Saturday, April 7, 2018

Marianne's Memory




Historical Time Travel Romance
Date Published: March 2018

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Marianne's Memory is the third novel in Winona Kent's accidental time travel / historical romance series, featuring Charlie Duran and her 19th century companion Shaun Deeley.

A Beatles badge from 1965 accidentally sends Charlie and Shaun back to London at the height of the Swinging Sixties, where they're mistaken for KGB spies and subjected to a terrifying interrogation.

Rescued by top-ranking MI5 agent Tony Quinn, they soon uncover the details of a child born out of wedlock to Charlie's mum and the uncomfortable truth about Charlie's dad's planned marriage to selfish socialite Arabella Jessop.

Further complicating their journey into the past is Magnus Swales, an 18th century highwayman turned time-travelling assassin, and the timely arrival of William Deeley, Shaun's father, who's been persuaded to leap forward from 1790 in order to save Tony from Swales's deadly mission.







Excerpt

CHAPTER 22

Friday August 13, 1965

Stoneford

Charlie couldn’t find Mr. Deeley.

She’d gone back downstairs with Justin and had walked with

him to the drawing room, where the party was now in full-swing.

Arabella, in her blue silk pyjamas, flitted between little gatherings of

people, some standing, some having made themselves at home on

the antique sofa or on similarly-upholstered armchairs.

“Buffet in the dining room!” she announced. “Two chefs,

darlings! All the way from London! And we’ve got a lovely

marquee tent set up outside for dancing…Giles’s band’s come to

play for us!”

Giles himself was lounging in a deep armchair beside the

fireplace, wearing a black velvet suit, with a navy blue shirt and a

purple brocade tie, surrounded by admirers: three impossibly-thin

girls with lavish makeup and long, straight hair who might have

been models; a bearded gentleman in a pink fur coat who was

describing his latest project—an art installation involving a square

block of concrete on top of which he’d placed a bent fork; and a

young man with a pudding-bowl mop of hair who looked

uncannily like Brian Jones from the Rolling Stones.

The air in the drawing room was filled with the smell and haze

of marijuana and hash. In another corner sat a large woman in a

flowing kaftan and sandals, strumming an autoharp which she held

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170

to her shoulder like a child needing to be freed of wind. She

seemed to be entertaining no one in particular, and yet an audience

was beginning to gather in front of her as they were introduced to

one another.

Arabella was in full hostess mode, dragging Justin into their

midst.

“Darling,” she said, to a distinguished-looking gentleman who

appeared to be someone who did something important at the BBC,

“do meet my lovely Justin…and of course Portia—Lord Wintle’s

daughter—”

Lord Wintle, Charlie recalled, was a British ambassador who

was posted somewhere that was in the thick of a coup. His

daughter had a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other and

was wearing knee boots and a see-through knitted dress that clung

to her lithe body like plastic wrap.

“Charmed,” said Portia, introducing, in turn, her friends Binky

and Pierre—Binky being the daughter of an existential poet serving

a sentence in prison for setting fires, and Pierre the son of an

American actor who’d been blacklisted for being a Communist and

had fled to England, where he’d found work as a talking milk bottle

on a children’s radio program.

And still, no sign of Mr. Deeley. Or Charlie's mum. Or Tony

and William and Astrid.

Charlie turned away in frustration and negotiated her way

through the pop stars and the adult children from titled families

who were chummy with the Boswell-Thorpes, the glammy

socialites dripping in diamonds, the boutique owners and the

clothing designers and the actors and actresses and a fellow dressed

all in black who was taking candid photographs of everyone

without their permission because they all secretly longed to be

featured in one of his fabulous avant-garde exhibitions.

She found the servants’ stairs behind the breakfast room and

went down into the cellar, thinking she might find them there. But

the cellar seemed to be mostly abandoned, with all of its doors

locked. Even the big 19th century kitchen, which in 1825 had been

bustling with a cook and her assistant and assorted serving staff,

was inaccessible and dark, the Boswell-Thorpes having installed a

much more convenient—and functional—kitchen upstairs, beside

the breakfast room.

Annoyed, and still frustrated, Charlie made her way back to the

MARIANNE’S MEMORY

171

main floor and outside, to see if Mr. Deeley was in the big marquee

tent that had been erected next to the manor’s west wing.

