Tag Archives: Duke and Duchess of Windsor

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Seventy-Two

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on a mission because of David, better known as the Prince of Wales. Socialite Wallis Spencer, also a spy, has an affair with German Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. David becomes king. Wallis divorces, David abdicates and they marry. They fail to kill Hitler. David and Wallis volunteer to help France. Leon receives orders to go to France. The Windsors escape oncoming Nazis.
David and Wallis slept late the next morning in their suite at the most luxurious hotel in Barcelona. They felt as if they had earned it. He dressed and left Wallis munching on toast and sipping coffee as he went downstairs to send a cable to the British Foreign Office to inform officials they had arrived safely. They would move on to Madrid where they planned to pretend to be interested in Spanish pleas that they stay there. He was confident the message would be passed on to MI6.
When he returned to the suite, David found Wallis snuggled under the covers. Her half-eaten toast was back on a small plate by her coffee cup on the nightstand. She stirred a bit when he shut the door and opened her eyes only long enough to growl a command.
“Don’t you dare wake me up. I plan to sleep until I have completely forgotten that dreadful drive in the rain.”
With that she rolled over, exposing her boney derriere in her silk night gown. David smiled and poured himself another cup of coffee before settling into a comfortable padded chair. Briefly he watched Wallis to consider what kind of God’s creature was she. No one would ever call her beautiful, but everyone flocked to her when she arrived at a party. She knew all the rules of etiquette and knew when she could break them. She seemed frail and vulnerable, but was capable of abominable violence. Wallis was the opposite of every woman he had ever seduced, and yet he found himself falling in love with her, which was against all the rules of civilized espionage.
After he finished his coffee, David changed back into his pajamas to slip into the bed next to Wallis. He began to feel the toll of the last twenty-four hours. David didn’t know for sure if he could sleep, but he did feel comfortable in the bed next to her. He felt her body warmth. He heard her soft breathing. He smelled her heady expensive perfume. It was though they were married in spirit as well as in law, and they were truly in love. What a comforting sensation, he thought. Soon he was deep asleep.
Two days later they settled into their suite at the Ritz in Madrid. That night they celebrated David’s forty-sixth birthday with petite broiled steaks, fresh blanched peas drizzled with olive oil and baked potatoes. They were on their second bottle of champagne. Wallis lifted her glass.
“Here’s to your entering middle-age.” She had a wicked smile.
“Thank you for reminding me.” His tone was less than enthusiastic.
“Don’t worry about it.” The wickedness disappeared from her lips. “You’re Peter Pan. You’ll never grow up.”
“And how about you?” David looked down to cut his steak. “You’re only a few years younger than I.”
“That’s why I’m having such a good time now. I’ll be an old wreck, but I’ll be happy I went on the ride.”
The Windsors had just started their rum raisin ice cream when a courier presented a cable to the duke.
“Oh damn,” Wallis muttered. “I was enjoying myself until that thing arrived.” She paused as David read it. “Well, don’t leave me hanging. What is it?”
“We’ll be staying in Madrid a little longer,” he replied. “My brother Harry is due to arrive in Lisbon to commemorate Portugal’s 800th independence anniversary.”
“That means we have longer to experience this Spanish cuisine. I’ve heard of this marvelous dish called paella. It’s supposed to be peasant food, but it’s chocked full of pork, chicken, shrimp and sometimes squid.” She paused to consider the sullen darkness which had fallen over him. “What’s with the long face?”
David shrugged. “Oh, it just means more interminable meetings with Spanish officials trying to talk me into staying here for the duration of the war.”
“Is that all? You’re not really upset about not seeing your stolid brother Harry, are you? He’s so boring he puts me to sleep.” Wallis laughed until she noticed David was still glum. She leaned forward. “I’m your chum. You can tell me. I know you really adore George, but I didn’t think you care a hill of beans for the rest of them. Or do you?”
“If you’re my chum, you wouldn’t have to ask that question.”
When the Windsors arrived back in their suite, they found an envelope on their bed. David opened it to find two tickets to the afternoon bull fights at the Plaza Toros Las Ventas.
“We’ve been invited to watch little men in fancy costumes kill animals, my dear,” he announced.
“By whom?”
“Who knows?”
“Obviously by someone with no sense of true entertainment,” she replied. “Back home in Maryland if we wanted to kill a cow we’d just walk out to the field and blow its head off with a shotgun.”
The next afternoon they chose their clothing carefully. Their usual Paris high fashion would stand out even in a stadium filled with 25,000 peasants. Eventually they walked out on the street and hailed a local couple about their age, height and weight to offer them stunning clothing in exchange for their common street wear. The Spaniards were apprehensive at first, of course, but David with his down-to-earth personality and inadequate use of the Spanish language charmed them into venturing in the most expensive suite at the Ritz.
Once the exchange was made, the Windsors had to rush to be at the Plaza Toros Las Ventas in time for the opening ceremonies. As they walked to their seats the municipal band Espana Cani played pasadoble tunes.
“Thank God our seats are in the shade.”
“They‘re more expensive.”
“I don’t care.” Settling in, Wallis looked at David and smiled. “You make a handsome peasant.”
He glanced her way. “So do you.” After a pause he added, “Don’t look at me that way. I’m becoming aroused.”
“Don’t do that, old boy,” a voice interjected from behind them. “Don’t look around. It’s just your kindly old general.”
They both sighed in relief. They didn’t really want to stay to see the killing of a bull.
“You will be exchanging cablegrams over the next few weeks with Churchill over what your assignment will be during the war,” Trotter began. “First you’ll be insulted that you were not brought home for a more active role. Wallis, you must demand that someone sneak into the Riviera to retrieve your green bathing suit from La Croe.”
“That ugly old thing?” She seemed shocked. “I hope nobody does it.”
“Probably not,” Trotter replied, “but it will make a good headline.” He put his hand on David’s shoulder. “You’re going to be the governor of the Bahamas.”
“Hmm, I’ll need a whole new wardrobe,” Wallis murmured. “Nothing in green.”
“And what will our mission be?” David asked.
“An Australian chap by the name of Harry Oates practically runs Nassau. He has ties to the Germans, the American Mafia and who knows who else. You become close to him, see what he knows and if he knows too much—kill him.”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Seventy

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on a mission because of David, better known as the Prince of Wales. Socialite Wallis Spencer, also a spy, has an affair with German Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. David becomes king. Wallis divorces, David abdicates and they marry. They fail to kill Hitler. David and Wallis volunteer to help France.
Leon and Sidney raced on the beach of Eleuthera not aware of the increasing war clouds gathering over Europe. Euphoria filled Leon’s lungs which gave him strength to focus on the palm tree down the shore a distance. He could tell he was getting older and more easily winded, but he wanted to stay ahead of Sidney as long as he could. His son was thirteen years old now and stronger and swifter than he was at that age. He didn’t dare to look over his shoulder or else he would see how close Sidney was. As soon as Leon passed the tree he threw his arms.
“I win!” Bending over, he gasped. He couldn’t have gone another step.
Sidney whizzed passed him and kept going several yards down the beach.
”I win! I win!”
Fortunately, Leon regained his breath. “No! The race was to the palm tree!”
“That was your race! My race was to run further than you!”
Leon smiled. “That’s not fair.”
“I don’t care. I still won.”
Walking toward his son, Leon wagged a finger. “I’m going to have to teach you a lesson.”
Sidney grabbed his father’s arm and twisted it up behind his back, causing Leon to fall down. Sidney put his sandy foot on his chest and looked down and smiled. “You’ve already taught me.”
“And very well,” Leon agreed.
Sidney extended his hand to help his father up. They began to walk back to their hacienda.
“When will I meet my contact?” he asked.
“Not for a long time,” Sidney replied. “You are very strong. You know how to fight. But your mind has not grown enough to make the right decisions on a mission.”
“I know the rules,” his son insisted. “You must always remember you do this to fill your family’s bellies.”
“Yes, but that means more than hunger.”
“I know. Protect their lives.”
“And your family is more than just the people who share your blood. Right now you think your only family is your mother and me. But you have more people who are family.”
“Who are they?”
“You will learn soon.”
Sidney was silent for a moment. “Is Jinglepockets family?”
“Of course he is.”
“What about Pooka?”
“All right. She’s not family, but I would not kill her because she is a woman, right?”
Leon chuckled. “I don’t know. I might make an exception in her case.” He looked up, and they were almost home. The dead plant in the pot was askew. “Run ahead and tell your mother we are back from our walk.”
When he was alone, Leon looked up and down the road carefully to see if anyone was watching him. He lifted the plant and took out the note.
“Rialto. 8 p.m.”
That evening in Nassau Leon, dressed in his white linen suit, walked into the casino. The room was full. He looked for the blonde card dealer. He smiled. She wore a bright red jacket with no blouse under it. He walked over to her.
“Deal me in. I feel lucky tonight.”
“Not that lucky.” She pushed cards his way. “You look hungry.”
Leon looked down and saw a note attached to one of the cards.
“Ask for table fifteen and order the grilled salmon.”
As Leon waited for his dinner to be served, he felt the chair behind him bump his back.
“Your new assignment is to protect the Duke and Duchess of Windsor as they motor from Antibes, France, through Spain to Portugal.” It was the man with the southern accent. “We believe the Germans either want to kill them or kidnap them, so Hitler can put them on the English throne. Our client does not want this to happen. Be at the Miami airport tomorrow morning. A ticket will be waiting there for you to New York LaGuardia. There you will be given a ticket to a location in France where you will be told where to start shadowing the Windsors.”
The server brought the salmon plate to Leon.
“Go now,” the man with the southern accent ordered. “The salmon is for me. I haven’t eaten all day.”
Leon walked past the poker table.
“Bonne nuite, monsieur,” the blonde dealer called out.
When he arrived at his Eleuthera hacienda at midnight, Leon found Jessamine in tears. Feeling perturbed he had to stop to comfort his wife instead of preparing for his late night cruise to Miami, Leon breathed out and put his arms around her.
“What’s the matter?”
“Pooka came by tonight and told me she had a vision you were going away and would never come back,” she whispered between the sobs.
“That old witch. I told you not to listen to her.”
“But you are leaving tonight, aren’t you?”
“Of course.”
“So it is nothing. I go on my trips all the time.” He kissed her. “Now help me pack.” He looked at the top of the stairs where Sidney was standing. “Come down. I want to talk to you.”
His son passed Jessamine on the stairs.
“So what do you think about all this?” Leon asked.
“I think it is my job not to think about it,” the boy replied.
“Good answer.” He looked back up the stairs before staring into his son’s face. “But you will have to have an opinion about everything eventually. Always be sure to make it your own decision. Don’t be influenced by your mother, by Pooka, by any beautiful woman who tries to sway you, not even by me. You must make your own decisions. That is the only way you can be sure to keep your family’s bellies full.”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Sixty-Nine

