Tea with David

The servant showed David Wakefield onto the terrace, where Eleanor Haverford waited.

The visit to the child in the nursery upstairs had calmed him, somewhat; his anger was banked though the duchess had no doubt it still burned under the controlled exterior.

“How did you find Antonia?” she asked, indicating that he should take the chair beside her.

“Worried about her mother.” He jerked as if he would leap to his feet again, but controlled the impulse. “What are you planning to do with her? Keep her here?”

Eleanor had already decided that the little girl would be better with her aunt, and would persuade David to that point of view if he did not agree, but he needed to hear that she acknowledged his claim. “It is not up to me, David. I am just a family friend. You and her aunt must make this decision, since her mother is… unavailable.”

He relaxed, fractionally, but at the last word he let out a huff of air that sounded almost like a sob. “Unavailable,” he repeated, bitterly.

“You intend to go after her, I assume.” Eleanor made it a statement, not a question. He had declared his intention an hour ago, when he had burst in unannounced, demanding to see his lover’s daughter and swearing vengeance on the Marquis of Aldridge.

“Yes. Yes, of course. I already have men on the docks trying to find the ship’s destination. Sailors talk. If the captain told his men, someone will know.”

“What can we do to help?” Eleanor handed David a cup of tea and began piling a plate with small savouries. He would need food and drink, and was unlikely to stop again today to find them.

“Your family has helped quite enough,” David snapped, then lowered his hazel eyes, so like those of her two sons, his half-brothers. “I beg your pardon, Your Grace. That was uncalled for.”

“You are upset, David. I am sure that Aldridge did not intend–”

David’s manners were usually impeccable, and it was a measure of his distress that he interrupted her. “Of course he didn’t. He would never deliberately put Gren in danger. Or Prue either, I suppose. I don’t blame him for choosing the wrong ship for your younger son’s journey. I blame him for suggesting that Prue left of her own accord.”

That raised Eleanor’s eyebrows. “Of her own… he thought it was an elopement?”

“Yes. He had the nerve to suggest Gren has legitimacy and wealth and so…”

“For an intelligent boy, my son Aldridge can occasionally be extremely stupid. No wonder you are cross with him.”

That, as she had hoped, fetched an amused quirk of the lips, though the smile did not reach his worried eyes.

David finished his tea, and stood to leave. “I’ll go after Prue, Your Grace, and Gren, too. Will you send Antonia to her aunt? She is at home there, and the wait will be easier for her. I’ll send word as soon as I can; as soon as I know whether they are…”

He trailed off, and the words he did not say hung between them. Dead or alive. Murdered or merely kidnapped.

In the months to come, Eleanor clung to the promise her husband’s base-born son had made her. No news at all was surely better than certain news of the deaths of her younger son and the young woman she had come to love almost as a daughter. But where were they, and had David found them?

This scene doesn’t appear in Concealed in Shadow, but it clearly happened. Here’s where it fits. After the end of Revealed in Mist, David arrives in London and finds that Prue has been missing for over a week and that the Marquis of Aldridge, heir to the Duke of Haverford, was the last person to see her. He questions Aldridge, to find that Prue had gone down to the wharves to farewell Lord Jonathan Grenford, Aldridge’s younger brother. Aldridge has his own jaundiced view of the couple’s disappearance. David ends up punching the man and storming off. It was inevitable that, after initiating the investigation into the ship on which Gren and Prue left, he’d head to Haverford House where Prue had left her daughter visiting for the day with the Duchess of Haverford.

I’m currently researching and writing character outlines and heroes’ journeys for Concealed in Shadow.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
rss

Revealed in Mist is nearly here

Revealed in Mist is released on iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords on 13 December. It’ll be coming on Amazon at around the same time — I’m putting the file up this evening or tomorrow evening New Zealand time, so it will be published as soon as it goes through their approval process. And it has been up on Amazon as a print book for over a week, since I wanted to order some books to come to New Zealand in time for an event in February, and the cheapest form of delivery takes a couple of months. I’ve even sold two print books! Woohoo!