* * *

Shaun had, in fact, located both his father and Tony Quinn. His

father had been lingering in a hallway in the west wing of the

manor, between the dining room with the sitting room. It was not

so much a connecting passage as a room of its own, with a lavish

oriental Axminster carpet of blue, red and gold, and ceiling-to-floor

leaded windows embedded with patterns of stained glass and,

occupying pride of place, several full sets of armour, assembled and

erected as if ready to do battle.

“But this is marvellous,” William said, spying Shaun as he

entered from the dining room. “This is beyond anything I have

ever beheld…if only Lord and Lady Ellington could be here to

share my wonder.”

“I suspect,” Shaun observed, “that if Lord and Lady Ellington

were here, they might be confounded by your mingling with the

master and mistress and their numerous guests.”

“As am I,” William confessed. “I find I am awkward in their

presence. I would feel far more at home below stairs with the

servants.”

“However, there are no servants,” Shaun provided, “other than

Mr. Brindlesworth, the butler, who is on loan from the Boswell-

Thorpes’s house in London.”

“This is by far the most discomforting of my experiences,” said

William, shaking his head. “No staff and no household routine. No

servants to look after the daily needs of the family. A complete

absence of structure. I have met people tonight who, in my time,

would be considered beneath contempt. And yet they are treated

with reverence by ladies and gentlemen of good breeding, with

titles, education and property.”

“These are all things which I have, myself, also observed,”

Shaun replied. “And my reactions, at first, were very much the

same as yours. But I have grown accustomed to the discrepancies.

It is refreshing once again to be reminded of the time I originally

came from—and for this, I owe you many thanks.”

“You are most welcome,” William said, surprised.

“Do you know where Mr. Quinn is?”

WINONA KENT

172

“I do, in fact. Would you like me to take you to him?”

* * *

Tony Quinn was outside.

William led Shaun up the grand staircase to the manor’s second

floor, and then back into the building’s west wing. Here, there was

a narrow hallway which Shaun vaguely recalled, led to several of

the manor’s grand bedrooms. He could see one of these through

its open door, its walls and ceiling painted white, its fireplace

surrounded by exquisite white stone.

Halfway along the narrow hallway was another door, which,

upon investigation, opened onto a little set of stone steps leading

up to the roof.

Tony was sitting near its furthest edge, well concealed, with a

view overlooking the top of the marquee tent and the roofless,

brick-walled enclosure Shaun recognized as the kitchen garden,

where Monsieur Duran the Lesser had often taken great delight in

shooting at hedgehogs.

Tony put his finger to his lips as William and Shaun

approached, cautioning them into silence and, furthermore, into

lowered visibility.

Shaun crouched down—as did William—and, after ensuring

that he was nowhere near any point that might precipitate his

falling, peered carefully over the edge.

“Surveillance,” Tony provided, in a whisper. “I’m pleased

you’ve arrived safely. Now do me a favour and go away.”

* * *

Shaun had done as he was told.

He had gone back downstairs—in the company of William—

with the thought that he might try to locate Jackie Lewis and

perhaps prevent her from making the gravest mistake of her life.

She was not, however, anywhere to be found.

With William, he wandered again into the drawing room, whose

population had been diminished somewhat by an announcement

that the concert promised by Arabella’s brother was about to begin

in the tent outside. Indeed, Shaun could hear noises which

indicated that the band was preparing to play—portions of tunes, a

MARIANNE’S MEMORY

173

crashing of drums and cymbals, a testing of microphones and the

boxes which amplified the sounds made by the guitars.

Those few left behind in the drawing room seemed to be

imbued with a sort of lethargy—perhaps caused by an

overindulgence in the special tobacco Mrs. Collins had described

earlier. The music on the record player had ceased.

“Not interested in the goings on outside?” a woman inquired,

causing Shaun to turn around in order to attach a face to the voice.

It was not an English voice. In fact, it sounded quite American.

The American voice belonged to a woman with an abundance

of flax-coloured hair which seemed to have been artificially built up

over the crown of her head. She was wearing a bright red silk cape,

beneath which was a black satin floor-length gown.

“Layla,” she said. “Layla Hancock.”

“I am…John Drake. And this is my colleague…”

“Phinneas Phelps,” William provided. “We are honoured to

make your acquaintance.”

“Mr. Drake and Mr. Phelps. So pleased to meet you as well. I’ve

been hired by Miss Jessop to provide…amusements…to the more

discerning of her gentlemen guests. Might my services be of

interest to either of you…?”

Shaun looked at his father.

“I think not,” he decided, “but we are very grateful for your

kind attention nonetheless.”

Miss Hancock seemed disappointed.

