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Author: Sherry Ewing (Page 1 of 3)

The Willing Widow’s Club

Mrs. Cassandra Vaughn lounged comfortably in an overstuffed chair within her salon. Her friend, Mrs. Patience Moore, was in the process of pouring them both a cup of tea. If someone had told her four years ago she would have two women living under her roof who had fallen on hard times, she would have laughed. Lucky for her, the Earl of Drayton knew how to settle his accounts. When they had ended their association, he had gifted her with a substantial amount; a vast sum that allowed her the luxury of not having to take another lover in order to keep herself in the manner to which she had become accustomed. The divine man… too bad he was now so happily married.

“However shall we tell her?” Patience chewed on her lower lip before she realized what she was doing. She poured another serving of tea. “The poor dear will be devastated.”

How indeed? Cassandra pondered accepting the china cup from Patience. “I will handle the situation as delicately as possible. If I can survive having my name splattered across that rag of a newspaper, then she shall survive too.”

A snort came from Patience. “If you had had better sense all those years ago, you would have never been following Lord Drayton in the park in the first place. I ruined a good pair of shoes scampering to keep up with you.”

“Leave it be, Patience,” Cassandra warned whilst images of Neville carrying Lady Gwendolyn Sandhurst flashed through her mind. Odd how all these years later the scene still hurt. But this… her eyes went to the open paper on a nearby table. Such news would be devastating to anyone. It was one thing to be labeled mistress. It was entirely another to be labeled a woman of the streets as the article all but implied.

Any further thoughts on how to explain the unfortunate incident plaguing her this morning came to an abrupt end with the sound of a soft knock upon the door. With the call to enter, the door squeaked open on its hinges.

Mrs. Moriah Hernshaw entered the room clutching a shawl around her morning gown. Her eyes were red-rimmed giving testament to her lack of sleep. A shaky hand ran up to her dark black hair in an attempt to tame the unruly tresses. She failed.

“Come sit with us,” Cassandra prompted pointing to the vacant chair.

“You are too kind, Mrs. Vaughn. How will I ever repay your generosity at taking a total stranger into your home?” Moriah asked as she all but fell into her seat.

“You may start by calling me Cassandra,” she answered holding up her hand to put an end to any argument on the subject. “Since you shall be staying with me for an undetermined amount of time, I must insist.”

“Very well,” Moriah replied.

“I just know we shall become the best of friends,” Patience declared holding out another cup of tea. Cassandra peered at the woman who looked as though there was nothing wrong and this was just a friendly tea party.

The silence stretched between the women for several minutes as they became lost in their own thoughts and drank their tea. Moriah began to fidget in her seat as though she was uncomfortable sitting down. It dawned on Cassandra that the woman may be concealing injuries she dared not tell her when she showed up on her doorstep in broad daylight.

“It is none of my business what that brute did to you but I do worry he caused you more pain than you are letting on,” Cassandra prompted.

Moriah paled, turning as white as the china cup that rattled in the saucer she held. She set the cup down on the table. “I will mend.”

“You must be more selective in the future about whom you take to your bed, my dear. I know you have fallen on hard times, but I was most concerned for your well-being when Lord Drayton discreetly asked if I would take you in. Are you perhaps friends with his wife,” Cassandra asked taking hold of the woman’s hand.

“I believe his wife is acquainted with my dear friend, Lady Grace Lacey.”

“I see,” Cassandra replied.

“Is it not a small world,” Patience said brightly.

Cassandra rolled her eyes giving Patience a look to remain silent. The woman was so trying at times.

“I do not want you to think less of me, Cassandra, but the gentleman in question forced himself upon me. He did not like my refusal when I told him I would not take him as my lover,” Moriah continued on.

“The swine,” Cassandra hissed. “That would explain much I fear.”

“I do not understand. Has something happened?” Moriah inquired. Her brow furrowed with worry.

