Tag Archives: spy novel

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Forty-Six

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on his first mission 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 Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. MI6 orders David and Wallis to infiltrate a secret planning session held by Adolf Hitler.
Wallis and Ernest found themselves in the unique position of being in London at the same time a few weeks before Easter 1936, sharing breakfast in their Bryanston Court apartment in London. They split the morning edition of the Times, the society pages going to Wallis and the rest to Ernest. She read each line of social news while Ernest only gave a cursory glance at the national and international news.
“It says here Downing Street gave a constrained but determined statement concerning the German army’s invasion of the Rhineland,” he said, breaking the silence.
Wallis bit into a scone. “Now, how can a street make a statement? It’s only a street.”
“I meant the prime minister, darling.” He lowered the paper and smiled. “Sometimes I don’t know how to take your comments. I don’t know if you are marvelously uninformed—which I sincerely doubt—or you are having a laugh with me because you think I am uninformed.”
She raised her pages, covering her face. “Now why would I think that?”
The breakfast conversation stalled, as though a cloud hung over their heads. Not a rain cloud, but a cloud never the less. It didn’t bother Wallis in the least, but she could tell Ernest was uncomfortable by the way he shifted in his seat and rustled his section of the Times.
“I had a rather harsh lecture from Emerald recently.” She bit into a slice of bacon. “She fussed that you don’t attend as many of her get-togethers as you used to. I told her you had business to tend to in New York.”
Ernest lowered the paper and smiled. “Lady Cunard? Herself?”
“Of course, darling. All the ladies in our social circle are quite taken with you. I really should be jealous.”
“You shouldn’t be, you know.” His eyes fluttered. “Well, if Lady Cunard misses me, I suppose I must make an effort to be sociable. When is her next gathering?”
“She’s having a garden party at Easter.”
“Easter, eh? I think I’ll be available for that.” He paused to reflect. “I suppose you will want a new frock for the occasion.”
“Oh dear me, no. I have several suitable dresses.” Wallis cocked her head. “Anything else interesting in the news?”
She could swear she noticed a puffing up of his chest, and it actually made her feel warmly for him. After all, he was a good egg for the circumstances in which they lived.
“The RAF has announced an expansion of military aircraft.” He wrinkled his brow. “Now why would they want to do that? Germany is forbidden from having an air corps.”
“Hmm, strange, isn’t it?”
A knock at the door came at an opportune moment for Wallis. A Buckingham courier nodded to her when she opened the door and handed her an engraved envelope and a simply but elegantly wrapped box from Cartier. Coming back to the table Wallis used her butter knife to open the envelope.
“It’s from the palace. We’ve been invited to the Silver Jubilee of King George and Queen Mary reception in June.” She looked up and smiled. “Wasn’t that nice of David to think of us.”
Ernest daubed his mouth with his napkin. “Yes, it was. June, you say? I planned to spend the summer in New York, but I suppose I could delay my voyage until after the jubilee.” He glanced at the box. “And what is that?”
“Well, I must open it to find out, mustn’t I?” She used her butter knife to tear through the paper, opened it and lifted a small cross outlined in diamonds and embedded with rubies. “Oh cute. Another charm for my bracelet.”
“Cute isn’t quite the word I would use for a pastiche of diamonds and rubies.” He stood. “I must have a serious chat with David about these trinkets. I don’t mind him showering them on you, but I do resent having to pay for the insurance.”
“Oh, Ernest, don’t be dreary.” Wallis watched him walk to his bedroom. “So you don’t plan to go on holiday with the gang to Cannes in August?”
He did not turn back. “I’ll be in New York, remember?”
“Then drop in on dear sweet Mary Raffray,” she called out. “I understand she’s going through a dreadful divorce and could use all the consoling she can get.”
Ernest closed his door with a discernible thud. Wallis smiled, lit a cigarette then opened the tiny compartment in the charm.
“Monday next. Noon. The Fort.”
An overcast sky and gray atmosphere greeted Wallis when she drove a borrowed sports coupe into the front drive of Fort Belvedere. She didn’t bother to knock at the door but rather walked around the side of the house to the garden. David was involved trimming of some bushes on the far side, where the trees were taller and denser, which created convenient shadows for planning espionage.
Wallis sauntered up to David who was bent over a difficult thistle bush that didn’t want to be uprooted. She took a moment to observe how his back muscles flexed through his tight woolen sweater as he tugged on a branch.
“You’ve worked up a nice satiny sheen of sweat,” she said. “If I were so inclined I could become aroused.”
David stood and smiled. “Is that so? Remind me to go sans shirt in Cannes.”
Wallis expected him to be irritated. When he took her quip as a compliment she was nonplussed. A pebble flew from a dark corner of the woods and landed between them. Without another word they walked in that direction. Leaning against an ancient sturdy oak, General Trotter lit his pipe.
“So nice you could join me. This will only take a few minutes.”
“I assume we’re discussing our holiday in Cannes.” David took out his cigarette case and offered one to Wallis before lighting up.
“Yes.” Trotter puffed on his pipe. “As you may well know, Mussolini has designs on Ethiopia. As is his wont, Emperor Haile Selassie waxes poetic stirring up the natives to defend the homeland. However being a realist, he contacted the home office about securing a proper residence should he have to go into exile.”
“Couldn’t a good real estate agent handle that?” Wallis succumbed to boredom quickly. The general should have known that by now.
“It isn’t the exact domicile that concerns us but the means to pay for it. If he made an overt transfer of funds the morale of his troops would be directly affected. What you will facilitate is the transfer of crown jewels and other golden baubles to be held as collateral.”
“Where will this exchange take place?” David asked.
Wallis noticed his eyes remained fixed on her, and again she didn’t know whether to be peeved or pleased.
“After a few days at Cannes you will announce to your guests you want to have some alone time with Mrs. Simpson on Corsica. On a date to be determined later you will disembark the royal yacht at midnight. Waiting for you will be an Ethiopian gentleman who will hand over five small crates. The two of you will load them to the royal suite as quickly as possible. Upon your turn to Cannes you will inform your other guests they will join you on the next train to Kitzbuhel, Austria. You had so much fun there in January you wanted to return for the summer sporting season. While you and your friends are ensconced in the train, the yacht will sail for Portsmouth where our agents will retrieve the five crates and hold them awaiting the wishes of emperor Selassie.”
“How fun. I always enjoy missions that involve jewels.” Wallis cackled.

