Well this looks like my lucky day, thought Adira as the room came into focus.
She was in the drawing room of her ex-fiancé’s townhome. Lord Bradley sat in his favorite chair, sipping a glass of wine, and watching her.
“I’m sorry, Adira,” he said. “But I thought this would be more comfortable for you than a cellar in Cheapside.”
“Very thoughtful,” she said, as she smoothed her hair back towards the untidy bun held by her favorite hair stick. “But it might have been nicer to have left me near the opera house.”
He made a tut-tut noise. “And left you at the mercy of Nightshade? That would have been rude.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“Let me tell you a story,” he said, refilling his glass. “There was a naïve girl, whose romantic notions made her an easy mark for Nightshade, a notorious criminal who has become something of a hero to gullible young women and a nuisance to my guild’s interests. She unwisely agreed to be a lookout for one of his capers. Thankfully, a concerned friend was there to intercede before she had to face serious consequences.”
“Charming,” she said, stretching out her hands and fingers. “But what’s the price for his intercession?”
“Information. Everything you know about Nightshade’s organization, including the contact you were supposed to meet tonight.”
“And if I don’t?”
“It’s my duty to turn you in to the constables. Considering the trouble Nightshade has caused, that cellar is going to seem nice in comparison,” Bradley said.
“So you haven’t told the authorities yet?”
“Of course not. Adira, I can protect you. If you cooperate.”
Adira looked down at her lap. “I don’t want to go to jail. What if I told you I know who Nightshade is?”
He jumped out his chair. “Really? Who?”
“Me.” Adira pulled her hair stick free and threw it at his throat. It hit its mark. As he tried pulling it out, Adira picked up the bottle of wine and cracked it over his head.
“I have a story for you,” she said. “There once was an unscrupulous and overconfident man who wouldn’t shut up. So I fixed that. The end.”