Lew Rogers's life is pleasantly boring until his friend Mira messes with magic she doesn't understand. While searching for her, he's pulled back in time to 1919 by a catastrophic magical accident. As he tries to navigate a strange time and find his friend in the smoky music clubs of Soho, the last thing he needs is Detective Alec Carter suspecting him of murder.
London in 1919 is cold, wet, and tired from four years of war. Alec is back in the Metropolitan Police after slogging out his army service on the Western Front. Falling for a suspect in a gruesome murder case is not on his agenda, however attractive he finds the other man.
Both men are floundering and out of their depth, struggling to come to terms with feelings they didn't ask for and didn't expect. Both have secrets that could get them arrested or killed. In the middle of a murder investigation that involves wild magic, mysterious creatures, and illegal sexual desire, who is safe to trust?
He parked the department's Model-T on the small lane off Hackney High Street where Tyler indicated and followed the man up a flight of steps from a small courtyard, behind what looked like a laundry. Tyler unlocked the door and looked at him. "Come in. You can wait in here." He threw his damp cap and 'cycle goggles onto a table that clearly served for kitchen and dining, shucked his coat and gestured to a battered settee in front of a cold grate. "Would you like a drink?" He was un-stoppering a half-full bottle of whisky and sloshing it into two glasses as he spoke.
Alec shut the door and leaned back against it, his arms folded. "How did you know him?"
He kept his gaze uncompromising.
The hand holding the bottle froze in mid-air and then very carefully replaced it on the counter. "I didn't know him."
The stopper of the bottle was replaced with deliberation.
"Do you want me to take you down to Wapping for questioning?"
More silence. Tyler lifted the glass and took a long slug. He turned to face Alec and Alec suddenly realized that he could have read the young man incorrectly and that he was face to face with the killer. He wasn't as young as he had initially thought, now Alec was looking at him with a professional eye, and his hands and arms were sinewy and muscled where he'd undone his sleeves. His eyes were dark-chocolate colored, shot through with lighter hazel -- almost gold -- hooded and wary; and there was a smear of what looked like blood on his fingers where he was gripping the glass and another on his cheek. He told himself that Tyler couldn't have killed the man -- he'd have been covered in blood, the way the throat had been ripped out. But he knew the victim. Alec was sure of it.
Tyler raised the glass again and tossed the rest of the contents back; then turned and went to refill it. Alec caught himself watching the play of his shoulders under his shirt and a little frisson of desire shivered through him. Hell. That was the last thing he needed.
Tyler turned back to Alec, both glasses in hand and caught him looking. He held one out to him, clearly dismissing what he'd seen. "Do you want this?"
Alec unfolded from the door and took it. He gestured to the other man's fingers. "You touched him."
He said it flatly, not a question.
Another pause. Tyler stared into his glass and Alec drank some of his. The bite of the spirit steadied him a little.
"Just as I was setting up the shot. Not deliberately."
Again, he was lying.
Alec stepped toward the small table where Tyler had put down his camera kit and placed his glass down with a deliberate clunk on the surface. Then he took off his hat and his coat and threw them over the chair-back of one of the mismatched wooden dining chairs before he took another drink.
"Get going with the pictures, then."
Let it play out, he told himself. Wait. Just let it play out.
He sat down on the battered settee, crossed his arms, and stretched his legs out, tilting his head back against the cushions and keeping eye contact with Tyler all the time. Tyler threw back the remains of his second drink and picked up his kit.
"Dark room's through there," he muttered, gesturing at a door. "Not much space in there."
"I'll wait here." Alec was laconic.
He was more tired than he thought -- a long day followed by two hours sleep, then being woken again by Grant when the call came in. It was pleasant sitting in the relatively warm flat, listening to the rain outside. It was proper rain now rather than the dank drizzle of earlier and he thought absently to himself that anything left at the scene would be washed away by the time he could get back there to have another look. His eyes started to droop and he let them, lulled by the sound.