Jubilee Manor

Jubilee Manor

by Bethany Hagen

Hardcover

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780803739499
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 08/11/2015
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

Bethany Hagen is a librarian and writer who grew up loving Charlotte Bronte and all things King Arthur. She lives with her family in Kansas City, Kansas.

Read an Excerpt

It was the shouts that caught my attention.

I had been looking over the menu for tonight’s dinner—roast goose and lobster—when I heard the noise come from outside, where the gardeners had been rolling heavy solar heaters into place and shoveling snow off the wide gravel walks. Curious, I went through the ballroom to the patio doors, hoping to find the source of the commotion.

For the first time in the month since I’d stood up to my father at Liberty Park, the estate bustled with activity. On my way through the ballroom, I passed servants carrying fresh bundles of flowers, neatly pressed linens, crates of long white candles for the candelabras and chandeliers. I made a quick mental note of the progress as I walked, trying to calculate how much more still needed to be done. The dinner my uncle and I were hosting tonight was to welcome the Rootless and the gentry together, to try to demonstrate goodwill on both sides. How well the Rootless would adapt to sharing a table with their oppressors remained to be seen, but I felt hopeful that tonight would be a turning point.

Tonight was important.

The men were gesturing emphatically to one another, and I could hear them arguing even before I opened the glass doors that led outside. A rush of cold damp air hit me, cutting through the filmy silk dress I wore. “What’s going on?” The frigid air made my voice unusually sharp. I took a breath and changed my tone to something softer, more polite. “I heard the shouts. Is everything okay?”

One of the men, the head gardener, touched his hat respectfully. “Good afternoon, Miss Landry. There’s really nothing going on here, just an unexpected complication.”

But I’d already stepped out onto the patio, shivering, snow soaking through my thin slippers, and now I could see what the men were concerned about: an ugly red stain in the snow, right on top of where the platinum atomic symbol was inlaid into the stone.

“We were clearing off the patio,” he said, “and we noticed a heap of snow in the middle. We started shoveling and found this.”

“It looks like blood,” someone said.

“It looks like a lot of blood,” another added.

I came forward to examine the stain more closely. It did indeed look like blood, a vivid crimson that eerily matched the color of my hair. Darker in the middle and surrounded by bright splatters, the stain was large and deep. When a gardener used his shovel to scrape away a section, the snowmelt lingered in scarlet puddles on the patio.

The wind picked up again, ruffling my hair, and the scent of something metallic and salty blew with it. “Do you think this means that someone is hurt? Have any of the servants reported injuries?” I asked.

The head gardener shook his head. “None of the staff has been hurt. And it would be difficult to hide a wound that produced that much blood.”

“Could it have been an animal?” I asked. “Maybe a fox or a wild dog cornered something.” I felt a flutter of fear as I thought of my cat, Morgana, who habitually wandered outside.

“But then where’s the rest of it? No carcass, no bones. Not even a trail showing where it had been dragged off.” The gardener shook his head, and I relaxed a little. “No. Whatever bled here was carried off and then great pains were taken to cover the blood back up. A person did this, Miss Landry.”

I took quick stock of the patio. Four gardeners, two solar heaters, and assorted shovels, spades, and ice picks. Muddy bootprints were everywhere, mostly leading from the south side of the property where they’d been clearing the garden, and one leading from the east side, where the gardening shed abutted the carriage house. Ignoring the head gardener’s noise of protest, I walked around the blood and down the steps, the snow scraping against my bare legs as I sank in up to my knees. At the bottom, I could see no footprints other than those that clearly belonged to the gardeners. There was no disturbed snow on the lawn, no trace of blood anywhere else. It was as if whatever—no, whomever—had bled into the snow had then simply vanished.

I trudged back up to the gardeners. “How long since the patio’s last been cleared?” I asked.

“The night of your debut,” the head gardener said.

That made sense. That was the night before I’d confronted Father and everything had changed. “So it’s been a month,” I said. “Could this have been here since then and no one noticed?”

He shook his head. “Someone would have seen it, surely. And besides, it snowed last night, and the snow piled on top of the stain was freshly disturbed. It must have happened today.”

The thought made me intensely uncomfortable. Mere hours ago, someone had spilled what appeared to be torrents of blood right outside the ballroom of the most important estate in the entire city, and no one had noticed. Had someone been mutilated? Killed?

Please let no one have been hurt, I begged the fading sky. Please, please, please, no more, no more blood, no more pain.

I thought back to my father, bloodied and hands knotting in pain, when he’d been rescued from the Rootless mob at Liberty Park.

And along with the thought came a stab of fear—a rapier prick of fear really—sharp and small and gone in an instant.

“Should we tell your uncle?” the gardener asked.

I shook off the images of violence and savagery that crowded at the edges of my mind. “I’ll get him,” I said. I left the gardeners shuffling uncomfortably and went back inside to find my uncle, my slippers leaving wet footprints on the floor.

I hated having to disturb Jack with anything tonight. The events at Liberty Park, along with the shocking and painful revelation that Jack was actually my father’s assumed-dead brother, had left the city in chaos and had naturally left the gentry uneasy. There was so much work to be done and tonight was a new beginning. He needed to focus and prepare as much as possible.

And, if I admitted it to myself, there was another reason I felt reluctant to tell him about the mysterious discovery. Something had been different about him in the past four weeks, a fanaticism that nestled inside his rumbling words. It made me wary, but we were so close to achieving all that we’d worked for, so close to actual change, that I felt reluctant to give the small anxieties in my mind any credence.

Jack was in my father’s study when I found him. He was reading, as he often did these days, having been deprived of access to books when he lived in the Rootless ghetto. He snapped the book shut when he saw me. “Madeline. How are the preparations for the dinner coming along?”

For a moment, his resemblance to Father was overwhelming, and something tightened in my chest. “There’s something on the patio you need to see,” I said.

He got to his feet, leaving his cane leaning against the desk. We walked back through the ballroom, where servants rolled tables laden with fresh flowers and empty silver platters in from the kitchen elevator. Savory scents and sweet smells wafted up from downstairs, and already Crawford, the butler, was laying out bottles of wine from the cellar. The sun was dipping low outside. I would have to go upstairs soon to change and have Elinor fix my hair.

