The eight-part thriller, produced by the same team that did previous Netflix Coben series “Safe,” starring Michael C. Hall, and “The Five,” goes into production in March. Coben will executive produce the series along with Danny Brocklehurst, who will serve as lead writer, and Nicola Shindler, the CEO of Studiocanal-owned production company Red. The director has not been named.
Armitage will play Adam Price, a happily married father of two whose life is turned upside-down after a stranger tells him a secret about his wife. The revelation catapults him into a larger world of conspiracy and danger.
Armitage, who also starred in “Berlin Station,” can currently be seen in “The Lodge,” directed by Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz, which will screen at Sundance.
Larry Tanz, Netflix’s vice president of content acquisition, called “The Stranger” a “riveting rollercoaster of a novel.”
Brocklehurst said: “It’s fantastic to reunite with Netflix, Harlan, and Red for another complex, emotional thriller. Richard Armitage is perfect for the role of Adam, and I can’t wait to bring our binge-able new drama to life.”
The Stranger follows Adam Price as a secret destroys his perfect life, sending him on a collision course with a deadly conspiracy. Price has a good life, two wonderful sons, and a watertight marriage, until one night a stranger sits next to him in a bar and tells him a devastating secret about his wife, Corinne. Soon Adam finds himself tangled in something far darker than even Corinne’s deception, and realizes that if he doesn’t make exactly the right moves, the conspiracy he’s stumbled into will not only ruin lives—it will end them.
Richard Fee will also executive produce the series. Madonna Baptiste will serve as series producer.
Web channel: Netflix Runtime: 60 minutes Status: In Production (May 2019) Show Type: Scripted Genres: Thriller
We already had an epic series on this particular Turkish sultan two years ago but it wasn’t overly successful and got cancelled after five or six episodes, but now Turkish Netflix is ready to launch new series RISE OF EMPIRES: OTTOMAN which is a mix of docu series and a scripted one. Starting on Netflix from January 24th in 190 countries around the world, this new historical documentary will follow Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II who wages an epic campaign to take the
The six part series is a mix of documentary and scripted scenes
Byzantine capital of Constantinople and shapes the course of history for centuries. This event is celebrated in Turkey as the highlight of their history,
Cem Yigit Uzumoglu plays one of the darkest figures in mediaeval history
but in Europe it was a dark moment when the last barriers against their invasion fell announcing many centuries of Ottomans’ bloody rule in Southern Europe, a rule marked by death, rape, slavery, genocide and gruesome tyranny.
What’s The Story About? Directed by Emmy Award winning Emre Şahin and written by Celal Şengör, Liz Lake, Kelly McPherson and Emrah Safa Gürkan, the series sees young Turkish superstar Cem Yiğit Üzümoğlu portraying the infamous
The sultan was just 21 years old when he conquered Constantinople
sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, while Tuba Büyüküstün appears as famous Serbian princess Despina Mara who, as one of sultan Murad II’s wives, took care of him after his mother died and then helped him later on secure the
Tuba Buyukustun plays Serbian princess Mara who was forced to marry her country’s mortal enemy Murad II in order to become a sultana and secure peace for her country threatened by the Ottoman empire
throne for himself. Tommaso Basili plays Emperor Constantine XI, while Tolga Tekin portrays Mehmed’s father Sultan Murad II! Charles Dance is narrating the six part documentary which launches on the streaming service
Tomasso Basili plays Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI
next week bringing the epic 15th-century story of Mehmed II, known as Mehmed the Conqueror, which chronicles his astonishing and fabled rise from 13-year-old Child Sultan to toppling Constantinople in 1453 at the age of 21
The series was shot in English, although not very good as you can hear in the trailer
and becoming the ruler of the Ottoman Empire. The series also features historians including Roger Crowley and Jason Goodwin who give their in-depth analysis.
Check it out yourself: coming into theatres March 6th based on a novel by Jonathan Raymond.
What’s The Story?
A loner and cook (John Magaro) has traveled west and joined a group of fur trappers in Oregon Territory, though he only finds connection with a Chinese immigrant (Orion Lee). The men collaborate on a business, although its longevity is reliant upon the participation of a wealthy landowner’s prized milking cow.
As Squeaks and Kip came to rest on the benches under the pavilion, she said, “I can only stay a short time.”
“I am aware of that. So, tell me, what did you learn tonight?”
“I learned how I feel about you.”
Kip audibly sucked in air, hearing that and not expecting it. “Did I pass muster?”
“I am asking if I passed inspection.”
“I think you should have a medal.”
“Would a knighthood be asking too much?” he smiled.
“That would be the perfect title to bestow as you championed me in battle.”
“In battle? Did I?”
“Suppose I had driven Lord Stokes tonight without you; what would I have done with all those men out there?”
“It would be the indoctrination of the twenty years you have waited.”
“Yes, I guess it would be. No matter how often my father or Lord Stokes tried to convince me of what I would be up against, I was sure I could manage. There are just so many of them, though.”
“Yes, there are many, but in the circles, you will drive, I think you will be among real gentlemen drivers. Certainly, any driver, driving for someone at the House of Lords will be beyond question. In your world that was all you saw; the handful in the Parliament area. Now, that you are out and about, you see the bigger picture of the world you have chosen. I doubt you accompanied your father on many night events. I know a good many independents and can say they are gentlemen, too. They would always come to your rescue. We are a brotherhood and police ourselves. The drivers who drive for a service have someone to answer to and could lose their jobs if they are not polite. Just stay away from the low-end districts.”
