Seeing Danger – Wendy Vella

“Seems a carriage has hit a cart, my lord, filled with—ah—” “Filled with what, Bids?” Devonshire, Sinclair, prompted his driver through the opening above his head. “It’s a sort of—um—mess, my lord.” “A sort of mess?” Dev smiled at his driver’s obvious reluctance to use the word shit in his presence. He listened as Bids cleared his throat several times, followed by a lengthy silence before finally he spoke. “I believe, my lord, it is some form of animal excrement.” Leaning back, Dev propped his feet on the opposite seat. “And can you determine the source of the excrement?” he queried, enjoying the conversation hugely. “’Tis—the smell, my lord.” “Can we go around the mess, Bids?” “I fear not, Lord Sinclair. We shall have to wait it out.” “Very well, I shall walk the remainder of the journey home, Bids.” Dev closed the hatch. Collecting his hat, he opened the door and stepped from the carriage. “B-but, Lord Sinclair, ’tis near on dark.” “I shall be all right, Bids.

We are only twenty minutes from home. I shall probably reach there before you.” Slapping his hat on his head, Dev raised a hand to the still stuttering Bids and struck out along the street. Unlike others, Dev could see at night. Like his siblings with their strong senses, his ability to see far outreached anyone else’s. Leaving the excrement behind, Dev took his first deep breath of thick London air. Twilight was Dev’s favorite time of day. Far quieter than any other hour, the buildings lost their weariness, dirt faded, and the streets appeared swept clean. Almost as if the city exhaled after the rigors it had endured, and was girding its loins for the evening to come. His family would be waiting for him to share their evening meal, and the thought had him lengthening his stride.

The day had been a long one and he was ravenous. If he wanted seconds, he would need to get there quickly, preferably before the meal started. With six siblings, five of whom would share his meal, he needed to eat quickly. Crossing the road, Dev ducked down a lane that would cut at least five minutes off his journey. “No! Let him go at once!” Looking to the end of the lane, Dev saw a man and woman running. Behind them was a gaggle of children, and they all appeared to be chasing another person who had a child over his shoulder. The child was yelling to be released, which suggested he was being taken against his will. “Release him, you cad!” the woman shrieked. “Damn,” Dev muttered. It seemed his meal was about to be delayed, and there would be no second helpings for him.

Hurrying after the little group, something urged him to run faster. He felt a desperate need to reach the boy. Turning right at the end of the lane, he found them just ahead of him. The woman led the chase, and she was gaining on the man and boy. “Stop at once!” she cried as the man reached a carriage. Dev passed the group of children just as the carriage door was thrown open. The man then tried to throw the boy inside, but the woman was on him. She grabbed the boy’s leg and held tight. The carriage started moving, and the man roared at her to let go, but she would not relent, running to keep up. Dev then watched in horror as the man, who was hanging half out of the carriage, lifted a hand and swung it at the woman, connecting with her face.

Dev lunged for her, wrapping his arms around her body, pulling her free. The boy came with her and then they were all falling. He rolled, and landed with them on his chest. The breath slammed from his body as he took her weight and that of the boy. “A-are you all right?” Dev rasped as he struggled to draw air back into his lungs. “Dear Lord!” The man who had been running behind her reached them. He quickly lifted the boy and then the lady off Dev. “Are you well, Miss?” Dev sucked in a deep breath as he moved his body to check for injuries before he regained his feet. He would have a few bruises, but nothing lasting. “W-we got him, W-Wilson.

” Her words were breathless, yet he heard the elation in each one. “My heart near stopped, Miss, seeing you hanging from the carriage.” “B-but I had to stop them taking him.” “Madam, my name is Lord Sinclair. Will you allow me to help you?” Her gasp was loud on the night air as she turned her back on him. Dev then watched her hands reach for the hood of her cloak, pulling it up so she could shield her face. “I-I need no help, thank you. And thank you for coming to my aid.” She walked away from him to where the four children stood silently. “They’ll keep trying, Lilly.

” A little boy stepped forward. “They already got five of us.” She dropped to her knees right there in the street, without a care for the dirt and filth. The man she had called Wilson moved to stand at her back. “There will be no more, Toby. I promise you. We foiled this attempt, and we will foil others.” “But how can we stop them, Lilly?” “We’ll find a way,” she vowed. “Now you take everyone to Temple Street, especially Leo. Make sure he is not injured after what he endured tonight.

Tell Mrs. Davey that you are to stay there until morning. I shall call by tomorrow, and we shall talk more then.” Dev couldn’t fit a name to that soft, cultured voice, and yet a sense of awareness inside him told him they’d met before. He reached her side as she rose. “Thank you, Lilly.” The boy she had just saved also stepped forward. “Are you all right, Leo?” He nodded, and she squeezed his shoulder. “Go now,” she said to the children, and seconds later they had fled, disappearing down the road and into the shadows. “Can I assist you back to your carriage, madam?” “No, I have help, thank you.

” “Why are you out here at this hour? Who was that man who attempted to abduct that child?” He had so many questions, but the most important was to find out this woman’s identity. Her voice and actions suggested she was from his world, yet surely that was not the case. No woman of his acquaintance would have taken the risks she had tonight. Except his sisters, of course; they would have done the exact same thing. She was doing everything she could to avoid looking at him, but Dev was not having that. He stepped into her path as she started walking, forcing her to stop. “Will you give me your name?” “Please excuse me, I must leave.” “I think not.” Dev grabbed her arm once more. “Release her!” “Easy, Wilson,” she soothed the man with her.

