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Why Harry Went to War

Ottawa, September 1914

William Wheatly glared at his only son through a haze of smoke. He struggled to keep from covering his nose and mouth, assaulted by the stench of stale beer and unwashed bodies. During the interminable train ride from Calgary to the capital Will envisioned their confrontation, but he never imagined he would find him puking in a third rate tavern. He came to confront failing grades, not drunkenness.

He took two steps forward, rage washing through him. The whelp had no idea the sacrifices it took to send him to university. The whole family did without, made do, and reused just to pin their hopes on Harry, a slacker who obviously had more hair than sense.

“What the Hell do you think you are doing?” He roared at his son. The boy lifted his head, gave a wobbly smile and planted his face on the filthy table.

“Mr. Wheatly! Harry wasn’t expecting you.”

Will shot a furious glance at the speaker, a boy he vaguely remembered from Harry’s visit home the previous summer. “Obviously not,” he ground out through clenched teeth. “I can see why he’s failing at least.”

WWIThe boy—he thought his name was Brodie, but couldn’t remember clearly—sat up straight. “No sir! Harry is no drunkerd. At least it isn’t—I mean…”

“What exactly do you mean, Mr.—Brodie, is it?”

“Yes sir, Angus Brodie. Harry’s ever a good fellow. Don’t drink—well beyond the occasional pint, it’s just Miss Albright, you see.”

“Albright? Who the Hell is she?”

Brodie registered shock. “Everyone knows Elsbeth Albright!”

wwi“The chit in the papers? The one that is marrying the Governor General’s nephew? What does she have to do with my son?” Will demanded.

“Led him on. Harry thought—he may be a damned fool, but she flirted with him all winter and he believed—that is…”

A kind of peace came over Will. Better a fool over a woman than over a bottle of rum, he thought. Harry isn’t the first boy whose first love broke his heart. “Well, that’s over then,” he murmured.

‘Yes, Sir, though between us, I don’t think it ever really started except in Harry’s mind.

Will nodded. “Help me get him out of here Brodie, there’s a good man.”

“To his rooms, then?”

Will thought about that. If they took him to his rooms he’d have to leave him there. “No,” he said at last. “To the Chateau Laurier.”

Brodie’s eyes widened at that but he didn’t argue. He pulled Harry up with remarkable gentleness and put an arm around his shoulders.

###

wwiHarry awoke with a sick stomach and a head full of carpenters pounding hammers in his brain. Why did I wake at all? He wondered. A voice, calling his name, sounded far away. It was a man’s voice, not Elsbeth’s. At the thought of her he squeezed his eyes shut. He didn’t want to wake up ever again.

“Harry, damn it, wake up! It’s almost noon.”

There it was again. He opened one eye and then the other on the last sight he hoped to see. His father scowled down at him.

An hour, a bath, and two cups of coffee later he stared back at his father in sullen silence, He had stopped listening to the lecture an hour before.

“Don’t be a damned fool. A woman like that never planned to take you seriously. She used you to practice her games and snares.”

Harry surged to his feet. “You don’t know her,” he shouted. “It wasn’t her. It was that damned father of hers. Wants to cozy up to the Governor General. Thinks the rest of us are dirt under his feet. Elsbeth isn’t like him.” Harry wished he believed it a bit more strongly. He very much feared his father may be right.

“We didn’t send you here to chase women. How are you going to get into law school?”

“I don’t want to be lawyer!” Harry snapped.

“What do you plan to do with yourself? Be the best educated farmer in Saskatchewan?”
“I want to be a writer. You don’t need university for that. Elsbeth said—”
“Don’t mention that woman’s name to me again. Bad enough she’s queening it all over Ottawa.”

Harry turned on his heel.

“Where are you going?” his father demanded when he strode toward the door.

“I don’t know. Anywhere but here.”

###

wwiIt was long past dark when Harry returned, sober, safe, and unsmiling. Relief so strong he couldn’t even be angry flooded Will. Visions of Harry flinging himself into the Rideau locks had haunted him all afternoon.

