The Excalibur Expedition by Lexie Clarke – Part One

Chapter One

“Get out of my way I’m in the mood to fuck.” Muriel McClacken prayed she hadn’t said the words out loud as she pushed her way past a woman pushing a pram. Since the woman didn’t look up, Muriel figured her prayers had been answered.

It had been a long, hot day at the bookshop. Customers had been in a mood all day long, not wanting to wait their turn and angry when Muriel couldn’t find a certain book. Each time she dealt with a nasty person, Muriel couldn’t help but think of her husband, currently between detecting jobs, who was at home, putting the finishing touches on their townhouse.

In the year and a half that they’d been married, Ewan had proven to be the perfect husband. When he wasn’t on a case he was working on the house, which had come to them in less than pristine condition. They worked together to paper the walls and pick out furniture that fit in all the right places.

When they weren’t working, her at the bookshop while Ewan was solving cases, they were having fun learning the ins and outs of what made each other tick in the bedroom, or in the kitchen, or the library, or the parlor, or the kitchen, or the, well, just the anywhere, Muriel thought with a giggle.

Which brought her to the reason why she was hurrying home tonight. She needed the comfort of Ewan’s touch. Well, that wasn’t exactly true. She needed sex. Nice, rough sex that would make her forget about the man who had come into the shop and demanded a rare copy of a Shakespeare folio, one that would never see the light of day in The Written Word.

“Do you know who I am?” the man had asked.

“A disappointed shopper,” Muriel had answered. To which the man, who was a Baron or something, had reported her to the store manager, Mr. Holmes, who had told Muriel her mouth would find her without a job one day if she wasn’t careful.

Muriel needed an orgasm, or two, or three. She had an idea of what would produce the feelings she wanted—no, needed.

She hurried along, coming to the steps of their roundhouse in record time. She burst through the door and slammed it behind her.

“Ewan? You know the tree in the back? I have an idea.” She dumped her coat on the front stairs and waited for an answer. When one didn’t come she moved toward the library, the place where Ewan generally waited for her at the end of her working day.

“We’ll need some rope, and your wonderful imagination, which always makes me want to sing.” She entered the library. “How about we do it right now? I know it’s still light, but I can get undressed in two shakes and… um, hello?”

“Muriel, darling, this is Mr. Robson-Jones,” Ewan said. She could tell Ewan was working hard to keep from laughing. “He’s come to see me about a possible job.”

“Mrs. McClacken, forgive me for intruding in your home,” the man said as he stood. “And please, call me Vernon.”

“As you wish, Vernon,” Muriel said. She crossed the room to stand in front of her husband. He looked at the floor, and she could see him struggling to keep from laughing. She would make him pay for it later. After a moment she turned her attention back to Mr. Robson-Jones.

“What sort of case are you referring to, sir?” She thought the honorific would be easier than calling him by his given name, since they’d just met.

“My daughter is missing,” he said. “I have heard good things about you and your husband and the way you solve cases. I want you to find my daughter.”

“Has she been kidnapped?” Muriel asked. Then she waved her hand. “Please, sit back down, then you can answer the question and we can discuss the situation.”

They all sat down, Muriel next to Ewan on the divan, and Vernon back in his chair.

“My daughter’s name is Euphoria,” he said.

Muriel blinked and bit her lower lips as she thought about the choice of name. “So, your daughter is Euphoria Robson-Jones.”

“Yes, it’s a mouthful, true, but it fits her,” he said. “Her mother picked it out. We call her Phee.”

“Her age?” Ewan asked. “We hadn’t gotten very far when you came in, darling.”

“Yes, I realize it’s not a good time of day,” Vernon said. “But when I received a letter in the post I knew we needed to start as soon as possible.”

“May we see the letter?” Muriel asked. Beside her, Ewan stiffened, and she knew she should let him take the lead. After all he was the detective and she was the bookseller.

But she did help him out on cases, quite often, actually.

“Her age?” Ewan asked as he stood and walked to Vernon. “And the letter?”

Robson-Jones reached into his pocket and pulled out the missive. “Phee is twenty-three years old.”

“What does she do with her time?” Ewan asked as he took his seat next to his wife.

“I am the stage manager at the Empire,” he said. “And I teach a few classes with the school that is associated with the theater. Phee has had a few parts in plays, and when she doesn’t she assists with the wardrobe mistress.”

“So, she’s an actress,” Muriel said. “That sounds intriguing. Is it possible she’s gone off to another town to take part in a production?”

“She would have told me, and the letter dispels that,” Vernon said. “Please, read it out loud Mr. McClacken.”

“If we’re to call you Vernon, you must call me Ewan,” her husband said right before he started to read. She glanced over to see his gaze skim the paper.

“What does it say?” she asked.

“Father, I know better than to ask you not to be angry, but you need to know I am off with my Merlin, and I won’t be back. Please remember that I love you and Mother. Phee.”

“Her Merlin?” Muriel said. She glanced at Vernon Robson-Jones.

“My daughter has been taken in by a trickster, a confidence man,” Vernon said. “He has convinced her that he is the reincarnation of Merlin the magician and that he knows where to find Excalibur. With her help, he says, they will find the legendary sword and he will overthrow the ruling family and he will become King of England.”

“Talk like that is treason,” Ewan said.

“Exactly,” Robson-Jones said. “He has drawn my daughter into his seditious plot, and it will put her life in danger. I beg you to find her before something happens and leads her to the gallows.”

“Do you have any idea where they might be?” Ewan asked.

“If I did I would be on the way myself,” Robson-Jones said. “I have no clue whatsoever. That’s why I’ve come to you. Mr. Holmes gave me your name. He comes to our performances quite often.”

Muriel flinched just a bit at the mention of her boss’ name. Why hadn’t he said anything to her about the situation? She wondered what he could tell her about Phee Robson-Jones and her disappearance.

“What is Phee’s friend called?” Ewan asked.

“He is called Raef,” Robson-Jones said. “I have no clue if that is his given name or his surname. Phee never properly introduced us. I only saw him twice, and both of those times he left without saying a word to me. All I know is what Phee told me.”

“Does Phee live with you and your wife?” Muriel asked.

“She does,” Robson-Jones said.

“Did she leave things behind?” Muriel glanced at Ewan, who nodded ever so slightly.

“A few,” the man said. “Would you like to see her room?”

“Yes,” Ewan said. “We might be able to glean a few clues from it. Perhaps she left a diary, or books that might give us a clue as to her whereabouts.”

“Come by tomorrow, around ten, shall we say?” He gave them an address in Chelsea. “I don’t have a lot of money, but please let me know what sort of financial arrangements we need to make. I will go by my bank to get you cash as an advance and give it to you tomorrow.”

Muriel stood. “I’ll leave you to the business end of things,” she said. “Mr. Robson-Jones, we will see you tomorrow.” She quit the room and went immediately to the study where there was a writing desk. She quickly penned a note to Mr. Holmes, telling him that she would not be at work until one the next afternoon, and she wanted to speak with him about Phee Robson-Jones. After dinner, and before the bout of sex she still had planned, they would find a messenger to take the note to Mr. Holmes.

Hopefully, they would find something at the Robson-Jones residence that would give them further insight into the case and point them in the right direction. If not, maybe Mr. Holmes would be able to give her a clue as to Phee’s whereabouts, or his relationship with her, for Muriel felt certain he would not have given Mr. Robson-Jones Ewan’s name if he did not have a stake in the matter at hand.


When Muriel came back into the room Mr. Robson-Jones was gone. Ewan sat on the divan, his legs stretched out in front of him. Muriel sat on the other end and turned so she faced her husband. She put her feet on the sofa, landing them on his lap.

He slipped his hand under her skirts and gently stroked her ankles. “Before we talk about the case, tell me about your idea with the tree?”

A crack of lightning, followed by a loud peal of thunder, made the floor rumble.

“Whatever it was would end like that,” Ewan said, “with the world shaking. I loved the look on your face when you saw Robson-Jones—excuse me, Vernon—sitting in here. It was priceless.”

“Love to see me embarrassed, do you?” she asked. She gently kicked at his thigh. “Maybe I won’t tell you. Maybe I’ll just make it a fantasy to live out in my own mind.”

“I can wring it out of you,” he said as he wiggled his eyebrows. “You’ll want to tell me everything before it’s all over.”

“In your dreams,” she said. “Since we’re not going to talk about sex, let’s talk about your new case. Tell me, do you believe Excalibur is out there hiding somewhere? Do you believe in Merlin?”

“Caliburn,” he said.

“What?” Muriel frowned.

“That’s the original name of the sword,” Ewan said. “Arthur broke the first one, Caliburn, and the Lady of the Lake gave him the second one, she called Excalibur. I would think a well-read person such as yourself would know that.”

Again, she gently prodded at his thigh.

“That hurts, you know.” He grabbed her foot and pulled off her shoe, then the other. “If you don’t know it’s Caliburn, what do you know about our history?”

“I know Arthur is a myth,” she said. “There is no king called Arthur in our history.

“Arthur was a well-known knight, who fought against the Saxons,” Ewan said. “I believe he was real. Whether he was king or not, and if there was a round table I don’t know.”

“Do you think we’ll find Excalibur?” Muriel asked. Before he answered, she continued, “It would be exciting, wouldn’t it? The sword is the most famous mythological item in all of Britain. Do you think it’s magical?” She paused for a breath. “Of course, it’s not Merlin who wields the sword, but Arthur. If this so-called confidence man was trying to pull one over on Phee, why wouldn’t he claim to be a descendent of Arthur?”

