Friday, March 27, 2020

The Spinster's Christmas - Chapter 12b #Christianfiction #Regency #romance

I’m posting my Regency romance, The Spinster's Christmas, so all my blog readers get a chance to read it! It’s the Prequel novel to my Lady Wynwood’s Spies series.

A Regency romantic mystery

Miranda Belmoore has never felt attuned to the rest of society. Her family has never understood her blunt speech and unwillingness to bow to conventional strictures, and so they have always made her feel that there is something wrong with her. Now as a poor relation in her cousin’s house, she makes plans to escape a life of drudgery and disdain from her own family members.

Naval Captain Gerard Foremont is having difficulty adjusting to life back on land, frustrated that his career has been cut short by his severely injured knee. Guilt haunts him as he sees the strain his long convalescence has had upon his parents. As they spend Christmastide with the Belmoores, he wants to help fulfill his mother’s wish to have her orphaned niece come to stay with them.

However, an enemy has infiltrated the family party, bent on revenge and determined that Twelfth Night will end in someone’s death …

All the posted parts are listed here.

***

Chapter 12b

The coach jostled over the rough road, but the ride was not long and when they emerged, the sun had also emerged from the clouds to shine brightly upon the ice of the lake. Thick forest surrounded them on all sides, making the lake seem more isolated.

Servants had gone before them, bringing skates and the two sleds that could be pushed about on the ice. They had also created fires near which people might warm themselves, and were heating cider and chocolate.

He was surprised to find Miranda not yet at the lake, especially because many of the children had come in the first coaches and were now darting about on the ice. He did not see Ellie, either.

Gerard managed to maneuver carefully on the icy ground to one of the stone benches that had been built on the upward slope on the north end. He scanned the forest beyond, but saw no movement. Well, it would hardly do to have the trap he’d set be obvious, would it?

He had just dropped to the bench, his leg trembling, when another coach arrived and Ellie shot out of it, heading directly for the skaters.

“Ellie!” Miranda had emerged, but then she saw Lady Wynwood take Ellie in hand, helping her tie on her skates, and she relaxed. More children tumbled from the coach behind her, and she helped them with their skates.

In a few minutes, she had climbed up the small rise to sit beside him. “Isn’t it a lovely day? How does your knee feel?”

“Better.” He paused, then added, “I have not yet thanked you for the poultices. And the crutches.”

“Am I forgiven, then?”

“For what?”

“For not ignoring the extent of your injury.”

His brow knit, then smoothed. “Is that what I have been doing?”

“It is not an unusual failing. I often refuse to acknowledge to myself how ill I actually am.” She looked out at the skaters on the lake. “I am sure there are many people who would prefer that you be here, injured, than at the bottom of the ocean.”

“Yes.” His doctor in London had warned Gerard of the possibility that he would never walk without a cane. But even though he knew he should be grateful, he only felt …

“I know you feel shackled,” she said.

His throat tightened, and he couldn’t speak.

“I understand the feeling of being trapped,” she added. “But I have to believe that it will not last forever.”

“Do you feel trapped in Cecil’s house?”

She sighed. “Not trapped. I am grateful that he took me in, but …”

“Yes. But.” He understood that feeling.

“I feel sometimes as though I am aboard a ship,” she said.

“Do you?”

“We are all together in the nursery wing. I do not have days off, so I must take advantage of any time I can spend by myself.”

“Miranda, even servants have days off.”

“I am a servant who is not a servant.”

He reflected on that. On board, it had been difficult to find time to him self, but they had not been on duty all the time. “Things will be better when you come to stay with us,” he said.

But as soon as he said it, he realized he could not say with certainty that he could convince his mother. He knew Lady Wynwood had also been attempting to sway her, but after the attack in the garden, his mother had intimated that since Miranda had been there for both attacks, she could not allow her to accompany Ellie. He understood her concern, but was no closer to uncovering the truth. Had the two attacks been connected?

“Would someone wish to harm you?” he asked her.

She blinked several times before adjusting to the sudden change in topic. “I … I can’t think of anyone who would wish to do so. And I have been here with Cecil’s family for almost two years, but no one has attempted to hurt me before. There have been no mysterious accidents, such as those in gothic novels.”

He had to smile at her comparison. “No evil uncle attempting to force you into marriage?”

She laughed, and the sound rang out in the stillness of the woods behind them, mingling with the laughter from the group on the pond. Ellie, skating with Paul, turned at the sound, saw her, and waved.

Miranda waved back, then pulled her cloak more tightly around her. “I am glad the weather turned cold enough for the skating party. Ellie was quite looking forward to today.”

It was then that he noticed her neck was bare. “Where is your scarf?” He remembered the grey one she’d worn during the greenery hunting party, which she’d used to staunch the blood on Ellie’s forehead.

“It was too stained.”

“Have you no other? Here.” He unwound the red and black scarf from his neck and draped it around hers.

“I cannot take your scarf.”

“Maddox, like a mother hen, gave me two.” He pulled back the edge of his cloak to show the other scarf wound underneath. He then proceeded to tie it under her chin.