Jack opened the doors and we both stepped outside, me wishing that I would have thought to get a cloak and him showing no sign that he even noticed the cold. The creases in his face deepened as his eyes lit upon the blood, and they grew deeper and deeper as he interviewed the gardeners, listening to the same answers I had heard not five minutes ago.

“Should we alert the constables?” I asked when he finished.

He stared at the western horizon, where oranges and pinks and purples mingled together and glanced off the sparkling snow. “The guests will be here in a couple of hours. And we’re not even sure that a crime has been committed.”

“But surely the police could identify it as blood for certain? And maybe there’s somebody in the city who’s been hurt and the constables are looking for any possible leads, and—”

Jack held up a hand. “I’m not ignoring this, Madeline. But we have important work to do here tonight and I don’t want it interrupted by something that’s probably inconsequential.”

“They could come and take a couple of pictures, maybe a sample and then leave,” I insisted. “In and out before the party even starts.”

Jack met my gaze, determined gray eyes on determined gray eyes, and I managed to keep the eye contact until he finally exhaled and shrugged. “Fine. We’ll call the constables. But I will make it clear that they need to be quick. My people will not take kindly to seeing the police roaming the estate, not after all the violence of the past year.”

“I understand,” I said. “And thank you.”

He nodded at me. “Finish clearing everything else,” he told the men. “But save the patio until after the constables have looked at it.” He looked at me one last time before leaving. One by one, the men filed off the patio, grabbing their shovels and picks.

I stood there for a minute longer, my breath steaming, absorbed by the bloody snow. It seemed like a portent, like a warning out of a fairy tale, but for what? Things couldn’t be better right now. The Rootless and the gentry would meet tonight, converse and mingle and actually learn about one another. My father had been removed from power. And David—my cheeks warmed as I thought of Captain David Dana and his bright blue eyes and sharp smile.

And I had David. Things were good.

I went upstairs, where I found Morgana curled into a silver ball on my bed. I rubbed behind her ears for a moment, glad to see her alive and clearly unharmed, and then started to change for dinner.

Elinor had already laid out my gown, a flowing chiffon of mint green with a wide sash and a short train. I wanted something understated, something that wouldn’t seem too opulent to the Rootless, but also something that wouldn’t seem cheap or boring to the gentry, who already didn’t trust me after what happened in Liberty Park. I wanted to show them that I was still a Landry, that I still had a foot in their world, and that trying to help the Rootless didn’t negate any of that.

As Elinor pinned up my hair, sliding antique hairpins into the mass of waves with almost unnerving focus, I watched the blue lights of the constables’ cars flash across the windows. I wondered what they would make of the stain, and if they would try to analyze the blood or search for someone who was missing or hurt, and if they could find any other clues as to who did it.

I tried to shake the worries and fears out of my thoughts, but they clung to me like wet leaves, cold and unwelcome. What if someone was truly hurt? What if they were still hurting?

Stop, I told myself. I was overreacting, on edge from the violent events this winter. Jack seemed to think it was nothing, and if that wasn’t the case, then the constables would be able to help. I had to focus on making tonight a success.

With a murmured thanks to Elinor, I rose from my vanity and went downstairs. The evening was beginning, whether I was ready for it or not.

Jack and I stood in the foyer to welcome the guests, my gown affording very little protection from the gusts of freezing air that circled through the house whenever the front doors opened. The Rootless contingent was the first to arrive, and I felt some dismay at their small number—less than twenty in all.

“So few,” I murmured to Jack as they filed in through the door, looking uncomfortable and wary. “Did we invite more?”

“I invited them all,” Jack said. He licked his lips as he looked down at the floor. “I am sure the reasons for refusal are varied.”

There was something he wasn’t saying. Rather than ask, I waited—a tactic I’d learned from my father.

“Many of them feel that we should not move forward with a formalized agreement with the gentry,” Jack finally said, and his quiet voice made it plain that this was a difficult admission for him. “Only a handful see the wisdom in working together. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that I’ve had a gentry agenda all along, being both a Landry and a son of the Uprisen.”

The Uprisen was the small influential group within the gentry that set legal policy and government agendas behind the scenes; only the oldest and wealthiest families counted themselves members. My ancestor Jacob Landry had been the founder of the Uprisen, and my entire life I’d been groomed to take a seat at the table with the other eleven families. So had Jack—before he’d faked his own death and forged a new place for himself among the Rootless.

“Things were easier when my identity was unknown,” he said.

“I can imagine.”

The group finished coming in, and we greeted them, me signaling to the servants to circulate among the guests with hors d’oeuvres and small flutes of champagne, which the Rootless seemed reluctant to take. Instead, they clustered together at the far end of the foyer, looking to Jack for reassurance.

A scowling man with slouching shoulders and darting eyes hung near the back. I was surprised to see him: Smith, the angry revolutionary who had once yanked me through a window by my hair. Jack had helped the other Rootless find gentry-style clothes, tuxedos for the men and gowns for the women, but Smith had refused. He still defiantly wore his Rootless clothes, patched brown pants and a tattered gray shirt.

He, of all the Rootless, was the most resistant to working with the gentry. Why had he even come?

Eyeing Smith, I moved across the marble floor to speak with the Rootless, to encourage them to make themselves at home. Most of them smiled at me, most of them shook my hand and thanked me for standing up for them in Liberty Park, but not him. He moved right past me as if I didn’t even exist.

“I thought there was going to be dinner,” Smith said to Jack, glancing around the foyer with barely contained revulsion.

“It’s traditional for guests to mill in the foyer before dinner starts,” Jack said pleasantly. “It gives a chance for conversation.” What Jack didn’t mention was that he didn’t want anybody to see the constables packing up their things and leaving the patio. Better to keep the guests safely ensconced until he was certain that they had gone.

Smith walked closer, but he didn’t bother lowering his voice. “You’re turning into one of them,” he said. “Why are we even here? Alexander Landry has been driven out and you have control. Can’t you force the Uprisen to change?”