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Forty-Five

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on his first mission 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 Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. MI6 orders David and Wallis to infiltrate a secret planning session held by Adolf Hitler.
By the time Ribbentrop returned to his Berchtesgaden hotel his mind was a swirl with thoughts about the day’s events. The ungodly scream and then the abrupt crowd dismissal was bad enough but Guderian’s announcement his valet was missing sent Ribbentrop over a brink of anxiety. The missing valet was the same man who had caught his attention because of his odd behavior. Ribbentrop ordered his valet to stay behind a while to learn what had actually happened. He was certain there was some connection between the two incidents. He sat in the hotel bar waiting for his valet’s return when he noticed a solitary lady enter the lobby and go to the registration desk. It was Wallis Simpson.
“Wallis, my dear!” he called out as he stood.
She turned, looked confused a moment before smiling. Ribbentrop stopped short of embracing her but instead waited for her extended hand, which she never offered.
“Joachim. What a surprise. I thought you were still in London. How is your wife—what is her name again?”
“Please join me in a drink.” The tension in his shoulders disappeared. All he could think of was their wonderful week in Paris.
His valet came through the door and hustled toward him. “Herr Von Ribbentrop, I have the news—“
He held a palm up. “I’m busy now.”
“That’s quite all right,” Wallis said. “I must check in, settle into my suite first. And before I can even think of having a good time I must change out of my traveling clothes.”
Ribbentrop bowed, clicked his heels, took his valet by the crook of his elbow and guided him into the darkest corner of the bar. Without any hesitation, the valet leaned in and began to whisper.
“The scream was a kitchen scullery maid. She went into the meat locker. Made a horrible discovery. The naked body of a man. Gestapo agents identified him as one of the valets. He was thick around the waist, though his neck was slender. He was about five feet seven inches.”
“But Guderian’s man was taller,” Ribbentrop interrupted.
“Valets often wear lifts in their shoes to appear more imposing.”
Ribbentrop raised an eyebrow. “You’re short. You don’t wear lifts.”
“I don’t need lifts,” he defended himself. “My dignity makes me imposing.””
“Go on.”
“His hair was black and his complexion extremely fair. A checkered table cloth, one used for terrace dining, was tied around his neck. From the discoloration of his skin, the Gestapo estimated he had been dead in the locker since late last night.”
“General Guderian’s man.” Ribbentrop paused. “But we saw him all this morning at the general’s side.”
“But it could not have been him,” the valet added. “It was his murderer.”
Ribbentrop dismissed him and then leaned back in his chair to assimilate the information. He had been right. The black Irish man had to have been a spy. But who? At that moment, Wallis, now wearing a chic cocktail dress and mink edged drape, walked up.
“Am I interrupting? You look deep in thought,” she said in her nasal twang he found so fascinating.
He stood to pull out a chair. “Please have a seat.” After Wallis positioned her bottom and carelessly threw one leg over the other, Ribbentrop sat and smiled. “And what will you have to drink?”
“Champagne, of course.” Her lips slit into her famous snake-like smile. “You’re the expert. You select it.”
In a few moments the waiter delivered a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket. He expertly uncorked it, poured one glass and offered it to Ribbentrop who took it, whiffed it, took a sip then nodded. The waiter poured a glass for Wallis, bowed and walked away. They relaxed and sat back. Ribbentrop expected Wallis to take the lead in conversation. She usually did, but this time she just drank and stared into his eyes.
“So. Are you on holiday?” he asked.
“Unfortunately. I don’t know why I bother to go skiing. I never advance beyond the baby slope. But the Grand Hotel in Kizbuhel is fabulous.”
“Kitzbuhel is in Austria. This is Germany.”
She rolled her eyes. “The forecast for the weekend was a snowstorm, so I escaped to a haven where there would be some other color than white. The sky in Berchtesgaden is a glorious blue.”
“And where is the prince?” Ribbentrop loved playing cat and mouse with a fascinating woman.
“Which prince? Europe is hag-ridden with princes.”
“And why would you think I’d know where he is?”
“I read the newspapers.”
She smiled and sipped her champagne. “Oh dear. And we thought it was a secret.”
They stared at each other until Wallis started laughing. Ribbentrop chuckled as he lifted the champagne bottle from the ice bucket.
“Thank you. I don’t mind if I do.” She extended her glass so he could fill it.
“David’s off to Vienna to arrange waltz lessons for us next week. First he forces me onto the slopes and then on the dance floor. I think he’s trying to turn me into an athlete.”
“Well, you are, aren’t you—an athlete, I mean.”
“Why, sir, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The game grew exasperating for Ribbentrop. He wasn’t used to being out-maneuvered by a woman in conversation. He cleared his throat. “Aren’t you interested in why I am in Berchtesgaden?”
“Come now, you’re going to hurt my feelings.”
Wallis pulled a cigarette from her purse and leaned forward so he could light it. “Berchtesgaden is the home of Hitler’s palace so I imagine you’re paying him homage.”
“It isn’t a palace.” He was pleased he could be in a position of advantage finally.
“Whatever it is, you’ve been there today, haven’t you? You’re not here for the blue sky.”
Ribbentrop reached across the table to squeeze her hand. “You make me mad with desire. You know that, don’t you, Wallis?”
“Not tonight, darling,” she purred. “I’m simply exhausted. Now if you plan to be around tomorrow night, well, that’s another story.”
He did convince her to be his guest for dinner, but the conversation didn’t rise above Wallis’s witty description of the royal wedding of George and Marina. She wouldn’t even let Ribbentrop escort her to her door. He returned to the bar for a drink stiffer than champagne before retiring to his own room. He began reading Hitler’s Rhineland memorandum. Sleep overtook him before he finished the first page. His valet, true to his vow of dignity, roused him early the next morning so that Ribbentrop would be the first delegate in the Wolf’s Lair conference room.
The prospect of an evening with the tempestuous Mrs. Simpson fogged his mind as the meeting began, even though Hitler’s topic was engrossing: the creation of a new German air force.
“The Treaty of Versailles forbade Germany from military aviation.” He paused, placed his hands behind his back and bounced on the balls of his feet. “The leaders of the defeated Germany agreed to such terms, but I–Adolf Hitler—did not agree to anything!”
The room erupted into applause as all of the participants stood in righteous joy. Ribbentrop noticed another valet was standing by General Guderian this morning. Hitler allowed the display to continue until the men finally returned to their seats.
“In 1926 Lufthansa Airline was founded.” Hitler held up his hands in innocence. “No one could object to a private company for travel whose object solely was to make money. But—“He stuck his right index finger into the air. “—the very same pilots trained for the airline are now prepared to become ace military aviators!”
Again the crowd applauded. This time he waved them down.
“I am announcing the creation of the Luftwaffe to you gentlemen, but steps to bring it to total fruition will not be announced to the world for many, many months. Surprise! Surprise, sirs, will be the secret weapon of the Third Reich!”
Ribbentrop almost didn’t rise for the third round of ovation. He was much too obsessed contemplating the ways Mrs. Wallis Simpson would earn her new white carnation that night.

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Forty-Four

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on his first mission 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 Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. MI6 orders David and Wallis to infiltrate a secret planning session held by Adolf Hitler.
January 1935 Berchtesgaden had clear skies and brisk, bracing air filled with promises of glory. Joachim von Ribbentrop stood on this same hotel balcony when Hitler first sent for him. At that time the Fuhrer’s chalet was small and modest; now it was a full blown mountain mansion with broad terraces bordered by massive stone walls. His position of chief foreign affairs adviser assured him a role at every major planning session; and, from what he could discern from the contents of the communiques on today’s conference, this meeting would determine the course and momentum of the Third Reich.
His chauffeur knocked on the door, escorted him downstairs to the limousine and drove him to the Wolf’s Lair, which Hitler had christened his reinvented chalet. Upon arrival he entered a main hallway filled with bustling maids, manservants and soldiers, each with an important task essential to the destiny of Germany. One older, balding man, dressed in black slacks, white shirt and a silver stripped vest, approached Ribbentrop to inform him he would be his personal valet during the two-day gathering.
As he settled into his seat he looked around the room and felt honored to be included in such an august body. Hermann Goring, an air hero from the first Great War, sat across from him. Rumor in the hall was that Goring would be the commander in chief of the new air force. Next to him sat General Heinz Guderian, considered a brilliant armored division strategist. Propaganda Minster Joseph Goebbels created a stir when he marched into the room. Each had a valet at his side waiting to satisfy his slightest need.
Voices in the room rumbled when the door opened and Adolf Hitler himself entered, holding several brown folders. Everyone stood, saluted and shouted, “Heil Hitler,” repeatedly until the Fuhrer motioned to stop and be seated. One valet caught Ribbentrop’s attention, the one by the side of General Guderian. Like all the others he extended his arm in salute but his hand did not make it past the tip of his slender, pointed nose.
Hitler stood at a podium at one end of the table, opened his first folder and clasped his hands behind his back while he stared at the papers. No one could grab the attention of an audience better than Hitler, so Ribbentrop was curious why Guderian’s valet seemed to look down or across the room rather than at their national leader.
“I stand here today,” Hitler began, enunciating each word with distinction and determination, “to declare the Treaty of Versailles to be the single most vile document to be written since the beginning of modern times!”
Once more the guests stood, saluted and sang out, “Seig heil!” Except for the valet who seemed more intent on scratching his nose, Ribbentrop observed.
“We are gathered this day to outline the dismantling of that instrument of evil. As just, prudent men we must realize such an undertaking must be done in small, discreet steps, each explained in such plain, common sense language that no reasonable government could object.”
The valet in reality stifled a yawn. Ribbentrop was infuriated. He leaned forward to take a better look at him. At first appraisal, the man did not seem to be that large, but as Ribbentrop compared his height to the other valets, he was tall, at least six feet. His shoulders were narrow but his waist bulged at bit. The valet’s hair was coal black which contrasted starkly with his skin. From this distance he could not determine his eye color, but the man appeared to look like what the British called black Irish.
“Our first step will be the reinstatement of military conscription,” Hitler continued. “We will simply tell the world Germany will not be denied the right to defend itself from its former enemies–Great Britain and France. Nothing in the Treaty of Versailles keeps them from attacking, and we refuse to bow as slaves to any nation.”
Again the room erupted in applause. Even the valets shouted their approval. Except Guderian’s man. Why didn’t anyone else notice what Ribbentrop saw? Then again, why would anyone else notice, he admitted to himself. Perhaps if he were not conflicted by his divided loyalty between the Nazis and the organization he would not have picked up on the man’s eccentricities.
“Always, always, we will tell the world: Germany only wants peace. None of us means to threaten anybody. We disarm our critics by making them look like liars for accusing us of dismantling their little, meaningless treaty.”
Of course General Guderian didn’t notice his valet’s insolence. The man stood behind the general’s back. Ribbentrop forced himself to return his full attention to the Fuhrer or he might be accused of insolence himself.
Hitler looked down and chuckled. “I don’t know if any of you have ever noticed a little trick of mine. I always make my most audacious statements on the future of Germany’s return to world dominance on a Saturday. The newspapers usually have nothing to print on weekends so they spread my word for me. By Monday or Tuesday, I reaffirm my true allegiance to the cause of peace which then makes the newspapers look foolish.” He chuckled again. “I really amuse myself sometimes.”
During luncheon, Ribbentrop whispered to his valet try to make conversation with Guderian’s man, the one who looked black Irish. As the officials returned to the conference room, his valet made his report.
“I spoke several moments to the man. Very friendly. He even offered me a cigarette,” the valet said.
“Anything suspicious about the man?” Ribbentrop asked.
“The way he talked.”
“What do you mean?”
“His German.”
“What? Was he illiterate?”
“No. He didn’t make any mistakes at all. And I couldn’t tell what region he came from. It was like he was a damn grammar school teacher.”
“Hmm.” Ribbentrop wrinkled his brow. “How old was he? From here it looked like he was trying to look older than he was.”
“No. He looked like late thirties, maybe early forties. His hair looked like it was dyed, but that is not unusual for a man his age.”
Hitler resumed his discourse in the afternoon with the announcement his intention to take the Rhineland back from Austria.
“During luncheon your valets were handed a memorandum outlining my rationale for asserting German sovereignty over this region which has been traditionally accepted as Germanic in character. They will now pass them out to you. Read it. Memorize it. Put it into your own words. As you deal with representatives of the other European powers, you must impress upon them the common sense of our actions.”
A woman’s voice, thunderously tenor in nature, echoed throughout the building. It rang out like a siren for what seemed like several minutes until she had to pause to pant and gag. Another round of shrieks began, interrupted with ungovernable hysterics. The outburst in due course ended with gagging and vomiting.
Hitler’s bodyguards hurried him out of the room while the other officials milled around, much like sheep in need of a shepherd. Eventually they wandered into the foyer, breaking into small groups to whisper about what caused the scream. Within a few minutes, a black-uniformed officer appeared at the top of the stairs, jutted out his jaw, stared out over the crowd and waited for the muttering to stop, which it did.
“Gentlemen, security has been breached. The Fuhrer’s personal staff has decided to cancel tonight’s formal dinner. You shall return to your hotels until the Wolf’s Lair has been thoroughly searched and declared safe. At that time you will be notified if the second day of the conference will continue as scheduled.”
“But I am accommodated here at the chalet!” Goering called out.
“You must leave. It is the wish of the Fuhrer,” the officer stated. “Your valet will be allowed to go to your room to retrieve anything you will need for an overnight hotel stay.”
“Even Herr Hitler has left the premises.” The officer raised his voice to drown out Goering’s objections.
“But my valet is missing,” Guderian announced in frustration.
“That is none of my concern.”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Forty-Three