She had become still, as if she had stopped breathing, although she did not look at him. He was close enough to her to smell lavender and a hint of lemon. He might have taken longer than necessary to fasten the scarf, but he was reluctant to draw away from her.

He felt both rested and vibrantly alive when he touched her, even with the bulky scarf between them. It reminded him of the night of the Christmas ball, and the kiss they’d shared.

He wanted to kiss her again.

Last night, when she’d asked him if he loved her, for one glorious moment, he had considered saying yes. It had been completely mad but completely wonderful.

But then reason had intruded. Of course he could not have come to love Miranda in only a few days. He had known her since they were children, and he was fond of her, that was the extent of it. His emotions—frustration, anger, bitterness, restlessness, sadness, and a hundred others he couldn’t define—felt like the tangled silks in his mother’s workbag. He had no room for romantic love.

“There,” he said finally, and sat back.

“Thank you, Gerard.”

He reminded himself of the reason he had attended the skating party, the reason he had positioned himself here at the most remote end of the lake.

As bait.

“Oh, goodness,” she said. Paul had gotten into a squabble with Sally down on the lake. “I beg your pardon, Gerard, but I must separate them. They already had a frightful row earlier this morning.” She hurried away, and he suddenly felt a little colder.

***

Buy The Spinster’s Christmas ebook for only $0.99!
Kindle
iBooks
Koboicon

Subscribe to Camille Elliot's email newsletter

Get info on my latest Regency romance novel. I only send out an email when I have a new book release or a sale on one of my books.
* indicates required
Email Address




Email Format


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The Spinster's Christmas - Chapter 12a #Christianfiction #Regency #romance

I’m posting my Regency romance, The Spinster's Christmas, so all my blog readers get a chance to read it! It’s the Prequel novel to my Lady Wynwood’s Spies series.

A Regency romantic mystery

Miranda Belmoore has never felt attuned to the rest of society. Her family has never understood her blunt speech and unwillingness to bow to conventional strictures, and so they have always made her feel that there is something wrong with her. Now as a poor relation in her cousin’s house, she makes plans to escape a life of drudgery and disdain from her own family members.

Naval Captain Gerard Foremont is having difficulty adjusting to life back on land, frustrated that his career has been cut short by his severely injured knee. Guilt haunts him as he sees the strain his long convalescence has had upon his parents. As they spend Christmastide with the Belmoores, he wants to help fulfill his mother’s wish to have her orphaned niece come to stay with them.

However, an enemy has infiltrated the family party, bent on revenge and determined that Twelfth Night will end in someone’s death …

All the posted parts are listed here.

***

Chapter 12a

December 28th

The next morning, as Gerard lounged in bed wearing a banyan, Maddox asked in long-suffering accents, “Will you attend the skating party today, sir?”

He hesitated before answering. He had no wish to be cooped up, but he also had no wish to sit on the sidelines with the women, or worse, to be shoved about on the ice in a sled like an old man. It was also a jostling carriage ride to the particular lake that had frozen over enough for skating.

There was a knock at the door, and Maddox had no sooner opened it than Miranda's voice asked, “Is he giving you a bear garden jaw, Maddox? Or is he pouting and refusing to stir?”

“Neither, you heartless wench,” Gerard shouted to the open door.

“I have another poultice,” came the disembodied voice.

“I'll not have you freezing off my leg.”

“This one is warm.”

Gerard glowered at the doorway, then nodded to Maddox. The valet was not able to suppress a shudder as he took a cloth bag from Miranda. He bore it well ahead of himself, and Gerard understood why as he neared the bed. The cloth held a lump of steaming mash that smelled like boiled turnips and a mix of pungent herbs.

“That smells even worse than the ones before,” Gerard said.

The voice came from the doorway. “You would do well to be civil, Captain Foremont, lest Maddox accidentally spill that upon your person, allowing you to enjoy the aroma even longer.”

The corner of Maddox’s lips twitched, but his face remained impassive. “If you would, sir?”

Gerard pulled up his pantaloon leg and removed his stocking. However, as Maddox laid the mash on his knee, Gerard caught Miranda peeking into the bedroom. “Miranda!”

But she was extraordinarily unmoved by the sight of his bare limb. “Move it more over the leg muscle, Maddox,” she said. Somehow her undisturbed countenance soothed him. Perhaps it was simply the lack of fussing that he appreciated.

Suddenly there was movement at the doorway and Miranda’s head disappeared. He heard his mother’s voice, “Miranda, what are you—oh good gracious!” His mother halted in the open doorway, looking first at Gerard on his bed and Miranda just outside the room.

Gerard froze. Even with his valet here, this was highly irregular.

His mother saw the poultice, still steaming, then exhaled audibly. She swept into the room and promptly sat on the chair on the other side of Gerard's bed. “Pray continue, Maddox.”

Maddox finished wrapping the disgusting mash around Gerard’s knee. The strong scent burned his nose hairs, but he admitted the aches lessened considerably.

“Good Lord, that smells like a rat died on your leg,” his mother said.

“Thank you, madam,” he said.

“So, Gerard,” his mother said, for all the world as if a young unmarried woman were not standing outside his bedchamber, “will you join the skating party today?”