“Not without a fight,” I broke in. “If you push them, there will be more violence, maybe even war—”

“A war that we would win,” Smith said over me.

“—And that war would only hurt your own people and your own cause,” I continued.

“She’s right,” Jack said. “After all, without Alexander to lead them, the gentry may feel it’s in their best interest to negotiate. We have our proposals, our demands. We will ask for the gentry to switch to a safer power source—wind or solar—and they will see the irrefutable logic in that.” His voice did not ring with confidence, and Smith’s curling lip indicated that he noticed this.

“At the very least,” Jack amended, “we try this first.”

I turned to Jack. I didn’t like the way he said try this first, as if this attempt at diplomacy was something to be scratched off a list, a perfunctory task to attempt before moving on to the real solution. And I worried that for people like Smith, the real solution would always be one of rubble and ashes.

Of blood.

But before I could say anything else, he stepped close to Jack and said, “The time for negotiation was two centuries ago. I don’t want their money or their handouts. I want a world where the gentry are no more. Now, do you have the spine to see a plan through or not?”

“Smith, now’s not the time.”

“No, it wouldn’t be. Not in front of your new friends,” Smith snarled.

He stalked off and Jack cleared his throat. “He can be a little hotheaded,” he said mildly.

“A little?”

The door opened once more and I turned, hoping to see David, and only barely masking my disappointment when I saw it wasn’t him. The Wilder family looked faintly uncomfortable with the Rootless nearby, but when Jack stuck out his hand, Mr. Wilder shook it, only hesitating a moment. I beamed at him. The stigma against touching the skin of a Rootless person was so strong that I’m embarrassed to say it had once prevented me from helping a very sick girl. If someone as important as Clarence Wilder was willing to shake hands with the leader of the Rootless, that was a very good sign.

Mr. Wilder looked up and met Jack’s gaze as he shook hands. “Thank you for inviting us,” he said. His gaze slid over Jack and me, and I knew he was remembering the countless times he’d shaken hands with my father, the times he’d kissed my mother’s cheek and patted my head. Landry Park without my parents—especially my father—was still a strange thing to the gentry. It was still a strange thing to me.

“It’s good to see you again, Clarence.” Jack’s familiarity was surprising to me, but it shouldn’t be—after all, he’d been the heir to Landry Park once, and men like Mr. Wilder used to be his peers.

Philip, the Wilders’ son and heir, gave me a tight hug. He smelled like fresh laundry with just a whiff of Scotch. Although I’m not a demonstrative person, I hugged him back. We’d spent a lot of time together over the last year when our fathers had taught us how to run our estates, and I liked to imagine that we were friends.

“Where’s your sister?” I asked him. Marianne wasn’t the type to miss a party.

“She’s coming later, but she’s probably still off with Mark Everly. We were both planning on going over to his house this morning, but I ended up staying home instead—he’s got a cold and I wasn’t interested in catching it.”

“So he won’t be here tonight?”

“Marianne will have to come alone; what a hardship.” He rolled his eyes, but his voice softened when he added, “We’re expecting an engagement any day now. Speaking of missing guests, where’s Captain Dana? And Miss Westoff?”

“Cara is upstairs with my cousin Ewan. They’ll be down any moment. And Captain Dana will be here shortly.” I hope.

Philip straightened his cuffs, silver links gleaming against the white fabric, the fabric striking against his dark skin. “So, the idea is that we’re supposed to mingle with these people?”

“The idea is to find common ground,” I said. “They’re the same as us. They just don’t want to live in fear or pain any longer. I think we can all relate.”

Philip’s mouth quirked. “I guess. But what do I even talk about with them?”

“Use your natural charm. There are two girls our age over there.”

“Now that is common ground.” He winked at me and then whisked a couple of champagne flutes off a silver tray, walking over and presenting them to the young Rootless women. They accepted with giggles.

When Jane Osbourne came in, I didn’t wait for her to walk over to greet me. I met her right at the door, unable to keep a smile from my face. Jane’s mother was one of the Uprisen, and Jane and I had been close friends since we were girls. She was one of the few sensible people I could number among my acquaintances, and she and I had spent many dances and dinners in quiet conversation while the others socialized and drank. She gave me a warm hug and looked around the room.

“I can’t believe you managed to get Rootless and gentry together in the same room.” Her genial expression flickered as she caught sight of Philip charming the Rootless girls.

Jane has feelings for Philip, I realized, and then my heart squeezed a little for her. Philip was a charmer and a flirt. I knew a little of what it was like to love someone like that.

“I asked him to be a gentry ambassador,” I said, recognizing that look. Philip was a bit of a flirt, but he was talking to those girls at my behest, so I felt partly responsible for Jane’s discomfort.

“Oh, of course,” Jane said, equanimity restored in an instant. “I’m glad to see that at least a few of the guests are off to a friendly start.”

“Please, help yourself to some drinks and food. I’m on greeting duty.”

Jane nodded, her dark curls bouncing gracefully against her long neck. Philip better notice what he’s missing, I thought as she walked off with her parents. I liked him, but Jane was undoubtedly the best girl in this city.

More gentry arrived, but still no David. I discreetly pulled my tablet out of my deep dress pocket and checked to see if he’d called or messaged. He hadn’t.

The other families managed a modicum of politeness, but when they entered the house, Arthur Lawrence and his three oldest boys refused to shake Jack’s hand. I felt heat rise to my cheeks—the Lawrences were cousins on my mother’s side, and I couldn’t help but feel ashamed of their rudeness.

“Mr. Landry,” Uncle Lawrence said. “Here you are. Alive. Shaming the gentry just as you did as a boy.”

“And here you are, Arthur,” Jack rumbled, “as old and as blind as ever.”

Uncle Lawrence gave a thin-lipped smile. He was indeed old, but that didn’t make him any less formidable. His spine was still straight, his eyes still clear, and his words still sharp. Even the ebony and silver walking stick he carried was more for show than for use.