Apart from sharing the memes I’ve made (see them below), I’m not making a big splash, but look in the New Year for a blog tour and some other activities. In particular, I’m planning a detective game, which I hope you’ll enjoy. Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of my hero and heroine.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
rss

Dear brother, on WIP Wednesday

A romance novel, by definition, is about the developing love between the two main protagonists. But the story is often given strength and substance through relationships with other characters: family members, friends, even enemies. In particular, we grow to know our main characters through their actions towards those they love but with whom they are in conflict: and that’s the theme of this week’s work-in-progress Wednesday: conflict between the main character and family members or friends.

Mine comes from Concealed in Shadow, which is in the very early stages of writing. At this point, I have a few paragraphs of beginning, a general idea of the overall shape of the plot, and random scenes, most of them still in my head. This one happens early on, after David comes eagerly to London to meet and marry Prue, and finds her missing. His half-brothers were the last to be seen with her, and only one of them is still in London.

(Concealed in Shadow is the sequel to Revealed in Mist, which is on presale and will be released next week. See the link for purchase information.)

The early morning sun was just filtering through the fog when David’s quarry let himself into his bed chamber. He had already discarded his hat and gloves somewhere between the outside door and this upper floor, but he was shrugging out of his overcoat as he entered the room.

The overcoat flew to drape over the arm of a couch, and the muffler beneath followed. David watched from the shadowed corner behind the draped head of the bed as the man stripped to his shirt and breeches, with swift economical movements. The coat, richly embroidered waistcoat and cravat followed the rest, and the man crossed to a fireside chair to pour himself a brandy from the decanter that stood ready and slip out of his dancing shoes.

He had clearly been somewhere that required formal evening dress, though David was certain a ballroom had not been his last stop of the night, or David would have found him four hours ago. The man sat relaxed in his own private domain, a little tired — though his energy was legendary — beyond a doubt sated, resting a blond head back against the chair and shutting his hazel eyes as he cupped the glass in his hands to warm the brandy.

When David spoke, it was not much above a whisper, but shockingly noisy in the silent room. “Where is she, Aldridge. What have you and Gren done with her.”

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
rss

You can’t choose your relatives on WIP Wednesday

au_bistro_at_the_bistroI’m deep in edit mode for Revealed in Mist, and I think I’m improving it. Sibling relationships are a big part of the story—Prue’s with her sisters, and David’s with his half-brothers. As the saying goes, you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your relatives.

I’ve just edited chapter two, where David meets the Marquis of Aldridge for the first time in years, so I figured I’d make relatives the focus of this week’s post. Here’s a short excerpt. Feel free to post one of your own in the comments.

He frowned at the fire in the small hearth. The private parlour he had hired was small and shabby, but at least its size made it easy to heat. And it was neutral ground, which mattered. David hadn’t had a prolonged conversation with his expected guest in a decade and a half.

He must have been seventeen or eighteen on the last occasion, staying at Haverford Castle in Kent between the end of the school term and his first term at university. The Duke of Haverford’s son and heir, the Marquis of Aldridge, would have been 12. The day had begun happily enough with the boy tagging along while David went out after small game with a gun. It had ended with David beaten and driven from the property.

Aldridge had tripped and knocked himself out, and Haverford, finding David leaning over his unconscious heir, had not waited for explanations.

Once the young marquis left school and entered Society, they met from time to time, usually when the Duchess of Haverford insisted on David coming to one of her entertainments. Her husband, the duke, was almost always engaged elsewhere, but her sons often attended. They paid their mother the courtesy of not being rude to her protégé, and he responded with the same polite reserve.

He was expecting Aldridge now. Older brother to one of the courtesan’s lovers. David’s despised father’s oldest legitimate son. His half-brother.

A knock on the door heralded Aldridge’s arrival. A maid showed him into the private parlour. He’d clearly been treating her to a display of his facile charm; she was dimpling, blushing, and preening.

David examined him as he gave the girl a coin “and a kiss for your trouble, my darling.” The beautiful child had grown into a handsome man. David had heard him described as ‘well-put together, and all over, if you know what I mean.’ The white-blonde hair of childhood had darkened to a guinea gold, and he had his mother’s hazel eyes under a thick arch of brow he and David had both inherited from their father.

Aldridge navigated the shoals of the marriage market with practiced ease, holding the mothers and their daughters off, but still not offending them, and carrying out a gentleman’s role in the ballroom with every evidence of enjoyment.

