Previously in the novel: Mercenary Leon fails in a kidnapping because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Also in the spy world is socialite Wallis Spencer, who dumps first husband Winfield, kills Uncle Sol, has an affair with German Joachin Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. David and his brother George go to Buenos Aires where George is seduced by sex, drugs and booze.
David and the mercenary, carrying naked Prince George, hurried down the steps of Jorge Ferrara’s mansion. The taxi driver jumped out and opened the back door. The man dropped George on the seat, pushed his body across then sat next to him. David slid in, the driver went back to the wheel and they sped off.
“I need you to perform another task for me,” David said to the man in the tan uniform.
“That was not part of our original negotiations.”
“What do you want now?” David became easily impatient with the lower classes who only thought in terms of how much money was in it for them.
“What were you planning on giving me for rescuing your brother?” His piercing black eyes bore into David.
“My diamond stick pin and 24-karat gold cuff-links.” He regarded the urban scenery passing by the window and raised his chin.
The mercenary observed at the clothes crumpled on the floorboard. “I want his stick pin and cuff-links too.”
“Deal.” God, I hate dealing with rabble like this.
The man extended his palm turned up. “Give them to me now.”
David extracted his accoutrements and handed them over. He nodded to George’s clothes. “You can get his.”
“You get them. He’s your brother.”
Sighing in exasperation, David bent over, unfastened the stick pin and cufflinks from George’s attire and plopped them in the mercenary’s hand. He felt like bathing in disinfectant.
The man carefully folded everything into a handkerchief and tucked it into a pouch down inside his pants between his legs. “What do you want me to do?”
“Tell the driver to take us to the nearest Catholic Church,” David began. “You go in and tell the priest two men are seeking sanctuary. Two brothers. One is trying to wean the other off of drugs. They need an isolated room, food and complete privacy. Tell him we will reward the church generously for this charity. Tell him I am a man of integrity. You will vouch for me. Of course, who will vouch for you, God only knows.”
The mercenary turned to the driver and spoke in Spanish with a Bahamian accent. In a few blocks the taxi pulled in front of a large cathedral. The man pushed at David so he could get out.
Who the hell does he think he is? Pushing me around like that? I’m a damned prince, for God’s sake!
He trotted up the steps with the confidence of a world-weary mercenary at the top of his game. Without hesitation he threw the door open and barged in.
David leaned over and looked at George. “Wake up. Put on your clothes. “
“I mean it.” He kicked his brother. “At least put on pants and a shirt.” He nudged George again. “Are you dying on me?” David leaned back and looked out the window.
That would be just like you, George. Leave me in the taxi with a dead naked prince. Most inconsiderate bloke I’ve ever known.
David saw the church door open and the mercenary marched down the steps followed by an old priest and two young ones. David picked up George’s clothes and got out of the car just as the men arrived. The two young ministers crawled into the back seat to drag out George. The man in the tan uniform jumped into the taxi, tapped the driver’s shoulder, and the car sped off into the night.
David followed the priests as they carried George around the corner to steps leading down to the basement. They entered a long dark corridor which seemed to lead to an older, less civilized century. The old priest unlocked a door and stepped aside so the younger clergy could carry George to a cot and dump him. They left the room and locked the door, leaving David to consider his new surroundings.
Another cot sat against the opposite wall. The only other object was a galvanized bucket. No pillows, blankets or towels. David could only hope they would bring food in the morning. It was a church after all. He collapsed on the cot and fell into a deep sleep.
A light tap at the door roused David. He stumbled to the door and mumbled, “Que?”
It opened, and a nun handed him a tray, shut the door and locked it back. On the tray were a pewter pitcher of water and a casket with a loaf of bread, a small wheel of cheese, several hard-boiled eggs and oranges.
“George?”” David sat on the edge of the cot. “We’ve got food.”
He just moaned and rolled over to face the crumbling stone wall.
“I’ll kill Kiki if I ever see her again.” David crunched into the crusty bread.
The next morning George opened his eyes long enough to vomit, urinate and defecate before passing out again. He didn’t speak until the third day.
“Where am I?”
“The pit of hell,” David whispered. “And the fool that I am, I followed you here.”
“You’re in withdrawal.”
“It’s your own fault.”
George twitched. “Are there bugs in here?”
“Bugs have more sense than to come here.”
Writhing, he cried, “The worms. The worms are back. I hate the worms. Why do I do this to myself?”
“Drink some water.” David lifted the pitcher to George’s lips. “You vomited so much you’re dehydrated.”
“I want to die. I can’t take it anymore.”
“Of course you can. You’re a Windsor. If you can sit through an eight-course dinner with our blithering idiot father, you can take anything. Now drink.”
George knocked the pitcher away. “No! I want to die!”
David grabbed each side of his brother’s face with his hands and pulled him so close their noses touched.
“I won’t let you die! They won’t let you die! Do you know what Papa and Mama will do to you if I bring you home like this? The same thing they did with little Johnny. Do you remember him? Our youngest brother? The sweetest soul that ever lived on this earth? He was different so they locked him in a room at Windsor Castle and pulled curtains so he could see out and nobody could see in. Then he dropped dead when he was only fourteen years old. Do you think you could have taken being treated like that? Johnny took it! He was a better man than you’ll ever be!”
By the time George fell asleep he had eaten some bread, a couple of bites of cheese and a hard-boiled egg, which his brother had to peel for him. David stared at him while he slept. Then he looked around the room. He felt anger welling up inside him like he had not felt since the bullies tortured him at school. David set his jaw firm. He could take that and he would take this.
Eventually, George’s body began to shiver like he was in a vat of ice. He slit his eyes open and glanced about. “Why is it so cold in here?” he asked.
“You’re naked,” David replied in a flat tone.
George pulled on his slacks and shirt and slept better than he had in days. On the fifth day when the nun knocked on the door, George stood on wobbly legs and walked over, moaning the entire time. The nun unlocked the door.
“I want to go home now.”
The nun guided them to the basement door and pointed down the street.
“Don’t worry. You will be properly rewarded,” David assured her as they stepped out.
She smiled and closed the door. They walked a few blocks and saw the British embassy.
“How did she know to direct us here?” George asked.
“You spoke in a British accent, stupid.”
“How are we ever going to explain this?” George sniffed. “We smell like hell.”
David put his arm around his brother’s shoulders. “We don’t have to explain anything. We are the Brothers Royale.”