Story Sample Sunday: Setting the Background for Kent Ashton (Villain in Falling In Love With Her Husband)

story sample sunday

Today, I decided to write a brand new scene.  This takes place before Kent Ashton met Ann Statesman in Falling In Love With Her Husband.

I am trying to get into Kent’s mind to figure out why he did what he did in Falling In Love With Her Husband.  Below is a scene I just wrote in first draft form for your (and my :D) enjoyment.  I plan to write more in the weeks ahead because Kent is turning into a very sympathetic character….now that I’m beginning to see what was going on in his life.  So we’ll see how things progress as I go along.  🙂

kent's backstory

“Do I have to be go?” Kent Ashton asked his parents as the horse carriage swayed gently from side to side.

His father grumbled in irritation.  “We’ve already been over this.  The Johnsons are a good family, the kind of family you’d do well to associate with.  After the grief you caused us in New York, the least you can do is show us enough respect to please this family.  Mr. Johnson is a shrewd businessman.  He owns a thriving group of hotels.  If you make a good impression, he might hire you when you’re done with your schooling.  Then you’ll never lack for anything.”

“And after learning that your grandparents have left us next to nothing in their will, we need you to be wealthy,” his mother added.

His father’s jaw clenched.  “My father was a fool with money.  I can’t believe he squandered all of it on bad investments.  If he wasn’t dead, I’d…” He glanced at Kent and cleared his throat.  “Never mind all that.  We’re here for a new start.  We have a little wealth remaining, but it won’t last long.  I mean it, Kent.  Don’t tell anyone we’re one year away from poverty unless you marry a wealthy lady or get an excellent job.”

“Preferably, both,” she whispered, opening her fan and waving it.  “You can’t have us living as paupers, Kent.  That’s no way to honor your parents.  It’s best Wilma is back in New York.”

“So you’re saying I can’t marry someone I love?” Kent asked, hiding the bitterness in his tone as much as he could.

“Wilma came from a family of few means,” his father barked, his eyebrows furrowed.  “If you want to marry for love, then choose a lady who happens to come from wealth.  One lady is just like any other, and there’s plenty of wealthy ones to choose from right here in Virginia.”

No, every lady wasn’t the same as any other.  Wilma had been the only one who’d loved him for himself.  She’d seen past the riches his family had enjoyed.  She’d been like a breath of fresh air.  And now she was married to someone else, thanks to the way his parents manipulated things.  Kent looked out the carriage window, not really seeing the houses as the driver directed the horses down the street.  He couldn’t bear to make eye contact with his parents right now.  Not when he might give away his resentment.  Nothing would make a difference at this point.  He couldn’t go back and change the past.  Wilma was still married to someone else and always would be.  All he could do was continue on with his life and make the best of it.

The carriage came to a stop, and the driver opened the door for them.   His parents left the carriage first, his father shooting him a warning look.  When the driver turned his expectant gaze to him, he reluctantly stepped out of the carriage.  Before him stood one of the finest houses he’d ever seen.  Mr. Johnson was definitely a wealthy man.

“Let’s not keep him waiting,” his father said and took his mother by the arm.

Kent straightened his hat and suit jacket and followed them.  They climbed the steps to the porch, and he clasped his hands in front of him as his father knocked on the door.  He closed his eyes, hoping tonight would go well.  As the butler answered the door, he opened his eyes and forced a smile he’d been instructed to wear.

“Good evening,” the butler greeted, his tone solemn.  “May I ask your name, sir?”

“We are the Ashtons,” his father replied.  “Mr. Johnson has invited us to dinner.”

“Please enter.” The butler moved aside and waited until they stepped into the entryway before leading them to two french closed doors and opened them.  “You may wait here while I notify Mr. Johnson that you are here.”

Kent joined his parents and entered the large parlor.

“My goodness,” his mother whispered in excitement.  “Look at the fine furniture.  This chair alone must have cost a fortune!” She ran her hand along the velvet pink fabric on the arm of the chair.  “I’ve only dreamed of owning such a luxurious item.”

Kent rolled his eyes and sat in another chair.  He tuned his parents out as they gushed over the other expensive items in the room and made plans on what they would buy once he secured their financial standing.

Fortunately, it wasn’t long before the butler returned, bringing Mr. Johnson, his wife and two daughters with him.  As the butler left, Kent rose to his feet and waited to be introduced the man his father assured him would be the most important person in his life.  Mr. Johnson introduced his wife, and Kent made sure to compliment her on her dress as his parents had instructed.  If he could get into her good graces, his parents were sure that it would be easier to win Mr. Johnson over.

