The Noble Coachman – Chapter 16

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Chapter 16
The Picnic

 

A messenger arrived at Caldwell Hall in London, handing a note to the footman. He passed it to Chandler, who took it to Lord Caldwell. Upon opening it, he asked his Butler who Richards was.

“He’s the head footman when I am away.”

Lord Caldwell began to read the note.

 

Your Lordship,

Miss Lilith Caldwell was found moments ago in the ice house as Miss Mary. It appears she has met the same fate. The Constable is on his way. Although life has left her, the doctor is upstairs with her now. The staff sends their sincerest regrets.

Regards, Richards                      

 

Morgan led Kip through the house toward the back, where he would find Squeaks waiting. “Squeaks, you look like a little doll belonging to a child. Thank you for wearing that for me today. Here, let me take that basket.” He carried it to the coach and set it inside on the floor.

“You are so feminine today, perhaps you should ride inside the coach.”

“No, I will ride beside you.”

“But you have a frock on!”

“I think I can manage. Was this not the day you would let me rein Warrior and Soldier?”

“Yes, but I had not expected you this way. I am quite overcome. Would you care to change and allow me a proper evening out at another time where you can wear your frock? I think I am going to insist. We may have a wind kick up, and although I may appreciate it, it might not bode well for others to see me holding down your frock.” He laughed.

“But I wanted to look like a woman for you.”

“Squeaks, from your head to your toes, shows me that. You are always a woman to me. Please change. Perhaps, you have riding clothes such as I wear.”

“Are you quite decided on this?”

“I am.”

“Very well. I will be a few moments.”

As she walked away from him, Kip was struck with her slim build. The shapeliness of her hips and bust and legs were every bit female. He had fallen in love with her heart, her mind, and her face, never seeing her very feminine attributes. How unmanly of him, he thought to himself, and then laughed at the ridiculousness of such a notion. He had never known any woman who didn’t wear a frock. And now he was asking for her to change out of hers.

Squeaks was still breathtaking to Kip when she returned, wearing riding clothes and a dark green tam on her head. She was a pixie. At that moment, he thought of his sister. She had worn a tam when riding. Kip had seen few of those on women. Apparently, they could be a proper part of women’s riding apparel. He laughed when he saw her carrying a short crop with her.

“Are you off to the hounds, Miss Squeaks?”

“I might need this for you. My saddle is just in there,” she said pointing to the large stable door.

“Do you wish to ride today?”

“Can we do both? I brought apples for the horses.”

“Let me check.” Kip climbed to his bench and lifted it. “Yes, I still have my small saddle stored here. I think we can ride a bit, and I know just the place. Let me carry your saddle.”

He followed her into the barn. The depth of the stable surprised him. He started to wander down looking into all the stalls. “There must have been eight horses in here. Lord Stokes has eight horses?”

“No, he has ten. The wagon is out being used to collect firewood. I do not see it around here.”

“This is a mighty stable. He makes me jealous.”

“Someday you will have your Kipling line of livery, and then you can enjoy the pleasures of a fine stable.”

“One never knows, does one? Where is your saddle?”

Squeaks pointed to one hanging from a hook in the tack room. “There it is.”

“You ride astride?”

“Yes, another way father raised me. I am not sure it ever occurred to him, as I grew, to change it. There is no physical reason why I cannot ride astride.”

“Hmm… I have never had that conversation with anyone. Are you saying it couldn’t … it won’t…?”

“Yes, it can, to whatever you are embarrassed to ask. It’s a bit late, now. I’ve been riding astride for years. Can we go now unless you want a full accounting of the female body and riding?”

Kip, placed the saddle on the ground and folded his arms. Squeaks had started out the door and noticed he wasn’t behind her. She finally stopped and looked backward. “Why are you back there?”

“I am waiting for my full accounting you offered.”

He saw her blush.

“I don’t know you that well.”

Kip crooked his little finger.

She sighed and returned to him. “If you think I am going to ….” She felt his lips find hers. He walked her backward away from the door entrance to where no one could see them from the house.

Kip pressed her against the wooden stall door. He wrapped his arms around her, almost pinning her own arms to her side. He licked her lips over and over. His tongue pressed for entry, and she parted them for him.

She stiffened momentarily then softened to the gentle stroking of his tongue. Her struggle to free her arms abated.

He progressed from her mouth, wandering down her neck, kissing it and nipping here and there. Squeaks tilted her head back abandoning her inhibitions. Feeling her earlobe being suckled, she began to slide through his arms.

Kip smiled, backing his face away from her body as he held her by her waist.

“Thank you, Squeaks. That is quite a compliment. If you beat me with your crop, I had no feeling of it.”

Squeaks dropped her short whip. There was no reply from her, just as it had been at the pavilion that one night. He watched her eyes slowly open as if she had been in a dream.

“Shall we go, my sweets?”

“Sweets, I still like that,” she said in a raspy voice as she stumbled forward.

As his coach, pulled from the Stokes’ residence, Clyde hobbled back to his bed. There was a knock. It was Lord Stokes.

“Clyde, it looks like you have been out of bed. Looking out the window perhaps?”

“Yes, I admit I was.”

“You and I are like mother birds … unable to keep our chick from jumping out of the nest. I believe she is flying solo now. Anyway … enough of that. I wanted to tell you that I talked with Mr. Trevor Kipling before they left. I was most impressed by his manners, demeanor, and articulated words. He did admit to holding back something, which he would not tell me. He did impart some information that your daughter knows nothing of, and which he wishes to remain confidential. I gave him my word, but I am here to tell you that I like him very much. I believe whatever is behind the mystery to the man is nothing to fear. I am convinced that he loves our Squeaks, and come what may, he will protect her.”

“Thank you, sir. I would have done the same, but I am not in a position to do it from my bed. Here we are worried about Squeaks. I think we need to give some thought to what that young lad is in for with her. He has probably never seen the spirit she can display.”

“Quite true, Clyde. Whatever it is, I think he can handle her. He spoke of her naiveté, and perhaps she only thinks she may love him. He is prepared for her to realize her true feelings, which would not include him. He wants to be the first man for her to allow closeness, as, in his words, she needs to be nurtured and treated with delicacy. He has a fine mind. I wish my own son, wherever he is, can match this Kip someday.”

“Do you think when he said, ‘allow closeness’ means what it could mean?”

“I do not care to speculate on that. He will do right by her no matter what. He’s quite taken with her, and I do believe he is honorable.”

