Lord Henry had mingled well with the other guests at the ball, and had partaken in the polite discussion which was mostly about, trivial, petty subjects. Few people seemed to care that the event was supposed to be a charity ball, although he supposed it was just an excuse for showcasing the wealth of the guests who had made hefty donations weeks in advance which supposedly covered the whole 'charitable' aspect of the night.
He could easily consider the whole affair to be a complete disgrace as the rich and self-important idiots paraded in all their frivolity, dressed in the finest cloth and eating the most expensive cuisine yet trying to preach world aid and the end of poverty, of all things!
The only thing that did console him to his current surroundings, was the few surreptitiously collected souvenirs of his night and twisting the unknowing into conversations that took confusing circles and left many of the guests feeling quite faint from confusion.
He wandered throughout the massive ballroom for some time, employing these delightful tactics, before deciding it was well and truly time to snoop around the rest of the house. He knew he grandmother had already been up to something of the sort as she had slipped away almost immediately but had since returned to join a gaggle fiery old ladies closeted in a smoky corner of the large room.
He strolled through the corridors of the large Manor as if owned the place, knowing he was less likely to be questioned if he looked like he was supposed to be there. He couldn't help but notice there was something odd going on but he knew that in all fairness, while the presented face of these events was always a chance for the rich and titled to show-off, behind the scenes was the perfect place for many kinds of business transactions.
He knew that even his father, who had so thoroughly broken the family mould by being a mostly straight businessman, had done such dealings, so the fact that there was something dodgy happening wasn't the problem. The problem was that there was something off about the current night's business, Harry could smell it in the air, or most noticeably, see it in a couple of well-dressed thugs who did not quite seem to fit in with the rest. And really wished to discover what that was about; there was after all, little else that was better to do that night.
There were several occupied rooms as Harry marched his way along the many corridors, but none of them spoke of the illicit business that was calling to his blood; just the usual dodgy deals, slightly illegal but nothing to write home about. He was almost about to walk on from his latest eavesdropping when he heard the voice of Lord Amblethwaite himself. He paused a while longer and what he heard caught his interest.
"This lot sounds serious" he thought as he heard Amblethwaite exchanging plans for a new business empire with who assumed were the three thuggish men he had seen earlier. A mob business; one that planned to extort several successful business and sell a few other little things on the side; the few other things being a large scale drugs operation.
"These lot are going to be bad for business" he muttered, as he thought of his own dealings. Strange though, that he had not smelt a whiff of this until now.
A noise seemed to distract the speakers in the other room, and for a moment Harry feared they had discovered him, but rather than checking his hiding place he heard another door being opened and by the sound of it there had been another eavesdropper to the discussion.
A new voice entered the conversation, a woman's voice.
"Get your hands off me!" she cried. Do you know who I am?"
Harry recognised the voice. It was none other than Kelly Jones.
Kelly Jones was finally out in the field and she couldn't deny that she was excited out of her mind. Yet she knew she had to keep a cool head because this case was serious business.
A crime syndicate had sprung up recently in Britain and it already seemed to be pulling some pretty powerful strings. Little was known about them except for their name; the Black Rose, and that tonight, if one watched closely enough, one might be able to see something of what they were up against.
Kelly had already entered the building without alerting anyone to her presence and had successfully merged into the crowd. But the crowd was just part of a front; they offered her no useful information on their blank, pampered faces, so she knew it was time to strike off into the unsafe territory of the empty hallways where she could hover at doorways till she found a snippet or two worth her time.
She calmly split off from the party, as dull as it was, and slipped through a half covered serving door which lead into a servant's hallway. Her search lead her throughout the large manor house which was filled many kinds of interesting business deals, none of which were quite what she was looking for, until she heard the nasal voice that she knew was the party's host. And it seemed he was a very naughty boy.
Kelly had barely begun listening to the talk behind the side door she stood at when the worst possible thing happened. It appeared that this place had cats, and the cat hair managed to get up her nose in such a way that she just could not contain the massive sneeze that reverberated through the room.
"Damn it", she thought. "So much for being the ever so stealthy spy".
Strong arms quickly snaked through the now opened door and pulled her inside before she even had a chance to move.
Lord Henry, or Flash Harry or whoever it was he was supposed to be, he was not entirely sure at this present time, as stuck as he was in his present conundrum. He couldn't leave Kelly in trouble, but the surprise of running into her in such a situation and the fact that he also didn't want her to know why he was here and who he really was gave him reason to pause.
Finally, he bit the bullet. Deciding to go for the head on approach he barged straight through the main door of the room and cried out once he saw Kelly.
"Oh there you are darling, I have been looking for you everywhere, we really must get back to the party before anyone suspects…"
"…Oh Lord Amblethwaite, what a surprise seeing you here" he acknowledged, as though he hadn't known the host of the ball was in the room.
Harry quickly got the rest of his adlibbed spiel in, knowing it was better to explain quickly than to give time for difficult questions be asked.
"I see you have become acquainted with partner, the Honourable Miss Carla Smyth, sadly she had to arrive late and missed her chance to be introduced to you".
Kelly stared blanky for a second before her survival instincts kicked in enough for her to cotton on to Flash Harry's ploy.
"Oh, of course My Lord, it is a pleasure to meet you" she piped in graciously. "
Lord Hackett" yelped Amblethwaite in surprise. "Whatever, are you and this young lady doing in this part of the house"?
"I'm extremely sorry" replied Harry in a bored tone, sounding as if he was not sorry at all.
"We were just giving my dear old grandmother the shake, she doesn't approve of us of course. Be a good sport and don't mention it". Continued Harry, embodying, with every inch, the spoiled son of a rich Earl as he hinted at the business that he and his young woman friend were planning to enjoy in his hosts house.
Amblethwaite managed to corral his face in an expression of only mild annoyance which barely masked his obvious relief. It seemed he was glad to no longer have to be dealing with a spy as the whole situation had left him sweating profusely from nerves. It seemed the balding Lord did not have the same stomach that his three friends seemed to. In contrast, the disappointment was evident in all their expressions; like they were missing out on some prized sport.
"Perhaps it would be best for you two to return to the party, otherwise your grandmother will most likely have to become involved".
"Of course sir, I do believe we will be heading back there post haste" replied a rather contrite Lord Henry, as though scared at the thought of his Grandmother finding out of his rebellious night-time endeavours.
He took the silent, slightly stunned Kelly Jones by the elbow and steered her off toward the party. He couldn't help but notice that one of the three men followed them at a safe distance all the way back.
Wow, I finally got to this bit; the actual kick-off. Everything else was just set-up for this! More to come eventually of course, but knowing me it will be some time… Please Review as your responses are greatly appreciated and I am vain so will most likely write with greater haste if you grease-up a bit. But even if you don't review, thank you for reading anyway :D