Monday, December 26, 2011
Back when I was in college many, many moons ago, I took a photography course. I had somewhat artsy aspirations then and an SLR with a zoom lens...which used film. (I even learned to develop black and white film.) I wasn't a particularly educated photographer; I just liked to look through the lens and take pictures. Sometimes they turned out well...and sometimes not so much. But it was fun. Once I had kids, I took pictures of them. It's much easier to photograph a baby in an infant seat than the same baby--older, of course--running cross country. By the time I pushed the shutter button, all I usually got was the heel of his spikes. And then the babies went off to college and I never made the jump to digital.
So now I've got my fancy camera--not TOO fancy, I hope--and I'm pouring over the instruction booklet. Son #2 just spotted a heron in the park across the street. Husband ran to open the front door while I grabbed the camera and tried to remember how to turn it on. I did get a picture of the bird as he (or she) took off again, but the photo won't be making its appearance here. The only way I know I captured the image was to use another cool camera function and zoom in on the picture to find the blurry image of the large bird with its wings outstretched.
I think for a while--hopefully not forever--I'll have more luck shooting pictures of trees.
Friday, December 23, 2011
And the Maccabeats had a hit last Hanukkah with Candlelight. This year they're back with Miracle.
Enjoy! I'm off to finally decorate our Christmas tree. Yes, I'm a little behind.
Monday, December 19, 2011
This year we'll miss third son--he's staying in California with his fiancee and her family--but we'll have oldest son and his wife back from Denver. In fact, they'll be living with us while they look for apartments--oldest son has taken a job here. (Yay! says mama.) But having guests--especially a female guest who might actually appreciate some level of cleanliness--requires a massive tidying effort. And I'll confess my house is massively untidy. So with Bookmas over, I'm hanging up my blogging hat for a bit; I do hope to get back here on a somewhat regular basis in the new year. I still have San Francisco pictures to share!
Have a wonderful holiday time with family and friends--and find time to read a good romance, if you can.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
Friday, December 9, 2011
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Monday, December 5, 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
Monday, August 8, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
Monday, July 4, 2011
Whew. I’m on the train, heading home from RWA NYC. I think I only got online once while I was in NYC. As always, no matter how much I resolved to slow down and savor the moment, the days flew by in a blur.
Here are five highlights and "lowlights" from what I remember of the conference:
2. The beau monde mini conference. As always, it’s great fun spending time with my Regency pals and leaning more about the period. Unfortunately, two of the workshops I most wanted to hear were scheduled at the same time—and, even worse, just happened to be during my agency party. So at least I didn't have to chose between them—I missed them both.
3. The giant literacy signing. It’s always wonderful to meet fans, and I enjoy chatting with the authors on either side of me. This year’s signing seemed particularly crowded. They actually asked us to stay past the scheduled closing time because there were still people waiting in line to get in. (I guess the fire marshals were limiting the number of folks in the room.) And it was LOUD. I ended up with a bit of a headache and a raw throat from trying to talk in the bedlam.
4. The beau monde soiree. I missed part of the soiree because the signing went late, and I didn't do any dancing, but I still had fun--and won a few new research books in the silent auction.
5. The PAN retreat. Mostly because I was on the PAN steering committee this year—and because the workshops were so good, of course—I spent most of my time at the PAN events. This means I missed all the regular workshops which was really too bad as there were some great ones, especially for a Regency writer. One PAN workshop I wish I could have missed was the one on media training. Actually, it was a great workshop. The problem was I’d volunteered to be a “guinea pig.” I and two other ladies arrived before the workshop to each do a taped interview. I thought I hadn’t done too badly, but then as the workshop progressed, I realized I’d totally missed the boat. The other two ladies did an excellent job, so I suppose my interview served the important role of showing everyone what NOT to do. And my takeaway? Run for the hills if I see a microphone and reporter approaching, lol!
So there you have a few of the things my poor, shredded brain recalls. I wish there was more time--more hours in the day--to take it all in. Oh, well. I'm already looking forward to next year.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
Friday, June 10, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Friday, June 3, 2011
Chapter 2 (cont.)
He grinned. “Well, to begin with, I don’t think you should glare at me all the time. Do you suppose you might be able to manage that?”
“I might.” Her eyes focused on his lips. Her brain told her that was a stupid thing to do, but her eyes refused to listen.
His lips had felt so good.
“That’s it. You are doing an excellent job of not glaring at me now.” His voice had dropped. His arms came around her. They felt good, too.
