Authors: Andrew Clawson
Tags: #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Historical, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Crime, #Heist, #Financial, #Spies & Politics, #Conspiracies, #Thrillers
The Crowns Vengeance
© 2012 Andrew Clawson
All rights reserved
. No part of this book may be used, reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without the written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law, or in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. The character, incidents, and dialogue are drawn from the author’s imaginations and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Cover design and illustration by Brandi Doane McCann
For my grandparents
Also by Andrew Clawson
A Patriot’s Betrayal
Dark Tides Rising
Read an excerpt of Andrew’s next novel,
Dark Tides Rising
, at the end of this story.
Visit Andrew’s website for more information and purchase details.
Praise for A Patriot’s Betrayal
"A Patriot's Betrayal had me hooked from the first page!"
- Felicia Tatum,
White Aura and Scarred Hearts series
"The characters were well developed and authentically true to life. The story was incredible, realistic, and historically intriguing."
- Amazon reviewer
"The mystery and suspense had me so intrigued that I had to keep reading."
- Amazon reviewer
Praise for The Crowns Vengeance
Moments of sheer intensity make it hard to put this book down.
- Amazon reviewer
This one is just as exciting and fast paced as the first, with new adventures flying at the couple in every turn.
- Felicia Tatum, White Aura and Scarred Hearts series
Be sure you set aside enough time to finish this one, you'll not want to put this one down until you read the last page.
- Amazon reviewer
Nothing is so secure as that money will not defeat it
~ ~ ~
Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4
Earl of Chesterfield
October 31, 1781
Footsteps echoed off towering stone walls as a solitary figure strode through the cavernous hall. Ahead, framed by a roaring fire, a portly man sat at an enormous desk, chin held heavily in the palm of one hand. White curls draped across a wrinkled skull to cover each ear, the powdered wig a brilliant white in the flickering light cast by dozens of candles.
None of this assembled warmth penetrated the gloom that hung heavily around the rotund figure. In the midst of an unprecedented crisis, he longed for a ray of hope to brighten his perilous situation.
“I bring news from the latest ship.”
The seated man stared downward as a deep sigh escaped his lips.
“Our messengers bear distressing reports, my liege. Cornwallis has surrendered.”
Time stood still as the diminutive man rose. Though short in stature, his presence exploded throughout the room.
“That is not possible.” Spittle flew through the air. “These, these
could not have defeated us. There must be some mistake.”
“Alas, sire, it is true. Cornwallis capitulated to the rebels only days ago. His entire army is lost.”
George III, King of Great Britain and Ireland, stood in silence, words having failed him. From behind the thick walls of Buckingham Palace, George III had little notion of his armies’ precarious foothold in America. Unaccustomed to American ferocity, the proud English desire to fight for king and country had steadily eroded, until the most recent defeat.
Eight thousand of England’s finest men had laid down their arms and surrendered.
The notion was unthinkable.
However, Lord Ramsey Fawkes, Third Earl of Wroxton, did not dwell on the defeat. As one of the king’s closest advisors, he had long practiced the fine art of diplomacy with his liege lord, carefully crafting his statements to manipulate the sovereign, though the foolhardy little man was quite incapable of recognizing this skillful deceit.
“Your majesty, there is yet a chance for us to secure victory.”
King George focused on the earl, his eyes pleading.
Fawkes felt nothing but disgust. Resplendent in his citrine cloak cut from the finest silk, an imposing ceremonial sword on his hip, the divine leader of the most powerful nation on earth was helpless. Exactly as Fawkes had known he would be.
“There is little to be done with the colonies, Your Majesty. In your great wisdom, you will no doubt see fit to forgo our direct assaults on those wretched lands in favor of a more subtle approach.”
Lord Fawkes glanced around. They were alone in the king’s massive study, free from any prying ears.
He leaned in and described his plan to King George, whose eyes first clouded with confusion, before the light of understanding dawned.
After a brief pause, King George voiced his approval.
“We shall bring those colonists to their knees. Prepare your man to depart at once. The necessary funds are at your disposal.”