“I think I am aware of that. But even though they are gentlemen, how do I handle all the interest in me? I don’t think safety is my concern. I might be wooed to death.”
My God. She’s right. “Some are married, so it’s not all of them.”
“Suppose they think I belong to you; would that prevent the attempted wooing?”
“Yes, but not by me. After that wooing statement, yes, let us do assume you belong to me.”
Kip stopped there. Squeaks looked expectant for more of an answer.
“And this.” Kip pulled her gently into his arms and began kissing her face, removing her hat. As the curls unfurled, he swept his fingers through her long tendrils and drew them to his nose, across his face, filling his lungs with her scent. The gas lights around the park walkway lit her pale neck and porcelain skin. She was trembling. He was moving too fast.
Squeaks whispered, “Kip, I am going to faint soon. Please give me room for air.”
“God Almighty, I cannot help myself,” Kip said, holding his head in his hands. “I never lose control like this. I beg your apology even if this was welcome. I did not want to treat you this way. I was hoping you would accept me, and you have, but I have pushed past my own boundaries as a gentleman. I must take you home.”
Squeaks quietly stood as she wrapped her arm around his. She was delirious with emotions and sensations throughout her body, all new to her, but unreservedly welcomed.
When they arrived at his coach, Kip opened the door and asked her to sit inside. She entered without protest. He closed the door and stepped up to his bench.
The short journey to the Stokes’s residence was agony to Kip. What had he done? Had he frightened her? She was silent after his apology. “I am making a disaster of myself, my life.”
Fearing her words, Kip pulled the coach to a stop in the Stokes’s stable area, jumped down and opened the door. A shaking hand appeared, and he took it, assisting her out. He watched in painful silence as she walked towards the servant’s entrance without looking back. She had forgotten her hat, and her hair hung beautifully long. Everyone would know that something had occurred and question her. One of the stable hands came out to see who arrived, and Kip gave him the hat she had worn. “A gust of wind took her hat and hair,” he lied.
Kip pulled his team home. Disappointed in himself, a proper gentleman, a nobleman, and an heir apparent; he could not accept his own conduct. He was positive that he was falling in love but never expected to feel a fierce obsession. Perhaps it was the conversation of all the men wanting to woo her. Did he have to prove all of his love in one moment? He had apologized to her, hadn’t he? There was nothing left but to take what was handed to him.
The night kitchen cleaner was mopping the floors when Squeaks entered.
“Miss Squeaks, His Lordship wanted to see you when you returned. He’s waiting in his study. Are you, all right?”
“Yes, I am all right,” Squeaks uttered in her foggy voice. She shuffled towards Lord Stokes’s den, trying to pull herself together. She felt as if she had drunk too much of her father’s wine. She knocked.
She managed the door knob and the-now-heavy door; taking only a few steps into the room, which was unnatural for her.
“Come closer, Squeaks. Are you tired?”
“Yes, I am tired, sir.”
“How did your training go with Kip tonight?”
“Heavenly?” Stokes almost laughed out loud.
“It was a grand experience for me, sir. Kip said I did a good job pulling the team out onto the dark road. Nary a sway, sir.”
“He let you drive his team?”
“Well, we were talking when his rider’s name was called. He pulled into the line. There were torches all around our area, and I do not think he remembered he had not lit his lanterns on the coach. I pointed it out, and instead of me trying to light them while moving, he handed me the reins. I was out of the yard before he could take back his seat.”
“Bravo, Squeaks. I will feel thoroughly confident in you for tomorrow night. How did you do as footman, if I may ask?”
“I think I embarrassed Kip. Something happened that neither of us had thought about ahead of time.”
“You could embarrass no one. You must feel that way in your mind. What happened?”
“My bosom jiggled against the back window, sir. Lord Astaire thanked me for the view when he got out. He was laughing, sir.”
Lord Stokes thought he would burst through the seams of his night attire. Yes, he would hear about it tomorrow and suffer the embarrassment with a smile.
“I am sorry, sir. I have caused you embarrassment, too, I should think. I apologized to Kip. I wish I could have left them home, sir. I am too short for a rear footman.”
“I see,” he said, squelching his smile. “I believe no one would have foreseen that coming.”
“No, sir. Kip said he had thought everything through every step, every footfall, but never that.”
“How did he react?
“He felt Lord Astaire would not be embarrassed and said I should not apologize to him. He stated that he would. Kip said he had no intentions of hiding me and making people think I was a man. He was proud to have me, and then I go and do something like that. I had to press even harder against the glass to keep them from bouncing.”
“Bosoms … always drawing attention.”
“Excuse me, sir? Am I not supposed to be wearing something that keeps them from jiggling?”
“I would assume so. We shall find out in due time. Don’t mind me. Too much scotch tonight as your father and I worried about you. Any other stories to tell?”
“Yes, I talked with Kip about all the men who came to meet me. He made me sit on his bench and told them who I was and that I was his responsibility tonight, his employee.”
“Were they gentlemen?”
“Yes, they were. I do not fear for my safety anymore. I told Kip I might be wooed to death. Oh, and he kissed me. Will that be all, sir?”
