I ran up the steps of the Aston-Lacey’s townhouse in Mayfair and handed my invitation to the master of ceremonies who announced me. I spotted Nell, her mother and my father and went over to join them.
“Have I missed anything?” I asked.
“Not yet, but the night is still young,” Beatrice remarked.
“Are you expecting trouble?” Father asked. He and Beatrice knew all about my work with Daniel, I shook my head.
“No, we have no outstanding divorce cases or following of errant husbands, but we do have a new one, investing the death of James Munroe, his brother doesn’t think it was an accident, just made to look like one, keep it under your hats for now. I’m looking at getting close to the motor racing fraternity and I’m hoping Jasmine’s young man can help me.” I replied.
“You’re in luck, not only is Pietro Fallini here but so it Reginald Markham, head of Cheetah Racing and Charles Chapman head of Nelumbo Racing,” Nell replied. Beatrice clasped my hand.
“Be careful dear, remember what happened last time, your father died a thousand deaths that day,” she said. I nodded and promised I would be careful.
She was referring to the time Daisy Knellar’s father Sir Richard tried to kill me because I’d gotten too close to the truth as to why he’d killed Daisy, Peony and her brother Andrew. It not only scared Beatrice and Father, I’d been shaken up for weeks, when I’d started working for Daniel, he’d taught me how to fire a gun, I now had a Colt New Revolver locked in a box in the office. I had also learned Ju Jitsu from an old friend of my mother’s so I was now more able to defend myself; I’d never taken another risk like that again, once was enough.
“Let me introduce you to Reginald Markham, excuse us please,” Nell said to our parents. “He’s always asking me for pictures of his cars and his drivers, so I know him quite well it’s how I met Johnny in Nice.” I looked at the man Nell was dragging me towards, a tubby man with a bald head and a moustache, smoking a cigar – I didn’t like the look of him at all.
“Reginald, let me introduce you to my friend Amy, Reginald Markham, this is Lady Amethyst Richmond.” I shook Reginald’s hand, it was already sweaty, I smiled back with a grimace. “Reginald is the head of the Cheetah racing team” Nell explained.
“Oh how fortuitous, I’ve been hoping to meet someone from the motor racing fraternity, it’s such an exciting sport that is really growing so I’m looking to invest in a team. Everyone always invests in racehorses and stables but I want to do something different, maybe you can help me Mr Markham,” I said. Markham’s eyes glittered at the idea of a woman being parted with large amounts of money.
“I’d be delighted to help in any way I can, to help you make a decision.” He put his arm around my shoulder, which I quickly removed.
“Mr Markham, don’t get the idea that I will automatically choose your team, I need to get to know how motor sport works, who the different people are who make it so special and how well they will spend my money,” I replied archly.
“Of course my lady, you can come to me at any time you need information,” he replied, a little testily.
“Come on Amy, I’ll introduce you to Charles Chapman, Johnny and Pietro; give you a few different opinions of the sport” Nell said quickly.
“Oh, thank you Nell, I don’t like that man, he’s…I don’t know…shifty, did you notice how he wouldn’t look me in the eye when he talked to me?” I said, Nell nodded.
“Oh, he’s shifty alright, he’s lied, cheated and bought his way to the top. I wouldn’t trust him to tell me today was Friday,” then she gasped, “You don’t think he’s the one who killed James do you?”
“It’s a bit too early to make a decision about that, he’s the only one I’ve met, but I’m not ruling him out of anything, especially swindling money, he thought Christmas had come early when I told him I was looking to invest in the sport.”
“Are you really looking at investing?” Nell asked.
“No, I just said that so I could get a foot in the door. To borrow a phrase from Daniel, a rich socialite waving money in their face, it’s amazing how indiscreet men become.” Nell raised her eyebrows. I sighed, “Not like that, if I become a fluffy headed Socialite.” I adopted a squeaky, breathy voice, “Oh, Mr Markham you are such a clever man, you must tell me all about your racing team, I adore clever ambitious men!” I finished with a giggle. “A bottle of Champagne and dinner later and I know everything I need to know about them.”
“But what if they expect, you know, payment…for the Champagne and dinner?” Nell asked.
“Then they get a Ju Jitsu punch in their…um…manhood,” I replied. Nell squeezed my arm.
“Good for you, can you give me the name of your instructor, I could do with some of that self defence knowledge!”