Date Published: July 15
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
It’s 1985. Lady Laura Lacy of Britewood is beautiful and graceful, a
celebrity in her own right. She is cousin to Her Majesty The Queen, and her
father is the well-respected Earl of Britewood, honorary commander of the
Army’s elite reserve special forces unit. Laura seemingly has it all.
She should be happy.
However, due to unspeakable acts committed against her as a child,
she’s developed a blood lust for revenge. Secretly trained by her
father’s regiment in the arts of war, Laura begins to target men who
prey on the innocent and helpless. As her skills sharpen, Laura becomes a
formidable force against evil.
That’s when she uncovers a transatlantic child trafficking ring led
by an elite group within British society. With the help of commanding
officer and police inspector Billy Smythe, her mysterious family attorney
Arthur Mosely, and an unorthodox group of American allies, Laura sets out on
a vengeance-fueled quest to stop them. She is determined to save as many
innocents as she can.
It’s a mission that will put her very life and sanity at stake,
making her question everything she’s ever believed in. But to make
things right, Beauty must become the Beast.
Laura arrived at just after two o’clock in the afternoon. Her heart beat with excitement touched by melancholy as the limousine dropped her off at The Dorchester on London’s Park Lane. This was her treasured tradition. Usually, the tea party was held on the Friday before Christmas, but Henry asked Laura if she’d mind if it was scheduled a week earlier this year.
Henry, as usual, had arranged everything. Afternoon tea for four at three o’clock in The Promenade, a table for four for evening cocktails at eight o’clock in The Spatisserie, and two two-bedroom suites connected, so the girls could mingle freely.
Today, however, was Thursday. As was custom, Laura would meet her best friend from St. Francis Preparatory School, Jenny Waldron, and spend the evening reconnecting before Sara and Nicola arrived the next morning. Jenny held an irreplaceable piece of Laura’s heart, as the two had been there for one another when they each needed someone most.
Laura checked in and hurried to her usual suite on the third floor. She walked to the window and marvelled at the view of the magnificent plane tree at the edge of the hotel’s front garden. She scanned the entirety of the suite. Everything was as she remembered. The mahogany trim and furniture contrasted with the well-polished brass rails, fused to create a 1930’s ambience. She touched the eight-hundred-thread Egyptian cotton sheets, and then smoothed them back over the bed.
Her luggage arrived moments later, and, after tipping the bellman, she changed into her comfortable pink Lycra leggings and a soft Benetton T-shirt. She grabbed her small Puma shoe bag and made her way to the fitness centre to blow off some steam.
She unzipped the bag and retrieved her Sony Walkman. She checked if there was a tape inside. Duran Duran’s Arena popped out to her pleasant surprise. She placed her headphones on and secured the Walkman to her fluorescent green belt as she stepped onto the treadmill. She pressed play and “New Religion” blasted into her ears. She began to run, preparing herself for an emotional reunion.
Forty minutes later and five miles in, she lowered the speed to a walking pace and checked her watch. It was three-fifteen. Jenny would be there by five. She grabbed her belongings and hurried up to her room.
She was well aware of Jenny’s financial difficulties, so she made a point to dress down when they met. She waited in the lobby in a white Topshop trouser suit and black satin blouse. A plastic, black-and-gold brooch, which came with the shirt, was affixed to the top button where usually a tie would be. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail. She wore plain, black slippers. Jenny was five-foot-four, and she wanted to be as close to her height as possible.
Jenny arrived in a black, floral-printed Laura Ashley dress with a thin, plastic belt tied around her waist. As she walked through the doors, she saw Laura. They ran to each other, and embraced.
Laura held Jenny by the waist and looked at her. “It’s so good to see you my friend. You are as beautiful as always.” Jenny’s perfectly combed bobbed blonde hair rested symmetrically on her shoulders. Her sky-blue eyes and flawless complexion were both striking and soothingly familiar.
“How’ve you been?” asked Laura softly.
“Just the same, but better now, after seeing you,” replied Jenny before sinking her head into Laura’s shoulder. Laura swayed her gently and stroked her hair.
“Are you hungry?” asked Laura, as she always did when they met.
“A little,” replied Jenny in her standard manner.
Laura and Jenny were seated in The Spatisserie as was the norm, and they ordered their traditional first meal of French onion soup, followed by rare petit filets with tiramisu and breakfast tea for dessert. They sat at their table after the meal and finished off their bottle of Château de Rothschild.
“How are you coping?” asked Laura with concern.
“I’m okay, I suppose,” answered Jenny.
