105: Thief of Shadows
Winter Makepeace is going through the motions as manager of the Home and ghost of St. Giles at night. However, when Isabel Beckinhall tells him he must submit to social lessons or forfeit his place at the home, his world is turned upside down. Though he vowed to be celibate to focus on his mission has Ghost, he cannot seem to resist Isabel. How can he commit himself to another, when he's already committed to crimefighting in London's worst slum? **The Ghost cannot save you from SPOILERS**
Grab your copy of the book we read today, Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt, here!
Want to listen to a certain segment? Here is our outline this week:
0:00 - 09:07: Intro/Author Facts/History Facts
09:07 - 25:38: Synopsis
25:38 - 27:14: Parlour
27:14 - 59:28: General Discussion
For more information on this week's history fact about clocked stockings, please visit our source.
We include our synopses as a semi-transcription of the episode in our blog posts. You can learn more about how we compose these by reading this article. As a reminder though, our synopses are FULL of spoilers. Read ahead at your own risk :)
Thief of Shadows Synopsis:
Isabel Beckinhall took a wrong turn and ended up in the wrong part of St. Giles. Luckily she did though, because she comes across a very wounded Ghost of St. Giles.
Isabel, seeing the approaching mob (reminder - the ghost just cut down Charming Mickey from the gallows), quickly decides to rescue the ghost and take him to her home.
She gives him medical attention and while there, he awakens to ensure his mask is not taken off.
He shortly passes back out and Isabel stays by his side. In the morning, though, the Ghost is gone and Isabel reflects upon the fact that the ghost used her name in conversation and clearly knows who she is.
Winter Makepeace, our Ghost of St. Giles has made it back to the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children.
He is quickly besieged by his sister Temperance but it is good news. Silence and Mickey have gotten away and are now in hiding. Although that is good news, his sister does notice he is hurt. Winter is able to play it off as just a minor injury from being caught up in the mob, and his sister leaves it at that. She has some house parties in the country to attend with Lord Caire. So Winter is left on his own.
He does spend a week in bed and when he is finally up and about it is to find Isabel has come by the house. She has been appointed by the Ladies Syndicate to be Winter's social tutor. While he is a good manager, it has been determined his social skills are lacking.
Winter is not welcoming to Isabel’s tutoring. And makes that fact very clear. He tells her her efforts would be wasted and she should leave.
Winter is attracted to Isabel and is definitely ruder to her than he should be.
He is reflecting upon this while he is out that night as The Ghost. During this trip he finds a young girl and her dog and brings them back to the house.
It is clear the girl is very young but she also is clearly afraid. She will not speak to anyone. Her dog is allowed to come to the house as well, because Winter has a soft heart.
The next day, Isabel is back. She is determined to get through to Winter. She tells him this and while they wait for tea, Winter falls asleep.
Isabel’s lips curved at the last thought. Any man less rake-like than Mr. Makepeace she’d yet to meet. Why, he spent so much of his time caring for his home and the inhabitants that he’d fallen asleep in front of her in the middle of the day. It made her wonder what, if anything, he did when he had a moment to himself. Did he read? Perhaps he kept a diary or enjoyed touring churches? She considered, but couldn’t come up with any more activities for the man. He was rather an enigma, wasn’t he? His life was given to self-sacrifice, but he still kept a large part of himself secret.
He awakens when tea arrives and finally understands Isabel’s point; he may just lose his job if he does not submit to her teachings.
So submit he does and what ensues is a good bit of flirting and if Isabel isn’t mistaken, Winter admits to being a Virgin. How interesting.
While Winter is receiving social lessons by day, he is still The Ghost at night and has just learned of a new ring of criminals called the “Lassie Snatchers” and apparently the leader is a toff.
Back in society, Winter is attending a ball to further the mission of The Home. Isabel is impressed by how winter has turned out in his new suit and Winter is not very thrilled with the ball thing. On the way there, Isabel finally gets to see a glimpse of the Winter behind his somber mask, and she is intrigued.
Dear God, what she saw in that look! How he had hidden these many years behind the guise of a simple schoolmaster, she didn’t know. Anger, passion, lust, and surging hunger swirled in his stormy eyes. Emotions so stark, so strong, she didn’t understand how he kept them under control. He looked as if he were about to attack her, ravish her, and conquer London and the world itself. He could’ve been a warrior, a statesman, a king.
While at the ball trouble is afoot. Viscount D’arque makes the claim that Lady Penelope told him Winter would be resigning his position in the home and he himself has designs on taking up the mantle.
This leads to some very pointed jabs and a wager on Gentlemanly manners to take place at the opera.
As Winter is cooling his anger, he and Isabel end up in close quarters and he almost kisses her.
Now this is a big deal, because as Winter is about to admit, he has given a vow of chastity to himself. He does not feel he can be of true use to the children of St. Giles if he has a wife and family. Also, the whole ghost thing, but Isabel does not know that yet.
At Opera things get heated. Winter arrives separately from Isabel, in part because he was delayed but also because he wants to question D’arque’s coachman. However, Isabel sees the ghost on her way to the retiring room. This time, there is no one to stop a kiss from happening and it is a scorcher! Sadly it is interrupted by D’arque himself. Then the men proceed to duel through the opera house. Winter of course prevails and he is also able to question the coachman, whom he recognized from his latest chase through St. Giles. He only has time to learn that it is not D’arque kidnapping young girls.
At the opera, Winter is met with the tales of D’arque dueling The Ghost of St. Giles.
However, while Winter tries to play it off, Isabel is no longer fooled. She has finally realized that it is Winter beneath the mask of The Ghost.