Muriel paused once again, but before Ewan could say anything she continued, “Of course, they are both romantic figures, but I wonder which would appeal most to women. I like the idea of being Arthur’s lover. He, of course, was the king, and that would make you envious of women and sought after by men. Of course, if you wanted to learn magic, Merlin would be the perfect lover. But do you think he would teach his lovers his tricks?”

She sighed, turned and glanced at her husband who was chuckling.

“What are you laughing about?”

“You, deciding whether you should have Arthur or Merlin.” He tickled the bottom of her foot and she laughed. “My question is what sort of rope did you want me to use on you tonight?”

Another clap of thunder boomed through the early night.

“Hemp? Or something sturdier, and harsher.”

He ran his hand up Muriel’s stocking clad calf, and she moaned softly. She loved his touch, loved the tone of his voice when he was suggesting something naughty, and the idea she’d had was very naughty. But she wasn’t sure she wanted to tell him about it just now. Maybe Robson-Jones being here was a good thing. It would draw out their fun, for she wasn’t about to forget about the plan.

“Rope? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You’ve never been able to tell a lie and keep a straight face,” he said with a laugh. “Nod if I’m close, but I’m guessing my wife, who loves to be tied while she’s fucked, has come up with an idea of being tied to the tree. What happens after?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she repeated.

“Naughty, naughty,” he said. “Even if you told me now I wouldn’t do it.”

“Now, who is lying?” she asked. “Besides, how did we get on this subject and off the subject of the magical Merlin and the missing Phee Robson-Jones? I think this might involve some traveling. By the way, I sent a message to Mr. Holmes to let him know I would be late to work tomorrow. That means I can help you search Phee’s room for potential clues.”

“Let us hope your tardiness does not upset Mr. Holmes,” Ewan said.

“He’s the one who gave our names to Mr. Robson-Jones.” She wiggled her foot, edging it closer to his crotch. “I wonder if he has an attraction to Phee Robson-Jones. After all, his wife left him after our last adventure. I feel somewhat responsible for it. He took it hard at first. I’ve often wondered if Mr. Holmes had a social life, or if he crawls into a coffin after hours since he goes home to an empty house now.”

“Once again, I’m wondering about your knowledge of literature,” he said. “If you’re referring to Dracula, you know the character sleeps in a coffin during the day.”

Muriel fought back a smile.

“You’re trying to bait me,” he said. “You’re trying to work your way into a spanking, and it won’t happen. Tit for tat, my sweet wife. If you won’t tell me about the tree, I won’t redden your perfect little bottom, or pull on your hard nipples, or twist your tight clit until explosions go off inside you.”

Thunder rumbled again, and the noise broke Muriel out of the trance she’d gone into the moment he’d talked about spanking her.

“You said you wouldn’t redden my bottom, but what about my pussy?” She wiggled her hips. The thunder sounded again. “Maybe we could go outside and do it in the rain.”

“You’re excited about being outdoors, aren’t you?” he asked. “But we have an early morning. I think we should retire.”

Muriel’s gaze traveled to his crotch. “Would that be before, or after, we take care of the hard cock beneath your trousers?”

“Pleasure for me but none for you,” he said in the hard tone that made her pussy wet. “Get on your knees.”

“Why should I?” Muriel gently rubbed her heel against his hard cock. “What’s my motivation? If I won’t have an orgasm, why should I give you one?”

“Get. On. Your. Knees.”

Muriel waited a beat, and then another. The thunder and lightning continued, lighting the room and providing reverberating sounds for her next words.

“Make me.” Those words alone made her feel as if she would explode. She knew the challenge would throw Ewan into his domination role, which meant he would not be easy on her, and that’s what she wanted.

His face darkened. “Are you refusing to obey?”

“It seems you are having trouble with words, my darling,” Muriel said. “Make me infers I will not do as I’m told. Perhaps I should give you an explanation of my sentences when I say them. Or are you capable of discerning what I meant by the words I used?”

That should get him, she thought. She smiled, and to add insult to injury she winked at him.

A clap of thunder made the room shake at the same time he put his hands on her thigh and pushed her off the sofa. She landed hard, but she held back a giggle. She wanted the roughness, needed it.

He was on top of her in seconds. She felt as if she might have an orgasm at this very moment. “If you think you are going to goad me into spanking you, you are sorely mistaken.” He pressed her into the floor. “Now, I’m going to get up and you are going to get onto your knees.”

“Doubtful,” she said, and then she laughed. That was all it took. Ewan was off her in a second, yanking on her dress to pull her up. Muriel groaned and put her hands behind her, clawing to find purchase to try and loosen his grip on her. She wasn’t trying as hard as she could, though.

He was moving behind her, twisting and turning, and when she felt material wrap around her waist she knew that somehow, he’d gotten his necktie loose. He wrapped it around her wrists, making it impossible for her to continue fighting.

Without saying another word, he pulled her up by the shoulders. She was on her knees now, with her shoulders against the floor.

“Now, are you doing to behave?”

“Not likely,” she said, working hard to sound like she was angry when, in actuality, she was excited at this turn of events.

“It won’t work,” he whispered into her ear.

It already is, she thought as she struggled against him.

“If you behave, I might let you suck my cock,” he said.

“Why should I?” She gasped as a particularly loud clap of thunder rent through the air. “If you’re not going to give me what I want, I shouldn’t do the same for you.”

“Shouldn’t or won’t?” he asked. He breathed into her ear and Muriel shivered. He pressed his hard cock against her bottom and Muriel groaned. She wanted to beg, but she wanted to make him ask her to beg first. She loved to hear him ask, loved to do as he demanded, but it had to be at exactly the right time for the two of them to get the most out of it. If she gave in too early, it hurt the buildup. If she waited too long they would both be disappointed.

It was hard to judge the timing, at least for her. For Ewan it seemed to come naturally.

“Shall I take you outside and tie you to the tree?” He pulled away from her bottom, and then thrust forward, almost making her lose her balance.

“No,” she said, well, really whimpered. “That moment has passed.”

“Shall I blame Robson-Jones? I should tell him in the morning that he ruined the moment for you. I shall challenge him to a duel. The motive? He silenced my lovely wife’s desire to be fucked while tied to a tree.”

He pulled back and thrust against her again. “Or is it that he killed her desire to be whipped while she was tied to a tree? Both sound wonderfully delicious.”

“But it’s raining now, pouring actually.”

The mood was slowly dissolving, and she could tell Ewan knew it, too. He tumbled down beside her and carried her with him. Her bound wrists pressed into his stomach as he pulled her close.

“I’m not going to let the tree idea go, you know,” he said with a laugh. “It will come back at some point and we will have a good time with it.” He kissed her neck and started to inch her skirt up her leg.

“What are you doing?” she asked with a laugh.

“If you have to ask I’m not doing it right,” he said. “I’m going to fuck you, but only after you beg me to.”

“I thought I was going to suck your cock,” she said.

“Quiet, woman.” He gently nibbled on her ear lobe. When the skirt was up he did the same with her petticoat, his fingers caressing her bare thighs as he moved it up over her hips.

“You’re a mixture of naughty and nice.” He moved his fingers to the slit between her thighs. “Wonderfully wet and ready for me.” She wiggled against him, loving the feel of her bound hands pressing into his stomach.

Muriel leaned her head onto his shoulder as he awkwardly tried to undo his trousers. When his prick was finally free, he grasped her leg and lifted it over his hip. That forced the upper part of her body forward, but it gave him access.

He pushed inside her, taking her fully as she cried out.

“You’re mine, Muriel,” he said as he pumped. “I will do with you as I please, whether it’s tying you to the tree or bending you over the sofa, your body is mine to do with as I choose.”

Muriel gasped as he pumped his cock in and out, hitting her in just the right places, making her tingle with pleasure.

“What did I have you do last week, Muriel?”

She tried to pull away as the memories flooded through her.

“Answer me.” He’d stopped moving, but she could feel his prick pulsing inside her.

Last week had taken her totally by surprise. She didn’t want to think about it, think about what would have happened if someone had seen them.

She moved her hips in an effort to encourage him to pump her again. “Please,” she begged. “You said you wanted to hear me beg. Please, Ewan, please fuck me.”

“I am fucking you,” he said. His voice was soft yet demanding. “Tell me, Muriel, tell me the naughty thing you did last week.”

“Ewan,” she whimpered. “Please.” The incident had proven the control he had over her, and it was something they’d never done before. She’d been excited, but nervous at the same time.

“I’m not moving anymore until you tell me,” he said.

“I sucked you in the park.” She said the words as quickly as she could. It had been exciting, but oh so dangerous. She shivered as she remembered the look on his face as he sat on the bench buried deep in the trees. She ached inside as she remembered his words.

“Take me in our mouth, Muriel. Do it now as I command. Do as you’re told.”

He stared to move, ever so slightly. “Tell me how it felt.”

“I was scared,” she admitted. But she’d done it, taken his hardness into her mouth, making it look as if she were just lying there, with her back to where someone might walk up on them. She’d sucked him slowly, and when he’d filled her mouth she almost felt as if she would explode, too.

“It was just the start, Muriel,” he said as he pumped her harder. His fingers found her clit and she moaned in need as he stroked her. “I’m going to think of more things like that, more places where we can do things where we might get caught. The danger of it is exciting. I know you agree with me, or else you wouldn’t have thought of the tree, wouldn’t have fantasized about being naked in our garden.”

He was right, she knew, and as he pumped her harder and fingered her tight bud she wondered what he would come up with. It would be, she was sure, things that bring them both pleasure.