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on his first mission 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 Wallis saves Prince George from scandal in Paris and introduces him to his future wife.
A couple of months into the burgeoning courtship, David invited George, Marina, brother Bertie and his wife Elizabeth to Fort Belvedere for a weekend of skating on the frozen pond. Wallis and Ernest joined in just for laughs. And for a hint of self-styled respectability, Thelma Furness served as hostess for the gang. The most fun part of the activities was when they actually put on skates and ventured out on the ice. It was at that moment most of them realized they didn’t realize they didn’t know how to skate. The best they could do was fall on their asses with great aplomb. Wallis described the scene as “a scream” and Ernest couldn’t keep from giggling.
After a while, David and Wallis escorted Marina up to the terrace where the servants had hot chocolate. From there they could observe the activities on the ice. David and Wallis had previously outlined how to enlighten the Greek princess about her suitor. David thought best to let Wallis do all the talking.
“The main thing is that you are having fun.” Wallis pressed her thin lips into a smile that surprisingly passed as sincere. “You are having fun, aren’t you, Marina, darling?”
Marina removed her woolen cap and shook out her long, black hair. “Of course, I’m having fun. I’m with George, aren’t I?”
They looked out at the pond where the young prince seemed to be the only one able to stay on his feet for any amount of time.
“He looks bilious, don’t you think?” Marina asked.
“I suppose,” Wallis replied in vague agreement.
“It’s his sea-sickness. He probably can’t get over the fact he’s on water, even though most of it’s frozen solid,” Marina said.
“So you know about that already?” David felt secure in throwing out his question.
“Oh yes. There’s very little I don’t know about George by now.”
“Hmm. I see.” Wallis paused and narrowed her eyes. “You may have heard certain rumors about George. How would you react if I told you most of them are true?”
Marina loosened her scarf. “Mrs. Simpson, you must remember I am Greek. For centuries the topic of some of those rumors was called Greek love. Hardly anything startles me. I was there when my grandfather the king was murdered. Matters of alcoholism, drug abuse, sexuality pale in comparison to what I have lived through.” She reached over to pat Wallis’s arm. “I know what I am getting into, and I’m confident I will save George from himself.” Lifting an eyebrow, Marina added, “Any other questions?”
Wallis pursed her lips. “If I don’t watch it, I think I could fall in love with you myself.”
David, pleased with the outcome of the discussion, looked out at the pond. “I see Bertie and Elizabeth have finally given up and are coming for hot chocolate.”
Wallis turned to the princess. “The next question is do you think you can abide the duchess’s high whimpering voice?” She took on a quivering falsetto. “Don’t you think Lillibet and Meg are adorable?”
What she didn’t realize was that the couple were closer than she thought, and they heard the imitation.
“Lillibet and Meg are adorable,” Elizabeth announced. “Now where is the chocolate? I’m chilled to the bone.”
Marina quickly busied herself adjusting her scarf over her mouth.
Despite Wallis’s inappropriate behavior, the romance between George and Marina grew through the spring and summer. David was pleased to share with Wallis over tea at Bryanston Court in late August—when Ernest was on a business trip to New York, of course—that George officially proposed to Marina when they went to Yugoslavia on holiday with her sister Olga and her husband Prince Paul. The wedding was set for November 1934. MI6 congratulated David and Wallis on a job well done.
David actually manipulated his parents into inviting the Simpsons not only to the Westminster wedding but also to the palace ball preceding the nuptials. He insisted it would be bad for relations with the United States to rebuff such a prominent American businessman as Ernest Simpson and his wife. On the night of the gala, David went to Bryanston Court to escort the couple to Buckingham. Before they left, he pulled out a box from Cartier.
“You don’t mind if I give your wife a trinket to commemorate the occasion, do you?” He smiled in Peter Pan innocence.
“Of course not,” Ernest replied as he beamed. A shadow crossed his face. “Um, who’s paying for the insurance?”
“Oh, Ernest, don’t be dreary.” Wallis opened the box to find a multi-diamond faceted charm bracelet adorned by a single cross embedded with emeralds. “How lovely. Would it be gauche to wear it both to the ball and the wedding?”
“My dear, when did it ever bother you to be gauche?” Ernest laughed, took the bracelet from the box and placed it on her wrist.
The ball was charming. David found himself dancing with Wallis too much during the evening even though Ernest didn’t seem to mind. He even stared at her during the ceremony at Westminster Abby. He had deliberately ordered a prominent seating for the Simpsons in the front of the church. By the way Wallis shifted in her pew David knew she was bored. He didn’t know why that amused him so much. When she began to fidget with her new charm bracelet, David cocked his head. She must find the secret compartment with the note soon. She did. Wallis opened the tiny note and squinted.
“Dec. 30. Anne Hathaway’s cottage.”
He wondered how she would react to the instructions from MI6. She wadded the note and stuck it in her mouth. A moment later he saw her large Adam’s apple bob. Wallis leaned into Ernest to whisper something witty. True to his fashion, he giggled loud enough to echo through the vaulted ceiling of the ancient church. Fortunately the choir was singing at the moment, and no one else seemed to notice.
A little more than a month later, David, wearing a dark toupee and a fake beard, meandered through the home of William Shakespeare, not bothering to listen to the drone of the tour guide’s lecture. He looked down when he felt a hand in his coat pocket. Glancing around he saw nobody who might have been the perpetrator. He reached in to retrieve a note, and read it:
“Stratford Tea House. 1 p.m.”
When he arrived at the appointed hour, David spied Wallis sitting at a back table tapping her fashionable high heeled shoe. She was bored again. He joined her and ordered a cup of tea. Soon General Trotter slipped in the backdoor and joined them.
“Hitler is on the move,” he whispered.
“As Anne Hathaway often said,” Wallis quipped, “no shit Shakespeare.”
David smiled. “I think the proper dirty joke is no—“
“Please, we’re talking national security here,” Trotter interrupted. “We have it on the best authority that Joachim von Ribbentrop is leaving on New Year’s Eve for Germany.”
“So?” David sounded insolent.
“Please.” Wallis was equally impudent. “Joachim would never leave town on one of the most important social evenings of the year.”
“Exactly.” Trotter lit his pipe. “He’s already booked lodgings in Berchtesgaden. We also have sources in Berlin that Hitler has informed his staff that he will extend his Christmas holiday and not return until late January.”
“Do we know what Hitler is planning?” David asked.
“The Treaty of Versailles included several prohibitions on German military, any one of which Hitler is intent on breaking,” Trotter explained.
“Of course,” David agreed.
“Where is Joachim staying? I may get another white carnation,” Wallis asked in a business tone.
David felt himself becoming irritated. “You’ve mentioned those damned white carnations before. What the hell does that mean?”
“None of your damn business.” Wallis lit a cigarette.
Trotter looked out the tea house window and smiled.