 

“Where are we going, Kip?” Squeaks asked as the wind refreshed her consciousness.

“Have you ever driven into a forest?”

“No. I’ve never been to a forest.”

“There is one about an hour’s ride northeast from here. I think we can picnic, let you drive the team, and we can ride the horses. We will also be very much alone. Does that worry you?”

“I believe you to be a gentleman, and I am safe with you. Am I wrong?”

“I didn’t feel very much like a gentleman the way I kissed you in the stable, I’m afraid.”

Squeaks was quiet. Her cheeks flamed red.

“I do believe you are blushing. It is most becoming on you. Your dimples look like cherries.”

“What did His Lordship want this morning?”

“Now, you must know the answer to that.”

“Nothing was mentioned to me. Several times you have told me that I should know something. I feel rather foolish at those times. I have emotions about a few things. I know what I very much like. Father doesn’t seem to be able to explain the feelings of love and how to recognize it. He says, ‘I will just know.”’

“You are right, Sweets. I have been remiss. You have me off balance with the person I’ve always known myself to be. When we are not driving, I will tell you of my feelings for you. I will not assume that you know them. As for Lord Stokes, he wanted to meet me. He thanked me for watching over you this past week and for the night training. He cares for you a great deal, and I am an unknown, who is taking you away today, for the first time. He wants to feel confident that I can protect you.”

“You’re tall and vigorous. You can protect me. Protect me from what exactly?”

“Probably protect you from myself. There is a big world out there with many different people. We are going to an area that we know little about. Who is going to protect me from you?”

“You will.”

“I’m not so sure I want that type of protection from anyone.”

 

Kip arrived at the outer rim of the vast forest. There were roads that crisscrossed through the dense woods. He turned onto a path and pulled to the side. He wanted to kiss the woman beside him but knew it would lead further than it should.

“Are you ready to rein Soldier and Warrior? They have been patiently waiting for your deft hand.”

“Like I’ve been waiting for yours?”

“Do you want the reins or not?”

“Oh yes, please.”

She won’t allow me to fight for control of myself.

“Do you want to sit right or center?”

“Do you mind if I sit center.”

“May I sit behind you?”

“Yes, of course. I will have more confidence if you were looking over my shoulder for a while.”

Kip moved back as far as he could, spreading his legs for her to fit in between them.

“I’m sorry. This is the best I can do, Sweets. We cannot have this.”

Squeaks looked at the situation. “Perhaps I will sit right.”

“No, I will move to the edge. You will sit center.”

“I … I …”

“You don’t have to say anything. That became quite obvious when I could not move further back. It was not intentional.” He should have known how it would look. He was just hoping to put his arms around her that way.

“Here are the reins. Take their heads and lead the way.”

“Walk on.” Squeaks ruffled the reins lightly. She thought it was too light a touch, but they responded.

“Kip, it was a very light touch on the reins. Are they reacting to the reins or the voice?”

“Both, I should think. They will react to the voice, but they only need a light hand to steer them. This type of horse is becoming very desirable because they can train well. If you read the old books, there are stories of the dedication of this horse to its rider four centuries ago. They were paired for life with their knight unless he was unfortunate. There is a myth that great warriors killed in battle return as great horses.”

“That is a fascinating story. I will hope to own one of these for myself someday. I would like to train one. I like training. He will dedicate himself to me.”

“You will be amazed when you ride one of them later today. What name would you give your own horse?”

“Oh, I’ve never given a thought to that. Let me think. By the way, how am I doing? Do they look nervous to you?”

“Sweets, you are doing an excellent job. Further ahead there are several small bridges and a few hard turns. After that is the last bridge. We will find an area near there to park. I will unharness them, and we will take them to the river to drink.”

“I have a name for my fabled horse.”

“Tell me.”

“Guess.”

“Guess?” Kip replied with incredulity.

“Well, you have told me their story of dedicating themselves to their master. They braved the battlefield with arrows and spears. I imagine a lot of them died during battle.”

“Yes, they did. They were almost wiped out. Eventually, full armor came along, and the knights became too heavy for these horses. Pestilence was next to take nearly all of them. That is why there are few, but coming back. So, your fairy-tale horse would be named Knight?”

“No, but I like that. They are as black as night, and they carried the knights. It may be better than my name.”

“Tell me your name.”

“I was thinking of Hero.”

“Hero! A splendid choice, if I do say so. Admiral is a good name as well as Knight. You are coming to the first bridge. I will be quiet.”

“I have never driven over an old wooden bridge before. Here we go.”

“Nothing extra to do, just keep them in the middle. They know wooden bridges. I said I was going to be quiet and just listen to me babble. Good. You came over that well. One thing to always know about your coach and team is how much wider your coach might be than your horses’ hindquarters. Some coaches are wider, and if you try to go over a narrow bridge just watching your team, you may lose a wheel off the edge. That would be catastrophic. Most of the coaches pulled by two horses are about the same width. Sometimes those large coaches, like touring coaches or those stagecoaches in the Americas, which all need four horses drawing, can be wider.”

“I wish I could live with you and know all you know.”

Kip opened his mouth to alert her to the next bridge but found himself stymied by her words.

“Here’s the next bridge,” Squeaks told an astonished Kip.

“Yes. Yes, I was just going to say that.”

“How much do these horses cost?”

“More than you have. Now watch the road.” The price of these horses would certainly add more questions that he was not prepared to answer, but truth be told they would cost an average lower-class worker around five years of wages or a London coach driver about four years for one of them.

“Can you see the turn ahead?”

“Yes.”

Kip sat back and folded his arms, gazed at the trees, hoping to give her a sense of confidence. He looked over at her profile. Her cheeks were ruddy from the wind.

“Can I take the pins from your hair?”

“Yes, if you wish.”

Kip pulled her tam off and stuffed it into his vest. He found a total of four pins. He pocketed them and again sat back watching the wind catch her long tendrils being blown about her face. There was a strand that caught on her moist lips. He pulled it from her face.

“Thank you.”

“I thank you. You are a vision, I must say. Am I allowed to say that?”

“What do you mean?”

“The other day I was overwhelming you with too much attention and compliments. Oh, here’s the hard turn.’

He sat up, although he had complete faith in her. She began to strain the reins in the turning direction. This was the motion he felt would forever prevent women from driving a team.

“Sweets, you need not pull so hard. These horses only need a light touch. They are not like your master’s horses.”
He went back to studying her hair. Now one was caught in her eyelashes. He slid over, putting his arm around her back and removing the wayward strand from her eyes with his other hand.

