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A favorite snippet - Poor Mr. Purdue

I finally finished writing my contemporary Romantic Suspense/Romantic Mystery novella, The Wedding Kimono! After a few days off, now I’m working on the next book in my Regency series, Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 4: Betrayer.

I didn’t realize this would happen, but a few months of writing a different book has booted me completely out of my Regency world. I tried starting work on Betrayer and realized I didn’t remember what happened at the end of Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 3: Aggressor! (I firmly believe any forgetfulness is due to menopause and NOT old age! LOL)

So I decided to read through books 1-3 again to fully immerse myself back in Lady Wynwood’s world. It’s been more fun than I had expected, especially when coming across little snippets like the one below.

This is one of my favorite passages from Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 1: Archer, and it takes place in chapter 2 (right after the end of the Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 1: Archer excerpt that I had posted here on my blog). I was reading it and it made me smile, so I thought I’d post it here to share it with you.

***

At that moment, she heard a crashing through the underbrush from the direction she’d come, and a man’s voice called out, “Miss Sauber?”

“Mr. Vernon?”

He appeared through the trees and spotted her, but his attention was immediately caught by her scruffily-clad companion. Distaste flitted across his face at Mr. Coulton-Jones’s appearance. “Are you … Is this man …” However, he was breathing so heavily that he could not finish his sentences, and he finally gave up and sank his hands into his knees and panted.

“I had not expected you to follow me, Mr. Vernon.”

“Miss Sauber … you are … dashed fast,” Mr. Vernon wheezed.

Considering she had been hampered by her corset, Phoebe didn’t think she had run quite that quickly. She had to wonder at Mr. Vernon’s stamina. When she had seen him in fashionable places like Hyde Park, he rode at a sedate pace like everyone else. She had never had the opportunity to ride with him in the country, so she did not know if he liked exercise or not.

Mr. Coulton-Jones, on the other hand, moved like an athlete despite his ill-fitting coat. But he had such a casual way of holding himself, it gave the impression he was rather indolent. Phoebe didn’t know why, but she suspected he purposefully wanted to give that impression.

Mr. Vernon finally managed to catch his breath and look up. Belatedly he asked, “Is this man … distressing you … in any way, Miss Sauber?” Mr. Vernon would normally be delighted to meet with Mr. Coulton-Jones, who was from an ancient family and also heir to his uncle’s baronetcy, but his costume had successfully hidden his identity.

Mr. Coulton-Jones responded in the country accent he had affected earlier. “I came to see what all the commotion was about.”

But Phoebe realized that his reply would not explain why she had remained chatting with a scruffy stranger in the middle of the woods. “Yes, and I recognized him as Mr. Purdue, an acquaintance from my home village.” The real Mr. Purdue was the starchy curate who was forever admonishing Phoebe to allow her tenants to starve rather than hunting game from her father’s woods for them. Having his name attached to another man’s disreputable appearance would annoy him to no end.

“Oh … er …” Mr. Vernon was clearly torn as to whether to greet the stranger or discreetly ignore his presence.

Phoebe smiled smugly at Mr. Coulton-Jones, as if to say, I have done my part. What will you do now, I wonder?

A twinkle appeared in Mr. Coulton-Jones’s eyes as he took up her unspoken challenge. Before her astonished eyes, his entire gait and physicality changed—his face suddenly appeared at least a decade older, and his hunched shoulders and stooped posture gave the impression he was uncomfortable in the face of Mr. Vernon’s wealth and social status. He timidly stretched his hand out to Mr. Vernon while saying, “How do you do?” in an even thicker country accent than before. If she hadn’t seen through his makeup before, she would have thought he truly was a complete stranger to her.

Forced to greet “Mr. Purdue,” Mr. Vernon couldn’t stop a grimace as he very briefly touched the dirty hand with two glove-clad fingers. “Er … yes … indeed. Were you perhaps with the man who ran away?”

“Oh, no, sir. I didn’t see him. I came this direction because I heard the screaming.”

Mr. Vernon frowned. “Such a racket he was making.”

“But if you were wondering,” Phoebe said with a trace of sarcasm, “he appeared uninjured.”

Mr. Vernon nodded absently and glanced around the small clearing. “Miss Sauber, I feel I should mention that it is improper for you to be meeting this person in this secluded place. We should return to the archery party.”

Phoebe pressed her lips together so she wouldn’t retort with something outrageous such as, I was just deciding to elope with Mr. Purdue in order to escape your insufferable presence at the archery party.

Or, But I haven’t yet hidden the body of the man I just shot.

Or, Mr. Vernon, it would improve my mood greatly if you would hold perfectly still whilst I connect my fist to your rather large nose.

She sighed and instead said, “Mr. Purdue was helping me recover my arrow.”

Strangely, Mr. Coulton-Jones gave her a sidelong glance and his mouth twitched in amusement, as if he knew she had wanted to say something completely inappropriate.

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