“Hmm.” His lips were now so close and coming closer. He brushed them over her mouth, but it was not enough. She must have whimpered slightly, because he came back.
He didn’t mash her lips against her teeth. He didn’t try to force his tongue down her throat. He didn’t haul her body up against his so tightly she couldn’t breathe. He didn’t do any of the things Brentwood had done.
He held her firmly, yet gently, and slowly, leisurely, explored her mouth, filling her with a dark, liquid heat that pooled between her legs.
She knew what happened between a man and a woman. It was embarrassing and painful...but that was not what many of the married women said. No, they smiled and giggled and blushed when they talked about their marital duties.
Perhaps the act was different with different men like kissing appeared to be.
Her body insisted everything would be different, better, with Mr. Parker-Roth.
“Anne,” he said, his voice slightly breathless, “there’s no one here to fool. You’re supposed to be pushing me away and giving me that evil look of yours.” He kissed the corner of her mouth. “You’re supposed to be lashing at me with your sharp tongue, telling me to stop.”
He kissed her again, his hands bringing her closer, up against the hard ridge of his erection.
Nerves fluttered through her. Brentwood had done a similar thing...
But his hands had been rough. She’d felt trapped.
She didn’t feel trapped now. She felt welcomed.
The King of Hearts had earned his title; there was no question about that.
He urged her toward one of the couches, but it was too low. She lost her balance and tumbled against him, ending in a tangle of skirts and legs as the carefully closed, but unfortunately unlocked, door flew open and Harry bounded in.
Want more? You can order The Naked King from your favorite bookstore, or go here and scroll down to the bottom of the page for links to various online merchants.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Chapter 2 (cont.)
“I won’t hurt you.” Mr. Parker-Roth actually looked worried. “I thought you knew that.”
He shook his head and winced. “Not any longer--or at least not enough to mask my other aches and pains.” He looked at her intently. “But even drunk I’d never force myself on a woman.”
He wouldn’t have to. Women would force themselves on him.
She dropped the pillow back on the couch, feeling a little ridiculous. “About this sham betrothal?”
He studied her for another minute and then shrugged, running his hand through his hair. “I do think it’s the only way to save your reputation and salvage your sister’s Season.”
She had a very uncomfortable feeling he might be correct. She didn’t care about her reputation--she didn’t have one to salvage--but she’d fight tooth and nail to protect Evie’s chance to enjoy a London Season and perhaps find a suitable husband. “If Lady Dunlee would keep the story to herself, we might be able to get by.”
He rolled his eyes. “Yes, and if I had wings, I might be able to fly across the Thames.”
“But I am sure Lady Dunlee and Melinda Fallwell are setting out this very moment to share the tale--in strictest confidence of course--with ten or twenty of their closest friends. It will be all over London by nightfall.”
“Yes. You don’t have to be familiar with London to know how gossips operate. There are plenty of those in the country.”
“Oh, yes, I know.” Though somehow the story of her downfall had never spread, probably because only she and Brentwood knew about it. She was not about to say anything, and Brentwood likely had forgotten it the moment he’d pulled her dress back down. From what she’d heard later, she was only one of his many conquests.
Damn. They had only arrived in London yesterday. How could she have made micefeet of everything so quickly?
“Hey.” He touched her shoulder. “Don’t look so glum. We’ll muddle through.”
She tried to smile.
He cupped her cheek. “It would be easier to pass the story off if we seem to like each other, you know. Given the rather passionate display Lady Dunlee witnessed, we might even wish to appear somewhat ardent. Restrained, of course, but just barely--giving the impression that the moment society looks the other way, we’ll be in each other’s arms.”
“How are we to do that?”
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Chapter 2 (cont.)
She had a bad feeling about this. “Everything was here when we arrived.” She snatched the statue out of his hands and looked at it. There was a man and three women and they were--
“Dear God!” She stuffed it behind one of the couches. As soon as she got rid of Mr. Parker-Roth, she would examine all the knickknacks and pack away the inappropriate ones before the twins found them. This looked like just the sort of room ten-year-old boys would love. “Apparently collecting erotic--I mean exotic--items runs in my father’s family.”
“Apparently.” The annoying man had found another inappropriate sculpture on the mantel.
“Will you put that down?”
“I don’t know. It’s rather...stimulating, don’t you think?” Mr. Parker-Roth sent her a heated look. His thumb was rubbing slowly over the brass woman’s extremely prominent breasts.
