Surrendering to a Dashing Spy – Emily Honeyfield

Ezra could not make sense of anything in his mind. Up until this point his thoughts, while clouded with grief, had been clear. He had thought that he would perhaps make it through the night, and face the coming day with the usual stab of grief. It wasn’t that the grief of his brother’s death was fading. He was just getting better at hiding it. He had learned how to smirk at humour, and feign interest in what someone else was talking about. He had learned how to attend dinner parties and then leave as if his heart was lightened. But it wasn’t. Each and every day, he missed Samuel more than he had the previous one. He thought that he saw him around every corner. He thought that he spotted him lurking in the street, or standing in the middle of the road. He awoke thinking his brother was standing in the room, but he wasn’t. At first, the story was that Samuel had died. And then, the story was that it was an accident. But Ezra had been close to his brother all of his life, and he knew that neither of those things were true.

At the moment of Samuel’s death, although he didn’t know it, he felt like he himself was crushed with an impending feeling of doom. It had left his heart racing and his mind panicked for days, and he was certain that he would never feel well again. He had been connected to Samuel all his life, and now that he was gone, Ezra felt like he was missing a piece of himself that he might never find again. He felt incomplete; a feeling that he never wished on anyone. Samuel was younger than him and the two of them had always got along. Unlike many sibling pairs that he had seen throughout his childhood, he and Samuel had almost never fought. He was always protective of Samuel, and he had saved his life countless times in their life. Samuel was always a bit clumsy, and he also was reckless. Ezra could not count on two hands all the times he’d had to grab Samuel to stop him falling, or jumping, or grabbing something that he really should not have. Ezra thought that he could protect him for anything, but apparently, he couldn’t.

He could never forgive himself for Samuel’s death, even though he didn’t cause it. In Ezra’s mind he did cause it, because he couldn’t protect him. Tonight had been a normal night. Dinner had been served, and he was almost done when there was a knock at the door. A messenger appeared, handed over a letter and left, which Ezra thought was a bit odd. Normally, those who worked as messengers looked for every opportunity to get paid, including asking for payment on both ends of the delivery. But this messenger disappeared as quickly as he came, and Ezra wondered if he was a ghost, or a harbinger of doom. It certainly felt like doom was in the letter he opened. There, in handwriting he couldn’t recognise, were words that he would never forget as long as he lived. Archibald Worthiness killed your brother.

There was no signature. There was no seal and there was no indication of where the letter came from. He knew of Archibald Worthington. He was a noble that was so rich that he could probably buy everyone else’s home. He was rich enough to be able to throw lavish parties every night, and not feel a difference in the morning. Ezra did not know much about where his fortune had come from, but what he did know was that Archibald Worthiness got away with way too much. He could say things that others could not, and he could buy things that were unable to be found anywhere in the country. He did not think of him as a possible suspect. He did not know who killed Samuel, but he did not know that his brother had any dealings with Archibald Worthiness at all. Ezra stared off into the distance.

It was probably pretty cold out, but he could not feel anything. His mind was a million miles away. What had happened with Samuel? How had they met? Who was this person who had sent this letter? How did they know? Was it a friend or a foe? Was it someone who wanted to hurt him, or was it someone who knew something and was too afraid to come forward and say anything? “Ezra?” he heard a voice and he turned his head. Ralph had approached and he was giving him an odd look. “What are you doing here?” “Standing here?” Ezra said, as if it were plain as day. He felt the cold on his hands now, and he tried to put them under his underarms to keep them warmer. “I see that,” Ralph said. “But why are you standing there?” Ezra handed over the letter without another word. He did feel that he could bring himself to speak the words that were written on the page. He felt like he was shaking, and he felt like he may collapse if he spoke the words there.

Ralph had been one of the last people to see Samuel alive. They had been friends for almost their whole lives. Ralph was like their third brother, Ezra trusted him with his life, and he had no issue with Ralph seeing the letter that had been sent. Ralph’s eyes widened when he read it. “What?” he asked. “Who sent this?” “I don’t know,” Ezra said. “It just appeared today at supper and I didn’t get any indication as to who sent it or why it was sent.” “Well, who delivered it?” Ralph asked and Ezra shook his head. “We also didn’t get any indication of that,” he replied. “For all we know, it appeared by a phantom.

Of course, there was a messenger, but he didn’t hang about, he did not wait for payment and he did not speak a word. He just appeared at the door, handed a letter over, and then he was gone.” “Hmm.” Ralph said. “That is very curious indeed Are you…do you believe it?” “Of course I believe it!” he cried. “Why would I not believe it?” “Well, because you do not know who sent it,” Ralph said. “So therefore, anyone could have done it.” “No,” Ezra said. “It must be true. Why would someone say such a terrible thing if it wasn’t true?” “There are many reasons,” Ralph said.

