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Beautiful, spirited Abigail Hale, daughter of the surgeon at Aldersgate School of Medicine, detests the challenging, hard-bargaining Max. But she must procure the necessary specimens if she is to save the college and her father’s career. She believes she is going to be successful—until Jack double-crosses her. Then she’s swept into a plot of danger and intrigue, one where Max must intervene and protect her, no matter the risk to his plan . . . or his heart.
It was a perfect specimen. Almost.
Abigail Hale took a steadying breath and stooped into the cool, dark alley to examine the bloodless gash on the cadaver’s high forehead. The injury was a minor flaw, really. Nothing to worry about, although she intended to use that imperfection to best advantage when haggling over price.
Straightening, she opened the door wide and motioned the five figures surrounding the body inside. “Quickly!”
Three men followed as two, their features distorted by the flickering light of her lamp, hefted the sack containing the corpse into her father’s office and dropped it with a thud as solid as though it contained nothing more than so many rocks.
Abigail squared her shoulders and crossed to the desk adjacent to her father’s. Although she had dealt with resurrection men during the last school year, thrice, she had never done business with this particular gang. The sheer number of them took her off guard. Usually a couple of gravediggers or sextons showed up, regular men who didn’t look nearly so unsavory.
Hoping to keep the “sack ’em up” men from seeing how badly her hands were shaking, she clasped them behind her back.
A behemoth of a man, marked with the smallpox and dressed all in black, stepped forward. “When I saw the name on your letter, I assumed we were dealin’ with the good surgeon himself,” he said with a thick Cockney accent. “So who the bloody hell are you?”
“Who I am doesn’t matter so long as you get paid. Am I correct, Mr.…Hurtsill?” She was guessing at his name. This was the first time she had ever met him, but he seemed in charge and had referenced her letter.
“This is some risky business we’ve got going here, little lady. I have to trust you and you have to trust me. And that means who you are matters more than you might think.”
Since he didn’t correct her, she assumed she had accurately identified him. “Fine. I am steward of the household accounts here, if you must know.”
He picked a piece of food out of his teeth. “The surgeon’s daughter, eh?”
Apparently, he knew more about the school than she had expected.
“Does your father know you’re doin’ this?” he asked.
If they didn’t get on with it, he would find out. And she couldn’t have that. “Time is money, Mr. Hurtsill. How—”
“Big Jack,” he interrupted.
“Call me Big Jack.”
“Fine. Mr…er…Jack, then. How much do you want for…um…” Abigail nodded toward the sack.
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