Cassandra rose and went to pick up the latest edition of the Teatime Tattler. “The good news is that the article is buried on the fifth page. The bad news is this bit of gossip will spread throughout the ton by mid-day.

Moriah took the paper and began to read aloud.

This just in…

A certain Mrs. M.H. has recently been spotted having a bit of sport in nearby Hyde park, if the leaves stuck in her hair and dress are any indication as to how she spent the afternoon. She was also seen sneaking into the house of Mrs. C.V. and we all know this woman’s reputation, despite the fact no one has noticed her becoming any man’s mistress recently. Perhaps the two women have now become partners in their quest to find wealthy benefactors or will head to the cheaper side of town and take a shilling or two for payment for their wares. Curious minds want to know what will become of these willing widows.

Moriah gasped. “I am ruined.”

“I have no doubt your gentleman friend, and I use that term loosely, gave them such rubbish to print.” Cassandra took the paper from Moriah’s hands and tossed it aside. “But we shall survive such drivel.”

“I will never be able to hold my head up and face Society. And Grace,” she cried out. “What will she think of me when she see’s the latest edition?”

Cassandra went over to the sideboard and poured a draught of sherry. She handed the drink to Moriah. “If she is your friend, she all ready knows this is but a bunch of lies. You have nothing to be ashamed of. The lady will understand.”

“I hope so. I would hate to lose her friendship over something I had no control over,” Moriah replied downing the drink in two gulps.

Patience came over to give Moriah a hug. “We could look at the bright side of this,” she declared with a laugh.

Cassandra scowled. “I hardly find this situation humorous, Patience.”

“Can you not see it now, Cassie,” Patience purred. “Why they will be saying we belong to the Willing Widow’s Club. Why gentlemen will be lining up at your door just to get a look at us!”

Cassandra and Moriah both stared at the woman as though she had lost her mind. Moments later the three women broke out into laughter.

“Well, I suppose they cannot think any worse of us than how the article portrayed us,” Moriah chuckled.

“We might as well give them something more to talk about. Let’s go shopping,” Cassandra said. “Any bad situation I have ever been involved in always looks better after I’ve bought a new bonnet.

Laughter echoed in the air as the three women went to ready themselves.


This is an original piece with secondary characters from two of Sherry Ewing’s stories. Cassandra Vaughn can be found in Sherry’s new Regency series, Nothing But Time: A Family of Worth, Book One. Moriah Hernshaw can be found in A Kiss For Charity which first appeared in the Bluestocking Belles’ 2016 box set, Holly and Hopeful Hearts and is now available for individual sale.

Sherry Ewing picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical and time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time. You can find all of Sherry’s books on the tab above or on her website at www.SherryEwing.com.

Someone Always Sees

Lady Constance Whittles made her way across the crowded ballroom after finishing a lively dance with none other than the dashing Lord Digby Osgood. She had taken delight with the free time allotted her since she no longer worked at the bookshop. She was more than please with any opportunity to get to know the gentleman further. She might as well take advantage of every moment she could spend in his company before she began her new position at Miss Clemens’s Oxford Street Book Palace & Tea Rooms.

Digby led her over to a chair near a window where a slight breeze blew in through the open balcony doors. “Wine or punch?” he asked once she was seated.

“Punch would be divine,” she said with a parched throat.

“I will be right back. Do you mind if I have a brief conversation with Frederick before I return? I see he just arrived with Margaret?”

“By all means, go right ahead. I shall be fine here watching the dancing until your return.”

He gave a brief bow and disappeared through the crowded room while Constance snapped open her fan to bring relief to her flushed face. She was not sitting alone long before she heard the quiet whisperings of two women behind her in the darkened entryway. She did not mean to overhear their conversations but they made no attempt to quiet their voices. Most likely they thought the music would dim their gossiping from traveling any further than between them.

“How could you not have heard such distressing news, Abigail?”

A loud sigh was heard. “Good heavens, Prudence. You have the latest news on any given hour of the day. How am I supposed to keep up with you on whatever bit of gossip that is none of my business in the first place?”

