Friday, March 06, 2020

The Spinster's Christmas - Chapter 9b #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 9b

It was everything she had always dreamed it would be, and even better. His mouth was firm, and his hand snaked around her waist to the small of her back, pulling her closer to him. He kissed her as though she were precious to him, as though she meant something to him.

It was the first time she had been kissed. In all her girlhood, she had not been inclined to allow any boy such liberties while she yet pined for the young man away at sea, and as she grew older, the number of boys who wanted to kiss her had dwindled.

But those had been girlish fantasies, and she was now older and wiser. And no matter how she might wish it, this was no longer that idealized young man.

She pulled away just as he did. “Gerard.”

“I beg your pardon, Miranda.” He looked shocked at his own behaviour. “I ought not to have … I respect you a great deal …”

She drew upon all her strength, her deepest calm. “It was a mistake, easily forgotten.” She shivered. “We must go inside. I am cold.”

“Of course.” He offered her his arm and led the way back to the servants’ door.

The silence was awkward, and he broke it to say, “In the ballroom, you looked as though you were searching for someone.”

“Mrs. Peterson.”

“The rector’s wife?”

“I wish to ask her if she knows of any families in need of a companion or governess. In the event that you and Cousin Laura cannot convince your mother to allow me to accompany Ellie.”

He opened his mouth, but then closed it without speaking. Then he said, “You cannot speak to Mrs. Peterson tonight. She left an hour ago. The rector was feeling ill.”

“Oh.” And Miranda had spent that time looking for her, bringing herself to Felicity’s notice. She would find a moment to go to the rectory tomorrow.

She felt Gerard’s arm stiffen under her fingers, and that was all the warning she was given before they attacked.

Two men peeled themselves from the shadows, one on either side of them. Miranda gasped, then berated herself for not screaming to alert the servants as the man closest to her lunged for her. The other man swung a meaty fist at Gerard.

But Gerard ducked to avoid the blow and his cane came up to slash at the man. The attacker just barely avoided the tip of the cane connecting with his temple.

Miranda’s attacker had grabbed her hard around the waist. Her corset was not tightly laced, but it prevented her from twisting out of his grasp and it made it hard for her to draw breath for a scream. She tried to shout but it sounded feeble, and the man clamped a calloused, dirt-smeared hand over her mouth. She smelled grime and rotting meat, and gagged.

She kicked at him, but her slippers caused scant damage to his boot-encased legs. Flailing her arms only made him grunt and squeeze her waist more tightly. She couldn’t breathe, and her vision began to darken at the edges.

She then thought to bite at the finger nearest her mouth. She tasted blood and dirt.

The man cried out and pulled his hand away. She drew the largest breath she could, and screamed. Her attacker stiffened.

Gerard did not stop battling the other man. He wielded his cane like a sword, jabbing and swinging it in almost invisible arcs. But then a misstep on the flagstones caused his knee to wobble, and he stumbled.

His attacker saw his weakened knee and kicked at it.

Gerard cried out, the sound ringing off the outside walls of the house and the tall windows on the first floor. His face tight with pain, he fell to the ground. The man kicked at his knee again but missed, his boot sliding off Gerard’s shin.

Miranda had been kicking backward with her feet, at first hampered by her gown. Then her heel swung up and connected with something soft.

The man dropped her abruptly, and she tumbled to the ground. He clutched between his legs, his round face contorted with rage. He aimed a kick at her, but it was feeble and she rolled to avoid it.

Suddenly the servants’ door opened and two footmen ran out into the garden. They caught sight of the two men and shouted.

The attackers fled, using the shadows of the trees and bushes to disappear into the night. One of the footmen ran after them, but the other went to Miranda.

“I’m well. See to Captain Foremont,” she said.

Her heart clogged her throat. Gerard lay on the ground, clutching his knee, his face deathly white.

***

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