Anthony Hetheridge, chief superintendent for New Scotland Yard and ninth baron of Wellegrave, would walk down the aisle in three weeks. The day chosen, the twenty-eighth of December, was denounced by most invitees as too soon: a mere two months after his subordinate, Detective Sergeant Kate Wakefield, accepted his proposal. Not to mention unsuitably close to Christmas! The venue, Hetheridge’s own home in Mayfair, was condemned as much too small for a guest list of over two hundred. Would the well-wishers be expected to squat in any unguarded space, such as the kitchen or washroom, or else mill about in Wellegrave House’s walled back garden?
The wedding’s designated hour, five o’clock in the evening, was equally derided. So the ceremony would begin in twilight and end in absolute darkness, except for strings of white fairy lights in the trees or some other such nonsense? Holding a wedding at the dinner hour simply wasn’t done. Was the bride, reputedly raised by wolves in the East End’s most savage corner, to blame for these bizarre social lapses? Or was Hetheridge himself, who’d recently celebrated his sixtieth birthday, showing signs of early dementia?
Although no stranger to controversy, at least not where his blue-blooded connections were concerned, the vitriol unleashed by his wedding plans surprised even Hetheridge. Around the Yard, men without a family to go home to—at least not a family they cared to spend time with—groused that Hetheridge and DS Wakefield would both “disappear” just after Boxing Day, leaving the less fortunate to sweep up.
“Right, well, what’s a little thing like murders and shootings and drugs, when true love’s on the line?” Detective Chief Inspector Vic Jackson was overheard to complain. “We’ll just have the muddle through, boys. Rank has its privileges. As does a perfect pair of lips, hey?”
Except DCI Jackson hadn’t said “lips.” And Hetheridge, catching wind of the conversation as he was surely meant to, had been forced to remind himself that seizing and pummeling a fellow detective was considered incorrect. Especially in today’s new, improved, more egalitarian New Scotland Yard…