Peter Lanson threw his glass into the fireplace shattering it into a million pieces. Damn it, he was late again. Leaning against the mantle with his hands, he watched the burning flames. He shook his head. The whole of the family destroyed. He had yet to see the girl, but he didn’t even know if anyone would let him. The cousins had descended on the house. One, a reverend from Richmond, the other in the militia, had been called home.
Lanson wheeled around to the voice. Standing in front of him stood a shadow of the girl he remembered in the spring. Dressed in mourning, her face held a hollowed look, her eyes dimmed.
“Miss Corbett?” he asked, surprise within his tone. “I can’t express how deeply I regret what’s happened. My condolences.”
Hannah lifted her hand to stop him. “There is no need. I have no intention to wallow in self-pity. My intention is to see justice is served.”
Lanson stared at the young woman. She stood with a letter tightly held within her hand. He motioned for her to sit, pulling out a chair.
“I can assure you, Miss Corbett, I will do everything in my power for your brother, yourself, and our country.”
“I appreciate your effort, Mr. Lanson. You can well imagine how hard this is for me. Not only losing my mother in the raid, but to find out that my father and brother have been hung as spies.” She choked up and paused to regain her composure.
“I loved my family very much, and I believe strongly in the cause that they have lost their lives for. I can’t shut my eyes at night without seeing Zachary’s eyes, or my mother lying lifeless. I can hear their screams. I feel I’m left with no choice but to do what I can to correct this injustice.”
Lanson walked over to her side, a confused look upon his face. “I’m not quite sure what you want to do.”
The letter clutched tighter within her hand. She looked down at it and then handed it to Lanson.
“I’m no fool, Mr. Lanson. I know my family was betrayed, and it stemmed from my grandfather. Within this letter comes an invitation to live with my grandparents, expressing their concern for my welfare,” Hannah said without a sign of emotion.
Lanson accepted the letter and scanned over it. She watched in silence his reaction. She continued. “My father considered my grandfather a ruthless, unscrupulous man, but he wouldn’t fathom I would betray him.”
Lanson looked up from the paper in front of him. “Miss Corbett, are you proposing you infiltrate your grandfather’s house in hopes of finding our leak? I don’t believe you can comprehend what your grandfather is capable of. He’s a very shrewd man. It’s almost an impossible task in the best of circumstances.”
Hannah halted his words. “I don’t believe you understand me, Mr. Lanson. My mind is fixed. If it takes everything I have within me, I’m going to avenge my family’s deaths with or without your help.”
* * * *
Peter Lanson studied the young woman in front of him. He didn’t like this, but there wasn’t much as of late that he did. Hannah stood before him with the look of a sacrificial virgin; her long hair flowing, her sad eyes. Willingly, walking blindly into a fire. In their first meeting he had promised her nothing, but after meeting with Nathaniel Sackett, now directing what was left of their counterintelligence, the decision had been made to proceed.
“Set it up, Lanson,” Sackett said as he sat across the desk from him. “Have contacts readied for her, and an escape plan. Prepare her the best you can. I believe she’s correct in her assumption her grandfather wouldn’t suspect. In this arrogance, we may be able to find a foothold. Find the leak and get her out.”
It sounded so simple, but he knew Clay well from previous dealings. Not only was he a shrewd man, but an extremely dangerous one. Lanson had confidence that Clay had helped the British infiltrate the Corbett’s home, but the pressing problem remained the leak in the first place. How had the British known that Corbett had the device to begin with?
Clay, long known for his stance behind the crown, arranged for Hannah’s move to New York. For this same man to have enacted his revenge against her father, which included his own grandson, Lanson wondered how cold his blood ran. But did Clay have access to the leak they were seeking?
He didn’t know. And now he allowed this unseasoned young woman to enter this game he knew so well; his actions could have far worse than deadly consequences.
* * * *
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