PROLOGUE

Calcutta, India

Pandora has a Box (or a wicker basket).

One of seven hundred and thirty seven letters stuffed into an oversized wicker basket that is falling over from the weight of endless words.

    

17th of March, 1832

My little raven,

    Whilst I continue to battle the stiffness of this now long healed injury, boxing at the academy has proven helpful in assisting to strengthen pestering weakness. Too many of these lethophobic physicians continue to call on me and argue that the advancements I have made are not possible. Little do they comprehend that I am a resurrected rara avis. In other words, a rarity that has risen above science in the name of a woman. My strength resides not within the muscular structure of this broken body, but within an unbreakable mind that seeks to claim what it wants most: you.

     Feeling invigorated enough to work outside the house again, as opposed to taking cases from the confines of a study which I have long organized in your name, I have returned to working discreetly alongside Scotland Yard. Hence the silence. Aside from guiding younger, more progressive-thinking inspectors like Parker, whom I am beginning to admire due to his tenacity, Finkle continues to amuse me by assigning my talents to ‘unusual’ cases. This last one involved a confectioner obsessed with cannibalism (the heart in particular). To quote this bête sauvage, he confessed to me that it was the toughest muscle to chew through and he found it sweet.

     It certainly gives a new meaning to the term sweetheart.

     You seem to have gone down that feral path yourself, ma chou. For you revel in devouring the beating heart of a man. This man. How does it taste? Is it really sweet or more on the side of bitter? Keep chewing at all four ventricles if you must, but remember I only have one heart for you to consume and I do consider it vital to my ongoing existence.

     How I suffer. I am forced to stare at the copper tub you once pleasured yourself in and all too often cling to its sides, pleasuring myself alone. Moans, osculation and growls of our pleasure as we sweat and spend together overtakes every ragged breath I drag in through teeth knowing it will one day be real. The feel of your gorgeous brown skin haunts these fingertips. In too many breaths and soon, I will attempt to dig out the magnificence of your soul that belongs to me whilst your cunt weeps along with you, begging I do nothing but fuck you into bliss.

     Why do you not write? Have I not crawled enough? Or is it because I am too obscene in my devotion? Obscenity, my Jemdanee Kumar, defines me. That night, when I had toasted to your beauty and your innocence and drank laudanum to erase my breath, it was my chivalrous attempt to save you from the depravity that has devoured my sense of decency since youth.

     Dr. Watkins asked in a missive that I cease writing to you. Inform that mustachio of a clothesline that even if my hands were cleaved from each wrist, I would be using this mouth to move the quill across this parchment. I continue to be in close communication with the Field Marshal to verify you have, in fact, been receiving my letters there at the Government House.

     Which brings me to the point of this letter.

     I have negotiated and accepted an assignment from the Field Marshal through his intelligence squadron that is taking me to Bombay. Kneel to your venerated inspector, knowing that the government contract you so fatuously bound yourself to, will be terminated in return for my services. I humbly do this and more in your name knowing you have miraculously unleashed that part of me I swore I would never be to any woman again.

     I count each breath in the hopes of folding you into my arms without any further damage to anatomical or life-sustaining organs.

Your humble servant and overlord,

Evan Oswald Ridley

Postscrīptum. Your attempt at domination is unremitting and charming.  What happens next?

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