But for now, he pinched her hard bud and she came, clasping his cock inside her as she thought about him tying her to the tree, whipping her, fucking her in front of people.

She felt him flood her and when they were both sated she settled into his arms. Her hands were still bound behind her, and she knew it represented more. She was bound to Ewan in ways she never thought were possible. And she wanted to stay that way, forever.

Chapter Two

Phee Robson-Jones’ room was exactly what Muriel had expected—messy and full of romantic items. Poetry books littered many of the available surfaces, and shawls of silk decorated with flowers hung from the chairs and the bedframe. Three feather boas were draped over the wardrobe, and all the hats were decorated with feathers. There were at least six candles on her bedside table.

“She’s a romantic at heart,” Muriel said as she fingered one of the shawls. “It’s not hard to see why the Magical Merlin picked her out for his scheme. But to what end? Is he truly thinking he will take over the crown? Does he really want to oust the Queen?”

“We won’t know that until we dig further,” Ewan said. He fingered a dress which Muriel could see was part of a stack of several that had been casually thrown over a chair. “Do you not think it’s unusual that none of her clothing seems to be missing? Who disappears with a lover and does not take clothing? The shawls obviously meant something to her, and that’s why she displayed them.”

Muriel went to the wardrobe and pulled open the doors. It was crammed full of dresses and shoes.

“Very odd,” she said. “We need to talk to her friends, see what sort of wardrobe she actually had. Maybe there were more dresses stored somewhere else and that’s what she took.”

“Or maybe Merlin kidnapped her,” Ewan said. “Maybe he killed her and is trying to cover it up by writing a note that they were going in search of his birthright. The first thing we need to do is question her friends.”

“Well, the first thing we’re doing, or I’m doing, is talking to Mr. Holmes,” Muriel said. “I want to ask him how he knows Mr. Robson-Jones and why he suggested that we look into Phee’s disappearance.”

“Possibly because I’m the only detective he knows,” Ewan said. “Plus, I’m successful, aren’t I?”

“You mean we’re successful, right?” She wagged her finger at him. “I’ve had a hand in some of your investigations.”

“You have,” he said. “I’ll go with you to talk to Mr. Holmes, and then we’ll go to the theater.”

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” she said. “After all, I have to work at the shop this afternoon. I don’t think Mr. Holmes will be too keen on you being there when I’m supposed to be tending to the customers.”

“Then I’ll go to the theater without you,” he said. “After we talk to Mr. Holmes.”

“Wrong again,” she said. “Why should you get to talk to Mr. Holmes and then go to talk to the theater friends by yourself? It’s not fair.”

“Fair?” Ewan cocked his head and narrowed his eyes at her.

“Fair,” she repeated. “If I’m going to help solve the case I need to be in on all the questioning.”

“You seem out of sorts,” he said. “Have I upset you in some way?”

“I just had a bad day yesterday and I’m afraid it’s carried over,” she said. “I like the idea of questioning people about Phee Robson-Jones. I hate the idea of being yelled at by a man who thinks I know nothing about literature.”

He took her hands in his and squeezed. “I’m sorry, I should have let you discuss it last night, and I’m afraid things were rather interrupted. I tell you what, you question Mr. Holmes and we’ll go to the theater group when you’re off shift. What time will that be?”

“Not until five,” she said. “My position is getting in the way of my fun.”

“Perhaps it’s time to give up your position,” Ewan said.

Had she heard him right? She knew her shock was displayed on her face, because he laughed.

“We’ve been doing quite well in the investigation department,” he said. “We would never be able to afford a new home in Kensington, but we would be able to spend more time together. After all, if this case takes us out of town, which I think it will, I don’t want to go alone. And you can’t go if Mr. Holmes objects unless you leave your position.”

Yes, she was definitely shocked. “I don’t know what to say.” She cleared her throat. “Well, I suppose I do. I don’t think this is a decision we should make in the middle of Phee Robson-Jones’ bedroom.”

“Don’t lie, you’d rather be a detective than a bookseller,” Ewan said. “We’d get to spend more time together, and we could take on more cases.”

“Yes, but my job provides regular income,” she said. “With your work we only get paid when a job comes along.”

He sat down on the edge of the bed. “You’re right, we should discuss this later, when we’re at home. We need to keep looking around for other things that might give us a clue as to where we can search. You take the bookshelf, and I’ll look under the bed and tap on the walls to see if there’s a hidden compartment.”

“A hidden compartment? Are you writing fiction now?” Muriel laughed.

“There were hidden rooms in the house where we met, if you remember, right?”

“Oh yes, I remember,” she said as she bent and examined the titles on Phee’s shelves. As memories flooded back of the cases they’d worked together, she thought about his suggestion of her giving up her job and working with him. She rather liked the idea.

She listened as he pounded on walls, and she couldn’t help but smile. Leave it to her husband to never give up on anything. He would probably tap on every inch of the wall to see what he could find.

“Anything interesting on the shelves?” he asked.

“Bronte sisters, Shakespeare plays, Austen, and, oh, Trollope. But other than that—oh, wait a minute.”

“What did you find?” he asked.

“It looks like a journal,” she said. “Actually, it looks likes several of them.”

She waved the leather-bound sheets toward hm. “Tell me, if you were running wouldn’t you take them with you? I would. If I had been recording my personal thoughts for years, enough to make…” she leaned over and counted, “one, two, three, four, five volumes, you wouldn’t leave them behind for your father to read.”

“Wouldn’t you?” he asked. He paused before he asked, “Why?”

She turned to him. “All her life, a woman is taught that she is supposed to be chaste, to keep herself for marriage. Phee Robson-Jones has never been married. But she ran off with a man whom, for all intents and purposes, is her lover. I would say he was not her first.”

“You’d say that because she has feather boas and silk scarves in her bedroom?”

“Well, that plus this.” She turned back to the bookcase and pulled out a slim volume.

“What is that?” he asked.

“It’s a French novel,” she said. “We’ve ordered them in the store once or twice. They are love stories, quite explicit ones. They go into great detail about sex. I don’t think she’d have this on her shelves if she hadn’t read it.”

“Are you sure that’s what it is?” Ewan took a step toward her.

Muriel opened the book to the middle section. “It’s been translated into English.” She cleared her throat. “Josephine palmed her breasts and then took hold of her nipples, twisting them tightly for the man and woman sitting in front of her. ‘Please suck me,’ she begged. ‘Which one of us?’ the man asked. ‘I don’t care,’ Josephine responded. ‘I want mouths on my tits before I take a cock up my ass.’”

“Oh my,” Ewan said. “Do you read these when they come into the store?”

“Why yes, I do,” she said. “They are special orders, but I always make sure to take the time to read about Josephine, because she is the main character in the books, and her many lovers. In the last one she had three men, one for each opening in her body.”

“All at the same time?” Ewan asked.

“Well, it depends on which part of the book you were reading,” she said. “Sometimes they took turns, and sometimes she entertained them all. They would draw lots to see who got to plug her bum.”

“She sounds like a naughty girl,” Ewan said.

“Oh, very.” Muriel wiggled the book in the air. “But she’s always thoroughly spanked, sometimes even birched until her bottom is redder than an apple. That’s the writer’s words, not mine.”

“You’re making my dick hard, and that is making it difficult to concentrate on the case at hand,” Ewan said. “Maybe I’ll have to dig up my own birch rod to punish you with tonight.”

He rubbed his fingers over his crotch and Muriel licked her lips. “Promise?”

“Depends on what we have to do in this case,” he said. “Perhaps I should tie you to the tree before I birch you.”

“Perhaps you should.” She went back to the shelf and took out the last three volumes of Phee’s journals.

“Do you think we should ask for permission?” he asked, but she could tell from the sound of his voice that he was doing it just for show, in case Mr. Robson-Jones came into the room while they were gathering up his daughter’s diaries.

“Certainly,” she said. Muriel cradled the books in her arms. “Perhaps you can ask him tonight, or tomorrow afternoon. Of course, I don’t want to take these to the bookshop in case someone might think they were for sale. I’ll grab a hansom and go home before I head to the store.”

“An excellent plan, as always,” he said.

“As always? As far as I know this is the first time I’ve ever come up with this plan,” she said, then she winked.

“What a smart mouth you have,” he replied. “Something we need to work on.”

“Your other fixes have not helped,” she said. “I look forward to seeing what you plan next.”

He muttered something she didn’t understand, and then the door burst open. She looked up to see Vernon Robson-Jones standing there.

“Have you news?” she asked, mostly because he looked as if he wanted to say something, but he wasn’t quite sure how to do it. She pulled the books closer to her, praying he didn’t see them and ask what they were.

“I wanted to stop in before I left for the theater,” he said. “We have a performance of the Scottish play tonight, and one of my actors is giving me fits.”

“Actors are known to do that, aren’t they?” Ewan asked.

“Yes, they are,” Robson-Jones said. “I had hoped to receive a missive from Phee in the post today, but there has been nothing.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll find her,” Ewan said. “I want to come down to the theater and speak with your actors, if that is all right with you?”

“I would rather you wait until after the performance,” Robson-Jones said. “I don’t want to get them anxious and speaking to a detective might bring about nerves for many of them. Say around ten tonight? Is that too late?”

“That is fine,” Ewan said, and Muriel was sure he was thinking that this would work to their advantage. The later time meant she would be able to go with him.

“Have you found anything that might give you a clue?” Robson-Jones asked.

“Nothing right now,” Ewan answered.

Muriel felt a little guilty about the diaries she had in her arms. Should they tell him about them, or would it get his hopes up? It probably would be best to wait and tell him about the journals later.