“No, of course not.” If he wanted prominent breasts, he would have to look elsewhere.
And why was she thinking of breasts at all? How shocking.
Her body wasn’t shocked. Her little breasts felt oddly sensitive, almost achy, as if they’d like Mr. Parker-Roth to touch them as he was touching the statue. “Didn’t you drag me in here to discuss our b-betrothal?”
He put the statue back on the mantle and smiled. “Yes, I did.” His voice sounded like sin as he came toward her. He looked like sin.
He’s the King of Hearts, you ninnyhammer. Seduction is his middle name.
She looked for a sturdy settee to dodge behind, but the damn room had nothing so conventional. She grabbed a fat pillow instead and held it in front of her like a shield.
He stopped a good two feet from her and frowned. “You aren’t afraid of me, are you, Anne?”
“Of course not.” God help her! His look of concern made him even more alluring.
She wasn’t afraid of him; she was afraid of herself.
What was the matter with her? Had she forgotten the last time she’d let her body rule her head? Ten years ago, she’d gone with Lord Brentwood into Baron Gedding’s garden and come back without her virginity. She would not be so stupid as to make that mistake again.
Well, she couldn’t, could she? Virginity once lost was gone forever.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Chapter 2 (cont.)
She must have made a sound, because Lady Dunlee raised her brows, giving her an alarmingly arch look. “You are very lucky, Lady Anne. Countless society maidens will take to their beds in a fit of the dismals when they hear Mr. Stephen Parker-Roth is no longer available.”
Her stomach sank to the bottom of her slippers. This must be a nightmare. She would wake up in a moment safely tucked into her bed at Crane Castle.
“Oh yes, society will be abuzz with the news of your betrothal.” Lady Dunlee gave what looked suspiciously like a skip as she cleared the threshold.
“But you promised not to say a word,” Anne called after her.
The woman just smiled over her shoulder and waved her hand. Instead of turning to mount the stairs to her house, she headed off across the square. A large, gray cat darted out from under a bush to rub itself against her ankles.
“At least Miss Whiskers is safe,” Mr. Parker-Roth said, closing the door.
Anne glared at him. “I don’t care about that stupid cat--where is Lady Dunlee going?”
“To Melinda Fallwell’s. She lives at number forty-nine.”
“Who’s Melinda Fallwell?” Anne pointed to the door. “And aren’t you leaving, too?”
Mr. Parker-Roth took her arm. “Melinda Fallwell is London’s second greatest gossip--second to Lady Dunlee, of course--and, no, I am not leaving. We need to discuss our betrothal. Where can we be private?” He started back down the corridor, opening doors and peering in. “Ah, this will do nicely.”
He pulled her into what Hobbes had called “the, ahem, Oriental room” when he’d given Anne a quick tour of the house the day before. She called it the harem room. It was furnished with low couches and oversized pillows. Gauzy striped curtains festooned the ceiling and hung down the walls giving one the feeling of being inside a large tent.
Mr. Parker-Roth picked a brass statue off the mantel. His eyes widened and he chuckled. “Interesting decorations you have, Lady Anne.”
Monday, May 30, 2011
If you are in the U.S., today is Memorial Day. While the reason for the holiday is serious—all the more so with the current wars--the day also marks the official start of summer, at least in my neck of the woods. I'm sure many of my friends and neighbors are at the Maryland and Delaware shores frolicking in the surf or walking along the beach. Closer to home, the neighborhood pools opened Saturday, and the summer swim teams are gearing up for the start of practice. Thus I’m taking a break from posting chapter two of The Naked King—that will resume tomorrow.
Last weekend we were traveling—one reason I set the chapter to post. We left Friday and returned Tuesday and didn't sleep two nights in the same bed. First, son #2 graduated from law school. Here’s a shot of graduate and proud parents:
We were able to work things out so that everyone except son #4 gathered for dinner at a restaurant in Baltimore—3 of the 4 sons, one daughter-in-law and one fiancée. (This was the first time fiancée and d-i-l had met—I think they spent the whole meal discussing weddings and such.)
Son #4 couldn’t be with us because he had his own graduation festivities to attend. We headed north the next day to join him. The tradition at his college is to stay up all night to greet the sun—perhaps you can tell he participated by his somewhat groggy expression.