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on a mission because of David, better known as the Prince of Wales. Socialite Wallis Spencer, also a spy, has an affair with German Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. David becomes king. Wallis divorces, David abdicates and they marry. They fail to kill Hitler. David and Wallis volunteer to help France.
Wallis took on her duties of renovating La Croe into a French officers’ convalescent home with the same enthusiasm she had when she decorated it as their pleasure dome on the Riviera. Every soldier unfortunate enough to have been wounded would receive the same accommodations as a former king of England. She recruited the ladies of nearby Antibes to knit stockings for the patients to wear as they strolled around the building. For the French soldiers on the front, they made sweaters, socks and gloves. Wallis turned the knitting sessions into regular tea parties, except she served champagne instead of tea. While the French army fought just across the border in Germany, certain luxuries such as champagne were still available to be shipped in from Paris. Wallis designed her own military-style suit to give the event a hint of solemnity.
During such afternoon socials when all the upper crust ladies were well on to their second glass of champagne they jumped at the opportunity to talk about the ladies who did not attend. Some of them had intimate ties with German nationals and in secret waited for the glorious inclusion of France into the Third Reich. Another group of ladies were not as enthusiastic about being inducted into the Hitler regime. They prided themselves on expediency and supported a movement led by General Petain. Petain was already making overtures to Nazi sympathizers to retain a certain autonomy through a government in Vichy, a leading wine-growing region.
“Well,” Wallis chirped as she clicked her knitting needles, “I assure you none of this champagne came from Vichy.”
All the ladies tittered as they returned to their work, only to find they had to undo a row or two of their work. Evidently knitting, champagne and gossip are not conducive to quality work. Wallis smiled graciously as she intently memorized the names, titles and jobs of the suspected conspirators. After her friends left in the late afternoon she went straight to her bedroom where she made copious notes.
A couple of days later she drove into Antibes to buy other necessities for the men on the front, such as toiletries, soap and cigarettes. As she left one tobacco shop a peasant woman limped up to her holding out an apple.
Une pomme, madame?” she asked.
Wallis turned to appraise her and smiled. “You speak French with an American accent.”
“I have been told that many times,” the peasant replied.
“You look exhausted.” She nodded to a café across the street and extended a coin to her. “Buy yourself something and I’ll join you in a few moments.”
As the peasant woman gimped away, Wallis decided that even though she did have a wooden leg she did have a certain style about her. Wallis first deposited all her shopping items in her car before she returned to the café. The woman sat in a back table next to the toilet door. Her dowdy clothing seemed to make her fade away against the wall of ancient wallpaper. Wallis sat and ordered a coffee. She noticed the woman had ordered the same.
The woman’s high cheekbones and dogged chin drew Wallis in, making her remember a fact she had spent most of her life trying to forget—she was physiologically a man though her hormonal balance leaned toward a feminine disposition. Most of the time it was blonde-haired women who drew her attention, but she found this brunette undeniably attractive.
“Do you sell many apples?”
“You’d be surprised.”
“As you may know, I am Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, and I have converted my home into a convalescent facility—“
“And you need plenty of apples for your patients, I know,” she interrupted. “I can get all the apples you want as long as you have something for me.”
Her bluntness made Wallis reel. A moment or two passed before she could reply. “I can give you a ride to La Croe where you can make arrangements for apple delivery while I go upstairs to retrieve something for you.”
“Then let’s not waste time.” The woman stood and limped to the front door.
Soon they were in Wallis’s car motoring along the coast to La Croe. The woman stared straight ahead and didn’t speak. Wallis tried to follow her example but her natural talkativeness won.
“Have you seen my husband?” she asked.
“Is he well?”
“As far as I could tell.”
“I understand he’s flying a lot.”
“I did see him by an airplane once or twice.”
“Did he say anything?”
“He said clouds are gathering over Holland.”
Wallis was frustrated by the conversation. “It’s getting pretty damn cloudy here in France too.”
“Sure as hell is.”
Wallis was getting weak-kneed. “Look, I know agents aren’t supposed to say anything, but it’s just us two girls alone in a car. Couldn’t we share something?”
“I read the newspapers. I know all about you.”
“Dammit, at least tell me how you lost your leg!” Wallis returned her attention to the road. “You’re so rude. You made me lose my temper.” She exhaled in exasperation. “I really like that.”
“I was hunting in Turkey. As I climbed over fence, the gun went off and took off my leg. I know. So sad. Now let’s get on with winning this war.”
“One last question, you and I talk alike. I don’t mean the cussing, but where are you from?”
“Box Horn Farm.”
“I knew it! Maryland!” Wallis searched her mind. “Box Horn Farm. I think I’ve heard about your family. Big estate. They had a daughter but didn’t talk about her much.”
“Shut the hell up or I’m going to have to kill you.”
“I love it when you talk dirty.”
The spy looked at her with a raised eyebrow. “You know I’m not delivering any damn apples.” She stayed in the car while Wallis ran into La Croe to retrieve her notes. When the agent saw her return, she got out of the car to take the correspondence.
“Can I drive you anywhere?” Wallis asked.
“No thanks. I can handle myself.” She turned to walk down the driveway.
“I bet you can,” Wallis murmured.
The English military had turned down the Windsors’ offer to treat English soldiers and the Windsors’ offer to donate money to help the British cause. Both of the Windsors assumed the rejections came Buckingham Palace itself. The French army eagerly accepted their help. Every available doctor in France volunteered to join the army to treat the wounded soldiers coming in from battlefields in Germany, Holland and Belgium. More wounded French officers’ flooded La Croe, a sign Wallis knew meant disaster was not far off. On May 10, 1940, Wallis walked out on the La Croe terrace and saw a young officer stretched out on a chaise lounge. He stared into the Mediterranean, ignoring the doctor trying to take his vital signs.
“He hasn’t spoken a word since he came here,” the doctor whispered to Wallis. “Some call it battle shock. If he cannot force himself out of it, it will remain with him the rest of his life. Quelle domage.”
Wallis sat next to him. She noticed his exposed veiny left arm. She caressed it.
“No fat on you,” she purred in perfect French. “I can tell. Look at the veins on your arm.”
The soldier looked back at Wallis and wrinkled his brow.
“You must have a sweetheart back home aching to have your arms around her again.”
“Don’t act like the school boy around me.” She leaned in to whisper, “You love her, don’t you? Every moment you think of her, long for her.”
“What is her name?”
“Claudette.” He smiled.
The doctor stood, patted Wallis on the shoulder. “Merci.
Before she could say anymore, she saw David enter the room and walk directly to her.
“Ah, it is my husband. Sadly I must go.” She looked at young officer sternly. “Never a word about our conversation to anyone, especially Claudette.”
David took her arm and guided her upstairs. “As soon as I received Gen. Gamelin’s permission, I came directly here. We must leave immediately. The Germans have broken through and are headed in this direction.”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Sixty-Eight

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on a mission because of David, better known as the Prince of Wales. Socialite Wallis Spencer, also a spy, has an affair with German Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. David becomes king. Wallis divorces, David abdicates and they marry. They fail to kill Hitler. Woolworth heiress tells her son she wants to buy a king.