“As you command, Your Majesty.”
Fawkes bowed deeply before turning on his heel.
Now that his ridiculous excuse for a king had agreed to fund the operation, it was only a matter of time before the glory of England was restored, the rebellious colonists crushed beneath the fearsome weight of St. George’s Cross.
A never-ending line of motorcars crawled down the street, headlights shining rheumily in the evening gloom. Soot-stained clouds overhead stopped any sunlight from reaching the dry street, dusty and dirty beneath a yellowish haze cast by omnipresent streetlamps. Should a fog have rolled in, one wouldn’t have been remiss to expect a horse-drawn carriage to appear from within the golden glow. All in all, it was a typical London evening, pedestrians and commuters alike moving slowly through the humid summer air.
Inside his office at No. 11 Downing Street, The Right Honorable Roland Francis Sutton leaned back in his desk chair and stretched his palms skyward. An entire day’s worth of tension tingled past his elbows, dozens of bureaucratic nightmares evaporating like the morning dew.
As chancellor of the exchequer, one had to know how to relax in order to survive. Tasked with overseeing the world’s sixth largest economy, Sir Roland directly affected the finances of nearly sixty-three million citizens.
Unsurprisingly, some of these people didn’t like him.
He’d spent the day in meetings with his junior ministers, offering advice when necessary, allowing them to chart their own course more often. Regardless of what decisions he made, what policies were passed or which taxes were lowered, there was nothing to be done about the constant vitriolic displeasure to which he was routinely subjected.
Today had been no exception, and it was with great enthusiasm that Her Majesty’s faithful servant traitorously poured two fingers of Mr. Jack Daniels’s finest Single Barrel whiskey into a crystal tumbler, the velvety smooth amber liquid clinging to its vessel, aromatic waves of charred oak and flowery vanilla warming his senses.
After allowing a moment for the blend to settle, he savored one sip.
A marvelous slow burn rolled down his throat. A dinner appointment with his wife was on the books tonight, and he relished the idea of spending several carefree hours in her company.
Sir Roland had assumed his position less than a year ago, a promotion that surprised him more than anyone. After the retirement of his predecessor, Roland had assumed, like most of the world, that another junior minister, Colin Moore, would be chosen as successor. The prime minister’s call had come as a complete and total shock. His wife and family had been ecstatic, as had he, initially.
Looking back, he’d never quite shaken the image of the previous minister leaving office on his last day. He’d walked out, carrying a single photo of his family, and never looked happier.
Right now, Roland knew why.
He was honored, of course, to serve queen and country, though in private, he felt this to be the most thankless job on earth. Just as in physics, there were laws in the world of economics. The most basic was that when one person profited, another person did not. Every day men, businesses, lobbyists, and other sovereign governments cursed his name, only to praise his policies the next. He had little to do with any of it, being as beholden to the whims of a free market as any man. Certainly he could influence events in small ways, but as for pulling the strings like a puppeteer, that just wasn’t possible.
But enough of this. He had a dinner to enjoy.
A million-dollar view jumped through the tinted office windows. St. James Park Lake to his rear, the Thames in front. A cornucopia of English pride surrounded him.
As Roland threw back his glass and drained the delicious American whiskey, a flash of red blinked into existence, sparkling rays distorted across the crystal tumbler. It came from straight across Downing Street, on the roof of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
His eyes narrowed. No one should be up there.
The last sound Sir Roland ever heard was the soft tinkle of breaking glass as a sniper’s bullet ripped through the window in front of him.
All around, drunken students shouted, a semester’s worth of tension and angst lifted from their shoulders. It was the end of finals week, and the young men and women at the University of Pennsylvania were letting their hair down.
Summer was nearly upon University City, home to Benjamin Franklin’s famed institution, bright sunlight warming all who partied beneath a cloudless blue sky. Shapely legs demurely covered by low-cut sundresses offered teasing glimpses of the feminine mystique, a welcome respite from the winter wardrobes still fresh in each young scholar’s mind. Fraternity men worked the crowd, full of liquid courage and youthful bravado.