It was freezing in Boston—well, freezing for a thin-blooded Marylander—and graduation was outdoors, so I was happy to have my blue raincoat/fleece combo. I also hit the bookstore to stock up on warm stuff--knit gloves, padded stadium seats, and a blanket. We managed to make it through without shivering too much.
Now we’re home and I’m busy with promotion efforts for The Naked King—amazing to think the book will finally be out in the “wild.” In an attempt to spread the Naked word, I’ll be blogging all over the place. (Or so it seems to blog-shy me.) I’ll try to post links to those posts when I have them. The date of the first blog is still up in the air, but it might be today...
Friday, May 27, 2011
Chapter 2 (cont.)
Well, perhaps thinking wasn’t the issue. Her head insisted she should move away, but her body... She drew in a deep shuddery breath, filling her lungs with his scent, a heady mix of brandy, damp broadcloth, eau de cologne, and...man.
A heavy liquid warmth settled low in her belly.
Oh, God. She’d never felt this way before, even when she’d thought herself in love with Brentwood. It could not be good.
“I will see if I can train Harry to behave in a more gentlemanly fashion,” Mr. Parker-Roth was saying. “As I’ve been in London and Lady Anne’s been in the country, I haven’t had the opportunity until now to do so--and of course manners in the country are more relaxed.”
“Indeed they are, sir,” Lady Dunlee said, scowling at him, “but I hope manners are not so relaxed as to approve the behavior I just witnessed in the square. You know, if Lady Anne does not, that London society will not tolerate such conduct.”
Mr. Parker-Roth didn’t let Anne squeeze a word in. “I beg your pardon for my lack of decorum, Lady Dunlee. I can only plead temporary insanity. I’d not seen Anne in far too long.” Mr. Parker-Roth managed to look suitably contrite--he’d probably perfected that charmingly apologetic expression as a boy.
Good Lord, Lady Dunlee dimpled up at him. “Of course you have my pardon, sir, as long as I have your vow to control your emotions in the future. I quite understand the fervor of young love.”
Anne had to choke back a laugh, turning it into a cough. Lady Dunlee had at least forty, if not fifty, years in her dish. Young love must be a very faint memory.
“But I would be terribly remiss,” Lady Dunlee continued, “if I didn’t point out many people will wonder at this sudden betrothal. You can’t wish to make things more difficult for Lady Anne and her family.”
“Of course I don’t.”
Anne barely heard Mr. Parker-Roth’s words. Many people would wonder? What a horrifying thought.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Chapter 2 (cont.)
Lady Dunlee must have heard her snort and was now looking at her inquiringly.
“Er...” What to say? Lady Dunlee obviously expected something. “I do apologize for Harry’s behavior.” She was saying that a lot today, not that she meant it this time either--Lady Dunlee should have kept her cat inside.
“That’s quite all right.” Lady Dunlee turned to examine a naked statue of Apollo through her lorgnette. “No permanent harm done. Miss Whiskers has likely found her way home by now.”
“Then you’ll want to hurry off to let her in,” Anne said hopefully. She reached for the door, but Mr. Parker-Roth’s large hand grabbed the knob first.
Lady Dunlee tore her eyes away from Apollo’s fig leaf. “Oh, I’m sure my butler has already done so, unless Miss Whiskers chose to stay on the front step. She likes to lie on stone that’s been warmed by the sun. I image it’s quite cozy, don’t you?”
Anne blinked. She hadn’t ever considered the matter. “I...I suppose you are right.”
Lady Dunlee nodded. “Of course I’m right.” She stepped past Anne, but paused on the threshold to give her a stern look. “Before I leave, I must insist you keep your dog under better control in the future, Lady Anne. Miss Whiskers and I will not be pleased if we are constantly disturbed by the brute.”
Miss Whiskers had been the one doing the disturbing this morning, but Anne managed to keep from saying so. “Yes, indeed. I will try to keep Harry away from your cat.”
Lady Dunlee nodded toward Mr. Parker-Roth. “I’m sure your betrothed can help. Oftentimes large dogs need a man’s touch.”
“Exactly.” Mr. Parker-Roth wrapped an arm around Anne’s waist. “I’ll be happy to take Harry in hand.”
Anne stiffened at his touch. Lady Dunlee’s lorgnette had snapped up and her enlarged orb was now staring at his hand on her waist. She tried--halfheartedly, but she did try--to shrug out of his embrace, but he wouldn’t let her go. Instead his hand slipped a little lower so it lay on her hip just below her stays.