“Mr. Robson-Jones, did your daughter leave any other clues around the house as to where she and her paramour were heading?” Ewan asked. “Are you sure they are not going to Gretna Green?”

“The only thing I have is the letter which you have read,” he said.

“May we speak with your wife?” Muriel asked. “Perhaps Phee said something to her.”

“My wife is at a friend’s house, and has taken to her bed,” Robson-Jones said. “I don’t believe she would be any use to you in this matter. She is quite upset with this turn of events.”

Muriel nodded, and made a mental note to speak to Ewan when they were alone in the cab together.

“Then we will take our leave,” Ewan said. He walked in front of Muriel, effectively blocking Robson-Jones’ view of her. Then he took off his coat and wrapped it around her shoulders and pulled it closed in front of her. When he did, it concealed the books she held in her arms and she knew he was thinking the same thing she was—that it was best not to let him know they had them at this point in time.

“We will see you tonight,” Ewan said.

“Come early and I will leave seats for you at the theater door,” Robson-Jones said. “I think you will enjoy the production.”

“Thank you, we will do that,” Muriel said before Ewan could decline. He wasn’t a big fan of the theater, but she enjoyed the stories that were told, even when she knew the plots, as she did with the Scottish play.

When they were in the cab and headed toward their home so they could store the books, he said, “Macbeth… you’ve sentenced us to watching Macbeth. I should withhold sex for a month for this transgression. You know I don’t like Shakespeare.”

“It will be entertaining,” she said. “Plus, we can watch the crowd. There is every chance Phee could be there, that she is pulling one over on her parents.”

“I hate to admit I had not thought of that,” he said. “We do need to spend time reading her last few entries.”

She handed him the books, wishing she would be able to stay with him so they could read the journals together.

“I suppose I do need to think about leaving my job,” she said. “But I worry.”

“We’ll think about it after the case is over,” he said. “I think you need to talk with Mr. Holmes on your own. I will go home and start reading. I’ll even prepare supper for us tonight.”

“What a frightening thought,” Muriel said with a laugh. “I’ll be sure to stop by the druggist for a tonic just in case my stomach can’t handle your creation.”

“Please, my food is better than yours,” he said.

Muriel smiled, because she knew he was right. If there was something she wasn’t it was a cook.

The cab dropped her off at The Written Word, and when it was gone she went into the store. There were many customers, and Mr. Holmes looked harried. When he saw her, he didn’t seem pleased. She nodded at him and wondered where Connie, the other clerk, was. She was supposed to be working this afternoon and should be here by now.

By way of greeting he jerked his head toward the back of the store where three men stood looking at something. As she drew nearer she could see their attention was drawn to books on—she stopped in her tracks as she realized what they were looking at—books on King Arthur.

That couldn’t be a coincidence as far as she was concerned.

“May I help you, gentlemen?” she said as she drew near.

“Which is the most historically accurate book in this genre?” one of them said as he held up a copy of Le Morte d’Arthur.

“None of them,” she said. “Those are novels. King Arthur is a myth.”

She’d said it on purpose, waiting to see how they would react. All three of them started to talk at once, telling her how wrong she was and wanting to know how she could sell books when she was so ignorant.

“You do realize Arthur is a myth, right?” Muriel glanced from one man to another.

“Not true,” the taller one said. “Besides, there is a rumor running about that Excalibur has been found. We need books that will tell us where to look so we can go in search of the sword.”

“Find the Lady of the Lake,” Muriel said.

“Is that in Cornwall?” one of the men asked.

Muriel held back a laugh. “You should read the book you’re holding.” She pointed at the tome the middle man was grasping as if his life depended on it. “Good luck with your search.”

She turned to where Mr. Holmes stood. He frowned, and then narrowed his eyes in obvious anger. She should have come to work on time instead of begging off this morning. Or maybe he was unhappy because she’d told the men that Arthur wasn’t real.

Mr. Holmes turned from her to greet a new customer. Muriel turned to where the three men stood. They seemed to be arguing about something. She went to them, intent on asking them about the rumor they’d mentioned, but not wanting to make them suspicious that she wanted to horn in on their search for the sword.

“Is there something else I can help you gentlemen with?” she asked.

“No,” one of them all but barked.

His friend nudged him with his elbow. “Mind your manners.” He turned to Muriel. “Forgive my brother. We actually came in to talk with Mr. Holmes and are just waiting on him to be finished with his patrons.”

“I see,” Muriel said. “I’ll go see if I can help him, then.”

She took over at the front and watched as Mr. Holmes joined the conversation the three men were having. There were enough people around that Muriel couldn’t eavesdrop.

They left about twenty minutes later, and Muriel, along with Mr. Holmes, took care of the customers that streamed in and out the door until after five. When the doors were locked she turned to Mr. Holmes.

“Where is Connie? Is she ill?”

“She has left us,” he said. “The note she sent me, which I received right after I read yours, explained she had taken a position as a governess for a lord. She didn’t say which one, so I wonder if it is true, or if she is off on some scheme.”

Off searching for Excalibur? Muriel wondered.

“I am very sorry to be late. Please forgive me. We were talking with Mr. Robson-Jones, the man you sent to us, so we can search for his daughter.”

“So Ewan could search,” Mr. Holmes said. “He is the detective, is he not?”

“You know I help him,” she said. “I do apologize for leaving you here alone today. I will not do it again.”

“We’ll see,” she heard him murmur.

“May I ask how you know Mr. Robson-Jones?”

“He was at school with my older brother,” Mr. Holmes said. “I think at one time Vernon thought of me marrying Phee. Of course, that was before I met my wife. When she left me Vernon suggested, once again, that Phee would make a good wife. But she is a bit young for me, and, well, I’m not sure I want a wife again.”

Muriel wasn’t sure what to say on that subject, so she decided to change it.

“The men that were in here today were talking about Excalibur, which is what the man who has supposedly run off with Phee is interested in. Do you know this man?”

“I do,” Mr. Holmes said. “His name is Raef Montgomery. I’m surprised that Vernon didn’t tell you we all grew up together, although Raef is more my age than Vernon’s. But Raef, to my point of view, has been mentally unstable for years. His family has always said they were related to Merlin, that they were sorcerers who used their magic to better themselves and to put curses on others.”

“Did you believe him?”

Mr. Holmes huffed. “Did I not tell you that he was, in my point of view, mentally unstable? He has found the perfect patsy in Phee. She is horribly spoiled, and she is ridiculously romantic and believes all the tales of what are, truly, myths.”

“Do you think he would hurt her?”

“Doubtful,” Mr. Holmes said. “I believe he fell in love with her. Phee probably has returned the emotions. She is, as I said, a romantic.”

“Do you have any idea where they might go?”

Mr. Holmes paused, and then he pointed at the door. “Your husband is here.” He pushed past her and unlocked the door to let Ewan inside.

Muriel took little time in repeating what Mr. Holmes had told her about Raef Montgomery and Phee Robson-Jones.

“I was just asking if Mr. Holmes knew where they might have gone.” She glanced at her husband who shook his head very slowly. That meant, she knew, that he had information he didn’t want to share with Mr. Holmes.

“Many of the myths say that Arthur had his origins in Wales,” Mr. Holmes said. “Something tells me they might be headed in that direction.”

“But is that where he returned the sword to the Lady of the Lake?” Muriel asked. “That’s what Montgomery is after, the sword. He has a crazy idea that he can use it to overthrow the Queen.”

The shocked look on Mr. Holmes’ face said he hadn’t heard that part.

“You have to find her,” Mr. Holmes said. “If he is talking treason then she will be implicated in the situation.”

He turned and went to the shelves, running his fingers along spines until he found one and pulled it down.

“Before Arthur died, he gave the sword to Sir Bedivere to return to the lake from whence it came,” Mr. Holmes said. “Then three queens came and took Arthur to Avalon, where he died.”

“What lake?” Ewan asked.

“Who knows?” Mr. Holmes said. “People can’t agree upon whether Arthur is real, much less where he came from, although most do agree it was in Wales. I would think that is where Montgomery is headed.”

“Then that’s where we’ll go,” Ewan said.

“You’ll go,” Muriel corrected. “Connie has left the store, and I can’t leave Mr. Holmes alone.”

“I can handle things,” Mr. Holmes said. “Phee is special to me. I’ve known her all her life. Go and find her before Montgomery does something that gets her into trouble and leads her to the noose.”

“But you’ll be running the store by yourself,” she said. “I can’t let you do that.”

“You can’t?” Mr. Holmes said. “If I remember right I am the manager here. If I have to fire you to make you go that can be arranged.”

His words shocked Muriel, but after a few moments she recovered enough to smile. “As you wish.” She turned to Ewan. “I guess we are going to Wales.”

He held out his hand. “Thank you, Mr. Holmes. We will keep you informed of our progress. And, we’ll let you know if we have any questions. You seem to know a lot about Arthur.”

“Only from the novels I’ve read,” Mr. Holmes said. “And I will spend my spare time combing over the tomes to see if I figure out anything else that might help.”

They said goodbye and when they were outside Ewan hailed a cab. When they were inside she said, “Where are we going?”

“Gwynedd,” he said.

“That’s a large area,” she said. “Any specific city?”

“Bangor right now,” he said. “That’s where a man and a woman matching Raef and Phee’s descriptions bought train tickets yesterday. There are many lakes in that area. We’ll find them.”

“Or maybe we’ll find the sword first,” she said.

“Maybe,” he said. “But I thought you didn’t believe in Arthur.”

Muriel laughed. “I believe he was a strong soldier, but I don’t believe there was a King Arthur, a famed sword or a magician who helped him accomplish things.”

