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Richard III awakened to several loud knocks, where daylight, filtering through lace curtains, illuminated an unfamiliar room. It took him a few seconds to remember that he and his family had just flown into London from Portland, Oregon.
Only two years ago, he had closed his eyes August 22, 1485 and opened them, five centuries later, on August 21, 2004. A team of Ricardians had brought him through time into the present, thus rescuing him from certain death on the battlefield, where Henry Tudor had defeated him. However, his forced entry into the twenty-first century had made him feel like a captive and an alien—isolated, alone.
Now, finding himself in that London hotel room, Richard remembered shutting his eyes for what seemed only moments, but his watch showed that two hours had passed. He staggered from the small bedroom and into the hotel suite’s living area where his son, Edward, sat on the couch, rubbing his eyes. For Richard, seeing Edward alive, and in this century, still struck him as miraculous.
Before that battle against Henry Tudor, he had lost both his first wife and his son to natural causes. Then, after a year in the twenty-first century, he’d married Sarah, a divorcée, and adopted her two daughters, Emma and Mary. With Sarah’s ingenious help, he had been able to rescue Edward just before he would have died in the fifteenth century, in the same way the Ricardian team had done for him. His first wife, Anne, could not be saved, and remained in her tomb at Westminster Abbey.
The knocking continued, louder and more urgent. Sarah walked into the living area from the other bedroom. “What is going on?”
Richard shrugged. “I just woke up, too.” He went to the door and looked through the peephole. “There are two people in the hallway, one in uniform.”
“Who is it?” Richard asked, facing the door. Sarah came to his side and put a hand on his arm.
“Police.” The man’s voice was deep and firm. “I’m Detective Sergeant Lambert and with me is Detective Constable Link. May we come in?”
After verifying they really were the police, Richard held the door open and let them enter. DC Link took a position by the door as if to prevent anyone from leaving, while DS Lambert stepped forward.
“What is going on, Detective Lambert?” Sarah’s voice filled with anxiety. “We just flew in from the States. Has something happened?”
“Please step aside, ma’am,” Lambert said.
Sarah shook her head. “I prefer to stay by my husband.”
“Very well.” Lambert fixed his eyes on Richard. “Are you the Richard Gloucestre residing in Portland, Oregon?”
“Yes,” Richard said. They had come to London as part of a pilgrimage of sorts to say their final farewells to his fifteenth-century wife and Edward’s mama.
“The Metropolitan Police received communication from your government indicating that you are a person of interest.” Lambert paused. “You are wanted for questioning in regard to a murder.”
“I don’t understand,” Richard said. “We landed at Heathrow only a couple of hours ago after a twelve-hour flight.” Not quite believing what he had just heard, Richard stared at the detectives, still standing with their backs to the hotel suite’s door. “Who was murdered, when did it happen, and why do you think I would know anything about it?”
Before Lambert could respond, Sarah said, “This is ludicrous. Are you sure you have the right person?”
“I believe so,” Lambert said. “To confirm, are you the Richard Gloucestre residing at 621 NE Floral Park Lane, Portland, Oregon?”
Richard’s mouth went dry. All he could do was to say “yes.”
Sarah tightened her grip on his arm.
Lambert took a deep breath. “You are wanted for questioning regarding the murder of King Edward IV’s two boys, Princes Edward and Richard, in the autumn of 1483.”
“What?” Richard released Sarah’s hand and planted his fists on his waist. “You can’t seriously expect me to believe that you are arresting me for something that occurred over five hundred years ago? Is this an elaborate joke?”
“I understand your incredulity,” Lambert said. “We would have reacted the same, but our superiors were quite emphatic that this is not a prank and that they have sufficient cause to bring you in to answer some questions. Before we proceed any further, please show me your passport as proof of your identity.”
“And if I’m not the person you seek…” Even though Richard knew they had the right man, he could not stop himself from blurting out that question.
“Then we will leave you to your travels. It will be viewed favorably if you cooperate.”
“My passport is in the bedroom,” Richard said. “I’ll be right back.”