He had not intended to subject himself to the ordeal, but something in her expression made him wonder if he ought to do so. And he had a sudden idea as to how he might use the skating party to enact a plan that had been rattling about in his head for the past two days. “Had you intended to go?” he asked her.

“I shall not skate, but I will sit with you if you desire. You could also ride in a sled. Cecil will be bringing two of them, I believe.”

“Mrs. Foremont, you should ride in the sled with Mr. Foremont,” Miranda called from the doorway. Of course, being Miranda, she would not act as any other person and pretend that she could not hear every word.

His mother tried to ignore her. “I should be glad to sit with you, especially now that ...”

The heaviness settled on his chest. As an adult, he ought not to be a burden to his parents, to his mother in particular. Just as he had started gaining more independence, the attack had cast him back to the same situation of over a month ago.

“I’m certain Gerard will not lack for friends to sit with him. Miss Church-Pratton, perhaps?” Miranda peeked inside, and the look she gave him was completely unexceptionable, but he caught the devilish glint in those green eyes.

“Oh, this is ridiculous,” his mother said. “I refuse to converse with a doorway. Miranda, do come inside. Maddox, are you quite finished?”

“Indeed, madam.” His valet covered his leg discreetly with a towel as Miranda entered the bedroom. She was more hesitant than she had been last night with Ellie, but she sat quietly next to his mother. Maddox moved away and remained standing next to the open door.

“You should not curtail your amusement, Mrs. Foremont,” Miranda said. “As we know, Gerard becomes insufferable when his every whim is being fulfilled. We should not contribute to the dissolution of his moral character.”

He burst into laughter.

His mother blinked at him, then glanced uncertainly at Miranda.

“There you have it, Mother,” he said. “My immortal soul may be at risk.”

“Do not be irreverent, Gerard,” his mother scolded.

“I shall sit with him, ma’am,” Miranda said. “Surely you would rather spend time with your husband than your ill-tempered son. I am willing to sacrifice my head so no one else need do so.”

His mother hesitated, but then she suddenly smiled. She was more relaxed with him than she had been in a long time. “Gerard, I beg you not to bite Miranda's head off.”

“I will be on my best behaviour, I promise.”

Miranda rose. “Maddox, please wait a few minutes more before removing the poultice. Then you may convey your tyrannical master to the coach.”

“I am not a tyrant,” Gerard said.

“Gerard, don’t be ridiculous. Of course you are.”

He scowled at her.

She smiled, gave an elegant curtsey to him and his mother, and left the room.

His mother left soon afterwards. As Maddox helped him to dress, Gerard was forced to concede that his knee felt a great deal better. After giving the valet a message to send, Gerard made his way, on the crutches, to his parents’ coach, which would convey them to the lake. He was relieved to find his parents as his only companions, although it was because the cursed crutches were like another passenger inside.

***

Buy The Spinster’s Christmas ebook for only $0.99!
Kindle
iBooks
Koboicon

Subscribe to Camille Elliot's email newsletter

Get info on my latest Regency romance novel. I only send out an email when I have a new book release or a sale on one of my books.
* indicates required
Email Address




Email Format


Saturday, March 21, 2020

Come watch my church service streaming online tomorrow

I know this news is a bit last minute, but I volunteered to be a last-minute replacement for our church’s worship leader tomorrow, and our church service will be streamed online so if you’d like, come watch. It starts exactly at 9:45 am West Coast time, and the service runs for about an hour (it might be less).

For the first song, I’m singing one of my favorites, “Hills and Valleys” by Tauren Wells, which I’m actually rather excited about. It think it’s pretty appropriate for current events, but also I really love the message of the song.



I've walked among the shadows
You wiped my tears away
And I've felt the pain of heartbreak
And I've seen the brighter days

And I've prayed prayers to Heaven
From my lowest place
And I have held Your blessings
God, You give and take away

No matter what I have, Your grace is enough
No matter where I am, I'm standing in Your love

On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the One who set me there
In the valley, I will lift my eyes
To the One who sees me there

When I'm standing on the mountain
I didn't get there on my own
When I'm walking through the valley
I know I am not alone

You're God of the hills and valleys
hills and valleys
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone


I've watched my dreams get broken
In You, I hope again
No matter what I know
I'm safe inside Your hands

On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the One who set me there
In the valley, I will lift my eyes
To the One who sees me there

When I'm standing on the mountain
I didn't get there on my own
When I'm walking through the valley
I know I am not alone

You're God of the hills and valleys
hills and valleys
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone


Father, You give and take away
Every joy and every pain
Through it all, You will remain
Over it all

Father, You give and take away
Every joy and every pain
Through it all, You will remain
Over it all

On the mountains, I will bow my life
In the valley, I will lift my eyes

On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the One who set me there
In the valley, I will lift my eyes
To the One who sees me there

When I'm standing on the mountain
I didn't get there on my own
When I'm walking through the valley
I know I am not alone


No I’m not alone
I know I am not alone

You're God of the hills and valleys
hills and valleys
God of the hills
And I am not alone

You're God of the hills
The God of the valleys
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone

Friday, March 20, 2020

The Spinster's Christmas - Chapter 11b #Christianfiction #Regency #romance

I’m posting my Regency romance, The Spinster's Christmas, so all my blog readers get a chance to read it! It’s the Prequel novel to my Lady Wynwood’s Spies series.

