Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The last time Miranda had gathered greenery with Gerard had been sixteen years ago, the Christmas before he went to sea. He would be with the men and the yule log if his knee would have allowed him to keep up, or allowed him to ride a horse without pain.

He joked with Ellie and with the other children, but every so often, the distant sound of a man’s voice in the woods made him look up, and a harshness would settle over his face like a mask. Or rather, perhaps his cheerfulness was the mask.

--From The Spinster's Christmas in Mistletoe Kisses, 99 cents only until Nov 30th

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It was just a flicker of a glance that Miranda sent to Gerard before she looked away, but the certainty struck Laura like a blow. Miranda was in love with Gerard. It might be a girlhood crush, but the feelings were there, waiting to mature to true, deep affection.

Laura was no matchmaker, but a part of her wished for happiness for both Miranda and Gerard, both of whom were lonely in their own ways. And yet how could she convince Mary Foremont to allow Miranda to travel back to their home with them and with Ellie, knowing what she did about Miranda’s feelings?

Would she only be encouraging a situation that would result in heartbreak for Miranda?

Or would two hearts somehow find each other across the gulf of Miranda’s protective shell and Gerard’s bitterness?

--From The Spinster's Christmas in Mistletoe Kisses, 99 cents only until Nov 30th

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“My dear.” Laura stopped to take Miranda’s hands in hers. “It will only be for a few weeks, perhaps a few months. After Christmastide, I am promised to an elderly aunt in Northumberland, to help her organize the repair of her cottage. But once that is completed, you will come to stay with me in my townhouse in London.”

“Do you need a companion?”

“Not particularly,” Laura said cheerfully, “and I would suspect you would be a poor companion. You do not scurry nervously. And I have seen your embroidery, it is atrocious, so you would not be able to untangle your employer’s silks.”

--From The Spinster's Christmas in Mistletoe Kisses, 99 cents only until Nov 30th

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Monday, November 24, 2014

He’d heard from Lady Wynwood, who obviously disliked Miss Church-Pratton, that she had broken her engagement earlier this year to an officer who had been wounded at Corunna. However, the season in London had not resulted in a second engagement, and Gerard could tell that her charm had an edge of bitterness and desperation.

He had no intention of being her next matrimonial target. With his injury, he was in no condition to even consider a more far-seeing future. He must concentrate on the most immediate needs, namely being able to discard his cane and to relieve the burden upon his parents.

It was a cowardly thing to do, but he simply grasped at the first idea that came to mind. He took a small glass of wassail from the maid serving the punch at a side table and then wobbled on his cane, spilling the drink on his waistcoat. The scent of wine, nutmeg, and apples grew stronger, and he felt the warmth as the hot beverage soaked through his shirt.

“Oh, dear!” Miss Church-Pratton fished out her handkerchief, a thin lawn square the size of a playing card, and swabbed at his chest.

Her hand seemed to be touching a larger area of his chest than the spill, and he hastily stepped away from her suspicious ministrations. “I do beg your pardon, Miss Church-Pratton. I must change my waistcoat before it stains.” He turned and left.

--From The Spinster's Christmas in Mistletoe Kisses, 99 cents only until Nov 30th

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For the better part of the last half hour, Gerard had been staring up Cecil’s hairy nostril. It was most unpleasant, but Cecil had kept his nose upturned the entire time of their discussion here in the library, which had taken place directly after dinner. Gerard wondered that Cecil didn’t get a crick in his neck from looking down at all the world, all the time. Or perhaps Cecil simply had extraordinarily large nostrils.

“Regardless of what you say, I still see no need to remove Eleanor from my care,” Sir Cecil said, playing with pretentiously large silver paperweight upon his desk. “She is perfectly content here.”

--From The Spinster's Christmas in Mistletoe Kisses, 99 cents only until Nov 30th

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

She turned to leave, but he suddenly reached out and grabbed her hand. Neither of them wore gloves, and she felt the callouses of his fingers, the warmth of his palm. Somehow, his touch made her feel more substantial than she usually did in this household. He knew her, he saw her, where everyone else tried to forget her. She realized she had been getting used to the feeling of having lost her identity.

“I meant what I said,” Gerard said. “I am glad to see you. For me, you are part of the Christmas season.”

--From The Spinster's Christmas in Mistletoe Kisses, 99 cents only until Nov 30th

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

He said incredulously, “Felicity has barred you from the dining room?”

“Nothing quite so barbaric. You know how fanatically she values order and appearances. She does not wish an odd number of guests at table tonight.”

Gerard’s face grew thunderous. “That is outside of enough.”

“Gerard, I shall not be missed in the least.” While she knew it was true, saying it out loud seemed to hammer it into her chest with an hollow blow. No one would notice her absence, and indeed, some members of the party would even welcome it.

Her words seemed to have shocked him. Finally he sputtered, “Of course you will be missed. We all grew up together. It would not be the same without you there.” He checked himself, then added, “You and everyone else, of course.”

The spark of warmth that had involuntarily risen at his words was doused by the splash of reality. Gerard had never looked at her as other than a friend, and surely by now, after years apart, she had outgrown her childish infatuation with him. She gave him a rueful smile to hide her feelings. “Gerard, when have you known me to speak more than a dozen words at table? No one will pine for my brilliant conversational bon mots.”

--From The Spinster's Christmas in Mistletoe Kisses, 99 cents only until Nov 30th

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Friday, November 21, 2014

“Are you here to see Ellie?” she asked.

“Yes. I can hear the noise from the nursery all the way down the staircase.”

“All the children are excited to be with their cousins again.”

“I recall we were that way, at their age.”

She had lived for the times he had joined their large family gatherings. His father’s close friendship with her uncle Edward had enabled him to practically grow up with her and her cousins, at least until he went to sea. He had never known how much she cared for him, how she had pined for him with girlish tears. She was a girl no longer, but she still felt remnants of that wistful longing for him, that little gasp of excitement in her chest when he looked at her.

Gerard would never know. He must never know.

--From The Spinster's Christmas in Mistletoe Kisses, 99 cents only until Nov 30th

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He was careful in climbing the stairs, his good leg beginning to shake with the strain from the two flights of the grand staircase. When he finally reached the drawing room, Miranda had disappeared.

He lowered himself into a gold and white striped chair, but his leg gave out and he fell heavily into the seat, making it wobble on its delicately carved legs. He winced. Yes, Gerard, the quickest way to cultivate Cecil’s good graces is to break his furniture.

--From The Spinster's Christmas in Mistletoe Kisses, 99 cents only until Nov 30th

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Dorsetshire, England
December 23rd, 1810

“I am heartily sick of your complaining and moaning, you old woman,” Lady Wynwood told her companion lounging on the seat across from her in her travelling coach.

The “old woman” was in actuality a fit man in his fourth decade, a rugged face and easy smile hovering on the edges of his mouth. His jaw might not be as firm as twenty years ago, but he was still the handsome buck Laura had first met when she had her debut in London, and he knew it, too. “Reduced to name-calling, Laura?” Solomon Drydale drawled.

“Would you rather I simply open this coach door and boot you out of it?”

--From The Spinster's Christmas in Mistletoe Kisses, 99 cents only until Nov 30th

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