“Someone could have a grudge against you. Or someone could have a grudge against Archibald. Everyone knows of Samuel’s death in the community. It would not be that strange for someone to use it as revenge, as sad as that is.” “No,” he replied. “No, I am certain this is true.” “You cannot do it,” Ralph said and Ezra raised his eyebrows. “I cannot do it?” he asked. “What are you talking about?” “If this is true,” he said. “And some hero has swooped in and told you the truth, you cannot go after him.

It is dangerous.” “So?” Ezra said. “Samuel is dead. I am lost. What do I care about being in some danger? Archibald Worthington is a high profile noble.” “Ezra,” Ralph said. “At least be rational about this. You cannot just march to his house with a torch and demand to know why he killed your brother. If you are right, he could shoot you where you stand. And if you were wrong, he could take you to court for slander.

” “Samuel is dead!” Ezra called. Ralph put a gentle hand on his shoulder. “Let’s go inside,” he said. “And try to figure out what our next move is.” “Our next move?” Ezra asked. “Ezra, you and I have been friends our whole life,” Ralph said. “And Samuel has been like a brother to me as well. So do not think for a moment that you are alone in this.” Ezra met Ralph’s eyes. He could barely process what he was saying, but he eventually managed to nod.

“Good man,” Ralph said, and guided him inside. Inside the air was much warmer than it had been outside, and Ezra started to realise how cold he was. His ears were burning and his hands felt like they may fall off his arms. “Are you alright?” Ralph asked, once the door was closed. Ezra realised he was shaking. Ralph was still holding the letter, and he tucked it in his pocket “Why don’t we go into the study?” Ezra nodded, but he couldn’t form any words. Ralph followed him into the study and poured him a drink. “Now,” he said. “Sit quietly. You’ll feel better in a moment.

” “I doubt I will ever feel better,” Ezra said. “I have to bring him to justice.” “You do not know that he is guilty,” Ralph said. “I imagine that he is not. Just actually picture the situation. Right now, the community is ready to forgive you for just about anything that you do, because your brother is gone. But if you accuse one of their cherished members of murder, and you are wrong, your entire life will be over.” “My life is already over,” Ezra said, sulkily “My brother is dead and I did not want to live beyond him anyway. I have often considered…” “Stop,” Ralph said. “Do not speak like that.

” Ezra took a deep breath and met Ralph’s eyes. “Fine,” he said. “I will not tell you the thoughts in my head.” “No,” Ralph said. “You will not, because they are dangerous. Instead, you will drink what I have placed in front of you.” Anyone else would perhaps consider Ralph overbearing but Ezra knew that he was doing the best he could. Ralph had always been slightly awkward and unsure of himself. It was only around the brothers that he seemed to come into his own and be comfortable enough to speak his mind. Ezra did as he was told and took a deep swallow from the glass in front of him.

It was brandy, he realised, and while it was restorative, it almost burned. When he placed the empty glass beside him, Ralph refilled it. “No,” Ezra said. “I have already had two drinks at dinner.” “And you’ve had a shock,” Ralph said. “I am surprised, by the way, that I did not see this messenger when I came up the path” “I cannot honestly tell you how long I was standing out there,” Ezra said. “It feels like it was many moons, to be honest, judging by how cold my hands were.” “It is getting quite chilly out there,” Ralph replied. “I went for a stroll in the park, and most of the debutantes had actually stayed home.” “Do you think Archibald himself sent it?” Ezra asked.

“Maybe he is taunting me?” “Let me ask you,” Ralph asked. “Have you ever had dealings with Archie Worthington?” “No,” Ezra said. “Nothing regularly. We talked with him at some balls, but I do not know him well.” “And what else do you know about him?” “He is pompous and he is arrogant,” Ezra said. “Not a motive for murder,” Ralph replied. “Why do you not believe this?” Ezra asked. “Do you know something that I do not?” “I don’t,” he said. “I just want to see you safe. If we are going to accuse him of such a thing, we have to go about it the right way.

” “What exactly is the right way to accuse someone of murder?” he asked. “Do you do it politely? Do you do you do it anger? Do you do it without friends?” “I don’t know,” he said. “I’ve obviously never been in this situation” “Well, neither have I,” Ezra replied. Both of them fell into silence and Ezra did consider getting another drink. He didn’t want to have a clouded head, but he didn’t know how to deal with the pain that was surrounding him. Eventually, he turned to Ralph. “I have to do this,” he said. “For if I don’t, I do not believe that I will ever forgive myself. I have no family anymore, Ralph, you know this.” “But you are still here,” Ralph said.

“And what is the world to do if they lose you too? You are still here and you need to carry on the family line.” “No,” Ezra said. “I am not still here, not in any sense of the word except physically. I need to bring my brother’s murderer to justice. I have nothing else to lose.” Ralph took a deep breath and looked away. Ezra could see that he was winning the argument, although it pained him to think in such a way. He did not want to wound his friend. The circle that he ran with had suffered enough pain over the past few years. But he knew that he had to something.