Stokes cleared his throat, “Ahem … it seems you had a very exciting evening, then.”
“Then why do you have that glazed look?”
“I believe I said Kip kissed me, sir.”
“And this is the result? I shall have words with that man tomorrow if you feel impugned in any way.”
“Oh, no sir. I wanted him to do it again, but he said he didn’t feel gentlemanly. I guess he’s been thinking about kissing me, and maybe he was disappointed. I have never been kissed, sir.”
“How did that happen; do you think?”
“I was telling him I might be wooed too much and asked him what if people thought I belonged to him, would it stop.”
“He said, ‘what if you did belong to me,’ then he kissed me. After that, he brought me home.”
“Do you think he fancies you?”
“You think he was just playing with your affections?”
“No, sir. I think he loves me.”
“Are there time periods of falling in love, sir?”
“You have me there. I do not think so. And how do you feel about this driver, Kip?”
“I think I love him, too.”
“Have you two had words to this effect?”
“I would like to meet your Kip. I had heard of him before you met him.”
“We are going on a picnic Sunday. He will let me rein his horses. He wants to sketch me. Should he come and visit with you before we leave?”
“Yes, I would like to have a private chat with him.”
“That is all. You may retire.”
“Good evening, milord.”
Squeaks left the room. During the conversation, she knew she was saying too much, but the words spilled forth effortlessly.
Late in the evening, sitting on his sofa, Kip felt he would seek out his sister. “I am too impatient,” he told the air. “Where do I turn now? I will not survive the loss of another woman whom I love.” Kip began to imagine his dead sister. She was trying to tell him something. Her image swirled vividly into his mind. He was taken aback by the sharp details of her face. She is watching over me. I can feel it. Or do I desperately wish it to be true.”
Kip stayed awake a long time. He drew and drew again, the picture in his mind of Rebecca Dorset standing rear footman, turning towards him with a smile. To him, that was his pinnacle moment, He would still hope. His sister’s appearance left him feeling well about Squeaks. He wanted more than life to believe that.
The next morning, on his drives through the city, he kept wondering how Squeaks was coping at the Parliament yard. Boots had better take his place and stay near her. She would probably be proposed to before the day was over. He was adding salt into his own wound in some effort to exact revenge on himself for his thoughts of which she had no knowledge.
The hours wore on, and he stopped into the Horse and Harness Tavern for a meal with his friends. Of course, Squeaks was the topic of conversation, and Kip kept his smile, telling them how skilled she was. No remarks were made towards a romantic inclination. He was happy for that.
“Who are you driving tonight, Kip?”
“It will be Lord Caldwell.”
“What has happened to Briggs, his own driver?”
“I believe he has been called away for a short time. I might have Caldwell for several days. I will know more tomorrow.”
“I’ve got Lady Huston,” said Lucas. “She tips rather well.”
“Lucky you. I have Baron … Baron … oh, what’s his name? The one who dresses like a peacock all the time. He never takes a woman with him,” Jonathan added.
“And you know why that is, right?” Marc inquired, laughing.
“I do. I keep as much distance as possible. I hear he propositions drivers all the time.”
“Does he tip well, Jonathan?” They all laughed.
“Where are Matthew and Kyle?” Kip asked.
“Matthew was feeling unwell yesterday, and I think Kyle has been called back to the Met. They want several pictures of the coach to pass to the bobbies in Whitechapel.”
“Still no word on that Caldwell woman?”
“None, Kip. I wonder if she is related to your Lord Caldwell.”
“Her cousin, my rider that night, thought there might be a very distant connection. She had heard of an Earl in their lineage but had no knowledge how any of them were related.”
“Squeaks has her first night drive, tonight, right Kip?”
“Yes. You will not believe what happened last night.” Kip proceeded to tell them the story of lighting the coach lamps and Squeaks pulling the team out into a dark turn she had never taken or seen. And how she did it all with him going back and forth in front of her. “No sway or lean whatsoever, lads. I could have been walking a rope.”
“So, when are you inviting the lass out, Kip?”
Surprised at the question, he answered, “What makes you think I haven’t?”
“Well, in the past, you couldn’t have waited to tell us; that’s why we ask.”
“Why haven’t any of you asked her out?” Kip continued.
“I might just do that tonight,” said Lucas.
“Excuse me gents. I shall get back to making coin to take out this new driver.” He smiled at them as he left.
Kip thought about Sunday and his planned sketching. If she declined, he had no one to blame but himself. At least, he had the best sketch of her on his mantel at home.
Squeaks stayed on her bench most of the next morning. The crowd that came by to say hello was slightly smaller than previous days. Perhaps one day she might be able to stroll to other coaches and talk casually as drivers do.
Dusk would settle in an hour, encouraging Kip to end his day and head home. He would clean his coach, dress, and have dinner with his father and brother. After dinner, he would once again become Kip the driver, instead of Trevor Caldwell, the heir.
During dinner, Gus announced that he was thinking of asking for Regina’s hand. There were questions, and a discussion about the lady since Lord Caldwell had met her once, and Kip knew her not at all.
“I am happy for you, Gus,” Trevor said, shaking his hand.
“And you, Trev?”
“There is a lady I may wish to bring into my life, and there will be significant decisions to be made if she takes to me.”
“That wouldn’t be Lord Stokes’s driver, would it? His father asked. “I am afraid we had a jolly laugh at your expense over her predicament last night.”