But his real success, by all accounts, was with bored widows and wives, where he performed in the bedroom with equal charm, and perhaps more pleasure. Society was littered with former lovers of the Merry Marquis, though he had the enviable ability to end an affair and retain the friendship.

Aldridge ushered the laughing maid out of the room and closed the door behind her, acknowledging David’s appraisal with a wry nod.

“Wakefield. You summoned me. I am here.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
rss

Danger on WIP Wednesday

assaultI’ve finally found the right name for my novel about Prudence and David. Revealed in Mist, to be followed by Concealed in Shadow. The first one is sitting with the developmental editor, but I’ll announce a publication date as soon as I know one. Meanwhile, today I’m posting a piece from it: a moment when my heroine is in danger.

As always, I’m inviting you to post an excerpt from your WIP; any type of danger, and any level, from mild social embarrassment to death-threatening (or, as in this one, what has been called a fate worse than death).

Before she could react, he had ripped at her neckline, popping buttons, tearing the fabric, and exposing her corset and the curve of her breasts.

“Well, well,” he said. “You are a delicious little thing, aren’t you?”

Prue managed to keep her voice calm and level. “If you’ll wait downstairs with your friends, Sir, I will let Lord Jonathan know you are here.”

“Oh, let Annie wait. I’ve an appetite, and you’ll do to satisfy it.” He was pulling her skirts up as he spoke, and the hard shape pressing into her belly left no doubt about his intentions. “You’ll do very nicely.”

“No, thank you, Sir,” Prue said. “That is not part of my duties.”

“Don’t think about it as duty, little darling. Think about it as pleasure,” then, as she tried to twist sideways to escape him, “No, no, no. Naughty. Keep still or I’ll have to hurt you.”

“Let me go, Sir, or I’ll scream.”

“You think the whore will care? I’ve had her maids before. She growls a bit, but what’s she going to do? Serves her right for teasing us all and only dancing the kipples with Selby. And that bumptious squirt, Gren. Blame her, if you do not like it. Now keep still.”

Prue had been keeping her hands flat against the wall, not wanting him to immobilise them. Now she stilled her body as commanded, but let one hand creep carefully towards the cap that covered her hair.

She would need to be quick. He had her skirts bunched almost to the top of her thigh and was fumbling at the buttons of his fall with his other hand. If he noticed what she was doing… no, he was looking down, focused on the mounds he had exposed.

There. She found the long hat pin, a sharp pointed skewer made to her own specifications for occasions such as this. In one movement, she swept it out of her hair and in an arc, flipping it in her hand on the way, to jab it point first into the nearest buttock.

With an eldritch shriek, he let go of her, and she twisted under his arms and retreated up the next flight of stairs, facing him from that vantage point, the skewer at the ready.

“You bitch! You stabbed me!” he shouted.

The weapon he had intended to use on her, disclosed by the unbuttoned flap of his breeches, had not yet been discouraged by the sudden attack. She gestured at it with her hat pin.

“One step closer, and this goes into that.” The full length in the right place could kill, but a threat to his family jewels was more likely to get his attention than one to his life.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
rss

Wickedness on WIP Wednesdays

9ba02bf02563af86012883795a80af1cIn our fictional worlds, virtue triumphs—it is probably just as well, therefore, that the villains don’t know they’re fictional, so they lay their mischievous, selfish, or downright wicked plans, sure that they will win the day.

Today’s work-in-progress Wednesday is dedicated to the ways they act. I’m looking for an excerpt—I say eight to ten lines, but whatever you need to give us a feeling for what’s going on—that shows your villain (male or female, an irritation or an evil danger) doing something that displays their real character.

My current work-in-progress is the story of David Wakefield, best friend of Rede, the hero of Farewell to Kindness. David and his heroine are private detectives back when the name for such people was thief taker, and Embracing Prudence (set earlier in the same year as Farewell to Kindness) includes one of the villains who so complicated life for Rede and Anne.

Here is the Earl of Selby. He has just blackmailed the courtesan into giving him a night in her bed.

“Tiv won’t be happy,” the Earl gloated.

“You will be, my Lord. I guarantee it,” Miss Diamond replied, her voice a husky purr.

The Earl caught up his hat and walking stick, and in one fluid movement, backed the courtesan against the wall, trapping her with his stick held across her neck.

“I’ll collect on that guarantee,” he said, his own purr sounding of threat rather than promise.

