“It was part of the investigation. I was disguised as a foolish mundane who had come to the place to partake in vice,” explained Will. “It would have aroused suspicion had I refused to gamble.”
Charlotte set her chin. “Nevertheless, Will, that money you won was evidence. You should have given it to the Clave.”
“I spent it on gin.”
Will shrugged. “The spoils of vice are a burdensome responsibility.”
“Yet one you seem strangely able to bear,” observed Jem, with an amused flash of his silvery eyes.
Charlotte threw up her hands. “I will deal with you later, William. Lady Belcourt, am I to understand that you also are a member of the Pandemonium Club?”
Lady Belcourt made a dreadful face. “Certainly not. I was at the gambling house that night because a warlock friend of mine was hoping to win a little easy money at cards. The club’s events are open to most Downworlders. The members like us to appear there; it impresses the mundanes and opens their pocketbooks. I know there are Downworlders running the enterprise, but I would never become one of them. The entire business seems so déclassé.”
“De Quincey is a member,” said Charlotte, and behind her large brown eyes, Tessa could see the light of her fierce intelligence. “I have been told he is the head of the organization, in fact. Did you know that?”
Lady Belcourt shook her head, clearly uninterested in this piece of information. “De Quincey and I were close years ago, but no longer, and I have been direct with him about my lack of interest in the club. I suppose he could be the head of the club; it’s a ridiculous organization, if you ask me, but doubtless very lucrative.” She leaned forward, folding her slim gloved hands in her lap. There was something oddly fascinating about her movements, even the smallest ones. They had a strange animal grace. It was like watching a cat as it slunk through the shadows. “The first thing you must understand about de Quincey,” she said, “is that he is the most dangerous vampire in London. He has made his way to the top of the city’s most powerful clan. Any vampire living within London is subject to his whim.” Her scarlet lips thinned. “The second thing you must understand is that de Quincey is old—old even for one of the Night Children. He lived most of his life before the Accords, and he loathes them, and loathes living beneath the yoke of the Law. And most of all, he hates the Nephilim.”
Tessa saw Jem lean in and whisper something to Will, whose mouth quirked up at the corner in a smile. “Indeed,” Will said. “How could anyone despise us when we are so charming?”
“I am sure you know that you are not loved by most Downworlders.”
“But we thought de Quincey was an ally.” Charlotte rested her thin nervous hands on the back of one of the velvet chairs. “He has always cooperated with the Clave.”
“Pretense. It is in his interest to cooperate with you, so he does. But he would happily see you all sunk fathoms below the sea.”
Charlotte had gone pale, but rallied. “And you know nothing of his involvement with two women called the Dark Sisters? Nothing of his interest in automatons—mechanical creatures?”
“Ugh, the Dark Sisters.” Lady Belcourt shuddered. “Such ugly, unpleasant creatures. Warlocks, I believe. I avoided them. They were known to provide for the members of the club who might have less … savory interests. Demon drugs, Downworld prostitutes, that sort of thing.”
“And the automatons?”
Lady Belcourt fluttered her delicate hands in a bored fashion. “If de Quincey has some fascination with watch parts, I know nothing of it. In fact, when you first contacted me about de Quincey, Charlotte, I had no intention of coming forward with any information at all. It is one thing to share a few Downworld secrets with the Clave, another thing entirely to betray the most powerful vampire in London. That was, until I heard about your little shape-shifter.” Her green eyes came to rest on Tessa. The red lips smiled. “I can see the family resemblance.”
Tessa stared. “The resemblance to whom?”
“Why, to Nathaniel, of course. To your brother.”
Tessa felt as if ice water had been dumped down the back of her neck, shocking her to full alertness. “You’ve seen my brother?”
Lady Belcourt smiled, the smile of a woman who knows she holds a room in the palm of her hand. “I saw him a few times at various Pandemonium Club occasions,” she said. “He had that hapless look about him, poor creature, of a mundane under a spell. Probably gambled away everything he had. They always do. Charlotte told me the Dark Sisters took him; that doesn’t surprise me. They love to drive a mundane into the ground with debt and then collect in the most shocking ways… .”
“But he’s alive?” Tessa said. “You’ve seen him alive?”
“It was some time ago, but yes.” Lady Belcourt gave a wave of her hand. Her gloves were scarlet, and her hands looked as if they had been dipped in blood. “To return to the matter at hand,” she said. “We were speaking of de Quincey. Tell me, Charlotte, did you know he holds parties at his town house in Carleton Square?”
Charlotte took her hands off the chair back. “I’ve heard it mentioned.”
“Unfortunately,” said Will, “it seems he neglected to invite us. Perhaps our invitations went astray in the post.”
“At these parties,” Lady Belcourt went on, “humans are tortured and killed. I believe their bodies are dumped into the Thames for the mudlarks to pick over. Now, did you know that?”
Even Will looked taken aback. Charlotte said, “But the murder of humans by the Night Children is forbidden under the Law—”
“And de Quincey despises the Law. He does this as much to mock the Nephilim as because he enjoys the killing. Though he does enjoy that, make no mistake about it.”
Charlotte’s lips were bloodless. “How long has this been going on, Camille?”
So that was her name, Tessa thought. Camille. It was a French-sounding name; perhaps that explained her accent.
“At least a year. Perhaps longer.” The vampire’s tone was cool, indifferent.
“And you are telling me this only now because …” Charlotte sounded hurt.
“The price for revealing the secrets of the Lord of London is death,” Camille said, her green eyes darkening. “And it would have done you no good, even if I had told you. De Quincey is one of your allies. You have no reason and no excuse to burst into his home as if he were a common criminal. Not with no evidence of wrongdoing on his part. My understanding is that, under these new Accords, a vampire must actually be observed harming a human before the Nephilim can take action?”