“Very nice, Sweets. One more and then a final bridge. You know … we make an excellent team.”

“I think so, too. I have thought about that several times.”

Kip wanted to ask her about that, but he would let it pass for now. She was concentrating, trying to give her lightest hand to their heads.

“I think I could let these reins go, and they would follow the road on their own.”

“Yes, they will, but eventually, they will stop if there is no one ruffling them to continue. And then there is the other action, which is to take off and fly.” Kip laughed, as that had happened to him as a young man.

“Where should I park?”

Kip sat up watching her hair begin to lie against her head. His arousal was painful.

“Just up the road is a small area to pull into.”

“How do you know about this place?”

“I brought a couple here, so the man could propose to his lady. He was aware of the area. I was not.”

“Squeaks, stop here. I will unharness the horses. Will you hold them while I push the coach backward? There is no turning room. We will park so that we can pull out easily.”

The two climbed down. Squeaks started looking over their rigging. It did not look too different from what she had been taught. She began loosening harness straps. Kip looked across the team, trying to watch her face as she studied the strappings. He could unharness blindfolded, so he did not need to watch what he was doing. All he could see was the top of her head. She was head height to Soldier’s back.

“How short are you, Sweets?”

“Don’t you mean to ask how tall I am?”

“I think I asked it correctly.”

“I am short compared to you, average for a woman, though.”

“I don’t think so.”

“How tall is an average woman?”

“Oh, about 5’5’’.”

“I am almost 5’1”.”

“That means I am three hands taller than you. In Stokes Castle, do you live in a toy box?”

“Are you going to carry me about on your shoulders?” she frowned but laughed.

“Sensitive about our height, are we?”

“I’m not, but I wouldn’t have thought you were,” she rebutted.

Laughing at that, “All right. Here are the reins.” Kip said, still chuckling at her comment.

Kip picked up the thill and easily rolled the coach backward.

“You make that look easy.”

“The wheels are heavily greased. Are you ready for a walk?”

“Yes, I’ll take this horse. Which one is he?”

“That is Soldier.”

“Give me a minute, I forgot something.” Kip handed the reins to her and went back to his box. Hoping she wouldn’t notice, he pulled a pistol from the box and slipped it into his pocket.

“Ready!”

Kip knew he could see the coach from the water’s edge. The last time he was here, the couple sat by the stream, and he stayed with his coach. He could see them if he wanted to, but he gave them their privacy, whether they knew it or not.

“Should I bring the basket with us?” he asked.

“It isn’t that far. Let’s leave it for a while. I would just like to sit by the water if the ground is dry.”

“The stream awaits,” he smiled.

Kip reached for her hand. Would she let him hold it while they walked? She did.

They walked in quiet, down to the bridge. Kip felt her small hand tighten around his fingers. He looked down at her, wondering what she was thinking. She was dwarfed by him on one side and Soldier on the other.

Kip wasn’t sure what happened, but he felt a sense of danger before he heard the sound. He grabbed at Soldier’s reins and shouted for Squeaks to run to the side of the road. Pulling bridles, Kip managed to move both horses off the road just as a flying coach and horses were on top of them.

“Are you, all right?” he shouted to Squeaks.

“Yes, Kip. And you and the horses? I thought Warrior might have been clipped.”

Dust from the road was still billowing in the air when Squeaks made it over to Kip. He handed her Soldier’s bridle and began to look over Warrior.

“He has been brushed by the wheel hub. Bloody idiots.” He squatted down to take a closer look. Relieved that no real harm was done, he let out a sigh. “He’s fine. I don’t think the skin is broken. Let’s get them to the river so I can wash the area.”

Kip didn’t know what Squeaks thought just happened. Was it the foolishness of a driver racing his team? Recalling back, Kip knew there had been an undeniable sensory expansion acknowledging the danger before he heard the coach. Immediately, he knew his sister was responsible for awakening his inherent protective reaction. Otherwise, a tragedy would have occurred. Moreover, the speed of that coach appeared suspicious.

By the riverbank, Kip soaked his handkerchief and wiped away the loose hair around Warrior’s abrasion. Using his hands, he inspected the leg bone, too.  Squeaks watched while she held on to Soldier lapping at the water.

“He’s fine. Our rest here will do him good, but he is well enough to pull us home.”

“What would you have done if Warrior was injured?”

Standing, shoving the handkerchief in his pocket, “I have never had that happen, but I would ride Soldier to the nearest town and rent a horse to pull with him. Warrior could travel behind, unhindered by the coach weight. Anything less, and I might have had to put a bullet in his head.” Kip literally shivered at the idea.

Kip mulled over again what had happened as the two horses slurped from the chilled stream.

“Find us a seat, Sweets. I will tie the horses and be with you in a moment.”

It was mossy and damp near the water’s edge. She traveled toward the inside of the forest and found a fallen tree. Sitting down on the leaf bed in front of it, Squeaks leaned against the log. She wondered what Kip thought about the charging coach. She had not been looking ahead, but down at her own hand holding Kip’s. They could have been seriously injured or worse, but Kip saved her first. The driver must have been a madman, or his master was in a furious hurry. That slight bend in the road could have hidden them until the last moment. It was an old coach, once used by a privileged family.

Kip sat beside her and took her hand once again. “You’re trembling.”

“Yes, I guess I am You could have been hurt, saving your horses. I was not looking ahead. I never saw it coming until you called for me to run. You saved all of us from a horrible accident.”

“Don’t give me that much credit. You will learn as a driver, that you will make quick decisions. In a second, you can visualize the impending problem and compensate for changing the outcome. We do that in life, Sweets.”

“We do? How?”

“Had you not spoken with Lord Stokes about a building regard that I have for you …”

“And mine for you, too.” Squeaks interrupted.

“With reacting first, you probably have avoided a lot of questions and worry by those men who love you. Here you are with me today. We are alone. We are not hiding from anyone. You and I are freely deciding to be together. Personally, I think you just want to be with my horses.”

“Kip,” Squeaks began looking at her hands, not into his face, “I think I love you. I am young and naïve and never had a romantic thought about a man, but I think of you all the time. I cannot promise that it is love because I don’t know how that feels. But I like how I feel with you. Friday night I felt so empty until I spotted you. I was almost mad that you had to be called over. I thought about that later and understood why you did that. These may be words a lady ought not to say.”