“Picture it this way,” he said to Ralph. “Imagine I did nothing, and it turned out Archibald was the murderer all along. And his whole life I let him walk free, because I was too afraid to bring him to justice. Archibald would like the rest of his existence in peace, while I would not. In addition, there is the fact that Samuel would not have any existence at all, peaceful or not.” “Do you even have a plan?” Ralph asked, at last, which signified that he could be giving up the argument. “Not yet,” Ezra said. “But I will. It will come to me, as everything does.” Ralph looked out of the window into the dark of night.

“I think our first step,” he said, “would be to investigate your servants, who returned the letter. Who answered the front door?” “I don’t know,” Ezra said. “I could ask, if everyone hasn’t already gone off for the evening.” “That would be a good start,” Ralph said. “Forgive me, but you realise that your emotional stake in this will make you more likely to make mistakes. The types of people who chase down killers, they are calm, cool and collected. They are not clouded with grief.” “We have been to the police,” Ezra reminded him. “Do you not remember? Do you not remember what they said?” “Well,” Ralph said. “At first, they said that they would look into it, but…” “Exactly,” Ezra replied.

“At first, they said they would look into it. And then what happened?” “I suppose they did not look into it,” Ralph replied, glumly. “They closed the case after barely looking at the murder site,” Ezra said. “So they may be calm, cool and collected as you say, but that is because they have no reason to investigate, and no reason to work outside their shifts. If the murder is not easily solvable, they shrug their shoulders and go about their days. I do not have that luxury.” “Please ring for your butler,” Ralph replied, and Ezra could see that his friend was eager to calm him down. He picked up the tiny gold bell that was always on hand and rung it. In short order Carver, the butler, appeared, and Ezra waved the note around. “Mr.

Carver,” he said. “Who answered the door to receive this letter?” “I did, sir,” Carver replied. “And the messenger?” “Barely able to get a look at him,” Carver said. “Dirty young boy in a hat who kept his face down, shoved the letter in my hand and ran away.” “Really?” Ezra answered. The letter was on expensive paper and the ink wasn’t the slightest bit smeared, so he would have guessed it was expensive too. However, from the description of the messenger, it sounded as if one of the local orphans in town was hired for a coin or so. Normally, letters that came from nobles went with official messengers, who could assure delivery and privacy. “You didn’t get to see anything else?” “Only that his clothes looked like he had been wearing them for a week,” Carver replied, confirming the suspicion. “And that his hands made me want to wash my own.

” “Thank you,” Ezra said. “Please return to me if you remember anything else.” “I will, sir,” Carver replied. “I was wondering what to do with the rest of supper, sir?” “Oh,” Ezra waived his hand. “I am no longer hungry. You can just toss it.” “Well, now hold on a moment,” Ralph said. “What if I am hungry?” Ezra wasn’t sure whether his friend was saying that simply for comic relief, or if he was actually hungry, but it made him smile none the less. “Then perhaps we should go and dine,” he replied, at last. “You have been so kind to me; the least I can do is feed you supper.

” “I appreciate that,” Ralph replied, with a grin. “Even if it is my second supper.” “When we were children, our parents always thought you would out grow out of that appetite. They said that you would be three hundred pounds by the time we were adults.” “And look at me now,” Ralph said with a grin. “I am not.” “No,” Ezra said, as they sat down. The food that had been on the table was now cold, but Carver was sweeping some of it away and asking the footmen to bring more in. “Samuel could always out-eat you though” “Aye, he could do that,” Ralph said. “And he couldn’t do that as a child.

” “No,” Ezra replied, remembering his brother’s picky appetite. “Isn’t it interesting, how we have changed?” “I do not think we have changed too much,” Ralph said. “When I look at you, I still see the same mysterious child who told me to get a closer look at a turtle that turned out to bite.” “I swear I didn’t know that turtle could bite you,” Ezra replied, knowing the memory Ralph was speaking of at once. Happiness like this, Ezra knew, was fleeting. One moment, he would feel the burden lift slightly from his soul, and the next moment, it would be gone. Ezra knew that by the time Ralph left, and he went to bed, he would be struggling with the darkness again. He wasn’t certain of much these days, but he was certain he was going to find Samuel’s killer. And if the killer really was Archibald Worthington, than Ezra was going to make sure that he was brought to justice one way or another. He didn’t know how to do it, but as he watched Robert, the footman, enter the room with a plate of food, an idea started to form in his head.