“It will be an interesting trip,” he said. “And the train leaves in three hours.”

Chapter Three

Muriel smoothed down her skirts and watched as Ewan glanced out the door, and then toward the corridor of the train car.

“Looking for something?” She couldn’t help but smile. “Perhaps you think Merlin will come in and give you Excalibur, and Raef will sniff it out and come crawling to us?”

“I’m edgy,” he said.

“Why is that?” Muriel looked out the door. “Should we be concerned about violence? Do you know something you haven’t told me?”

“No,” he said. He pointed to the parcels across from them. “Those are the journals. I figured if we couldn’t sleep we could read them tonight.”

“You’re worried about journals?”

“I’m worried about someone getting into the cabin with us.” He turned his attention toward her. “Of course, it might be fun having sex in front of our cabin mate.” He turned his gaze to her. “You can be on top. We’ll use your skirts to hide our skin.”

Muriel fought back a laugh as he wagged his tongue and then panted like a dog.

“An appropriate action for a dog like you,” she said. “You can wait until we get to Wales.”

“I thought you knew me, my love,” he said. “I know you, and I know how exited you were the other day when you sucked me in the park. The idea of having sex on the train will make you wetter than a July day in London.”

“What a wonderful description,” she said. “Tonight, I’ll be using my umbrella, though, so there will be no wetness.”

“We’ll see about that,” he said.

Muriel moved to the seat opposite them and took up one of the packages. She opened it and took out one of the journals. “Did you read any of these?”

“I glanced at them,” he said. “Horrid poetry about love and death and what comes in between. Open one of them and read the first page you come to.”

Muriel did as he said, sitting under the gas lamp. “The silk scarves caress my skin after my bath, and all I can think about is Martin.” She looked up. “Martin, who is Martin?”

“I think our friend Phee had more than a wandering eye,” he said. “Like I said I glanced through them. There was our friend Raef, a Martin, a Richard, a Frank and—wait for it—Angelo, the one romantic name amongst the bunch.”

“All of these in the most recent journal?”

“Yes,” he said. “Like I said, a wandering eye.”

“Or other body parts,” Muriel said. “Does she describe any liaisons?”

“As I said, I only skimmed. I saw the word kiss a few times, but she didn’t talk about thrusts, cocks, pussies, or any other words you might think she would use if she were sleeping with one of the five men she wrote about.”

“I have a feeling that a woman this romantic in nature would record her sexual encounters and be very explicit in her writings.” Muriel settled in under the lamp. The train lurched forward.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“We have a nine-hour train ride,” she said. “I’m going to read and see if I can learn things about Phee’s life.” She shook a finger at him. “I think you should choose one and see if you can do more than skim the contents.”

“Are you telling me how to do my job?” he asked.

“This is reading, which is in my purview,” she said. “Literature, remember?”

He snorted and then laughed. “I don’t think these count as literature. But I guess we will see.”

They had no sooner cracked open the journals when a porter appeared and asked if they needed anything for the evening. He brought them a tea tray, complete with a few sandwiches and some sweets.

She drank two cups of tea and was wide awake when she shut the first journal. “You’re right, there is nothing in these. She kisses many stagehands and loves to prance around her room half-naked, wrapped only in her silky shawls, but she didn’t actually describe any sexual encounters with any of them. Raef is not mentioned in these pages.”

She let the journal drop to the ground. “Have you found her magical Merlin in anything you’ve read?”

“No, but in my book, she had a little more than a wandering eye. I should have read closer this afternoon. She and Martin were lovers.”

“Who is Martin?”

“She never really says. She just says Martin.” He tapped the pages. “You were right about her waxing poetic about their sexual encounter. And, since she doesn’t use the words pain or blood, I would guess it wasn’t the first time she’d been bent over a piano bench.”

“Piano bench?”

Ewan cleared his throat. “The soft leather of the bench bit into my mid-section as I wiggled my hips. ‘Take me, Martin,’ I said. ‘You know I need your cock deep inside me.’ He inched my skirts up over my hips. In anticipation of him taking me tonight I had not worn any undergarments, except for my lacy petticoats. When my bottom was bare he caressed it gently.”

Ewan paused and took a drink from his tea. “Martin slapped my bottom and said, ‘If you want it you have to ask for it.’ I was more than willing to give him what he wanted. “Fuck me, Martin, fuck me hard. Put your cock in me and make me yours.’”

Muriel’s mouth opened, and then she giggled. “My, Phee really got down to business, so to speak. But to do it so publicly, at the theater. Wouldn’t she worry about her parents walking in on her?”

“That could have been part of the pleasure of it,” Ewan said. “You loved it when you sucked me in the park. Admit it.” When she didn’t respond he said, “The thought of getting caught is exciting.”

“Getting caught can land us in prison,” she said.

“That’s why you have to be careful,” he said. “Quiet, like a church mouse.”

Muriel closed the diary. “You know, we’ve been talking about whether Arthur is real, but what we really need to think about is whether Merlin is real. After all, Raef thinks he’s related to the legendary magician. I’m more likely to think Arthur is real than Merlin. Not that he was king, of course, just a very brave, very good soldier.”

“Even if we don’t believe in Merlin, Raef does, which makes him dangerous,” Ewan said. “Can we stop talking about the case and go back to sex? I’m very interested in sex right now.”

“You’re always interested in sex,” she said. “Do you think he would hurt her?”

“No.” Ewan put the journal down. “For some reason he thinks he needs her, thinks she’s his good luck charm. Now, come here.”

“Ewan, it’s not even midnight.” Muriel looked toward the windows. “People are still awake and might be roaming the car. The porter might stop by to check on us once more.”

“All the better to excite you, my dear,” he said. She recognized that tone of voice. He wanted her to obey him immediately. Despite her objections of having sex on a train with numerous people around them she wanted to draw things out, play it to the limit. She always had a harder orgasm when they played longer.

Still, she didn’t want to tempt fate and risk discovery. She moved across the car and sat down next to him.

“I know my lovely wife enjoys being vocal while I’m taking my pleasure with her,” he said.

“You mean our pleasure,” she answered. “And, if I remember correctly, you’re always screaming at me to let my emotions be known. That means you want me to scream.”

“Well, tonight is going to be a little different,” he said. “You’re going to have to be quiet. Very, very quiet.”

“And if I’m not?”

“Then I’m sure the porter will come to investigate,” he said. “He’ll find me with my head between your thighs, and my tongue firmly planted between your silky walls—in other words, I’m going to eat your sweet core, and you’re going to love it.”

“Oh,” Muriel managed to say. “I don’t think—I mean—you know I’m not quiet when you’re eating me.”

“I love it when you say that,” he said. He leaned over and started to nip and lick on her neck. Muriel let her head loll back against the seat. He gently nibbled on the lobe of her ear before he whispered, “Tell me what I’m about to feast on.”

“My quim,” she whispered.

“Make it nasty, sweet one,” he said.

The seductive tone of his voice made her tingle. She’d never thought to meet a man she would spend the rest of her life with, and when she’d met Ewan McClacken she’d found him sexy and handsome, but also arrogant and unlikeable. But then she’d fallen in love with him, which shocked her. She’d been really surprised when she’d followed him down the golden road to their unique sex life, which left him in charge, and her body quaking with need every time she saw him.

Even when she was going against her better judgment, like she was doing now, she knew she could trust him to lead the way.

“My pussy,” she whispered, shivering with the very word.

“Even nastier,” he said.

“My cunny,” she said. She felt wonderfully naughty saying that word, one that would never be heard of in polite society. She loved that, despite her objections to doing things out in the open, Ewan guided her to do so.

“Good girl.” He stood and ran his fingers through his hair. “Now, lift those skirts and spread your legs.”

Now she didn’t want to object. She loved it when he used his tongue on her, and usually she was, as he said, very vocal. It would be a challenge to stay silent. But the consequences of not being quiet were high. They could be charged with indecency if they were caught, which would mean jail time for both of them.

But as she lifted her skirts to expose her quim she really didn’t care. She wanted to feel Ewan’s mouth on her.

“How easily you give in to my wants,” he said. “But they are your wants too, aren’t they? We match so well, Muriel. We’ll take a brief pause, shall we?”

Muriel shook her head furiously. She hated when he made her wait. He had all the patience in the world, but Muriel wanted things to happen immediately.

“I’m sorry,” she said. She placed her hands, palm side down, on either side of her. “I’ll behave.”

He didn’t answer her, but he did start to count, something she hated. He never told her how high he would go, he just counted until he thought she would behave herself. Sometimes he went to ten, sometimes twenty. Once he’d gone to one hundred and forty which meant she was shaking by the time he decided to proceed with the evening’s festivities.

When he got to twenty she groaned, and when he was at sixty she whimpered.

“Are you going to behave?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said. “I will be good, I promise.”

“I hope I can count on your word,” he said. “I was rather looking forward to my evening feast. If I have to go without I will not be a happy man.”

Muriel spread her legs, making sure to keep her fingers far away from her quim. “I will behave. I will be silent, and I will wait for instructions.”

“Good.” He knelt in front of her and kissed her thighs, moving from one leg to the other. Muriel closed her eyes and pressed her lips together to keep from begging him to stop teasing her and take her. But she knew from experience if she pleaded without being told to he would more than likely stop.

Plus, she needed to be silent. Loud moans and groans would attract attention and they didn’t want that.

“Oh,” she said softly as he kissed her on her mound. His fingers parted her lips and he blew gently on her soft, wet lips. Muriel’s hips seemed to move of their own accord, thrusting up toward his mouth, which made him lift his head away from her.

