Reynard Chevalier leads a very complicated private life. He takes orders from his lover. His former fiancé and her philandering husband have just become residents of The Globe, and his second-in-command wants him for herself.
Here’s Reynard’s assessment of each:
Staff Captain Katarina Giordano, Reynard’s boss:
My boss stood between Johann and Captain Sven. She was Staff Captain Katarina Giordano. She was what most men would call a classic Italian beauty. Personally, I don’t think that description did her justice. For one thing it was far too complimentary toward other classic Italian beauties. She was in her early-forties, just a few years behind me, but she looked as if she were still in her late twenties. She was also damned good at her jobs. She was first and foremost the First Officer—in other words she was second in command of the entire ship. As for her duties as Staff Captain, that called for her to handle all personnel matters. Some of her other responsibilities included safety, security, and emergency readiness. Those last three responsibilities were what she handed off to me. That arrangement made her the ship’s judge and jury. I was her sheriff, which pretty much explained why I was fifth in line behind Sven, Katarina, Johann and, of course, Peter Möller.
Security Officer Sarah Brighton, Reynard’s Second-in-Command:
My second in command was like my boss; she’s a she. Sarah Brighton was English—from Bury St. Edmonds, Suffolk, in East Anglia. That’s about an hour’s drive northeast of the London Tube Station at Epping if you drive like me, a bit longer if you don’t. She was the daughter of a retired Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector who during his career specialized in cold cases. Sarah was a nice enough young lady, but she couldn’t seem to get it through her thick, blonde-covered head that I didn’t sleep with subordinates, even very willing and attractive ones. Bosses, sure. Subordinates, never. I understood the line of distinction between me and my superiors enough to be able to separate private from professional with the former, but I didn’t trust anyone to both get and maintain that distinction in the case of the latter. And, yes, in case you just put two and two together, that does in fact mean that I had a thing going with Staff Captain Katarina Giordano. No one knew about it, I think, and we were discreet enough to make certain no one ever would. I hoped.
Mary Jane Winthrop Kelly Hanover, the woman from Reynard’s past:
I recognized her the moment I saw her. I desperately hoped that she didn’t do likewise as I silently marveled at how little she had changed in the past quarter century. I also mentally went over my lifetime of lies in case she did. No matter which fork in the road her memory took, this was not going to be pleasant.
Standing stiffly in uniform fourth in line from the Master of The Globe, I noticed warily that Mrs. Charles Hanover, III, was already offering her hand even as her brow knitted tightly above the bridge of her aquiline yet oddly attractive nose.
“Rob . . . Robert? Robert Brand?” she asked in that slightly nasal, elegantly condescending quality that denotes American royalty among the wealthy, established families from either side of the Mason-Dixon Line along the Eastern Seaboard. The question kicked me in the gut, leaving a dull, empty ache in its wake.
“Sorry, Mrs. Hanover?” I took her hand firmly as I tweaked the French accent up a notch. “I am chief of security aboard The Globe.” Would her memory bridge the years well enough to tie the voice with the face, I wondered, or would the accent be enough to pull off the charade? “At your service, madame.” I bowed my head subserviently, but arrested the urge to click my heels together. That would be German, not French.
For a brief second her eyes hinted she wasn’t buying it even as her bright smile and the flicking back of her shoulder-length chestnut hair loudly voiced that she was. The contradiction mirrored our own rather tempestuous past and all-too-brief engagement.
“So then, you are?” she pressed.
“Reynard Chevalier, madame.”
Her hand held mine for longer than necessary as her gaze leveled upward toward mine. “It’s just that you reminded me of someone I once knew.”
Mr. Hanover leaned over. “Reminds you of a past lover, no doubt.”
“No doubt.” A slight tension was barely audible behind her bright smile. The reply, jokingly submitted as it was, lacked the humor that should have accompanied it.
I fixated on her mouth. Her teeth were straighter than I recalled but that enchanting overbite I once so loved—and actually still did if I were being truthful with myself—remained. She refocused on my eyes. “It’s been ages since I practiced my French. We must converse sometime.”
“Unfortunately, madame, my duties preclude that, I’m afraid. I seldom have time to socialize with the residents.” I was in danger of overdoing it, sounding ridiculously close to Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau parody. If I weren’t careful, I’d be asking her if I could show her and her husband to their ‘rrrhuuummmah.’ She refused the hint when I relaxed my grip, so I pulled my hand free of hers and swiveled my extended fingers in the direction of her husband, who easily appeared ten years her senior.