His boys—Tarleton and Frank—sauntered past without a word. The heir, Stuart, stopped briefly in front of me but didn’t bow or kiss my hand or any of the other conventional greetings. “So you’re with them now?” he said, jerking his head toward the clump of Rootless. Thankfully, he kept his voice low. “I heard about what happened in the park. How you let them take your father and hurt him.

“I’ll tell you what. I promise if you marry me, I’ll forgive all this.” He gestured to Jack and the Rootless in the foyer. “I’ll even move here to Landry Park.”

It was no secret that Uncle Lawrence wanted one of his boys to marry me, to bring the power of Landry Park into his vast empire of wealth and land. What I wanted to tell Stuart was that if all went to plan, the estates would no longer be the seat of all the money and influence and that the Landry name would no longer be a byword for unadulterated control. That marrying me would be pointless, because the game of acquiring good gentry blood and more money would be finished.

“I’d rather hang myself,” is what I said instead.

Stuart snorted incredulously. “I can’t believe we’re related.”

You took the words right out of my mouth.

Harry Westoff was the last to arrive and he arrived alone. His wife had flown off somewhere warm and sunny, and now that half the city knew that she had been the one who so brutally beat Cara—her own daughter—almost a year ago, it seemed like she would stay there indefinitely. Scandals may burn themselves out eventually, but the word was that the constables had officially charged Addison with assault, and that she would be arrested if she returned. Despite being thoroughly under the gentry’s thumb, the police did still carry out the letter of the law occasionally, especially when the evidence was so irrefutable . . . and when the victim was also gentry.

Mr. Westoff greeted Jack in his usual half-polite, half-condescending way and shook his hand, but I noticed that both men had white knuckles and red palms by the end of the handshake. “I take it my daughter is here with your son?” he asked Jack.

Jack nodded that it was so.

“And dear Madeline,” Mr. Westoff said, coming over to me and kissing my hand. “How wonderful for you to host us all here . . . together. I bet your father must be so proud.”

His barbs found no purchase in me. I had thrown away any hope of Father’s approval when I stood by Jack.

I heard a throat being cleared dramatically and looked up to see Cara gliding gracefully down the stairs, her pale pink dress whispering against the marble as she walked. Next to her, Ewan looked strong and handsome in a pressed tuxedo. With his red hair and pale skin, he looked as much a Landry as I did. I couldn’t believe I’d never seen it before, that I had never guessed we were related.

“Hello, Papa,” Cara said, dismounting the stairs and coming toward us. Ewan stayed next to her, his hand on the small of her back, a detail Mr. Westoff didn’t miss. “Did you miss me?”

“Ah, Cara. One always misses what is dear to the heart.”

Cara batted her long eyelashes, her face folding into an expression of saccharine adoration. “I am so happy to hear that I am still so important to you, Papa.”

“Hello, Mr. Landry,” Mr. Westoff said to my cousin. His voice was the model of politeness, but he didn’t extend a hand to shake, and neither did Ewan. They met eyes and Ewan lifted his chin slightly, as if to signify that he wasn’t about to kowtow to his girlfriend’s father.

Mr. Westoff smiled. “How interesting. Like looking at the dark side of the moon. You look and act exactly like a Landry but the—” here he made a motion indicating the healing sores peeping out from Ewan’s hairline “—kind of ruins the effect. If you’ll excuse me, sweeting.” He made a short bow and went to join my uncle Lawrence, who was currently scowling at the Rootless side of the room.

“So,” Cara said, acting as if the tense exchange with her father hadn’t occurred. “Your party is off to a great start.”

I wanted to protest, but she was right. So far, Philip was the only one brave enough to cross the wide expanse of empty marble that separated the murmuring gentry and the Rootless. An uneasiness permeated the air, a tension rife with misunderstanding and prejudice. We needed to move into the ballroom and start the buffet. Plenty of food and drinks would help people loosen up and start talking.

“I should go make sure everything is ready,” I said, more to myself than to Cara, thinking of the dark bloodstain and the constables.

“Good idea. In the meantime, I’ll do your job for you and get these people talking.” Cara grabbed Ewan’s hand and looped his arm through hers. Together, they strode out into the crowd, Cara loudly greeting the other Uprisen heirs and Ewan nodding at his people on the far side of the foyer.

“Looks like Cara Westoff knows how to work a room,” Jack said quietly.

“She always has,” I conceded. Jack raised an eyebrow at me and I realized that I sounded overly critical. I cleared my throat and tried again. “If anyone can coax these people into conversation, it would be her. In the meantime, I’m going to pop into the ballroom and see if we’re ready to begin.”

“Please make sure the constables have finished their business. Our guests are uncertain enough without the police poking around.”

I started to leave, but then I turned back to my uncle. “Do you think maybe we could invite everyone to see the library and some of the other rooms? Many of them have never been inside the house before, and maybe an informal tour would help set them at ease, give them something to talk about.”

Jack nodded. “Marvelous idea.” He strode over to the Rootless, offering to show them around in his booming voice. I saw Philip offer his arms to the two girls who, despite their pale skin and air of weakness, were very pretty. I noticed Jane glancing in their direction and then quickly away.

Cara saw Philip joining Jack and announced that she and her friends were accompanying them for the tour. And like that, the younger gentry were intermingled with the group of Rootless, awkwardly to be sure, but Cara and Ewan made such a compelling pair that it was hard not to feel inspired. Only the gentry adults were left in the foyer, holding their drinks and staring at the large, jostling group going down the hall.

Satisfied that the mood was improving, I slipped out of the foyer to make my way down to the kitchens.

Downstairs, the rich smells of roasting meat and melted butter hung heavy in the air, and the cooks were busy whipping up bowls of desserts and rolling out pastry dough. After getting our head cook Martha’s assurances that the food was ready to be carried up, I went upstairs through the butler’s staircase and peeked into the ballroom.

Tables were already laden with cold fruit and piles of rolls, croissants, and small cakes. The kitchen maids had brought up chafing dishes of whipped potatoes, creamy soups, and dark, roasted asparagus. Rolls of sushi were laid out in unnervingly precise rows, dollops of wasabi and ginger ringing the edges.