“Harry, thank God. Where have you been?”

“I enlisted.” Harry raised his chin and glared at his father, daring him to criticize.

Ice froze Will’s heart. Canada had technically been at war since August when Britain entered the war, but little war frenzy had reached Saskatchewan. Here in the capital, however he had seen posters, and newspapers. He’d heard the beligerant language in the hotel lobby. “Enlisted,” he gasped, hoping he had misheard.

“Borden is calling for an expeditionary force to fight the Kaiser. I’m going to do my bit.” The boy’s chin rose a bit higher. “Don’t try to argue me out of it. I signed. There is no going back. We report to Valcartier for training in three weeks.”

Three weeks? Will’s heart sank. “You damned fool. If you’re determined to throw your life away over some chit who never was worth a Yankee dollar, go ahead. But before you go you better go home and say good-bye to your mother and grandmother.”

Harry turned green. “But I—”

“You owe them that much. It isn’t as if you have any university career to resurrect.”

Harry opened his mouth to object and closed it. His eyes held a world of sadness that cut his father to the quick. He nodded then. “I’ll go. But you can’t stop me. I’m going to fight.”

wwi

About the Book

Never Too Late: Eight authors and eight different takes on four dramatic elements selected by our readers—an older heroine, a wise man, a Bible, and a compromising situation that isn’t.

Set in a variety of locations around the world over eight centuries, welcome to the romance of the Bluestocking Belles’ 2017 Holiday Anthology. It’s never too late for love!

Links to Various Retailers

About Roses in Picardy by Caroline Warfield

After two years at the mercy of the Canadian Expeditionary force and the German war machine, Harry is out of metaphors for death, synonyms for brown, and images of darkness. When he encounters color among the floating islands of Amiens and life in the form a widow and her little son, hope ensnares him.

Rosemarie Legrand’s husband left her a tiny son, no money, and a savaged reputation when he died. She struggles to simply feed the boy and has little to offer a lonely soldier.

wwi

 

Loved and Lost

Fira poured the last of the ale into a goblet held out in front of her, yet her attention remained on the man across the Great Hall who paced in front of the turret stairs. A pinch to her already bruised back side tore a snarl from her lips as she swatted away the outstretched hand of a knight.

“Not tonight, Sir Turquine,” she bellowed, causing the knights at the table to chuckle.

“I told you ’twas a lost cause, brother,” Taegan laughed. “She has her mind set on another this eve!”

“You cannot blame me for trying,” Turquine retorted. “Be a good lass, Fira, and bring us more ale. We have a long night of drinking afore us.”

Grumbling to herself, Fira returned to the kitchen to refill her pitcher. The knights had a mighty thirst this night and she would be lucky if she saw her bed afore the dawn. Her gaze traveled through the doorway and her heart flipped with his nearness. No other man in the hall held her interest, although she had taken several of them to her bed at one time or another. Nay, the only one she cared about was the clan’s piper.

He was a handsome man with his tawny colored hair and bright green eyes. She had thought she had a chance with Garrick of Clan MacLaren. After all… he had never once made any advances towards her, not like the rest of the men she had bedded. Mayhap ’twas why she was attracted to him… he had never been anything but respectful towards her and because of this, he had unknowingly slipped into her heart.  They had been on friendly enough terms for a while now and she had thought she was making progress in possibly wringing a proposal from him, or so she had assumed. Then she arrived at Berwyck and everything had changed.

’Twas as though the other women in the kitchen knew where her thoughts had led as she began overhearing their conversation about her nemesis.

“She be a true lady, that one is. No uppity airs, no demanding ways. She does her deceased brother proud, she does,” boasted one of the serfs.

“Do not forget she is Laird Dristan’s cousin and as such ’twould be wise tae treat her with respect lest ye wish tae feel the heat o’ the Devil’s Dragon’s wrath,” another replied with a shudder.