Maybe he could get close enough to Archibald to find out his deepest secret, without revealing who he was. Maybe, if Archibald trusted him, or did not care he was in the room at all, he would reveal the truth about his dealings with Samuel. It was a plan so outrageous that he could not yet share it with Ralph. However, the more Ezra thought about it, the more he realised that it made perfect sense. Chapter 2 Rose Worthington was absolutely exhausted as she got into the carriage. When she had got dressed for the ball today, she had been full of energy and ready for excitement that she would talk about for days. For years, as a child, she had dreamed about going to the balls that her parents swept off to several times a season. She always thought that her mother looked so glamorous, and her father so handsome. Rose had been told as a child that she would likely meet the man of her dreams at a ball and she would dance the night away. That, however, did not always prove to be the case.

She had a good time most of the time, but on nights like tonight, it sometimes seemed like the balls went on far too long. She had wanted to go home for the past hour, and had finally convinced her parents to let her take the carriage back by herself, and then she would send it back. Rose Worthington came from a wealthy family, and she grew up getting everything that she wanted. However, despite the fact that she had just as many dresses and dolls as all the other girls her age, she found that she was quite different. She always found a way to smile, and she always encouraged others to have a good time. Although she was sometimes described as a flirt by her friends, Rose was starting to wonder whether her sunny disposition and cheerful blue eyes actually meant anything in the world of men. It was true that many of the men at the ball had spoken with her, and many had said kind things about her, which eventually got back to her ears. Men, young and old, found Rose delightful, even when she was poking fun at them. It seemed to Rose that attracting a man was not the issue. She could attract almost anyone that she was interested in, and quickly too.

The issue was actually being interested in any of them, especially interested enough to marry. Rose had known most of the men in society for her whole life, and while it was not unheard of for a woman to fall in love with a man she had known since childhood, that was not the case for Rose. Her mother, Beatrice, although kind to her, seemed to have given up on trying to mould Rose into the perfect young woman that Rose was supposed to be. Rose was not quiet, demure, submissive or interested in marrying someone just for a title or other convenience. She was wild, and full of laughter, and she made it clear that she wouldn’t marry unless it was for love. Her father, although nowhere near as ambitious, seemed to understand this. He did not scold Rose when she laughed out loud, and he did not try to force suitors on her like many other fathers did. She had heard horror stories of her friends coming home, unsuspecting, and finding what turned out to be their future husband waiting in the parlour. It really wasn’t fair, and she did not want that thrust upon her for any reason. And so, balls for Rose were mostly an excuse to spend time with her beloved companions, and gossip about what had happened since they had last seen each other.

She did sometimes dance with men out of boredom, but there was no one who set her heart aflutter, as many of her friends had found. Many of her friends, at this point, were already married or betrothed and while Rose felt like that shouldn’t change anything in terms of friendship, it apparently did. The friends that had got married were now incredibly busy with their own lives, and the friends that were betrothed wanted to spend every waking moment with their intended. Rose didn’t think she would ever be like that. But then again, Rose wasn’t sure she even believed in love. She had heard the stories and listened to the musicians sing about it, but she was starting to think that it was only for people who were lucky, and not for her. Despite her constant smile, Rose wondered if she would be smiling alone for the rest of her life, and only living vicariously through other people’s happiness. She had never been more grateful to see her own home than when the carriage pulled up tonight. Rose wasn’t used to being so bone weary, and she wondered if it was because she was getting older. Maybe there would come a time when she would only attend balls for an hour, like an old spinster She hoped that time wasn’t coming soon, because she still wanted to enjoy them while a few of her friends were unmarried.

“Miss Rose,” Teresa said, when she walked into the house. “I did not expect you back so soon!” “So soon?” Rose asked, as Teresa took her cloak from her. “It’s late.” “It is not as late as you normally stay,” Teresa said with a smile and then looked over her. “You do look weary though. Are you unwell?” “No,” Rose assured her. “Just weary, I promise.” “Let me make you a hot cup of tea,” Teresa said, and headed off. Rose knew she was to wait in the library, which was the most relaxing place in the entire house. Teresa had been a loyal servant of the Worthington household for as long as she could remember, and Rose considered her one of her dearest friends, especially now that all her other friends were going off and getting married and leaving Rose to fend for herself.

Teresa had said in the past that she wasn’t likely to be married. She enjoyed her job and was content with her life, which meant to Rose that she would never leave her. Rose was reasonably convinced that she herself would never leave the house either, so it worked out well. Once Teresa neared with the cup of tea, she settled not the chair opposite Rose. Rose knew that other maids did not do this, but it had long since been accepted that she and Teresa would gossip late into the night. “So,” Teresa said “Tell me about the ball.” “It was the same as any other ball,” Rose said. “Everyone was there, and everyone had a new gown, or a newly tailored suit. They were lovely of course, but I cannot wait until the masquerades start up for the reason. Then, I will see much more variety in the outfits.

Now, it looked as if we were swirling together in one cream coloured mob.” Teresa couldn’t help but laugh at that.

.

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