A Dangerous Scheme by Laura Beers

Epilogue

Five years later

“Blasted criminal,” Guy mumbled under his breath as he chased the suspect down the street. Why did criminals always choose to run, despite the odds of them getting away being rather small?

He watched as the suspect turned into an alleyway, and he decreased his speed, knowing there was no outlet. Retrieving his pistol, he stepped into the foul-smelling alley. Up ahead, he saw the suspect’s head poking out from behind an abandoned straw mattress in the corner.

“You can come out now,” he ordered.

The tall, lanky man rose and put his hands up. “I didn’t do anything wrong,” he declared. “You have to believe me.”

“I don’t,” he replied. “But you can tell that to the judge.”

He heard Lord Oliver’s amused voice come from behind him. “Do any criminals accept fault for what they did?”

“Very rarely,” Guy remarked.

The suspect lowered his hands. “What if you just let me go free?”

“Why would I do that?” Guy asked. “You were trying to assassinate cabinet members.”

The suspect shrugged. “We could box for it.”

Guy lifted his brow. “You think you could beat me in a round of fisticuffs?”

“I do.”

Oliver chuckled as he leaned his shoulder against the brick wall. “I think you should do it,” he encouraged.

The suspect balled his hands into fists and brought them in front of him. “I won’t hurt you, old man.”

“Old man?” Guy repeated in surprise, tucking the pistol into the waistband of his trousers. “You believe me to be old?”

“You have to be at least forty,” the suspect said.

“Not quite.”

The suspect advanced towards him and threw a punch, which Guy easily sidestepped. He pulled his fist back and jabbed the man in the jaw.

As the suspect staggered back, Guy asked, “Are you sure you wish to continue?”

“That was a lucky punch.”

Guy chuckled. “I may be old, but I can still beat you rather soundly.” He approached the man and hit him in the stomach, causing him to double over.

The suspect put his hand up. “I give up,” he said, gasping for air.

“That was the first wise thing you’ve done all day,” Guy remarked as he grabbed the man’s arm and jerked him into a standing position. “Now you are going to jail.”

Oliver straightened from the wall, mirth in his eyes. “I am glad we don’t have to carry this one to jail.”

“‘We?’” Guy asked. “I’m the one who normally does the carrying.”

“That is because you are the one who usually renders the suspects unconscious.”

“It is much easier that way,” Guy said.

Oliver removed a pocket watch from his waistcoat. “We should have just enough time to put this man in jail and still be at White’s on time.”

“Good. Corbyn has become a real stickler about punctuality,” Guy joked.

They hailed a hackney, riding the short distance to the jail and turning the suspect over to the guards. Then, they returned to the hackney and continued on to White’s.

They had just stepped into the club when Hawthorne caught sight of them and waved them over.

Guy and Oliver walked to the round table in the corner of the room. “I hope we aren’t too late,” Guy said as he sat down. “We had to make a quick stop at the prison before we arrived.”

Corbyn spoke up. “We assumed as much.”

A server walked over and placed a glass of brandy in front of him. As Guy picked it up, Corbyn announced, “Tonight we are celebrating.”

“What are we celebrating?” Guy asked.

“Your retirement,” Corbyn said.

Guy frowned. “I am not entirely pleased with that decision.”

“It is time, especially since you have become increasingly busy at the House of Commons,” Hawthorne said.

“That is true,” Guy reluctantly admitted.

Oliver glanced over at him. “There is even talk that you will become Speaker of the House soon.”

“I wouldn’t give that gossip much heed,” Guy remarked.

Hawthorne smiled. “It isn’t gossip,” he said. “You have had an impressive few years in the House of Commons, and people have taken notice.”

“Furthermore, you and Oliver just tracked down the last conspirator who intended to kill the cabinet members,” Corbyn added.

“That was an easy feat,” Guy remarked, shrugging off their praise. “Besides, Oliver was an excellent partner on the case.”

Oliver chuckled. “I never did think I would see the day that Stewart and I would make a great team.”

“That you did,” Corbyn said. “Now, raise your glasses to Stewart.”

They all lifted their glasses in the air before they took a drink.

Corbyn put down his empty glass, then said, “I believe it is time that we adjourn home to see our families.”

Hawthorne rose from his seat. “I shall see you all at the same time next week.”

As Guy exited White’s, he hailed a hackney and rode the short distance to his whitewashed townhouse in the fashionable part of Town. When they arrived, he stepped down and extended a few coins up to the driver.

He hurried up the steps and entered through the main door. Barrow greeted him from across the entry hall. “Good evening.”

Guy removed his gloves and placed them on the table. “Where is my wife?”

“She is in the drawing room with your mother.”

“Excellent.” He walked over to the drawing room and saw Daphne sitting next to his mother on the settee. “I hope I am not disturbing you.”

Daphne smiled, transforming her whole face. “You are finally home,” she said.

“I am.”

His wife rose and approached him, her hand on her protruding belly. “You smell like you went swimming in rubbish,” she said, scrunching her nose.

Leaning closer, he responded in a hushed tone, “I was chasing a suspect through the rookeries.”

“Again?”

He shrugged. “Some people are not very clever.”

“Apparently not,” she replied.

Guy turned his attention towards his mother. “How are you faring this evening?”

“I am well,” his mother replied. “You just missed Esther and her husband.”

“How are they?” he asked.

“They are well,” his mother informed him. “Daphne and I will be joining her at the circulating library tomorrow.”

“How wonderful,” he remarked.

His mother gave him a knowing look. “You’d best hurry if you want to tuck Frances into bed.”

A smile came to his face. “That is why I hurried home this evening.”

“I’ll join you,” Daphne said, reaching for his hand.

After they departed the drawing room, they started walking up the stairs. “I am officially retired,” Guy announced.

“You are?”

He nodded. “Does that please you?”

“Nothing makes me happier than being with you,” she replied, “but I can’t help but wonder if you will miss being a spy.”

“Perhaps, but my seat at the House of Commons occupies so much of my time now.”

“Well, Lord Hawthorne has been retired as an agent for over five years, but he still occasionally works a case.”

“You make an excellent point.”

His words had just left his mouth when he heard his four-year-old daughter shout, “Father!” He crouched down, and she ran into his waiting arms. “You are home!”

“I am,” he said, kissing the top of her head.

“Will you tuck me into bed?” she asked.

He smiled. “It would be my pleasure.”

Rising, he picked her up in his arms and reached for his wife’s hand. As they started walking towards the nursery, Guy glanced over at his wife and asked, “Have I properly thanked you for marrying me and moving to London so I could continue as a spy while working in the House of Commons?”

“You have.”

“Because all that I have become is because of you, my love.”

Daphne smiled over at him. “You are giving me far too much credit,” she said. “Besides, I would follow you anywhere; you must know that.”

Guy stopped in the hallway and turned to face his wife, hoping his words conveyed his sincerity. “I had nothing to my name when I met you, and you took a chance on me. You had faith in me when no one else did.”

“It was the best decision that I have ever made.”

He leaned closer to her. “I love you more with each passing day,” he said, his lips hovering over hers. “You have given me everything.”

“I feel the same way,” Daphne murmured before sealing their words with a kiss.

The End