I woke at around 4.30 this morning and checked my buy links for Farewell to Kindness. As you do.
And all of the e-retailers who allow pre-order are now showing the book. Woohoo! So, to celebrate, here’s another excerpt.
Rede and his friend, the enquiry agent David Wakefield, are about to leave for Bristol. Alex is Rede’s cousin.
“Pack for an overnight stay, Rede,” David instructed. “You may not get to see him straight away, and I have a job this evening that Thomas was going to help me with. You’d be even better. Pack something to impress the solicitor with your consequence, and something suitable for a bit of lurking. Something inconspicuous.”
Rede raised an eyebrow, but didn’t ask questions.
The footman entered, followed by a maid, as Rede and his friends were leaving the breakfast room by the door into the Great Parlour. “Denning, would you send John to my bedchamber, please? I’ll meet him there.”
“Go on ahead,” Alex said, impatiently. “I can’t come upstairs with you anyway, Rede.”
Rede hurried his steps, leaving Alex and David to take seats in the parlour.
Up in his dressing room, he found a satchel and began packing it with the few things he needed for a night away.
“Going to Bristol with Master David, my Lord.” John made a statement of it, as he took Rede’s shaving kit from his hands and took over the packing.
“I need two changes, John. Something lordly and something that will make me invisible. But not too much to carry.”
John looked at him with a spark of interest in his eyes. “You can do much by changing your neckerchief and adding a bit o’ glimmer to distract.”
He rummaged through the shelves, adding one item and then another. Rede decided to dress up a plain brown coat and beige pantaloons with an embroidered silk waistcoat in a verdant green, intricately tied cravat, and various items of jewellery, and then dress it down again with a black linen waistcoat, a knotted kerchief, and a cap instead of a beaver-felt top hat.
Downstairs in the Great Parlour, David was chatting with Alex about the holidays they’d spent here at the Court, but he came swiftly to his feet when Rede entered.
“John is organising our horses,” Rede told him. “They’ll be ready in a few minutes. Will we take them right through, or change part way?”
“We’ll rest them at a cottage I have in Winterbourne,” David said. “I need to change my look and pick up a few things.”
Rede clapped Alex on the shoulder. “Watch out for your sisters, won’t you? Just in case we’re dealing with fools?”
Alex regarded his crutches with no little disgust. “Some help I’ll be if we’re attacked.”
“I don’t know,” Rede mused. “You don’t shoot with your legs, do you? And if they come close enough to grapple with, your crutches will make excellent clubs.”
Alex snorted a reluctant laugh. “Brimming with sympathy, that’s you.”
“And, um,” Rede’s hands twirled his hat, “present my apologies to the good Lady Redwood, would you?”
One corner of Alex’s mouth quirked. “I’ll be sure to do so. Though from what Susan tells me, Lady Redwood is merely providing the venue. So I’ll be sure to present your apologies to the engineer of these dance lessons. I’ve been wanting to meet her, anyway. I’ve heard so much about her. From Susan and Mia. Not from you, cousin, strangely enough.”
“Thank you,” Rede replied insincerely, heading off towards the door. But David had stopped. “Some new flirt of Rede’s, I take it?”
Rede tried to keep him moving. “We don’t have time for gossip.”
“The lovely Mrs Forsythe: a tenant of Rede’s in the village, and an old flame of George’s.”
David’s brows shot up in surprise. “Rede has taken up with one of George’s mistresses?”
“She is not, and never has been, one of George’s mistresses!” Rede snapped. Then added, belatedly, “And I haven’t taken up with her.”
Alex nodded to David. “He’s a bit sensitive about it.”
“I am not… Don’t be ridiculous. She’s a lady, Alex. Leave her alone.” This last in a growl that sounded out of proportion even to Rede.
David nodded, slowly. “He is sensitive, isn’t he? Better stop teasing, Alex, or he’ll wrap that crutch round your ears.”
Rede gave a reluctant chuckle. “I was thinking about it,” he admitted. “Or shoving it down your throat, Alex. Remind Susan, will you, that she promised not to gossip? Mrs Forsythe has to live in this village. Speculation about her past or my intentions could make her life impossible.”
“And do you have ‘intentions’?” Alex asked, seizing on the word Rede had regretted as soon as he said it.
“Yes. I intend to go to Bristol and set about a rumour that the Redepennings are rough, tough fighting men who would resent any actions that hurt their women.” He caught Alex’s eyes in his for a long moment. Even as he did, he knew it was a threat display, and that it was for Anne, though he hardly knew why or what he threatened.
Alex broke the stare first. “So,” he said, “Ride safely.”