While Lambert followed Richard to the door of the bedroom on the right of the living area, Emma, their nine-year-old, and her younger sister Mary came into the living area from the bedroom on the left. Emma curled a strand of red hair around her index finger. “Mom? Dad? What’s goin’ on?”
Sarah went to her daughters. “I’m not sure, but right now we need both of you to sit down and be very quiet. Do you understand?”
Mary skipped to the couch, her black curls bouncing as she threw herself on the cushions. Emma, her eyes wide, tiptoed to Edward’s left and eased onto the cushion, tucking her leg under her bottom. Edward sat still, back rigid and away from the cushions. Every freckle on his cheeks stood out against his pale skin.
Richard turned to his son. “I’m sure this is a mistake. Sit with your sisters while we straighten this out.” He hoped that this was a mistake. But were the police too close to the truth about his identity for him to hold onto that hope? He returned his focus to Lambert. “This has to be a misunderstanding. Why do you think I know anything about murders that happened over five hundred years ago, except for what I can get from history books?”
Lambert shifted his weight before responding. “What I think has nothing to do with it. As I previously mentioned, we received official documentation that, among other things, alleges you are Richard III, late king of England. Based on that allegation, we must assume you know a great deal of what happened then and that you have information that isn’t in our historical records.”
More than keep his identity secret, Richard had to protect Sarah and the technology that she had developed. The authorities could not learn that she was the surviving inventor of the device that had brought him into this century. He glanced first at his wife before asking Lambert, in as calm a tone as he could muster, “Look at me. I’m thirty-four. Do I look like I’m over five hundred? Do you seriously believe I am Richard III?”
Up to this point, it seemed that Lambert was having trouble accepting his assignment. Now, he stood erect and stared down his long nose at Richard. “It’s not a matter of what we believe. This is preliminary to the investigation for exclusionary purposes. We wish to ask you some questions and to get some DNA from you. Will you cooperate?”
Richard pinched the bridge of his nose, a nervous habit he’d acquired when he found himself in the twenty-first century and without the comforting dagger he’d normally finger. “I just don’t see what good it will do. What could possibly link me to something like this?”
“The U.S. Homeland Security faxed us information stating Richard Gloucestre is the same person as Richard III.”
“Have you verified your sources?” Sarah asked.
“Yes, Mrs. Gloucestre,” Lambert said. “We would not be here otherwise.”
“May we see the fax?” Richard asked.
“You’ll have to ask DCI Mortimer,” Lambert said. “Please come with us, sir.”
“Do I need an attorney?”
“You may request a solicitor when you meet with the detective, or arrange to have one meet you at the station.”
“I will cooperate. May I have a word with my wife before we leave?”
“Remain in this room.” Lambert pointed to his watch. “You have five minutes.”
Tears welled up in his wife’s eyes as she turned her head from the police. Then Emma moaned and started to cry. Edward patted her hand, his eyes darting from Richard to Sarah to Lambert.
Richard wrapped Sarah’s hand with his and drew her close. “Children, stay on the couch. I’ll be with you in a minute.” He walked with Sarah to the window to put distance between them and the police, and then put his head close to hers, keeping his voice low. “Call Evan Hosgrove. He needs to know and may have information we’ll need.”
“This doesn’t make any sense,” she said. “How can they arrest anyone for something that may have happened over five hundred years ago?”
He shrugged. “I agree, but if I resist arrest, I’ll give them a real reason to hold me.”
“I think we need a lawyer,” she said, chewing on a nail already bitten to the quick, “but we don’t know anyone in England.”
“Evan may be able to help us with that as well. He knows many people here.”
“I know this sounds stupid, but I’ve got a really bad feeling about this.”
“In order to find out what they do have for evidence, I shall have to go with the police.” He felt her tremble. “It will be all right. That was 500 years ago. As you know, my nephews were not murdered. I don’t see how they can have any evidence to hold me.”
“The princes could have been murdered after Henry took the throne. Maybe he had their bones buried in the tower.”
