Sneak Peek: “Mr. Clarence Goodman”

In one week’s time, June 29th, the second issue of Marvellous Adventure will hit the digital newsstands. And with it comes the next addition to The Adventures of Emily Monroe. If you haven’t read the first issue, you can find it by clicking here. Fair warning: you will definitely want to have read the first story before proceeding to this one.

After learning of the Whitehawk Legion and her late father’s involvement in it, wealthy businesswoman Emily Monroe goes on the hunt at the old family estate for proof of what she has been told it. In the process she stumbles on something the Legion desperately needs. But it will take more than a simple trade to get everyone what they want. And Emily will soon find out that beneath simple appearances may be lurking something more sinister – or at least more complex – than she first bargained for…

Here’s a sneak peek at “Mr. Clarence Goodman”, appearing in the next issue of Marvellous Adventure.

***

Emily Monroe had never before been kissed on the hand, but she found she liked it.

The man who kissed it was Henri Chevalier, otherwise known as the Knight, whom Richard Newport introduced as a “big man” of the Whitehawk Legion in Emily’s office that Saturday morning. She recognized the lightly accented voice from their earlier conversation on the telephone. M. Chevalier was just her height and a little rotund. He was also immaculately dressed, had a thin black moustache which was about as slicked as his hair, and carried an elegant walking stick. When introduced, he smiled jovially, lifted the bowler hat full off his head, took Emily’s proffered hand, and touched his lips to it. “Enchanté, mademoiselle,” he said, as Emily guessed he would. They sat down in the comfortable seating area to the side of the room.

“Mlle. Monroe,” began Chevalier, “let me first say how happy I am to be here. From M. Newport’s information I was unsure whether or not to expect your telephone call.”

“The pleasure’s mine, M. Chevalier,” said Emily. “I’m looking forward to finding out more about this Whitehawk Legion.”

Newport cut through the pleasantry with his typical brusqueness. “You said you had something to tell us?”

Chevalier frowned at this rude interruption, but Emily took it passively. Reaching into the purse she had deliberately hung from the armchair she had deliberately sat in, she took out the faceted crystal and placed it carefully on the coffee table—closer to her than to the men. Neither Newport nor Chevalier said a word for a very long time. They only stared disbelieving at the beautiful object. Finally Newport concentrated his gaze on her. “What forsaken corner of the earth did you dig that up from?”

“Hollyfield House, the family estate.” Thinking one of them might reach out and take the crystal, she did so first. “It was hidden very well. And I can see that my suspicions were correct. You know what this is.”

“Oui,” said Chevalier. He leaned forward in his seat. “We call it the Reinhold crystal. M. Newport has shown you the facility beneath this building, and the machine within it. That machine no longer functions…and that crystal is the reason why. I do not claim to understand how it works, but what you hold in your hand is the heart of the machine. Without it, it dies.”

Emily looked down at the crystal, shining in the morning sunlight streaming in through the windows. “It seems its importance, then, is priceless. So you just put this component into the machine and it will work again?”

“Well…” Chevalier paused and looked discomfited. “I am afraid it is no longer quite so simple.”

“What do you mean?”

“The scientist who built the machine,” said Newport, “and developed the technology, Dr. Reinhold, is missing. Without him that thing there is really nothing more than a glorified paperweight for all the good it does us.”

“You can’t find him?”

“We suspect he has been kidnapped,” said Chevalier.

“Why would someone kidnap him?”

Newport answered, “Oh, he’s only a world-class scientist with an I.Q. the size of your company’s profit margin. Can’t think of a single reason why somebody would want to make him work for them. Or find out what he knows.”

Emily decided to continue bearing with Newport’s attitude for the time being. “But does it have anything to do with the Legion?”

Chevalier and Newport shared a look. “That is the most disturbing aspect of all,” said the French gentleman. “We do not know for certain.”

Emily turned the crystal over in her hand, gazing into its many facets. “So it seems this is useless to you without the scientist. But I still hold one half of what you need.”

Newport leaned forward and bore his shrewd, penetrating stare at her as he said, “What kind of deal are you offering?” Chevalier shifted restlessly in his seat and frowned slightly at this new realization.

Emily kept herself implacable and returned Newport’s stare. “I believe you said something about a job with the Legion. What kind of job?”

“From time to time,” Chevalier broke in, “the Legion has need of contacts who officially stand outside the organization but can provide us with information in their special areas of expertise when needed. They are often paid a substantial amount of money—”

“Not that that would interest you,” said Newport.

Before Chevalier could continue, Emily said, “You want me to be a consultant?” 

“We’re willing to let you work for the Legion as a consultant,” said Newport, and Chevalier bristled at his tone. She continued toying with the crystal. “Tell me, Mr. Newport,” she said finally after a very uncomfortable silence, “just what is it you do for the Legion?”

“I’m the centurion of the Aurora regiment.”

“That’s what you said my father did, right? He was in charge of operations?”

“That’s right.” Emily heard his teeth grinding and couldn’t help but smile ever so slightly.

“Well, then. I think something along those lines would be worth this crystal…not to mention the use of the facility, which happens to be on my property.”

For a moment, neither Newport nor Chevalier said a word or made a movement. They seemed frozen in place, and Emily worried that she had overplayed her hand. At last Chevalier spoke. “Surely you must understand, Mlle. Monroe, that to place an inexperienced and unqualified person” (Emily thought he might have stopped himself saying woman) “in control of an entire operating field would be naive at best. However…” he paused and seemed to think a moment. “I can also understand the position we are all in. You have something we need. And as you correctly point out, the facility is on your property.” Newport glanced sharply at his superior, obviously seeing what was coming and dreading it.

“I would be willing to ask the Legion,” continued Chevalier, “to consider granting you a kind of attaché status; you would be a special agent if you will. You would be, how do you say? In the loop. On the inside. Which I believe,” he added while he lifted one corner of his mouth in a sardonic smile, “is what you really seek in any case.”

Emily had to admit that she had been seen through, at least partially. But she only asked, “I would join the ‘Aurora regiment’, is that what you call it?”

“Oui. And you would work with M. Newport here.” The look on that man’s face was an open book, screaming his protest in bold letters on every page. Emily studied him and in her supreme confidence decided she was ready for whatever scorn he would heap on her.

“M. Chevalier,” she said, “I think we have a deal.”

***

Be here next week to get the complete story.

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