When he returns to the home later that evening, it is to find the quiet girl Winter rescued is finally ready to tell her story. It turns out she was kidnapped by the Lassie Snatchers and tells Winter she and other girls were forced to work making Clocked Lace Stocking by a woman called Mistress Cook. With this tidbit, Winter bids her goodnight.
At the next social outing, Winter and Isabel have their first official encounter. Isabel is finished waiting for Winter to make a move, and while they’re hiding behind the curtains in the Viscount D’arque’s room, Isabel goes down on Winter and he is utterly moved by the experience. His feelings for her are becoming so fierce, he is having a hard time denying himself.
He leaves the event through the window to follow a lead and Isabel returns to an uproar. Apparently the Ghost of St. Giles has killed a man. A man who was best friends with Viscount D’arque and a hunt is now underway.
Isabel goes after Winter and finds him as he’s running from the Dragoons. When she questions what he was doing, he at first doesn’t answer but Isabel is tired of the secret.
She tells him she knows who he is and knew that earlier when she sucked his cock. With that a dam breaks and she is in his lap. And they have a full on encounter. And even though it was his first time, Isabel loved every minute of it.
Bliss does not last for long though. Winter, full of righteousness and work to complete, leaves the carriage before it reaches Isabel’s house.
However, his mission, while uneventful, did not turn up the results he was hoping for so he ends up back at Isabel’s and they have multiple encounters and Winter also shares the story of how he became the ghost of St. Giles.
The following night, Winter again returns to Isabel and they have another encounter, however this time there is a tactical error on Winter’s part. He tells her he loves her and then doubles down and asks her to marry him.
Isabel is shocked and instantly says she cannot marry him. At first it is because of their difference in stations but then she admits the truth, she is barren.
Winter tells her it does not matter.
Isabel though is scared from interactions with her husband and thinks this will be too insurmountable an obstacle for their relationship. Luckily Winter is patient and tells her he will leave it for tonight.
Next, everything goes to hell. First D’arque and his friends arrive at the The House accusing Winter of being the ghost, or at least knowing more than he’s sharing. Then D’arque offers to buy a navel commission for the house’s oldest boy, but only if Winter steps down as manager right then and there so that he may take over the role.
Winter immediately agrees, because the opportunity for Joseph Tinbox to become a naval officer, is not one he can throw away. Even if Joseph Tinbox has no desire to leave the home.
This is a set back but Winter, ever resourceful, uses this change in circumstance to his advantage. He moves into Isabel’s house as tutor to her young ward, Christopher. Whom we haven’t talked about yet, because this is when he becomes useful to this story.
A few days after his arrival they have another hot encounter.
Afterward, unable to sleep, Winter goes to St. Giles to once again find the kidnapped girls. This time he is successful.
He brings the good news back to Isabel. It’s at that moment she realizes she has benefited from the lassie snatcher’s child abuse. Her maid has been purchasing the stockings they’ve been making. While Isabel feels horrible, it does give Winter a lead on where to go to get to the head of the snake.
That night, Winter finds Isabel in his bed. She is looking to use him to ignore her own hurts that have gathered through the day but he does not let her and instead of an encounter we can have an amazing moment of breaking down and support with Isabel falling asleep beside Winter realizing that she loves him. But who wouldn’t after this line?
“I’m privileged to see you like this,” he said, his eyes fierce. “Wear your social mask at your balls and parties and when you visit your friends out there, but when we are alone, just the two of us in here, promise me this: that you’ll show me only your real face, no matter how ugly you might think it. That’s our true intimacy, not sex, but the ability to be ourselves when we are together.”
Winter has also come to a decision. It is time he took his own advice. Sometimes doing the right thing is not a sacrifice and that is how he now feels as the ghost. Isbel has been asking him to stop since they became more involved and having her in his life is worth not being the ghost.
He does feel the need though to see if D’arque is behind the lassie snatchers. However, it is not D’arque but his good friend Mr. Seymour who is the real villain and he attacks Winter as they are looking over the workshop winter raided the other day.
At the home, Isabel is finding that the orphans are rebelling against their new manager and frankly, he doesn’t care because D’areque is only there to irritate Winter and see if he can get any more information on the Ghost of St. Giles who killed his friend.
While speaking with him, Isabel directly asks him things that Winter was pursuing. In the process she realizes that Mr. Seymour is the villain and rushes to find Winter and warn him. She is unaware she is a bit behind schedule.
When she arrives, she is instantly used as a hostage. Fearing the worst, Isabel blurts out her love. But Winter is not finished yet. He urges Seymour to fight him man to man, and even though he sustained a few injuries, ends up victorious.
D’arque arrives to see the mess of things, but then hearing that Seymour attacked Isabel and wanted to kill them both to protect his money making scheme, D’arque believes them. He also no longer believes that Winter is the ghost that killed his friend. Seymour was the one urging that line of thinking and it was clear he had his own motives to point the finger at Winter.
A week later, after all the craziness has calmed slightly, Winter once again proposes to Isabel in the middle of the ladies syndicate meeting. She tries half hearted to again remind him she cannot be a good wife for him. He’ll never have children…he just laughs at her.
“Oh, my precious Isabel, these are my children—the children of my heart, the children of my life’s work. I’m the father to dozens of children and plan to be the father to hundreds of children in the future. Come. Say yes, be my wife, and help me raise my brood.”
And just like that, Isabel says yes. But as she and Winter are outside the house later that day, she sees the ghost. But how is that possible?
“I told you I was the Ghost of St. Giles, but I never said there weren’t others as well.”
And our epilogue will give too much away for next time, so you’ll just have to wait until we return to Maiden Lane.
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