He paused. He was still bitter over his defeat to Henry, an unseasoned usurper who’d spent most of his life in exile. “That makes no sense, Sarah. Why would he go to all that trouble and not openly state I had murdered my own nephews?”
“I thought Henry did accuse you.”
“According to the historical record, he never openly accused me nor did he display bodies or remains of any kind, bones or otherwise. I think Henry would have done anything in his power to prove I had murdered my own nephews. He would have used the remains, if there had been any to use.”
Sarah nodded. “I wonder what they’re really after.”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Even though there’s no statute of limitations for murder, I can’t imagine they’d go to this much trouble for something that happened so long ago.” She put her lips to his ear, and he could barely hear what she said. “I’m scared this is just the tip of the iceberg.”
“What could be worse than being wrongly accused of murder?” he asked. “Call Evan and hopefully I’ll know more by this evening.”
Lambert cleared his throat. “It’s time to go.”
Richard merely nodded an acknowledgment, his throat suddenly constricted.
Sarah wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tightly. “I love you.”
“I love you.” He stroked her auburn hair. “It’ll be all right.” He returned her hug, and then went to where his children sat and knelt before them. “I want all of you to listen to your mother. It’s very important that you do whatever she says.” Richard squeezed his son’s hand. “Be brave.” He stood.
Never cautious, Mary jumped up from the sofa and ran at Lambert, flailing at his stomach with her fists. “Leave my daddy alone!”
Lambert backed away while Richard grabbed Mary and pulled her from the policeman. “It’ll be okay, honey. Please, you must listen to us.”
“Daddy!” She spun around and buried her face in his shirt. “Don’t go.” He felt her hot, damp breath on his stomach.
“Mary, you must go to Mommy,” he said. “Do you understand?”
Mary clung to Richard. “No.”
He knelt down and took his seven-year-old’s hands in his. “I’ll be back, I promise. Stay with Mommy.” He ruffled her curly hair and kissed her on the forehead.
She let go of him and stepped back. Richard straightened up and walked over to Lambert. “I am ready.”
“You might want to put your shoes on, Mr. Gloucestre.”
* * *
DC Link drove the police car down Whitehall. Richard leaned forward and squinted out the windshield, expecting to see the buildings lining the street. However, his mind was on his family, and their faces appeared staring back, as they did when he left them at the hotel. He blinked. Parliament and Westminster Abbey came into view. In his day, Parliament did not have a permanent home, but met where and when at the king’s pleasure. Now, its permanent home was in the great hall of the palace. He shaded his eyes from the sun and focused on Parliament. “Is that Big Ben?” Richard pointed to the great hall on the left.
“Yes,” Lambert said.
Stuck in heavy traffic, they crawled past the Abbey, and Richard could not stop staring. Even though larger than he remembered, it appeared diminished against the crowded street, whose new structures blocked the view of the grounds. It was an archaic island of weathered stones. The crowd of tourists milling about the Abbey grounds gave Richard pause. Visiting his wife’s tomb would hardly be the private moment he’d envisioned. “We’d planned to tour Westminster Abbey tomorrow.”
“You might still do, sir,” Lambert said. “We are looking into evidence at present and do appreciate your cooperation.”
Richard remembered Edward’s bitterness when he had learned that his mother would have to remain in her grave of five hundred years. It had taken him many weeks to accept that she could not be brought to the present. And despite Edward putting on a good face, Richard knew his son had not completely accepted Sarah. Edward needed to have his father with him at Westminster when they said goodbye to his mama.
Although he had lived in the twenty-first century for two years now, events and losses of the fifteenth century occasionally became confused with today in Richard’s mind. When he’d first awakened in modern times, he had thought he’d died, his last memory being that of sinking to the mud, having been shot, his armor pierced by a bolt. In that muddled, dream-like state of half-consciousness, he had hoped he’d rejoined his wife and son, both having predeceased him. Instead, not only was he alive, but he’d been brought forward some five hundred years to a strange and alien time. Within days of arriving in the twenty-first century, Richard learned that his rescuers hoped he could tell them where proof could be found that the Tower bones were not those of the princes.