I felt a wave of pride. This was the first large dinner I had ever planned by myself, and it was all coming together. I strode over to the doors, where there was no sign of the constables or their blue-lit cars and where the patio had dutifully been cleared by the gardeners. Only the slickness on the platinum symbol betrayed the presence of snow not an hour ago, but otherwise everything looked dry and warm thanks to the solar heaters.

I went through the butler’s entrance again, but this time I stayed on the first floor, making my way to the main hallway to meet up with the others and tell Jack that we were ready. And then I felt my waist seized from behind.

I turned to find myself staring into a sharp-featured face with a wolfish grin and eyes the color of the Cherenkov lanterns outside. My breath caught even before Captain David Dana bent to lower his lips to mine, and once he did, I felt like I would never breathe again. His lips were soft and warm and they tasted faintly of cloves or maybe cinnamon. His hand slid around the back of my neck while his other arm tightened around my waist. He parted my lips with his, and my knees grew weak, unable to support my weight.

“You’re late,” I murmured against his mouth.

“I like to make an entrance.”

“Sneak in is more like it.”

He drew me in even tighter, my skirt tangling around his legs. “I wanted to see you first,” he said in a low voice. “I needed to see you first.”

“David,” I said. I wasn’t sure what else to say. No one had ever challenged me like David, inspired me like him, and sometimes I worried that it was all too good to be true, that something would drive us apart.

“You don’t have to say anything,” he said. “But I will. I missed you.”

I flushed, happy. “I missed you, too.”

The grin came back, wider than ever. “Good. Now I suppose we should get back to your party.”

I never wanted to leave this dim hallway, never wanted to be without David’s arms around me, but I knew he was right, we needed to rejoin the others. I started walking, and David let me, but he kept his arm firmly around my waist. Fluttering filled my chest. I’d never had a boyfriend before. I’d never even wanted to have a boyfriend before. And this is what it felt like, to have someone want to see you and want to touch you. To claim you at that same time that you claimed them.

It was all so new. And so wonderful.

“So exactly how much did you miss me?”

“I was only with my father at Victory Lodge for a few weeks,” I said, trying to keep my voice light. He had no idea how much I had missed him, how I had spent every night staring at the stars outside my window and wishing he were with me. He had been the sole anchor of my thoughts, keeping me from drifting into desperation and worry as I sat by Father’s bedside and watched him labor for breath. My anchor as I stared at the pale skin that was healing too fast, as I listened to the doctors and nurses marvel at his impossible recovery. As I wondered if the same genetic engine that drove his healing existed within my own body.

A low sigh escaped at this last thought.

“I’ll take that as a confirmation that you went nearly mad with longing.” He opened the intricately carved door to the main hallway. It was empty, but I thought I heard voices coming from the library.

“Is your mother here?” I asked.

Something tightened in David’s face, something momentary and unreadable. “My mother’s decided not to come. She and I have . . . ah . . . disagreed about certain current events.” He said it flippantly, but the tension in the hand pressed against my side showed that this was anything but a trifling argument for the two of them. I knew how close David and his mother were.

“It’s more to do with my father than the Rootless, isn’t it?”

He set his mouth. “She loves him. The Rootless hurt him. I think for her, it’s as simple as that. The centuries of history and suffering are completely irrelevant.”

This made me sad. In a strange way, I had kind of liked Christine and her sharp sophistication, her keen perception, even though her affair with my father had lacerated our family’s delicate semblance of normalcy. Even though her affair with my father had nearly destroyed my mother.

“Jude’s here, though,” David said, changing the subject. “He’ll be happy to see you.”

I didn’t answer. The last time I had seen Jude, I’d told him that I was choosing David over him, even though it had been Jude whom my parents had wanted me to marry.

“Will you be happy to see him?”

“I . . . yes. Yes, I’ll be pleased.”

“Madeline.” We stopped. We were outside the library now and I could hear the others talking inside, Jack’s voice over it all. “He’s my best friend. I know things are . . . unsettled . . . between the three of us at the moment, but it’s important to me that we all get along.”

“I like Jude,” I said. “I’ve always liked him. But I worry that he feels a bit betrayed by the two of us.”

“He’s not like that,” David said earnestly. “I promise. It’s already forgiven and forgotten.”

I doubted it.

“So things will be okay, then? Between us all?”

He seemed so hopeful, so eager, that I didn’t want to trouble him with my anxieties. “Yes,” I smiled. “Yes, it will be like it was. Before the debut.”

He laced his fingers through mine. “Not exactly like before.”

My tablet chimed inside my dress pocket, and I pulled it out to see a news alert about the Eastern Empire.

The Empire, a powerful federation of allied states that had invaded America two centuries before, loomed over us all. There had been a fierce skirmish two months ago, a salvo from the Empire-controlled part of the continent that both David and Jude had beaten back. No one pretended that the Eastern hostilities were at an end, but since the battle, things had been restricted to military exercises and diplomatic posturing.

However, I knew—as did David—what most didn’t: that the Rootless were secretly allied with the Empire, which was an exceptionally dangerous thought. The angriest people in the world coupled with the most powerful. Their alliance had to be kept at bay, or America risked being torn apart by war.

I put my tablet back, trying to file that worry away for another time. The dinner was enough to fret about for now.

Once we made it to the library, it was clear that some degree of progress had been made. The tour and the drinks and the incessant rounds that Cara and Ewan had made had blurred the lines between the two discrete groups. Even though the Lawrence boys still regarded the entire crowd with scorn, Sai Thorpe and Jane Osbourne had joined Philip Wilder in talking to some of the younger Rootless. Other Rootless trailed near Jack, who made a point to engage the gentry in conversation, making sure to bring his people in at every turn. And happily, Smith was nowhere in sight. Probably off skulking in dark rooms, trying to find more evidence of gentry opulence.

“Impressive,” David said. “They’re actually talking with one another. I can’t believe it.”

“It’s mostly thanks to Cara and Ewan,” I admitted. I knew my strengths and chatting up a room full of people was not one of them.