David and Wallis kept busy the first half of 1939 going back and forth from La Croe and their chateau in Paris. They hosted or attended small dinner parties whose guest lists included German sympathizers, usually British industrialists and bankers who realized their fortunes rested in cozy relations with the Third Reich. They avoided large lavish affairs where intimate conversation was logistically impossible. One such automobile magnate and his German wife revealed during a dinner at the Windsor’s Parisian chateau that they had recently returned from Berlin.
“We were at a reception for Herr Hitler and Fraulein Braun,” the husband said.
“Eva was quite forlorn,” his wife interrupted. “It seems her personal maid ran away in the middle of the night right before Christmas and has not returned. Eva said the woman had been so kind and loyal. A long time employee. Her departure confused Eva because she was under the impression the woman would have done anything for her.”
The Windsors smiled.
On September first of 1939 Germany invaded Poland on the pretext Poland made a peremptory attack on a German fortification in a peremptory attack. The German proclamation claimed a legal right to protect its own citizens against unprovoked aggression. Gossip at the Windsors’ dinners was that the invaders were, in fact, Germans dressed in Polish military uniforms. David and Wallis feigned disinterest. During the spring all of David’s official pronouncements urged conciliation with Hitler’s government. He even sent a telegram to Hitler to reconsider his actions to which the Fuhrer replied any war would not be his fault.
Three days later during a pool party at La Croe David received a telephone call that Britain had declared war on Germany. In the coming weeks the Duke of Windsor took several calls from London encouraging him to play an important role war effort by acting as morale officer to the troops. He had always been good at that sort of thing during the First World War.
By September 12 David and Wallis board the British destroyer HMS Kelly at Cherbourg to cross the channel for talks about his role in the war with the Foreign Office. Lord Louis Mountbatten and Winston Churchill’s Randolph were already on board. Winston insisted Randolph be included in the trip to give him experience in statecraft. Mountbatten, in serious tones, explained to David rumors of his being appointed as a morale officer were just rumors. Randolph just sat there, smiling and nodding, as though such a behavior could make such a disappointing announcement more pleasant. Instead, Mountbatten said, David would be assigned as the British consulting officer to French General Maurice Gamelin at the Maginot fortress along the border with Germany. Wallis, Mountbatten continued, could do anything she wanted as long as she kept her mouth shut and her face out of the newspapers.
“And for God’s sake, no more damn lavish dinner parties,” Mountbatten insisted. He then told them the rest of their visit to England was to be one long photo opportunity with them smiling patriotically with the high and low alike.
Randolph continued to smile and nod.
When they returned to their cabin they found General Trotter lounging in an uncomfortable chair.
“Now I suppose you want to know what you really are going to do in France,” he announced in his informal, MI6, way.
David and Wallis sat and listened. David would, indeed, be attached to the French Maginot line but he would ask to use one of their smaller aircraft for leisure flying over the countryside. MI6 intelligence had received information that Germany planned to bypass the massive French fortification and invade Holland and Belgium to enter France undeterred. Instead of flying over France, David would fly reconnaissance over Belgium. When he detected German troop movement, he should send coded messages through an American intelligence officer disguised as French peasant. Wallis will turn La Croe into a convalescent home for officers. Any information she might gather from the soldiers she would pass as a French peasant.
“How will I know it is him?” Wallis asked.
“She has a gimpy leg.”
“Fascinating. She travels fast with a gimpy leg,” she murmured.
When the Windsors arrived in London, they had to rely on old friend Lady Alexandra Metcalf to pick them up and take them to her house where they stayed for the duration of the visit. Wallis kept busy playing with the Metcalf children. David had an uncomfortable meeting with his brother the King and sat politely during several conferences in the War Office where he acted appropriately surprised when told about his assignment to Vincennes. David and Wallis were back on the destroyer Express to Cherbourg. Once at the British command, Maj. Gen. Sir Richard Howard-Vyse ordered David, the only British officer allowed at Maginot, keep his eyes and ears open so he could send back information on the condition of the French installation.
“You mean be a spy?” David’s mouth dropped open.
“Yes, that is the general purpose, Your Royal Highness.” The general was droll.
“Oh my. I don’t think I’ve ever done that sort of thing before.” David’s voice went soft.
“Yes, we know. Well, do the best you can.”
David kissed Wallis good-bye and sent her on her way to La Croe where she began preparations to turn the estate into a convalescent center. The War Office gave David strict orders to keep Wallis from the front lines.
Once David arrived at Maginot, he met Gen. Gamelin who with great pride gave him a tour of the facility, from its sun-ray rooms and movie theater to the cannon fortifications.
“It is the last word in defense,” Gamelin boasted. “We’ll dig in, just like the first war.”
The aging general reminded David of his own father. It was not a compliment. Seven months passed with David efficiently fulfilling his duty as outlined by Gen. Howard-Vyse. He listed the number of soldiers, rifles, and cannon but had trouble coming up with an exact count of aircraft. Some of the older models used in the first war, such as the Morane fighters, were unmarked. David was concerned with Gamelin’s explanation when questioned about the aircraft capability.
“You don’t want all the planes marked,” Gamelin huffed. “Then the enemy will know exactly how many craft we have. We used the exact same policy in the first war. Don’t they teach military history in British schools?”
By the end of the general’s tirade, David had come up with an ingenious plan of his own. “You’re quite right, General Gamelin. I am most trained in statecraft, not aircraft; however, I do know how to fly a fighter in the classification of the Morane. Would it be all right if I took it up for a bit of sightseeing tomorrow?”
“Sightseeing?” Gamelin sneered. “I suppose that’s all you’re good for. At least it will keep you out of my hair for a few hours.”
Early the next morning, David prepared for his flight. A young peasant woman limped up to him holding up an apple from her basket.
“Monsieur, une pomme, s’il vous plait?”
David smiled and pulled coins from his pocket. “You speak French with an American accent.”
“I have been told that before, monsieur.”
“Come back tomorrow and I’ll buy another apple from you.”
She curtsied and limped away. David took a bite out of the apple as he climbed into the old fighter. His ascension went smoothly. He assumed the mechanics did their job well. As soon as he had cleared the airspace around Maginot, David veered left toward the lowlands of Belgium. They looked so calm. Not at all aware of the hell of warfare that was about to descend upon it. All the intelligence David had studied showed the Germans were going to avoid the Maginot line completely. On this particular clear day, he saw no evidence of troop movement.
David allowed his mind to drift a moment as he enjoyed the freedom of solo flying. It was as though he was being lifted up and over all the cares of his life. He knew it was necessary for his family to hate him for the abdication in order to maintain his cover with MI6. But all the snubs did hurt, he had to admit to himself.
Before he knew it, David looked down and recognized the landscape of Holland. He had flown too far. As he began his maneuver to return to France David noticed the sky was turning black with approach of large German aircraft, out of which came paratroopers. The invasion of Holland had begun.

