Xavier & Vic
The Missing Partner
By Liza O’Connor
Cases to be Resolved:
The ‘New Woman’ Who Lost Her Old Mind
The Lost Servant of Dante’s Hell
The Disappearance of a Very Important Man
The Abduction of Sneaky Snake by a Grand Elephant
The Cat Who Wore Too Much
Vic Hamilton takes the reins of the investigation office, while Xavier Thorn disappears on an assignment for the British government. Her caseload is entirely ‘lost and recovery’ cases. In the midst of solving all her client’s problems, she learns that the government has lost Xavier. With the help of the gypsy pirate Jacko, and her driver Davy, Vic rushes against time to rescue everyone.
Most alarming, she befriends and hires a dangerous criminal as an employee of Xavier Thorn’s Private Inquiries—without Xavier’s permission.
The Troublesome Apprentice
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The Missing Partner
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When Vic entered her family mansion, her sister’s laughter echoed from the parlor. Odd, since Claire and her manservant Jonas usually played their love-games in the garden.
Not wishing to interrupt them, she headed to the kitchen to let the cook know she would eat at home tonight. As she reached the kitchen door, she heard her butler, Gregory, lecturing someone. She stopped. If he was in the mood to scold, she wanted to avoid him at all costs. She was a virtual lightening rod for his lectures.
Ever since Vic arrived in London at the age of twelve and convinced her aunt to let her become a boy, Gregory had taken up the task of making her a fine gentleman. Without his assistance, she would not have her current exciting life. She’d just be a strange woman who refused to wear skirts. Still, she could do without her butler’s constant harpings. Her illusion was perfected and her manners far superior to Xavier’s. What more could he want of her?
When Claire’s name popped up in the fulmination, she stayed to eavesdrop. Since her sister never did anything wrong in Gregory’s eyes, she was dying to hear about Claire’s misstep.
Gregory spoke with his authority-of-God voice. “You will weather this setback with dignity and silent sufferance. Claire is an extraordinarily intelligent young woman. Her attraction to other men of learning is natural. Just because she enjoys their intellectual company does not mean she has tossed you aside, Jonas.”
“I would be fine if she only wished to discuss science, but she is laughing and flirting with them. Why would she do that if she were not tired of me?”
Vic could hear the grief in Jonas’ voice and sympathized. Her sister was a terrible flirt. Vic still remembered when Claire had once set her charms on Xavier. He had responded to her sister’s flirtations, but only to make Vic jealous, which he succeeded beyond expectations. Those weeks of torment and hell only ended when Vic capitulated and admitted she loved him.
“And were you tired of Claire when you kissed that silly maid?” Gregory demanded.
“That was over five years ago, before Claire was even certain she loved me.”
“Yet, you knew even then that you loved her.”
“I did and I still do. I cannot live without her. If she rejects me, I will jump off the London Tower and end my life.”
“Stop talking nonsense,” Gregory scolded. “Do you remember why you kissed the maid?”
“Because I was sixteen and she was willing.”
“Because she offered you something Claire was not yet ready to give. Now the tables are turned. These men offer Claire something you cannot.”
“Money, social status…”
“She doesn’t care about either of those. They offer her intellectual conversation. If you are truly concerned about losing her over this, then I suggest you expand your idle brain. If you asked, I am certain Claire would teach you everything she knows. However, if you do not do this soon, then I fear you will never have the chance to repair this breach again. If that happens, you will have to satisfy yourself with a secondary position in Claire’s life.”
“I am in hell,” Jonas bemoaned.
“Well, pick up a book and find your way out,” Gregory snapped.
*****Vic tries to help Jonas out by chasing off the 3 gentlemen with declarations of poverty.
The older gentleman, Mr. Simons, seemed intrigued. “Exactly why did you leave Oxford, Mr. Hamilton?”
Vic was greatly pleased with his question. She had been wondering how she’d work around to this very conversation. “When our aunt died, I had to leave school and take employment to keep us fed and clothed.”
Mr. Simon’s expression darkened. “You’ve taken employment?”
“Yes, that’s what rational people do when they need to pay bills. Aunt Maddy raised us to be sensible if nothing else.”
“But surely you had sufficient money to continue your education and…” he glanced at Claire, “and ensure your sister’s dowry.”
“Not a shilling. I thought we might have to sell our home and move into some tidy cottage before I obtained a well-paying job working with Xavier Thorn.”
Mr. Simon’s frown deepened. “Xavier Thorn?”
“The finest sleuth in the country. I’ve learned so much under his tutelage. For example, I can easily discover the financial state and dirty secrets of any gentleman who might wish to marry my sister.”
Vic’s declaration was more successful than she’d hoped. All three men recalled test tubes or papers requiring their immediate attention. When Jonas stepped out with the main course, only Vic and Claire remained at the table.