In Chapter Twelve: Parker poses as a servant while providing security at a very important gathering for a friend.

Roberts was waiting for me inside the door.

“Did you get the license number?”

“Yes,” I said as I rushed by. “Bomb. Tossed in dining room. No time to chat.”

He grabbed my arm, swinging me around as a dull crump echoed from inside the dining room. I had time to see the door sag off its hinges from the recoil.

“The license number?” he insisted.

I rattled off the number to him as I pried my arm from his iron grip and ran towards the dining room. My only thought now was to try to save anyone who might have survived the explosion.

“They are in the drawing room,” Roberts said calmly. “Miss Mathers took them there for dessert … after I alerted her to the situation.”

It wasn’t what Roberts said that made me stop on a dime. Instead, it was the calm collected way he said it. It took me a couple of seconds after I had stopped before the actual words had sunk in. When they had, I turned back to Roberts completely abashed for not realizing contingency plans had been in play the moment I had alerted Roberts to the car.

He was on the phone, talking urgently. I heard him give the license number, and then repeat it. Then he hung up the phone and turned to me.

“Your zeal does you credit, lad. Please — come with me.”

We went to his pantry, his office, where he sat me down then poured me a glass of whiskey.

“Drink it down, lad. You look like you could use it. And then I’ll tell you a story …”

In my defense, I had allowed my humanitarian self to take over my actions before thinking things through. It may one-day get me killed though.

Right at that particular moment, I wasn’t thinking about self-recrimination. I was too keyed up and the adrenaline was high. I could barely bring the offered glass to my lips due to the shaking of my hands. But I managed to drink the whiskey in one long pull, set the glass down and nodded for Roberts to continue.

“Another? Perhaps you’ll enjoy this one …” He showed me the bottle. To my dismay, I had just chugged a glass of almost 200-year-old scotch.

“Yes, please,” I said, an obvious note of surprise in my voice. “And please tell me the story you mentioned a moment ago.” I had already decided that the next glass would not go down as quickly as the first. I needed to have some semblance of sobriety in order to make sure I completed this assignment.

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