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Sixty-Seven

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on a mission because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Socialite Wallis Spencer, also a spy, has an affair with German Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. David becomes king. Wallis divorces, David abdicates and they marry. They fail to kill Hitler. They plan a gay Christmas on the Riviera but someone is trying to kill Wallis who kills her attacker.
Jessie Donohue lounged poolside at Cielito Lindo, her ocean front estate in Palm Beach, Florida, the week after Easter in 1937. Puffing on a cigarette, she reached for her glass of champagne on the nearby glass-topped table. She was vaguely bored and still nursed a grudge that her blue sapphire was gone forever. She had everything a woman of immense means could want, but she still needed something else to fill the hole left in her heart by the missing sapphire. Even blazing her way through the Spanish Civil War just to lose thousands playing poker and witnessing a murder didn’t stir anything in her breast. She still needed something to make the blood course through her veins like hot lava, but Jessie had patience. Eventually she would discover what she wanted and have it, no matter how long it took to get it.
Just then Jimmy crashed through the patio door and stormed over to her. Jessie glanced up and smiled. He looked adorable in his navy blue striped shirt and cream colored shirt opened three buttons more than decent society allowed. But he was twenty-four year old man and carried the look very well. Or at least his mother thought so.
“Oh Jimmy, what have you done now?”
“It wasn’t me.” He circled her chair. “It was those asses at the Bath and Tennis Club.” He paused to look at her glass. “Where is the bottle whence came that champagne?”
“Oh dear, you’re trying to sound Shakespearean.” She smirked. “You must be overwrought.”
Jimmy dragged a wrought iron chair over and sat. “I’m not so angry for myself but for Timmy.”
“Who’s Timmy?”
“Remember? My sleepover from last week. He’s a towel boy at the club.”
“You have to get more specific than that, darling.” She sipped the last of her champagne. “The champagne bucket is in the tea pavilion. When you go pour yourself a glass, be a dear and refill mine.”
“Mother! I’m in the middle of a story!” Jimmy’s tanned cheeks reddened.
“Well, you’re the one who asked about the champagne!”
“We’re in the middle of a serious socio-economic discussion here!”
“Oh, I didn’t realize it was that important. Please continue.”
“I was in the middle of brunch when a servant wandered through the dining room ringing a bell and holding up a sign, ‘Paging Mr. Niger.’ I don’t mind a bit of ribbing every now and then, but poor little Timmy! It was so unfair to him! It’s like towel boys aren’t supposed to have feelings too!”
Jessie reached out and patted his hand. “You know how broad minded than I am, but there is such a thing as discretion. You can have an affaire d’amour with anyone you want but please don’t pick the kitchen help from a restaurant we frequent.”
“He’s not kitchen help. He’s the towel boy.”
“Whatever. Now fetch me my champagne.”
Jimmy did as he was told, but his mother knew he wasn’t pleased about. To tell the truth, she hadn’t been pleased with her son since he was little and covered her face with slobbery kisses. Why do children have this annoying habit of growing up? Her older son Wooly grew up and became more interested in girls than his mother. Well, that didn’t bother her too much: Wooly was such a dullard. But Jimmy. The sun rose and set each day solely to cast light on his brilliance.
Upon his return he stuck the champagne glass into his mother’s hand. A few drops dribbled onto her bathing suit. Jimmy plopped into the wrought iron chair with his own drink and grumbled.
“Anyway, none of this would have happened if you had given me that extra two hundred thousand dollars. My Broadway show would have been a smash and I’d made history being the youngest producer in history and too busy to mess with busboys.”
“I thought you said he was a towel boy.” Jessie loved to catch Jimmy in a mistake. “Also, it wasn’t a Broadway show. It never made it past the West End in London.”
“That’s what I mean. It was a great show with Ruth Etting and Lupe Velez. All I needed was just a few more dollars to pay them.” He turned to look at his mother. “You know they’re all a bunch of hypocrites. They rave about how much they love to perform, but let one little check bounce and they refuse to sing a note!”
Jessie patted his hand. “But I missed you, my baby. Why would I pay perfectly good money to make myself even more miserably alone while you go off with those wretched theater people?”
Jimmy sipped his champagne as he looked out at the Atlantic. “Mother, do you think there’s going to be a war?”
“Frankly, I don’t. It’s just another way to stir up common people to vote for Franklin Roosevelt. What a loathsome man. Anyway, it’s not going to concern you, my pet. You will never have to serve in the military.”
“I don’t know,” he replied, measuring each word with due consideration, “I think I’d like to fly airplanes in the war.”
“I told you, there’s not going to be a war!”
“I ran into an old buddy of mine from Choate—you know, one of those dismal schools I got kicked out of—at an Elsa Maxwell party—“
“You mean Elsa’s in town and I wasn’t invited to her party!”
“Remember what you said about her dress in Cannes? She hasn’t forgiven you for that yet.”
“Petty bitch,” Jessie grumbled.
“Mother, please let me finish my story. I was talking to Jack Kennedy. You know his father was our bootlegger during Prohibition. Well, he’s come up in the world and is now the ambassador to England, and he says there is going to be a war.”
Jessie sat up to pat Jimmy’s tanned cheek. “Well, if there is a war, I’ll buy you a nice big airplane and you can fly it up and down the coast pretending you’re in the Army.”
“But I want to do something with my life.” Jimmy stood, taking his half-drunk glass of champagne back to the tea pavilion.
“You do things with your life,” she shouted after him. “You make me happy. And you make all our friends laugh.”
He came back, sat and looked into his mother’s eyes. “Don’t you ever want something so bad it hurts inside when you can’t have it?”
Putting her dead cigarette in her champagne glass, Jessie turned serious. “Yes, I want my blue sapphire back.”
“The blue sapphire was just a rock. A lot of people have fancy rocks.”
A thought flashed through her mind. Jessie often ridiculed the nouveau riche for buying the attentions of exiled European royalty, but now she realized that was what she wanted.
“I want you to get me a king. It would be such fun to own another human being, not some lowly servant, but a genuine member of a royal family.”
Jimmy raised an eyebrow. “Do you want him gift wrapped and slid under your door by Friday?”
“No, my dear. I have patience. You’re like your father. He didn’t have patience.” She smiled. “You are young and pretty. You have years to lure any one you wish.”
“But you’re not young.” Jimmy smirked.
Her smile faded. “You know what they say. Only the good die young. I shall live forever.” Jessie leaned in to grab the back of Jimmy’s head. “Jimmy, did you have anything to do with the theft of my jewels? You were very close to your father. You’re very much like him, in fact.”
“No, I didn’t.” He reached around to the back of his mother’s head to pull on her hair. “But never forget who killed father. And, yes, I was very fond of him.”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Sixty-Six