But then she brightened.

“Perhaps then you’d like a little nibble of my confectionary?”

She produced a square of cake, dark brown in colour, and

finished with a layer of what appeared to be chocolate icing.

“Many thanks,” William said, “but, alas, cake tends to be a

disagreeable companion to the fluctuating state of my digestion.”

“It’s not cake,” Miss Hancock whispered, conspiratorially. “It’s

called a brownie. Nobody’s heard of it over here but it’s one of my

specialties. And it’s a very special brownie.” She lifted the square to

Shaun’s lips. “Go on. Give it a try.”

Shaun did. And found it altogether delightful, although it left a

slightly peculiar aftertaste which reminded him, unaccountably, of

freshly mown hay.

“Good, isn’t it?”

“Very good,” he agreed. “Unusual.”

WINONA KENT

174

“Have the rest of it. I’ve got lots more.”

Shaun accepted the offer and sat down on the sofa so as to

avoid dropping crumbs on the expensive carpet.

Somewhere in the distance, he could hear the beginnings of

Giles Jessop’s pop band’s concert. He listened, finding the tune

pleasing to his ears.

“I shall return to the armoury,” his father decided, “if you have

no objections.”

“None whatsoever,” Shaun replied, amused, applying himself

again to the baked chocolate square.

William’s place on the sofa was taken by Miss Hancock, who

seemed also to be very taken by the music of Brighton Peer.

There passed a period of time, perhaps thirty minutes, during

which Shaun engaged Miss Hancock in polite and trivial

conversation, although none of it was particularly enlightening or,

in truth, of much interest to him.

And then, Shaun saw Jackie. She was wearing a plain black dress

with a white collar and long sleeves with white cuffs. Her legs were

encased in black stockings and in her hair she wore black ribbons.

She walked into the drawing room and lingered for a moment,

observing who was there. And then, obviously seeing no one she

recognized, she turned, and left.

Shaun got to his feet.

“Hey lover, where you going?” Miss Hancock reached out to

take his hand.

“I must excuse myself. Please forgive me.”

He tried to pull free, but Miss Hancock would not let go.

“Stay awhile, lover. I’m all on my own here.”

Shaun managed to release himself and made for the door. But

he was too late. Jackie had disappeared. He looked to the right and

to the left. She was gone.

And something else was happening. He felt most peculiar.

Things were slowing down, as if he was mired in jelly. It seemed as

if his mind was occupying one particular place, while his body—his

hands and feet, his legs, his arms—were most definitely elsewhere,

and not connected in any logical way whatsoever.

“How are you feeling, lover?”

It was Miss Hancock again, her voice dancing around his head.

It took Shaun a few moments to process what she had said.

“I am…content,” he said.

MARIANNE’S MEMORY

175

“That’s the secret of my special brownies. They make you very

very very content. And I do like to make my gentleman

acquaintances happy. Why don’t you come with me?”

Shaun wanted to object. He knew he ought to. He was acutely

aware that Miss Hancock’s suggestion would not be condoned by

Mrs. Collins, and that he needed to be here and alert and most of

all, locating Jackie Lewis…and not being led by the hand to the

servants’ staircase, and most certainly not allowing himself to be

taken down into the cellar.

Where Miss Hancock was leading him was familiar. She

produced a key and unlocked the door. It was the door to his old

bedroom, the one where he had slept every night while in the

employ of Monsieur Duran as his head groom.

“Have you never tried hash before, Mr. Drake?” she inquired.

“I have not,” said Shaun. His voice was somewhere else as well,

and most definitely had not come from anywhere within his body.

“Mmmm,” said Miss Hancock. “A virgin. My favourite.

Welcome to my dungeon, Mr. Virgin.”

The room was unmistakably his, but unrecognizable. Gone

were his upright wooden wardrobe, his books and his framed

paintings of horses and the brass harness decorations he had used

as paperweights. There was a bed. It was not his simple bed, but an

elaborately large one, with four brass posts, laid with a black satin

sheet and a similarly encased pillow. And it appeared to be the only

article of furniture there aside from a small round table and a

candelabrum, its five branches fitted with white wax candles.

Miss Hancock switched off the electric light—an embellishment

that had been added in his absence—and lit the candelabrum, then

closed and secured the door. And then she kissed him, quite

forwardly, and loosened the tie that Mrs. Collins had expertly

knotted for him earlier in the evening, and slid it over his head.

“Would you like to be flogged, my lovely virgin?” she

whispered, into his ear.