Kip moved next to her and wrapped his arm around her shoulder ensuring her hair wasn’t caught under him. The breeze was fluttering through the long strands which he was intently watching. “Why … Sweets? Why was I not there immediately?”

He heard a small sniffle. Kip turned facing her profile, as she spoke peering at the moving water.

“You did that for my own reputation, didn’t you? You thought we needed to show some distance or rumors were sure to start. You did it for me.”

Kip was silent, still watching her face. She finally turned to face him. She was flushed. Her eyes were glistening, but she wasn’t crying.

Squeaks met his eyes and his smile, which was waiting for her.

“Are you not going to say anything?” She began to fret at his silence.

“Yes. I have been practicing something to say.”

“Practicing? Saying what??”

 

She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that’s best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes;

Thus mellowed to that tender light

Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

 

One shade the more, one ray the less,

Had half impaired the nameless grace

Which waves in every raven tress,

Or softly lightens o’er her face;

Where thoughts serenely sweet express,

How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

 

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,

So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,

The smiles that win, the tints that glow,

But tell of days in goodness spent,

A mind at peace with all below,

A heart whose love is innocent!

 

The tears rolled down her face as she listened.

“I’m sorry. Was that too personal?”

“No, it is beautiful. It is Byron, is it not?”

“Yes. I remembered the ‘raven tresses’ when seeing your hair. I have labored to remember it completely for you.”

“Why are you so nice all the time? I’ve never felt this comfortable before. When I am with you, it is a different world to me. Please do not play with my new feelings. It is challenging to wander through these blissful emotions. I want to enjoy them and not harden myself against them for fear of being hurt when they disappear. I am lost in this world of love and your romantic overtures.”

Kip heard words that only were in his dreams. He could not bring himself to interrupt the purest echoes resonating within him.

“The way you kissed me this morning in the stable caused new … well … I … there was much more awareness . . . umm …”

“Emotional feelings?” I must have her.

“More than that. It was something physical,” she said, embarrassed.

“Sweets, I think you are falling in love. I certainly know I have, but overtures; it will only be. You have changed my world, sweet lady. You know that you’re the breath of my life. You fill my senses. I wait from one moment to the next to see you, to hold you, to feel your hands touching me. I want to run my fingers through that long black mane you have. And I want to pleasure you beyond your own belief. Please don’t weep. I don’t know what to do when you weep. I’ll tell you one of the many reasons I love you more than there are words to explain it. Simply, I love you because you are you. You are Rebecca Dorset, a young lady raised by her father who allowed her spirit to fly. I’ve had my fair share of lady friends, and inevitably play the game of ladies. Oft times there is a myriad of meetings, both clandestine and proper before the final curtain is lifted. It is then that I see the true woman behind the expected shyness, who plays her games to hold my attention. Most of them are not interested in a long-term relationship. They merely want a man on their arm to take them places, and some solely want just intimacy. It is difficult for a man to find the perfect match for himself. I see none of those games in you, and I credit your father for that. It may not be from what he was teaching but rather what he wasn’t teaching you. Unknowingly, I believe he taught you what a man can understand about a woman, and made you uncomplicated. Men are common thinking and women are more complex. Had you a mother, I believe our situation would be very different and perhaps difficult at this point. With your naivete, spirit, bravery to achieve what you want, even though forever thought impossible, innocence and honesty, I feel I have known you my whole life. I dare any man to say these same words about his lady. You are an exception to every rule I’ve come to know about women, and I love you for it. I embrace the unexpected in you.”

“Your words are stirring my soul, I can’t think. My head cannot take it all in. I have this thrill of soaring when I am with you, yet I fear to fall.”

Kip faced her and pulled her into his arms during her sobbing storm. When their eyes met, the moment stood still. Before she could encircle his neck, his lips were upon hers. One kiss followed another and another until he roamed down her neck, which he had been yearning to taste. There he dwelled and licked her skin that was showing over her buttoned shirt. Her response to that was sensual. He returned to her mouth and parted her lips repeatedly.

He pulled her into his lap. As she opened to him, her tongue met his, and they salaciously intertwined. Occasionally, he would retract it and reenter. She ran her hands across the front of his vest, feeling the strength in his chest.

Kip left her mouth and began to nuzzle towards her cleavage and discovered no corset. There was nothing fitted there to cause him to cease. He was embarrassed that she might feel movement on her backside from his lap. A piece of innocence chipped away as she heaved a heavy sigh.

After a moment, he set her back down beside him and held his head in his hands. “I am destroying your innocence little by little. I don’t want this for us. I have never been obsessed with anyone as I seem to be with you, Rebecca. I’ve always been a gentleman until now. I am losing myself,” he said hanging his head. I am becoming just a man around you and no longer the gentle-man. “I am going to scare you away. Please forgive me for being so forward. This is totally improper.”

Squeaks had concern on her face. “What do you mean to do? We love each other.”

He had no answer that he could tell her.

“Do you want to love me?” she asked.

“Yes. Desperately. I want to love you slowly. I must take these beautiful steps with you so we can enjoy them longer. I can’t imagine anything more perfect and pleasurable that could happen for us in the rest of our lives. Down deep, I seem to want to brand you as my own property.” Kip stood, paced and threw his hands in the air as if asking God for permission. “I don’t even believe what I hear myself saying to you after such a short acquaintance. These should only be my personal thoughts. When you spoke of being wooed to death, that set something off inside. I knew I couldn’t live without you. I want to skip over the wooing and go straight to pleasuring you. You are making it far too easy. You are too free with the favors you bring to a man. We shouldn’t have it this easy. Men pay for the ease you are allowing. Can you see my confusion? Because I love you, I want to take you, and yet I hear myself saying, don’t permit me such access. These are things that only a mother teaches her daughter, for which I am glad you haven’t learned. It’s not you, sweets. It’s me. If you knew how you shall be one day, you would understand why I feel I always need to be in control of myself.”

“What can I do to help?”

“I can’t believe you are asking that question as if I had rights to you. I need to get through this on my own. Someday I hope you understand why that is important to me.”

“My father wants me to be happy above all else. I want to make you pleased. You are making me happy.”

“Yes, but this is wrong if left unabated in so many ways. We’re charting our course to a physical relationship, and I know it’s not what your father meant by happiness. If you were just any woman, I would have no cares. There is guilt here, and I have ruined my life once with guilt. I am afraid I will ruin yours. And even though the physical relationship is what we desire right now, there is so much more to loving someone. That’s what you have to know within yourself.”

“I don’t understand that.”

