The Devils Who Would Be KingBy: Nina Mason
For his support and encouragement along the way, I thank my husband Dan.
For helping me iron out any manuscript issues, I thank my friends and beta readers Elizabeth Burns and Anne Rindfliesch.
For their allegiance to me, Robert, and Maggie, I thank all the readers who have followed this tale to the end.
For helping me get the history right throughout this series, I thank the authors of the following books: An Ecclesiastical History of Scotland by George Grub; James II and his wives by Allan Fea; The Diary of Samuel Pepys; The Social Life of Scotland in the Eighteenth Century by Henry Grey Graham; Diary of the Times of Charles the Second by Henry Sidney, Earl of Romney; The Last Days of Charles II by Raymond Crawford; Whitehall Palace: An Architectural History of the Royal Apartments by Simon Thurley; Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion by Anne Somerset; Princess and Queen of England: The Life of Mary II by Mary F. Sandars; The History of England from the Accession of James II by Thomas Babington Macaulay; A View of the Reign of James II by Sir James Mackintosh; The History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland from the Restoration to the Revolution by The Rev. Robert Wodrow; A History of the Early Part of the Reign of James the Second by Charles James Fox; Shield of Empire by Brian Lavery; Fall of the Stuarts by The Rev. E. Hale; A Scots Earl in Covenanting Times by James Willcock; Aphrodisiacs, Fertility and Medicine in Early Modern Europe by Jennifer Evans; and last but not least, The School of Venus by Michel Millot.
May 5, 1685
As the hired chairmen transported Maggie and her son through the crowded streets of Westminster, she shut her eyes and waited for the nausea to pass. The sedan-chair ride to Mrs. Crosse’s apothecary shop, jarring and confining though it was, had not caused her sickness. By her calculations, she was nearly two months gone.
She took a deep breath, despite the air’s unpleasant smell. With luck, the swell of her belly would not show for another two months—or even longer with the talents of her abigail and mantua-maker artfully applied.
Robert left her three weeks ago and she’d had no word from him since. Not that she expected him to write. Much as she yearned to hear from him and know he was safe, she understood the reasons for his silence. How could he write without imperiling his mission as well as his life? There was too great a risk his letters would be intercepted by the rebels. If they found any addressed to the Royal Palace, they would know he was a spy for the king.
Tears sprang into Maggie’s eyes. Sniffing them back, she bounced wee Jamie in her arms. While she had missed her courses before Robert left, she had kept her suspicions to herself for three very good reasons. First, she was not yet certain; second, there was an excellent chance, given her history, she would lose the child before he returned; and third, she had no desire to make it harder than it already was for him to do what the king had asked of him.
Like it or not, the king’s commands must be obeyed, even by his relations. All she could do was lighten her husband’s load to the degree within her power, pray for his safe return, and try her best to keep fear and loneliness at bay.
The first two challenges were proving easier than the third. At times, she missed Robert so much she could barely breathe. Her only sources of comfort were her son and her memories. But the baby could not lend her a sympathetic ear and the past could not keep her warm at night. The move to the smaller palace had distracted her for a time, but now that she was installed in her new suite of apartments, she missed Robert more acutely than ever.
Maybe if she had a friend, his absence would be easier to bear. Someone to whom she could unburden her heart. But alas, the queen was too embittered by the return of the king’s mistress to be of any use to her, and the other ladies of the court were too artful to be trusted with her secrets.
With a heavy sigh, Maggie closed her eyes and called into her mind the last time she and Robert made love. She still vividly recalled every gesture, word, and nuance. Standing over her in his shirtsleeves as she lay on their bed, he had taken hold of her legs and dragged her toward him. Her petticoats drew back as her bottom skidded across the coverlet, exposing everything she owned to his view. When her bottom reached the edge of the mattress, he pulled off his shirt and cast it aside. Stepping up to her, he parted her thighs with his body and planted his phallus to the root within her. The unexpected violence of his occupation had made her gasp.