Oh! She felt each finger as if it were burning a hole through her dress and chemise. The hard strength of his arm and the warmth of his body all along her side made it very difficult to think clearly.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Chapter 2 (cont.)
Anne looked at her cousin. Clorinda had already returned to the book she’d been reading when Lady Dunlee, full of moral outrage, had barged in with them. “Coming, Clorinda?”
“Hmm?” Clorinda turned a page.
“Are you coming to see our guests out?”
Clorinda waved her hand vaguely, her nose still buried in her book. “You can do that without my help.”
“Very well. I’ll--”
“Just do be careful.” Clorinda marked her place with her finger to glance up at Anne. “Mr. Parker-Roth is very pleasant to look at, I grant you, but he’s also a bit of a rake. They call him the King of Hearts for a reason, you know.”
“Yes, I know.” And didn’t Clorinda know the man was standing in the corridor right behind her? Anne heard him choke back a laugh. Lady Dunlee snickered.
“Just thought I should put the word in your ear, Anne,” Clorinda said, returning to her reading. “Having spent your whole life in the country, you’re hardly up to snuff.”
“Thank you, Clorinda.” One didn’t need to come to London to learn about libertines, but Anne didn’t wish to discuss that topic whilst the current libertine and the queen of London gossip listened. She pulled the door closed behind her and avoided her guests’ eyes. “This way,” she said.
She started briskly toward the front of the house. She’d be extremely happy to see the back of Lady Dunlee--and Mr. Parker-Roth, too, of course. Once they were out the door, she could finally get on with her day. She’d planned to take her paints out early to explore the back garden, but first Harry had needed a walk and then the...incident with Mr. Parker-Roth and Lady Dunlee had occurred, and now she’d completely missed the morning light. Blast! As soon as her unwelcome guests had departed, she’d hurry upstairs and...
No, the way this day was going, she’d never be so lucky. The boys were sure to be into some kind of mischief--she almost hoped they were teasing Miss Whiskers again--and she was supposed to take Evie shopping. A proper come-out required an annoying amount of clothing.
She glanced over her shoulder. Lady Dunlee was peering around as if trying to memorize every detail her greedy little eyes beheld. Papa must not have invited her in on his rare visits to London. She snorted. Why would he? He might be more focused on Greek and Roman artifacts than English society, but he could recognize trouble when it lived next door.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Chapter 2 (cont.)
“Georgiana does share Papa’s passion,” Anne said, trying not to sound disgruntled. Papa and Georgiana never thought twice about taking off at a moment’s notice, leaving her to manage everything at home. She’d got used to it, but to expect her to handle Evie’s come-out as well... What in God’s name had they been thinking? She knew nothing about the London Season, never having had one herself, and it was clear to her Clorinda would be no help. And now with this nonsensical betrothal to complicate matters...
All she needed was for Brentwood to put in an appearance, and this disaster would be complete.
“And I really don’t see how you are one to talk, Clorinda,” Anne said. “You have your nose forever buried in some ornithological tome.”
“That’s an entirely different matter. I’m studying living, breathing creatures.” Clorinda sniffed. “Your father and the countess are pawing through history’s middens”--she wrinkled her nose in distaste--“picking through someone’s garbage.”
Mr. Parker-Roth cleared his throat.
“Oh, what is it?” Anne looked at the man in exasperation, but her damn heart stuttered the moment her eyes focused on him. He was so incredibly handsome. Women must stare at him wherever he went.
Idiot! Of course they stared at him--he was the King of Hearts. All the ton’s females vied for his attention.
“I don’t believe we need to take any more of Lady Dunlee’s time, do you?” Mr. Parker-Roth was saying. He tilted his head slightly toward the woman and raised his eyebrows significantly. “I’m sure she must have other commitments.”
“Oh.” Anne glanced at the annoying busybody. Lady Dunlee’s beady little eyes fairly glowed. Clearly she was gathering bits of gossip like a squirrel gathering nuts for the winter. At any moment her cheeks would start to bulge. “Yes, indeed. Please don’t let us detain you, Lady Dunlee.”
“Tut, tut. Don’t be silly.” She smiled as if she were some completely harmless matron. “As it happens, I have nothing pressing to attend to. Please, carry on. Just pretend I’m a potted palm.”
