Last week Caroline Warfield and I posted a two-part story in which characters from their different books met in the virtual world. Today, exclusively in cyberspace, we tell the story of their second encounter in 1818. The first half is below, and the second half on Caroline’s blog.
Today’s story involves David Wakefield and The Marquess of Glenaire.
David Wakefield is the baseborn son of the Duke of Haverford. He earns his living as an enquiry agent and has acquired twenty years experience by the second encounter. (Encouraging Prudence, work in progress to be published in September 2015)
Richard Hayden, The Marquis of Glenaire, is heir to the Duke of Sudbury. He is also Castlereagh’s protégé, spymaster, diplomat, and fixer (He appears in Dangerous Secrets and will have his own story told in Dangerous Weakness, to be published next winter) He believes he can fix anything, given enough information, but is currently stumped.
The Marquess of Glenaire rarely came to Chelsea. Duties occasionally brought him to look after the pensioners, the veterans in the Royal Hospital. The area itself, still semi-rural, held little interest. As his carriage sped down the Brampton Road, however, signs of new development drew his eyes. He thought the neighborhood, up and coming with the rising middle class, fit the man he sought, David Wakefield.
Fussier members of the haut ton looked down their overbred noses at David’s origins and profession. They called him a thief taker and said it as if the very word smelled of stable muck. Glenaire knew him for an enquiry agent and a damned good one.
When his carriage came down a stretch of empty road, a rag tag group of children marched past laughing and singing accompanied by two women, nursery maids no doubt. He frowned with distaste. Glenaire preferred children to be few in number, quiet, and in the nursery.
Townhouses had sprung up at the end of the road, one of them the place he sought. He hadn’t waited for an answer to his message requesting an interview. He hoped he would catch the man home.
The door swung open and David himself greeted him.
“Glenaire! I just sat to pen a response to your message. You didn’t need to come to the wilds of Chelsea; I would have attended you at the Foreign Office.” He stepped back to welcome Glenaire to the home that also served as his office, taking his hat and gloves and placing them on a table in the foyer.
“The business is personal, Wakefield. I thought it best if I came to you. I hope the timing isn’t inconvenient.
“Not at all. I’m flattered, Glenaire. As heir to one of the most powerful dukes in the country, you could employ any number of agents.” Wakefield’s face gave away nothing of the curiosity he must be feeling.
“You know there’s a limit to what I can ask the government to do,” Glenaire said. “I have to have someone I trust, not one of His Grace’s minions, do this job.”
“I will help if I can,” Wakefield said. He opened a door, and led the way into what was clearly his office.
Glenaire started to follow, but a slamming door and raucous laughter interrupted him. The ragtag parade he saw earlier marched through the house and up the stairs. Several of the children stared openly (and in Glenaire’s opinion rudely) at the marquess. Two women brought up the rear. One was clearly a nursemaid. The other—
“The Marquess of Glenaire,” she finished with laughing eyes. “All of London knows of the marquess.” She didn’t call him “the marble marquess,” but Glenaire thought he could see it in her eyes. “Let me get the children settled on their lessons and I’ll join you,” she went on. She gave Glenaire a proper curtsey and climbed the stairs.
Glenaire sat across from Wakefield moments later and sipped a remarkably fine whiskey. He needed the fortification. All this exuberant family life unnerved him. He planned to marry soon, but when he did, his wife would be a proper lady from one of the best families; one who wouldn’t disrupt his orderly life.
Wakefield eyed him with open amusement. “I’m not sure what I can do for you, Glenaire, beyond what I’ve already reported. Your friend Baron Ross sold his horse and a fine silver watch in Falmouth. He took ship to Naples, as I told you when we met at the Crock and Bull Inn.”
“That intelligence gave me an excuse to use government agents in Naples. We like to keep an eye on that part of the world. If I can track down a friend at the same time, it is so much the better. I’m grateful.”
Wakefield nodded, sure there was more.
“Jamie’s not the sort to shy about asking friends for help. If he’s in trouble he need only apply to me or to the Earl of Chadbourn or to my sister and her husband. He didn’t. He ran like a scared rabbit.”
“Something here in England drove him. We know the direction he took; we don’t know why. I need you to find out.”
Jamie Heyworth fled to Rome. He can’t let Nora Haley know the secrets he has hidden from everyone, even his closest friends. Nora fears deception will destroy everything she desires and she certainly can’t trust any man who drinks. A widow, she had enough of both in her marriage. Both Jamie and Nora, however, will dare anything for the black haired, blue eyed little imp that keeps them together, even enter a sham marriage to protect her. Will love—and the truth—bind them both together?