Some jobs are performed best when no-one knows what job you do, especially when they are convinced from your behaviour that they *do* know what you do. Such as an assassin seeming to be a courtesan, or a tax inspector seeming to be staff-cleaner.
Getting undressed is easy, especially when you have help. This time I had help from Lady Evangeline Brock, whose long delicate fingers were surprisingly strong. She had my jacket off at the door to the bedroom, even as she was closing it; and as I bent down to untie my shoelaces I was thwarted by her pulling my shirt over my head. By the time I reached the bed, feeling more like the quarry than the prey, she had me down to my underpants and was whispering in my ear what her intentions were for the evening.
What gentleman could have refused under the circumstances?
After the first hour, I realised that I had not been careful enough in my research. I'd uncovered that Lady Evangeline was most likely in a loveless marriage and gone no further. Now it was obvious that she had near-insatiable appetites and had been keeping them pent up for quite some time. I groaned deeply, pulled her down against my chest, flipped her over onto her back, and sat astride her, taking the opportuntity to get my breath back.
It was another hour and a half later before she pushed me off, and kicked my legs away from hers as she spread out across the bed. Her long, red hair was strewn untidily over the pillows behind her head and she had to sit up briefly to retrieve the bedcovers and pull them back over her. I reached for a corner to cover myself as well, and she slapped my hand.
"No," she said throatily, her voice a little hoarse from growling instructions at me, "all men are the same, you'll just fall asleep. You leave now and sleep in your own bed."
That made things easier. Instead of cuddling for a half-hour until she fell asleep and then disentangling myself and dressing as quietly as I could, I could get up and go; but a part of me was still annoyed that I didn't get even five minutes to rest before leaving. I shivered a little, and got up, padding over to the door and collecting my strewn clothing en route. I dressed by the door, noticing that she seemed to be slumbering already.
Dressing is harder than undressing, especially when not everything you're wearing is technically clothing. The shirt that had come off so easily over my head was purposely designed to be loose, but still needed to be unbuttoned before I could put it on again, as otherwise I couldn't arrange its various internal pockets to lie flat against my skin. The pockets all had ties on them to pull them into inconspicuous positions when the shirt was removed, every one of which was notably uncomfortable for normal wear. My trousers were less troublesome, though I observed with a twitch of annoyance that she'd manage to loosen a button on the fly, and my shoes, though easy to put on, were scuffed at the toe.
When I was dressed, I let myself out of her room, and closed the door quietly behind me. I paused, looking both ways along the corridor -- the Lady Evangeline was a guest at Retten Hall, invited by the Viscount-in-Residence Jules Barnard. The corridor was clear, and a window at the end was letting a little grey light in. As I started towards the window I heard the snick of a key in a lock behind me, and realised that the Lady had not been quite as asleep as I'd believed.
I reached the window and looked out to get my bearings. The sky outside was overcast and grey, and the little light came from a small lantern outside a door two floors below. I could see the start of the driveway though, which told me that I was facing east. My next rendezvous was one floor up on the north side of the Hall.