“Did I say you could do that? Discipline, my love, is more than a leather strap coming down on your silky bottom.” He caressed her thighs. “Stay still and silent, as I said.”

She didn’t say anything, or even nod, because she knew from past experience that both of those things would break the rules.

Muriel squeezed her eyes shut at the same time he flicked his tongue over her clit. Pleasure shot through her, but she didn’t move, and she bit down on her lips once more to keep from uttering even a soft moan.

His tongue moved up and down her folds, around her clit and then down to her opening where he teased her, acting as if he would push it inside, and then pulling out just before she felt the fullness she loved so much.

She opened her mouth but didn’t speak as he continued his sensual assault. She wondered who was roaming up and down the corridor, who might knock on the door, what the people in the cabins next door were doing. Sleeping? Eating? Talking? Or were they having sex, also, savoring the feel of their loved one’s body as she was doing right now.

Ewan sucked her clit into his mouth and it took every ounce of willpower to keep from shouting out in pleasure. He licked and sucked and nibbled until her body was on fire and the train cabin seemed to spin. He stopped working on her clit and moved his tongue down, licking and sucking on her folds as the urge to climax slowly disappeared.

Tears threatened as he continued to tease her, until, finally, when she thought she would die from need he sucked her clit into his mouth and bit down hard, sending her crashing over the edge. She held back as long as she could before she whimpered. What she really wanted to do was scream, something she loved to do while they were having sex.

When they’d first moved into their townhouse the neighbors knew what they were doing, and when. But Ewan had changed all that by moving their bedroom to the bottom of the house, away from where their neighbors’ rooms were located. Right now, she wished she were in that space, so she could make as much noise as she wanted.

He licked and sucked on her as she came down, finally collapsing against the seat.

“Ewan,” she said softly.

“My turn,” he answered. He stood, and she opened her eyes and watched as he undid he breeches. She didn’t wait for him to tell her what to do. The moment his cock was out she put her mouth around it, sucking him deeply, putting her hands on his balls and gently kneading them as she sucked.

He put his hands in her hair, holding it tight and pulling it loose from its pins. She loved it when she took him like this, savoring the feel of his hardness in her mouth.

It didn’t take him long to fill her mouth, and Muriel swallowed every drop, savoring the salty taste of his seed. She’d just licked the tip clean when there was a knock at the door.

“Yes?” Ewan called out. He wiggled his brows at her and pulled her mouth toward him, holding his cock out for her to suck.

She shook her head violently.

“Do it,” he commanded.

“Sir?” It was the porter, and Ewan smiled down at her. “Take me in your mouth while I talk to him,” he said, his voice low.

She shook her head again and he glared at her, a look that both excited and angered her.

“Do it,” he commanded.

“Sir, may I come in and turn down your bunks?”

Ewan’s cock hardened, something she’d never seen happen right after he’d had an orgasm. She licked him gently, then as excitement took over she pulled him back into her mouth.

“Oh my God,” Ewan said.

“Sir?” The porter’s concern came through in his voice. “Is everything all right? Do I need to come in?”

“No,” Ewan said in a strangled voice. Muriel continued to suck him. She loved that he seemed to be out of control right now. He grabbed her hair again, so hard that she almost bit down on him.

“Sir?” the porter called out again.

“My wife is already asleep,” Ewan said. Muriel loved the strained tone of his voice. She had caused it, and it made her feel powerful, in control. She knew Ewan was too far gone to pull away from her and stuff himself back in his trousers. Besides, this was what he wanted, to do things in a public place where there was every chance they would get caught. It excited him. And, truthfully, it excited her right now, too.

“If we continue to make noise we will wake her up,” Ewan said, his words coming out in a hiss. “Please, I appreciate your concern, but we’ve taken care of things.”

“As you wish,” the porter said, although he sounded very skeptical.

“You minx,” Ewan said as she continued to work her mouth on his staff. But then he laughed, and when he came it didn’t produce much for her to swallow.

He crumbled onto the seat beside her and said, “That was almost painful, but it was fun.” He shook his finger at her. “Here you were worried that someone would find us doing something naughty and when the porter showed up at the door you wouldn’t stop.”

“You had your hands in my hair and you kept me in place,” she said with a laugh. “What do you think the porter thought? I wonder how many times something like this has happened to him? Do you think he had any idea we were having sex?”

“I think he was suspicious,” he said. “I’m sure he sees many different things in his job. It would probably make a good book as a matter of fact.”

He sat up and looked at her. “In fact, there is every chance that Phee and her Magical Merlin were on this very train. Come on, let’s clean up and then I’ll go in search of him. He might be able to tell us something.”

They used the water that had been provided for them earlier.

“Try to look like you’ve been asleep,” Ewan said.

“That won’t be hard,” she said with a snort, which she knew was very unladylike. “You’ve made a mess of my hair.”

He took a blanket out of the cabinet and tossed it to her. She covered herself up and then nodded.

She sat back on the seat and watched as he opened the door.

“Excuse me, could we get another blanket? My wife is awake and she’s cold.”

“Of course,” the porter said.

Ewan shut the door and seconds later there was a knock. The porter opened it without waiting for them to tell him to come in. He offered Ewan a blanket and then started to go leave.

“Wait, may I ask you something else?” Ewan said. He gave Muriel the blanket and she unfolded it. She didn’t want him to know she was listening, so she went about putting the second blanket over the first.

“What else do you need, sir?” the porter asked.

“Just information,” Ewan said. “My wife’s cousin might have been on this train in the last few days. She and her, well her lover, ran off and my wife’s uncle is desperate to get her back before any damage is done to her reputation.”

“Many people take this train, sir,” the porter said.

“They would have been a couple, in their mid-twenties.” Muriel watched as Ewan reached into his pocket and pulled out a bank note. She couldn’t see the amount, but she could see the porter’s eyes widen.

“What did the young lady look like?” the porter asked, his gaze fastened on the money.

“Early twenties, pretty, long blonde hair,” he said. “The man with her would have been almost thirty, also blond.”

The porter shook his head, and looked sadly at the money, as if he knew it wouldn’t be going from Ewan’s hand into his pocket.

“Phee might have wanted to hide her identity,” Muriel said. She’s not sure where the idea came from, but it just popped into her head. She might have worn a wig or dressed in widow’s weeds.”

The porter’s eyes widened. “Did you say Phee? I only ask because the name is so unusual. There was a young woman, blonde, who said her name was Phee when she introduced herself. But she was alone. There was no man with her.”

“Clever,” Ewan said. “Traveling separately would mean if someone asked, like us, it would not draw attention to them.” He handed the porter the money. “Thank you for your help. My wife’s uncle will be very happy with our findings.

When the man was gone, Ewan cuddled up next to her.

“We know we’re on the right track,” Muriel said. “Where do we go from here?”

Ewan leaned his head against her shoulder, and then he moved the blankets so that they were covering both of them. He yawned, and she smiled. She knew his strength was waning from the two orgasms he’d just had.

“Well, the first thing we’ll need to do is find lodgings,” he said. “I’ll ask at the rail station. They will be able to point us to a place that is not too expensive, but is not a rat’s nest, either.”

“And then I think we should find a lending library,” she said. “Sometimes historians work there, and we will be able to ask questions about Arthur, and from there be able to glean things about Merlin, too.”

“Good idea, my love,” he said, right before he yawned. “But first, lodgings. After all, we’ll be here for a while and we can’t sleep in the park.”

“When we ask the ticket seller about lodgings we should tell him we’re supposed to meet a friend here. We can describe Phee and see if maybe she asked him the same thing. Maybe Raef is having her do most of the work, I mean talking to people and such. He might not want people to recognize him. I wonder if he’s been in this area before and caused problems.”

“Good idea…” His words drifted off and Muriel fought back a laugh. He hadn’t heard a word of what she’d just said. If she continued to probe him with questions, continued to make plans he might wake up and give his opinion. But she decided to let him sleep.

But she was too excited to sleep. They’d just had incredible sex, and they had new information that let them know they were on the right track, that, hopefully, they would find Phee quickly. But when they did how hard would it be to get her to go back to London with them?

If, heaven forbid, she and Raef had married, it would be impossible. She wondered how long they’d known each other. She wondered if Raef had filed for a license. If so, it probably would have come in by now and there was every possibility they were man and wife.

Of course, if they were she wondered why they were traveling separately. Muriel yawned, and as she did so she made a mental note to ask the porter if Phee had been wearing a wedding ring when he saw her. Something told her he was the sort of man who noticed things like that. And if he didn’t, a little bit of money might just jog his memory.

Chapter Four

They found lodgings at the Black Grouse House, located near the center of town, which Muriel thought was just perfect. The porter, who was called Mr. Jameson, suggested it. He said a friend ran it. The landlady, Mrs. Wiggins, was near to fifty, but she was one of the friendliest people Muriel had ever met. She giggled like a schoolgirl as she took their payment, watched them sign in, and then showed them to their room.

“You’ve missed breakfast, but I will set out a light repast to tide you over until lunch,” she’d said as she’d pulled open the curtains to their room. “We have one other guest, Mr. Husley, who is searching for his family roots, or so he says. He’s at the other side of the house, so you’ve got this part all to yourselves. Freshen up, come down, and then we’ll talk.”

When she was gone, Muriel went to the window and looked out. “It’s a beautiful town, very medieval. Is the castle here associated with Arthur?”

“I’m not sure,” Ewan said. He sat down on the bed and bounced. “Nice mattress.”

“Too bad the station clerk hadn’t seen Phee.”