A Regency romantic mystery

Miranda Belmoore has never felt attuned to the rest of society. Her family has never understood her blunt speech and unwillingness to bow to conventional strictures, and so they have always made her feel that there is something wrong with her. Now as a poor relation in her cousin’s house, she makes plans to escape a life of drudgery and disdain from her own family members.

Naval Captain Gerard Foremont is having difficulty adjusting to life back on land, frustrated that his career has been cut short by his severely injured knee. Guilt haunts him as he sees the strain his long convalescence has had upon his parents. As they spend Christmastide with the Belmoores, he wants to help fulfill his mother’s wish to have her orphaned niece come to stay with them.

However, an enemy has infiltrated the family party, bent on revenge and determined that Twelfth Night will end in someone’s death …

All the posted parts are listed here.

***

Chapter 11b

“Miranda?”

She had been drowning in her thoughts for too long. She forced a smile. “When will you return to Foremont Lacy?”

“It has been let because I was away at sea when I inherited it from my grandmother.”

“You used to talk about what you would do when you inherited it, the improvements to the house and farm.”

“Those were the boastings of a foolish boy.” He gave a half-smile. “I know now that I know nothing of farm management.”

“You can learn from your father. Isn't it like ordering your men aboard ship?”

“I suppose, but I would need to know the orders to give, else I would make the men completely bewildered.” His gaze drifted to his knee. “I had thought I would do all this when I was older.”

“Perhaps it is better to learn while you are young, and your father is young.” She hesitated, then said, “I know you are unhappy on shore, but I think you could come to enjoy it.”

“I shall have to, or life will be intolerable.” His voice was sad and only slightly tinged with bitterness.

“You have always risen to challenges. This will be as great a challenge as any you have faced on board your ship. Are you averse to running the farm at Foremont Lacy?”

“Not at all. I always expected to do so, and eventually take over my father's farm, too.” His gaze fell on his knee again. “Perhaps you are right. I will be able to ride a horse soon and can follow my father and his steward.”

She hadn't realized how tense her shoulders had become until they relaxed. She’d had no illusions that she would cheer him up immediately, but she’d hoped that the thought of Foremont Lacy as a place for him to escape would comfort him, especially now when he was hurting from the suspicions of his parents. “Or perhaps you will bowl along in a dogcart like Squire Bigsby used to do.”

“Good old Squire Bigsby. I would need a dog as mangy as his.”

“There is a litter in the stables. If you ask him, I am certain Cecil will give you the runt.”

“I would expect no less from Cecil.”

A roar of laughter from the Charades players filled the room. However, when the noise had died, Gerard turned to her with an uncomfortable set to his shoulders. “Miranda, I know you did not wish to speak of this, but we must.”

She knew what he wanted to speak about, and the flash of remembrance of his arms around her, his lips pressed to hers, involuntarily sent a tremble of joy through her. She did not expect to be kissed again in her lifetime, and Gerard's kiss would be her brightest memory. “We must forget it happened.”

“We cannot hide in the closet like we used to do and let the world pass by outside,” he said. “My actions have bound me to you. I will do the honourable thing.”

It was her escape from Cecil and from the Beattys, and yet she wanted to be honourable as well. It would be wrong to trap him into marriage, a man who did not love her, who would resent her. A marriage of convenience would be all her convenience and none of his. He had no need of a wife, no desire for one.

And even aside from that, she didn't want the honourable thing from him. She wanted passion and a friendship deeper than any other. And yet perversely, she could not take that step to open herself up to anyone. She had simply been alone for too long. “Gerard, do you love me?”

She thought she knew what she would see in his eyes, and had steeled herself for it. But she hadn't expected the warmth of his surprise. He was speechless, and so she rushed forward. “Of course you do not. I will not shackle you to a woman you do not love. It is not what I wish.”

“Miranda—”

“And Gerard, if you married me, your family would call me a fortune-hunter. Your mother would be so distressed.”

“Miranda—”

“So I have refused your proposal. You are free.”

He gave her a dry look. “I did not actually propose.”

“Oh. Well, I have saved you the trouble.”

“If you would allow me to put in a word edgewise, I would say—”

Some of the Charades players suddenly called his name, and Miss Church-Pratton crossed the room to tug playfully at his arm. “Come join us, Captain, do, for we believe the next clue has something to do with water.”

Miss Church-Pratton, of course, did not acknowledge Miranda's presence, and Gerard rose from his chair in response to her entreaties and those of the other family members. However, he surprised Miranda by leaning close to tell her, “We have not finished discussing this, Miranda.”

He collected his crutches and made his way to the Charades players. Miranda rose to leave the room, but he glanced at her as she paused in the doorway. It was as though he had reached out to touch her across that distance. Her heart pulsed faster.

She took a deep breath and then exited the room, almost running up the stairs. 

Why couldn't her girlhood infatuation have simply withered away? Why must he be so noble, and she so fearful?

Because yes, she was afraid of him. She was afraid of opening herself up to him. She was afraid that Gerard's fondness for her would dry up into a brittle embrace like that of her parents.

