Linda Weaver Clarke

The Fox of Cordovia

Chapter 1

Jesse Conover sat on a bench across from the Elswood's prestigious two-story home and waited for Caroline. Working undercover as a spy was not what most claimed it to be. It was rather dull. Many boasted that it was an intriguing job, but he found nothing stimulating about it. He grinned to himself. Well, he had to admit that Caroline was rather enjoyable to watch. That was the only reward that he could think of. She was such a beautiful young woman.

He scratched his scruffy beard and straightened his long gray wig, which was pulled into a ponytail. This disguise was his favorite when finding out facts that was nobody's business. No one seemed to care about a shabby bent-over old man that used a gnarled and twisted cane to get around.

Jesse watched curiously as Caroline Davies swung the door open and ran past him with great speed. She seemed upset. No. She looked terrified. She was in a happy mood when she strolled toward her fiance's home just ten minutes ago. What had happened in the meantime?

When Caroline stopped beneath a lamppost at a fork in the road and turned around, it seemed as if she were checking to see if she was being followed. As he watched her, he saw fear in her eyes, which surprised him a great deal. To Jesse, it seemed as if she was wondering which direction to go. She bit her lip in concentration and then turned down the road toward the lake.

Jesse raised a curious brow. Where was she going? She was not heading home. As discreetly as possible, he followed her, taking short cuts so he could keep up with her. Finally, a small cabin came into view. He recognized it right away.

Jesse wiped the humidity from his brow and smiled. Where else would she go if she were in trouble? This was her "safe house." The question was...whom was she hiding from? What was she afraid of? Her father must have known something was not right or he wouldn't have hired him to follow her and watch her every move.

Watching Caroline had brought back many good memories for Jesse. She was just as lovely now as she was a couple of years ago, right after the revolution came to a halt. That was when he got to know the Davies family.

Doctor Benjamin Davies was concerned about his daughter. For some reason, he was apprehensive about her engagement to William Elswood the second. Benjamin did not trust the man and told Caroline how he felt, but she said he was being overly protective. His wife accused him of holding on to his only daughter. Caroline was a good nurse and trustworthy assistants were hard to come by.

When the doctor asked Jesse for help, he could not turn him down. Jesse Conover, otherwise known as the Fox, owed the doctor a favor. As he looked down at his garb, Jesse was amused. He was not a bent-over old man. He was, in fact, six-foot-two, had dark brown hair, was "well built," and was in his late twenties.

When the revolution ended, Jesse told Doctor Davies to get in touch with him if he ever needed anything. Then he left the address of where he could be reached. That had been two years ago. He never expected to hear from the man. When Benjamin showed up at his doorstep, he was completely taken by surprise.

All Jesse had to do was follow Caroline Davies and make sure she was safe. The doctor felt uneasy about his daughter's relationship with William Elswood the second and was not sure why.

William Elswood the second? Jesse chuckled to himself. Any man who used the word "second" after his name just had to be arrogant.

When Jesse asked the doctor why he didn't hire a professional, Benjamin answered, "You're the Fox. One of Laketown's heroes! You can sneak in and out of places without being noticed. I don't want my daughter to know she's being followed. I don't want her to think I don't trust her. It's that scoundrel of a man I don't trust."

When the doctor offered to pay him, Jesse refused to take any money. All he asked of the good doctor was to not reveal his identity. The Fox must remain a mystery. He didn't want praise from anyone because he was only doing his duty as a citizen of Cordovia. Some of the folks in Laketown referred to him as the Robin Hood of the Revolution.

Jesse scratched his head with puzzlement as Caroline disappeared through the doors of the small cabin. He could not figure out why the doctor was worried. His daughter took no guff from anyone and knew how to defend herself. Once Benjamin had told him about an officer of the king's army who had a fancy for her. He flirted with her non-stop. When she kept refusing him, the man took her aside and forced his attentions on her in a way no man should.

Caroline defended herself adequately. She swung her knee right up into his crotch, which doubled the man over in excruciating pain. When his men heard his cry, they quickly ran to his aid and found him lying on the floor. They had to bring in a carriage since he could not ride his horse back to the palace. The officer didn't bother her again after that.

When Benjamin had told him of the incident, Jesse broke into laughter. She was a spunky one. During the revolution, Jesse knew he was attracted to her, but he held back his feelings because of his duties as the Fox. But his obligations were now over and he was earning a living, just like anyone else.

Jesse scanned the area around the cabin and didn't see anyone lurking about. Why had Caroline looked so anxious? Who was she running from? With a sigh, he took watch outside the door in order to protect her. In the morning, he would find out what had happened.

He sat down on a rickety bench near the cabin. When he accepted this job, he had forgotten how lovely Miss Davies was. At the tender age of eighteen, she was enchanting. In her white nurse's uniform, she looked like an angel. Now, at the age of twenty-two, she was absolutely lovely. No! More like strikingly beautiful. Caroline had a look of elegance about her that he had never noticed before. It could have been his duties that distracted him during the revolt, or perhaps she had grown up.

Since Cordovia received its freedom two years ago, Jesse had taken up the profession of a fisherman and was living beside the lake. It was a very lucrative business. When he finally settled down, Jesse kept telling himself that it was a relaxing job, but in reality he missed the adventures of stalking the enemy and besting them. It amused him a great deal when the king's soldiers could not track him or his men through the swamps.

Jesse was not sure why he felt restless. Perhaps it was because he had not met the right woman.