Miss Diamond did not react, standing impassively within the cage he’d formed of his body. He leaned the last few inches and slowly, deliberately, licked the side of her face, from her jaw up to her eyebrow, then grimaced.

In another supple twist, he was off her and heading for the door.

“Don’t wear powder tomorrow night,” he instructed, as he left.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
rss

Dangerous Weakness meets Encouraging Prudence, second encounter Part 1 of 2

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.

Part 1

Chelsea 1818

west-view-of-chelsea-bridge 1790brit museumThe 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.

Kate_Greenaway_-_May_dayWhen 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—

712px-English_Townhouse_(3610701791)“Glenaire, you may remember my wife, Prudence Wakefield. Prue, this is—”

“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.”

“And?

“Something here in England drove him. We know the direction he took; we don’t know why. I need you to find out.”

To find out what happens next, see PART 2

Dangerous Secrets

Rome, 1820

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?

Buy a copy:

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
rss

Dangerous Weakness meets Encouraging Prudence – Part 1 of 2

Author’s note: Today, exclusively in cyberspace, Caroline and Jude Knight tell the story in which two of their characters meet. Half is on Caroline’s blog, and half on Jude’s. Below is Part 1, and the link to Part 2 is at the bottom.

In the virtual worlds of historical fiction, authors create whole societies of characters, interacting with real historical events and even real people. But each virtual world sits alone, never touching the worlds of other authors. Until now.

The Bluestocking Belles, as part of the launch of our new website for historical romance readers, created a magical coaching inn—fittingly called ‘The Crock and Bull’—a place for characters to meet from all of our books’ worlds and those of our guests.

Caroline Warfield and Jude Knight soon discovered the two of their characters had worked together in the past.

David Wakefield is the baseborn son of the Duke of Haverford. He earns his living as an enquiry agent. (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 protege, spymaster, diplomat, and fixer (Dangerous Weakness, yet to be published.)

 PART 1

The year is 1807.

David Wakefield, enquiry agent, has been asked to meet the Marquis of Glenaire at Glenaire’s office in the London headquarters of the Royal Horse Guards.

Horseguard buildingThe Marquis of Glenaire leads the way through the Horse Guard Building, along halls and down staircases, until they come to a small door that let out into a service alley.

The man doesn’t seem to be a typical aristocrat, afraid of getting his hands dirty. David Wakefield knows them well, the spoiled sons of the aristocracy, sitting at desks and giving order while better men take the risks and do the work.

Glenaire’s reputation suggests he is brighter than most, and good at the shadowy work he did for the KIng. To be fair, he also seems determined to be fully involved in the errand he has employed David for. David isn’t feeling at all fair. His investigation into the murder of the courtesan Lilly Diamond is not going well, and his other investigation, for his friend Rede, is also stalled.

This job started like any other. “I need to hire a thief taker,” Glenaire had said without preamble when David was shown into his office.

“I am an enquiry agent,” David told him. Thief takers have a reputation of being little better than the criminals they round up for the reward. David objects to the term.

Glenaire had waved aside the objection, getting straight to the job he wanted to hire David for: tracking a man. “I need to know where he goes tonight. I will follow him myself, but I need someone to back me.”

In the ensuing discussion, Glenaire had agreed he would back David. “I cede my place to the Shadow,” he said.

Remembering, David narrows his eyes. Only two people know that David Wakefield and the Shadow are one and the same. The government contact who sometimes hires him, and who gave him the usename for his work as a spy. And David’s lover, the spy called Mist, whose real name is Prue.

It must have been Tolliver. The government contact has been talking out of turn.

David catches up with Glenaire at the mouth of the alley. Glenaire’s job is to point out the man he suspects of being a French spy, then follow David’s instructions to the letter.

The suspect is where they think he will be; a nondescript man known by half-a-dozen names and as many professions. And David and Glenaire soon fall into the rhythm of passing the sentinel position from one to the other, making them harder to detect as the follow the man through the streets and clubs of London.

The job is to follow, to watch were the man goes, and to see who he meets. David has drawn his own conclusions about why he is now threading his way through the London streets instead of one of Glenaire’s usual operatives.

The Marquis suspects that the spy will meeting someone from his own office.

To find out what happens next, see PART 2

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
rss