“Bah!” Fira fumed. Slamming the pitcher down upon the table, she wagged her finger at the women who had no issue gossiping amongst themselves. “She doesna belong here and should go back tae France or wherever Sir Morgan found her.”

“Yer just jealous because ye have lost the favor o’ our handsome piper.”

“I havena lost him,” Fira boasted, “and I can have him in me bed with a crook of me finger, I can.”

“Ye may get him in yer bed, but yer reward will likely be a babe in yer belly and nothing else,” another called out.

“He willna marry ye, ye silly girl.” A chorus of laughter erupted from those near enough to hear the conversation.

“Besides, I have heard Laird Dristan say he will look no lower than a knight fer her husband.”

“Then ’tis settled. Since Garrick holds no title, he is considered beneath her station in life so our laird willna let them marry,” Fira retorted with a smirk.

“Ye think that matters when yer in love? Ye best set yer sights on someone else fer ’tis plain fer all tae see Lady Coira has won Garrick’s heart.”

“Ye know nothing of Garrick’s heart,” Fira yelled.

“Then take a look,” the woman mocked, taking Fira by the arm and pushing her towards the doorway to observe what was taking place inside the hall.

Fira’s heart lurched when she espied the Lady Coria and Sir Morgan descend the stairs and Garrick bowed low afore the lady. Their conversation was brief but ’twas enough to see for herself the man she wanted for her husband had eyes only for another. Even whilst he took his place at the table to break his fast did he continue to stare upon Lady Coira. Only when the lady raised her chalice in a silent salute and Garrick returned the gesture with a smile did Fira finally begin to realize she had lost him.

“Heed my words, Fira, and leave him be. Another has already claimed him,” the woman taunted afore returning to the kitchen.

A sob tore from Fira’s lips. Life was so unfair and more so for someone in her position. She ran from the Great Hall to find her home, not caring if she would be punished come the morn for leaving the hall without finishing her duties for the night.


This original piece is a companion to The Piper’s Lady by Bluestocking Belle Sherry Ewing. The Piper’s Lady is one of eight novella’s within the Belles’ 2017 anthology, Never Too Late.

Never Too Late
A Bluestocking Belles Collection

Release Date November 4, 2017
Special Pre-order price ~ $0.99
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The Pirate’s Baby

Dear Qiao,

I hope this missive finds you and yours happy and healthy. Congratulations on becoming a grandmother. You make a fierce pirate leader, yet I think this baby will find you to be an easy conquest. Please tell me how it feels to hold the child of your child in your arms, since I have nothing to compare, alas.

I am happy for you, my dear, although it means our mid-sea rendezvous will become less frequent, am I right? Please tell me that at lea

st you haven’t given your heart to anyone else but that grandchild.

I write to you today heavy-hearted. Andre and Sophie arrived the other evening, proclaiming they want to spend Christmas with me. You cannot imagine how excited I was. I was sure they were going to tell me I’m a grandpapa. Instead, Andy pulled me aside and told me he’s afraid Sophie is dying. Dying!

Granted, she looks thinner than usual, and has shadows under her eyes, but her personality is still vibrant. I find it very hard to believe that she is wasting away, unless she has been overtaken by some unknown virus. Andre is beside himself with worry, which gladdens my heart to some degree. I never thought I’d see that ungrateful pup settle down and take a wife, let alone fall in love.

Sophie wants to throw a Christmas masquerade ball, the likes no one in New Orleans has seen in years. She is so excited to do so, I can’t tell her no. And if she is ill, I can’t prevent her such a small happiness. So, here I am, stepping out of the way while the long gallery is swept, and dusted, and polished, much like when my dear wife was alive. My reward is the brightness of Sophie’s smile.

Pirate Masquerade

Of course, Andre is not on board with this celebration. He would much rather spend Noël on the open sea, gathering his form of Christmas gifts from unsuspecting merchant vessels. Yet, even my bullheaded son can’t help but notice the transformation in his wife. There is a renewed twinkle in her eye, and a bounce in her step that wasn’t there when they arrived. And, even though they think I don’t notice, I’m aware that they disappear into their room most afternoons.