“Tell me your name.” Shaking his hand from her arm, she stepped back and lifted her face. “You!” Dev staggered backward. “What the hell are you doing out here at this time of night?” Lilliana Braithwaite’s face did not carry its usual silly expression. Dev saw emotion now, both fear and anger. “I have no time for this now. No time for you.” Dismissing him, she walked away. Dev shook his head to clear it. That didn’t work, so he did so again.

When he looked for her, she had vanished. “Damn.” He followed. No woman, even her, should be out in this neighborhood with a single servant to protect her. He walked back down the street, but could see no sign of Miss Braithwaite. Closing his eyes, he changed his vision. Dev and his siblings had strong senses. His was the gift of sight. With his normal vision he could see long distances, and with his other vision, he could see the colors that belonged to a person, no matter where they hid. Of course, he did not know what color Miss Braithwaite was, but he didn’t think too many people would be hiding in this lane at this hour.

He just prayed he did not come upon a pair of lovers. His eyes searched first left and then right. He didn’t think Miss Braithwaite and the man could have gone far. “Why am I bothering?” he muttered. It wasn’t as if he even liked the woman, and she had certainly given him no indication she liked him either. He should simply go home and get that second helping. But something was stopping him. Something tugged at him to find her. Sighing, he kept searching. He saw blue, and then—it can’t be! Stopping, he inhaled deeply.

Christ, the shorter of the two people hidden in the narrow opening between two buildings was his exact shade of green. Shocked to his toes, he tried to take it in. Every person had a color. Blue, pink, orange, or brown, no matter the color they all had one in varying shades, and yet until this very moment, no one had ever been his exact color match. Closing his eyes, he reopened them in his normal vision. Was it her? Surely not, he prayed silently. The woman was extremely foolish, and then there was the business of her hideous taste in clothing. Dev walked slowly down the street, finally reaching the spot where she and Wilson, were hiding. “You can come out now, because I am not going anywhere until you do.” He heard a soft curse, and then she and the man appeared.

Lilliana Braithwaite came out first. She had lowered her hood now that the game was up, and for some reason left off her glasses. For the first time he saw her beauty. Usually her hair was severely drawn back and covered in lace, feathers, or something type of flora or fauna, but tonight it had no adornment, was just pulled back in a simple bun. He’d never really noticed the color before, but realized now that it was golden blonde. Without her glasses, he saw soft feathered brows arched over a spectacular pair of lavender eyes that were framed by curling lashes. Christ, she was actually beautiful. Dev looked to her chin and saw the blood there, and felt his head swim. Inhaling, he pushed aside the sudden need to sit. He did not like blood, but it usually only had this effect on him when his siblings bled.

“Y-you are hurt,” he managed. “’Tis nothing.” She wiped her chin with the back of her glove. “Now go home, Lord Sinclair, as I will give you no information about what transpired this night.” She brushed past him with the man on her heels. Even her voice sounded different. The highpitched grating tone had gone. Relieved that his breathing returned to normal now he could not see the blood, he followed. “Why were you running after that man? And why did you, foolishly I must add, grab that boy while the carriage was moving?” Dev asked. “Don’t tax yourself, my lord.

I assure you there is no need, as you will surely only harm yourself. Forget the events of this night and go home.” She was dismissing him again. He couldn’t believe it. The empty-headed Miss Braithwaite was dismissing him as if nothing had happened, and he had not just seen what had taken place. She tried to outpace him, which was ridiculous given he was a head taller and his legs took one step to her two. “You don’t seriously expect me to do that, do you?” “Yes.” She waved a hand at him as if he had asked her to dance. “You don’t like me and I don’t like you. Therefore, I see no need for you to involve yourself further in this matter.

” “Tell me about what just happened.” “No, and here is my carriage, so I shall say good evening, Lord Sinclair.” “What the hell is going on?” He grabbed her arm. “You are….” He struggled to find the right words. “Different.” She turned to face him then, and suddenly there she was, the empty-headed Miss Braithwaite that he had always known. She gave him that blank look that he had seen a dozen times in as many ballrooms over the past two seasons. The one that suggested she could not hold a serious thought if her life depended on it. “Why, whatever do you mean, Lord Sinclair? I assure you I have not changed.

Indeed, just this morning I selected a simply stunning new dress to be made for the Merryvale ball. La, it will certainly set every man upon his heels.” “What?” “The Merryvale ball. Surely you are to attend? La, it will be quite something.” She gave that little trill of laughter that grated on his nerves. “Miss Braithwaite, what the hell were you doing out here, chasing that man?” Dev attempted to get the answers he wanted. “Lord Sinclair!” She stepped back, clasping her chest in horror. “How could you speak to me, a lady, in such insulting tones? Why, I feel quite faint.” To strengthen her words, she stumbled to the carriage door, which was now open, and into it. Before he could stop her, the door had shut.

“Good evening to you, my lord.” Wilson then said. He vaulted up beside the driver and then the carriage was moving, leaving Dev to watch it disappear into the London night. “What the hell just happened?” Dev said to no one, as he too started moving. He had a terrible feeling that whatever it was, it was about to shake the foundations of his existence, and for the life of him he could not fathom why.


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