“How did you know about that?”
“It seems Stokes waited up to see about her adventure, and she told him everything.”
“I would assume so, son. I know it was you who offered the additional night training for her last night. Was there more than the footman failure?” he laughed.
“What’s this?” Gus asked. “What is footman failure? Who is ‘her’?”
Trevor became red in the face. Over brandy and cigars, Trevor told them the story and how that part of his plan had never been considered. The three men laughed and smiled hearing it. They were not making sport of Squeaks but the fact that it happened under Trevor’s tutelage. “And yes, Father, I have an interest in Miss Rebecca Dorset.”
“Were there other tales from last night?” Gus inquired.
“Yes, but one is personal, and the other couple would take time that we do not have. Perhaps in the future.”
It was time to leave for the dinner engagement.
Squeaks kept pacing back and forth in front of her mirror. Did she look smart enough? Was her livery crisp and pressed? She had braided her hair so that not all of it was hidden under her hat. Squeaks ironed her black bow. She had talked to Jimmy, the footman, and pleaded to borrow his cravat. He gave in to her smiles, trotting off to find that part of his uniform. Jimmy tied it on Squeaks in an unassuming style. It was not to be frilly or fancy. It was to blend in with the shirt and be close to invisible.
“Squeaks, check your cravat often to ensure it has not turned on your neck. It must be kept neat at all times. If you ask to wear a pocket watch, you are headed into Butler livery,” he laughed.
“Drivers must have timepieces. They have to, don’t they? I am going to ask father.”
Squeaks tapped lightly on her father’s door, knowing he was still awake.
“Come in.” Clyde noticed the cravat immediately and smiled. “You look most becoming, Squeaks. Very professional. I am not sure I will have a job available to me when I am well.”
“Father, you know that isn’t so. Perhaps, I can work some evenings with Kip. Didn’t you wear a pocket watch? A silver one with a chain?”
“Don’t tell me you want that, too?”
“I think that will complete the entire look, wouldn’t you say?”
“In-service rarely need them because they just wait. It’s in my top drawer over there. Get it for me, Squeaks.”
She retrieved it as she announced, “Let me see if I know how this goes. Don’t tell me.”
“As you wish.” Clyde sat back and smiled at her fumbling. He could see some type of thought process going on as she started from the vest pocket backward toward the buttonholes.
“Isn’t the chain supposed to be seen, Father?”
“I will tell you that is a short chain, not a long one. It will not drape from both pockets as some seem to do today with the newer watches.”
“What do you mean? I see it has a key on the end and a small medallion of the Stokes’s coat of arms.”
“Yes, it also has a t-bar. All chains have a t-bar. That prevents the chain from sliding through the buttonhole. First, figure out which hand you will use to pull the watch from your pocket. Remember you may have reins in one hand. Place the watch in the opposite pocket from your rein hand. Slide the T-bar through the second buttonhole from the bottom of your vest. The medallion or any small piece of men’s jewelry is called a fob. It is strictly ornamental and is a personal choice.”
“Great. How does it look?”
“With your small body, it looks too big, but I know you are trying to look outstanding tonight. You have succeeded.”
Squeaks kissed her father on his forehead. “Thank you, father. I feel perfect. If I can only drive that way tonight.”
“There should be no issues tonight. I know the route, and there are no tight turns or road slants. Since it hasn’t rained for some time, there may be very few ruts to avoid. You will see Kip tonight?”
“I hope so.”
“If you have questions, go to him.”
“Father, I might go to him without questions.”
“You are scaring your old father with that talk. Don’t give your heart away so easily.”
“How can I help it?”
“He is the first man to approach you. It may not be real love, but it feels like it is.”
“When I have time, you shall tell me how to know the difference. I must go.”
“Good luck, Rebecca.”
“Good night, Father.”
As Lord Caldwell arrived at the coach, wearing his long cape, silk top hat, and ornamental cane, his son opened the coach door. Trevor kept his eyes forward, not looking at his rider. The step was already in place.
“Good evening, milord.”
His father smiled. “Good evening, driver.” He played along and stepped inside.
Trevor raised the step assembly, closed the door, and climbed to his seat. There he waited for the signal.
His father sat inside waiting for the movement, but it didn’t come. “Are you going to drive me tonight or not?” he chuckled.
“If milord is ready.”
“I am ready.”
Trevor paced the horses to a slow start. It was a strange feeling to be driving his father to a special event, being in his most elegant state of service.
The route and drive were uneventful, and his horses performed flawlessly. They trotted in tandem giving a light foot impact, which never kicked up divots on the road or grass parking areas. Trevor pulled up to the rented ballroom, and his father was attended by a footman. Hearing the door close, he paced the horses toward the parking yard and scanned the ring for Squeaks.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote in the United States. It was a victory that took decades of work and the perseverance of countless women and men to make happen. And now, you can commemorate those historic individuals and with a 500-piece Votes for Women puzzle, which is available on UncommonGoods for $22.
The puzzle features many prominent historical figures like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who never got to vote in her lifetime but played a key role in the suffrage movement; Sojourner Truth, an escaped slave who fought fiercely for women’s rights; Frederick Douglass, a known supporter of women’s rights activists; and Susan B. Anthony, who also didn’t live long enough to cast a vote herself, but helped lay the groundwork for the amendment. Measuring 23 inches in diameter when complete, this illustrated puzzle also comes with a poster-sized pamphlet that includes more information about the historic event and the people involved.
