Putting the Plan Into Action (Story Excerpt from Her Heart’s Desire)

In case anyone thinks Sally is the only one who’s coming up with this plan to get Rick interested in her instead of Ethel Mae, I thought it’d be fun to show that Ethel Mae’s involved in the scheme, too.  😉

Quick side note: This is as far as I got today when I wrote this, so I didn’t set up to leave it at such a cliffhanger.  Basically, Sally gets Rick to agree to pretend he’s interested in her in order to make Ethel Mae interested in him.

(As usual, this is a rough draft, blah, blah, blah.  I’ll clean it up later.)

***

On Sunday, Sally turned from the mirror over the dresser in Ethel Mae’s bedroom and said, “Larry and Samuel are your other two suitors?”

“Well, Samuel isn’t really a suitor. He’s supposed to be the one I’m most interested in because he’s been visiting Miss Keating.”

Sally’s eyes lit up with understanding. “I see what you’re doing. This way Rick will assume you prefer men who are interested in other women.”

“Exactly.”

“How did you come up with the names Larry and Samuel?” she asked, turning back to the mirror to make sure her hair was in place. The blond waves fell gently against her face and down past her shoulders. She pinched her cheeks so they’d be a nice shade of pink.

“I based them off characters I read in a book,” her friend replied as she adjusted the broach around Sally’s neck so it was straight. “There. That’s better.”

Taking a deep breath, Sally asked, “How do I look?”

“Beautiful. And how do I look?” She spun around in her old blue dress and shook her head so that more strands of her hair fell out of her bun.

“Like you’ve been spending all morning scrubbing floors.”

“Good!” She examined her reflection in the mirror. “Do you think I can do anything else to look horrid?”

With a sigh, Sally offered a sympathetic smile. “I’m afraid you’re still lovely. I doubt Rick will turn his eyes in my direction.”

“You’re lovely, too, Sally.”

“By the way he couldn’t take his eyes off of you last time, I don’t think he noticed.”

Her friend bit her lower lip and tapped her finger to her chin. “I must think of a way to get him looking in your direction. Your mother’s idea of bringing him out to supper at your place is a good one. I won’t be there, and he’ll have no choice but to look at you.”

With a slight grimace, Sally said, “Only if my brothers don’t ruin things for me. They teased me something awful when I took an interest in Michael a year ago.”

“To be fair, Michael did have a tendency to wheeze when he laughed.”

Unable to stop her lips from turning up, Sally added, “And he twitched a bit when he was around dogs. I never understood that one. He wasn’t allergic to them.”

“Oh, you’re better off without him anyway. Clara can have him, wheezing and twitching and nail biting and all the things he did.”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. It was actually cute at times. But you’re right. I’m better off because of Rick.”

“That’s right, you are. And when you get married to him, I’ll be the first in line to congratulate you.”

Vivian ran down the hall and burst into the bedroom. “Rick’s here! Do you want me to tell him that Larry or Samuel came by earlier?”

“No, I think he got the message when he was here on Thursday,” Ethel Mae told her sister.

Vivian sighed in disappointment.

Noting the girl’s enthusiasm for her part in their scheme, Sally said, “I know! You can tell Rick that Larry was asking me about your sister.”

Eyes lighting up, the girl ran out of the room.

Ethel Mae shook her head but smiled. “You’re positively awful.”

Sally shrugged. “Why not make him think Larry is hoping to make you jealous, too? You made Samuel and Larry up, so I might as well use them to my advantage.”

“I wish I could be with you and Rick when you do that, but I know this must be done behind my back so I am not aware of what’s going on.”

“Come on. I want to see him!” She hurried to the door and glanced back at her friend who shook her head once again so her hair was worse than before. “Are you ready?”

“No. But is that a surprise?”

“I suppose not. If a man came to visit me and I wasn’t interested, I’d dread it, too.”

“I hope our plan works.” She stepped up to her friend and motioned down the hallway. “I want him to see you first.”

Sally nodded and strolled down the hall, hoping her excitement at seeing Rick again wasn’t too apparent. It was one thing for her friend and Vivian to know how much she wanted him, but he must not know. She wanted him to think marrying her was his idea, and if she played her cards right, he would. As soon as she reached the parlor where Vivian sat across from him, she paused and peaked around the doorway. Ethel Mae slowed behind her, and Sally motioned for her to listen to them.

“Oh yes, Larry really wanted to speak with Sally,” Vivian said. “Too bad you didn’t talk to her first, but Sally hasn’t made up her mind yet on whether she’ll help Larry or not. You’d better make your move soon. My sister will believe one man is interested in Sally, but I don’t think she’ll believe two are.”

Sally’s jaw dropped and she looked at Ethel Mae who held her hand over her mouth so no one could hear her laugh. Sally knew what Vivian was trying to get Rick to take Sally up on her offer to make Ethel Mae jealous, but the way she worded that sentence made it sound like Sally didn’t do well with members of the opposite sex.

“I better go before they catch us talking,” Vivian told him in a whisper that was loud enough for Sally and Ethel Mae to hear. “I’m rooting for you, Rick.”

As soon as Sally saw Vivian stand up, she took a deep breath and entered the parlor with a smile on her face. “Hello, Rick.”

“Hello, Sally,” he said, standing up, his gaze going straight from Sally to her friend. “Hello, Ethel Mae.”

Sally resisted the urge to look at Ethel Mae with a “see what I mean about him being unable to draw his attention from you” message.

“Hello, Rick,” Ethel Mae said with a half-hearted smile. “Vivian, why don’t you help me get some refreshments?”

“Sure,” Vivian replied with too much enthusiasm for a ten-year-old who was just asked to do a chore. “I love helping out my popular sister who everyone comes to see!”

Since Rick wasn’t looking in Sally’s direction, Sally mouthed the words, “That’s enough.”

Vivian shrugged and skipped out of the parlor.

“Why don’t you two sit down and talk?” Ethel Mae told Rick and Sally. “I’ll be back with coffee and cookies.”

Sally nodded and sat on the couch, fully expecting that Rick would sit across from her as he’d done before when she last saw him, but he sat beside her. She tried to hide her pleasure that he chose to sit so close to her. Taking a deep breath to settle her excitement as much as possible, she asked, “How are you doing, Rick?”

“Fine.” Before she could say anything else, he whispered, “Do you know someone named Larry or Samuel?”

“I’ve met Larry, but I’ve only heard of Samuel.” She made a mental note to tell her friend all of this after he left. It wouldn’t be good if their stories didn’t match up.

“What is Larry like?”

“Didn’t Vivian tell you?” she asked, just in case Vivian slipped something in she needed to know.

“No. She just told me Larry is interested in Ethel Mae.”

“Well, it’s true. He is.” She waited for a moment before adding, “However, I think she’d do better to choose you.”

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to contemporaries romances and other genres (such as science fiction thrillers). For more information, please go to www.ruthannnordin.com or check out https://ruthannnordinauthorblog.wordpress.com.
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