With a discreet glance behind her, Constance held back the urge to roll her eyes. The Danver sisters… She had met them on several occasions in the bookshop. They were relatively harmless creatures, yet the elder of the two had a penchant for wanting to share whatever tidbit was been bandied about without much thought. Thankfully her younger sibling kept her in check.

“This is not gossip but fact and is regarding the son of our hosts,” Prudence continued.

“Lord Drayton?”

“His brother is too far young to be of much interest… yet. Of course this is about none other than Neville Quinn.” The sound of a small slap was heard. “What was that for? You hurt my arm.”

“You are over exaggerating, I barely touched you. Besides, beware you are not overheard addressing him so informally lest you wish to be the next one people are talking about,” Abigale scolded.

“Pish, posh! I think not. Besides, I would not dare let my reputation be ruined because I was having an affair.”

“Whatever are you talking about, Prudence?

“Honestly, Abigail, do you know nothing of what is going on around you?”

“Apparently not, but I have the distinct feeling you shall fill me in.”

“Lord Drayton is having an affair with a married woman.”

Laughter came from the younger sister. “Is that all? Look inside, sister. Half the men in that room are probably having an affair or have taken a mistress.”

“But Abigail, do you not wish to hear with whom he─”

“No, not really,” Abigail stated. “Let us return to the ball. I am sure we can find something more interesting to converse about.”

“No husband of mine would ever dare have an affair on me,” Prudence muttered.

“If my husband attempted such, I would see him gelded. He would not be much use to anyone after such a fate,” Abigail added with a laugh.

The two women moved on leaving Constance to ponder their words, not that she would be one to spread their tale further. She noticed when Lord Drayton entered the room with two other gentlemen Constance was unfamiliar with. He looked on edge as though he took no pleasure at being in attendance at his parent’s event. He gave a meager smile towards his mother before moving from Constance’s view.

Lord Digby returned with her punch and after a few sips, they moved onto the dance floor. The Danver sister’s conversation still lingered in her mind causing Constance to wonder the fate of the poor woman who must have stolen Lord Drayton’s heart.

This is an original piece by Sherry Ewing for her upcoming release. Nothing But Time: A Family of Worth, Book One is available for pre-order for $2.99. Release date: May 16, 2017. You can learn more about Sherry on her page here with the Bluestocking Belles or on her website at: www.SherryEwing.com.

Blurb:

They will risk everything for their forbidden love…

When Lady Gwendolyn Marie Worthington is forced to marry a man old enough to be her father, she concludes love will never enter her life. Her husband is a cruel man who blames her for his own failings. Then she meets her brother’s attractive business associate, and all those longings she had thought gone forever suddenly reappear.

A long-term romance holds no appeal for Neville Quinn, Earl of Drayton until an unexpected encounter with the sister of the Duke of Hartford. Still, he resists giving his heart to another woman, especially one who belongs to another man.

Chance encounters lead to intimate dinners, until Neville and Gwendolyn flee to Berwyck Castle at Scotland’s border hoping beyond reason their fragile love will survive the vindictive reach of Gwendolyn’s possessive husband. Before their journey is over, Gwendolyn will risk losing the only love she has ever known.

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Bio:

Sherry Ewing picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical & time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time. Always wanting to write a novel but busy raising her children, she finally took the plunge in 2008 and wrote her first Regency. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Beau Monde & the Bluestocking Belles. Sherry is currently working on her next novel and when not writing, she can be found in the San Francisco area at her day job as an Information Technology Specialist. You can learn more about Sherry online here:

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Missing his cue

Lord Adrian de Courtenay entered the billiards room and scanned the guests already in attendance for the afternoon’s tournament. He thought this was to be a game between gentlemen. Given the number of women and children in the room, the event was apparently open to any and all who were visiting Hollystone Hall.

