Skip to main content

The Spinster's Christmas - Chapter 7b #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 Christian Regency romantic suspense

Spinster Miranda Belmoore has become a poor relation in her cousin’s house. She determines to escape a life of drudgery and disdain from her own family members, who are embarrassed by her straightforward speech and unconventional behavior that does not match with proper society. She is beginning to believe what they tell her—that she doesn’t matter to anyone, not even to God.

Former naval captain Gerard Foremont is having difficulty adjusting to life back on land, bitter that his career has been cut short by his severely injured knee. A Christmastide houseparty with the Belmoores reunites him with his childhood friend, Miranda, but he is appalled at the verbal abuse she endures and wants to help her.

The festivities are disrupted when a cloaked intruder attacks Gerard, with Miranda as the only witness. Now the two of them must uncover who wants to harm him and why, before Twelfth Night ends in murder …

All the posted parts are listed here.

***

Chapter 7b

The servants began to serve the food, and Miranda was hard pressed to keep Paul, seated on her other side, from taking an entire leg of pheasant onto his plate. There was also roast beef, venison, goose, pork, pigeons, chicken, and fish. Miranda forced Paul to take some vegetables, which was much less difficult than it might have been had there not been so many to choose from, including carrots, lettuces, parsnips, celery, leeks, and cabbage.

Paul attacked his plate like a savage. Miranda considered admonishing him, but then decided that surely bad table manners were excused at Christmastide. Instead, she turned to her great-aunt. “Did Mrs. Seager’s son and his family come up from London?” She did not wish to open with the question she most wanted answered, and hoped to distract her aunt with her favourite topic—her neighbors’ affairs.

“No, not this year, for they are promised to his wife’s family. Mrs. Seager was feeling quite low when last I heard from her. And her nephew is in the navy, apparently fighting off a horde of mosquitoes in India, so her family gathering is small this year.”

Aunt Lavinia rambled on, not only about Mrs. Seager’s family, but also about the Drews, the Barnes, and the Wilsons as her mind wandered down its twisting trail of news.

During a lull in the conversation, Miranda asked, “Aunt, would any of your friends perhaps have need of a companion or governess?” She would prefer to accompany Ellie to the Foremont home, but she must still continue to search for a paid position that would enable her to escape Felicity, or the Beattys.

Her aunt’s eyebrows rose as her fork halted halfway to her mouth. “Good to see some pluck in you after all, my dear.”

Miranda smiled. “You will not mention this to Cecil?”

“Good gracious, why should I do that? I try to avoid speaking to the blockhead as often as possible. And his termagant of a wife is just as bad.”

“I do wish to find a position as soon as may be, perhaps even before Twelfth Night.”

“I know of nothing at the moment, my dear, but I shall speak to my friends about it when I visit them. You should have written to me earlier.”

“I feared Cecil would intercept your reply.”

“Ah, yes, the nosy man still goes through all the post, does he? He’s just like his father.”

Except that Cecil’s mother had been a soft woman, indolent but not unkind. Felicity had run roughshod over her mother-in-law.

“Have you spoken to the rector’s new wife?” Aunt Lavinia asked. “Mrs. Barnes wrote to tell me all about her. Mrs. Peterson apparently married to disoblige her well-connected family, at least until her husband’s older brother unexpectedly became heir presumptive to an earldom. She may have friends in need of a companion or governess.”

“I believe she is attending the ball tonight.” Miranda need only attend to the children after dinner before she could return downstairs to the ball.

Miranda had not attended the ball last Christmas, during her first year with Cecil after her parents died. Felicity’s youngest son had developed a putrid sore throat and so Miranda had nursed him throughout Christmas Day. He had complained bitterly at missing the Christmas pudding.

“Speaking of Mrs. Barnes, her great-nephew is now a lieutenant in the army,” Aunt Lavinia said. “She just heard from him in a letter. He was foolish enough to be bitten by a dog. She is quite concerned, for she wrote to me, ‘Lavinia, you never know about these foreign dogs. They may carry exotic diseases.’ And I must say, I do believe she is correct.”

Finally, the servants removed the dinner dishes and the candles were extinguished. The children began squirming in their seats and whispering to each other.

With dramatic flair, the butler entered the dining room bearing the large, mounded Christmas pudding on a platter, aflame with a blazing blue light, with flickers of scarlet and orange. Miranda could smell the burning brandy, which also carried the scent of citrus peel and sugar. The adults applauded while the children cheered. Carefully, the butler set the pudding on the table.

The enormity of the pudding ensured that everyone had a generous portion. As happened every year, there were cries of delight and dismay as people found on their plates the trinkets that had been stirred into the pudding. This year, Felicity was delighted to find the silver shilling, signifying wealth, while Lady Wynwood found the button for a lucky life and one of Aunt Augusta’s younger sons was disgusted by the ring he found, which predicted marriage. Perhaps most appropriately, Gerard received the miniature anchor, meaning safe harbor found.

Paul eyed Miranda’s plate, which had a larger portion of pudding than his own, so she traded with him. And then her fork hit something hard, and she pulled out the silver thimble.

She stared at it. Although she knew it was only a game, just a silly tradition, she wanted to burst into tears—she, who tried never to show her emotions, to simply present a mask of calm to all the world, as if the barbs and stings did not bother her in the least. This barb was perhaps one of the worst, and yet it was entirely accidental.

One of the children crowed, “Miranda’s got the thimble!”

There was a single heartbeat of surprised, uncomfortable silence around the table. Then Miss Church-Pratton giggled.

Felicity quickly hissed at her, and she was silenced, but her laughter caused some of the children to mimic her. Sniggers and whispers erupted, and while one or two adults hushed their children, they responded slowly to the reprimands.