Did you know that the 19th Amendment was actually proposed in 1878 but was shot down? Check out these other facts about the historic amendment by heading here, and once you’re done, learn about five times women in the United States voted before 1920.
Earlier this winter everyone was shocked when Will Poulter left Amazon’s LORD OF THE RINGS TV series which is currently in pre-production, but it did not take them long to replace him. His role of young hero Beldor will now go to Robert Aramayo, who starred in Harley and Davidson and Game of Thrones series. As Deadline reports, Amazon has already ordered the second season of the new epic show, the most expensive project ever seen on the small screens (the are rumours that the whole series will cost more than one billion dollars), but the production will go on a few months hiatus after filming first two episodes of season one so that the writers could map out the story and prepare it for season two as well. The only thing that is known of the plot so far is that it will be set in Middle Earth, exploring new storylines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. We have already announced Maxim Baldry, Ema Horvath, Markella Kavenagh (as female lead Tyra), Joseph Mawle (as villain Oren) and Morfydd Clark (as Elven queen Galadriel) in the cast of the series that will have 20 episodes in the first season.
Inspector Marshall was waiting patiently for Kyle and the sketching policeman to finish his drawing of the driver who was unknown to everyone.
“I had not thought of this, until now,” Kyle said, “but I think his top hat was frayed and well worn. He must have come from another place. London drivers are not that rumpled. Too many high-borns to hail a cabby looking like that. He definitely does not fit the London independent coachman and certainly not a liveried staff driver. He looked like he was from the Whitechapel district if you ask me. I cannot see anyone attending that affair who would hail or hire a driver from that area.”
Marshall sat back smoking his pipe. Whitechapel could have drivers hardly seen by the London mainstream coachmen. Perhaps, there were some with no scruples who would do anything for money. That would be his next area to investigate once he had this sketch in hand.
Finally, a face was born. Kyle thought it to be the best he could remember, but it was dark that night. “I’m sorry. I wish I could do better. I can draw the coach for you, though.”
Kyle took the pad and pencil in hand and slowly sketched the coach. To Inspector Marshall, it looked like every other coach out there, but Kyle started pointing out differences. One of the biggest differences was that it could carry four people, similar to Kip’s. Peerage families have at least one of these. It was old as if discarded from a wealthy family. It was muddied, looking as though it had been driven some distance before arriving. Inspector Marshall seemed to get lost when Kyle started talking about the suspension.
Typically, Kip gathered with the other men talking but not this evening. He was training.
Squeaks asked about the “Apostles” and “The Almighty” words that had been spoken. As Kip began his story, feeling slightly self-conscious about their reference to him, several lads came out and lit the yard torches, so the drivers had a small amount of light. Kip continued his story, dismayed to see his area being lit. He would have preferred only the lighting coming from the back of the building.
“Kip, you know a lot about me, but I know little about you. I very much want to hear of your life growing up and how you came to be a coachman.”
“Squeaks, I am not ready to speak with anyone concerning my upbringing, but I will tell you something that no one knows.”
“Thank you for that.”
“I have a father, and a brother, and had a sister. She was murdered over a year ago, and that sent me to the depths of depression. I will not speak of her now; I still find it difficult. I left home shortly after that. From there I wandered to London, and the first person I met was Marc, my coachman. The job looked ideal for me. I was visible but hidden if you know what I mean. That is not so true anymore, but I love this life. In all honesty, I cannot say it will be my entire life. I will have responsibilities that must be settled within the family.”
“May I ask a question?”
“Yes, but I may not answer just yet.”
“Are you running from something?”
Kip chuckled. “No, I am not running from anything or anyone except myself. I am sorry to tell you so little. No one even knows I have a sister who died recently.”
“May I ask how you have been able to afford the coach and rare horses?”
Kip mulled that around in his mind. “They have not been purchased with ill-gotten gains. I would rather wait on telling you that if you do not mind.”
“I do not mind whatever it is. I might mind if I knew something was affecting you sadly, and I tend to think it is.”
“Please, do not speculate on my character.”
“If you say so, I will not. You do know you are a mystery to many?”
“Yes, I am a mystery to everyone, including my family. Within me, there are solutions I must seek. I hope that does not affect our new friendship.”
“Friendship? Is that what this is?”
“I am a gentleman. That is the only way I should see it at this time.”
“But … you wish it to be different?”
“Yes. Above all, I hold dear.”
“You fancy me?”
“I do fancy you. Does that upset you, Squeaks?”
“No. I welcome it.”
Kip removed his top hat and hers. He turned to her and could tell she knew he wanted to kiss her. His eyes roamed her face, finally resting on her mouth. He felt her hold his hand, which was resting on his knee. Kip tentatively began to lean towards her, still watching her wet, trembling lips. His eyes drifted to hers before she closed them. Their lips met. It was a light kiss, with Kip taking in her sweet breath. The luscious sensation traveled his body like warm honey, seeking out every part of him.
Squeaks moved her hand to his shoulder, and Kip placed his hand on her waist, moving towards her middle back.
