Gravesend, December 1817
In fleeing the society wedding of the year, Sophia Hathaway knew she would be embracing infamy.
She’d neglected to consider how infamy smelled.
She paused in the doorway of the fetid dockside tavern. Even from here, the stench of soured ale accosted her, forcing bile into her throat.
A burly man elbowed her aside as he went out the door. “Watch yerself, luv.”
She pasted herself against the doorjamb, wondering at the singular form of address implied in “luv”. The man’s comment had clearly been directed toward both of her breasts.
With one last deep breath, she sidled her way into the dank, drunken confusion, forbidding her gray serge skirts to brush against anything. Much less anyone. From every murky corner—and for a squared-off tea tin of a building, this tavern abounded in murky corners—eyes followed her. Suspicious, leering eyes, set in hard, unshaven faces. It was enough to make any young woman anxious. For a fugitive young lady of quality, traveling alone, under the flimsy shield of a borrowed cloak and a fabricated identity…
Well, it was almost enough to make Sophia reconsider the whole affair.
An unseen someone jostled her from behind. Her gloved fingers instinctively clutched the envelope secreted in her cloak. She thought of its brethren—the letters she’d posted just that morning, breaking her engagement and ensuring a scandal of Byronic proportions. Seeds of irrevocable ruin, scattered with the wind.
A cold sense of destiny anchored her rising stomach. There was no … Read More »