“It would have helped,” he said. “But don’t you think it’s strange she told us to come down and we’d talk? Talk about what? Do you think she suspects something, or knows something?”

“What makes you say that?” she asked. She sat down next to him and did a little bounce of her own.

“I have it in my mind that Raef Montgomery is not working on his own,” he said. “I think he’s part of a group.”

“What makes you say that?”

He flicked his tongue over his teeth, which was a sure sign he was thinking of something, pondering it deeply. She knew he wouldn’t say a word until he had it sorted out in his mind.

“Ever since Vernon Robson-Jones said that Raef Montgomery wanted to find the sword and use it to overthrow the government I couldn’t help but think he wasn’t working alone.” He paused and sighed heavily. “One person does not try and take over a government. He needs allies. He needs people to help him find what he wants and achieve his goals.”

“How do you think we should find these allies?” she asked.

“Well, by tracking Phee,” he said. “Bangor is the largest city in this district, but there are many smaller ones. I think we need to be careful with her. There’s part of me who thinks it was not just luck that the train porter knew Phee.”

“You’ve never been this paranoid,” Muriel said.

“I have a very bad feeling,” Ewan said. “It started when I saw the porter this morning. He had this smirk on his face that showed my money had not been well spent.”

“Do you really think?”

“Consider it, Muriel,” he said. “Hundreds of people take that train every day. And he remembers one woman?”

“Phee is an unusual name,” she said. “He would have made note of it, or at least I think he would have. I don’t think he’s lying.”

“He sent us here, and now she wants to talk,” he said. “Be very careful about what you say. Don’t mention Phee at all. Tell her we’re here on holiday, to see the beautiful countryside.”

“It is beautiful,” she said. “Maybe while we’re talking we can bring the subject around to Merlin, and the sword. But we need to put her at ease first. If so, maybe she’ll let something slip. That is if your suspicions are correct.”

“You don’t agree with me?” he asked.

“I think you’re being paranoid.” She squeezed his knee.

“Shall we make a little wager?” he asked.

“What do you have in mind?”

He took her hand and placed it on his cock. “If I win, we fuck in the park, with you on your hands and knees, where there will be no doubt in people’s minds as to what we are doing.”

“At the risk of being imprisoned?” Muriel got up and walked to the window. “That’s insane.”

“Those are my terms,” he said. “You can choose what you want. You don’t have to do it now. Give yourself time to think it over. If you agree to the wager it will be intriguing, don’t you think?”

“I think it will get us into trouble,” she said. “I don’t agree with your plan.”

“You’ll change your mind,” he said.

“Doubtful,” she said.

“Perhaps we should make a wager on that, too,” he said. “Five pounds says you change your mind.”

“What, no stakes that I’ll have sex with you in the middle of the museum? Perhaps amongst the mummies?”

“Now you are being ridiculous,” he said with a laugh. “Let’s go down and talk with our hostess. We play well off each other, I think. Do you want to lead, or do you want me to?”

“You take the lead,” Muriel said. “I’ll follow along.”

“Thank you, my love,” he said.

He followed behind her as they went down the stairs and found the dining room where Mrs. Wiggins had set up what Muriel thought was more than a little repast. There were platters of eggs, toast and sausages. There was also a pot of tea. Their hostess poured them each a cup while they filled their plates.

“Such a beautiful home you have,” Ewan said before he tucked into his food. Muriel knew she wondered if that was his subtle way of starting the conversation she was supposed to follow.

“Thank you.” Mrs. Wiggins sat down with her own cup of tea. “I’ve been here for some twenty years now. I love Wales. It’s so beautiful.”

“It is,” Muriel said. “I hear there are quite a few lakes around here. We might want to see a few of them during our visit.”

“The lakes in this district are stunning,” Mrs. Wiggins said. “You should see Llydaw, Dinas and Ogwen.” She took a sip from her cup and then looked around as if she wanted to see if anyone was listening to them. “All three lakes claim to be the place where the Lady of the Lake rests with Excalibur.”

A shiver ran up Muriel’s spine. Perhaps her husband was right. Maybe, just maybe, this was some sort of a scheme into which they were being drawn. But if that is true, what was the point? She hated to think that Mr. Robson-Jones was somehow setting them up in this intrigue. If he was, that meant Mr. Holmes was also involved, and the idea angered Muriel. She didn’t want to think her employer was a bad person leading them down a dark road.

“Arthur was in this area?” Ewan asked

“Oh, yes,” Mrs. Wiggins said. “He’s the main draw for tourists in this region. In fact, Mr. Hulsey, the other guest here right now, believes his lineage dates back to Arthur. That’s why he’s here, to trace his family heritage. Imagine that.”

“Tell me, Mrs. Wiggins, do you believe Arthur was a king? Do you believe in the Knights of the Round Table? If so, which castle do you think he used as head of his kingdom?”

Ewan posted the questions in rapid fire, and Muriel was sure he’d done it on purpose, to try and trip her up. She would be so busy trying to figure out which question she should answer first that she might, inadvertently, let go of information that could help them.

“Of course, I believe,” she said. “Arthur was a noble man and he led with grace and dignity. Of course, there was his lovely Guinevere. A love story for the ages.”

Ewan took another drink, and then cleared his throat. “Of course, everyone knows she strayed with Lancelot.”

“Disturbing lies,” Mrs. Wiggins said. “Stories made up by authors with no basis in reality. A smear on the name of a good man.”

“A good man who followed a wizard,” Muriel said. She took a bite of her sausage but watched as a cloud passed over Mrs. Wiggins’ face.

“You’re not one of those, are you?” Mrs. Wiggins asked. “If you are you can pack your bags right now and be gone. In fact, don’t even eat any more food. Just go.”

“One of what?” Ewan asked. “My wife meant nothing bad. We just finished a tale where Merlin helped Arthur’s father, Uther, impregnate his mother, Igrayne.”

“Myths and lies,” the woman said. “I’ll ask again, are you one of those people?”

“Which people?” Muriel asked.

“Those who are in search of the sword,” she said. “They’ve been all over the area for the past few months.”

“Why?” Ewan asked.

Mrs. Wiggins huffed in indignation, and for a moment, Muriel thought she wasn’t going to say anything more. But then she said, “It’s a long story, and I’m not sure I want to tell it. Go down to the Whistling Tree and find Mr. Pregarin. He will tell you.”

“Who is Mr. Pregarin?”

“His family has lived here for centuries,” Mrs. Wiggins said. “Rumor has it one of his relatives was an actual knight, and he fought with Arthur. He also went in quest of the Holy Grail.”

“Will he speak with us?” Ewan asked. “Is there a certain word I need to use to get him to open his mouth?”

Mrs. Wiggins laughed. “Just continue to fill his cup and his mouth, when he’s not swallowing ale, will be working to tell you everything. You’re not in search of the sword, are you?”

“No,” Ewan said. Muriel waited for him to continue, to explain they were searching for a woman who might have something to do with the whole situation, but he didn’t.

“Disgusting people, they are,” she said. “They have no use for the actual history of the thing. All they want is the sword, which they think will bring them riches. They think it will actually put them in charge of the country. Disgusting.”

“I heartily agree,” Muriel said. “But your reaction seems much more than that. May I ask if something happened that put you off people that are in search of the sword?”

Mrs. Wiggins drank some of her tea before she put her cup on the table. “My late husband was a historian. I moved to Bangor after I married him. He was a professor for the university.”

She stopped talking, and Muriel could see tears in the woman’s eyes.

“I’m sorry if I’ve touched on a sore subject,” Muriel said. “You don’t have to continue.”

Mrs. Wiggins took another drink of her tea, then said, “He was killed, more than fifteen years ago by a man who stole his research on Arthur, on the possibility that the sword is hidden in the hills above town.”

“I’m so sorry,” Muriel said.

“Every few years a new group of people show up and try to find Excalibur,” Mrs. Wiggins said. “It’s all rumor, of course, folklore, really. Mr. Pregarin will tell you that he thinks it’s true, that someday someone, somewhere will find the blade and say it gives them the right to the throne. Of course, anyone who did would be thrown in prison.”

“As well they should be,” Ewan said. “If someone found the sword the best thing they could do would be to sell it to a museum. It’s is piece of history that should be on view for all to see.”

“If it truly exists,” Mrs. Wiggins said. “You’ll find people on both sides of the issue. I’m sorry if I was short with you. Thinking of those on a sword quest angers me.”

“As it should,” Muriel said. “I’m very sorry about your husband.”

Mrs. Wiggins looked down at the table. “My family tried to get me to come back to London, but I said no. Bangor is my home now. We had no children. We always thought there would be more time, but things just didn’t work out that way.”

“May I be blunt and ask who killed him?” Ewan asked.

“A man by the name of Proffer, Sisto Frae.” She was wringing her hands now, and Muriel thought that maybe she was using the motion to try and keep her emotions under control.

“He paid for his crime, of course?” Muriel asked. When Mrs. Wiggins didn’t answer, Muriel glanced at her husband. “Mrs. Wiggins?”

“He was never caught,” she said. “But he did write me a letter about five years ago, saying he was sorry for what happened.”

That shocked Muriel, and when she looked at Ewan she could see he was just as amazed at the pronouncement.

“You gave the letter to the police, of course,” Ewan said.

“Our local constabulary was not interested in the letter.” Mrs. Wiggins got up and walked to the sideboard. “Every time someone comes into the inn I wonder if they are going to ask about the sword. If they are going to do what Sisto Frae did.”

“May I see the letter?” Ewan asked.

“Ewan,” Muriel hissed. “That’s not proper.”