He reluctantly pulled back to see her acceptance of his advance. Her eyes were still closed. He slid his body closer to her and kissed her again, this time encircling her with his arms. Regretfully, Kip heard someone whistling. He let go of her with a sigh as he sat back. That interruption was painful. Bloody hell. He was immediately deflated, which all in all, was better for Squeaks, he realized. Although desperately, he wanted that smooth, exquisite ivory neck of hers, which had been beckoning him for days.
Squeaks whispered, “That was wondrous.”
“Kip, I thought that was you,” called a voice. Oh, I see you have … a … a woman with you?”
“Kyle, this is Squeaks, driver for Lord Stokes.”
“Hello miss. You are the one everyone has been talking about. It is nice to meet you. Is Lord Stokes here tonight? This does not seem his type of affair.”
“No, he is not here, but Kip is showing me how to drive at night since I have to drive Lord Stokes tomorrow evening.”
“Yes, I guess we will all be working tomorrow night. I say, Kip, I have just come from seeing Inspector Marshall. I drew the coach, but another officer drew the driver. It looks a little like him, but I could not explain what I saw in my head. I did the best that I could.”
“I am sure you did, Kyle. Did he have any thoughts?”
“I believe he is going to canvas the Whitechapel area, where a coach like that one could have been hired.”
“That is a good idea.” Kip could hardly talk, thinking about their kiss, and Squeaks was silent herself.
“Marc is here, and I think Jonathan is too. I have not seen him, though.”
“I will go find Marc and disturb you no longer. Good luck, Miss Squeaks. Please know that all of Kip’s friends are at your service and hope the best for you.”
“Thank you, Kyle. I am genuinely grateful. It is nice to have friends among all these men. I may come to rely on all of you at times.”
“Miss, we are your humble champions. Never forget that. Good night.”
As Kyle walked away, Squeaks said, “I feel like I am building an army.”
“You are Squeaks . . . you most certainly are.”
Silence reigned for a few moments; neither having words to proceed such an overture.
Kip thought about what she had just said. He feared his heart would break realizing she was out alone driving the coach at night. Knowing that she was building an army, a large portion of admirers watching over her, gave him some relief. Anyone of them would come to her aid if it was needed.
Squeaks began to speak but stopped herself.
“Please, go on milady,” Kip implored.
“Was that kiss to warn the other drivers away from me or was their real meaning to it? I must know.”
“I have overstepped my boundary.”
“So … it was just for show?”
“No, it was genuine. I beg your pardon, even if it was not unpleasant. I’m getting too far ahead of myself with you.”
They both sat there quietly, wondering what to say or do next. The fear of being seen kissing her was too great an issue for her reputation. Kip assured himself as a gentleman.
“Squeaks, about before …” he was interrupted.
“I understand. I will remember it always, even if it never happens again. It was pure and sacred to me.”
Looking into her eyes, he could see the pool of tears reflecting the golden glow of the yard torches. One slipped down her cheek, and Kip wiped it away with the back of his finger.
“No. Permit me to make myself understood. I wish to be alone with you before I do that again. I will not chance to put your character in any doubt. I should not have done that here and now, as I did. I should have waited.”
“So, does that mean I will be paid later?”
Kip smiled, “If you wish it. I have coin, though.”
“I’ll take your first offer if it is like what just happened.”
Kip had moved away, watching her profile in the torch lighting when Kyle unexpectedly returned. The light was at a distance, and her head and body were silhouetted against the brilliant firey torches. He wanted to reach over and pull the pins from her hair. He’d wanted to do a lot for her, but he must lay those thoughts aside.
Their talking turned to night driving eventually and other small talks about his friends and his sketching until it looked as if the event was coming to an end. Footmen were calling out names to the torch-lit driver’s yard for the lords and ladies who were waiting for their coaches.”
“Do I stay up here with you, this time, Kip?” She looked at him with excitement.
“Yes, Miss Squeaks, you do. You will exit the couple when we arrive at their residence. Remember to wait for a signal. These people have been married for a long time. I doubt you will have to wait at all. I am not sure if you bow or curtsy. What did you do before?”
“I bowed. If I wear a skirt, which I will from this day forward, I will curtsy. I still want to maintain my image as a woman and not one wishing to be a man.”
“I am pleased to hear that,” he smiled. “That suits me as well.”
Kip handed her the top hat she had worn and popped on his own. He found the reins, loosened the brakes, and waited for the name to be called out.
“Kip, I watched as you drove. You are magnificent. I hope to drive as well as you.”
“I have seen you rein. You did very well that day.”
“You followed me?”
“I did, but only for a short time. I think you will find all the drivers do an excellent job. We are out all day and driving all day, unlike you. You are a driver who waits most of the day. I am no better than my friends and other independents.”
“You will tell me what you are seeing or doing special as we drive tonight?”
“I believe that is the reason you accepted my offer, is it not?”
“Not entirely.” Squeaks could see a smile spread across his face as he peered straight ahead.
She is stealing my breath.
He had to remind himself of her innocence, but she had no shyness, which was refreshing. Women seemed to be inherently coy, vague, timid and reserved. Although, amiable qualities all, it appeared to be a blessing to him that those walls didn’t exist. Meeting any challenges with her, if she allowed a romance to blossom, would be her own barrier and not some rule of propriety. That must be the difference of a girl growing up under the guidance of only a father. Everything with her feminist ways would be pure emotions with no hindrance of what was expected. Kip hoped it would be he who she allowed into her heart and not some other man who might not handle her with the delicacy that was needed.