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Forty-Two

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails in his first mission 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 Wallis saves Prince George from scandal in Paris.
Across Paris from the Ballet Russe, David and his brother George knocked at the door of a small apartment in the Bois de Boulogne section of town, known for its bohemian artists. Not too shabby because most of the artists had wealthy relatives who supplemented their incomes so that they wouldn’t have to live next door to the truly starving artists.
When the door opened, David was pleasantly surprised. Little Marina was not quite as mousy as he and George remembered her to be. She had a long, pale face with distinctive features of both her Greek and Danish heritage which made for a remarkable visual impact. And, of course, Marina spoke perfect English. All European royalty knew if they wanted their children to marry into British royalty, they would have to speak English. She smiled, curtsied and invited them in. Her smile was askew, which David found charming.
“You’ve grown into a lovely woman from the last time I saw you,” David said, appraising her with his squinty eye.
“I’m happy you remember me at all.” She led them to a small parlor where her father Prince Nicholas was preparing cocktails. “I borrowed my sister’s best gown for the last occasion we met, and I didn’t think I made any impression.” Without allowing David to reply, Marina turned to George and extended her hand. “And you, Prince George, are as handsome as ever.”
“So they tell me.” He lightly kissed her hand, looked up at her face and winked.
“As you may well know, my father is an artist. I understand you have artistic leanings too, George.”
Nicholas approached the Brothers Royale with martinis on a tray. “Since my father the king of Greece was assassinated a few years ago we’ve been living in impoverished exile. Fortunately, my other two daughters have married well, so we don’t have to worry about them anymore. I don’t do badly with my painting but I don’t delude myself about my talent. I think many people get a giggle from telling friends the picture on the wall was painted by Greek royalty.”
The four of them enjoyed their drinks until Grand Duchess Elena appeared in the dining room door to announce, “Dinner is served. I hope you don’t mind beef stroganoff and Caesar salad. I’m most comfortable cooking Russian food, since I’m part Russian.”
Nicholas put his hand on David’s shoulder, as well he should since he was just as royal as David. “We’re all a mélange, aren’t we, the royal families of Europe? I think we’re related.”
Marina slipped her arm around George’s elbow and leaned in. “Hmm. You smell divine. What cologne is that?”
On their train to Cherbourg the next day, all George could talk about was Marina. He continued to lavish his praises upon her on the ship across the English Channel. David was relieved. It would not prove as difficult to guide his brother to the altar as he once feared. Within a month Marina arrived in London on an extended visit with her sister Olga and her husband Prince Paul of Yugoslavia. They stayed at the Claridge Hotel in Mayfair. David decided the press would be more intrigued in the budding romance by witnessing its inception at a social gathering in London. That way the press could chronicle the entire road to nuptials. No mention was to be made of the dinner in Paris. David made one of his now frequent drop-in visits to Bryanston Court for tea with the Simpsons. He knew Ernest was away tending to business in New York, so it was tea with Wallis alone.
“Princess Marina is in town,” he murmured. “We need an official non-family person to introduce her to George.”
“God, I hope you don’t mean me,” Wallis retorted.
David felt a tingle every time she spoke to him with disrespect, and he could not figure out why he liked it. This was not the time that subject entered his mind so he chose to ignore it.
“Perhaps you could suggest to Lady Cunard to invite Marina to one of her dinners when George is sure to show up.”
“Maud would love it.”
“Emerald Cunard. Try to keep up, darling. She started out life in San Francisco as Maud Burke, but when she reeled in Lord Bache Cunard she changed her first name to Emerald.” Wallis fluttered her eyes. “Perhaps she wanted to seem Irish, I suppose.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“David, the things you don’t know would fill a book. Anyway, this idea of the Cunard dinner party is ripe with possibilities. Maud flirts with Nazis, and she’s sure to invite Hitler envoy Joachim von Ribbentrop also. It’s always a good idea to encourage contacts with Herr Hitler, don’t you think?”
The Cunard ploy worked better than David had hoped. Both George and Marina were entertained by the notion they were being introduced for the first time. To eliminate any suggestion of the Windsor family hand in the gambit, David did not attend the affair. Wallis and Ernest of course attended, and she reported back to David the success of the evening. She expected another white carnation soon. Whatever that meant, David had no idea.

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Forty-One

Previously in the novel: Mercenary Leon fails in his first mission 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. Ribbentrop aligns himself with both Hitler and the “organization.”
David knocked at the door of George’s suite at the Majestic hotel in Paris in the fall of 1933 when the heat had subsided and the trees had taken on shades of auburn and beige.
“Open up, George, it’s me.”
A light-hearted voice called out, “George Gershwin is down the hall!”
“This is not funny. Let me in,” David demanded.
George opened the door wearing a tuxedo and a goofy grin. “Make it fast. I have to be at the Ballet Russe in an hour.”
“No, you’re not.” David pushed him back into the suite and closed the door. Placing his palms on each side of George’s face, he peered into his brother’s eyes. They were clear, but not entirely intelligent by nature. “Thank God you’re not on the drugs again.”
“I take offense at that.” George pulled away, stepped to the closet and reached for his overcoat and top hat. “Now if you please I have a friend who has the starring role in Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird.”
“He’s not your friend.” David grabbed George’s shoulder before he could take the coat from a hanger. “Buckingham Palace received a letter from him last week asking for a princely sum not to reveal he’s bedded you several times in the last few weeks. He says he has engraved cigarette cases and lighters to prove it.”
“I don’t believe it.” He looked at his brother and blinked. “Boris isn’t like that.”
“Yes, he is.” David paused. “How would I know about the gifts you gave him, if not from him. Who introduced you?”
George looked away. “Kiki.”
“I rest my case. Don’t dismay. I have a charming evening planned for you. Get your hat and coat. We’re going to the small but respectable apartment of the deposed king of Greece and his family,” David informed him.
“Good God, what have I done to deserve that?” He raised his eyebrow. “I withdraw the question.”
Growing impatient, David went to the closet and took the hat and coat out himself and handed them to George. “They have a lovely daughter, Marina—“
“That mousey thing?” his brother interrupted.
“She is not mousey,” David corrected him as he opened the door and pushed George through. “She just doesn’t have the proper funds to buy the right clothes and have her hair fixed.” They went to the elevator and pushed the down button. “Oh. And be nice about the food. I understand the queen cooks it herself.”
After the elevator door closed, George groused, “Boris still has the cigarette cases and lighters. What are you going to do about that?”
“Don’t worry about it.” David smiled. “They’ll be back in your possession by morning. And that dancer will never bother you again.”

