I've been working on a miniseries for my writing group, the Naughty Literati, and the third out of four shorties came out this month. I'm delighted to share Peter's Story with you.
As you may remember if you've read any of the preceding stories, the series, A Fortune to Win, centers on the three children of... Well, just reading the Prologue and Chapter One of Peter's Story will explain everything you need to know about the aristocratic Fortunes and their dilemma:
LORD DARLINGSIDE AND WIFE MARA FOUND DEAD
DRUG OVERDOSE SUSPECTED
The jetsetting couple known as ‘Marvey,’ Harvey Fortune, Lord Darlingside and
his supermodel wife Mara Tove, were found at three a.m. today (local time)
drowned in the historic Trevi Fountain. An autopsy is planned, which many fear
will confirm the initial assumption that the couple’s known heroin addiction
caused their deaths. Reportedly, used syringes were found on the fountain’s
marble balustrade… They leave three adult children: Peter, age 26, the new Earl
Darlingside; daughter Alice, 23, a teacher; Sophia, 19, a model.
…one week later…
CONTENTS OF ‘MARVEY’ WILL REVEALED
[LONDON] …Though the Fortune family solicitor, Rabbie White of White, Cheshire and Queen (Lincolns Inn Fields) remains closemouthed, an unidentified source close to the family states that the Fortune fortune, encompassing a manor house in Kent, a mansion in Hampstead, and invested monies totaling some 50 million pounds, will be divided between ‘Marvey’s’ children. However, the ‘Marvey’ trust requires the heirs make a substantial non-monetary contribution to society. Whether each child’s acts are sufficient to inherit is a decision left solely to White’s discretion. Apparently Lord and Lady Darlingside wanted to ensure that their progeny did not follow the same dangerous path they trod…
...eighteen months later...
One cool, bright summer morning, Peter Fortune, Earl Darlingside, awakened in a big, four-poster bed covered with a fluffy white duvet with a woman beside him. She was dead.
Until that moment, he’d been doing quite well, thank you very much, considering that he’d spent the night before drinking Remy Martin Black Pearl with a number of equally dissolute young noblemen and getting drunk as, well, drunk as lords. He should have had a throbbing head, unclear eyesight and a belly that pitched like bloody hell, but he felt great. And, given that he’d won rather than lost betting on billiards was another point in favor of the day.
Which was, he remembered blearily, Monday, perhaps? Or maybe Tuesday. Did it matter?
The window was open to the Hampstead sunshine and also admitted birdsong. Every once in a while he heard the sound of a distant siren, reminding him of...of…?
Oh yes, the dead girl.
He supposed he ought to call 9-9-9 and get an ambulance, though judging by her total lack of movement and warmth, the authorities would get to her too late. Far too late.
He rolled to the side, reaching for the bedside table where his mobile reposed. Something jabbed his arse, and he threw back the sheet to find a used syringe. A needlestick from an addict’s rig. Oh, shite, I’m fucked. He grabbed the thing and flung it across the room, then called for help.
She’d been called Foxy Roxy for as long as she could remember, but she hadn’t embraced the nickname until her fifteenth birthday. That day she’d visited a charity shop with friends. One had spotted an old fox stole on a mannequin and bought it for Roxanne Fox as a gift. She’d worn that fox pelt around her neck on cool days until it had fallen apart, then bought another and then another. Only from the charity shops, though—she wouldn’t be directly responsible for the death of an innocent animal. Later she’d found a source for high-quality fakes, which fit her vegan habits far better.
This morning, she was nibbling a gluten-free currant scone slathered with soya cream cheese whilst enjoying her second flat white of the day (made with soya of course), reading a fairly interesting case file about a fellow who had been recorded by the many CCTVs roundabout London. Unfortunately for the client, he’d been taped with his zip open whilst fondling an impressive erection. Even less fortunately, the Crown was not amenable to letting the incident go by even though he claimed he’d been “pissed legless.”
Roxanne’s secretary stuck her head into the open doorway, her eyes round. “That prat Darlingside has gotten himself arrested again.”
“Oh, happy day.” Roxy wiped her mouth with a hanky. “What is it this time? Dead drunk? Car crash?”
“No, it’s more serious. Unless someone’s having a go at us.”
“Not chundering onto some poor copper’s shoes?” That had been a memorable case.
Roxy sat up straighter. She’d been White,
Cheshire and Queen’s criminal defense specialist
for four years, having left the Crown Prosecution Service to pursue more
lucrative options. At WCQ, she’d had the opportunity to sample a more varied
menu of cases than she’d expected. Along with the anticipated tax avoidance
schemes and family squabbles regarding bequests—which occasionally devolved
into wine-throwing and fistfights—a prominent client occasionally committed the
odd sexual peccadillo, like the fellow diddling his dong in Notting Hill.
And then there was Peter Fortune, the Earl of Darlingside, who seemed intent upon imitating his parents’ strikingly self-destructive ways.
Bless him—he’d brought her a case she could really sink her teeth into. “Where’s
he being held?”