Richard found it ironic that the reason he was being taken to a police station in London was the same reason he had been rescued from a sure death—the purported murder of the princes, his nephews, in 1483. He snorted.
Lambert shot him a sharp look. “I would take this seriously if I were you.”
The memory receded. “I am taking this quite seriously,” Richard said. “I’m on edge.” He was reminded of what he might lose.
At the police station, DS Lambert left Richard alone in an interrogation room. He faced a mirrored wall, knowing the police were watching his every move. He would not give them reason to believe the fax. He sat on one of four gray chairs at a gray table in a gray room. How like a dungeon in spirit, he reflected. A recording device awaited activation at the end of the table abutting a wall.
He stood when the door opened, and two people entered—a man and a woman. Both wore two-piece navy suits, and both eclipsed Richard’s five foot-eight inches by half a head. They seemed to be the same height, but the woman’s shoes had two-inch heels. Still, she was tall.
The man appeared to be in his mid to late forties. He did not hide his balding pate by combing the remaining strands of his brown hair over it. His open expression suited his care-lined face. His unbuttoned jacket was the one concession to the hot August day. The buttons on his white shirt strained against his stomach.
“Sit down, please,” the man said. “Before we get started, I want to thank you for your cooperation. I am DCI Mortimer, and this is Dr. Elizabeth Allen, our forensic anthropologist.”
The gray-haired woman extended her slender hand to Richard. “It is my pleasure to meet you, Mr. Gloucestre, or should I say ‘Your Grace’?” Her stern face was transformed by a warm smile.
Richard shook her hand and laughed. “Mr. Gloucestre is correct. Don’t tell me you believe the fax.”
“Our job is to prove or disprove a case, not to believe,” Dr. Allen said. “However, point taken.”
“Do I need an attorney? Mine is in the States. Will I be able to make arrangements should I require?”
“This is all preliminary, but you may request to have your solicitor present,” Mortimer said. “Alternately, we can assign the duty solicitor to you.”
“I would prefer to find one of my choosing.” Richard frowned. If Hosgrove could not suggest someone, he’d have to let Mortimer make the selection. “If I can stop the interview at any time should I feel the need for representation, then I’m willing to start without one.”
“Agreed,” Mortimer said. “Then let us begin.”
He turned on the recording device and spoke into it. “This is Detective Chief Inspector Nicholas Mortimer. With me are Dr. Elizabeth Allen, forensic anthropologist, and Mr. Richard Gloucestre of Portland, Oregon, U.S.A. It is 15:45, British Summer Time.
“We have received information that alleges you are Richard III, born the second October, 1452, and presumed to have been killed…” Mortimer switched the recorder off. “Excuse me,” he said, laughter creeping into his voice. “I bloody well can’t believe I’ve been assigned to investigate a murder that happened such a long time ago. I’m having a great deal of difficulty accepting you really are Richard III, despite the fax. Will you swear to it?”
The sudden change in Mortimer’s deportment lifted Richard’s spirits. It gave him hope the investigation would not go much further. He grinned. “Would you swear to something that at best made it seem insanity ran in your family and at worst had the potential to get you executed?”
“I don’t suppose I would,” Mortimer said. “However, capital punishment has been abolished. It’s a mandatory life sentence if murder could be proven.”
“We don’t need you to swear to it,” Dr. Allen said. “Your DNA should tell us who you are.”
“How? I fail to see what my DNA will prove.” Richard leaned his elbows on the table and pinched the bridge of his nose.
“There are the Tower bones, thought to be those of the princes,” Dr. Allen said. “We will be able to establish whether they are related to Richard III’s brother and his Queen, Elizabeth. Then, if we can establish they could have been the princes, we can compare your DNA to Edward’s and to Edward’s mother, Cicely, Duchess of York.”
“What if I refuse to let you have my DNA?”
“It will be viewed that you are being uncooperative,” Mortimer said, “if you don’t let us take a sample.”