Noticing his sister Grace had as yet to arrive, his gaze landed on the young miss who had been following him for several days. Lady Celia Lacey was a pretty little bird who would one day become a true beauty once she left childhood far behind. He would admit, if only to himself, he had enjoyed the few encounters when their paths had met, for she acted far older than her fifteen years.

Lady Celia was the niece of the very same gentleman who thought Adrian and Grace were married, not brother and sister. The man was a fool to let a simple misunderstanding stand between him and Grace, and worse to give her no opportunity to rectify his misconception. As Adrian continued to examine the room, it was as if Lord Nicholas Lacey knew where Adrian’s thoughts had led. Grace’s gentleman eyed him warily whilst sizing up the table for his next shot. Adrian did his best to hide a smirk of satisfaction knowing he could so easily get under the man’s skin just by appearing in the room. He wondered how far he could push him.

Wishing to test his theory, he made his way to Lady Celia, whose face lit up as he drew closer. “Lady Celia, how lovely you look this afternoon,” he crooned in a sweet tone. “Why, the sun and stars must surely shine brighter knowing they gaze upon you from their place in the heavenly sky above.”

Nervous giggles escaped both the young lady, and her sister, Lady Alice, who stood next to her. “You are too kind, my lord. Will you be joining in the tournament?” Lady Celia replied, snapping open her fan to wave it in front of her flushed face.

What a becoming blush, he thought as he gave her what he considered his best smile. It really was a shame she was not older. “Perhaps, if I can find a willing opponent.”

“Pick someone. There are plenty here waiting for a chance to play.”

Her eyes sparkled as she gave him the challenge, leaving Adrian to wonder if he should consider asking her. Instead, he turned his attention to the window and noticed the weather. “I am surprised to see you indoors on such a pleasant day. I would think a stroll in the gardens with the other ladies, no matter their condition this time of year, would be more to your liking.”

“I am here to watch my uncle, but perhaps afterwards I shall take your advice,” she said.

Maybe a small distraction would not cause too much harm, he thought. “Would you care –”

“Excuse me, Lord de Courtenay,” Lord Nicholas interrupted, giving Adrian a slight bump when he brushed up against him while moving to the same side of the table as his niece to continue his assessment of the balls left on the table.

“My apologies, Lord Nicholas,” he replied. Taking a step closer to Lady Celia, Adrian took her elbow to move her slightly out of the way. He leaned closer to whisper in her ear. “We must not distract your uncle from his game. We would not want him to lose now, would we?”

“Of course not,” Lady Celia murmured. As she raised her face to his, Adrian was momentarily startled. She was too innocent to know she revealed her emotions with just one glance in his direction with her lovesick eyes. This may have been only a game to set her uncle’s nerves on edge, but he was not one to dabble with the affections of a young impressionable woman still in the school room. No, best not to encourage her. His early thought of escorting her outside, vanished for he did not wish to hurt her feelings.

Just as he was beginning to wonder how he would get himself out of the situation he put himself in, Grace solved his dilemma by entering the room.

Lord Nicholas was too preoccupied with lining up his shot to notice Grace was present. Adrian smirked, knowingly. Just as the man drew back his arm to make his play, Adrian called out loudly. “There you are at last, Gracie darling.” He watched in satisfaction as Lord Nicholas completely missed the cue ball. “Will you excuse me, Lady Celia?” he whispered for her ears alone.

Adrian made his way to his sister, gave her what would appear as an affectionate kiss on her cheek, and then proceeded to drape his arm around her shoulder pulling her close.

“Whatever are you up to, Adrian,” Grace said quietly, “as if I could not guess, considering who is here?”

“I have no idea what you are talking about, my dear,” he replied stiffly, watching Lord Nicholas who now was talking with his nieces. He looked none too happy with the young lady Adrian had just left whilst Celia continued to stare in his direction. “It is hardly my fault Lord Nicholas missed his shot.”

“I am not necessarily talking about the tournament, Adrian, and you very well know it. What are you doing looking all moon eyed over his niece,” she all but hissed, taking him up task. “She is far too young for you.”

