As readers of The Adventures of Xavier & Vic know, my sleuths acquire the most interesting employees. Today, I’m sharing more of L’il Pete’s history. This is when Pete and Mr. Tubs travel to Alice Collin’s house to deliver a message from Vic. When Alice first sees a giant of a man arriving at her estate with a second horse in tow, she’s convinced he intends to abduct her, so the doors are locked and the servants are armed.
L’il Pete is on the second horse, but he’s so small no one sees him. Thus, it’s up to him to think of a clever way to gain admission to the house. When Alice’s mother opens the door and lets the boy in, everyone is stunned.
From book 2.5, A Right to Love:
The little cherub smiled at Alice. “I showed her me letter at the window.” He then grimaced. “I’m sorry if Mr. Tubs scared you. I know he looks mean, but he’s truly a nice man. I’ve just learned to ride a horse and Mr. Thorn said Tubs had to come or he’d not let me deliver the note. And delivery is under my purr-view. That means it’s my job.”
Alice knelt down beside the boy. “You came all the way from London?”
The cherub beamed with pride as he nodded.
“I bet you are hungry and thirsty.”
His nod quickened.
She looked at Thomas. “Will you ask May to fix a meal for our little friend?”
The boy looked up at the butler. “Can you make it a big meal, so I can share with Mr. Tubs?”
Alice brushed the lad’s curls from his face. “Of course we can.” She imagined Jacko had looked much the same as this boy in his youth. “What is your name?”
He smiled beneath his curly brown mop of hair. “I was L’il Pete, but now I’m just Pete. Mr. Thorn says it makes no sense to point out my…” Pete’s head tilted and his eyes stared up to the left as he searched for his word. “hinder ants as I’ll outgrow it soon enough.”
Alice laughed when she realized the lad meant “hindrance.”
The great Victorian sleuth Xavier Thorn and his partner Vic Hamilton take a case close to home. Their youngest staff member, L’il Pete, discovers his mother murdered in the alley. Jacko is called up from the country to assist in solving the crime. The good woman’s murder proves to be tangled up with a much larger and shocking list of crimes perpetrated by a powerful man who may truly be above the law. Making matters more complex: Vic discovers her recent weight gain may be the result of a condition that could destroy her life and everything she loves.
“No!” Pete yelled. “I have to help find me mum’s murderer.”
“No, you have to find the charming young man you once were. Vic and I will find the murderer.” He leaned forward. “This isn’t to punish you, Pete. I’m trying to save you from a bad blow. Vic lost both his parents in one blow.”
“And I was very angry,” Vic added.
“And Gregory turned him into a fine young man. The best I’ve ever met.”
“I wouldn’t have made it without his firm but loving guidance,” Vic added.
Pete sniffed and stared at her. “How long do I have to stay?”
“Until the anger is gone. That probably won’t happen until after we find the murderer.”
Pete nodded and stared out the window. “What if I don’t like it there?”
“Then step outside and recall the temperature. There are worse things than bossy people who wish to make you into a better person. Freezing to death is a painful way to die.”
Pete grimaced. “I’ll do my best not to get thrown out.”
“Then you’ll succeed,” Vic assured him.
When they arrived and Gregory let them inside without a scold or lecture, Vic felt like it was sign from above. “Gregory, this is Pete. He lost his mum this morning and has no one but us to grow him into a fine young man. Xavier has decided since you did such a fine job helping me get rid of all my anger when my parents died, that you can do the same with Pete.”
“And what will you be doing in the meantime?” Gregory demanded.
“Finding the man who killed Maggie,” Vic replied. God! Why couldn’t she have a butler that just did as he was told?
“Excellent!” He then eyed Pete. “How old are you?”
“Nine,” Pete muttered as he stared at the front door as if contemplating an escape.
“Speak clearly, young man.”
Gregory’s right eyebrow rose an inch.
“I’m not lying. I am nine. I’m just small because me mum didn’t have much food to eat when she made me up in her tummy.”
“I see,” his voice softened. “Well, with proper food, we will try to ameliorate that situation.”
Pete frowned and looked at Vic. “I don’t understand half what he says. How’s this gonna work?”
Vic knelt down and hugged the boy. “You’ll tell Gregory when he says something you don’t understand and he’ll keep talking until you do.”
Pete turned back to Gregory. “Is that true?”
With his fingers squeezing the bridge of his nose, Gregory managed to reply, “Yes.”
Well Kept Secrets
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The Troublesome Apprentice
The Missing Partner
A Right to Love
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Liza O’Connor was raised badly by feral cats, left the South/Midwest and wandered off to find nicer people on the east coast. There she worked for the meanest man on Wall Street, while her psychotic husband tried to kill her three times. (So much for finding nicer people.) Then one day she declared enough, got a better job, divorced her husband, and fell in love with her new life where people behaved normally. But all those bad behaviors have given her lots of fodder for her humorous romances. Please buy these books, because otherwise, she’ll become grumpy and write troubled novels instead. They will likely traumatize you.
You have been warned.
Mostly humorous books by Liza:
Ghost Lover--Two British brothers fall in love with the same young woman. Ancestral ghost is called in to fix the situation. And there’s a ghost cat that roams about the book as well. (Humorous Contemporary Romance)
Untamed & Unabashed--The youngest of the Bennet sisters, Lydia, tells her story. A faithful spinoff from Pride & Prejudice.
A Long Road to Love Series: (Humorous Contemporary odd Romance)
Worst Week Ever — Laugh out loud week of disasters of Epic proportions.
Oh Stupid Heart — The heart wants what it wants, even if it’s impossible.
Coming to Reason — There is a breaking point when even a saint comes to reason.
Climbing out of Hell — The reconstruction of a terrible man into a great one.
The Adventures of Xavier & Vic Sleuth series: (Late Victorian/Mystery/Romance)
The Troublesome Apprentice — The greatest sleuth in Victorian England hires a young man who turns out to be a young woman.
The Missing Partner — Opps! The greatest sleuth in Victorian England goes missing, leaving Vic to rescue him, a suffragette, and about 100 servants. Not to mention an eviscerating cat. Yes, let’s not mention the cat.
A Right to Love — A romantic detour for Jacko. Want to see how amply rewarded Jacko was when he & Vic save an old woman from Bedlam?
The Mesmerist — The Mesmerist can control people from afar and make them murder for her. Worse yet, Xavier Thorn has fallen under her spell.
Well Kept Secrets — L’il Pete’s mum is murdered, and discovering who & why reveals a great many secrets.
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Musings from Michigan