She would be grateful to him and the Foremonts if they would allow her to stay with them, but she could not stay for long. Once Ellie was comfortable, once Lady Wynwood was able to take her, she would go. She would find a position far away. She would never see him again, until he was old and married.

She stifled the sob that caught painfully in her throat, and hurried up to the nursery.

***

Buy The Spinster’s Christmas ebook for only $0.99!
Kindle
iBooks
Koboicon

Subscribe to Camille Elliot's email newsletter

Get info on my latest Regency romance novel. I only send out an email when I have a new book release or a sale on one of my books.
* indicates required
Email Address




Email Format


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Spinster's Christmas - Chapter 11a #Christianfiction #Regency #romance

I’m posting my Regency romance, The Spinster's Christmas, so all my blog readers get a chance to read it! It’s the Prequel novel to my Lady Wynwood’s Spies series.

A Regency romantic mystery

Miranda Belmoore has never felt attuned to the rest of society. Her family has never understood her blunt speech and unwillingness to bow to conventional strictures, and so they have always made her feel that there is something wrong with her. Now as a poor relation in her cousin’s house, she makes plans to escape a life of drudgery and disdain from her own family members.

Naval Captain Gerard Foremont is having difficulty adjusting to life back on land, frustrated that his career has been cut short by his severely injured knee. Guilt haunts him as he sees the strain his long convalescence has had upon his parents. As they spend Christmastide with the Belmoores, he wants to help fulfill his mother’s wish to have her orphaned niece come to stay with them.

However, an enemy has infiltrated the family party, bent on revenge and determined that Twelfth Night will end in someone’s death …

All the posted parts are listed here.

***

Chapter 11a

December 27th

After Miranda had put the children to bed after dinner, she entered the drawing room and immediately saw Gerard in the far corner. It seemed she could always find him in a crowded room, which was why she had noticed that he had seemed preoccupied all day.

It was more than the seriousness of the situation, or frustration that the men who had attacked them had not yet been found. There was a deadness in his eyes, and an increased tension along his jaw, which made her concerned about him. It was as though he was in deep pain, but not from his body.

Tonight, he sat with his mother while a large number of the party played at Charades in front of the roaring fire. His mother watched the players and laughed at their wild antics, but Gerard barely looked at them. He was not stiff, but he was stern. His mother occasionally spoke to him, but it was obvious to Miranda that they were both irritated, although perhaps for different reasons.

Miranda had never seen Gerard like this, but she imagined this would be his expression as he stood on board his ship, the implacable captain.

She sailed across the room. “Mrs. Foremont, I know how much you enjoy music. Wouldn't you like to join the glee that is forming?” Several of the older members of the party were gathering around the pianoforte for singing. “I should be happy to sit with Gerard.”

“I do not need a nursery-maid,” he snapped.

“I fear I know not how else to behave since I am a nursery-maid,” Miranda said sweetly.

He glared at her, but with a touch less irritation than before.

His mother’s mouth had fallen open as she looked first at Miranda, then at Gerard. Her surprise only lasted a moment, however, before she said, “There is no need, Miranda. My son is my responsibility.”

Her cold words made him look away.

Mrs. Foremont had never before been unfriendly to Miranda, but perhaps it was her resistance to allowing Miranda to accompany Ellie that made her seem more aloof. Yet whatever the cause, and whatever the outcome, Miranda could not bear to allow Gerard to wallow in his foul temper. Just as she had felt compelled to interfere with him yesterday, she wished to see him smile today.

“Mrs. Foremont, do leave your curmudgeonly son to me,” Miranda urged. “Although he needs a good clout to the head to knock him out of his ill mood, I shall do my best with rousing conversation.”

“I should like to see you try,” he growled.

“The clout or the rousing conversation?”

He glowered at her.

Mrs. Foremont’s eyebrows rose as she regarded the two of them.

“Gerard, it is of no purpose for us to be at loggerheads, because I always win.” Miranda gave him a superior smile.

Gerard grunted and put his chin on his fist.

Strangely, his mother looked stricken, as if by a thought that surprised her. But there was also a touch of meekness as she nodded to Miranda. “I leave you to your fate, Miranda.” Then she added with a saucy gleam in her eye, “If only to keep from laughing in front of my son and putting him even more out of sorts.”

Yes, there was the Mrs. Foremont Miranda was used to. Gerard’s mother swept away and Miranda took her seat. “There, did that make you feel better?” she asked Gerard cheerfully.

“I am not a child.”

“No, you are not. But you were upsetting your mother.”

“It was not my behaviour that was upsetting my mother,” he said in a low voice.

“What do you mean?”

He shook his head, but she reached out to touch the back of his hand briefly, where it lay on the arm of the chair. “You look as though you have been abandoned,” she said.

“I am hardly abandoned. On the contrary, I am never left alone.”

“Not physically abandoned, but perhaps emotionally.”

He moved his hand from hers. “You are mistaken.”

But she knew she was not. She recognized that expression because she had felt it herself for so many years. “While my parents were alive, I knew I was very different from them, and they could not understand me. So they stopped trying. And I felt abandoned.”