“Have you spoken to anyone, or sought help?” Laura asked as she leaned closer to Jenny.
“You ask me the same question every year, Laura. I’m okay, I’ll never tell anyone anything. Everyone has their cross to bear, and we have ours.”
Laura nodded and softly grasped Jenny’s hand across the table and began stroking it with her thumb.
“You know you have my full support if you ever want to talk with a therapist. It could give you some relief. And, if you ever need anything, Jenny, I . . .” Laura was interrupted midsentence.
“The same goes for you.” Jenny looked into Laura’s concerned eyes.
Laura waved her hand in dismissal. “This is enough, you know me. I have my own ways of fighting my demons. I’m fine. I was thinking, though, maybe I can have you moved closer to the manor. The estate has many cottages, and I’m sure we could find someone close, who’s in need of a decent secretary.”
“I’m okay, Laura. I appreciate the sentiment, but I want to stand alone. I’d hate to feel like I’m a burden or beholden to you.
“Nonsense,” said Laura. “you’re my friend. You’re more than my friend.”
Jenny reached across the table and touched Laura’s fingers. “I love our get togethers, Laura,” she said, “but sooner or later, I want to build a life of my own. Let’s cherish and celebrate these gatherings. If I moved closer to you, you might get tired of me.”
“I’ll never tire of you,” whispered Laura.
“Have you found anyone?” asked Jenny.
“What do you mean?”
“A man, Laura, have you found a man, someone who’s suitable for marriage?”
“Good heavens, no,” said Laura. “They’re all either useless and full of arrogance, or quite the catch, but afraid of their own shadows.”
“Yes, I know what you mean. But I do get lonely, and I long for someone to spend my life with. Although, I worry about what would happen between us if one or both of us gets married.”
“I’m sure we’ll be able to make time for each other, Jenny. Stop worrying. Come now, let’s get out of here . . .”
When they arrived back to the suite, Laura took Jenny by the hand and led her to her bedroom. Behind closed doors, where they both felt safe, Laura looked down at Jenny’s unclothed body. The cheeks of her backside still had the deep, straight red scars from the beatings she’d received as a young girl. They were a constant reminder of her suffering, of their suffering.
Laura wondered how things might have been if Mr. Clark had never entered their lives. Her mind flashed back to another place and time. Spring, 1963. Laura was ten years old. St. Francis Preparatory School in Kent was the finest school for girls in the whole of England. She’d been there for two years when, at one morning assembly, the dashing Mr. Nigel Clark was introduced as the school’s new headmaster. A graduate of King’s College with a first in economics, Nigel was as clever and charming as he was good-looking. He was tall and broad, with shoulder-length sandy-blond hair, which reminded Laura of the Hollywood actors she’d seen on her rare visits to the cinema.
She was flattered that he remembered her name, and she noticed how the other girls would swoon when he would treat them to readings of Romeo and Juliet in English class. Mr. Clark made her enjoy school all the more. That was until he invited Laura and her best friend to visit him alone at his home. Nothing was the same after that. His unforgivable violence and predatory greed stole their childhood.
Fortunately, Henry sensed something was terribly amiss and Laura confided in her chauffeur. At her request, he trained her in the dark arts. With her new skills, she was able to eviscerate her headmaster the way she did to so many men after him.
That night she made her first kill, Laura left Mr. Clark’s house empowered. She became fearless. She liked her new self and knew that the frightened little girl she’d once been was gone. Girls like Jenny had to be protected, and she was the one to do it.
The trauma however, remained. If it weren’t for that monster, Laura’s mother might still be alive. She might not be afflicted with her unquenchable thirst. She might just have grown into a normal woman.
Laura pulled Jenny close and fell asleep in her arms, training her mind on all that was good. Tomorrow would be a joyful day for them. By five o’clock, they’d be bonding over finger sandwiches and pastries and marvelling over the gossip from the last year.
About the Author
Domnic “DJames” McGee was born in Leeds, West Yorkshire. A
sickly child, he was raised in a council estate to a single mother. At
school, he was a poor student and failed dismally.
He developed a passion for martial arts, so in his teens, he moved to
Ireland where he trained full-time while working in menial jobs to
A chance encounter then gave him the opportunity to work as an Executive
Protection Agent for some of the most influential figures in European
He came to the US in 2001 to further his studies of martial arts. He
decided to stay and earned his citizenship by serving in an Army infantry
unit and later with a reserve Military Police unit.
He currently lives in Huntington Beach, where he works as an Executive
Protection Agent and trains and writes as much as he can.