“I know you don’t. And you should know what I mean by that. It is so much you don’t know about love and about me. I am the experienced lover between the two of us. This is totally my responsibility, no matter how encouraging you are.”

“Are you sure?”

“No, but please do not discuss this with your father. The world has opened up to you too quickly. You attained your goal. You are meeting the world outside Stokes. You are interacting with men for the first time. These are intoxicating experiences for a young woman and all men.”

“Do not worry about that. Your kisses and attentions are making my body fully aware of where the next step could lead. I think I still have enough strength to say no, not yet.”

“I believe you think so, but you don’t. I am still not sure in my heart that you know what you want. As you said, this is all new, it’s more than pleasant, and it begs to grow. My horizon is to love you beyond life itself. This does not give me unlimited privileges with you. I have another life you know nothing of. Someday, when the time is right, I will tell you. You must know me in every way before you give yourself to me. That knowledge could change the way you feel toward me and the life I must live.”

“What are you saying, Kip?”

“I don’t know. I think I am talking more to myself than you. I hadn’t expected my advances to be this well received. Can we lay this discussion down? I will collect my sketch pad and the basket. I must reflect on this when I am alone, which up until now has done me no good at all.”

“No more kissing?”

“Not for a while, Sweets.” Kip walked through the woods toward his coach.

As he tramped through the thick leaves, he was aware of the fool he was making of himself. He had been with a woman recently; it was not a physical need driving him, yet he was acting like it. She was of age. She was receptive. She regarded him. Where was the nurture and delicacy he’d promised himself? Away from her, his plans seemed honorable and gentlemanly. With her, they all went to hell. He couldn’t think around her anymore. He didn’t know what he could do about it. He couldn’t marry her and take away her career, not yet anyway.  Resistance was useless.  There had to be a way. Above all, for her or for him, it was not going to be paid for by her reputation.

Kip reached the coach and collected the luncheon-basket, the old coverlet, and his sketching kit.

The Pale Horse (series) *** February 9, 2020

     ‘THE PALE HORSE’ TRAILER
FOR BBC’S LATEST AGATHA CHRISTIE TV SERIES ADAPTATION

I have for you the trailer for BBC’s latest small screen adaptation of Agatha Christie THE PALE HORSE which will start

The series starts February 9th

airing February 9th. The two hourlong episode star Rufus Sewell, Kaya Scodelario, Bertie Carvel, Sean Pertwee, Henry Lloyd Hughes and James Fleet. Rita Tushingham, Sheila Atim and Kathy Kiera Clarke play the trio of witches.

     What’s The Story?

When a murder investigation is launched into the death of a young woman, a mysterious list of names is discovered in her shoe -prompting an inquiry not only to find the killer, but also to understand the list of names. Who wrote the list, and who do these names refer to? One of those named is widowed antique dealer Mark Easterbrook (Rufus Sewell), who, despite

The series was produced by Poldark’s Mammoth Screen

having found love again with new wife Hermia (Kaya Scodelario), is still haunted by the tragic death of his first wife Delphine. THE PALE HORSE tells the story of Mark’s investigation into how and why his name came to appear on the list, an investigation that leads him to the peculiar home of a

Rufus Sewell and Kaya Scodelario take the lead roles

trio of rumoured witches, The Pale Horse, in the beautiful village of Much Deeping. Word has it that the witches can do away with a rich relative, by supernatural means alone… Despite Mark’s scepticism towards the paranormal, he cannot help but be consumed by the increasingly strange and

The series will air in two hourlong episodes on BBC One on Sundays

extraordinary things that begin to happen around him. Is this too the work of the witches of The Pale Horse, and does this mean he is next on their list? Or can he find a rational explanation and identify the killer before they catch up with him?

The Luminaries

 THE LUMINARIES
  
The Luminaries tells an epic story of love, murder and revenge, as men and women travelled across the world to make their fortunes. It is a 19th century tale of adventure and mystery, set on the Wild West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island in the boom years of the 1860s gold rush. The story follows defiant young adventurer Anna Wetherell, who has sailed from Britain to New Zealand to begin a new life. There she meets the radiant Emery Staines, an encounter that triggers a strange kind of magic that neither can explain. As they fall in love, driven together and apart by fateful coincidence, these star-crossed lovers begin to wonder: do we make our fortunes, or do our fortunes make us?

 Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker  *** March 20 Netflix

 Self-Made:
Netflix

Netflix has unveiled the official title and premiere date for their previously announced C.J. Walker project starring Octavia Spencer. The four-part limited series Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker will debut on the streaming platform March 20. Netflix also released the first look at Spencer as the iconic figure in history.

In the series, Oscar-winning actress Spencer stars as Sarah Breedlove, known as Madam C.J. Walker, the black hair care pioneer and mogul who overcame hostile turn-of-the-century America, epic rivalries, tumultuous marriages and family challenges to become America’s first black, female self-made millionaire.

The series is inspired by the book, On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker by Walker’s great-great-granddaughter A’Lelia Bundles. Walker overcame post-slavery racial and gender biases, personal betrayals, and business rivalries to build a ground-breaking brand that revolutionized black haircare, as she simultaneously fought for social change.

Self Made also stars Blair Underwood as her husband C.J. Walker, Tiffany Haddish as her daughter Lelia, Carmen Ejogo as Walker’s business rival Addie Munroe, Garrett Morris as Walker’s father-in-law, Kevin Carroll as her longtime lawyer Freeman Ransom and Bill Bellamy as Ransom’s cousin Sweetness.

The limited series is produced by SpringHill Entertainment and Wonder Street in association with Warner Bros. Television is helmed by co-showrunners Elle Johnson & Janine Sherman Barrois, along with writer and co-executive producer Nicole Jefferson Asher, directed by Kasi Lemmons and DeMane Davis, and executive produced by Janine Sherman Barrois, Elle Johnson, Maverick Carter, LeBron James, Octavia Spencer, Mark Holder, Christine Holder, Kasi Lemmons, and Jamal Henderson.

Check out the first look images below.

Netflix
Netflix
Netflix
Netflix
Netflix

Chapter 15 The Friday Event

Available Amazon Kindle

Chapter 15
Meeting His Lordship

Kips carriage arrived ahead of the Stokes carriage. The parking yard was ablaze with torches, and Kip spotted Squeaks as she turned into the yard. Lord Stokes was exited at the front of the ballroom, and Squeaks parked her team in the next available space. There was no random parking tonight, she could see. Everyone formed a line of teams.