PirateI hope against hope that, instead of some deathly illness, dearest Sophie is with child. You would think it possible, would you not? They are newlyweds, after all. I hold my breath daily for the news, and in the meantime, my home is readied for the ball.

I toy with the idea of wearing a pirate mask for laughs, but my daughter-in-law doesn’t find that amusing. She tells me I should at least make an attempt at anonymity. I know you see the humor in that request, as well. It has been a long time since you or I have been anonymous.

Sophie wants dancing, about which Andre also complains. Honestly, now that he’s been home for a few days, I’ve noticed he complains a lot. I don’t believe I was ever that vocal during married life. For example, he doesn’t like the minuet; says it’s a prancing dance that makes fools of the men.

Have you ever danced it, dearest Qiao? Or is there something similar in your culture? I tell my son to shut his mouth, and be happy his wife is happy. This younger generation doesn’t know how to get along in the matrimonial sphere. Hopefully, your daughter and son-in-law are managing better.

I feel calmer, now that I’ve voiced my concerns to you, dear friend. Mayhap I will have answers to all my questions by the time this letter reaches you. Pray for Sophie’s health, and my patience with my obstinate son. And, of course, drop a kiss for me on the head of that new grandchild. Congratulations, and know that I miss our time together.

Bon jour,
Louis Dubois

Excerpt

“Sophie? Sophie Bellard? Is that really you?”

Sophie’s head snapped up at the sound of the unforgettable voice from her past, while her purse fell to the cobbled street from suddenly nerveless fingers. Her body began to shudder and vibrate at the nightmare that was Gilbert Harrington’s silky voice.

She felt faint, in danger of collapsing, her past hurtling toward her like an out-of-control mining cart threatening to jump its track. She reached out a steadying hand against the brick wall of the flower shop.

No longer did she occupy a cobbled street of the Vieux Carré during Avent. She’d been transported, trembling and afraid, to that time, five years ago, when she’d lost her innocence. Her innocence, and her youth. Just the sound of his voice, the timbre and its cadence, was enough to catapult her into a shivering mass of fear and dread.

PirateShe had no defense, carried no weapon. How could she? Gone was her pirate garb, her protective armor. In its place, she wore silk and brocade, gilt buttons and a feathered hat. There was no hiding place for a deadly dagger or a one-shot pistol. Just as there was no devilish pirate to come swinging in on a line, clenching a curved blade between his teeth and racing to her rescue. She was his defenseless prey.

As she continued to stare dumbly at the man before her, one part of her mind, not frozen in fear, noticed that Gilbert Harrington hadn’t changed much in five years. He’d bulked up slightly, bore a man’s frame instead of a youth’s, and his eyes glittered like hardened chips of ice.

Gone was the thin, gentlemanly veneer he’d used to woo a star-struck young girl experiencing the first throes of romance. In its place stood a man used to getting what he wanted with little or no resistance; a man stimulated and aroused by feminine defiance. She recognized these traits after living in the company of men for those same five years. Recognized, but could not articulate a properly scathing response.

Like a predatory shark, he moved in, grabbing hold of her upper arm in a tight grip and leaning forward until his mouth rested mere inches from her ear. “I remember you, Sophie. I remember every moment we were together like it was yesterday. Every touch, every sound, every movement.”

His hand began to smooth up and down her brocade-covered arm in an unsettling caress. She remained statue-still, incoherent whimpers erupting from her throat. This could not be happening. He could not be standing here, in her present life. But he was, she acknowledged through the haze of fear blanketing her, as she stared straight into his smiling visage.

“I’ve never forgotten you, Sophie, though there have been plenty after you.” Here he chuckled, running his forefinger down her cheek. He laughed again, while she closed her eyes to the memories he dredged up.

Leaning in until their noses almost bumped, brows lowering and lips peeling back into a ferocious mask, he continued, “Imagine my surprise when I heard you’d become a pirate, marrying into the Dubois family, and becoming the Commandant’s darling daughter. You did alright for yourself after me, didn’t you, little Sophie?”