Wallis sat in the front row of the Ballet Russe yawning with boredom as she waited for the curtain to rise on The Firebird. She had never liked that ballet much. She preferred movies. And she didn’t care for the way she was dressed. Wallis wore a platinum blond wig, bobbed. Her eye shadow was blue and her lipstick black. Her hands, decorated with a bluish black fingernail polish, held a red patent leather clutch. The filmy magenta dress barely covered her skinny little bottom. She fit in with the style of les annees folles or the crazy years. It was all right for Josephine Baker but not for her. She preferred a more lady-like fashion. Of course, she was not a lady, but she was trying to be. The seat next to her was empty. She was waiting for Kiki Preston to arrive. Minutes before curtain, Kiki, also dressed in a dramatically short dress, plopped into the seat.
“Kiki, darling! I’m so please to see you!” Wallis lowered her voice and tried to hide her Maryland twang.
Kiki frowned. “Do I know you?”
“Of course, you do!” She grabbed Kiki’s little hand in a tight grip which made the girl wince. “I’ve always wondered. Do you pronounce it Keekee or Kickee?” Wallis kicked her calf, which caused the surprised woman to wince again.
“Why did you do that?” Kiki asked as she tried to pull her hand away.
Wallis dug her nails into Kiki’s palm. Leaning in, she whispered, “Take my advice. Leave right now, and never see George or the Russian dancer again.”
“But Boris and I have a date tonight.”
Wallis tightened her grip. “No, you don‘t.”
Kiki bit her bottom lip to keep from crying.
“If you stay in that chair, you will die in that chair. The custodians will find your lovely body intact except for a nasty needle mark behind your right ear.” Wallis slapped Kiki’s ear with Kiki’s own hand. “Do you understand me?”
Without another word, Kiki stood. Wallis grabbed her wrist.
“Oh, and by the way, tell Princess Stephanie to mind her own damned business.”
Kiki raced from the auditorium as the lights lowered and the orchestra began the overture. The curtain raised, and soon the corps de ballet entered. Boris made an impressive entrance as he bounded, as though free of gravity, across the stage.
“My God,” Wallis muttered, “why do all those dancers have to be so damn skinny?”
After the performance, Wallis made her way backstage and found Boris’ dressing room. Without knocking, she opened the door to find him naked, his skinny body glistening in sweat.
“Oh. I hoped to find you this way,” she announced as she stepped in and closed the door behind her. “Kiki sends her regrets. She had a crushing engagement and couldn’t make it.” Before Boris could say anything she embraced him and planted a kiss on his shocked lips. She pulled away and smiled. “No dinner. Let’s go straight to your apartment.”
Boris fumbled as he put on his street clothes, he asked, “Excuse me, who are you?”
“The best night you’ve ever had.”
He quickly finished, putting on his overcoat, throwing a scarf around his neck and putting a smart fedora on his head. Wallis snatched it away and put it on her own bewigged head.
“I’ll wear that.”
After they arrived at his small apartment near the Moulin Rouge, Wallis pushed him on the bed. “Make yourself comfortable.” She looked around. “Where do you keep your booze?”
His mouth agape, Boris pointed to the dresser. Wallis poured a splash of bourbon in two small glasses, adding a white powder to the one intended for her dancer friend. After he drank it, he passed out. When he awoke an hour later, Wallis had stripped him naked and tied his hands and feet to the bedframe. She straddled him.
“My, this brings back memories of Uncle Sollie.”
“Who?” Boris twisted his wrists in the bindings. “What are you doing?” he yelled.
“Shut up and listen. While you’ve been napping, I’ve been a busy girl. First I got you trussed up like a turkey, then I went through all your drawers and found these little trinkets.” She held up the cases and lighters. “With love from George.” She paused. “Are there any more?”
When he didn’t reply, she slapped his face.
Boris’ eyes widened. “No! No, that’s all.”
“Are you sure, Boris? I don’t like liars.” She slapped him again.
“Please believe me.” He began to cry. “That’s all.”
“I don’t like babies either.” She opened her red patent leather clutch and pulled out a long hat pin. Wallis leaned over and grabbed between his legs, inserting the hat pin.
He wailed in a high pitched yelp.
“You sound like a little girl.”
“I am a little girl,” he whimpered.
“At least you’re honest.” She withdrew the pin. “Stay away from George, or else you’ll get more than the pin next time. Do you understand?’
“Yes, ma’am.”
“Tell your agent you want to go on a world tour. For a long time. Skip London.”
“Yes, ma’am.”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Forty

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 asks Ernest’s permission to have an affair with Wallis.
Joachim Von Ribbentrop was full of himself in spring of 1933. His own dining room had been the scene of a historical event in January. He was responsible for bringing German State Secretary Otto Meissner and German Chancellor Hindenburg’s son to his home in the exclusive Dahlen district of Berlin to dine with Adolph Hitler and Hermann Goering. Somewhere between the entrée and dessert they persuaded the government officials it would be best for the country if Hindenburg stepped aside to allow Hitler to become chancellor. To reward Ribbentrop, Hitler appointed him chief advisor of foreign affairs. His primary job was to sway wealthy, influential Englishmen to exert their influence in Parliament to craft a sense of rapprochement with the new Nazi government.
To fulfill his obligation of persuasion of the English upper crust toward the rising Nazi régime, Ribbentrop returned to his posh suite at the Ritz Hotel on Piccadilly across from Green Park and down the street from Buckingham Palace. On one particular evening, he sipped on his wine and surveyed his elegant parlor filled with impressive guests—Lord and Lady Londonderry, Duke of Westminster, Lady Oxford, Lady Emerald Cunard, all drawn in by his secret weapon, Princess Stephanie of Austria. She had been unsuccessful in reeling in the Prince of Wales but more effective in convincing major members of the nobility to support Hitler. As usual, a group of sophisticated young gentlemen surrounded her at the party.
A tap on the shoulder brought Ribbentrop out of his thoughts. When he turned he saw a respectable looking man in his forties properly dressed for the occasion with flawless posture and manner. He had sandy hair, undistinguished facial features yet not unpleasant. This was a person he could meet on the street the next day and not recognize. He must be from the organization.
“I am so pleased you invited me to your party.” The voice was in the baritone range, not too high to contrast with his appearance, nor too deep which might impress too many people as commanding. Perfectly pleasant but not memorable.
“No, it is I who is pleased you could attend.” Ribbentrop bowed and clicked his heels.
“Might I have a word with you in private?”
“Of course.” He looked around the crowded parlor. “Perhaps in my bedroom upstairs.”
The man smiled but shook his head. “No, it would be obvious to your guests we were missing. I have always found the best place to discuss secrets is in the middle of chaos.”
“I beg your pardon?”
He took Ribbentrop’s elbow to guide him across the room. In a voice loud enough to be heard by the closest guests but still not enough to draw attention, he said, “You know my family is quite well known as international restaurateurs. I’ve always been fascinated by a well-run kitchen. May I inspect yours?”
They were half-way through the dining room door when Ribbentrop replied, “Oh yes. Of course.”
Anna Ribbentrop stopped in the middle of fussing about the table to stare at them.
“My dear,” her husband said with a grin, “you know our beloved friend. You remember him. His family owns half of the best restaurants in the world.”
“Oh. Yes. Of course. How are you? I don’t mean to be rude but I must finished with the details of dinner. Our guests must be absolutely famished.”
“Of course, madame. I simply wanted to see your kitchen. It must be state of the art.” He pushed Ribbentrop to the kitchen door. When they entered, the noise of the cooks and assistants was deafening. They edged their way through. “I’m particularly fascinated by a well-stocked pantry.”
Ribbentrop glanced around the kitchen like it was his first time there, which it was. He stopped a short, plump balding man carrying a stack of dishes. “Where’s the pantry?”
“I’m just part-time help, guv’ner. How the hell am I supposed to know?”
Flustered, Ribbentrop momentarily slipped into a German accent. “Unt how can you call yourself a proper servant unt not know vhere ze pantry is?”
The old man set the dishes down on the sink counter and waved his hand behind him. “Down that hall.” He rushed away.
With a shrug of his shoulders Ribbentrop resumed his proper British accent he had spent years perfecting. A few steps away was the open door to the pantry. “Here it is, my dear friend.”
Inside they stood in the furthest corner. The man smiled.
“I want to congratulate on your rise in the German government.”
He bowed and clicked his heels again. “Thank you.”
“Our mutual friends think this arrangement can work to everyone’s advantage. To have the ear of the most powerful dictator in the world is a desirable asset, don’t you think?” He did not wait for Ribbentrop’s reply. “My friends think we can share information, carry out certain missions the Third Reich would not necessarily want emblazoned with its imprimatur, if you know what I mean.”
“I think I do.”
“And, of course, the Third Reich has the financial resources to make anything happen. We can make sure they do happen.”
“Gangway, gents,” a charwoman barged between them. “I’ve got to find me mop. Her ladyship just spilt some wine and don’t want her guests to see it.”
“Well, you know Herr Hitler and I share the friendship of Princess Stephanie, and she is very persuasive.”
The charwoman bumped Ribbentrop with her bucket as she left, which made him remember why he hated the common rabble of London so much.
“And she is not receiving funds as regularly from the Austrians as she once was,” the man added.
“Who?” Ribbentrop had lost his train of thought because of the rude interruption of the charwoman.
“Princess Stephanie.”
“Oh, yes. Proceed.”
The short balding man stepped inside the door. “Sorry. Need a fag.” He pulled out a cigarette and began to light it.
“Well, take your fag somewhere else!” Ribbentrop hissed.
“I hate hoity-toity types,” the old man muttered as he walked down the hall.
“We can also get the services of Kiki Preston if we need her,” Ribbentrop offered.
The sandy-haired man shook his head. “Too unreliable. We could probably have Stephanie use her indirectly to incite a scandal of some sort, but Kiki can never know anything about our mutual friends.”
The charwoman appeared in the door. “The missus wants you in the dinin’ room, fellas. Time to eat.”
As they followed her through the kitchen, Ribbentrop whispered to his companion, “Such people. Stupid. Uncomprehending. Inconvenient.”
Anna stopped her husband before they entered the dining room to murmur, “Aren’t they wonderful?”
“Who’s wonderful?”
“The old couple I hired to help with the dinner tonight.”
“The Cockneys? They’re terrible!”
“No! They took charge! Solved every problem before it became a problem! I want to hire them full time!”
“What?” Ribbentrop was horrified. “No! I will not have those low class rabble serving my guests!”
“They won’t serve the meal. They will keep the kitchen and the household organized.” Anna was more subdued now but intensely resolved. “You have always told me I am in charge of the household. And I insist on hiring these people.”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Thirty-Nine