Kip felt pain around his heart, as he noticed all the other drivers following her with their eyes. He smiled, seeing her cravat and watch chain. She went to her most professional look.

God, how I love her.

He watched as she applied the brake and then wrapped her reins around that. Someone, most likely her father, taught her to extinguish her lanterns, conserving the oil.

She was beautiful tonight. Her big, wide black bow framed her petite face. She wore her livery skirt and the silk top hat. There was no mistaking her for a man this time. His chest tightened as drivers started to stroll towards her. He decided to watch for a while.

His heart raced when she appeared to be looking for someone. He supposed it was him. The way she left him last night, the thought that she was searching for him now lifted his spirits.

Kip sat back, folded his arms, and propped up his boots on the driver’s footboard. He was proud seeing her being admired by so many other professionals. Time was needed for her to fully prove herself. And time was what he needed to properly recommend himself to her. He smiled seeing she was clutching the whip. Suddenly, he could tell she spotted him. He sat up straight. In a casual manner, she waved him over. Kip wanted to be over there and hear about her drive to the ballroom. Patiently, he kept his eye on her. This was what it must have been like this morning. Then he remembered she had Boots, the footman, and no one now.

Kip climbed down to the ground and saw her doing the same, except she was descending into a throng of men. They might jostle her around. She still clasped tightly to her whip.

Squeaks pushed her way through the men, even though her breasts were skimming some of them, just to be on the outer rim, when Kip arrived. She saw him tip his hat to her. She curtsied. Kip look pleased, and she smiled broadly back at him. The curtsy caught the attention of many, and they looked his way.

Kip looked heavenward and thanked his sister.

“Good evening, Miss Squeaks. How was your drive from the Castle? The bridge over the moat give you any problems in the dark?” he kidded.

“I am feeling a bit proud right now. No jerks, sways, ruts, or hard turns. I will be told how I did later tonight; I am sure. His Lordship wanted to talk with me when I got home last night.”

“So, I heard.”

“You heard? How do such things travel about?”

Kip realized that he could not tell her that his father had told him. “I believe I told you we are a brotherhood. We hear a lot that is not actually spoken to us. What did you tell Lord Stokes, if I may ask since I was responsible for you?”

“He wants to have a private talk with you before we go out on Sunday.” Squeaks was so full of happiness; she could not resist the temptation to surprise him.

“Are you in earnest?”

“Yes.”

“Can you tell me what you know?” Kip took her elbow and walked her into the empty center of the ringed parking yard where there was less chance of being overheard.

“I told him almost everything. Perhaps, it is better to tell you what I did not tell him.”

“However, you want to say it, sweets.”

“Sweets, not Squeaks? I like that.”

“I do too, but I didn’t know I was saying it.”

“I told him about my embarrassment with Lord Astaire. I think he laughed.”

“Stokes did?”

“Yes, but he said he and Father had drunk too much scotch waiting for me to come home. I told him about pulling the coach out of the yard with you going back and forth. I did not mention going to the park, but I told him you kissed me. I think that is why he wants a private word with you on Sunday.”

“I see.”

“He asked me if you fancied me. I told him no.”

“You said that to him? I fear you have lied to your Lord.”

“I told him I thought you loved me.”

Startled for words, Kip flustered before speaking. “You did not lie to him. I do think I love you.”

“I told him I thought I felt the same way.”

“You said that to Lord Stokes?”

“And father, too.”

“You are overwhelming me as you say I do to you.” He noticed how she was smiling as she looked up to him. “We both need a further conversation on this matter.”

This is unimaginable. It is all too fast.

Kip rubbed his forehead. This was so hard to believe. Her admission of her feelings was something he was not prepared for. He felt this couldn’t be that real for her.

“They are not sure that I mean it.”

“Quite frankly, I feel as they do.”

“Since I have never loved, this might not be the true emotion.”

“That should be your own question, as well. You don’t know me.”

“I know all I have to know. We have time to understand what we have.”

“As long as it takes for you to be sure, my sweet.”

Squeaks could see his eyes in the torch lighting glittering from unshed tears.

“After the way you left me last night, I thought I had lost you.”

“Kip, Lord Stokes asked me why I looked taken aback, and I reminded him that you had kissed me. You completely overwhelmed me in body and heart last night. I thought it all a dream.”

“God, I want to take you and hold you so badly right now. Last night is nothing to what I want for you and me. These feelings are new to me, too. I have been with women, but something deeper and more primitive is at work here. Let’s walk back to the others. I am getting carried away. I do not trust myself at this moment … this momentous moment in my life. One last thing?”

“Yes?”

“Will there come a time in your life when you will not discuss everything with His Lordship and your father?”

“Where my personal life is concerned, that has started now. I had to introduce your importance to me somehow, and last night seemed to be an opportune time. I don’t want to hide anything from the people who raised and love me or even to your friends. They are now aware of our interest in knowing each other. That is all they need to hear. I believe I can actually feel myself becoming a true ‘woman-in-waiting.’”

“Do not say anymore. We will talk on Sunday. I can barely weather your womanhood at this moment.”

“Well . . . I am sorry. It is all your fault.”

“I hope I am never forgiven, Kip replied, looking at his boots.”

#

“Squeaks, would you care to talk a few moments with me about tonight,” His Lordship asked upon returning home and exiting the coach.

“Yes, sir. I would like to know your opinion.”

“See me once you are settled.”

“Yes, milord.”

Squeaks drove around to the back stable where a stable boy was waiting to put away the team and clean the coach.

“Did you do a good job tonight, miss?” Asked the groom.

“I think I did. His Lordship is going to tell me how he felt about it, now.”

“Good luck, Miss Squeaks.”

She looked at herself before entering the main hall. Snapping her uniform into shape, feeling her cravat, and checking her watch chain for a proper look, she knocked at the door.”

“Come in, Squeaks. Would you care to sit?”

“No, sir. I will stand.”

“I will not take much of your time. With your father and his many years of experience, I have paid little heed to the comfort of my ride. This past week, I have made it a priority to be aware of such actions, as I know you are learning. For more years than I can count you have wanted to follow in your father’s footsteps. I am here to tell you that you have succeeded most notably. I know tonight was difficult for you. I paid attention to the lighting and what you had to negotiate on our route. I would never have known your father wasn’t in the box. In fact, and this is between you and me, I believe it was a smoother ride than when he drives. I have to take back all of my doubts about you having the strength or capability to master such a position. I have been wrong. I sincerely doubt just any woman could accomplish what you have, but your perseverance has held true through the years. Your body is small, and your strength is not that of a man, but there is little evidence of that being a hindrance for you. I just wanted to let you know I am very proud of you.”