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on a mission because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Socialite Wallis Spencer, also a spy, has an affair with German Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. David becomes king. Wallis divorces, David abdicates and they marry. They fail to kill Hitler. They plan a gay Christmas on the Riviera but someone is trying to kill Wallis.
Early Christmas morning David, Wallis and their guests took a caravan of limousines to a country church of the Anglican denomination. The servants lined the driveway to wave them on to their Christian duty. Monsieur Valat stood at the gate and once the last car entered the road he closed it. Turning to the retinue of staff, he waved his hands, and off they all flew to the kitchen to prepare the Christmas feast for the returning supplicants.
The woman in dark clothes blended in with the authentic employees, pretending she had actual duties to perform. Her actual purpose was to find a more reliable weapon with which to kill Wallis. The poisoned wine had proven ineffective. Her first thought was a revolver. At close range it would prove impeccably efficient. It could then be thrown off the cliffs into the Mediterranean or, returned to the gun storage unit. But the woman did not know where the guns were stored.
Mon Dieu!” the sommelier blurted out in the middle of the kitchen. “I forgot to chill the champagne! Someone! Go to the basement and bring up a case!”
The woman in dark clothes tugged at his jacket sleeve. “I will go, monsieur,” she murmured so no one would detect her German accent.
Non, non, non. It is heavy. Find a man.”
“I am strong, monsieur.” Again she murmured.
She had no trouble finding the stairs to the basement. A stream of servants went up and down them fetching eggs, vegetables, fruit and bread. In the basement she found a hall with two doors on each side. A quick look informed her the open doors lead to the liquors, wine and other potables, another to fruits and vegetables and the third to bread and cheeses. The closed door was marked “Armory”. She had found the guns. However, when she tried to open it, she found it locked tight. She sighed with frustration. Monsieur Valat would be the only person with a key. One of many on a large key ring in his front trouser pocket. Her pickpocketing skills were minimal. Then she remembered her original purpose for being in the basement. Entering the wine vault she lifted a case of champagne with no effort at all.
After delivering the champagne the angel of death looked around the kitchen for another weapon. On a long table was a canvas bag unrolled, revealing a special pocket for each knife needed in food preparation. This would be perfect, she decided. The knives would not be counted until the end of the day. By that time she would have time to steal it, ram it up inside Wallis’s ribcage, wash it off and return it. Again her hopes were dashed when one particular cook go over to count the knives. A few minutes later the same cook came back to return a knife, and she took the time to count them all again before retrieving a larger one.
The assassin’s mind raced. How would she dispatch the duchess? The only weapon that came to her mind at the moment was the garrote. All she would need was a length of rope with a knot tied in the middle. She was strong. It would take no time nor effort to strangle the skinny little woman. She slipped back down the stairs and inspected the crates to see if any of them had been bound by rope. There were none.
As she rushed into the hall to make her way back to the kitchen she bumped into a gangly boy winding a clock.
Excuse moi, mademoiselle.”
The woman in dark clothes noticed the dull stare in his eyes. Such children should be exposed to the elements at birth, she told herself.
When she returned to the kitchen, she heard the buzzing of voices. The limousines were coming through the gate. The ladies would want to freshen up before partaking in Christmas dinner. Monsieur Valat noted in a loud voice time was running out.
Yes, time is running out. She disguised her face with a simple smile.
Monsieur Valat assigned her to stand behind and to the left of Aunt Bessie. She noticed the backward boy was behind the Duchess of Windsor who was seated next to her aunt. The boy’s attention wandered the room and every so often his shoulders twitched.
How would he know what the duchess wanted? He was useless.
“The table is beautifully set, Wallis.” Bessie patted her niece’s hand. “As always you did a wonderful job.”
“Thank you, Bessie, but I didn’t set the table. The servants did it while we were at church.”
“At church?” Bessie looked at Wallis. “Oh yes. Church. I was meaning to ask you why we went to a Catholic church.”
“It was Anglican.”
“Anglican? I go to the Episcopal church back in Baltimore.”
“Well, it’s basically the same church,” Wallis explained. “In England they call it—“
“Oh! I just caught a mistake you made! We must change the seating immediately!”
“What is that, my dear?”
“The seating should alternate lady, gentleman, and we’re seated side by side, and we’re both ladies.”
“I seated us next to each other on purpose so I could help if you needed it.”
The dark angel sniffed. They all deserve to die. The old woman has lived beyond her usefulness. The boy just makes me nervous, looking around, unaware of anything. And the Duchess of Windsor, well, she deserves to die for special reasons.
After dinner, all the guests dispersed to the sunny terrace overlooking the Mediterranean for coffee and cigars. The grim female reaper was quite efficient clearing the table. In fact Monsieur Valat pulled her aside to compliment her work. She giggled and curtsied, but inside she was furious with herself for standing out, in any way.
The idea flitted through her mind to hug Valat for his nice words and search for the key ring hanging somewhere in his trouser pocket, but in the end she decided that would be too risky. She still needed a weapon with which to kill Wallis. She was not too worried. She took pride in selecting just the right instrument of death. She had done it many times before.
After the last pot had been put away, the servants began to whisper in excitement. Word had spread that the duchess had purchased and personally wrapped Christmas presents for each of the servants.
Monsieur Valat clapped his hands to gain their attention. “To the grand hall. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor have a special surprise for each and every one of you.”
As they gathered at the bottom of the large Christmas tree, they saw Wallis sorting through different piles of presents wrapped in silver and white. The duke straightened his tie. Evidently he wanted to look his best as he handed out the presents. The servants created a line to the left so they could receive their gifts, unwrap them and exit to the right, which led back to the kitchen.
The process took a long time because the duke, upon handing out the present, shook hands heartily and took a moment to chat with each one. Wallis hugged and kissed each servant and had something appropriately festive to say.
What a bore. The woman in the dark clothes tapped her foot.
The gifts themselves ran from elegantly utilitarian, like silver cheese graters, to extravagantly personal, like alligator-skin wallets and handbags. Finally the woman reached the front of the line. By this time, she had decided on a giggle. A giggle could disarm the most suspicious person. When Wallis went in for the hug, the woman retreated slightly, which Wallis apparently took as shyness and quickly passed on to the next servant.
Death’s messenger was unenthusiastic in her tearing away of the paper which revealed a white box. Her eyes widened when she opened it because, lying on a puffy cloud of cotton, rested a silver knife.
Out of nowhere Jean bumped into the woman who dropped the box. The boy went to his knees to pick it up. His eyes were down as he returned it to her.
“Pardonnez-mois, mademoiselle.”
The sun was setting, and all the guests at La Croe were settling into comfy corners where they shared stories about this, that and the other things that reminded them of happy Christmases long ago. And most agreed this was one to be remembered for the rest of their lives. The Brownlow children played with their toys, and the adults nursed their cocktails while nibbling on little sandwiches made from Christmas dinner leftovers.
Wallis found herself feeling detached and somewhat depressed. Who was it who said every Christmas everyone got so excited about the presents and the food and in a few moments, the paper was on the floor and the food was eaten and it was all over. Ah yes. It was Uncle Sollie. No wonder I wanted to kill him.
She knew she could not fool herself about that little canard. No, it was Aunt Bessie. She had grown old in such a short time. Perhaps Wallis should have put more effort into visiting Baltimore to see how her dear aunt was doing. The last few years had been breathtakingly exciting, dangerous and entertaining. Wallis shook her head again. She was trying to lie to herself once more but her strong inner core would have none of it.
Wallis saw herself in Bessie. The image of dementia eating away at her mind and soul frightened her to death. If she were on better speaking terms with the vicar of Antibes she would seek out his counsel. She wished for one true friend whose shoulder she could cry on and be certain the story wouldn’t be the gossip of Europe the next day, she would do it.
Puffing on a cigarette, she looked around the grand lounge to see David down on his haunches talking to Caroline and Henry about their new playthings. She could trust him. They had saved each other’s lives. Surely they could share their inner most secrets. Wallis didn’t think much of him when first introduced as her MI6 partner. She laughed at the idea of their marriage and pretending to the world to be in love. But now she felt he was the only person she could confide in, to help her keep sanity.
She walked over to him. David looked up at her and smiled.
“Thank you, Caroline and Henry, for sharing your presents with me for a moment.” He stood. “But I think my wife has something she wants me to do for her.”
They walked to the expansive French doors leading out to the lawn overlooking the Mediterranean cliffs.
“Do you have a moment to walk outside with me?” she asked.
“You’re not worried about the assassin, are you?” His brow wrinkled. “I think he’s given up and slipped away in the night.”
“No, it’s about something else.” She opened one of the glass doors and flicked her cigarette out onto the lawn.
“I think I know.” His voice was soft and tender. “It’s Aunt Bessie, isn’t it?”
My God, I do think I’m falling in love with him.
Before she could speak, Jean ran up and tugged on David’s dinner jacket sleeve.
Monsieur, s’il vous plait.” He looked at Wallis. “Pardonnez-mois, madame. C’est tres importante. Tres importante.
David frowned, then smiled at her. “This won’t take long. I’ll join you down by the cliff in a few minutes. We’ll have more privacy there.”
“Of course.” Her lips split like a viper’s mouth, which she often did when she was trying to hide her aggravation. Wallis patted Jean’s slender shoulder. “What a sweet boy.”
She turned and walked down the lawn to the edge of the cliff. In the last rays of sunset she could make out the waves on the Mediterranean. Looking down at her arm, Wallis realized she had not brought her purse and therefore did not have any cigarettes. What a bother.
“Wallis! Wallis! Look out!”
What on earth could David be yelling about? She turned just in time to see the woman in the dark clothes rushing at her, with the silver knife uplifted, ready to thrust down into her chest. Her training in China surged from the back of her mind and adrenaline activated her body. Wallis punched the woman in the throat and did a round kick to the back of her knee. The woman collapsed at Wallis’s feet, dropping the knife on the lawn. Mounting the woman’s body, Wallis picked up the knife and held the tip of it at her throat.
“Who the hell are you?” she growled.
David ran up. “The boy tipped me off. He’d had his eyes on her from the day she arrived.” He put his hand on her back. “Are you all right?”
Wallis concentrated on the woman. “Who sent you here?”
“No one.”
“Tell me the truth or I’ll slit your throat right now!”
“I sent myself,” she blurted out.
“Sent yourself? What the hell does that mean?”
“I watched you at my master’s house,” she sputtered. “I saw how he looked at you. I hear how he talks about you still.”
“You master?” Each bit of information only made Wallis angrier. “Who the hell is your master?”
“The Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler.”
“You mean Hitler’s behind all this?” David interjected.
“What does he know?” Wallis’s voice lowered ominously.
“Nothing. I swear. My mistress Eva Braun knows nothing. But I know. I know you are evil. You want to replace Eva in the Fuhrer’s heart and become the most powerful woman in the world!”
“You think I’m trying to seduce Adolf Hitler?”
Ja. I heard about how you were going to make love to him in the choo choo room but Herr Ribbentrop broke in.”
“I wasn’t trying to seduce him! I was trying to kill him!” Wallis’s mouth flew open. She knew she had said too much.
“Then my lady Eva Braun is safe?” The woman in dark clothes sounded relieved.
“Sure. Eva Braun is safe. But you’re not.” Wallis slit her throat, stood and handed the knife to David.
The Duke of Windsor rolled the body off the cliff and threw the silver knife far into the black waves of the Mediterranean.