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 asks Ernest’s permission to have an affair with Wallis.
A cloud hung over Leon’s hacienda on Eleuthura even though the Bahamian sky was clear and the sun was relentless in its heat. Inside, his mother Dotty was about to die. When he returned from his assignment in New York a year ago, she complained her left breast had development a knot under the nipple and it hurt. When Leon insisted she go to the hospital in Freeport, Dotty refused, saying it would cost too much. Now her breast was black and shriveled, her body was cadaverous and her eyes hollow.
Jessamine, as a good dutiful daughter-in-law, wiped her brow with a cold, wet cloth. Sidney, now eight years old, held his father’s hand and stared solemnly at his grandmother. Leon knew this day would come when she refused to go to the hospital. He understood she would die the way she had lived, and she had lived a long, satisfying life.
“Sidney, go say good-bye to Granny Dotty,” he said in a muted tone.
“Yes, father.”
Sidney walked to the other side of the bed, stroked her hair and whispered, “Don’t worry, Granny Dotty, we will be together again someday. And you can introduce me to Grandpa Jed.”
Dotty waved for him to bend over and cradled his head in her skeletal arms. “You are a good boy,” she whispered. “Be like your father, and I will smile down on you.”
“Yes, ma’am.”
She let go of him and turned to smile at Jessamine. “Thank you for being so good to my son, for being a good mother to my grandson.” Dotty reached for her hands and held them. “I leave them in your care.”
Tears streamed down Jessamine’s cheeks. Dotty took the cloth from her hands and wiped it across Jessamine’s face. She looked up at her son.
“I want to lie in my garden.”
“Mother, the sun is bright today. It is too hot.”
“Yes, it will be warm, but only for a little time longer.” She smiled.
Leon leaned down to pick her up. She seemed so light.
“Sidney, bring her pillow. Jessamine, bring the quilt.”
They both nodded and followed him down the stairs. Dotty pointed to the small grove of orange trees by the gate to the street, and Jessamine hurriedly laid the quilt in their shade. Leon arranged her on the quilt as Sidney slid the pillow under her head. She nodded at Jessamine and Sidney.
“I want to spend my last moments alone with my son.” The words barely made it past her withered lips.
After mother and son went back upstairs, Dotty patted the ground next to her. Leon sat cross-legged and kissed his mother moist forehead.
“I want you to know that I am proud of you.” Her voice grew weaker. “I know you have done terrible things to provide for your family—“
“Oh, no, mother,” he interrupted her in a kind tone. “Nothing terrible. I travel buying and selling…spices and tea.”
“No one could make enough money selling spices and tea to afford this house and to buy fine clothes for your family. You make money by killing people.”
He smiled. “Now what makes you think that?”
“I see it in your eyes.”
Leon looked down and tried to reply, but nothing came out.
“I am proud of you.” Her faded voice was firm. “What did your father always say to you?”
“Do anything you have to do to keep your family’s bellies full.”
“And you have done that.”
Leon looked up at the hacienda, his eyes filled with tears. “Oh, mama, what secrets I have to keep. I can tell no one what I have done. What I will do again.”
“Then tell me, for I will be dead soon, and your secrets will be safe.”
“I killed two men when I was sixteen, in this house, and then I made love to the woman who lived here. She told me of this organization—I don’t know the name, just the organization—where I would be paid big money for killing people, for stealing things, for seducing women. Oh, mama, don’t hate me.”
“Keep talking. Tell me all. My time is coming soon.”
“Messages are left for me in the pot outside the gate. I then go to the casino in Nassau where I get details. It is the same person every time. A blonde card dealer. She is beautiful. I have wanted her. She gives me a location, and at that place another person gives me more instructions. Sometimes I don’t know exactly what I am what to do until moment I have to do it. Another person pays me later. Unless the client dies before the organization can get the money from them. I have no idea who the leader of the organization is. It could be anyone in the world.” He paused to swallow.
“Continue. Quickly.”
“Sometimes I have to fight good people. Agents from the British Empire, America. I’ve seen this American woman several times. I saved her life. I don’t know who she is. I don’t know who any of them are. Except one from England. You won’t believe who he is.”
Dotty took his hand, a rattle emitting from deep in her chest.
“The Prince of Wales,” he shared.
Her hand fell away. Leon’s beloved mother was dead. He stood, walked to the gate and opened it. He wanted his tears to dry before he told his family she was gone. He looked down the sandy path and saw Pooka running away.