A muscle in his neck spasmed once, then stilled.

“I know they loved me,” she said, “and yet they were apart from me.”

He was silent, and she said nothing. She had never confessed that to anyone, and yet she had just spoken as if spilling a glass of wine into his lap.

When he spoke, she could barely hear him over the glee singers at the pianoforte and the rowdy yelling of the Charades players.

“They think I may have done something unsavoury.”

She had hardly expected that. “Of course you did nothing of the sort.”

He looked at her, but she could not read his expression. “You believe me.”

“I always believe you.” She said it without thinking.

Then he smiled. She took a short breath, and then calmed herself.

“My mother asked what I had done to cause those men to attack me.”

“Oh, Gerard.”

“Lately, my mother and I are constantly at daggers drawn. But I had not expected her to know me so little that she would ask that.”

“You have been away from your family for many years. And then you were in their company for your convalescence. You are no longer their little boy. You have changed—you can hardly help having changed—and perhaps it frightens them because you are now a man, and they are uncertain of who you are.”

You did not change.”

“You are wrong. I am very different.” She was no longer that schoolgirl, and yet she felt her woman's heart reaching out to him again as she had done when she was twelve.

Their eyes met, and held. He seemed frozen, but not surprised. He reached out, and while he did not quite cup her cheek, his fingertips trailed from her cheekbone down to her jaw. He touched her as if she were a delicate flower, the centrepiece of an arrangement. Except that she was nothing of the sort. She was Miranda, who had just blurted to him that she felt abandoned.

She turned her head away, and his hand dropped.

She knew all the reasons he would not choose her. She was impoverished and his family would not wish him to marry a fortune-hunter. He would not consider the complication of a relationship with any woman while his leg had not yet healed.

She knew all the reasons she should not feel this way. Too many people in her life had failed her, and she was not willing to take the risk with someone like Gerard, who could have any woman he wanted as his wife. She could never believe he could ever love her. She had always thought that perhaps something was broken inside of her, which prevented people from caring about her.

Which prevented her from being able to open herself to anyone.

And yet she could not stop herself from wanting him as she had always wanted him. He had always been brave and kind, and he was all that still, but the experiences of his life had given him a depth and understanding that had not been there before.

And she was falling in love with him all over again. She could not stop herself.

***

Buy The Spinster’s Christmas ebook for only $0.99!
Kindle
iBooks
Koboicon

Subscribe to Camille Elliot's email newsletter

Get info on my latest Regency romance novel. I only send out an email when I have a new book release or a sale on one of my books.
* indicates required
Email Address




Email Format


Friday, March 13, 2020

The Spinster's Christmas - Chapter 10b #Christianfiction #Regency #romance

I’m posting my Regency romance, The Spinster's Christmas, so all my blog readers get a chance to read it! It’s the Prequel novel to my Lady Wynwood’s Spies series.

A Regency romantic mystery

Miranda Belmoore has never felt attuned to the rest of society. Her family has never understood her blunt speech and unwillingness to bow to conventional strictures, and so they have always made her feel that there is something wrong with her. Now as a poor relation in her cousin’s house, she makes plans to escape a life of drudgery and disdain from her own family members.

Naval Captain Gerard Foremont is having difficulty adjusting to life back on land, frustrated that his career has been cut short by his severely injured knee. Guilt haunts him as he sees the strain his long convalescence has had upon his parents. As they spend Christmastide with the Belmoores, he wants to help fulfill his mother’s wish to have her orphaned niece come to stay with them.

However, an enemy has infiltrated the family party, bent on revenge and determined that Twelfth Night will end in someone’s death …

All the posted parts are listed here.

***

Chapter 10b

Gerard flattered himself that he was not a complete ass-head and agreed to take a dinner tray in his room. He thought the solitude would appeal to him, but the knock on the door as he finished eating roused his spirits.

“Come,” he called.

The door opened and Miranda peeked inside. “I have brought Maddox, and another poultice, and Ellie.”

“You will remain outside whilst I apply it, Miss Miranda,” Maddox said as he stepped into the room.

“I have seen your master in his shirt-sleeves often enough when we were children.”

“You are children no longer, Miss Miranda.” And Maddox closed the bedroom door.

His words reminded Gerard of last night—not the attack, but what had happened just before. He knew he ought to regret it, but he did not. Kissing Miranda had made him feel more anchored than any other time since he’d been back in England, even when he was home with his parents.

His emotions had been in turmoil because he was not whole, and while he was not as mad with frustration as he had been when he’d first awakened in the hospital, he yet resented the situation with all his being. He could not subject any woman to this, especially not Miranda, whom he had known nearly all his life.

And yet he had kissed her, a woman who was not his, who could not be his.

Maddox applied the poultice, which was blessedly warm this time, then covered his master’s limbs properly before allowing Miranda and Ellie to enter the bedroom. He left them with the door wide open.

“Isn’t it past your bedtime, miss?” Gerard said to Ellie.

“I wanted to play jack-straws with you,” she said, climbing onto his bed to sit beside him. She wore a dressing gown that was too large for her.

Miranda settled into a chair nearby. “Ellie could not sleep, so I brought her with me.”