Miranda’s face flamed like the brandy-soaked pudding. Yet why should she be embarrassed? She was a spinster, as the thimble signified, and it was no secret that such was her fate. Her own parents had not been able to induce a man to offer for her when she had had a dowry, before the crops had failed and her father mortgaged the farm.

But a clawed hand gripped her heart, squeezing and digging into it. She closed her eyes, focused on her breathing, tried once more to reclaim the equanimity that was the only comfort she now had.

She opened her eyes. She picked up the thimble with fingers that shook only a little and wiped it with her napkin. She said the first thing that came to mind. “How fortuitous. I had need of a new thimble.”

A different type of laughter rippled along the table, with perhaps some relief that the moment had passed.

She did not know why, but she dared to look down the table at Gerard. He was staring at her, his eyes thunderous, concerned.

Miranda held his gaze, then gave a small smile. The lines along his brow relaxed, although he did not smile back.

“Good show, my girl.” Aunt Lavinia patted her hand. “The thimble is not only for spinsterhood. It also is for thrift, a woman who saves.”

She gave a short bark of laughter, which might have had a hint of hysteria in it. “I have no money to save, Aunt Lavinia. And no household to save it for.”

“It is not always money. Women save many things.”

A small hand crept into hers from her other side. She turned to meet Paul’s fierce look.

“When I am old enough, I shall marry you, Cousin Miranda,” he said. “Then they shall see they ought not to have laughed.”

“You darling boy.” She kissed the top of his head and wrapped her arm around him briefly.

Then she bent low to whisper in his ear. “Let’s play Snapdragon near Miss Church-Pratton’s skirt.”

***

Sign up for Camy's newsletter

* indicates required

Buy The Spinster’s Christmas ebook!
Kindle
iBooks
Kobo
Nook
Smashwords
Google Play

Comments

Popular Posts

No Cold Bums toilet seat cover

Captain's Log, Stardate 08.22.2008 I actually wrote out my pattern! I was getting a lot of hits on my infamous toilet seat cover , and I wanted to make a new one with “improvements,” so I paid attention and wrote things down as I made the new one. This was originally based off the Potty Mouth toilet cover , but I altered it to fit over the seat instead of the lid. Yarn: any worsted weight yarn, about 120 yards (this is a really tight number, I used exactly 118 yards. My suggestion is to make sure you have about 130 yards.) I suggest using acrylic yarn because you’re going to be washing this often. Needle: I used US 8, but you can use whatever needle size is recommended by the yarn you’re using. Gauge: Not that important. Mine was 4 sts/1 inch in garter stitch. 6 buttons (I used some leftover shell buttons I had in my stash) tapestry needle Crochet hook (optional) Cover: Using a provisional cast on, cast on 12 stitches. Work in garter st until liner measures

I joined Sweet Romance Reads!

I just joined Sweet Romance Reads, a group of authors who all write sweet romances in a variety of sub-genres. I’m friends with several of the authors from my days writing for Harlequin/Love Inspired, so it’s nice to be able to join their group. If you’re on Facebook, this is their Facebook page , and this is their Facebook group . I posted my introductory post yesterday on the Sweet Romance Reads blog (Blogger), where I listed three strange things about me. Click here to read the post, and tell me three strange things about you!

ひとり寿司第22章パート3

「ひとり寿司」をブログに連載します! ひとり寿司 寿司シリーズの第一作 キャミー・タング 西島美幸 訳 スポーツ狂のレックス・坂井 —— いとこのマリコが数ヶ月後に結婚することにより、「いとこの中で一番年上の独身女性」という内輪の肩書を「勝ち取る」ことについては、あまり気にしていない。コントロールフリークの祖母を無視するのは容易だ —— しかし、祖母は最終通告を出した —— マリコの結婚式までにデート相手を見つけなければ、無慈悲な祖母は、レックスがコーチをしている女子バレーボールチームへの資金供給を切ると言う。 ダグアウトにいる選手全員とデートに出かけるほど絶望的なわけではない。レックスは、バイブルスタディで読んだ「エペソの手紙」をもとに「最高の男性」の条件の厳しいリストを作った。バレーボールではいつも勝つ —— ゲームを有利に進めれば、必ず成功するはずだ。 そのとき兄は、クリスチャンではなく、アスリートでもなく、一見何の魅力もないエイデンを彼女に引き合わせる。 エイデンは、クリスチャンではないという理由で離れていったトリッシュという女の子から受けた痛手から立ち直ろうとしている。そして、レックスが(1)彼に全く興味がないこと、(2)クリスチャンであること、(3)トリッシュのいとこであることを知る。あの狂った家族とまた付き合うのはごめんだ。まして、偽善的なクリスチャンの女の子など、お断り。彼はマゾヒストじゃない。 レックスは時間がなくなってきた。いくら頑張っても、いい人は現れない。それに、どこへ行ってもエイデンに遭遇する。あのリストはどんどん長くなっていくばかり —— 過去に掲載済みのストーリーのリンクはこちらです。 *** ********** 父に白い封筒を渡される前から、レックスの心臓は張り裂けていた——冷たい日本海で真っ二つに分かれる氷河のように、耳をつんざくような鋭い音がする。 (あなたを、ワサマタユ・スポーツクラブの男女混合および女子バレーボールチームに受け入れます……) その手紙にきちんと折り目をつけて、封筒の中に戻した。そして、膝を上げて横になっているソファの隣に置かれた、コーヒーテーブルに手紙を落とした。 彼女の入部を伝えるために、その日の午前中、ダレンから電話があった。 「ダレ