Jane spotted us and invited us over to where she stood with Philip, Sai, and a few others. I noticed Jude was with them, square-jawed and broad-shouldered in his tuxedo. My heart caught, but in a different way than it did with David. With Jude, it was as if I was seeing someone I hadn’t seen for a long time, a childhood friend perhaps. We had a certain connection, one that wasn’t romantic, but that was powerful all the same. I wondered if it was because we shared so many of the same traits. I recognized much of myself in Jude . . . which wasn’t always a good thing.

As we started to cross the floor, the lights around us shut off without a sound, plunging the entire library into shadowed darkness, lit only by the fire on the far side of the room. I noticed a chill seeping in through the walls and windows almost immediately. There was a silence to the house that I rarely heard.

As murmurs of consternation began to manifest among the guests, I made my way over to Jack, jostling though darkened silhouettes, David trailing behind me. I looked outside the double doors of the library, seeing no other lights, save a candelabra in the hall and a Cherenkov lantern at the end.

“I think the power’s gone from the whole house,” I said when I reached him. “There’s no warm air blowing through the vents, and I don’t see anything but lantern light or candlelight when I look down the hallway.”

He nodded and pressed his fingertips to his mouth. The firelight threw the deep lines of his face into shadow. “Interesting,” he said.

“What?”

“Normally, if there was some sort of malfunction with one nuclear charge, the backup charge would kick in automatically. Unless somebody did this on purpose and removed both at the same time.” He shook his head. “Without the heaters, it will get impossibly cold in here. Perhaps it would be best to ask our guests to leave.”

First the blood from nowhere, now this. It was hard not to feel that the universe was karmically against this party somehow.

I sighed. “I’d rather not have our first attempt at bringing them together go down as a disorganized disaster. Let’s invite the others to join us in the library—we can use the fireplace to keep warm—and then have the kitchen bring whatever food is already prepared in here. Maybe it will be kind of cozy.”

“And I can go get some more candles for light,” David offered. But as Jude approached us, also offering to help in whatever way he could, the lights went back on as suddenly as they shut off, revealing confused but relieved guests. The library seemed emptier, as if a few had already slipped out and made their way back to the foyer to rejoin the other guests, but those who remained seemed upbeat enough, and the warm blasts of air that began blowing from the brass grates allayed my fear that everyone would be shivering violently while they tried to eat Martha’s award-winning bouillabaisse.

“Huh,” David said, looking around. “Well, that was an easily solved crisis.”

“And an unusual one,” Jack said. “I think I’ll have Ewan step down into the basement and make sure that nothing is amiss with the charges. While he does that, shall we proceed to dinner as planned, before anything else goes wrong?”

*  *  *  *  *

We had made our way back into the foyer when Ewan rejoined us from the basement. From the moment I saw him pushing through the crowd, I knew something was wrong.

“The charges were intentionally removed,” Ewan said as he reached Jack. He was smart enough to speak so that only Jack, David, and I could hear him, but I noticed several of the guests trying to eavesdrop. “The first one was replaced correctly—that’s why the power’s on again—but the backup one wasn’t slid all the way back into the station.”

“As if someone was in a hurry,” I said.

“Or didn’t really know what they were doing,” Ewan added. “But they knew enough to wear gloves. I found a pair abandoned by the basement door.”

“But why?” David cut in. “It seems like a lot of trouble for ten minutes of mild confusion.”

Jack examined his cane for a moment. “I think we’d do our best to forget about it,” he said. I started to interrupt but he held up his hand. “What matters is that everything is working properly again and that we can proceed as planned. It was probably meant as a prank by one of our young people, and nothing foils a prank more than ignoring it.”

“I just don’t like the idea of someone intentionally interfering with the charges,” I said.

“I don’t either. But what else can we do?”

Jack was right. Taking a deep breath, I smoothed my gown and walked to the front of the foyer. The conversation quieted and heat crawled up my cheeks as all eyes turned to me. “Everyone, if you’ll join me in the ballroom, we are ready for dinner.”

I placed my hands on the gleaming handles of the ballroom doors, ready for the music and food and drinks to wipe away the earlier parts of the night. At least the power outage had given the guests something shared to talk about, and that was always a good thing. I turned the handles and opened the doors, expecting to see my ballroom brilliant and gleaming and ready.

A sharp intake of air came behind me, and I knew without looking that it was from Cara. I got as far as taking a step into the room before I realized why she had gasped.

Marianne Wilder lay stone dead in the middle of the floor.

Her arms were spread wide and her body was twisted, as if somebody had dropped her from their arms without caring how she landed. Her dark brown eyes were open but slightly cloudy, her long braids spread around her head like an inky halo. Her skin was ashy and strange, and her face was sunken somehow. She wore a day dress of saffron-dyed wool, mottled with dried bloodstains. And all around her were smears of red—blood, it looked like—but the sharp scent of new paint was unmistakable.

“Is she . . . ?” Cara asked, but her voice revealed what she already knew.

Something in my stomach twisted and my eyes burned, and I forced myself to breathe, to try to speak, but my throat hurt too badly to utter a sound.

And then a thick keening came from behind us, the sound of a man whose heart had been torn out and devoured. Clarence Wilder shoved his way past me and then fell to his knees next to his dead daughter, Philip close behind him. They both started crying in deep unbelieving sobs, Mr. Wilder grabbing at the limp fabric of Marianne’s dress.

At the sound of her father’s wailing, my own tears came, pricking and spilling, laced through with the bitter pangs of shock. Marianne. Philip’s sister. A girl who had never been mean to anyone, a girl whose sweet prettiness had made her such a sought after prize despite the Wilders’ modest fortune. Who would do this? And why?

And the blood from this afternoon . . . it had to have been hers. But then how long had she been dead? Where had her body been all that time?

Jack made his way beside me, and I felt a prickle of fear when I saw his face, completely shocked and completely horrified. I had only seen that expression on his face once before, and it had been as he’d stared up at his youngest son shivering underneath the gibbet cage. I wanted Jack to be certain and decisive and to know what to do. But he was as appalled and confused as the rest of us.

“God help us,” he said, his breathing ragged.

We needed to do something. Take charge, take control. What would Father do if he were here?