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Sixty-Five

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on a mission because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Socialite Wallis Spencer, also a spy, has an affair with German Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. David becomes king. Wallis divorces, David abdicates and they marry. They fail to kill Hitler. They plan a gay Christmas on the Riviera.
The woman in dark clothes stood in the woods just beyond the tracks and watched the Blue Train disappear in the night. She hoped Wallis would soon be drinking the poisoned champagne and thereafter die. But she had to be sure. First, she had to be at the Antibes station in the morning as they made the sad announcement the Duchess of Windsor was dead. First she had to walk by the tracks to the next station, hoping to catch the last train to the coast. The cold night air didn’t bother her. She was used to winter weather and walking long distances in the frigid air if necessary. Unpleasantness could disappear if she only made her mind blank, one of the few talents the Maker had endowed her with.
As the woman saw a train pull away. She could tell it was not the legendary Blue Train. She prayed it was not the last train of the night. Hurrying to the ticket window, she asked for a ticket to the next train to Antibes.
“Antibes? Mais non, mademoiselle,” the ticket agent replied with graciousness. He told her the next train to Antibes would not leave until noon the next day.
Scheitze,” she muttered in her native tongue.
The clerk looked surprised and then smiled. He raised an open palm up to his shoulder. “Heil, Hitler.”
“Heil, Hitler.” She returned the Nazi salute.
He allowed her inside his office, offered her a seat and listened patiently to her story. She had to be in Antibes station in time to greet the Blue Train, though she failed to explain why. He nodded knowingly and offered to drive her there with no questions. By nine o’clock Christmas Eve morning she was milling with the crowd at the depot awaiting the arrival of the Blue Train.
Most of the conversation among the excited women centered on seeing the Duchess of Windsor and wondering what expensive traveling suit she would be wearing. The men mostly talked about how fortunate the community was to have such a wealthy couple own the La Croe estate. For their Christmas celebration, the Windsors had to hire several local servants to accommodate the long list of British celebrities arriving for the holiday, and all of them equally wealthy. What a boon to the local economy.
The woman in dark clothes smiled to herself, sure she easily blended in with the mass of fellow, faceless domestics scurrying about to serve their masters. She looked up when she heard the train whistle. When the Blue Train came to a stop at the boarding platform, she strained her neck to see who would exit first.
Already on the platform was a contingent from the local government, the mayor, councilmen and other dignitaries, who fairly hopped around with anticipation. The first to exit was Edward, Duke of Wales. He did not look happy, a good sign for the woman in dark clothes. The poison must have worked. The Duchess must be dead. Her hopes were quickly dashed as the Duchess stepped out on the platform wearing a fashionable gray suit with fur collar. She carried two docile, obedient cairn terriers.
Sighing, the woman turned and began her walk to La Croe on the Mediterranean coast.
After gracefully dismissing the official greeting contingency, David, Wallis and the two terriers disappeared in their limousine and began the ride to their seaside estate. Wallis leaned back.
“On the first day of Christmas, an assassin gave to me a poisoned bottle of very good champagne.” Her singing was nasal and tinny which detracted from the grim cleverness of her lyric.
David lit a cigarette. “You know he will try again.”
“The bastard. Trying to kill me on my very favorite holiday.”
Monsieur Valat telegrammed me in Versailles he had to take on several additional servants. Due to time restraints he was unable to check out all their resumes and character references. He truly groveled in print, which one would expect from an excellent concierge.”
“Well, I’m not going to let the bastard ruin my good time. I spent too much time buying presents for all the servants and wrapping them to not enjoy playing Mere Noel. I even bought extras for last-minute hirelings. I picked out the tree and ornaments which were shipped to La Croe yesterday.”
The line of servants waiting to greet the duke and duchess stretched halfway down the driveway at La Croe, every one of them, dressed in black, waved and wore hearty smiles. Once they disembarked their limousine, Wallis began to shake hands with as many servants as possible. David sought out the concierge Monsieur Valat to inform him of the situation concerning the duchess’s safety. Valat confirmed several servants had been added even as late as this morning
David looked away in thought, when he noticed the concierge’s son milling around in the crowd. He had a soft spot for the boy who reminded David of his youngest brother John who had epilepsy and died at age fourteen. David carried a deep guilt within himself. When he was a young man, he had no patience with John, at times calling him an animal. As David matured and saw more of the world he began to see his deceased brother as a hero and a person of great character and courage. Additionally, David felt John had this other-worldliness about him as he wandered around in his own world yet keenly aware of details about the people around him. Valat’s son was actually eighteen or so but deemed unemployable. When the concierge informed David his son’s name was Jean the duke’s heart was stolen. He created a job of official clock winder at a more than generous salary.
Waving Jean over, David asked the young man to watch the newly hired servants for any unusual behaviors that might indicate ulterior motives to harm anyone, particularly harm the duchess. Jean’s large brown eyes widened.
Oui, monsieur.”
“But don’t tell anyone about it, except your father and me. It will be our special secret, won’t it, Jean?”
Oui, monsieur.”
By late afternoon, their guests began to arrive. Most of them were British who remained friends with the Windsors during the abdication crisis, although David didn’t understand why anyone would truly like him unless there was something in it for themselves, a bad trait which lingered on from childhood. There were Lord and Lady Brownlow and their children, Caroline and Edward, Sir Charles and Lady Mendl and John McMullin. And, of course not to forget, the guest Wallis most anticipated, her Aunt Bessie. She had not seen her substitute mother and traveling companion for two years. Bessie’s limousine arrived last.
Aunt Bessie had trouble getting out of the car. Normally Wallis would wait until the attendants had helped the guest, but without thought she went to the old woman’s side putting her arm around Bessie’s waist. She finally got her aunt to her feet and guided her to the front door.
“It’s rather warm for Easter, isn’t it?” Bessie asked.
“It’s Christmas, dear,” Wallis whispered.
“Christmas? You must be kidding me! There’s no snow on the ground.”
“We’re in the south of France, darling. They do things differently here.”
Christmas Eve had always been Wallis’ favorite part of the holiday, which puzzled David. When he was growing up, the servants put up the Christmas tree and decorated it. Then the family, decked out in regal finery, posed in front of the tree, unsmiling, as the royal photographer took a dozen pictures all looking the same. He could not think of anything more boring.
Wallis, on the other hand, spent days in Paris picking the absolutely perfect tree for the parlor at La Croe. She coordinated the creation of the ornaments, all of them white and silver, with interior designer John McMullin, who made sure each decoration was placed in the exact right place. And at great expense both the tree and the decorations were shipped by train to their Mediterranean villa to allow the guests the pleasure of decorating it themselves Christmas Eve night.
David noticed Wallis spent most of her time supervising Aunt Bessie.
“I thought you said this was Christmas?” her aunt asked.
“It is, darling,” Wallis purred.
“But Christmas trees are supposed to red and green balls,” Bessie protested.
“I thought it would be fun to have something different.”
“Why does everything have to be different?” her aunt replied.
Wallis wrapped her arms around Bessie. “Why, Aunt Bessie, you’re the one who taught me how much fun it was to be different.”
David sat back in one of the more comfortable parlor chairs and puffed on a cigarette.
Wallis must be breaking up on the inside. Though she would never let anyone know. I envy her. I’ve watched many family members grow old and senile and never felt any sorrow for them.
He felt uncomfortable. Putting out his cigarette, David stood, went to the Brownlow children Caroline and Edward and offered to lift them so they could place a silver bauble at the top of the tree. They giggled.
More than grief for Bessie, I know Wallis sees in her aunt what will happen to her one day, and the thought terrified her.
After he returned Caroline and Edward to their parents, David walked to Wallis and patted her shoulder.
But why in hell should I care about the feelings of a fellow MI6 agent? How many times had I lectured the old agent about becoming too personal? And now I was doing the same with Wallis.