And then his lips were on hers, crashing against her mouth in a bruising imitation of a kiss, while both hands clasped her arms as he hauled her up against him.

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About the Author
Cathy Skendrovich has always loved a good story, and spent her formative years scribbling what is now called Fan Fiction. The current heartthrob of the time featured heavily in all her stories. Unfortunately, once she went to college, her writing took the form of term papers, written on typewriters instead of computer keyboards.

Upon graduation, Cathy took a job as an English teacher in a middle school. Along the way, she married her husband of now thirty-three years, had two sons, and moved to southern Orange County, California. She chose to work part-time in the school system there.

Now she has returned to writing. Prisoner of Love is her first published novel, followed closely by The Pirate’s Bride. The sequel to The Pirate’s Bride, The Pirate Bride’s Holiday Masquerade, is due out Oct. 1. Another contemporary romantic suspense, entitled Protecting the Nanny, is due out in 2018.

She likes writing romance because she feels it’s lacking in today’s technological world. While she enjoys writing contemporary stories, creating romance in bygone times fascinates her. She hopes her ability to write in both genres will be the beginning of a long and satisfying writing career.

You can reach Cathy at the following sites. She loves hearing from readers.

http://www.cathyskendrovich.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Cathy-Skendrovich-249667925220631/
https://twitter.com/cskendrovich
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14232546.Cathy_Skendrovich
https://www.instagram.com/cathyskendrovich/
https://www.amazon.com/Cathy-Skendrovich/e/B015JJZZOW/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Scandal in Venice

VeniceThis house is not a brothel.  I Signora Rossi conduct a respectable boarding house—respectable! All Venice knows. And I tell you true. Those English aristos, they bring disgrace on my business. One would expect an earl and his sister to bring renown to an establishment like mine. Instead the Earl of Ambler and that disgraceful sister of his bring me ruin.

When they arrive, I already suspect. His so-called sister comes with no maid, no older lady to, what you call, chaperone. What kind of “lady,” travels with men and no older woman? The clink of their coin sounded more real than their story; I swallowed my misgivings. Perhaps a respectable older woman, delayed along the road, did follow. So far I see no sign of her. The earl, he looks younger so perhaps he really is her brother. She calls herself Lady Charlotte Tyree.

The earl comes in drunk, loud— very late the first night, shouting that he met that English poet Byron, another aristo. A very bad set, that. Me, I try to warn the woman, but the earl? Like most men, he don’t listen. If he visits Venice to study our architecture or take in Tinteretto, I see no sign of it. The few days he doesn’t sleep all day he runs off with that poet to Lazaretto and the Armenians. Only the girl spends time in our many lovely churches. She does the sketching and the studying. Perhaps he plans to pass her work off as his—idiota.

The girl behaves well enough. I began to think her respectable and pity her the company of her spoiled brother. Last week everything changes. Due pescatori still in their fishing clothes and drunk as lords, drop the earl at my door smelling of fish and rotten water. The boy tried to swim Il Canal Grande like his idol, an even bigger fool. He spews canal water—and worse—on my floors. 

VeniceNow scandal in my house. I not bargain for scandal. The medico—the one with the horrid children and nasty mother—he arrives. I stand at my door and before I can blink he comes down my stairs carrying that girl over his shoulder. He dumps her in his ancient gondola and leaves his helper upstairs with the earl. No coin. Not one word to me.

Santa madre di Dio! What is a widow to do?

About the Book: Lady Charlotte’s Christmas Vigil

It’s 1818 and Byron is in Venice. When Lady Charlotte Tyree’s feckless brother attempts to mimic his idol and swim the Grand Canal, putrid fever lays him flat and strands her there. Venice, Christmas, a handsome Italian doctor… her life is about to take an interesting turn.