“We need to call the police.” My voice sounded strange. Distant. How could I still be looking at this and be able to talk, be able to think with Marianne sprawled on the floor, except she wasn’t Marianne any longer, she was something else, something other. My stomach knotted violently, and I put the back of my hand to my mouth and turned around.

David and Jude were right there. Jude put his arms up to my bare shoulders to steady me and then dropped them quickly. “What do you need me to do?” he asked instead.

“Get the police,” I said, feeling as if I might be sick with every exhalation. Now that I had noticed it, the smell of fresh paint had become overwhelming. It was all I could smell and think about, and every breath stank of it, stank of this horrible moment and of finding Marianne’s body cold on the floor.

Jude bowed quickly and left the crowd, taking his tablet out of his pocket as he did so.

“The Wilders,” I said numbly to David. “Someone should . . .” He was off before I finished, making his way over to the grieving men in quick and graceful strides. He knelt beside them both, putting his arms around them and murmuring low words, rocking back and forth with them, and never had I felt so in love with this charming boy I still barely knew, this boy of sharp edges and hidden compassion.

Meanwhile, Jack had turned, too, his face once again composed. “Ladies and gentleman, I’m afraid that I must ask you to enter the library once again. I’m certain the police will want to question all of us in order to bring a close to this unspeakable crime—”

“Was this your plan all along?” Harry Westoff demanded. “Lure us here and then slaughter us?”

“Are you going to kill all of our daughters?” Mr. Glaize added. “Or maybe you’d like our sons, too?”

“Now wait,” Jack said, raising his hands. “This is a tragedy, but surely you see—”

“Here’s what I see,” Uncle Lawrence said. “I see the leader of the Rootless gathering us here with our enemies, playing games in the dark, and then murdering one of our own, leaving her broken body for us all to find.”

And just like that, everything the night had accomplished, the scant but hopeful beginnings of a new life, crumbled to the ground. The gentry guests fused together into one outraged clump, their voices growing more and more enraged, turning their backs to the rest of the room. I could hear shouts—about the police, about the military, about control. The Rootless kept silent, faces stony and defensive, anger flashing in their eyes.

I went to David and the Wilders, and I knelt with them, ignoring the train of my dress as it dragged in the paint. I wrapped my arms around Philip as he cried—he cried so bravely, in a way that guys my age rarely did, openly and without shame. He grabbed at my wrists, and I rocked with him, meeting eyes with David as I did.

He mouthed something at me, something I didn’t quite catch, and then he pointed his gaze meaningfully at the paint, and I followed his look with my own, and I saw it. The misshapen circle around Marianne wasn’t a circle at all, but a clumsily drawn atomic symbol, complete with smaller circles to represent the electron cloud around the nucleus. It was eerily representative of the Landry family crest, except for one thing: a giant red slash through the middle. It was so much like the warning scrawled onto the front of the house last year. We are rising.

A message for us, for the Landrys. For the gentry.

I shivered.

I heard voices and then a swarm of navy-coated constables came in, eyeing the Rootless with dislike, but keeping their distance for now. Instead they came into the ballroom. I helped Philip to stand, but David couldn’t persuade Mr. Wilder to leave Marianne, and in the end, it took three constables to lift him to his feet and move him away from his daughter’s corpse. Someone brought a chair and he sat, shell-shocked and ashen, and Philip moved next to him, tears still flowing freely from his eyes.

*  *  *  *  *

“The security cameras,” I said to David and Jack as the constables took over the scene with their pictures and measurements and forensic samples.

“Yes, of course, the constables will look at those, too,” Jack said distantly.

“I want to look at them now,” I insisted. “I was in the ballroom half an hour ago and it was empty. No sign of anyone. But then the power went out.”

“They used the power outage to hide from the cameras while they were moving the body,” David said. “If we can see who went down into the basement to cut the power . . .”

“It won’t be that easy,” Jack said. “This is the work of someone who put a lot of thought into this.”

And he was right. In my father’s study, we leaned over the control panel for the security cameras, scanning the footage. And when we finally found it, it was unbearably disappointing. A figure in a black mask that covered everything but his or her eyes ducked into view and quickly ducked back out. The person wore a heavy black coat, which made it hard to tell if the figure was male or female.

A constable appeared in the doorway. “If you don’t mind,” he said. “We’ll need to ask some questions now.”

“So it begins,” Ewan said under his breath.

“What?” I asked.

“They’ll question everyone and they’ll come to the inevitable conclusion that the Rootless did it, even though they won’t have proof. It always happens this way.”

It was true that the constables didn’t have the strongest record when it came to impartial justice. Last year, they had raided the Rootless ghetto countless times, trying to find the person who attacked Cara and vandalized our house, even though Cara’s attacker turned out to be gentry . . . and her own mother, at that.

One by one, we were brought into the drawing room, where a kitchen maid had thoughtfully brought up coffee, tea, and some of the elaborate cocktails that had been meant for the dinner party. The food had been moved into the library and the guests were encouraged to eat, but it seemed, understandably, that food was on no one’s mind. Not while a body was being examined only a few rooms away.

When it was my turn to be questioned, I poured myself a cup of hot black coffee and sat in the blue damask chair opposite the constable, a youngish man with premature silver salted in his dark hair.

He introduced himself as Inspector Hernandez and, stylus poised, he asked me a few routine questions—name, age, how long I’d lived in the house—Madeline Landry, seventeen, all my life.

While he talked, I found myself glancing at my lap—pools of green chiffon, my hands folded in the middle. If I looked at him, if he gave me one more compassionate glance, I knew I would cry again. So as he quietly went through his list of questions, I kept my eyes down, noticing the smallest of details. Like that my skirt now had smears of red paint streaking up the sides.

The inspector’s voice brought me back. “You saw the blood on the patio, correct? What time was that?”

“About four thirty in the afternoon,” I replied. “I heard the gardeners talking about it and I went outside to see what was wrong.”

“And you noticed nothing unusual up to that point?”

I shook my head.