Regret for the small part he played in furthering Lady Celia’s infatuation with him, he took Grace’s elbow and went to the farthest corner of the room. “I was only having a bit of fun with your beau, Gracie.”

“He is not my beau,” she hissed, even as Adrian put an arm up against the wall all but capturing her in the corner. Such a gesture gave the impression of an intimate conversation between them. “Stop it, Adrian.”

“Why should I?” he asked. “If Lord Nicholas is a fool to think we are married then let him see we are a happy couple. It will make for such an entertaining event when he finally learns the truth.”

“You are horrible to tease him but what is even worse is for you to be giving any form of attention to that poor young girl who clearly thinks she is in love with you!”

Adrian whirled around. Sure enough, Celia’s face registered her disappointment and confusion whilst she continued to watch him before her uncle escorted her from the room. “Very well, Grace. I shall concede your point about Lady Celia by no longer encouraging her attention, but be warned. Lord Nicholas is still fare game.”

It would be several years before Adrian’s path would cross again with Lady Celia Lacey.


 

Adrian de Courtenay and Lady Celia Lacey are secondary characters in Sherry Ewing’s novella, A Kiss for Charity which is part of Holly and Hopeful Hearts, a Bluestocking Belles Collection. 25% of the sales benefit the Belles’ mutual charity, the Malala Fund.

A KISS FOR CHARITY ~ Young widow, Grace, Lady de Courtenay, is more concerned with improving her mind than finding another husband. But how was she to know that a close encounter with a rake at a masquerade ball would spark her interest and make her yearn for love again?

Lord Nicholas Lacey has been on his own for far too long after losing his wife in a tragic accident. After a rare trip to a masquerade, his attention is captivated by a lovely young woman. Considering the dubious company she keeps, perhaps she might be interested in becoming his mistress…

From the darkened paths of Vauxhall Gardens to a countryside estate called Hollystone Hall, Nicholas and Grace must set aside their differences in order to let love into their hearts. It will take more than a dose of holiday cheer to see these two on the road to finding their happily-ever-after and a kiss for charity may just be what they both need.

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Miranda makes her move!

A Lady Correspondent had not intended to eavesdrop. Truly. She was just sitting in an alcove catching her breath and, it must be admitted, admiring the two Grenford brothers who were leaning on a pillar just in front of her. She could not help but see Miss de C accost them. She could not help but overhear all that transpired. At one point, she nearly spoke up, as horrified as the target of the brothers’ focused attention, but no. Surely Miss de C would be most embarrassed to know anyone else had witnessed her humiliation. She sank back into the shadows. But was she not planning to write the story for the Teatime Tattler? No. No she was not. However she disguised the name and circumstances, everyone here tonight would recognize the event to which she referred. The brothers had been careful of the silly girl’s reputation. She could not destroy it.

Miss Miranda de Courtenay took one last look into the mirror, adjusted her domino mask, and left her room. There was no turning back now. Her mind made up, she prayed her brother Adrian would not remove her from the ball the moment he set eyes upon her scandalous costume of a Greek goddess. If she were to win her bet with her sister Grace, she needed to make an impression on the man whom she had chosen as her target. She had no desire to lose that wonderful bonnet her brother had brought her from Paris and she already looked forward to winning the bottle of perfume from her sister.

Entering the ballroom, she had a moment of hesitation as her eyes quickly scanned the occupants of the already overflowing room. She took a deep breath, wondering if she could truly pull off an outside appearance of confidence when deep inside she was a nervous wreck. I can do this and must remember my purpose, she thought, whilst her gaze continued to flit across the crowd. Ah ha! There he is. There was no mistaking the handsome form of none other than the Marquis of Aldridge, along with his brother, the equally devastating Lord Jonathan. ‘Gren’, he had asked her to call him, and surely such an intimacy must mean he intended to propose?