Pre-order from Amazon or Epub from Smashwords

About the Author

Caroline Warfield, a Bluestocking Belle and regular contributor to The Teatime Tattler, writes historical romance. In addition to her holiday novellas, she writes novels set in the Regency and immediate post-Regency eras.  In her newest series, Children of Empire, three cousins driven apart by lies and deceit, find their way home from the farthest corners of the British Empire—and find love along the way.

Find out more here.

To Love A Knight

Dear Diary:

I have a medieval man in my shower.

Knight

Yes… I just wrote that and no… I’m not drunk, but maybe I should be. How else do I explain the strange trip through Time that took me 800 years into the past and then again to return home to present day San Francisco? I wish I could say I dreamed the whole thing but then I can hear Fletcher humming some medieval melody and the steam from his shower is escaping through the crack at the bottom of the bathroom door. Just listen to him! That deep baritone voice makes my heart flutter like the wings of a hummingbird in flight.

Fletcher… I swear my face flushes inferno hot each and every time he even glances in my direction. He is the stuff dreams are made of. Really! I’m not over exaggerating or lying just to make this entry interesting. I mean who would make up this stuff? If I were an author, I’d probably have a bestseller on my hands. Now isn’t that thought a hoot?

But I digress from telling you about this incredible man who continues to watch over me. He gave up everything he had just to follow me through Time. This chivalrous knight who gave no thought as to his responsibilities to his family and liege lord. A noble knight who now finds himself out of place and time in a future world that no longer values the very essence of all he held dear in another life. I’m unsure how he’ll ever adjust to modern living, despite the brave face he puts on for my benefit.

I’m in love with him. Even writing those words scares the hell out of me, and I’m terrified of what the implications of those feelings could mean to my heart. I could blink, and he could be gone in a heartbeat if God decides such is our fate. I came back to my own place in time because of the anguish I heard in my mother’s cry that spanned centuries. Would the same happen to Fletcher and those he, too, left in day’s long since past? His father, a younger sister, not to mention those he cared about at Berwyck Castle. It’s a lot to consider and it makes my head hurt with just the thought of losing him now that we’ve found one another.

He left his sword leaning up against the wall near the bathroom door, a twelfth century item appearing totally out of place among the things in this room of modern living. The ruby jewel in the hilt winks at me as though the stone has a secret to tell. My only thought is how Fletcher will react when he sees me in my best negligée that I put on just for him. He’ll think me overly bold, but I never wanted a man more than I do tonight. Now if only I can convince him to share my bed, which will be no small task. He’ll probably tell me we can’t until we’re married. He has much to learn about the twenty-first century!

I’ll write more when I can. I just heard the water go off and I’ve only moments before I’m confronted with the man who makes my heart sing. I can only hope that whatever happens between us, that we won’t lose what we have found with each other. Time brought us together. I’ll be damned if I’ll allow Time to tear us apart.

Jenna


Knight

To Follow My Heart: The Knights of Berwyck, A Quest Through Time Novel (Book Three)

Bestselling author, Sherry Ewing, brings you the next installment of her Knights of Berwyck series, To Follow My Heart.

Love is a leap. Sometimes you need to jump…

After a gut wrenching break up with her fiancé, Jenna Sinclair heads to the coast to do a little soul searching. To say everything is subject to change is putting it mildly. Her world is not only turned upside down, but pretty much torn asunder when she is pulled through a time gate on the beach beneath the Cliff House and transported more than eight hundred years into the past.

Fletcher Monroe, captain of the garrison knights at Berwyck Castle, has wasted too much time pining for a woman who will never be his. When he finally decides to move on with his life and focus on his duties, he is suddenly confronted with a woman who magically appears at his feet. This could either be the best thing that has ever happened to him or another cursed event in a string of many. He soon finds he is wildly attracted to her, but she’s scared to death of him ─ not a very encouraging beginning.

From the shores of California to twelfth century England and back again, Jenna and Fletcher must find a way to reconcile their two different worlds before Time forever tears them apart.

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You can learn more about Bluestocking Belle Sherry Ewing on her page on the tab above with the Belles or on her website here.

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