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Thirty-Eight

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 Wallis are told to kill American millionaire James Donohue, but Donohue’s son Jimmy beats them to it.
David sat on the terrace enjoying the autumn colors in his garden at Fort Belvedere as he had his coffee and toast. He noticed an item in the London Times about the death of James Donohue, playboy husband of Woolworth heiress Jessie Donohue. Sources said the cause of death had yet to be determined but it was suspected to be an ear infection or an accidental overdose of bichloride mercury. The funeral, the Times reported, was one of the largest in Manhattan in years.
Accidental overdose? How could you accidentally overdose on a medication that’s supposed to be applied directly to the skin? Being considered a bon vivant of international fame, David was familiar with the curative powers of the drug. Oh well. At least we don’t have to bother with a trip to America anytime soon.
The butler stood in the door to the terrace and coughed, interrupting David’s thought.
“General Trotter is here, sir.”
“Oh, send him out. And prepare him a cup of coffee.”
“Yes, sir.”
Soon David and Trotter settled into a nice conversation about how the garden was progressing. The swimming pool had been installed, though at this time of year the temperature prevented it from being used on a regular basis. Once they were sure the servants had gone on about their business, Trotter scooted his chair closer to the prince.
“I assume you read the story in the Times,” he whispered.
“Indeed. Either an ear infection or an overdose of a syphilis salve. Quite sad.”
“Yes, quite.” The general sipped his coffee. “Our sources say the organization had a hand in it.”
The organization?” David arched an eyebrow. “Evidently he had inconvenienced more than the House of Windsor.”
“Quite.” Trotter looked at David’s plate. “Do you think I could get some toast? My wife burnt mine this morning so I begged off. Now I’ve starving.”
“Of course.” David rang a bell. The butler appeared at the door. “The general wants some toast. Be generous. And take care not to burn it.”
After the butler disappeared Trotter leaned in again. “By the way, good job in Argentina. George now seem amenable to marriage. We just have to find the right woman for him.”
David cleared his throat. “Has Wallis had any missions lately?”
“You know I can’t tell you that.” The general cocked his head. “And why would you care?”
“Oh, I don’t.” David looked up. “Ah. Here comes your toast. Would you like blackberry jam? Picked from my own garden.”
“Clotted cream.”
The butler placed the plate of warm toast in front of Trotter and moved the small pot of clotted cream to his side. With a bow, he left the men alone.
“The main purpose of this visit is to put you on notice that another attempt might be made to embroil George in new controversy as soon as the news gets out he is about to propose marriage. Frankly, we can’t trust the boy not to muck it up again.” He bit into his toast. “We also think the organization is behind this whole ugly sex and drugs state of affairs.”
“Bad business this. George is such a good man, really. He has potential. He and I have always been chummier than my other brothers.”
“So you have a vested interest in this mission. Good.” After another sip of coffee, he added, “And MI6 has decided it’s time for the next step to bring you and Wallis together as a team. Plan one of your weekends here at the fort. Invite the usual crowd and include the Simpsons, both of them. Sometime during the party you must kiss Wallis on the lips in front of everyone.”
David scheduled the gathering for the last weekend in January of 1932. He’d leave the planning to Thelma. She’s such a good egg to put up with me. Oh well, she made the decision not to marry me years ago. She usually made out the guest lists for such social occasions. He would think of some way of casually suggesting the Simpsons. He was somewhat eager, and he didn’t know why.
The last Friday night in January finally arrived, and all of their guests, including Connie and Ben Thaw, had arrived, except for the Simpsons. David stood in the foyer waiting their arrival. As the hour grew late, he smoothed out his kilt and looked into the octagonal parlor where the others had settled into card games and putting together jigsaw puzzles. David jumped a bit when the butler opened the door and invited the Simpsons in.
Servants took their luggage upstairs, and David escorted the Simpsons into the parlor, a pine paneled room with yellow velvet curtains.
“Yellow velvet? My, how brave you are.” Wallis laughed and walked over to Thelma for a hug and kiss.
“Isn’t she a scream?” Ernest said with a laugh.
“Yes, hysterical.” David crossed to Wallis and took her elbow to guide her to another table. “Please, I’ve saved you a spot at the poker table. I’ll sit next to you to help.”
As she sat, she smiled. “Oh yes, the last time we met was at a party at Thelma’s place in town. I was quite dreadful at cards, wasn’t I?”
When the dealer dealt the next hand, David stood and leaned over Wallis’ shoulder, his cheek grazing hers.
“Oh yes, this is a very good hand. I suggest—“
“Let me guess,” she interrupted him and within a couple of rounds she had won the pot. “Surprise. I’ve been practicing.”
“So you have.” David drifted over to a jigsaw table and sat.
In a few minutes Thelma went to the Victrola and put on a record of Tea for Two. She tapped on David’s shoulder and soon they were dancing in the middle of the room. Connie Thaw was the first to cut in to dance with the prince. Every woman had their turn except Wallis, still seated at the poker table. David grabbed her hand and twirled her to the middle of the room. He snuggled her neck.
“MI6 says I need to make my first advance on you tonight. Get ready to be kissed.”
“If MI6 orders it,” she whispered back. “Oh well, for King and Country.”
David stopped in the middle of the room, in sight of all the guests, and impressed a long kiss on Wallis’s lips, like a scene out of a silent movie. Among all the subdued gasps, he was sure he heard a man giggle.
The next morning his guests slept in per his instructions, but he arose early, put on his work clothes topped with a baggy sweater and attacked encroaching vines in his garden. He kept alert to anyone coming out on the terrace. Eventually, the Simpsons appeared carrying their cups of coffee. David walked over to them.
“I’m waging war on the laurel. It will absolutely triumph over the garden if I let it.” He paused to smile at Ernest. “Would you like to join me?”
He watched as a big smile spread across the face of Wallis’ husband.
“Why, it would be an honor, your highness.”
“Well, go up and get a heavy sweater. It’s cold out here.”
“Yes, sir!” Ernest ran inside like a giddy school boy.
Wallis looked at David in askance. “What are you going to do? Ask his permission?”
“Yes, I think I will. It would be the proper approach. Don’t you think he’ll approve?”
“Of course he will. If you’re not careful, he’ll send me to your bedroom tonight.”
Within half an hour, David and Ernest were hacking away at the weeds.
“You have an extremely attractive wife, Mr. Simpson.”
“Oh. Call me Ernest, sir. And yes, Wallis is lovely and vivacious.”
“I want to have an affair with her.” David grinned. “Would you mind? It’s a bit like cutting in at a dance.”
“Of course! I understand!” Ernest stepped in toward the prince. “I’m off to tend to my shipping business in New York quite often, which will be quite convenient, won’t it?”
“Yes. Quite.”
“And convenient in another way. I’ve always taken an interest in Wallis’ friend Mary Raffray. She’s recently divorced and, well, available. You won’t tell Wallis, will you?”
“Indeed not.”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Thirty-Seven

