Book 3 of The Haberdashers is out now–read on for an excerpt!
She was sent to the Congress of Vienna with one simple mission. Observe and report on the Prussian delegation. What she hadn’t expected was someone in the delegation observing her.
Georgiana “George” Lockhart grew up as a Haberdasher, one of the girls trained by Robert Bittlesworth to be both armed and dangerous. She has her first assignment through the Foreign Office and needs to distract and use a man she assumes is an opposing agent.
Casimir Rokiczana would do anything for his people. The Congress of Vienna seemed poised to tear his homeland apart and he is working frantically to find a voice with each of the Four Great Powers. In his experience men are often swayed by the opinions of their wives, but the English beauty he has chosen to woo to his cause seems to have more on her mind than a liaison.
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George had spared no expense for speedy conveyance. They had changed horses four times yesterday and only stopped about six hours for the night. If she wasn’t mistaken they would be stopping to change horses again soon. She had fallen into that near-sleeping doze that made distance travel bearable, but shook herself awake as she heard the hooves of a galloping horse approaching. Sliding the barest bit of curtain aside she looked out the window as the rider passed by and neared her driver. All she saw was a coat and hat pulled low. If he was a highwayman, he was brazen to take on a carriage alone. She pulled her gun box from under her seat but froze as she heard the rider call out ‘stop’ in German.
By the time she returned to the window she was sure it was his voice. He was trying to reason with the determined driver and not getting anywhere. She lowered the window and leaned out, gripping the edge of the door to steady herself against the vicious swaying of the carriage.
She shouted so that he would hear her above the hooves and creaking of the carriage. “He stands to earn a hefty bonus if he gets me to the docks early. I doubt you’ll persuade him to stop before we change horses.”
Casimir reined in his horse to draw even with her window. He doffed his hat. “M’lady. What a surprise to see you here.”
She had admired his grace on the dance floor, but seeing him effortlessly control his stallion was nearly breathtaking. “You have a habit of stopping random carriages?” she asked.
He smiled at her. “Not random ones, no. Do you mind if I join you?”
“Be my guest.”
He nodded. “I’ll be along presently. If you could take these for me?”
He handed over his hat and satchel before reining in his horse again, disappearing behind the carriage. George sat down with a laugh. She heard a thump on top of the carriage and a few minutes later Casimir looked in the window from above.
“Hullo, love,” he said. “Just wanted to make sure you weren’t in the window before I came in.”
“No, I’m not in the window.”
“Good. Stay where you are for a moment.” He disappeared again, then swung in feet first, sleek as a cat jumping through a fence. He sat down on the bench opposite her. “You’re wearing my hat.”
“Well, you did give it to me.”
He gave her an appraising look. “It suits you.”
She laughed. It felt so good to see him again. “Why are you here?”