For this Sunday’s Story Sample, I have to take a break from “Kent Ashton’s Backstory” (which has now hit novella status) because I have nothing new to post. I am working ahead in the story because my mind drew a blank on how I’m going to have to give Kent a proper motive to go to North Dakota to find Ann. Currently, I’m working on his point of view for the two scenes where Ann feels threatened by him.
That being the case, I decided to take a sample from His Reluctant Lady.
This scene takes place in Chapter 8, so quite a bit does happen leading up to this. However, this is one of my favorite scenes. 🙂
Christopher (aka Mister Robinson) is Perry (Lord Clement)’s ward. I introduced him in The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife. He’s the one who helped Claire disguise herself as a stable boy in hopes of going back to London. Agatha (Lady Richfield) made her debut in A Most Unsuitable Earl as Ethan (Lord Edon)’s secret friend who helped make things up about him in the Tittletattle so everyone thought he was a rake.
Tomorrow, I’ll give a “behind the scenes” look at this book. I’m currently in Chapter 18, which puts me pretty close to the end.
“You have a visitor, my lady.”
Agatha glanced up from her writing, her eyebrows furrowed. She wasn’t expecting anyone. “Is it my sister?” she asked the butler, setting her writing in her desk drawer then rising to her feet.
“No. It’s Mister Robinson. He said you were expecting him.”
“No, I’m not.”
Before she could tell the butler to send him away, Mister Robinson appeared in the doorway and said, “I have an important message from Mister Addison.”
Her heart stopped as she glanced at the butler. Her gaze went back to Mister Robinson who stepped halfway into the drawing room and crossed his arms. So he’d seen the tidbit in the Tittletattle and realized she was one of the contributors. She couldn’t tell if he was upset or amused. His expression seemed to be a mixture of both. Tapping her nails on the desk, she debated the best way to proceed. If she wasn’t careful, this wasn’t going to end in her favor.
“I assured your butler and footman that you’d want to see me,” Mister Robinson added with a penetrating stare, “given the circumstances.”
Taking a deep breath, she managed to smile at the butler. “You may leave us.”
The butler bowed and left.
She waited for a few tense seconds before she strode to the door and shut it, ensuring their privacy. When she turned around, Mister Robinson was right in front of her. Gasping, she stepped back. “A warning would be nice,” she said.
He leaned forward, his arms on both sides of her, sufficiently trapping her. She pressed her back against the door, but he was still too close to her. Despite her apprehension, she made eye contact with him. If she was going to face the consequences of her actions, then she’d do with her head held high.
“You found out my secret,” she said, hoping she sounded braver than she felt.
“I told you about the wager between Lords Davenport and Pennella in confidence,” he softly replied, his voice alarmingly void of emotion. “Do you realize how much trouble you’ve caused?”
She couldn’t tell what he was thinking by studying his face either. Clasping her hands behind her back, she squeezed her hands to help relieve the tension in her body. “What will you do?”
A slow smile spread across his face. “I’m going to give you a decision. Either you marry me or I tell everyone you’re Gerard Addison.”
Blast it! He was surprisingly conniving and even though she would lose no matter which option she chose, she had to admire his ability to pin her down. “If I marry you, then you won’t tell anyone I’m Gerard?”
“Your secret will go to the grave with me.”
“I don’t suppose you’ll give me time to think about it?”
“You have five seconds.”
“I meant more time, as in a couple days.”
He kissed the tip of her nose and chuckled. “Four seconds.”
She gritted her teeth. She had no choice. If word got out about her association with the Tittletattle, her reputation would be ruined. “Fine. I’ll marry you.”
“I thought you’d choose that one. You are, after all, an intelligent lady.”
“And you’re a persistent gentleman.”
“Who eventually wins when he wants something bad enough.”
There was no denying that. “And apparently, you read the Tittletattle.”
“Not as much as my friend Lord Edon does. You and Lord Edon are pretty close, aren’t you? I noticed the Tittletattle used to feature him on a regular basis. I didn’t think about it until after the Tittletattle was circulating through White’s, but it’s strange how he wasn’t featured after he got married.”
“Yes, well, his father-in-law insisted he be worthy of Lady Catherine.”
“Ah, that explains it,” he replied. “Have you and Lord Edon been lovers?”
“Good heavens, no. I have no desire to be with any gentleman that way.”
“But you’re a widow.”
“Yes, and that was enough to know my bed is no place for a gentleman.”
“So you didn’t enjoy it?”
Her countenance hardened as she lowered her gaze. “I hated it.”
“Why? What did your husband do?” he softly asked.
“Does it matter?”
“Immensely, since I’m to be your next husband.”
“If you wished to spare me any grief, you’ll find your pleasure with a mistress instead of me.”
With a sigh, he cupped the side of her face with one of his hands and titled her head so she was looking at him. “I don’t know the details of what he did or didn’t do, but I assure you that you’ll find pleasure with me.”
He kissed her, his lips gentle, sending a promise she knew he couldn’t keep. It wasn’t called a wife’s duty for nothing. And now she’d have to endure it with a gentleman who probably wouldn’t have a fatal accident.
He brushed her cheek then stepped back. “I’ll take my leave.” Reaching behind her back, he took her hand in his and kissed it. “Now that we’re engaged, I want you to call me Christopher. What should I call you?”
“Good because that sounds much better than Gerard.”
Despite the grim situation, a slight smile crossed her lips.
“It’s nice to know the lady has a sense of humor.” He kissed her hand again. “Until we see each other again, my dear Agatha.”
After he left, she released a shaky breath and headed over to her desk. She thought of pulling out her story to continue working on it, but she’d never be able to focus on it. She went over to the window and saw Christopher walking down the street. He looked immensely satisfied and she had to admit he was very clever. In the future, she wouldn’t make the mistake of underestimating him again.