Hell is Cold
A very early conversation between Will and Tessa in which the nature of their escape was much different, and in which the Darke House was actually a working brothel of clockwork prostitutes.
Will handed Tessa up into the carriage, then swung himself up after her, shouting "Thomas! Go! Go!" at the driver, who cracked the reins. The carriage lurched forward as Will yanked the door shut, sending Tessa tumbling again him.
"Steady on," he said, and reached for her, but Tessa had already pulled away, settling into the seat opposite his. She yanked the curtain back from the window and stared out—there was the dirty street, the shabby buildings crowding in on either side. As the carriage whipped forward, they passed the alley she had spent so many days staring at—it was there, and then gone as they careened around a corner, nearly knocking over a costermonger pushing a donkey cart piled high with new potatoes. Tessa screamed.
Will reached past her and yanked the curtain shut. "It's better if you don't look," he told her pleasantly.
"He's going to kill someone. Or get us killed."
"No, he won't. Thomas is an excellent driver."
Tessa glared at him. "Clearly the word excellent means something else on this side of the Atlantic." The carriage lurched again, and Tessa clutched at the seat, squeezing her eyes shut. Her head was spinning, and not just from the movement of the carriage: it was the first time she had been outside the Red Room in over a month, and the sounds of the street outside, even filtered through the closed windows, seemed to echo inside her head like the booming of a drum. She heard Will, distantly, calling something out to the driver; the carriage slowed, and Tessa's grip on the seat relaxed slightly, the dizziness abating. She opened her eyes, and saw Will looking at her curiously. "Did you tell him where we were going?" she croaked.
"Yes," he said, "although I can't help finding it odd that someone like you would have a brother with an address in Mayfair."
Tessa blinked at him. "Someone like me?"
"A prostitute," said Will.
Tessa's mouth dropped open. "I am not a—a—"
"A prostitute?" Will said again, raising his eyebrows.
Tessa shut her mouth with a snap. "What a horrible thing to say. If that's your idea of a joking way to insult me—"
"I never joke," said Will, "or at least, I only joke when the occasion truly warrants it, which this one does not. I assumed you were a prostitute due to your presence in what can only be termed a brothel."
Tessa stared at him.
"You can't expect me to believe you were entirely ignorant of the Darke House's function?" Will inquired. "You must have seen what was going on."
"I told you, I was never allowed out of that room."
"I didn't realize that meant no one else was ever allowed in," Will said.
"What—oh, ugh. Ugh. There's something horribly wrong with you, isn't there? It's like you can't stop saying awful things."
Will's eyebrows went up; despite her anger, confusion, and horror, somehow Tessa couldn't stop herself from noticing that they made perfect dark half-circles above his eyes. "Now you sound like Jem."
"Never mind that," said Will. "I'm trying to figure out how someone could live in a brothel for a month and not notice. You must be terribly dull-witted."
"If it helps at all, it seemed to be quite a high-class establishment. Nicely furnished, fairly clean..."
"Sounds as if you've visited your fair share of brothels," Tessa said, sourly. "Making a study of them?"
"More of a hobby," said Will, and smiled like a bad angel. Before Tessa could say anything in return, the carriage jerked to a stop. "Seems that we're here," Will announced, and Tessa reached past him to pull back the curtain across the window; she stared out and saw that the carriage had drawn up in front of a tall Georgian townhouse in a pretty square lined with trees and other, similar houses. There was a iron-railed fence around the house, the number 89 marked prominently in silver numbers on the gate.