Tears formed in her eyes.

“Although I have thought of this in the past, last night brought home to me, that you are a woman now, and may not be a driver all your life. There will come a time when you will want to be a wife and mother, I suppose. You will leave my service one day. My goal until that day is an interest that you make your best choice. I will not make any for you, but I may question you, if you allow me, as to the probability that you have thought through any final decisions. You may think that I am talking specifically about Kip, but I am not. Two years henceforth, you may wish to open a training school for women drivers, I do not know,” he laughed. “However, your father and I have nothing but your happiness in mind. We want you to achieve that most of all.”

Squeaks found it difficult to stand and face all these complimentary words from His Lordship. She finally looked away unable to shoulder the accolades.

“I have talked far longer than I wanted to,” Lord Stokes said, seeing tears roll down her face. She never once wiped them away. “Just know that I am proud of you, and I believe the world is at your feet, now. That is all.”

Sniffling she said, “Thank you, milord. It is only by your good graces that I am where I want to be.”

“I cannot take all the credit. Your father has raised you, not I.”

“But through your kindness, you have given me the opportunity to be what I wanted to be. Father helped me get there, but you made it possible and you have just praised my work. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

“All right. Enough of this from both of us. I will need to visit a friend tomorrow noon. You will have your day off on Sunday. Now, be gone with you.”

“Good night, milord.”

 

Kip spent little time with his Father when he delivered him home. There was too much on his mind. Discussing other matters would be a distraction he did not want. He said good-bye and that he would meet for dinner before Gus returned to Norcaster.

His work finished for the night, Kip slipped out of his tails, trousers, and boots and relaxed on his couch in only his undergarments. It had only been a week, but his existence had been turned upside down. Perspectives and goals had changed. If their interest in each other was to be known, he was anxious for all to know. The fewer men hovering over her, the better. She had actually said the words he was building up to say in the foreseeable future, and she repeated them back to him. His head was still swimming. Declaring themselves, was quite a distance away, he had imagined.

All of this happiness that was racing towards him prompted him to begin thinking of his life ahead. At some point, she would have to know who he really was. He would have to decide what he wanted or needed to do. Nevertheless, one thing he did know, he wanted her by his side. But would she stand by him if he was an Earl? She was quite used to being part of a nobility household but as a staff member. Marrying into it was another huge challenge for her. He would take his time, and when the moment was right, and his decision made, he would talk with her about it. He wasn’t eager to pull her away from her new-found career that was two decades in the making. Not only was she making her own career, but she was also setting examples for other women. She could be at the forefront of the woman’s movement and wouldn’t know it. Those were just rumblings now, but soon would be making their demands known. She may even become prominent in her own right.

He looked forward to Sunday with eager anticipation. Being alone with her had only been a dream until the pavilion at the park. He vowed to keep himself controlled. With declarations behind them, he hoped his obsession for her would be abated, at least to a moderate degree.

Kip decided to gather all of his charcoals to take with him. Although her hair was pitch black, he had to capture those light blue eyes and lightly tanned, creamy skin.

 

Saturday evening, Squeaks looked into her wardrobe. It was practically bare except several livery uniforms, white shirts, and stable clothes. She even hung her gloves as her father had taught her. She had one dress for funerals, and one gown passed down to her from Lady Stokes, but she had never worn it. It was not appropriate for a Sunday picnic anyway. Squeaks began canvassing the maids and found the perfect simple dress she could borrow. If Kip was going to be escorting her places, she would have to use some of her savings and have one or two frocks made. Carrying the frock back to her room, she realized she had no stockings or shoes. “What a bad way I’m in,” she sighed. Back to the maids again, where she found success to some extent.

Slipping on the dress, she found it difficult to see herself at full length. Her father had a full mirror; she headed to his room. Walking in, her father beamed.

“Squeaks, dear. Is that really you? I have never known you to wear a dress. Where did you get that?”

“I had to borrow it from Bessy. I needed stockings and shoes too. I think you skipped a few lessons with me,” she frowned. “Father, I need a day during the week to go and get fitted for a couple of frocks. If I am to be seeing Kip outside of driving, I want to look like a woman.”

“My dear, you do look like a woman.”

“You know what I mean.”

“I guess I do. Rearing you has had me scratching my head more often than you know.”

“You taught me the most important parts of life. The women have taught me about myself, and very little about men. It’s time for me to put that to use.”

“I hope I am not misreading you, my dear.”

“I don’t know, are you? Have you ever looked into my wardrobe? I am not sure if my undergarments are for men or women.”

Her father laughed out loud. “I am sorry, child. I was never knowledgeable about women’s fashions.”

“I don’t even have a corset.”

“I do know what that is. You should have one of those. Oh dear, how I have let you down. What will you wear under that frock?”

“I will wear the undergarments that are still in question and a shift to cover the top of me. No wonder I jiggle. It is getting painful to jiggle. They have some weight; you know?”

“Yes, I do know that. Your mother taught me. It seems you are top-heavy like your mother. It’s times like this that I know how much I have missed teaching you. We shall buy a suitable wardrobe for you.”

“Do you think Kip will understand?”

“Understand? I certainly hope not.”

“I mean will I look like a charwoman?”

“Never in your lifetime, my dear.”

“Father, I have a strong regard for Kip. I do not want to shame myself with my clothes.”

“Dear, if he loves you, as I suspect he does; you could never shame yourself to him.”

“I hope you are right about that.”

“I do know one or two things. I was a young man once upon a time.”

“Oh Father, I love you. However, I think some items are lacking in my femininity.”

“Like what, precisely?”

“Like what do I do with the feeling I have when being kissed. I want to leap out of my skin.”

“Let me work on that.” Clyde was embarrassed by himself for never properly speaking with her about the things his wife would have taught her. He was a man and wasn’t quite sure what a woman feels.

#

Sunday morning came, and Kip pulled into the Stokes’s stable area. He drove his day coach, and he dressed as a man riding a horse – no livery. A stable hand escorted him to the kitchen. There he asked to see the Butler.

Several minutes later, Morgan came to greet him.

“I believe Lord Stokes wished to speak with me today,” Kip told the Butler. “I will wish to see Miss Dorset after my talk with His Lordship.”

“Very good, sir. I believe she is waiting. Your name, sir?”