A potted palm with a tongue that runs on wheels. “I wouldn’t think of it,” Anne said. “I know you are a very busy woman.” Busy about other people’s affairs. She walked briskly to the bookroom door and opened it. Mr. Parker-Roth gestured for Lady Dunlee to precede him. The woman hesitated, but finally must have concluded--correctly--she had no choice in the matter. She dragged her feet, but she went.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Chapter 2 (cont.)
Truthfully, marriage shouldn’t be that onerous. This farce had saved him the annoyance of shopping for a bride--or having Mama shop. Once he was wed, he’d be off looking for plants on foreign shores most of the time anyway. It might even be convenient to have a woman on his estate to warm his bed and tend his children when they arrived. It wasn’t the marriage his parents had--it wasn’t the marriage he’d thought he’d have--but it was the exact sort of arrangement much of the ton enjoyed.
He studied Lady Anne’s expressive face. She was so full of emotion, she looked ready to explode. How would she look full of passion, naked in the center of his bed?
She should keep his nuptial bed very warm indeed.
“I know we aren’t ready to make a formal announcement, my love,”--she scowled at him--“but now that Lady Dunlee and your cousin have found us out...” He turned to the queen of London gossip. “We can ask you to keep our little secret, can’t we, Lady Dunlee?” He managed to keep a straight face at the absurdity of his request. He might as well ask the sun to change places with the moon.
“Of course.” Lady Dunlee’s eyes gleamed with excitement. “You can rely on me. I won’t tell a soul.”
Stephen believed her. She wouldn’t tell a soul--for however long it took her to toddle across the square to the house of her bosom friend and equally accomplished gossip, Melinda Fallwell.
“I still think the earl would have made it a point to say something to me if he’d known about this betrothal.” Miss Strange’s nostrils twitched as if she smelled something rotten.
What was the matter with the woman? His and Anne’s betrothal might be a complete sham but why would she wish to discuss that in front of Lady Dunlee? She must see the woman was dying for the smallest crumb of gossip, and here she was offering the gabble-grinder a veritable feast.
Stephen forced himself to smile. “I gather Lord Crane was in a hurry to catch his ship.”
“In a hurry?” Anne said. “That hardly describes it. Papa almost shoved us out of the carriage while it was still moving. He certainly didn’t pause to have a word with you, Clorinda.”
“No, he didn’t.” Clorinda nodded. “The man’s obsessed with bits of pottery and broken statues. Queer as Dick’s hatband about it, if you ask me--always has been. We were surprised he got his head out of the dirt long enough to marry your mother, Anne. And the current countess...she’s as daft about debris as he is.”
Friday, May 20, 2011
Chapter 2 (cont.)
“Betrothed?” All three women spoke together in the same tone of incredulity. They were like a damn Greek chorus. Three pairs of eyes goggled at him now.
“I’m sure you didn’t tell me you were betrothed, Anne.” Miss Strange’s tone was an odd mix of confusion and horror. “I would have remembered if you had. And your father didn’t mention it in his letter.” She paused, her brow wrinkling. “At least, I don’t think he did. I grant you he ran on so about his silly antiquities I did skim a lot of his missive.”
Anne tried to tug her fingers out of his grasp, but he wasn’t about to let her go. “I didn’t tell you, Cousin, because Mr. Parker-Roth and I aren’t--ouch!”
She glared at him accusatorily; he smiled. He was sorry to have squeezed her so hard, but he couldn’t let her ruin his attempt to save her reputation. Couldn’t she comprehend? All they had to do was fabricate something remotely plausible. Lady Dunlee might doubt their story--most likely would doubt it--but she couldn’t know for certain what the truth was. He and Anne would have all Season to convince her and the ton of their devotion.
He lifted Anne’s fingers to brush his lips over them--and smiled a little more as she blushed and tried again to snatch them out of his grasp. This charade might even be pleasant. And should it--as it likely would--end in matrimony... Well, he’d been thinking just this evening--or was it this morning?--that he needed to give in and look about for a bride. He’d just turned thirty, he’d narrowly escaped a marriage trap two months ago, and his older brother and younger sister were both wed and busily procreating. Hell, after his second bottle of brandy, he’d admitted to himself he didn’t much care to live out his life as old Uncle Stephen.
Not that he’d be given that opportunity, of course. When he’d been home for his nephew’s christening, Mama had been hinting--rather more than hinting--that he should embrace the joys of matrimony sooner rather than later, and with John and Jane both taken care of, she would turn the complete focus of her marital machinations on him--Nick was still too young, the lucky dog.