“No, I would not,” Shaun replied.

Miss Hancock removed her red satin cape and stepped out of

her gown and revealed what she was wearing underneath—a black

corset and stockings and suspenders, very similar to the stockings

and suspenders and corset Mrs. Collins had donned in Mr.

Tavistock's gentlemen's club, which were now causing some

familiar stirrings within him. “Are you absolutely sure about

WINONA KENT

176

that…?”

“I have been flogged in the past and I am not overly anxious to

suffer the punishment again,” he objected, finding it increasingly

more difficult to put into words what was drifting through his

mind. “Especially as I have done nothing to deserve it.”

Miss Hancock bestowed another kiss upon him and undid the

buttons of his shirt.

“But you and I both know you’ve been a very, very naughty

boy,” she whispered, slipping his shirt down and removing it,

expertly. “And you know what happens to naughty boys.”

She turned him around.

“Oh!” she said, surprised. “You really have been flogged!

You’ve got scars.”

“I would not tell you an untruth.”

“How many lashes?” She began to count them, touching each

faint mark with a curious finger.

“A dozen,” Shaun supplied, “and one for good measure.

However, the instrument of punishment was a cat, so you may

multiply that figure by nine.”

“You have no idea how much this turns me on,” Miss Hancock

whispered, kissing each mark on his back. “I’m going to strip you

naked and tie you to that bed and have my wicked wicked way with

you.”

She turned him around again and pushed him onto the bed,

face up, and had fastened his wrists to each of the brass posts

before he could object. Now she was undoing his trousers…they

were off…and what he was wearing beneath…and his boots and

his socks…and his ankles were tied to the posts at the foot of the

bed…and it had all happened in an instant, a completely irrationally

slow instant.

“And now,” said Miss Hancock, reaching for the candelabrum,

“I’m going to visit every inch of your exquisite body, top to

bottom, and…perhaps…drop a tiny splash of candle wax along the

way…to heighten your senses…to explore the pain…”

As she tipped the candles, there was a knock upon the door, an

urgent-sounding rat-a-tat.

“What?” Miss Hancock shouted in an annoyed voice, replacing

the candelabrum upon the little table.

Shaun recognized the gentleman’s voice instantly. “Might I

inquire as to whether you are entertaining Mr. Drake within?”

MARIANNE’S MEMORY

177

“We’re busy!”

But William would not be dissuaded.

“I must insist. Mr. Drake’s presence is urgently required

upstairs.”

“By who?”

“By his good wife, Mrs. Drake, who is the mother of his four

children, the youngest of which suffers from an ailment which has

worsened this past hour. She has come from the village. He must

hasten to his home immediately.”

Miss Hancock clambered off the bed and opened the door.

“For real?” she said.

William shielded his eyes, both from the sight of Miss Hancock

in her revealing costume, and the sight of Shaun, completely

unclothed and bound to the bed.

“The child is feverish and the physician has been summoned.

Mrs. Drake has collapsed from the strain but has been brought

back to consciousness with a judicious dose of sal volatile.”

“OK,” said Miss Hancock. “You win. This is too weird.”

She shut the door and quickly unfastened Shaun’s wrists and

ankles.

“Just my luck,” she said, handing him his clothes. “Maybe next

time, hey?”

* * *

William was waiting for Shaun beside the servants’ staircase.

“I apologise for the interruption however I observed your

departure with Miss Hancock and thought it wise to intervene.”

“I am indebted to you,” Shaun replied, heavily. “Have you seen

Mrs. Collins…?”

“I have not. But I promise I shall safeguard your secret, Mr.

Patrick. Shall we rejoin the party?”


About the Author


Winona Kent was born in London, England. She immigrated to Canada with her parents at age 3, and grew up in Regina, Saskatchewan, where she received her BA in English from the University of Regina. After settling in Vancouver, she graduated from UBC with an MFA in Creative Writing. More recently, she received her diploma in Writing for Screen and TV from Vancouver Film School.

Winona has been a temporary secretary, a travel agent and the Managing Editor of a literary magazine. Her writing breakthrough came many years ago when she won First Prize in the Flare Magazine Fiction Contest with her short story about an all-night radio newsman, Tower of Power. More short stories followed, and then novels: Skywatcher, The Cilla Rose Affair, Cold Play, Persistence of Memory and In Loving Memory. Marianne’s Memory is Winona’s sixth novel.

Winona currently lives in Vancouver and works as a Graduate Programs Assistant at the University of British Columbia.


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