Driving in England
by Cynthianna and A J Matthews
Susannah Koenig travels to England on an urgent mission to discover her boss’s relatives. Duncan Balfour, a renowned genealogist, doesn’t think he’d like to meet the woman who nags him online for help. Then he realizes he is the long lost relative Susannah’s boss is desperately searching for. Once the pair meet, they can’t deny their mutual attraction, but Duncan can’t help lying to her to protect his family’s reputation. Can Susannah pierce Duncan’s armor to find the loving man within and reveal the truth that could save a life?
From Chapter One, an excerpt from Driving in England:
“Oh. My. God.”Susannah Koenig smothered a laugh behind a hand, staring at the headline splashed across her laptop’s screen. Unfrocked Vicar Eaten by Lion! She couldn’t believe her eyes. That kind of thing only happened in the movies or on some poorly written sit-coms—not in real life—and most certainly not in some staid English village circa 1932.
She rose from the sofa and walked away from the coffee table littered with the remains of half-eaten bagels, dusty genealogy volumes, and various papers she’d gathered over the past two weeks. There’s no way on earth I can tell the boss about his ancestor, the unfrocked vicar who was consumed by a large beast of prey. No way. I value my job too much.
But what could she do? Harold Spalding paid her good money to graph out his family tree in minute detail. How could she avoid mentioning the former Reverend Titus Spalding, a man accused of sexual misconduct who was stupid enough to stick his head in a lion’s gaping jaws?
“I can’t believe this.” She switched on the kitchen light and began automatically stacking dishes into the dishwasher. “Who in his right mind would knowingly walk into a lion’s cage at a circus to prove his innocence? In the twentieth century no less! The man was a first class idiot!”
Shit! The sudden realization of the horrible revelation hit her hard in the stomach. She gulped and put down the dish she was stacking. I can’t tell Mr. Spalding that he had a complete lunatic for a grandfather. It’ll kill him.
And then she’d be out of a job.
A very good position with responsibility and prestige, one that she had slaved and suffered long enough to land... Women hit the glass ceiling in the good ol’ boy oil industry all the time, so Susannah felt rightfully proud of her accomplishment, even if it had taken many years and more than a few gray hairs. Nothing was going to stand in her way of keeping her job until they forced her into retirement. Nothing.
“Damned if I do—damned if I don’t.” Susannah sighed. She could think of only one thing to get herself out of this dilemma. She needed help—professional help. She’d have to email that stuffy, stick-up-his-ass Duncan Balfour and ask for his assistance once again. Maybe the genealogist par excellence could find some other worthy tidbits of information about the crazy vicar, suggest some way to sweeten the news, to make it more palatable for her boss to swallow?
“If I’m lucky, there might be two Reverend Titus Spaldings in England, and the boss is related to the more normal fella. Please, Lord, let that be the case!”
Swallowing her pride, and a few dry crumbs of bagel, she headed back to her laptop to email the uptight Brit.
Dear Mr. Balfour:
I’m in need of your assistance. I’m working on a genealogy project on behalf of my employer, Harold Spalding, and may have discovered a link in his family tree to a Reverend Titus Spalding of Understrand, Norfolk County, England. As I recall reading online, you’re a resident of the area. Could you check your own and local sources to enlighten me as to the true character of this individual? Could his name have been confused with any others of same or similar name? Your help in the past has been most appreciated, and I thank you in advance for this undertaking.
All the best,
Tapping send, she glanced at the computer clock. Britain was six hours ahead of Texas, so Balfour would receive her missive first thing in the morning local time. Good enough. She’d check her email in the morning to see if the priggish academic felt her request for information worthy of an immediate reply.
Give the devil his due, Balfour always replies in a timely manner with hard factual material, even if his tone is patronizing. But somehow, Susannah got the impression the man found addressing a lowly American amateur beneath his dignity. Hadn’t she paid his fees promptly? Hadn’t she been businesslike and fair in all her dealings with the man?
Glass ceilings existed everywhere—in business, in genealogy circles, in life in general. In spite of the odds, she had marched forward, throwing herself against the walls of prejudice erected to keep women in their place, particularly women of a certain age as she had been labeled in the past few years. Her success had been hard won and all of her own doing. No silver spoons were ever placed in her mouth!
Susannah rolled her eyes heavenwards as she rose from the sofa. Some people! It’s like they don’t know what it’s like to earn a living. Spalding Oilfield Solutions paid her good money, and the chance to advance offered by the boss’s interest in her family tree hobby had been too good to ignore. She headed back to the kitchen to finish filling the dishwasher and sighed. “I just wish I didn’t have to depend on some old-money, snobby jackass I’ve never met in the flesh to get me through this rough patch.”
now available at Devine Destinies Books.