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Sixty-Four

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on a mission because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Socialite Wallis Spencer, also a spy, has an affair with German Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. David becomes king. Wallis divorces, David abdicates and they marry. They fail to kill Hitler. Ribbentrop still loves Wallis
A short dark-haired woman was the last to board the Blue Train at Calais. A quibble about her passport had delayed her crossing the border with Belgium. Such times troubled with omens of war often inconvenienced Europeans, but this particular incident troubled the woman for some reason. However, it was doubtful anyone would even have noticed her. Her clothing was dark, non-descript. Put a white apron on her, and one would assume she were a maid. She was neither too heavy nor too thin. Nothing particular about her face would draw a passerby’s attention. She had no luggage except for a small valise she hugged tight to her bosom.
In his last communique General Trotter instructed David and Wallis to have a carefree Christmas holiday close to home because MI6 reported the political climate most certainly forecasted war in the coming year. On the early evening of the Dec. 23, 1938, David and Wallis boarded the Blue Train at Versailles for Antibes with their two cairn terriers. For the sake of privacy they booked six compartments even though they planned only to use only the one in middle. That way they could discuss coming strategies without anyone overhearing a thing. Once they had settled into their compartment and the porter had put away their luggage, David and Wallis burst into giggles which was unusual for them.
“Why are we laughing?” Wallis daubed happiness tear drops from her heavily-mascaraed eyelashes.
“I suppose because we can.” David made an extra effort to contain himself because ever since his childhood he had been instructed such behavior was unbecoming.
“It’s Christmas, and for the first time in a long time, we are allowed to be children.” Even though such profound words were coming out of her mouth, she couldn’t help but smile. Wallis soon came back to serious social considerations. Looking at her watch, she said, “dinner is about to be served in the main dining car. I think we should go now, have a tray of cakes and biscuits with a bottle of champagne before retiring. I’m really dreadfully tired.”
David smiled and leaned in. “We could always be served in our compartment.”
“Now you know all the other passengers will be quite miffed if we don’t dine with them and shake all their little hands. We have a reputation to maintain.”
“But first the little ones must be attended to,” David added. He put on his overcoat and hat then lifted the terriers.
Wallis leaned back and pulled out a cigarette to light. David bussed her cheek. He knew she loved their pets as much as he did, although he suspected she resented the impression they seemed to come on a higher pecking order than she. In the corridor, David motioned to an attendant that he wanted to stretch his legs—a polite way of saying the dogs were ready to do their business.
“The train should stop every half hour or so to avoid accidents, shall we say?” he added.
Within minutes, he was walking his dogs on leashes on a grassy area beside the train. His intuition was correct: both dogs relieved themselves quickly and started back to the train. Once the duke was on board the train continued its journey southeast through the country. When David came back to the compartment he saw Wallis had changed into a sleeker dress than her traveling clothes; after all, she had her audience to consider. They left the terriers in the compartment and entered the dining car to polite applause. As was his nature, David shook hands with his left hand even though he was right handed. He took one side of the car and Wallis the other. Soon they were seated and eating their meal.
Wallis bit into a leaf of lettuce as though she were trying to kill it. “Did you see the cheek of that bitch?”
“I stuck my hand in the face of this—this woman, at least I thought it was a woman, and she ignored it. In fact she more than ignored it. She turned her head away to look out the window, like there was anything to see. Pitch black.”
“Poor little Wallis. Everyone else looked up with adoring smiles and extended their hands like they were going to touch the hem of the Pope. But one person didn’t seem interested—“
“It was more than merely non-interest.” She cut into a medium rare filet mignon with hostility. “She had a hidden agenda. Probably thinks Bertie and Elizabeth are wonderful and I’m the devil.”
David gave Wallis his rakish smile. “I shall have her arrested immediately. What color was her hair?”
“She wore a dreadful dark woolen cap.”
“What did her clothes look like?”
“Her face? Fair? Wrinkled?”
“You’re not paying attention. She turned her head away. She could have been Attila the Hun for all I know.”
“Don’t you suppose she’s just a mousey little woman returning home to her husband children after visiting her mummy, and she’s terribly shy?”
Wallis paused. “And how could such a wretchedly poor person afford to ride the Blue Train?”
“Perhaps mummy has all the money in the family and that’s why she has to visit so often, to pick up another allowance check.”
“You are such a louse.”
After the Windsors left the dining car, the other guests began to gather their things to return to their compartments. No one noticed the short woman put on her overcoat and clutch her valise as she exited to the kitchen car. She immediately put her cap, coat and valise in the servants’ closet. Before closing the door she took an apron from her coat pocket and put it on. She was now ready to disappear among the mass of servants. Amazingly, she was capable of looking busy while doing nothing. She overheard the head chef instruct one waiter to prepare a dessert cart for the royal couple to be delivered exactly at eleven o’clock.
“And it must have a chilled bottle of our finest champagne.”
Upon hearing the request, she unconsciously rubbed her hands together.
At 10:45 p.m. from a frosty window the woman watched David take his two terriers on leash for a short walk. She went to the servants’ closet to retrieve her valise and from it pulled out a filled syringe. She looked through the kitchen until she found the cart with cakes, biscuits and the bottle of champagne. She checked the note on the tray saying it was for the Windsors, looked around to make sure no one was paying attention and stuck the syringe into the cork. She threw the syringe into a kitchen garbage can, retrieved her cap, coat and valise and went back to the frosty window where she saw the duck climb back on the train with his dogs. She scurried down the stairs and disappeared in the cold night.
Feeling quite relaxed, David returned from his late night walk with the terriers just as the attendant rolled the cart into the compartment. By this time Wallis had changed into a silken night gown and robe and had arranged comfy pillows on the seat. David placed the terriers on Wallis’s lap and put away his coat and hat. The attendant pulled the cork from the champagne bottle and poured a sample into one flute and offered it to David for his approval. The duke swirled the champagne in its glass, held it to the light, sniffed it and was about to sip when he frowned and sniffed again. He extended the flute to Wallis.
“Smell this.”
She took one whiff and poured the contents into the ice bucket. The attendant’s eyes widened.
“Madame, monsieur, what is wrong?”
David reached over to retrieve the cork from the cart to examine the top of it. He motioned for the attendant to lean over.
“Do you see that?” The duke pointed to a small puncture next to the hole the corkscrew had made. “Do you know what that might be?”
“No, monsieur. I saw nothing. The cart was prepared when I brought it to your compartment.”
“Do have any idea what that might be?”
The befuddled servant shrugged. “Some kind of bug?”
“Mon dieu, I do believe he’s that stupid.” Wallis sighed in exasperation.
David continued his interrogation. “Do you know what cyanide is?”
“It’s something to kill bugs with, is it not?”
“Have you used it before?”
“Many times, monsieur.”
David lifted the champagne bottle. “Smell this.”
The attendant sniffed and dropped the bottle into the bucket. “Mon dieu, and that was our best bottle of champagne!”
Wallis lifted her bare leg and pushed the cart into the server. “I’ve lost my appetite.”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Sixty-Three