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 Wallis are told to kill American millionaire James Donohue.
Jimmy Donohue was growing up fast. He had plunged into puberty and didn’t have to follow anyone’s rules or ask for anyone’s permission when he left the house. His older brother, sixteen-year-old Wooly, was still at an awkward age where he felt most comfortable sticking close to home so he’d be available if his mother needed him for anything.
Jimmy’s favorite adventure was to follow his father, James, when he went out to enjoy a night on the town. Jimmy was good at lurking in the shadows and slipping in and out of places where respectable young gentlemen were forbidden to enter. He thought he would make a great spy. Of course, Jimmy also wanted to be a Broadway dancer or an Army Air Corps pilot. Mother Jessie would have disapproved of all three, which made them even more tempting.
The Donohues had just returned to their home at 6 East 80th Street in New York after wintering at their Palm Beach estate Cielito Lindo. Jimmy was ready for the change of pace. At first he found sneaking into the casinos to watch his father lose millions of dollars at the poker table to be entertaining. However, he didn’t understand why his father became so nervous about losing the money. They had enough so dropping a million at the casino couldn’t be a problem.
Jimmy decided it was like Jesus getting upset over being crucified because he knew he was going to come back from the grave in three days anyway. Jimmy was bored with all forms of education except the catechism classes at the Roman Catholic Church. Despite all his many faults he loved the mother church. He particularly loved to shock the priests in the confessional booth. Jimmy briefly considered going into the priesthood but he found dressing in all that black depressing. Cardinals looked snappy in their red gowns, but Jimmy doubted he would last long enough to become a cardinal.
His father’s escapades became more exciting since their return to New York. Jimmy shadowed him into disreputable little dives where the band played jazz and men danced with other men. He followed his father there every night. One time Jimmy saw James dance with a British sailor. The man wore his bellbottoms and vee-neck shirt tight. Sweat glistened on the sailor’s black skin. He was not tall and his body was lean and compact. James let him lead.
Now this was exciting, Jimmy decided. By the end of the two weeks James and his sailor left the club early, with the boy trailing. They went to the Waldorf-Astoria. Jimmy followed them upstairs and watched his father give the sailor a gift wrapped in a Tiffany’s box as they stood in front of a door to a suite. The sailor accepted it, kissed James on the mouth and lingered in the embrace. Jimmy giggled. He wondered what was going to happen next.
Three nights later as he finished his dinner he heard the front door shut. “What was that?”
“Your father has left for his social obligations earlier than usual,” Jessie explained, cutting her filet mignon, medium rare. “He’s always working hard to build new contacts for Woolworth enterprises. Don’t worry about it.”
That was a lie. It was one of the things he loved most about his mother. She could lie with sincerity. Jimmy wanted to believe she was telling the truth. In honor of his mother, he decided to tell his own lie.
“I don’t feel good.” Jimmy frowned. “I think it’s my sinus again.”
Jessie daubed her napkin to her mouth, trying not to smudge her lipstick. “Then you must go immediately to bed. If you don’t have your health then you don’t have anything.”
“Of course, Mother.” Jimmy marched to the hall leading to the bedrooms. Instead of going through his door, he continued down the hall to the servant’s entrance.
Jimmy beat his father to the night club. As he walked down the alley to the back door, he saw the sailor, leaning against a large trash can smoking.
“Hello,” Jimmy said as he approached the man.
“My name is Jimmy Donohue. Who are you?”
“Everybody has a name.”
“If I told you my name I’d have to kill you.”
For once Jimmy was speechless.
“How old are you?” the sailor asked.
“Oh sure. You’re old enough to die for asking too many questions.” He blew smoke Jimmy’s way. “Now do you want to know my name?”
“Wise decision.”
This is ridiculous. Nobody’s going to scare me. I’m rich. Jimmy took another step forward and lifted his chin. “You’re from the Bahamas, aren’t you?”
“I thought so. We winter in Palm Beach. I recognized the accent.”
“Is that supposed to impress me?”
Jimmy didn’t know whether to like or hate this fellow. “Do you like my father?”
“That’s another one of those tricky questions that could get you killed.”
“My mother will pay a lot of money for you to go away.”
The sailor dropped his cigarette and ground it out. “How do you want to die? Bullet between the eyes? Slit throat? Or a quick, hard twist of the neck?”
Without another word Jimmy walked to the back door and opened it. He turned back. “I’m not afraid of you.”
“You’re lying.”
Jimmy stepped inside and began to close the door when he heard his father’s voice calling from down the alley.
“Jed! Here I am!”
The boy peeked out the door just in time to see his father hug the sailor and kiss him.
“Let’s skip the club tonight.” Excitement overwhelmed James’ voice. “I got us our usual suite at the Waldorf-Astoria—“
“Do you have my gift?” the sailor interrupted.
Jim fumbled with his pockets, pulling out a small black box. The man opened it and threw it on the dirty cobblestones.
“Diamond stick pin. How pathetic. I already have two.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m bored with you, Jim. Go home.”
James’ face crumpled into a pitiful contortion. “But I thought you loved me.”
“Loved you? You’re a drunk, a drug addict, a loser at gambling. You’re not even handsome anymore. You’re going bald. That belly makes me sick.”
“Why are you saying these things?”
The sailor turned away. “Someone paid me to humiliate you. Now who hates you enough to do that?”
James slid down to the street, his back against the trash can. “Jed! Jed!”
The sailor turned around and smirked. “By the way, you ought to see a doctor. You see, I have syphilis. I had forgotten to tell you that.”
Jimmy decided at that moment he hated his father. How could he be such a disgusting weakling? He didn’t care about his father having syphilis. He didn’t want his mother to catch it. That would be just plain rude! Jimmy swore to himself he would never let anyone humiliate him the way the sailor did to his father. He would always be in control of people. No one would control him. Except maybe his mother.
Eventually, James stood, wiped the tears from his eyes and staggered out of the alley. Jimmy waited a moment and then slipped from the club and went home. He couldn’t sleep all night. He kept thinking of all the ways he could get even with his father.
The next morning Jimmy asked his mother if they could have their breakfast on the terrace, just the two of them. It was April, after all, and the weather was becoming quite nice, for New York at least. After they had taken a few bits of their omelets, Jimmy cleared his throat.
“Mother, I think the time has come for you to divorce father.”
Jessie smiled sweetly at him as she sipped her coffee. “Now you shouldn’t concern yourself with such sordid matters. Anyway, whatever you think your father has done, he has done it many times before. Besides, divorce is such a messy business. All the headlines.”
Jimmy was undeterred. “Then let’s kill him.”
“My dear, don’t be silly. We’re just normal high society people. What do we know of murder? I just cannot begin to wrap my head around the details. For instance, you have to have a good alibi, even if you’re not the one doing the actual murder. It’s better if you can make them commit suicide. So you have to make it easy on them to get the pills. Then you have to come up with a reason that would push them over the edge. But don’t let it be officially ruled suicide because no matter how big an inconvenience someone has become, you don’t want them to be kept out of heaven.” She paused to smile. “You see I’m just not bright enough to plan anything so complicated as murder.”
Jimmy was not surprised that by sunset his mother had announced she was having another one of her infamous nervous breakdowns. James announced at dinner he suspected he had contracted a nasty case of syphilis. He bought an over-the-counter medication called mercury bichloride, and a full recovery was expected. Jessie admitted herself to Harbor Sanitarium on Madison Avenue.
As the family gathered around her bed, she instructed James to proceed with plans for their spring tour of Europe as scheduled. Wooly sniffled and his eyes turned red. Jimmy thought his brother acted like a girl about such things. James spent the next few days making ocean liner reservations and wiring their favorite hotels in London, Paris and Rome to be expecting the family. Jimmy suggested to his father that he had done such a good job he should reward himself with a day of poker with his friends at the house. James agreed. Milton Doyle and Gordon Sarre arrived for luncheon at noon the next day and then settled into a nice relaxing game of cards. Then Jimmy walked up and stood by his father.
“Mr. Doyle, Mr. Sarre, did father tell you he has syphilis?”
“Oh, Jimmy, don’t” Wooly whined.
“He got these blue pills from the drug store. You’re not supposed to swallow them. That would kill you. You’re supposed to grind them up and spread it on your—“
“Jimmy! Shut up!” Wooly tried to pull him away.
Gordon smiled but kept staring at his cards. “Don’t worry, Wooly. I doubt Jimmy could say anything to shock us.”
“That’s right. Isn’t it so, Jimmy?” Milton glanced at the boy and cocked his head. “Rather takes the fun out of it, doesn’t it?”
James stood. “Excuse me. I feel the need to go to the bathroom.”
As he walked away, Jimmy asked, “Who gave it to you? A dancer? Or was it one of those nasty sailors?”
“Jimmy, I swear I’m going to knock you on your ass,” Wooly hissed.
In a few minutes James emerged, his face was already flush and sweaty. Gordon stood.
“What have you taken?”
“I took seven of them. I can’t tell you why I did it. I’m a chump for doing such a thing.”
Milton ran for the bathroom and came out with the bichloride mercury bottle. ‘It says the antidote is eggs and milk.” He looked at Jimmy and Wooly. “Boys, are there milk and eggs in the kitchen?”
“No,” Jimmy blurted. “We have to buy some.”
“Go! Quick!” Gordon ordered. “We’ll call the ambulance!” He looked at his friend. “Gordon, help me make him comfortable.”
Gordon and Milton helped James to the sofa where they laid him down. They were out the door and down the elevator to the small grocery right next to the hotel. They grabbed the milk and eggs and rushed out without paying. The clerk, familiar with their hijinks just waved. They were back within a few minutes. Jimmy pushed Wooly towards the living room.
“Go check on father. I’ll mix this up.”
Wooly frowned but did as he was told. Jimmy disappeared into the kitchen and emerged with a glass filled with milk and eggs. Milton took it and gently held it to James’ lips.
“Jimmy,” Wooly asked, “why is the milk blue?”
“No it isn’t.”
The ambulance team knocked on the door. Jimmy grabbed the glass and ran to let them in. As they loaded James on the stretcher, Jimmy took the glass back to the kitchen, emptied it and washed it out. The ambulance took James to Harbor Sanitarium where Jessie was in the mental ward. Milton and Gordon drove Jimmy and Wooly to the hospital and ushered them through the emergency entrance.
When Jimmy and Wooly entered their father’s room they heard the doctors discuss the results of the blood typing test and how one of the orderlies said he had that type and volunteered for the transfusion. They watched them hook James up to a line which went to the orderly lying on a nearby table. Soon blood transfused from the man to James. Jimmy stopped a nurse and pointed at his father.
“Is that going to work?”
The nurse looked at him with sad, kind eyes. “Of course it will.”
“You do know he took bichloride mercury, don’t you?” His tone was solemn.
“Of course I do.”
“So how often does a blood transfusion work on bichloride mercury?”
She patted his shoulder. “You’re a smart boy, aren’t you?”
“Not really,” he replied. “I find school boring. But I am an expert observer of life and death.”
Just at that moment Jimmy heard his mother’s voice. He turned to see an attendant roll her wheelchair in the door. Both he and Wooly went to her and hugged her.
“Where’s my Jim?” she asked in a loud, shrill voice. “Please don’t tell me he’s dead. I couldn’t live without my Jim.”
Wooly kissed her forehead while staring at his brother. “Don’t worry, Mother. He’ll be all right.”
Jimmy kneeled so he could face her. “Yes, Mother. Father’s not dead.” He leaned in to whisper, “Not yet.”
(Author’s note: I thought this might be a good time to remind the readers this is alternative historical fiction. None of these historical figures did any of these awful things. As far as anyone knows.)