In the Shadow of Your Wings (Northshire Heritage Book 1)(9)

By: J.P. Robinson


“When I told Greyson to admit you, your woman was not included.” His father’s voice had the warmth of a floor tile in the dead of winter.

“She has as much right to be here as I.”

“This is a family discussion.” Thomas thrust a finger in Leila’s face. “She is not welcome in my home.”

“It’s okay.” Leila patted his wrist and turned for the door. “I’ll leave.”

“No.” Malcolm felt the back of his neck grow hot. He moved closer to his father, every muscle taut.

“This woman is now my wife!” His arm curled around her waist. “I love her, and you’ll just have to get over whatever problem you have with her. Father.”

He added the word as though it were an afterthought. For a moment he had indeed forgotten that this man, who now seemed ready to pound him into the floor, was his father.

Thomas’s face paled. “You... married her?”

“Malcolm, really, I think the two of you should discuss this without me.” Leila pulled away from her husband. “I’ll wait outside.”

She blew Thomas a kiss then waggled her fingers. “Good luck, Old Man.” Then, with a confident smile, she tossed her head and swaggered out of the room.



LEILA STRODE QUICKLY down the hall, her agile mind moving even faster than her long legs as she analyzed the situation that unfolded around her. While Malcolm battled with his father, she would put her time in the Steele mansion to good use.

The servants, except for the oversized gorilla Thomas had called Greyson, appeared to all be asleep. By insisting that he meet with Malcolm alone, the old Scrooge had unintentionally given her the perfect opportunity to ferret out information that Germany would find useful.

The words of her handler, Werner Jaëger, rolled through her mind.

Thomas Steele leads the Bank of England. He is a friend of both the Prime Minister and the head of British intelligence. Infiltrate his home. Discover what he knows. Do not fail me.

She glanced behind her, making sure that no one followed, then slipped into the aperture of a wide, dimly-lit corridor.

Thomas had demanded Malcolm meet him in the drawing room which meant that, if he followed popular trend, his private study would be on the same floor.

Leila paused abruptly, noting the plush beige carpet yielded to glossy hardwood floors. She slipped off her scarlet shoes and slowly made her way forward on stocking feet. Mahogany walls towered around her in solemn silence, ornamented with the heads of robust stags and a few electric lamps.

“Where are you?” She squinted through the gloom. She had no idea how long the battle between Malcolm and Thomas would last, but the subtle voice of experience whispered that she had only a few moments to find what she sought and return to the hallway outside the drawing room.

She paused mid-stride as a trio of immense portraits that hung on the wall opposite a sweeping staircase came into view. Her eyes widened as she stared, transfixed by the images of the men who made up the Steele bloodline.

She moved closer. Brown hair fell loosely to the first man’s shoulders in the style of the French, framing an oval face. An inscription in the lower right corner caught her attention. Jacques Steele né Durand.

She recoiled as though the painting were about to grab her by the throat and strangle her. Durand?

Hurriedly she glanced at the succeeding portraits.

John Steele.

Thomas Steele.

Evidently, the founder of the family had changed his name from Durand to Steele. A shiver snaked down her spine.

Focus Leila. The thought struck her like a bullet. She had a mission to accomplish and couldn’t afford any more distractions. Malcolm was distraction enough.

Malcolm.

His portrait was not on the wall with his ancestors. Why not?

She ground her teeth in frustration. Durand. The name clanged around in her skull, a memory from her own past. She inhaled deeply and tore her eyes away from the painting. She had a job to do.



“YOU DEFY MY ORDERS, marry that woman, and bring her to my home?” Thomas had long ago cast aside any semblance of calm.

“Your orders, Father?” Malcolm’s face darkened. “You’ve left the army, remember? I’m not one of those stupid soldiers who jump at your every command!”