He’d laughed when he’d watched her drag John up for the Season year after year and push eligible young ladies into his path--he would not be laughing so heartily if he were Mama’s victim. Frankly, he’d been a little surprised she hadn’t followed him to London when he’d left the Priory after the christening. Thank God for baby Jack. But he had little doubt the joys of grandmotherhood would not supplant the duties of motherhood--as Mama saw them--forever.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Chapter 2 (cont.)
“No. I mean I didn’t.” Lady Anne’s complexion got even redder. “That is, he kissed me.”
The silence that followed this announcement was deafening.
“So the beast forced himself on you?” Miss Strange choked on the words. Two pairs of feminine eyes--Lady Anne had the grace to examine the floor at her feet--swiveled toward him.
“Er...” If he remembered correctly Lady Anne had been a very willing participant in that kiss. Surely he remembered correctly? He wasn’t that drunk--he’d never been so drunk as to take liberties with an unwilling woman.
“No, of course he didn’t force himself on me, Cousin,” Lady Anne said, her cheeks still bright red. “Don’t be ridiculous.”
Miss Strange patted Anne on the shoulder. “There, there. No need to be embarrassed. It’s not your fault.” She glared at him. “Everyone knows men are all too often driven by their baser instincts.”
Anne stepped away from her cousin’s touch. “You sound like the worst horrid novel, Clorinda. Mr. Parker-Roth did not attack me.” She shrugged one shoulder, looking most uncomfortable, but compelled by honor to tell the truth. “He may have initiated the encounter, but I didn’t exactly struggle.”
Not exactly. He bit back a smile. Not at all.
He cleared his throat, bringing the ladies’ attention back to him. He couldn’t let Anne dig herself deeper into a hole. A hole? Ha. He felt parson’s mousetrap yawning before him like a bottomless abyss, but there was no way to avoid it now; they might as well step in with as much grace as they could.
“Of course you weren’t struggling, dear heart.” Three jaws dropped at the endearment. “Why would you?” He moved to take her hand in both of his before turning to the other women. “My apologies, ladies, for letting passion rule my better judgment, but I’m afraid it’s been so long since I’ve seen my betrothed, I couldn’t contain my happiness.”
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Chapter 2 (cont.)
Lady Anne moaned--and not with suppressed desire. No matter. The sound, throaty and deep, caused his eager cock to grow another inch.
Blast it, this was most definitely not the time or place to entertain salacious thoughts concerning Lady Anne. They were in a very sticky situation. Lady Dunlee was by far the biggest gossip in London if not in all of England.
Miss Strange’s jaw had dropped almost to her slippers, and her throat worked exactly as if she were indeed a heron trying to swallow a large fish whole. “Ah, ah.”
“I fell.” Lady Anne had found her lovely voice again. “I wasn’t...there was nothing...” She took a deep breath and scowled at Lady Dunlee. “It was all your cat’s fault.”
Good God, didn’t Anne realize she was teetering on the edge of social annihilation by accusing the woman’s pet of misbehavior? It was akin to jumping in front of a speeding carriage. Lady Dunlee could--and likely would--take instant umbrage and flatten Anne’s reputation with just a well chosen word or two.
He cleared his throat. “Perhaps we should sit down and discuss the matter over a nice, calming dish of tea.” He’d prefer a large glass of brandy, but even his sodden brain knew he dare not ask for that. At least his dimensions had subsided sufficiently so he could risk Lady Dunlee’s scrutiny long enough to take a seat. In fact, other pains were overtaking the ache in his crotch. His shoulder and hip throbbed from where he’d landed on the pavement and his head threatened to explode. His knees felt a touch wobbly and his stomach was considering revolt.
The ladies ignored him.
Lady Dunlee had swelled up like an angry feline. “How can you possibly say Miss Whiskers is to blame for your sins?”
“Because she is to blame.” Lady Anne clasped her hands as though to keep from strangling Lady Dunlee. “And they aren’t sins.”
Lady Dunlee’s eyebrows disappeared into her hair. “Rolling around on the ground in passionate--”
Anne cut her off. “The entire incident was an accident. If your cat hadn’t darted past just then, Harry would not have taken off after her and pulled Mr. Parker-Roth backward, causing us both to fall.”
“Ah.” Lady Dunlee’s lips pulled into a rather dangerous smile. “And I suppose Miss Whisker’s presence somehow compelled you to kiss and caress Mr. Parker-Roth before your dog pulled you over?”