Stevie Carroll (stevie_carroll) wrote,
Stevie Carroll
stevie_carroll

Writing Busily

I've been rather quiet here recently, largely because I've had a lot of projects on the go. My guest blogging schedule has calmed down again for now, but I'm still busily working on the short story that bridges the gap between Searching for Julia and the planned next book, Finding Rupert (I also have vague outline ideas for Becoming Kate, which would be the third of the saga).

Anyway, this one is Heirs and Graces and covers some of what Edward got up to in the 60s, when he was merely the inconvenient second son and getting up to all kinds of fun his father disapproved of.

May 1963

The banging started at four in the morning. Edward ran through the current list of people who thought he owed them; none were likely to decide matters were suddenly urgent at this time of the night. Julia had been back with Hugh for no time at all; she couldn't have fled back to London already. Trying to come up with a third possibility, while cursing all the usually very astute reasons he didn't keep live-in staff, Edward dragged himself out of bed and into a silk robe.

A woman stood on the steps, a suitcase to either side of her legs: young, a Mediterranean tint to her skin, and most definitely pregnant. Hardly Edward's problem, but he ushered her in before any of the neighbours had time to start paying attention.

"Your brother. Where is he?" Her accent was familiar: one of those towns he'd visited on a supposed buying expedition for Roman artefacts, but her clothes suggested she'd been in London for some months if not a year or more. Someone's au pair, perhaps, although that didn't explain why she'd managed to link him to either his real brother or the man certain sectors of society assumed to be his brother.

"I haven't the foggiest where he is." Edward considered the possibilities. She had to mean Hugh; people who knew him through Raymond and the shop didn't know he owned the house in whose hall they were currently standing. Hugh didn't know Edward lived in the house either, but some of their mutual friends did. Besides which, Raymond had better manners than to leave his cast-offs wandering the streets.

Edward switched to Italian, testing the woman's reaction. "When did you last see him?"

"Two, three months ago." She answered with the fluency of a native, as her hand dropped to her belly. "Before I was completely sure..." That would have been right before Hugh managed to entice Julia back to Derbyshire. God only knew what he'd told her to accomplish that feat.

"You have the advantage of me." He switched back to English. "Why don't you introduce yourself, then follow me to somewhere more comfortable and tell me how you like your coffee?"
Down in the kitchen, Edward quickly checked that the blind was fully down before he switched on the light. Nicky and Bridie ought to be fast asleep in the Mews House, but he couldn't risk them coming over until he was fully appraised of the woman's story, and had a good idea of what he intended to do next.

"Who knows you're here?" It wouldn't be that difficult to do away with her, even without resorting to any of his usual channels; Hugh might be a war hero, and the eldest son of a Duke, but he lacked the confidence to seduce someone with actual connections, or prospects. No one would miss the girl if she vanished -- no one likely to kick up the right sort of fuss that would get the police interested in finding her. On the other hand, he was rather impressed with the way in which she'd brazenly come to him with her problems rather than slipping away in the night, back to her home country, or even trailing up to the estate to throw herself on Hugh's scant mercy.

"No one knows. I had to leave my job. And whenever I tried to telephone Hugh, I was told he was away."

"So..." He set down two cups of coffee -- hers sweet and black, his liberally laced with cream and brandy. He might still lace hers with something else a little later in their conversation. "I take it my brother..."

"He is the father of my child." She wrapped both hands round the cup, and raised it slowly to her lips.

"You're quite sure of that?"

"There was no one else." She certainly sounded convincing.

"Does he know?"

"I told him that I was going to take a test, but I never had a chance to tell him the result. Some of his friends know. Maybe they've told him."

"And what do you want?" Edward considered how much cash he could realise at short notice, compared to the probable costs of dealing with the current situation, not to mention the ongoing expenses that he believed raising a child would entail. They could always get rid of the brat. Bridie would know how to find a suitable doctor. But that would involve telling her, and risking Julia finding out. Besides, this was a Peveril baby.

"I want him to marry me, of course." She set her cup down, and looked straight at Edward, challenging him to deny her.

"A bit tricky, I'd say, considering he already has a wife." Edward took a sip from his own coffee cup. No matter how quickly the processes were put in motion, Hugh would still be married to Julia after the baby was born. Not that Edward would consider putting Julia through the pain of a divorce after everything else she'd experienced the past few years. But nor did this woman deserve to be thrown aside with nothing, not when she was carrying a Peveril bastard.

"Consolata." He reached across the table to take her hand. "We both know that my brother will never leave his wife for you. Let me find you somewhere to stay for now. Then I'll go and visit him on your behalf, and see if we can't reach an amicable solution."

"But he told me --"

"-- He lied. It's what men do."

"And you're lying too? Now?"

"I'm different." Let her make of that what she would. He'd take her to Raymond, before anyone else saw her. Then he'd make a few enquiries, and if her story held up, then he'd find Hugh. They'd sort the matter one way or another, with no need for Julia -- or Nicky, or Bridie -- to ever find out.

***


I seem to be doing a lot more research than expected, mainly because so much changed location-wise between the early 60s and the early 70s: current hotels weren't built at the times I wanted people to stay in them, and various organisations had offices back then in streets or building which have since been demolished. Google and Wikipedia are remarkably unhelpful in finding what I want, although I now have yet more books to order from the library as soon as I've read a few of those already borrowed.

From today's research, it would appear that the place for a young, upwardly mobile Italian woman, with a rich (absent) benefactor and money-making ideas of her own, to settle in San Francisco in that time period would be somewhere on the boundary of North Beach and Nob Hill. Meanwhile the only hotel I could find for an aristocratic Englishman to stay round there at the same time was the Fairmont since everything I tried initially was built very slightly later.

Yesterday's research, which I'm yet to use in the story, mostly concerned the Fiat 500 and Moto Guzzi motorcycles of the early 1960s.
Tags: for reference, on writing, story extract
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