potted plants.
“Perhaps,” Gallowglass said dubiously.
We had just reached the stairs leading to the front door when a dark car pulled up to the intersection of Court and Olive Streets where we had been only moments before. The car idled while a lanky young man with sandy blond hair unfolded from the passenger seat. He was all legs and arms, with surprisingly broad shoulders for someone so slender. I thought he must be an undergraduate, because he wore one of the standard Yale student uniforms: dark jeans and a black T-shirt. Sunglasses shielded his eyes, and he bent over and spoke to the driver.
“Good God.” Gallowglass looked as though he’d seen a ghost. “It can’t be.”
I studied the undergraduate without recognition. “Do you know him?”
The young man’s eyes met mine. Mirrored lenses could not block the effects of a vampire’s cold stare. He took the glasses off and gave me a lopsided smile. “You’re a hard woman to find, Mistress Roydon.”
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