WARNING: Surprise, surprise, Charlotte is rude again.
In which we learn a bit about Charlotte’s past. Missed her previous adventures? Check out the Weekly Serial page for the full list.
London – 1838
Bran didn’t conveniently have Griffin Callahan’s address listed in his papers which seemed odd, I supposed, but given that I never forgot anything I never had to write anything down so I couldn’t say. Still, I knew plenty of places to get information and my favourite pub happened to be the best one. There was a reason it was my favourite pub.
‘Why don’t your lot get back on a boat and bugger off?’ John, the landlord of the Rose and Crown, shouted at me from behind the bar, the place was empty because it was supposedly closed so there was no one else he could’ve been talking to.
‘Who’d build your bloody boats then?’ I asked leaning against the bar to look at his legs sticking out from under it on the other side.
His gnarled face appeared. ‘I hate your logic.’ He sniffed and went back to whatever it was he was doing under the bar. ‘You’re old paddy let you out from under him then? He must think he’s done very well for himself getting his hands on your tender young flesh.’
‘I’ve often wondered if there’s a reason why you hate Irish people.’ It had been a very long time since I’d sounded remotely Irish, but John remembered.
He slid out from under the bar and stood up to face me. ‘It’s more of a mild dislike.’
He smirked. ‘A lot of late, I’m sure.’
‘I’m looking for Griffin Callahan. Know where I might find him?’
His jaw worked for a moment then he said, ‘Poor bastard.’
‘I simply want a word.’
He folded his arms on the bar and bent close. ‘If you’re looking for him you must know what he is and pretty young girls like you aren’t safe near him. That’s a lot of trouble, even for you, Lot.’
‘There’s a note outstanding in the ledger.’
‘God help him if he’s done something to put him in there.’ He straightened again. ‘Wander around Covent Garden of an evening, a pretty girl like you’ll find him.’ He flicked his gaze over my boyish clothes. ‘Without trying.’
‘Flattery won’t work on me.’ I grinned. ‘Sounds like this might balance my sin tally.’
‘Lot the warrior against injustice, now that’d be a thing.’ He shook his head. ‘You’re playing too dangerous these days. Aubrey’s not happy with you. Word got round about you and the paddy and he’s thinking he could’ve got you fondling old men’s balls sooner. Reckons a pretty piece like you would’ve fetched a price just as pretty. But give a boy a rich man’s name and he gets himself funny ideas.’ John tapped his temple with the tool he’d been using. ‘He’s been raving for weeks, got a right case of dyspepsia and no mistake.’
I rubbed my thumb thoughtfully over the bar’s rough grain. ‘Comes a point when a man can’t be a bother anymore when the drink’s got him.’
‘You need to watch yourself, my little leprechaun.’ He shifted close and rested one arm on the bar. ‘Aubrey’s dangerous and he thinks you owe him.’
I shrugged. ‘Anything else?’
‘Nothing to tickle your interest.’
I sighed. ‘That’s a pity. I need something to fill the hours.’
‘You’re not going la-di-da on us then?’
‘How dull,’ I replied.
‘What do I get for being so helpful?’ he asked, leaning in until I could feel his breath against my face.
I took a guinea out of my pocket and put it on the bar.
His expression was soaked in disappointment. ‘Replaced by a piss-proud paddy,’ he muttered but pocketed the money anyway. ‘Just once more? For old times.’
I considered him for a moment, bent closer until my lips were almost touching his, then I pulled back abruptly and belted him across the face.
Rubbing his cheek he sighed. ‘Where I am I going to find a girl as good as you?’
‘Look?’ And I left him to enjoy himself.