Love the Beauty and the Beast remake? (Those costumes, that character design, that uncomfortably attractive candelabra) Get a taste of that courtesan charm with the ever-so-dashing William Danbury of Once a Courtesan!
Physical description: 6’1”, slender build, wavy brown hair, dark blue eyes, age 29
Occupation: Officer of the Crown, Westminster Special Constabulary (AKA “Gonson’s Boys”) in the year 1727
Hello, Mr. Danbury.
Please, call me Will.
All right, Will. Thanks so much for granting us this interview.
The pleasure is mine, madam.
You’ve just played a significant role in what is being touted as London’s first major triumph over the rampant crime that has plagued the city in recent years. Tell us a little about yourself. Why don’t we start with your family?
Very well. I’m my mother’s only son and the youngest of eight children—
Wait, you have seven sisters?
Indeed, yes—there was never a quiet moment in our house when I was a boy! Five of my sisters are still living, and our Mother still fusses over us like a brood hen, despite the fact we’re grown. My sisters take after her, of course, so I’m beset. We were poor growing up, but Father always made certain we had a roof over our heads and enough to eat. He was a good man.
I imagine he’d be very proud of his son.
[Danbury laughs] I rather think he’d have called me a fool for following in his footsteps. He never made enough to escape the poor side of Town, and he was killed in the line of duty while collaring a burglar when I was fifteen. No, he’d have urged me to become a barrister after I finished university—I had the opportunity to do so, but Westminster recruited me first. I’ve never regretted the decision.
What made you want to become a constable?
It’s in my blood, I suppose. Father was a watchman and one of the few honest thief-takers in London in his day. He helped make London a safer place. I grew up wanting to do the same.
And what does your family think about your career choice? It’s a risky business, what you do for a living.
They know I do it for them. It’s become so bad in some parts of the city that I fear for their safety. When men and women cannot go about their business in broad daylight confident of remaining unmolested, something must be done. That’s why I agreed to help Sir Gonson. If the criminals are organizing, then we must likewise organize to combat them. Rule of law must prevail for any civilization to survive, let alone flourish.
Now you sound like a barrister! You mentioned that you completed your studies at university. I don’t wish to be rude, but I have to know—how did someone of your background afford such an education?
Ah, yes. [He chuckles wryly] My brother-in-law will likely not thank me for telling this story, but since you asked… After Father died, I found myself somewhat less than welcomed by my married sisters’ husbands. I was fifteen, always hungry, and a bit surly, to tell the truth. I was offered apprenticeships by two of them, but I had no desire to become a butcher or a tanner. So, I appealed to my eldest sister’s husband, Nigel, who is a barrister. He’d taken our mother in, but refused to shelter me.
It’s silly, really, but when I was eight I had played a rather nasty prank on him. [Danbury’s lips twitch with barely suppressed laughter] He’d intended to ask for Charlotte’s hand the night I slipped a bladder filled with rotten fish guts beneath his rear just as he sat at dinner. It earned me his eternal enmity. It also earned me one of the worst whippings Father had ever given me.
I imagine your mother was less than happy, too.
She made me clean it up.
But that was seven years before your father died. Surely your brother-in-law hadn’t held a grudge for so long?
Oh, he most assuredly did. He gave me a week to make other arrangements. All the while, my sister Charlotte made his life most unpleasant. When I had my mother beseech him to write a letter of recommendation to get me into King’s College on a scholarship to study law, he agreed—anything to keep me out of his house and his wife happy!
Was he disappointed when you decided to join the constabulary instead of following through and becoming a barrister?
It was several years before he deigned to even speak to me again.
I take it you’re on speaking terms now? What changed his mind?
[Danbury’s eyes shine with quiet pride] Well, according to my sister, he read of my most recent handiwork in the papers and decided I’m not a complete waste. In fact, I’ve been invited to dine with them this coming Sunday.
That’s quite a change of attitude.
Indeed, it is. [He laughs] I’ve accepted, of course—but I’ll be sure to check my chair before sitting down at the table.
[We both laugh for a moment] The papers didn’t mention it, but sources say you’ve accepted a new position in Sir Gonson’s organization. Can you tell us about it?
I could, but then I’d have to lock you in the Tower of London—and make certain you never left.
Well, I don’t want that, so I’ll let it alone. Let’s talk romance. Is there a special lady in your life, or can I tell London’s unwed ladies that there’s hope?
[Danbury’s smile broadens] I’m afraid I’m already taken.
What a shame. What can you tell us about this lucky lady?
I’m the lucky one—and that’s all I’ll say on the matter.
(It’s clear from his expression this interview is at an end.) Thank you, Constable, for allowing us this intimate peek into your life. For more intimate details and the rest of the story, read Once a Courtesan.
Liana LeFey delights in crafting incendiary tales that capture the heart and the imagination, taking the reader out of the now and into another world. Liana lives in Central Texas with her dashing husband/hero and their beautiful daughter. She’s also privileged to serve one spoiled rotten feline overlord. Liana has been devouring romances since she was fourteen and is now thrilled to be writing them for fellow enthusiasts.