“Trevor Kipling.”

“This way, sir.”

Kip followed the Butler, being more than a little nervous. They came to a set of big doors. The Butler opened one side, and announced, “Trevor Kipling to see you, sir.”

“Show him in.”

“Good morning, Kip,” he was greeted by Squeaks.

He bowed, “Good morning Your Lordship, good morning, Miss Squeaks.”

“His Lordship said I must leave when you arrived. I will collect our luncheon-basket and wait outside for you.”

“Very good, miss.”

Squeaks was smiling while he was dying inside. She backed out of the room, paying close attention to His Lordship’s face. The door closed behind her.

“Sit, Mr. Kipling.”

“I would prefer to stand, sir.”

“I wish you not to stand on formality on this occasion. Please sit. Can Morgan offer you some refreshment?”

“No, sir,” Kip said finding a large chair.

Lord Stokes took the opposite chair.

“I am sure you are wondering why you are here or perhaps have an idea, but still, wonder why a Lord would seek to know the goings-on of a staff member.”

“Sir, I believe most drivers know of your kindness to the Dorset’s. I will speak honestly with you about that, sir, if I may.”

“Thank you, proceed.”

“It is known that you have a fondness for Squeaks since she was born. It is believed that you never had a daughter and found that missing child in Rebecca. There have at no time been any other rumors about your interest in her. It is plain to see she has been loved, treated well, and reared with care.”

“I believe your arrow has flown true with your understanding. However, I would like to speak of her future. She tells me that there is regard for you, and she feels you have an interest in her.”

“Yes, sir. More than interest, sir. I am sure I love her. I do understand that she is naïve in this world and may be mistaking her heart for more than is actually there. Being the first man in her life, outside of yourself and her father, I am quite aware that her interest in me might not be what I hope it to be. I am prepared for that. It could be envy for my knowledge of a trade she professes to love. I understand you had a conversation with her in her regard for me and in her perceived regard of I for her. Nothing had ever been mentioned or intimated beyond friendship until that time.”

“Well . . . it seems you know why you are here. I do know it is not my place to pry into her affairs, and they will be laid to rest after our conversation unless a matter is brought to me.”

“Understood, Sir. You are correct. She is of age to handle her own affairs, but I am thankful she has the guidance of Your Lordship and her father. At the same time, I would be honest in hoping you do not stand in her way when she is resolute, whether it be a career, or marriage, or whatever her heart desires.”

“I take your meaning as well and admire your honesty and courage to say that to me. May I ask a few questions?”

“By all means, Your Lordship.”

“I understand from several levels of society that you possess a remarkable skill in your trade, but also I am told that your own values in life are exceedingly high and unexpected for a man of your bearing. You are a mystery to many.”

“Yes, sir. I have been told that.”

“Are there any words that you can say to me to alleviate this anxiety her father and I feel about you?”

“Lord Stokes, I will tell you what I feel I can, but I would hope this would remain confidential between yourself, only, and me. It will not be the entire story, but if the day comes and Miss Rebecca accepts a suit that I offer, you will know all there is about me, and she will, too. There will be undeniable proof at hand, but big decisions are ahead.”

“Agreed. Proceed.”

“I was reared in a titled home. I am extremely well educated but wish that wasn’t known, as there are questions, I cannot answer. I am not in trouble with the law. I do not have loose morals or bad habits. I have suffered the loss of a beloved family member which has impacted my life severely. Depression has followed me. I had to leave home and redefine myself. Finding interest in the coachman trade has brought back some self-worth. It has helped me get back on my feet as a responsible man. I take pride in my profession and wish to provide the best possible service.”

“Miss Squeaks is entering my life and giving me back hope and a sense of self that I had lost. She knows nothing of this. I do not love her for what she is doing for me. I love her for who she is. My intentions towards her are sincere. I know she needs to be nurtured and handled with delicacy. I wish to be the man in her life whom she allows a closeness. I will never hurt her. I will protect and defend her. Her happiness is my ultimate desire in life. I wish there were more I could add, and I will should she accept me. Sir, I hope this puts your worries aside.”

“A titled English family, you say. Are you a firstborn son?”

“I am, Sir.”

“Thank you, Mr. Kipling, for being straightforward and honest. I fear you have raised more questions than answered, but I am content that you mean what you say about taking care of Squeaks. I also want to thank you for your attention to her safety during this past week and her training in night driving. I must admit she had a compelling tale about herself that night being a footman. It seems the House of Lords found great favor in hearing it.”

Kip felt awkward. “I apologize, Sir, for any embarrassment. I wish I could have foreseen such an issue.”

“Perhaps, it is just as well that you didn’t. Squeaks has grown into a beautiful young woman. She has great pride in her chosen profession. She is spirited, delightful, and far too outspoken to me, her Lord and master, but I have encouraged it, I admit. Her father and I are quite jealous that she is allowing another man into her life who we will share, but she is grown now. I do know that these relationships are not always what one hopes, but whether the two of you see your way far into the future or not, I do believe you will always take care of her. You say you were raised in a ‘titled’ family, but that does not mean that your land, connections or finances are in good stead. Should you be, however, barriers will be thrown in your way. I wish you the best. If you have no questions, I believe you have satisfied my curiosity, and you may go.”

“Thank you, Lord Stokes, for your confidence in me to watch over and love a very special gift to us all. I will protect her with my life, so help me. Good day, sir.”

The Stranger *** Jan 20 – Netflix

With Richard Armitage as Adam Price

“The Hobbit” actor Richard Armitage will star in “The Stranger,” Netflix’s latest series in collaboration with bestselling author Harlan Coben.

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

 

 

Rise of Empires: Ottoman ***Jan 24, 2020 Netflix

‘RISE OF EMPIRES: OTTOMAN’ 
 ON MEHMED THE CONQUEROR
Ottoman starts January 24th on Netflix

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.

 

 

First Cow *** 03/06/20

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.

 

The cow is out March 6th

Chapter 14 The Friday Event

 

Chapter 14
The Friday event

 

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?”

“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 what?”

“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.

“Enter, Squeaks.”

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.”

“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.”

“Yes, sir.”

“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.”

“Impugned, sir?”

“Disrespected.”

“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.”

“And?”

“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?”

“No, sir.”

“You think he was just playing with your affections?”

“No, sir. I think he loves me.”

“So soon?”

“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?”

“No, sir.”

“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.”

“Yes, sir.”

“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.”

“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?”

“Yes.”

“Hmm.”

“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.

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