David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Fourteen

Tommy Lascelles, too decent

Previously in the novel: Leon, a novice mercenary, is foiled in kidnapping the Archbishop of Canterbury by a mysterious man in black. The man in black turns out to be David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Soon to join the world of espionage is Wallis Spencer, an up-and-coming Baltimore socialite. David kills an ambassador in Shanghai.
Upon his return to London, David cloistered himself inside his suite at York House, a wing of St. James Palace down the mall from Buckingham. He slept in his heavily curtained bedroom for more than twenty-four hours. Once he felt refreshed, David took a long bath, wrapped himself in a plush terrycloth robe and sat down for black coffee and toast. He chatted with his personal secretary Tommy Lascelles, an affable young man who did his best to create reasons for the Prince of Wales to take extended holidays to exotic locales for hedonistic pleasures.
“How was your voyage to the Far East?” Tommy asked, opening his activities book.
“Marvelous,” David replied, sipping his coffee. “Four different very sociable ladies going and coming. Please note when Elvira Chatsworth returns to London. Include me in some event where she is expected to attend. Has Freda called? Arrange dinner for us tonight.”
“I’m afraid that will be quite impossible, sir.” Tommy kept his eyes down as he wrote in his notebook.
“And why is that?”
“Her husband is back in town.”
“Oh, bugger that.”
“It seems his grandmother Mrs. Lavinia Ward is celebrating her ninetieth birthday and all members of the Ward family are required to attend,” Tommy informed him.
“I wish that old bag would die. She’s hampering my love life,” David muttered as he lit a cigarette. He noticed a pause in the conversation. “Do I shock you, Tommy?”
“Of course not, sir.” Clearing his throat, he added, “You must have luncheon at Buckingham Palace today. Your parents have made inquiries and know you are back from your trip to Shanghai.”
“Good God. Now I have to come up with some sort of diplomatic reasons to have been there. Have any ideas?”
Tommy raised his pen from the book and scratched the back of his head with it. “Did you speak to the ambassador?”
“Lord Chatsworth? Only in passing on the Wyndemere.”
“No, no. The other one. Stationed at the embassy. The one who died.”
“I scheduled a luncheon with him but he died the previous evening. That was odd, wasn’t it? So sudden. His head plopped into a bowl of egg nest soup.”
“So you didn’t see him.”
“Oh, I glimpsed him in a crowd. I was within spitting distance but didn’t get a chance to speak.
Tommy groaned. “Spitting distance? Oh the phrases you pick up.” He made a quick note. “I wouldn’t share that one with the King.”
“Actually, I was going to drop it on Mummy. She turns this delightful shade of coral when I embarrass her.”
“Tell your father the Foreign Ministry asked you to drop in on the ambassador. You couldn’t help it if the old man dropped dead.”
“Indeed not.”
“Oh. Your tailor is waiting outside.”
David’s face lit. “Does he have the plaid slacks ready?”
Tommy arched an eyebrow. “I wouldn’t know.”
“Send him in.”
David noticed Tommy took special care not to slam his activities book shut. Poor chap, the prince thought. Such a decent fellow. I must shock him terribly, however MI6 specifically instructed me not to include Tommy in my secret activities. After all, he is a decent fellow.
Tommy opened the door. A short, rotund man with strands of black hair slicked across his glistening dome jiggled into the prince’s boudoir, extending a pair of slacks to his highness.
“Just as you required.” The tailor beamed.
David hid a smile as he observed Tommy rolling his eyes before exiting, closing the door behind him.
“I think you will find the crotch to be perfection,” the man announced in a loud voice.
“No need for that,” David informed him. “Tommy is not the type to linger around keyholes.”
“You never know about these blokes around here.” The man slipped into a very comfortable Cockney. He looked at the pants with askance and tossed them on a chair. “Are you really going to wear those togs, are you?”
David wagged a finger at him. “Now, now. It’s your attitude that keeps you from getting assignments to nice places.”
“You can keep your nice places. They give me the heeby geebies.” He leaned in. “Did the capsule work as anticipated?”
“Perfectly. The timing was chancy, biting and spitting at the same time. One good cough and I’d been the one with his face in a bowl of soup.”
The man smiled, revealing that a couple of his canines were missing. “Dee-lightful, ain’t they? We got the poison from a new agent we picked up from America. She’s a mean one, for sure. And she knows her herbs up in those Blue Ridge Mountains. She’s got a different one for every which way you want a man to die, she does.”
“I don’t like it when you tell me too much,” David informed him.
“Bah. It’s the only fun me and me old lady have in this business.” He paused to appraise the prince. “I keep forgetting you’re one of those royal blighters.”
David laughed. “Us royal blighters love gossip too. No, the less we know about each other the safer we are. And I don’t want anything to happen to your wife or yourself. Truly. No disrespect intended.”
“It’s hard to stay mad at a bloke like you, David.” The man grumbled and turned for the door.
“A man from the organization was there in Shanghai,” the prince whispered. “He almost ruined the whole gambit. Tried to shoot the ambassador. I knocked his gun away.”
He looked back. “I feel sorry for those rotters. Why would the organization be messed up in this ambassador business?”
“Chinese drug lords want to keep the political situation there unsettled, I’m sure.”
“Oh, think of the scandal that would have been.” The old man’s eyes widened. “MI6 said they wanted the ambassador dead, but they didn’t want it to look like no murder. Nothing controversial.”
“I took care of it. I hope.”

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