He frowned at her, and then said, “Forgive me if I’m putting my foot in where it shouldn’t be, Mrs. Wiggins.”

The innkeeper looked between them. “You’re not here on vacation, are you?”

“Of course, we are,” Muriel said. “We’re just… nosy.”

“In a pig’s eye,” Mrs. Wiggins said. “Go on your way then and find The Whistling Tree and its resident drunk. Hopefully, it’s early enough in the day that you might be able to get information out of him.”

“We appreciate you pointing us in the direction of Mr. Pregarin,” Muriel said. “May I ask, if we decide to visit one of the lakes tomorrow is there a possibility you could pack a lunch for us? A picnic would be a wonderful part of our vacation.”

“Oh yes, and I can help you to hire a trap,” she said. “Mr. Marteen will give it to you at a reduced price since you are staying under my roof.”

“Always a good thing to save a bob or two,” Ewan said. “We’ll be back in time for dinner.”

“Lamb stew tonight,” Mrs. Wiggins said. “And I make a wonderful pudding to go with it, if I do say so myself. I’ll have tea at four if you’re interested. If not, we’ll see you at supper at seven.”

Once they were on the street, Muriel tucked her hand into the crook of Ewan’s arm.

“Why did you ask about the letter?” she asked, keeping her voice low.

“Don’t you think it’s odd, that we ended up there? I’m telling you something is amiss here. I’m not sure what yet, but there is a reason the porter pushed us in her direction.”

“Because this Sisto Frae killed her husband?” She gently prodded him with her arm. “It has nothing to do with Raef Montgomery.”

“I don’t believe in coincidences, my love.” He gently patted her hand. “You know that.”

“You’re just trying to push me on the wager,” she said. “The legend of King Arthur is rampant in this area. It stands to reason that things would be connected as far as the legend goes. That means, to me at least, that many people would be connected, but not actually connected. Does that make sense to you?”

“Not in the least,” he said with a laugh.

“Let me put it this way,” she said. “Say the two of us were working on the same case. We might talk to the same people, read the same documents, come to the same conclusions. But that doesn’t mean we are connected. It means we’ve studied the same thing.”

“Why would Mr. Jameson send us to an inn where the keeper’s husband was killed by someone who had an interest in finding the sword?”

“Perhaps he’s courting her,” Muriel said. “They are about the same age. She is a widow. He sends business her way and she calls on him to thank him. Or, maybe more to the point, they are lovers. It happens, you know.”

“Always the romantic,” Ewan said with a laugh.

They stopped to ask a passing boy for directions to The Whispering Tree. He agreed to take them there, for a coin, and they agreed.

“What’s your name, lad?” Ewan asked as they walked along.

“Lance, sir,” the boy said.

“Names after Lancelot?” Muriel asked.

The boy blushed. “It’s a popular name around here, ma’am.”

“I would think Arthur would be better, or Merlin.”

They rounded a corner and Muriel saw a sign for The Whispering Tree.

“Tell me, lad, do you know where to find the sword?” Ewan asked as he tossed him a coin.

“Mum says between the pages of a book.” Lance ran off without making another comment.

“That’s quite a legend to live up to,” Muriel said with a laugh as they went inside the public house. The interior was dark, and they stopped inside the door to allow their eyes to adjust.

“There’s our man,” Ewan said after a moment. He pointed to a table in the corner where a man that appeared to be in his early sixties sat. As they drew closer, Muriel could see the man was drinking ale and eating cheese and bread. She looked around the room. Most of the occupants seemed to be doing the same thing, but they were younger than their target.

“Mr. Pregarin?” Ewan asked when they were alongside him.

“Depends on who’s asking,” the man said, and then he laughed. “Do I owe you money, lad?”

“No, sir,” Ewan said.

“Then have a seat and buy me a drink,” Mr. Pregarin said. “This one’s almost empty.”

Muriel noticed that it wasn’t, but as they took their seats Mr. Pregarin tipped back his head and drained the ale in one hard pull.

Ewan got the attention of a passing serving girl and ordered three ales and three more ploughman’s lunches.

“Good of you,” Mr. Pregarin said. “Now, are you of the notion that Excalibur is out there, or are you out to prove it’s not?” They obviously didn’t answer quickly enough because the old man slapped his hand on the wooden table. “Go on, tell me.”

“Will it influence your tale?” Ewan asked. “Do you have a different story depending on how a person answers that question? You tell the Arthurians that Excalibur is hidden in a lake in the hills, and you tell those who don’t believe in the tale that it’s a good piece of fiction?”

Pregarin laughed and pounded the table a few more times. “You’re a smart one you are. And you’re absolutely right. Give the people what they want, you know.”

“What do you believe?” Muriel asked him. She picked up a bit of cheese, despite the fact she wasn’t hungry. To wash it down she took a drink of her ale and grimaced. It wasn’t the best blend she’d ever tasted.

“I believe you should have asked for a glass of wine,” he said. He laughed again, and Muriel wondered if he laughed at everything. Something told her that he did. He’d obviously drank quite a bit already, even though it was early in the day, but she had a feeling he lived in a drunken state.

“I think you’re right,” she said. She pushed the ale aside. “But right now, I’d like you to answer my question. What do you believe?”

“Who sent you in my direction?” Pregarin asked.

“Don’t answer questions with questions,” Ewan said. “My wife asked what you believe. Let us know. We’re not here as scholars and we won’t quote you. We just want to know some information.”

Pregarin finished his first lunch and pulled a second plate up to him. He ate in silence for a few moments before he said, “From the time I was a babe my father told me about my ancestors, who fought alongside a brave, noble man named Arthur who kept us safe from the Saxons.”

He ate more in silence, and then he said, “You want to know what I believe Mrs.…?”

“McClacken,” Ewan said. “I’m Ewan and this is my wife, Muriel.”

“Treasure hunters?” Pregarin asked. “Going to go up to the lakes and put out your hands and hope the sword swings out of the waves and comes to you of its own accord?”

“It hasn’t happened before, has it?” Ewan asked. “That, sir, would be a miracle if it did happen. That’s what I believe.”

“You’re so right,” Pregarin said. He drank more, almost draining this one as he had the last one. Muriel wondered how he was still able to speak. If she’d had that much ale she would be sleeping under the table.

“The Lady of the Lake isn’t exactly going to surrender it so easily, is she?” Muriel asked.

Pregarin turned his gaze to her, and she could swear she saw fear in his eyes. Ewan must have noticed it too because he gently patted her leg under the table.

“Has there been someone around recently asking about the sword?” Ewan said. “A young, blond man who might have been with a blonde woman?”

“Lots of people come to see me,” Pregarin said. “I don’t remember many.”

“This man is called Raef Montgomery,” Ewan said.

For a moment, Muriel thought he wasn’t going to answer. When he did his voice was very soft.

“I know of him,” Pregarin said. “But I haven’t seen him in a year or so. He and his lot have been searching the hills and lakes for ages.”

“His lot?” Muriel glanced at Ewan, who kept his gaze on Pregarin.

“You seem like nice people,” Pregarin said. “Montgomery and his group are not so nice.”

“What do you mean?” Ewan asked.

Muriel wanted to say they already knew Montgomery wasn’t a nice man. After all, he’d pulled Phee away from her family without asking permission from her father. Even though Phee was a grown woman, he should have asked permission before he spirited her away to Wales.

“If you’re looking for the sword you’ll have to go up to the hills,” Pregarin said. “The lakes.” He glanced between them, and Muriel could swear his eyes were as clear as the dawn. It seemed as if he didn’t have a drop of alcohol in his body.

“What if we’re looking for Montgomery?” Ewan took a drink from his cup.

“There’s a town up there called Monford,” Pregarin said. “It’s a very small town, not often called upon when people talk about Merlin and the sword.”

“Why is that?” Ewan asked.

“Because the people around here stay away from it,” Pregarin said. “You should, too.”

“Then why did you tell us about it?” Muriel asked. “That doesn’t make any sense.”

“Tell us how to get there,” Ewan said.

“With a horse and cart,” Pregarin said. “There is a very small lake called Chauncery. Find it and take a left and you’ll find Monford.”

Pregarin drained his glass. Ewan signaled for another one, but the older man shook his head.

“Why are you telling us this?” Ewan asked.

“Because you asked about Montgomery,” Pregarin said. “Some things need to be set to rights. I’m too old to do it. When you approached me, I knew you were the one.”

“What do you mean, the one?” Ewan put his arm around Muriel. She felt as if he thought Pregarin was threatening them, and he wanted to protect her.

“I need to talk with someone else,” Pregarin said. “Where are you staying?”

“Black Grouse House,” Ewan said.

“Ah, Mrs. Wiggins,” Pregarin said with a smile. “She is a good woman, although I’m sure she told you I was quite the drunk. She’s right, you know. I am. Her late husband and I were quite good friends at one point. He was a good man. She doesn’t think much of me now. I’m surprised she sent you my way.”

The sadness in his voice caught Muriel’s attention. She watched as he drained the rest of his ale and ordered another.

“I think you owe us an explanation as to your words,” Ewan said.

“Come back tomorrow and I’ll see if I can explain it.” He stood. “Right now, I need to take a nap. It’s been a long day, and I’m old.”

He left before they could stop him.

“I mean that was the oddest thing we’ve ever encountered,” Muriel said. “We should go after him and push him for an answer about this being the one business.

“We’ll come back tomorrow,” Ewan said. “Just like he asked. In the meantime, we should walk the town and see if anyone else has any information about Montgomery. Pregarin might not have seen him in a while, but that doesn’t mean others have not.”

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