“Kip! They called the Astaire driver.”
He ruffled the reins and pulled the team out into the line that was forming.
“You were far away. You didn’t hear them call us? What were you thinking?”
“I was thinking of you,” Kip said shyly and softly.
Squeaks felt her flesh ripple all over with those words as if someone had poured a cold bucket of water down her back. Every nerve ending seemed to come alive. She assumed her straight back posture and kept her eyes forward. Attention to detail was the expected. She would be humiliated in front of him if she did anything wrong.
“Would you like me to enter them, Kip? They are on my side?”
“The footman will do that because he is waiting with them, specifically. We don’t want to usurp his position. Here we go, now, quiet, please.” Kip couldn’t help but smile, which was all the better for his job. He continued to look straight ahead and listen for the door to close. Next time he would have to tell Squeaks to pay no attention and keep eyes forward when an event footman attended. He felt like this was one of the happiest nights of his life. The carriage pulled into the flow line of teams and coaches leaving the premises.
As they drove, Kip kept his voice low, so his rider would not be disturbed. He talked about the team which was in front of him and told her how they would slow down as they made a turn onto the main thoroughfare.
“See, I am barely applying the reins.”
“Kip! You forgot the coach lanterns.”
“I did? Here, you take the reins, and I will light them.”
It took several minutes for Kip and Squeaks to quietly change places so he could light both sides. Squeaks was ducking around him, looking through his legs as he stepped over her, keeping an eye on the team in front. They were less than a coach length away. Before Kip could settle back in the driver’s seat, Squeaks had negotiated the turn out of the yard, with nary a sway. She took it slow and wide just like a professional. Kip was proud of her.
“Can you take the reins back? That was exhausting.”
“You were excellent. I am proud of you. Why are you exhausted? There will be many of those.”
“I know, but this is your fare, your reputation and I’ve never done that before. I could barely see to turn with you crossing in front of me. This team almost had their noses pushing the coach in front of us. Not driving in, while it was light, I had no gauge of the width I would have to turn coming through the gate.”
“You did all that on instinct?”
“I had no choice. Not instinct but intuition.” She almost screeched.
“Shhh . . .”
“I am sorry,” he chuckled softly, seeing her with that look of consternation on her little face. With those dimples, it was hard to take her seriously.
Kip noticed her hands shaking in her lap. He placed his hand over her folded fingers and squeezed gently, reassuring her of a job well done. “I’ve heard women have intuition, but we men cannot understand it. However, I have now seen it for myself.”
“Will the rider be expecting me to wait for a signal to open the door?”
“This client will, but it will be almost immediate. You are too nervous, Squeaks. We have been over this before. Calm down. You’re trying too hard.”
“I should not apologize for what happened before? You know, the jiggling?”
“Never. That would be my place, and we certainly do not want to alert his wife about your entertainment show.”
“But I didn’t show anything.”
“Not in your mind, Miss Innocent.”
“So, you don’t think he will hold that against you?”
“No, not at all. He might request you riding footman next time.” All Kip could do was grin, but he wanted to laugh at the very thought of that happening to a male rider.
As they were nearing the residence, Kip passed the street.
“Are you missing your turn, Kip?”
“Now, think about why I did that.”
Squeaks figured it out as soon as he made the second turn. “You did it to right the coach to the curb in the proper direction. Is there a correct side to exit and enter from?”
“I’m not sure about a rule of this, but I try to offer them the side where the gentleman had last entered the coach.”
“Meaning he most likely is sitting on that side and would exit first?”
“Correct, my promising prodigy.”
Squeaks looked at him and glowed. “That hardly came up between my father and me.”
“All right, get ready to climb down.”
Before the coach had stopped, Squeaks’ boots hit the cobblestone road. She stood out of sight of the door and waited. The gentleman shouted, “driver,” and she opened the door and lowered the steps. Their butler was on his way. Lord Astaire exited first and passed his wife’s hand to the butler’s arm.
“Miss Squeaks, from what I could see, you did an admirable job. I am sure Lord Stokes has made a sage decision installing you. Just be mindful of your safety.”
“I will, milord. Thank you, milord. Good evening to you and Her Ladyship.”
“May I suggest one thing to you?”
“By all means, Your Lordship.”
“You should wear a skirt.”
“Sir, Lord Stokes’ livery has provided me with a skirt to cover the male’s uniform. I do have that. I had to borrow one of our footmen’s uniforms to blend with Kip tonight. I could not wear my master’s colors. I was hoping you would not notice that I was not a male, sir.” She blushed under their street lamp.
“Miss Squeaks, it was quite unmistakable that you were not a male by your … your hat that does not fit well. I believe driver’s hats to be fitted tightly as to not allow the wind to blow them off of their heads, yes?”
“I beg your apology, sir.”
“Please do not do that. I think it was the best part of this whole evening. I am just glad that you now know what smiles you will bring to your male riders.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Lord Astaire laughed heartily and looked up at Kip. “Thank you, Kip. Another pleasant ride. I will send you a draft for this month. Is there any extra for your attendant?”
“No, Your Lordship. This was a training session for her.”
“Lucky lad. Good night.”
“Good evening, milord.” Kip knew but would not tell Squeaks that Lord Astaire’s experience would circulate Parliament tomorrow, like a torch to a barn.