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on a mission because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Socialite Wallis Spencer, also a spy, has an affair with German Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. David becomes king. Wallis divorces, David abdicates and they marry. They fail to kill Hitler. Leon has become an expert assassin.
The Windsors spent the winter holidays in Paris cultivating a group of friends who held positions where they would be privy to sensitive government information. No one was better at pulling bits of gossip out of people than Wallis. David always leaned back in a comfy leather tufted chair puffing on a cigarette while smiling like he would rather be someplace else.
Winter slowly melted into spring which made house hunting much more entertaining. Wallis found spring in Paris enchanting, summer sweltering, autumn just shy of enchanting and winter pure hell. David usually accompanied her when inspecting houses to rent. He wanted every house to look like Fort Belvedere, which Wallis knew would be impossible to find in France. Mostly he wanted a garden to till. Gardening always relaxed him. And Wallis found herself enjoying watching him flex his muscles as he pulled weeds, hoed the soil and sawed away dead limbs.
The realty agency contacted the Windsors in late May with a place in Versailles that sounded promising. Chateau de la Maye belonged to the widow of French politician Paul Dupuy. They had met Dupuy and his wife at a New Year’s Eve celebration. Their long conversation about the coming war with Germany on the balcony of the Hotel Meurice must have exposed him to the pneumonia that killed him. David and Wallis were invited to the funeral but declined because during their conversations they discovered he was a Nazi sympathizer. They didn’t want to waste fake tears for him.
The house on the other hand, was intriguing. It featured a large garden, swimming pool, tennis courts and a nine-hole golf course, all of David’s favorite things. On the afternoon they were to tour the house, David received a phone call from the British Embassy requesting his immediate presence.
“Odd,” he told Wallis as he put on his overcoat, “I could swear the person on the phone had a slight German accent.”
“Darling, most well-bred Englishmen do.” And then she did something she rarely did—she kissed him on the lips.
She didn’t dwell on it during her limousine ride to Chateau de la Maye where the agent awaited her. Wallis knocked on the door. When it opened she stepped back. It was Joachim von Ribbentrop.
“What the hell are you doing here? Won’t Herr Hitler miss you?”
Ribbentrop flashed a smile which deepened the dimple in his chin. “He sent me personally to apologize to you for his lapse of judgment in the choo choo room when you and the duke visited.”
“Unnecessary.” Wallis brushed passed Ribbentrop.
“Herr Fuhrer hasn’t even been in the choo choo room since you left.”
“I’m here to see the house. How many bedrooms does it have?”
“Who cares?” Ribbentrop replied in breathless anticipation. “I can’t remember the last time I gave you a carnation.”
“Neither can I. By the way, when you called David saying he was needed at the embassy, you let your German accent slip in. He noticed.”
“I was excited about our rendezvous.”
“There is no rendezvous. I’m looking to rent the house.”
“I think of no one but you.”
She happened to be wearing one of her suits with a fur collar. Wallis turned her head so her eyes fluttered through the fur.
“Do you love me and adore me?”
“More than life itself.”
She smiled. “I may hold you to that someday.” Wallis looked around the room. “Lovely foyer. When will the authentic realty representative be here?”
“One hour from now.”
“In that case, we might as well go upstairs to inspect the bedrooms. What do you think?”
Ribbentrop left forty-five minutes later, which gave Wallis time to put herself back together before the real estate agent arrived.
The chateau came as furnished, which irritated Wallis. She didn’t like Madame Dupuy’s taste and was peeved she could not decorate it to her own style. Another negative was that it was in Versailles, some distance from the heart of Paris, where all the best gossip existed. She signed only a six-month lease.
Two weeks later, Wallis and David took the Blue Train to an estate near Antibes on the Mediterranean coast. It was a twelve-acre estate with a large landscaped park. Driving through the gate, visitors could not see the house, gardens and sea view until after turning a corner. The name of the villa was La Croe, and they loved the estate. It was a three-story building just waiting for Wallis to redecorate it into their own royal palace. They signed a ten-year lease, and to celebrate their good fortune, they dined at on the terrace of an Antibes cliffside restaurant. The maître‘d lead them to a table where they could enjoy the full view. On the table was a vase holding a single carnation.
They had not quite taken their first sip of champagne when Ribbentrop arrived, wearing his vanilla ice cream colored suit.
“You don’t mind if I join you?” He slid into a chair at their table before they could voice any objections. “What a pleasant surprise.”
David stared at the white carnation. “Well, at least a surprise.”
“Herr Fuhrer read you were looking for a home on the Riviera, and personally sent me on a mission to find you and apologize for the awkwardness of his farewells upon your departure.”
“Tell him to think nothing of it.” David leaned back and puffed on his cigarette.
Ribbentrop wrinkled his brow. “He also wanted to convey his apologies if you were in any way offended by the way he had—shall we say—decorated the choo choo room.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t quite remember the details of what you quaintly call the choo choo room.” David puffed on his cigarette and blew smoke through his nose.
“Herr Hitler has a whimsical sense of humor and he placed figures of you and the duchess on the balcony of Buckingham Palace dressed in the regalia of king and queen. He hoped you did not take away any untoward implications.”
David took the white carnation from the vase and sniffed it. “No scent.” He nonchalantly handed it to Wallis. “What is it you always say about white carnations, my dear?”
“Tacky. Any man worthy of romantic consideration would send a white rose.” She tossed the carnation over the balcony.

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Sixty-Two

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on a mission because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Socialite Wallis Spencer, also a spy, has an affair with German Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. David becomes king. Wallis divorces, David abdicates and they marry. They fail to kill Hitler.
“I’m scared.” The young black busboy shivered in the alley behind a Los Angeles café a little after midnight Oct. 25, 1937. He wore a suit coat over his white service jacket. “I ain’t never killed a man before.”
“I promise you won’t ever do it again.” Leon put a fedora on the boy’s head, a size too large to hide his face. Leon did the same with his own hat. Then, he handed the boy a revolver. “It has seven shots. Empty them into the man eating the lasagna. Call out his name to make him look up. That way you’ll be sure it’s him. Then run out the front door. Throw away the hat, gun and jacket, go around the building and in the back door. Don’t come out of the kitchen until the cops come for you. After they let you go, head straight to the Hot Kitty Club and I’ll give you your cut.”
“I’m scared.”
“Don’t be. I’ll be shooting too. I’ll run out and keep running.”
“But—but why are we doin’ this?”
“Don’t ask so many damn questions. The mob, they don’t like him.”
“Won’t the cops catch us? Don’t they say they always get their man?”
“They will. It just won’t be us.”
“But why me—“
“Go!” Leon pushed him into the dining room. He stood behind the boy and nudged him to say the mobster’s name. Leon didn’t want anyone to hear him speak. The boy emptied his revolver into the man. Leon shot also, but he left one bullet in the chamber. He pushed the boy toward the door, but Leon led the way out the door. When they were both on the street, Leon turned and shot him between the eyes.
With the efficiency of a professional killer, Leon stripped the boy of his jacket, gun and hat. He took off his own hat and jacket, rolled his gun and everything else together and tossed them into the shadows around the garbage cans in the alley. As he fell to his knees by the body, he put a notepad and pencil in the dead boy’s palm. Then he began howling in hysteria. People from the café and other buildings crept out. In the background police sirens wailed.
“Oh Lordy! They just killed this boy! He chased two men in coats and hats out the door. And they had guns. And they shot this poor boy! I guess they didn’t see me or else they would have shot me too! Oh Lordy! I’d be dead too!”
A couple of people from the neighborhood tried to comfort him as a police car pulled up and a sergeant got out. Several customers from the café surrounded him and started telling the story. They pointed to Leon as an eyewitness to the shooting on the street. By the time the cop got to him, Leon was spouting gibberish.
“Thank you, sir! Thank you! I gotta get home to my mama!”
Leon ran into the dark alley but stopped a few yards away, waiting for the crowds to disperse, an ambulance to take the body away and the police to leave. He grabbed his bundle and went back down the alley, crossing a couple of streets, until he found a large garbage can in which he dumped the wad. He ambled over to his hotel, the nicest in the black part of town, went to his room, bathed, changed into his white linen suit and arrived at the Hot Kitty Club.
He sat in the back of the strip club, nursing a Cuba libre, when one of the strippers, still wearing her G-string and pasties, sat on his lap.
“Les dead?”
“Yes, ma’am.”
“And the busboy?”
“Yes, ma’am.”
She took a key from her G-string and handed it to Leon. “This goes to a security box at the train station. Pick up your money and get the hell out of town tonight.”
Leon did exactly as he was told. With the heft reward he got himself a private compartment. During the three-day journey, he slept, meditated, exercised and read newspapers all the way from Los Angeles to Miami. He noticed that Los Angeles gangster Les Bruneman was shot about fourteen times about 1 a.m. by two gunman. A busboy was killed trying to get the license number of the getaway car. Underground rumors indicated he wasn’t splitting his gambling money, and the mob had him bumped. Leon smiled to himself. It wasn’t the mob. It was the organization. A job well done, he thought. By the afternoon of the third day he arrived in Miami. Leon took a small boat to Freeport where his favorite fisherman was waiting for him. He was pleased with himself. With payoffs from Biarritz and now Los Angeles he could afford to relax a while and spend time with his son. Sidney was ten-years-old but he was far more advanced than Leon was at that age. As the dock at Eleuthera appeared, he saw a crowd waiting for him.
To one side was Jessamine with her arms around Sidney. Spearheading the rest of the throng was a broad-shouldered woman who held her son in front of her as though he was evidence in an assault trial. Leon gracefully alit from the boat and headed to his family but the angry woman accosted him.
“Leon Johnson, with your fine clothes and big house, you have to face the wrath of God for raising your son to be a ruffian, leaving months at a time so he can terrorize the community!”
First Leon kissed his wife and hugged his son. Then he turned to consider what the woman had said.
“How can a ten-year-old boy terrorize a community?”
“He broke my son’s nose!”
Leon looked at Sidney and then the woman’s son who was several inches taller. “He must have been standing on a box at the time. Now why would my little boy want to hit your bigger boy?”
“That’s what I want to know!”
“Have you asked your son?”
“He’s too upset to talk about it!”
Leon turned to Sidney. “Did you hit this boy?”
Sidney wriggled free of his mother. “Yes, I hit Bobby.”
Leon smiled, “Oh, this is the Bobby I’ve heard about?” He leaned into the boy’s face. “You like to bully children, eh, Bobby?” He looked at the mother. “By the way, the nose is not broken. It’s just a little bloody.” He stared at her. “Tell me, did you raise your son to be a bully?”
“He is not a bully!” The mother huffed. “Some children get what’s coming to them, that’s all!”
“So what did Sidney have coming to him, Bobby?”
The bigger boy stuck his lower lip out. “He sounds like a girl.”
Leon stepped so close to Bobby’s mother that she took a step back. “I agree with you, madam. Some children get what’s coming to them. Now if you will step aside I want to go home with my family.”