So he played jack-straws with Ellie.

“You are cheating, miss,” he said after the first game.

“Am not.” Ellie yawned.

“I fear she learned to cheat from Paul,” Miranda said.

He gave Ellie a mock frown. “You are also a competitive little Captain Sharp.”

That she learned from Cousin Laura.”

In the middle of the second game, Ellie curled up on the bedclothes and went to sleep, her mouth slightly open, and breathing with a little whistle.

Gerard stared at her. “I must say that no woman has found me such a bore that she fell asleep on my bed.” He did not realize how warm that sounded until it came out of his mouth. He had been too long at sea, or perhaps he was simply too awkward with his tongue.

But Miranda was not offended, nor was she flustered by the scandalous comment—she simply began to pick up the jack-straws. “Perhaps you are being repaid for a woman’s broken heart,” she said lightly.

“I have not broken any hearts while at sea.”

Miranda did not reply, but gave him a sidelong look. Perhaps it was the bright color of her eyes, but he had never before seen an expression of greater incredulity.

“Upon my honour, I have not.” He had stolen a few kisses, certainly, all from women in foreign ports, but he had never compromised any of them—and several had been the ones to kiss him. He did not even know how to deliver those pretty speeches that women seemed to like.

But with Miranda, he had no need of pretty speeches. He could converse with her with ease. She did not make him feel uncomfortable or like a bumbling youth, as Miss Church-Pratton did.

And yet he had given her a gross insult, because she was a gently bred, respectable young woman. “Miranda,” he said slowly, “about last night, before the attack.”

“We agreed it was forgotten.” She turned her face from him so that he only saw the curve of her cheek, but she was cool and composed. It was as if the kiss had never happened. But then he saw the rapid rise and fall of her chest, and knew she was not unaffected. She was simply uncommunicative about it.

“Miranda, I am obligated—”

“No, you are not.” Her voice was higher than usual. “I beg you, put the events of last night from your mind. Or at least … those events.” She added, “Cecil is quite put out with us.”

“As if we were somehow to blame?”

“Cecil does not wish to appear indifferent, but he also has no wish to ride about the countryside searching for the two attackers, when he knows he will not find them. He does not like the way the situation makes him appear to the neighbors.”

“Save me from Cecil’s pride,” he groaned.

“Were the men who attacked us in league somehow with the woman in the woods?”

He had been wondering the same. “I don’t know. The men could be her cronies, or she may have hired them.”

“They attacked both of us. Was I still their target?” Her fingers tightened briefly on the jack-straws.

“There is no way to know. Perhaps they were not connected to the woman and I was their target.”

“You? But why?”

He shrugged. “I am simply a post-captain who lost his last ship. I have no influence, no inheritance of any worth.”

“But your property inherited from your grandmother? And also your father’s property?”

“In the event of my death, it all goes to my cousin, who already owns an estate twice as large.”

“Is there a possibility that the two men could be related to a man who died under your command?”

He thought of all the men who had died—too many faces. “Perhaps, but … I have been in the Royal Navy for sixteen years. There have been dozens of men who lost their lives.”

“But no one attempted to end yours while you were in the hospital in London,” she said. “If I wished to kill you, I would do it then, whilst you were weak or unconscious. Or I would contrive to poison your food. No one would know.”

He raised an eyebrow at her. “Miranda, I shall be sure never to incur your wrath. You are positively bloodthirsty.”

She ignored him. “Also, you were not attacked at home with your parents. This only happened when you arrived here.”

“So perhaps the two men live here. I must make inquiries, to discover if anyone has lost a loved one at sea.”

“You said you had a servant who could ask the local men whether anyone is newly come to the area.”

“I have sent for someone, but he has not yet arrived. Now he will have two pieces of information to ferret out.”

Miranda tucked the jack-straws in a pocket of her gown and moved around the bed to collect Ellie’s sleeping figure. “Those men could have attacked you because you were with me.”

“But they could have harmed you or taken you, and they did neither.”

She frowned as she carefully gathered Ellie into her arms. “I do not like that so much is unknown.” She froze. “Oh, dear.”

“What is it?” Had she thought of something he had not?

She nodded toward the bedclothes.

Ellie had driveled in a large wet spot in the middle of his bed.

***

Buy The Spinster’s Christmas ebook for only $0.99!
Kindle
iBooks
Koboicon

Subscribe to Camille Elliot's email newsletter

Get info on my latest Regency romance novel. I only send out an email when I have a new book release or a sale on one of my books.
* indicates required
Email Address




Email Format


Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The Spinster's Christmas - Chapter 10a #Christianfiction #Regency #romance

I’m posting my Regency romance, The Spinster's Christmas, so all my blog readers get a chance to read it! It’s the Prequel novel to my Lady Wynwood’s Spies series.

A Regency romantic mystery

Miranda Belmoore has never felt attuned to the rest of society. Her family has never understood her blunt speech and unwillingness to bow to conventional strictures, and so they have always made her feel that there is something wrong with her. Now as a poor relation in her cousin’s house, she makes plans to escape a life of drudgery and disdain from her own family members.

