Let me just meander aside here for an instant and mentiion that I haven't written a short story since I was in Grade School, so the whole concept was a bit baffling. I had ta kinda feel my way through this.
Since I write Regency spies as my own particular metier, I figured my contribution to the anthology should be … Regency spies.
I'm sticking with the secrecy and intrigue, of which there was any amount lying about in this time period, but shifting my focus just a bit. One of the sad realities about spies in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries is that much of the spying they engaged in was against their own countrymen. While the English crown certainly worried about the French armies milling about across the Channel, they were somewhat more terrified of the disaffected at home. They spied upon them diligently.
In several of my books, my protagonists have been patriots on opposite sides of the long, bitter political struggle between France and England. In this short story, I considered the problems of a spy working in his own country. It's his duty to go undercover in England, playing a part, lying to Englishmen.
My hero, Jack, pretending to be a man he isn't, courted Elinor. In the
end, he betrayed her trust and broke the bone and sinew of her life when he uncovered the treason of her uncle.
Now it's two years later. Christmas is the end of the old year, the beginning of the new. From ancient times this has been the season of renewal and forgiveness. I bring Jack and Elinor together, sheltering from the storm under the same roof, and ask the question, "Can she forgive the man who lied to her and betrayed her?"
Oh. There's a secret list gone astray, naughty Latin texts, and a dangerous French agent flitting here and there about the corridors of the old inn. The usual.
So … what's your favorite book about 'second chances' and 'forgiveness'. I'm thinking Susan Elizabeth Phillip's Nobody's Baby But Mine and Sherry Thomas' Not Quite A Husband.