She shrugged. Either man would do. She pushed back her shoulders and began advancing toward the two gentlemen, one of whom was leaning upon a pillar looking utterly divine. Neither man had a costume other than their evening attire and the masks placed upon their handsome faces; one white, the other black. Perhaps this is what set these two gentlemen apart from any other within the room, for they needed no other enhancement to draw attention to themselves. She had chosen wisely when she set her cap. Inwardly she sighed, wondering how she would feel once she actually received a proposal of marriage from the man known as the Merry Marquis.

Grace’s warning that she should stay far away from this man in particular flashed through her mind, but she ignored it. She dropped down into a proper curtsey, hoping against hope that the men found her attractive as she knew she appeared.

“Good evening, my lords,” she purred. “Were you perhaps looking for me?” She was unprepared for the smile that made her insides churn in a wave of nervous jitters. Being on the receiving end of the Marquis’s charm was deeply disturbing.

His voice was pitched to carry just as far as her ears. “Why, Miss de Courtenay, how delightful you look. Aphrodite herself come to enthrall us with her beauty.”

Her cheeks flushed with heat causing her to question her own stupidity for wearing such a daring gown. But it obviously had the desired effect and could only serve as one step closer to winning her bet. “You are too kind, my lord,” she said offering her hand.

Gren leaned forward to whisper in her ear. “What a charming blush. I would love to see how much of you it covers, my dear.”

A gasp escaped her. How could it not? For all she pretended to act as if she knew all there was to know about men, she was an innocent at only twenty years of age. Miranda instantly became aware that Grace may have been correct when she warned her about this pair. She could feel the warmth of the man’s breath as he lingered near her ear.

She glanced down at her gown and was shocked at how much of her cleavage was there for his viewing pleasure since he towered above her. Good heavens, she really was a fool to have chosen this costume but the die was cast and she had no one else to pursue in her attempts to win what she was now thinking a silly and foolish bet.

Raising her chin, she took hold of her fan and playfully slapped the gentleman’s arm. “My you are a bold one, are you not?” she teased, all the while wondering how she was going to get herself out of this mess she was in and still save face with her sister.

“As are you, my sweet,” Gren said. “And I admire boldness. Do not you, Aldridge?”

“Indeed. Boldness in a woman is highly desirable,” Aldridge agreed, his lids half closed, his voice husky. “Exactly how bold is she, Gren, do you think?”

Miranda glanced between the pair. This was not exactly how she thought this conversation would be leading. Perhaps, if she could just get the marquis alone for a moment, she might still be able to get him to offer for her. Surely he would be swept away by her beauty and propose on bended knee in no time at all.

She turned her full attention to the gentleman, all but ignoring his brother. Rude, perhaps, but this was a matter of grave importance. “My Lord Aldridge, perhaps you could spare me a moment to have a private word with you, just there, by the alcove?”

“Oh no, my dear,” Aldridge said, lifting one aristocratic eyebrow over twinkling eyes. “We must be more careful of your reputation. I would not for the world risk your good name ─ or your brother’s good health.”

“Fie, Aldridge,” Gren scolded. “How would the child know the way these things are done? She is very young still.”

“It will be my pleasure to school her,” Aldridge murmured, his words for his brother, but his eyes captivating Miranda’s and not letting them go. “Very much my pleasure. And hers, too, of course.”

Eyes wide and turning scarlet, she could barely breathe at the implication of his words. Right here, of all places, on the sideline of the ballroom for any and all to hear. Good heavens!

“My Lord, I─” Her lips snapped shut. Any further response was beyond her, as she felt, not just Aldridge, but his brother as well step closer, one to each side of her. When had this situation become completely out of her control?

“But you will share, Aldridge, will you not?” Gren asked. “After all, Miss de Courtenay’s lures have been as much for me as for you. And we have shared a mistress before”

Aldridge nodded. “It is only fair to the lady. The duties of the duchy will prevent me from giving her the devoted attention I used to be able to pay my lovers.”

Miranda’s head swiveled between the pair of brothers. She opened and closed her mouth several times before she was at last able to squeak out some form of a response. “Sh-share?” she stammered. Her hand rose to her throat as if that would cover her embarrassment and heaving bosom.