“I have no reason to refuse,” Richard said. “What do you want me to do?”
Dr. Allen retrieved a cotton swab and sat next to Richard. “Not much. All I need is a swab of your saliva. Please open you mouth so that I may get a sample,” Dr. Allen said.
After Dr. Allen swabbed the inside of his cheek, he asked, “I’m curious about the fax. Why don’t you think it’s an elaborate prank?”
Mortimer twirled a pen through his fingers. “That was our first thought, so we contacted the FBI, and they confirmed it was they who sent it, and they are serious.”
“May I have a copy of the fax?”
“No.” Mortimer leaned back and folded his arms across his broad chest.
Richard arched an eyebrow. “I’ve nothing to hide. Of course I’ll cooperate. I’m having a great deal of trouble accepting that you are investigating something that may or may not have happened over five hundred years ago.”
“Ours is not to reason why…” Mortimer mumbled. “I would too, were I in your shoes, but it is to our mutual benefit to expedite this investigation in order put it behind us quickly.”
Richard sighed. “I was led to believe that the bones that were found are not the princes’ bones.”
“You seem to know a great deal about the history, more than most,” Mortimer said.
“You’re correct,” Richard said. “I would, and for two reasons: I’ve been told I’m a descendent of that family line, plus the man I work for, Evan Hosgrove, is an avid Ricardian. He’ll divulge, to anyone willing to give him the time, his theories on Richard III. I have provided him with a willing ear.”
“Most Ricardians will argue that the Tower bones do not belong to the princes.” Dr. Allen slipped her gold wedding band off and on as she spoke. “But as they have been barred from testing the DNA until now, they have not been able to prove or disprove anything. It is now a murder investigation, and we can’t be prevented from doing our work.”
Richard knew the crown had stopped all testing after the bones were examined in 1933, but those tests were inconclusive. Today, scientists could only say the bones were of two children found in the shadow of the White Tower. They could not say when, prior to their discovery in 1674, they had been interred, nor of what sexes the bones were. Further, when the bones were found, no one thought they were of any importance. As a result, the bones were thrown onto a pile of construction debris where they remained for several days and were contaminated with the rest of the dross, including animal bones.
The children’s bones were of less concern to Richard than his mother’s and his brother’s bones. If they could get enough DNA from them, then they could match his and prove his identity. Could they have a circumstantial case against him?
“Wouldn’t it only show whether or not they were those of the princes?” Richard asked. “It would not show if a crime was committed or who was responsible. Don’t tell me that you’ve unearthed a witness.”
“Interesting choice of words.” Mortimer snickered. “That is why we are requesting your full cooperation. With it, I’m optimistic that we can quickly dismiss this investigation.”
Seeing how determined Mortimer was to complete this interview, Richard stopped himself from questioning what his cooperation had to do with their getting access to the Tower bones.
Mortimer turned on the recorder. “The interview is resuming at 15:55, BST. No one has entered or left the room. Mr. Gloucestre, during the break, you allowed us to take a sample of your DNA?”
“That is correct,” Richard said.
“And you agree we can compare it to the bones found in the Tower, to Cicely, Duchess of York, and to Edward IV to establish kinship.”
“The DNA from the Tower bones will be compared to that of the putative parents and to each other,” Dr. Allen said. “If the bones can be linked to them, then the evidence will be that much stronger.”
“Can you be sure of when the bodies were buried, and the age and sex the children were when they died?” Richard asked.
“Yes,” Dr. Allen said. “The techniques have improved dramatically since researchers were allowed to examine them in 1933.”
While Richard knew with certainty he’d removed both children from London—Prince Edward to Ireland and Prince Richard to Portugal—he could not indicate any of this to Mortimer and Allen, as that would be tantamount to admitting he was Richard III. There was no longer any question he had need of a lawyer.
“Will you swear you are Richard III, King of England from 26 June 1483 to 22 August 1485?”
Richard glared at Mortimer. “I wish to stop this interview until I can obtain an attorney.”
***End of chapter two***