Naval Captain Gerard Foremont is having difficulty adjusting to life back on land, frustrated that his career has been cut short by his severely injured knee. Guilt haunts him as he sees the strain his long convalescence has had upon his parents. As they spend Christmastide with the Belmoores, he wants to help fulfill his mother’s wish to have her orphaned niece come to stay with them.

However, an enemy has infiltrated the family party, bent on revenge and determined that Twelfth Night will end in someone’s death …

All the posted parts are listed here.

***

Chapter 10a

December 26th

The day after the attack, Gerard awoke early in the morning to stabbing pain in his entire leg. His knee had swelled as large as the Christmas pudding, and the throbbing had kept him from falling asleep.

He had never been a docile patient, but injury had always made him feel like a baited bear, and inclined to roar just as loudly. Such was his peevish temper when his father’s valet, Maddox, entered his bedroom earlier than usual. Gerard should have been grateful he had come, but the agony in his knee had somehow traveled up his body into a headache raging against the backs of his eyeballs.

“What do you want?” he demanded.

“I have a poultice, sir, sent by Miss Miranda.”

“Well, you can take it away,” he said perversely. He ought to do something to alleviate the pain in his knee, yet at the same time he wanted to be left alone to suffer in silence.

“I believe she rose early this morning to make this for you, sir,” Maddox said, unimpressed by his master’s ill temper.

“Oh, very well.”

The valet folded back the sheets and gently rolled up his nightclothes to expose his knee. The cool air seemed to make the injured limb hiss. Then Maddox retrieved the cloth-wrapped bundle he’d brought into the room and laid it on Gerard’s bare skin.

“Maddox, that's an icicle!” he roared. “I thought poultices were warm.”

“It's what Miss Miranda gave to me, sir.”

It was uncomfortable, and it did nothing to improve his mood, although his knee felt slightly better after Maddox removed the poultice.

“Shall I fetch breakfast for you, sir?”

“No. I refuse to remain swaddled in bedclothes all day.”

The valet did not quite roll his eyes at him, but his expression clearly indicated his master’s son deserved a good spanking. “Very good, sir.”

However, when he attempted to walk from his bed to the dressing table, he only barely made it to the chair in front of the fireplace before collapsing, his knee throbbing and sweat running in rivulets down his face. The realization that his cane was no longer sufficient to support him made him want to fling it across the room, except for the fact that he didn't want to have to crawl to reclaim it in order to get back into bed.

“Perhaps if you would return to bed, sir?”

“Leave me alone, Maddox,” he barked.

However, at that moment came a gentle knock at the door behind him. He heard it open, and then Miranda’s voice said, “These are for your master, Maddox. I found them in the nursery attics.” The door had closed by the time Gerard twisted around to see what she’d brought.

Maddox held a pair of crutches. A more cowardly retainer would have acted with more caution, but Maddox bore the crutches aloft like a gift presented to the king.

Gerard was about to tell him where he could fling them, but bit his tongue. He exhaled long and low, then said, “Bring them here.” How had Miranda guessed the cane would no longer suffice?

The crutches were a trifle short, but they had been carved with wide stumps, no doubt to allow them to be used with ease out of doors. He ought to be grateful for Miranda's thoughtfulness, but they were a bitter reminder that he had cast crutches aside for his cane weeks ago, but must now take them up again.

Dressing was more of an ordeal than he anticipated, and he resentfully stumped out of his bedroom, determined not to remain cooped up despite his injury.

Miranda was in the hallway with Ellie. Waiting for him.

“Randa said you would not stay in bed,” Ellie said to him. “Let's play jack-straws.”

“I did not come out of my room to play jack-straws,” he replied grumpily.

“You came out of your room to test your new crutches,” Miranda said, calm and cheerful. “Let us walk with Gerard, Ellie.”

And of course he lasted no farther than the drawing room, where the women had gathered with embroidery and knitting while the men were out shooting. They erupted in cries of dismay and fluttered about as he sank onto a settee, cosseting him as if he were a babe.

“You shouldn’t be up and about,” Mrs. Hathaway scolded him.

“To think those men would attack you in the garden, of all places,” another woman said.

“They might have invaded the house and murdered us all in our beds.”

“They were more likely after the silver. Probably aided by an unscrupulous servant.”

“Well, Cecil has at least instructed the servants to be more vigilant in guarding the house.”

“Do sit here, Captain Foremont. Here is a cushion for your foot.” Miss Church-Pratton indicated the seat next to her.

“It’s his knee that’s bothering him, not his foot, you ninny,” said Lady Skinnerton acidly.

Miranda, the wretch, stood to one side and watched him, smiling faintly at his chagrin. It was as though she could read his mind—he'd rather have played jack-straws with Ellie. She had known he wouldn’t have the strength in his knee to make it to any other room in the house. Then she and Ellie left him to the tender ministrations of Miss Church-Pratton and Mrs. Hathaway.

***

Buy The Spinster’s Christmas ebook for only $0.99!
Kindle
iBooks
Koboicon

Subscribe to Camille Elliot's email newsletter

Get info on my latest Regency romance novel. I only send out an email when I have a new book release or a sale on one of my books.
* indicates required
Email Address




Email Format