“I assure you, good sirs, that I am not yours to be,” she quickly looked around so she was not overheard and whispered, “shared between you.”

“Aldridge has grown stuffy,” Gren assured her. “If you were our mistress, my love, I would make sure you never felt neglected.”

“Mistress? Between you?” she cried out in alarm. All thought of trying to squeeze a marriage proposal out of either man was gone as she tried to wrap her thoughts around their outrageous proposition.

Both men frowned, straight eyebrows drawn down over identical hazel eyes. “You would prefer just one of us?” Aldridge asked.

“I suppose that’s fair,” Gren said to his brother. “I dare say she is still an innocent, despite the way she has been pursuing us. She might struggle to meet the needs of us both.” He turned back to the gasping maiden. “You choose then, Miss de Courtenay. Whose mistress would you like to be?”

“I will not be any man’s mistress but a wife,” she huffed, stamping her foot as though that would drive her point home. She looked between the pair and still could not believe they would offer such a proposition as to actually be their mistress. What a fool she had been!

“Grace was right about you,” she whispered gazing directly at Aldridge, as if he were the root of all her problems. She hated to admit she had knowingly brought this whole ghastly situation upon herself with her own sense of arrogance and pride. Humiliation consumed her even as tears welled up in her eyes, both from embarrassment and frustration that she had lost the stupid bet with her sister. At least she still had her virginity intact. God help her if she stayed any longer with this dangerous pair before her.

With tears rushing down her face, she mumbled an apology and dashed from the room, barely even acknowledging Grace when she entered the ballroom. She would have been appalled if she had witnessed her sister’s silent toast with her glass of wine to the gentlemen she had just left.

Aldridge and Gren returned Grace’s salute with a nod and a smile, but Gren’s eyes are clouded. “Poor innocent,” he commented. “I didn’t expect it to upset her so much.”

Aldridge pursed his lips. “She might act like a vixen on the hunt, but she is no more than a foolish kitten. Our agreement with her sister had us honour-bound to offend but not injure.”

Gren grinned. “I kept to my lines, Mr. Propriety. The frown returned to crease his brow. “But I am sorry for the silly chit.”

“Better hurt feelings and pride than ruination,” Aldridge said. “If she’d tried her tricks in London some rogue would have had her out in the garden or off in some secluded library before her brother or sister knew she was on the loose. Yes, and flat on her back with her skirts up whether she wanted or not, with some of the people you and I both know. We have done her a favour, Gren.”

“We’ve won Grace her bet, that’s certain,” Gren concedes. “Though I imagine she is happier to have her sister safe than whatever fribbet they wagered.”

Mission accomplished, the two brothers begin to move through the ballroom, still talking. They were sons of the hostess, and Mama would expect them to mingle.


ABOUT HOLLY AND HOPEFUL HEARTS

When the Duchess of Haverford sends out invitations to a Yuletide house party and a New Year’s Eve ball at her country estate, Hollystone Hall, those who respond know that Her Grace intends to raise money for her favorite cause and promote whatever marriages she can. Eight assorted heroes and heroines set out with their pocketbooks firmly clutched and hearts in protective custody. Or are they?

Holly and Hopeful Hearts is a Bluestocking Belles Collection is on sale now through December for $0.99.
25% of the sales benefit the Belles’ mutual charity the Malala Fund!

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This is an original piece by Bluestocking Belles Sherry Ewing and Jude Knight.

Miranda and the Grenford brothers can be found as secondary characters in the Bluestocking Belles’ 2016 holiday box set entitled, Holly and Hopeful Hearts. Miranda, in particular, is in A Kiss for Charity by Sherry Ewing. Aldridge and Gren are interwoven in several of the novellas and are written by Jude Knight. They also appear in Jude’s latest release, Revealed in Mist. You can learn more about Jude and Sherry and where to find their published work by clicking on their names on this website.