“This is my eldest daughter, Rebecca,” Mr. Johnson continued, “and my youngest, Joan.”

Kent ignored the way his father’s eyebrows rose.  He knew what his father was thinking.  Rebecca was his age, or at least close to it, and if Kent could be Mr. Johnson’s son-in-law, then the plan would be a sure thing.  Kent made eye contact with is father and gave a slight shake of his head.  His father shrugged and turned his attention back to Mr. Johnson.  Kent placed his hands behind his back and clasped them, squeezing as hard as he could so he wouldn’t give away his irritation.  He would never court Rebecca.  It wasn’t that she was homely.  On the contrary, she was very pretty.  But within a few seconds of meeting her, he could tell she had no substance.  When he chose a wife, she’d be someone he could at least maintain a decent conversation with.

“Dinner is ready,” the butler announced, approaching them.

“Good,” Mr. Johnson said with a wide smile.  “I hope you like lobster.  We had them brought in fresh this morning.”

“We love lobster,” his father replied.  “But you shouldn’t have gone through all that trouble on our account.  Lobster’s not cheap.”

“Nonsense.  We do nothing but the best for our guests.”

“We’re humbled by your generosity.” He shot Kent a meaningful look.  “We’re fortunate to be here tonight.”

“That we are,” Kent’s mother added, appearing way too happy about the evening.

“Good,” Mr. Johnson said.  “Then let’s eat.”

Kent waited until the others were heading to the dining room before he followed, thinking this was going to be a long and tiring evening.

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to other genres, but her first love is historical romance. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and a couple of children. To find out more about her books, go to
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10 Responses to Story Sample Sunday: Setting the Background for Kent Ashton (Villain in Falling In Love With Her Husband)

  1. jkominczak says:

    I’m so excited!!! I love that we get to see what shaped him to do the things he did. Yay!!!!!!!

    • I wish I had thought to do this sooner. I always thought Kent was a conceited jerk who needed the firm hand of discipline to set him straight, but he’s turning out to be entirely different from that. 😀

  2. lornafaith says:

    Love this scene, Ruth:-) Kent does sound a little nicer than he was in the book “Falling in love with her husband.” I can’t wait to read this book !

    • He was such a jerk in the book, but I now see that was because we only got to see him from Ann and Todd’s point of view. Now that I’m thinking of his point of view, I realized how wrong Ann and Todd were about him. LOL Isn’t it weird how you don’t know the character until you’re writing him/her?

  3. Judy DV says:

    Sniff sniff. Poor Kent. Isn’t this just like real life? We think we know people and judge them by what we see, and yet often we don’t know what is going on in their life that makes them this way.

    I have a character in my book, Evil Girl, not sure if she has any redeeming qualities and not sure why she acts like she does. I’m sure I’ll find out though.

    • It is a lot like real life. People see things from their point of view and make judgments about the person based on what they see. There’s usually much more to the story. I’m really glad I’m writing Kent’s story. In a way, he gets to be vindicated, though he still tried to kidnap Ann so he has to atone for that. He’s definitely flawed, but at least there’s hope for him.

      Some characters aren’t redeemable. Their actions are just too much to handle. Evil Girl might be one of those. Or she might surprise you and have something in her that sparks a redemptive quality in her. 😀

      I’m currently in Minnesota but will head back tomorrow. I plan to email you then.

      • Judy DV says:

        I mention this girl too often not to add some of her story. Hubby thought maybe alcoholic parents. But she don’t even flinch when she is told off. Hopefully she’ll let me know what her issue is. But she’s there now, so something more has to be said to tie up the loose ends. Drive careful, Ruth.

        • Maybe she’s built a wall around herself to act as if nothing affects her. If whatever happened to her was deep enough, I could see how she’d come off as not flinching when someone tells her off. There’s no harm in mentioning her too much at this stage in the game. Sometimes a character will keep popping up and I have no reason why until I finish the story and find out there’s a story I am meant to write for that character. I got a lot of complaints for mentioning Neil as much as I did in Eye of the Beholder (before I wrote His Redeeming Bride). But then I realized I had to put him in as much as I did for Eye of the Beholder because I was setting the stage for His Redeeming Bride. I didn’t realize it at the time, though. Writing is one of those things where the characters make their demands that don’t make any sense, but later on I’ve come to learn that they had a very good reason for going in the direction they did. My opinion is to keep writing her as she wants to be in the story. Who knows if something more will come of it? And if it turns out she has nothing else to her, you can always delete the stuff later. (It’s a lot easier to delete something than to have to go back and write it into a finished book.)

          Just my two cents. 😀

          Thanks. I plan to leave in a couple hours.

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