Mayfair Section of London – Saturday, September 1, 1888
“I am Noah Zane and this is my brother Evan.” Noah mimed for Kiera to sit on the ladder-back chair positioned in front of his desk. “Please have a seat, my Lady. And we extend our condolences at the loss of your father. If I recall correctly, he died a little over a year prior.”
Kiera complied with Noah’s suggestion and gracefully sat on the wooden chair while Noah resumed his cushioned seat. She clasped her gloved hands together on her lap as, out of the corner of her eye, she caught a slight moment of the curtain behind and to the right of the desk. She suddenly realized that someone was hidden behind those drapes and she surmised who that someone might be. The right side of her mouth slightly lifted hinting of a mischievous smile.
“Yes, you are correct, Mr. Zane. My beloved father died thirteen months prior.” She paused as the mention of her father caused fissures of pain to spread across her heart and was the reason for today’s visit. But she firstly needed to feel perfectly comfortable with these brothers before broaching the possibility of hiring the detective agency. And her humor was always her chosen means of establishing rapport. She tilted her head, closely inspecting Noah’s face. “I do not believe that you are both identical as I clearly seeing distinguishing differences.”
“You do?” Evan appeared incredulous at her statement. “Not even our brother’s butler Mortimer can tell us apart on most occasions.”
Kiera’s right eyebrow rose in silent questioning. “I doubt that very much.”
Noah laughed as he concurred, “I have long since suspected that our brother’s dutiful butler has been playing us the fools. He is perfectly capable of identifying one brother from the other.”
“Well, I can certainly tell you apart.” She continued to scrutinize Noah’s face. “You, Mr. Noah Zane, have a dimple on your upper right cheek and when you smile or laugh, it deepens.”
Noah unconsciously touched his right cheek as a slow grin graced his face.
Kiera angled her head toward Evan before observing, “And you, Mr. Evan Zane, have waver hair than your brother has and I dare say, it probably slightly curls in damp weather.”
Evan grinned, obviously pleased with Kiera’s powers of observation. “You are correct.”
“Your brother is Zachery Zane, the Earl of Belfry, is he not?” She thought she sensed slight movement behind the curtain and that confirmed her earlier supposition as to who hid from view. . .the third brother.
“Yes, he is. Are you acquainted with him, my Lady?”
Kiera shook her head. She knew that she could not let this opportunity for levity pass her by. She possessed an incurable penchant for playful teasing. “No, no, I have never met his lordship. Does he look like the both of you?”
“Yes, he does but alas, he is the least handsome of the three brothers,” Noah jokingly commented.
She nodded her head and an errant blonde curl, escaping her bonnet, bounced with the movement, kissing her smooth forehead. “No offense intended, as I have never met your brother but. . .” She paused dramatically. “I would tend to agree with you as your brother has a reputation for being rather. . .how shall I put this delicately?”
“Brooding. . .?” Noah chimed in.
“Yes, yes, that is the word I sought to use. He has a reputation for being both brooding and rather intimidating.”
“And therein lies the major differences between us. . .our personalities,” Noah laughingly stated.
“Ah, yes. . .your personalities. If I may make a candid observation, I would describe you, Mr. Noah Zane, as the prankster whose eyes sparkle with mischief and whose attitude toward life is generally rather cavalier.”
Evan stepped forward into Kiera’s line of vision, negating the need to angle her head when speaking to him, and laughingly complimented, “You have characterized Noah perfectly.”
“And you, Mr. Evan Zane, possess a grounded sense of responsibility but also easily follow your impish brother’s lead and enjoy a bit of naughtiness.”
“You have just aptly described Evan. But please address us by our given names.”
“Very well, Noah. I assume that the brooding and intimidating nature displayed by your elder brother, Lord Belfry, is indicative of his innate seriousness.”
“Oh, yes, he is overly serious and staidly duty-bound,” Noah groaned.
“And I surmise that he is extremely intelligent and awfully clever.”
“Intelligent, yes, but as to clever, what do you mean?” Evan interjected.
“He is most likely acting sullen and intimidating to ward off the marriage-minded mamas who seek an affluent lord for their marriageable daughters.”
Both Noah and Evan laughed heartily.
“That is a very logical assumption, sincerely holding merit, were it not for the fact that our brother Zachery is a very intense personality not only in public but also in private,” Evan explained.
“He perpetually scowls and that is why he is the least attractive brother,” Noah added while raising his voice to ensure that everyone present, be he visible or not, could hear.
She knew full well that the two brothers were thoroughly enjoying the teasing of their elder brother who obviously wished to remain hidden, negating his ability to respond to their jesting. She lowered her head and hid a burgeoning smile behind a gloved hand before innocently adding, “Oh, dear, a scowl could detract from one’s attractiveness. But perhaps his lordship has weighty issues on his mind. Does he take an active part in your detective agency?”
“No, not exactly, as his involvement would not be viewed as politically correct,” Evan diplomatically responded.
“But as our agency is titled ‘The Zane Brothers Detective Agency’, he helps us behind the scenes with research and finances.”
“Ah, as a silent partner?” Kiera innocuously asked.
“Yes, yes, as a silent partner,” Evan volunteered. “However not quite as ‘silent’ as Noah and I would wish.” He, too, raised his voice so that all might clearly hear his mocking comment.
“Then his presence would not be required for you to take on my case?” Her smile quickly faded as she mentally prepared herself to discuss business.
“His presence is not necessary but we would seek his counsel regarding your case before agreeing to accept the assignment. Which brings me to a pointed question. Why are you here, Lady Everett?” Noah bluntly asked. “How can we be of service to you?”
The moment of frivolity was over and she could no longer procrastinate in seeking their help. She liked both men and now felt comfortable baring her soul and stating a belief that they may find improbable and even ludicrous as others had when she had previously shared her suspicions and voiced allegations.
Suppressing her sudden self-consciousness, she lifted her chin and clearly stated, “I wish to hire you to prove that my father was. . .murdered.”
You can read more about Zane Brothers in The Mystery of Her, the first book in the “Zane Brothers Detective” historical mystery series.
London, 1888. . . Two serial killers, Leather Apron (Jack the Ripper) and the Torso Killer are mutilating women in the slums of Whitechapel. But even in the bedchambers of the peerage, a killer is claiming lives. A determined Lady Kiera Everett wishes to hire the Zane Brothers Detective Agency to prove that her sickly father, and two other ailing members of the peerage, were murdered by their attending nurse, named in each man’s Will. But only if Kiera can be involved in the investigation, much to Zachery Zane’s chagrin. And soon the murders of Whitechapel intersect with the investigation conducted by the Zane brothers.
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About the author
Patricia Catacalos holds a BA in Theatre from Seton Hill University and a MA in Theatre from the University of Denver. Years ago, when still single, she acted in and directed plays in the Philadelphia area but suffered the fate of many artists, struggling financially. So, she entered a career in sales but her creative spirit needed to express itself. So approximately eight years ago, she started writing historical romances. Many of the historical romances have a subgenre of mystery and/or the paranormal. She discovered that writing historical romances and ultimately, mystery/intrigue is her passion. Currently, she has written twenty novels and novellas and is currently working on Book 4 in The Zane Brothers Detective Series.
She has been happily married for over twenty-eight years to a loving and supportive man with a Greek heritage (which influenced a couple of her novels) and they live in southern New Jersey.
All comments are welcomed.