A Woman’s Tears

590px-sir_humphry_davy_bt_by_thomas_phillipsLord Nicholas Lacy waited but an instant in his bedroom until he decided it was in his best interests to follow his wife. Juliette had wasted little time making her way down into the foyer. From the top of the stairs, he watched whilst she linked arms with her sister, Genevieve, and their mother and began ushering them to the door with a hasty comment of joining them shortly in their carriage.

She turned back towards the servant and reached for her gloves, practically snapping them into place in her frustration. She must have sensed his presence on the stairway for her head rose, along with one delicate arched brow. She was miffed at him and he deserved it. This was not the first time that business had taken him away from their plans.

Nicholas descended the stairs and held out a hand to the maid who gladly turned his wife’s pelisse over to him. He placed the garment over her shoulders before turning her to face him. She refused to look at him but it took only a gentle touch of his fingers skimming her cheek until she raised her eyes, brimming with unshed tears. They had always been his downfall.

Placing a kiss upon her forehead, he pulled her into his embrace and held her. Her resolve weakened with a heavy sigh as she, too, wrapped her arms around his waist. “Please come with us, Nicholas,” she begged, resting her head upon his chest.

“I will be just two days behind, my dearest. Surely you can enjoy your sister’s and mother’s company until we are reunited? Such a parting will not be that long,” he murmured breathing in the heavenly scent of roses that lingered in her hair. Since the foyer had become empty, with the exception of the two of them, he began nibbling at her neck. If only he were able to reconsider.

juliette-pauline-de-remusatJuliette lifted her head to stare upon him. “You promised…” she whispered, and it tore at his heart to see his beautiful wife so miserable. Rising on the tips of her toes, she kissed him before he could find a way to answer her when all he really wished to do was carry her back upstairs.

He heard her quiet moan and broke off their kiss before he forgot himself. “Juliette…” Her name passed his lips like a soft caress whilst his heart flipped within his chest.

Je t’aime, Nicholas.” Her soft French accent rushed across his soul causing him to shiver in delight to hear his own name and words of love pour from her delectable mouth like the sweetest of wines.

“And I love you, ma chère,” he responded, pressing another kiss upon her parted lips. He placed her hand in the crook of his elbow and began escorting her towards the door. “You shall have two days of shopping to your heart’s content without me getting in the way. Surely, that will make you happy?”

“Shopping is not what makes me happy, Nicolas, and you know it. I would rather an hour in your company than two days spent purchasing a bunch of things that truly hold no meaning.”

“Do not be cross with me, Juliette. Before you know it, I will be right by your side so you may once more enjoy my sparkling wit and conversation.”

Juliette pulled on his arm to halt their progress before she thrust two fingers towards his face. “Two days, Nicolas, and not a day more, or I will return here to the countryside and retrieve you myself.”

Nicholas chuckled. “Of course, my dear,” he agreed.

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They made their way outside whilst their daughter, Blanche, climbed down from the carriage after giving her aunt and grandmother hugs. After Juliette made herself comfortable in the carriage, Nicholas and his daughter wished them all safe travels and waved goodbye. The vision of his wife blowing them a kiss through the window would haunt Nicholas for many years to come. Regret was a terrible thing to have to live with.


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This is an original piece and prequel to A Kiss for Charity, a Regency novella within the Bluestocking Belles upcoming box set, Holly and Hopeful Hearts, to be released November 8, 2016. It is available for pre-order for $2.99 at online retailers. 25% of the proceeds benefit the Belles’ mutual charity the Malala Fund.

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Sherry Ewing picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical & time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time. Always wanting to write a novel but busy raising her children, she finally took the plunge in 2008 and wrote her first Regency. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Beau Monde & the Bluestocking Belles. Sherry is currently working on her next novel and when not writing, she can be found in the San Francisco area at her day job as an Information Technology Specialist. You can learn more about Sherry’s work here on her page with the Bluestocking Belles or on the following social media outlets:

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