Squeaks waited on the ground until they entered their doorway. She did that with Lord Stokes but did not know if that was proper for all of Kip’s clients.
“Squeaks, get up here, you beautifully skilled show-off. Next time you need to explain something, make it short. He doesn’t want your life history.” Kip couldn’t hold back the laugh.
Kip reined away from the curb but pulled over to the side only moments later and took Squeaks into his arms with an intensity that surprised him. He wasn’t as gentle as he had planned.
Squeaks felt her hat fall off. The closeness was overwhelming. No one had held her in their arms like that since her mother was alive. She couldn’t breathe. Instinctively her own arms wrapped around him pulling him closer.
Kip held her head as his firm kiss was pushing her backward. The signs were clear that she was enjoying it. He felt a hairpin. As he continued to press his lips hard against hers, and slide his tongue over them, he pulled out several others.
Finally, he allowed her to absorb what was happening between them and released his hold on her head. Her black hair cascaded down her back, almost touching her waist. In the lamplight, the sheen of her hair reflected shooting stars of brilliance as a full moon lights the sea.
“What happened to my hair? Did you do that?”
“I kiss you like that, and you talk about your hair? You are different in so many ways,” he laughed, ruffling her hair and then the reins.
Squeaks became quiet.
“I have no words for how you made me feel. It was the most pleasant experience I can remember, ever. No one has held me like that since I was a child. I had forgotten how beautiful and warming that could feel. You made me feel wanted. Thank you.”
“Squeaks, you are wanted … wanted by me, and I am beginning to think you are needed by me. I never thought I needed anything. You are weakening my restraint. I fear the gentleman will leave me before you do.”
“I am not sure you could frighten me away even with my innocence. You are awakening in me … some form of sensitivity. I cannot explain it. It’s so deep, and I have little understanding of it. I shouldn’t be trusting myself to you. I want to be accountable for my own responses.”
“I pray to God that you trust me. I am growing more than fond of you. It seems to be irreversible. There is no effort on my part to enjoy you. It just keeps rolling toward me and filling me with … with happiness which has been unprecedented in my life.”
“You are going to make me cry with words such as those. No one has ever talked to me that way.”
“Then weep, my sweet, and I will dry your tears.”
Kip drove the team slowly while deep in thought. The quiet grew to be an entity unto itself. The feeling that he might burst apart with words of love was nearing panic. What is happening to me?
“I know why you pulled the pins from my hair,” she giggled.
“I’ve wanted to do that since I met you.”
“I do not think that is the reason.”
“And just what is your reckoning on my pulling the pins from your hair?”
“You did not want anyone thinking you were kissing another man.”
Kip laughed. “Surely, that is why. Do you need to be home now?”
“Not for a while. Can we park and talk somewhere?”
“Yes, I know the very place. I will take you for a walk.”
“A walk?” There was a hint of disappointment in her voice.
“Would you rather not?”
“Will we sit at all?”
Kip saw her frowning and wanted to grin, thinking he might know her thoughts.
“Yes, we will go to the park and sit at one of the empty pavilions. There should be a few people there at this hour.”
“Yes. Let’s do that. I’ve only seen it in passing. Perhaps I should put my hair back up.”
“Please don’t. Just pile it under your hat for our short walk.”
“All right. You like my hair?”
“I think I love your hair.”
“Do you have a brush under the bench? It’s not much different than brushing your horse’s mane.”
“Perhaps I shall buy a brush and keep it with me. I am definitely buying you a top hat, in hopes, we can do this again.”
“I think you should design a Kipling Driver line of livery clothing,” she chided.
“You may have a good point. I actually designed what I am wearing.”
“I wasn’t serious.”
“I know you were not serious. I kind of like the idea, myself.”
“There! That remark right there, adds to your mystery.”
“I hope you will want to discover all about me.”
“I really do not need to know any more about you than I do now. I respect you. I am trusting you. I admire you. And I think I want to be with you often.”
“I want you with me if you can find your way across the moat,” he chuckled. “I anticipate every coming moment, such as Saturday night.”
“You are overwhelming me. I will not sleep for days. I would like you to kiss me again, but your words are driving deep into my soul. I need time to work through them. I am new at this.”
“Your pleasure is my thirst. Just let us become familiar with each other. Here we are. In two days, on Sunday, you can drive the team.”
“You are overwhelming me again. No more emotional words, I beg of you!”
Kip smiled at Squeaks with longing in his body and soul. He pulled the coach to a stop.
Today, Winston Churchill is regarded as one of the great leaders of his time, and a hero for helping to guide Great Britain through the crises of World War II. But in the 1930s, Churchill‘s place in history hardly seemed assured; his early warnings against the growing threat of the Third Reich were taken seriously by few of his contemporaries, and he suffered through a variety of personal, professional, and economic setbacks before German attacks on England gave credence to his theories about Hitler’s desire to overtake Europe, and gave Churchill the opportunity to rise to the greatness that was his destiny. The Gathering Storm is a made-for-television biographical drama based on Churchill‘s memoirs about his life leading up to World War II. Albert Finney stars as Winston Churchill, Vanessa Redgrave plays his wife, Clementine, and Derek Jacobi appears as Stanley Baldwin. Jim Broadbent and Ronnie Barker co-star. Produced for the BBC, The Gathering Storm received its American premier on the HBO premium cable network in the spring of 2002.