We’re back from holiday – and I have finished Swings & Roundabouts and sent it for proofreading! (Phew!) Until I get the manuscript back, I can entertain myself with plotting to the end of Starstruck, the sequel to Undercover Star, and with adding more research and plot snippets to the Forever England stories. Half cosy mystery, half spy stories and set in England between 1913 and 1922, I’m having great fun with these. The research alone is absolutely fabulous.
And for today’s Wip Wednesday snippet I have another glimpse of Frank Mallory’s first meeting with Miss Frances Richardson.
Frances Richardson is a little unusual for the times. She has a Oxford maths professor for a father, a degree in analytical chemistry at a time when women degrees were exceedingly rare, and an attitude that’s even rarer.
I’m not surprised that Captain Dunhenning of the newly minted Secret Service is more than keen to accept her request to work for him. And Frank Mallory’s reaction is equally telling….
From Under False Pretences, the first story in the Forever England series
Mallory’s late mother had often wondered what kind of girl would one day snare her son’s interest, and he’d never been able to answer the question to her satisfaction. None of the young ladies he’d met had ever made him wish to spend more time in their company or get to know them better. Now though? Now it seemed that the woman to catch his eye had to look like a lady and be unafraid to admit to a keen intelligence.
Mallory knew of two women who worked for Dunhenning’s secret service. He’d not met either of them, but he couldn’t help but wonder whether Dunhenning thought that Miss Richardson would be a useful addition to his office.
Only thing to do was to find out.
The ladies providing the tea for the match interval put together a tray for him and his guests and shortly thereafter the three of them sat at a small table under a willow tree and enjoyed the sunshine along with tea and cakes.
“Miss Richardson is, in fact, our newest recruit,” Dunhenning appraised him when they were done discussing the weather, the results of the cricket match, and the quality of the tea provided by the home team.
The delicate tea cup clattered into the saucer. If Dunhenning hadn’t been so unearthly quick, a flood of tea would have engulfed the table.
“Steady on, old man. I didn’t think you’d be that surprised. After all, you’ve met the professor.”
Mallory swallowed what he’d been about to say. Miss Richardson faced him across the tea table, and manners forbade that he questioned her credentials in her presence. Not that he’d meant to do that when she wasn’t present.
“Before you pick that up again…” Dunhenning began and Mallory wished he could strangle the annoying sod. Was it really necessary to make him look such an ass in front of Miss Richardson?
“You and Miss Richardson will be working together.”