Author's note: I started this story back in Sept. to break a writer's block. It seems like I've been writing it for a long time, but finally almost finished. I'm posting it now to make sure I do finish it as I find my interest is waning. But not to worry, what's left is just some editing.

Summary: A plot for revenge against the newly reunited country leads Gordon and West into a complicated plan involving one of our favorite villains.

THE NIGHT OF THE BROKEN HEART

By diddlepie (Dec 2012)

Chapter One

It had been a perfect night. If he were to die now, he'd be the happiest man in the world. Little did he know that it would be a very real premonition of what was to come.

The performance had been brilliant, the cast superb. The audience conveyed to a level of humanity and human emotional unparalleled and only achieved by the master playwright himself, Shakespeare. It was hard to find good theater outside of New York especially for Shakespeare's "Hamlet". Seeing the play here in St Louis was extraordinary and the fact it was produced by the British Shakespeare Company made it beyond belief.

With tears in his eyes, Artemus Gordon rose to his feet with the audience for a standing ovation. The actors deeply bowed their gratitude, and along with all the other emotions that washed over him, there was a twinge of regret that he had given up such noble pageantry to join the Secret Service 5 years ago. But such were the decisions that one made in life and although he never got standing ovations for his performances these days, he knew his acting prowess had saved many lives, often his own and that of his partner, Jim West.

He was brought out of his brief muse by a gentle hand touching his arm. His delightful and lovely companion Amelia Eastcott looked up at him with her deep blue eyes, "Artemus, that was wonderful!" she said.

Oh yes, the perfect night he thought to himself again. He'd meet Amelia at a society function in which he and his partner had provided security. He had been attracted to her delicate beauty, and love of the arts. What he didn't know was she had been equally attracted by his dark good looks, and worldly manner. The fact that he worked in dangerous situations and traveled the country in a lavishly furnished personal train only made him that much more appealing.

They had spent the last four days together, picnicking in the country side, dining at the finest establishments, and enjoying the theater. They made a handsome couple, Jim said. Artemus always enjoyed dressing well and with Amelia on his arm clothed in the finest New York had to offer, they garnered looks from both men and women.

Amelia was from a well to do New York family that had made its fortune in supplying timber to the railroads. She had recently moved to St Louis by herself to set up a new office. She had a keen sense for business and the ability to get things done. Their romance has been a heady whirlwind of activity. Jim was glad for both of them as Artie needed some time to himself, and what could be better than to enjoy it with someone who enjoyed the finer things in life as much as Artie did.

After the show, they took a hired carriage back to her home with a brief stop for a glass of wine and light fare.

The street lanterns were dimming due to the late hour when they arrived at her brick townhome on a quiet stately street. He instructed the driver to wait while he walked her to the door. The most perfect night of my life, he thought again as he gazed into her sparkling blue eyes.

"Artemus, you will be coming back to St Louis?" she asked.

"Oh yes, I know I will, but it could be awhile and I don't expect you to wait for me," he said. "You are a beautiful, charming and brilliant woman and I know I can not keep you all to myself."

He kissed her hand and then moved on to her willing soft lips as his hands encircled her waist drawing her in closer.

When they separated she blushed in a most seductive way. She spoke confidently but with a generous hint of flirtatiousness, "Mr Artemus Gordon, I'll be here when you return and you shall always be welcome at my home." He watched her enter the house, and turned down the brick stairs. The smell of fragrant flowers that lined the walk lingered as he headed for the rented hack.

He noticed it had pulled further down the street. There must be a watering trough there he casually thought as he walked towards it. Even though it was dark he became aware of two men approaching quickly from the opposite direction.

The intoxication of the magical evening was broken as the men split as they approached, apparently intending to walk one on either side of him. Artemus had learned long ago you never let anyone box you in unless they were sworn friends and he had more enemies these days then friends.

He stepped aside as they began to pass, touching the corner of his hat in a friendly gesture. He could see these men were not theater goers but rough looking fellows, the kind often set out for robbery or worse. Although Artemus Gordon was never the trained fighter his partner was, he had learned over the years how to defend himself. A few lessons from Jim hadn't hurt either.

As they approached, he slammed the closest man in the jaw with his raised hand that a moment ago had been feigning a greeting. The man spun down in a heap of surprised alarm. The second man attacked immediately throwing a wild punch that glanced off the agent's check. Artemus recovered quickly and was getting ready to hit back when a third man came up behind him, and attempted to get a beefy arm around his neck. He threw his elbow into the new comer's stomach breaking the choke hold and sending the thug flying back.

But now the first man was on his feet again. He grabbed the agent from behind and successfully wrapped a strong arm around his neck and pinned his left arm behind him with a painful twist.

The other two attackers were on their feet with determination and hate in their eyes. With all his strength, Artemus throw his weight back on the man who had him in the strangle hold and kicked out powerfully with his legs as they closed in on him. He hit one of them squarely in the chest throwing the man onto the ground, but the other assailant hit him in the jaw with a staggering blow.

Momentarily stunned he was getting ready for a second blow when a sweet smelling rag was pressed firmly against his nose and mouth. He recognized instantly the sickening smell of chloroform, and knew he had only one more chance to free himself before it took effect.

He held his breath as he grappled with his free hand to pull the chloroform mask off his face. Unfortunately it caused the man who had the choke hold on him to lose his balance and fall backwards taking Artemus and the other attacker with him. In the fall he managed to free his left arm, and having both hands available Artemus knew this was last chance to try and save himself. His lungs were pounding to expel air as he continued to hold his breath knowing that as soon as he took a breath he would be lost to the effect of the drug.

One of the attackers yelled to pin his hands but don't kill him! Suddenly the third man was on top of him roughly grabbing his arms and shoving them to the ground. "Come on you sucker, breathe!" one of them grunted.

His lungs were burning now and a punch to the gut forced out the air he had been holding. He coughed and sputtered as he involuntarily took in a chest full of the drug. The last thing he remembered thinking was the chloroform dosage was way too high as it burned its way into his sinuses, throat and down to the bottom of his chest.

The night was quite again except for the soft clip clop of the approaching coach.

"Is he out?" the shortest of them said.

"Yeah, he's out. Good thinking, hitting him in the stomach."

The thug who was lying on top slid off and put his ear on the unconscious man's chest. "Yup, he's out and he's alive. That equals full payment"!

"That was supposed to be easy!" muttered the brute who was caught under the limp agent, "Now stop your yapping and get him off-ame!"

In the dark the three men hauled the unconscious man to his feet and with one on either side of him they dragged him to the waiting coach. "Yah, I thought the little man said that catching this one wouldn't be as hard as his partner," the short one grumbled as they dumped Artemus's body into the coach.

None of them looked back to see the horrified face that peaked from the window of the stately brick town house.