Lockwood & Co. Book Three: The Hollow Boy

Lockwood & Co. Book Three: The Hollow Boy by Jonathan Stroud Read Free Book Online

Book: Lockwood & Co. Book Three: The Hollow Boy by Jonathan Stroud Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jonathan Stroud
most time.
    For several months, though, time had been in extremely short supply. This was partly due to our own success. In July our investigation at Kensal Green Cemetery had ended with the so-called
“Battle in the Graveyard,” featuring a fight between agents and a group of violent black-marketeers. Along with our encounter with the horrific Rat-Ghost of Hampstead, it had aroused a
lot of interest in the press, and this interest continued during the trial of the chief marketeer, a man named Julius Winkman. Lockwood, George, and I had all testified against him; by the time
Winkman was sent down for a stiff stretch in Wandsworth Prison, it was the middle of September, and our period of free publicity had lasted nearly two months. During this time, our phone had seldom
stopped ringing.
    It was true that most wealthy clients preferred to stick with the large agencies, which had swankier equipment and bigger reputations. Most of
our
business came from poorer districts
like Whitechapel, where clients didn’t pay so well. But jobs were jobs, and Lockwood didn’t like to turn any of them down. This meant that free evenings were few and far between.
    “Anything going on tonight, George?” Lockwood said suddenly. He’d thrown a weary arm over his face, and I’d assumed he was asleep. “Please say no.”
    George said nothing, just raised three fingers.
    “Three?”
Lockwood uttered a long and hollow groan. “What are they?”
    “Woman in a veil on Nelson Street, Whitechapel; a haunted apartment in a housing project, and a Shade spotted behind some public restrooms. The usual glamorous stuff.”
    “We’ll have to split up again,” Lockwood said. “Dibs on the veiled woman.”
    George grunted. “Dibs on the Shade.”
    “What?” My head jerked up. The dibs rule was second only to the biscuit rule in terms of importance. It always held firm. “So I get the housing project? Brilliant. I bet the
elevators will be out, and everything.”
    “You’re fit enough to manage a few stairs, Luce,” Lockwood murmured.
    “What if it’s twenty-one floors? What if there’s a Raw-bones at the top, and I’m too out of breath to deal with it? Wait, what if the elevator
is
working, but
the ghost’s hidden inside? You remember what happened to that girl from the Sebright Agency when she got stuck in that haunted elevator at Canary Wharf? They only found her shoes!”
    “Stop burbling,” Lockwood said. “You’re tired. We all are. You know it’ll be fine.”
    We all subsided again. I leaned my head back against the sofa cushions. Rivulets of water laced the library window like veins of blood.
    Okay, not
really
like veins of blood. I was tired…like Lockwood said.
    Lockwood…Through half-closed eyes, I watched him now, trapping him tight between my lashes. I looked at his long legs, loosely crossed over the side of the chair; at the bare feet, at the slim
contours of his body half-concealed beneath the rumpled shirt. His face was mostly covered by his arm, but you could see the line of his jaw and the expressive lips, relaxed and slightly parted.
His dark hair spilled softly over the white sleeve.
    How did he manage to look like that after five hours’ sleep, lying curled and crumpled in the chair? Being half-dressed never did
me
any favors; with George, it practically came
with a health warning. Yet Lockwood managed to carry it off perfectly. It was pleasantly warm in the room. My eyelashes squeezed a little tighter. I put my hand to my silver necklace, turning it
slowly between my fingers….
    “We need a new agent,” Lockwood said.
    I opened my eyes wide. Behind me, I heard George put his comic down. “What?”
    “We need another operative. Another working agent to back us up. Don’t we? We shouldn’t have to keep separating all the time.”
    “We worked together at Lavender Lodge,” I said.
    “That was a one-off.” Lockwood moved his arm, and pushed the hair out of his face. “Hardly ever happens

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