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Jubilee Manor 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel is not written at a fourth grade reading level. It is written at a level competitive with most adult romance/ fiction.
CelesteP More than 1 year ago
Landry Park was one of my most-anticipated novels of 2014, and it definitely didn't disappoint. So when it was confirmed that Jubilee Manor was going to be published in 2015, I immediately started counting down to the day when I could finally read the book. After the events of the first book, Madeline is determined to find a way to have the Rootless and the gentry find common ground. It's an unrelentless challenge; there's mistrust on both sides, and Madeline's own position is unstable amonsgst both groups. To make it worse, gentry heirs are now being murdered, and it's only adding to the discord. Now, it's up to Madeline to figure out just who is committing the murders, before things get too out of hand... Madeline is a bit of an a-typical heroine, considering her position in life. However, from the moment I was introduced to her in Landry Park, I couldn't help but admire her willingness to challenge the status quo, and ability to try and create change amongst both the gentry and the Rootless. She brings that same determination and resourcefulness to Jubilee Manor, as she literally finds herself in a rock and a hard place. There are various reasons for distrust from both the gentry and the Rootless, and Hagen really stresses Madeline's genuine skill and ability to navigate between both groups. It takes an innate diplomacy that not everyone has, especially when Madeline has to go against those that she loves. Hagen not only writes a book with twists and considerably amped up stakes, but also does an excellent job of playing out Madeline's social and romantic struggles, against a detailed, well-plotted world of glittering opulence verses the downtrodden homes of the Rootless. We can very well see how the setting is both absorbing, while dually also adding to the social strife. Though the ending does feel a bit rushed, it can't help but make me hope that Hagen will eventually revisit this world in future books. All in all, while Jubilee Manor is actually kind of the long-side, the 400 pages of glamour, opulence and socital strife makes every moment worth it.
Lisa_Loves_Literature More than 1 year ago
We jumped right back into the story, and learned that even though Madeline's father had been tortured by the Rootless, fed the radioactive material, he was quickly healing, and would soon be pretty close to back to normal. With her uncle, Jack, she is trying to do what she can to get the Gentry and the Rootless to come to an agreement, a way to settle things in order to move on. But when the night of one of the first big gatherings of both groups is ruined by finding the body of one of the heirs, Marianne Wilder, finding her murdered, chances for peace seem to be less and less a possibility. And when another heir is murdered, things look even worse. Madeline has heard one of the Rootless seeming to plot something horrible, such as killing the heirs, and she noticed his absence during the finding of the first body, she must decide whether to tell what she knows to the police, or keep it to herself until there is actual proof as her uncle asks. Yet everything she does seems to be the opposite of what her boyfriend David wants. So now she must find a way to get the trust built between the Gentry and the Rootless, as well as keep anymore of her friends from being murdered, and figure out if she and David can stay together despite their difference of opinions on the way to do these things. To make matters better, there might be a cure for the radioactive poisoning! And Madeline will welcome a new family member, other than her Uncle Jack's family now living in Landry Park. I love the story. I got so mad at David throughout the story though. Even knowing what he ended up knowing at the end of the story, the fact that he kept it from Madeline, well, he deserved the things that she did, since she didn't know. In the end though, I was happy with how it all went. Although the Kansas City references weren't quite as many in this second book, I still enjoyed when I read them and recognized them. So excited to read more from this author, and I highly recommend this series to everyone!
Alyssa75 More than 1 year ago
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Jubilee Manor by Bethany Hagen Book Two of the Landry Park duology Publisher: Dial Books Publication Date: August 11, 2015 Rating: 4 stars Source: ARC sent by the publisher Official Summary: The thrilling conclusion to Landry Park is full of love, betrayal, and murder--perfect for fans of Divergent, The Selection, and Pride and Prejudice. In Landry Park, Madeline turned her back on her elite family, friends, and estate to help the Rootless. Now, in Jubilee Manor, she struggles to bring the Gentry and the Rootless together. But when Gentry heirs—Madeline’s old friends—are murdered, even she begins to think a Rootless is behind it, putting her at odds with the boy she loves and the very people she is trying to lead. If she can’t figure out who is killing her friends and bring them to justice, a violent war will erupt and even more will die—and Madeline’s name, her estate, and all the bonds she’s forged won’t make any difference. This conclusion to Landry Park, which VOYA dubbed "Gone with the Wind meets The Hunger Games,” is a richly satisfying, addictive read. What I Liked: I think I liked this book even more than I liked Landry Park. I really enjoyed Landry Park! I can definitely see how one would want to compare it to Catherine Fisher's Incarceron (which I LOVED) or Diana Peterfreund's For Darkness Shows the Stars (which I also loved). The setting is unique and full of intrigue, and the protagonist is full of cleverness and strength. So much love! Madeline is determined to find a way to get the Rootless and the gentry to work together. Both sides are hostile and wary. When the murder of gentry heirs begins, the gentry and Uprisen turns to blame the Rootless, including Madeline (though for good reason). But many don't agree, like Jack and David, and Madeline's relationship with David hangs in the balance. Will war break out, hearts be broken, heirs continue to be killed, before it's too late to stop the storm? I am a huge fan of Madeline! She is clever and strong like I mentioned above, but there is this innate curiosity, drive, intelligence, and dedication that I absolutely love about her. She puts her duty to finding a solution to the Rootless and gentry's issues first, even going against the opinions and thoughts of the boy she loves, Captain David Dana. She stands on her own two feet, something that she struggled a bit to do in Landry Park (thinking of her and her father). I love the twists and turns of the plot of this book. It's close to four hundred pages, so it really can't meander too much with boring readers. I was never really bored, which is a plus! I wanted to know what the bigger picture solution would be, with the Rootless and the gentry. But there were so many other issues that were related - the murder of gentry heirs, the complicated DNA discovery that Jamie made at the end of Landry Park, Madeline's relationship with David... Speaking of... the romance is probably one of my favorite aspects of this duology, if not my favorite. If you thought David and Madeline were swoony in Landry Park... things get even swoonier in this book. And maybe not physically, in terms of intimacy; there's something fundamentally beautiful about their relationship. Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks dot blogspot dot com :)