Xmas2015NYE

New Years Eve 2015/6 (photo: Bonnie Glaser)

Happy New Year! Hope everyone had a great holiday season and that your New Year  is off to a good start. I just send London Gambit off to the copy editor. Here, for January’s teaser, is the second half of the Malcolm & Suzanne scene I posted in November.

Cheers,

Tracy

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Christmas 2015 (photo: Julianne Havel)

“What did you learn about the dead man in the warehouse?” Suzanne asked.

“He appeared to have broken in the steal something. There was a hidden compartment in the floorboards that had been pried open near where he was lying.”

“Empty?”

Malcolm nodded. “It looks as though he had a confederate who turned on him and took what they had come to steal or a second person broke in in search of the same thing.”

“Something of Craven’s?”

“There’s no way to tell at this point.”

“Jeremy wants you to assist him with the investigation?”

Malcolm nodded with the abashed look of one who didn’t quite want to admit he was pleased. “Someone will have to talk to Carfax given that Craven was his son-in-law, not to mention one of his agents. It’s only sensible for me to do that. And I can probably help with Eustace and Cecilia Whateley.” He twisted his head round to meet her gaze. “That is we can, if you’re willing.”

Suzanne felt a genuine smile break across her face. “Unlike you, dearest, I’m not going to even pretend I’m not pleased to have another investigation.”

Paradoxically, some of their most intimate moments had come in the course of investigations. And, a small voice said inside her head, hopefully this investigation would distract Malcolm while she looked into the rumors about the Phoenix plot.

Malcolm smiled. “I own there’s something appealing about a puzzle. Though I could wish it didn’t involve Carfax, however tangentially.”

“Carfax is in the middle of too many things for that.”

Malcolm gave a wry smile and pulled her in for another kiss. “I told Roth I’d call on Eustace Whateley tomorrow. He was at Harrow a couple of years before David and me so I can use the old school tie.”

Suzanne drew back to look at her husband. “Was everyone even remotely on the fringes of the beau monde at school with you, darling?”

Malcolm gave an abashed grin. “Most boys whose parents want them to grow up to be gentlemen go to Harrow or Eton or Winchester. So if they’re remotely close to my age there’s a one in three chance. Whateley’s father was a banker who wanted his son to move up in the world, know the right people, speak with the right accent. Looking back, I’m afraid he suffered more ribbing from the other boys than I appreciated at the time.”

No wonder thinking among their set could be so uniform. “I don’t want Colin to go away to school, Malcolm.”

He kissed her forehead. “I know. I shocked David today by telling him as much. One of the ways he and I see the world somewhat differently.”

“I imagine Simon was all for it.”

“Mmm. Though careful to acknowledge the decision is David’s.”

She put her hands against his chest. “I suppose I’m afraid—”

“That I’ll change my mind?”

Memories shot through her mind. Malcolm and David laughing over a school memory with a schoolmate. The almost palpable connection one could feel in the air when one learned two men had attended the same school. The unthinking way Malcolm would refer to someone as a Harrovian. “It’s a tradition.”

“You keep expecting me to revert to type.”

“And you keep confounding my expectations. I’m sorry, darling. But—”

“Once a revolutionary always a revolutionary?”

“A palpable hit. So I’m the one who’s reverting to type?”

“We’re all perhaps partly a prisoner of our world. Though you have more flexibility than most. Look at how well you tolerate the world you married into because you were trying to change it.”

She choked. “Talk about flexible thinking, dearest. But you can’t deny it’s part of who you are. I wouldn’t want it not to be. It’s part of the man I love.”

“Fair enough. I won’t deny it. But I won’t send Colin away to school. Even if you decide you want him to go.”

“I wouldn’t—”

He kissed her nose. “My point precisely, beloved.”

Suzanne laughed and reached up to wrap her arms round his neck. “Fair enough. Unless his thinking is as flexible as yours, Eustace Whateley isn’t likely to talk more freely if I go with you.” She frowned, staring at her husband’s cravat. “Darling. I never told you, because I was trying to keep her out of it as much as possible. Last April when Bertrand and Raoul brought Lisette to us and Lisette lost the letter in the garden. It was Cecilia Whateley who accidentally picked it up.” The letter Lisette Varon had been transporting had been from Hortense Bonaparte, Josephine’s daughter, to her former lover the Comte de Flahaut. They had all had some anxious moments when it was missing.

Malcolm’s brows rose. “Interesting.”

“Apparently Cecilia was in the garden to speak with a man she’d loved before her marriage. Just to talk, she told me. I don’t think she even looked at the letter. At least that’s what she said, and I’ve been telling myself it must be true. I don’t know if it makes her more or less likely to confide in me now.”

“Difficult to tell,” Malcolm said. “Though it means you’re already beyond social formalities.”

“There is that. But it also may mean she’s wary of me. I’ll see if Cordy has any connections to Cecilia. Despite the lack of girls’ schools, Cordy’s connected to nearly as many people in the beau monde as you. It’s almost as if the two of you spent your lives preparing to run investigations into their numbers.”

Malcolm grinned. “One has to put the social tedium to use somehow.”