A Stolen Kiss by Marcus Stone
Dear Interested Parties or Women the World Wide,
Today I’d like to discuss men who do not listen: the bane of every woman’s existence.
But first, a little background. The following is a record of my recent conversation with a certain prodigal duke at my home in London:
“Forgive an old lady for not standing, lad. My doctor says I have poor humours in my toe. What a load of shite, I say, but the left one does ache a’ times.”
He dipped his head and scarcely gave my propped foot a glance. “I need your help.”
“Indeed. I assume this is regarding Miss A— M— and her attentions, or lack thereof?”
I’ve blacked out her name from this transcript, for privacy’s sake, of course. As you well know, I am everything that is discreet.
At this point, I waived THE Umbrella about as many who talk with their hands might, but he took no notice. When I added a “Hmmmm?” and waved it again, I finally caught his eye.
He smiled. “May I hold It?”
“But of course.”
He took it gently, handling it with obvious care, and ran his hand down the length as if it were a treasured heirloom. “I’ve heard much about this Umbrella and your devious little exploits,” He raised a brow, but his lips held a smile. “and I think I might need this.”
So far so good, right? I like a man who knows what he wants. Still, I asked:
“Are you sure, young man? I must warn you,” I gestured towards the Umbrella. “That thing works.”
He smiled. “Good.”
“Right then. What’s your plan?”
Now, he looked uncertain. Of course. Come on, ladies, let’s raise our eyes heavenward and say it together: Men.
“Plan?” he asked.
I couldn’t help but laugh. “Yes, my daft boy. What? Were you just going to toss It at her and hope for the best? It doesn’t work quite like that. Especially with the right kind of woman, and Miss M— is the right kind of woman.”
The duke got that silly look on his face at the mention of Miss M— by name, the one all men get when they are thinking of their one true love, but I digress.
“Ahem, yes, well, fortunately, for you, I have a plan already written out for you to follow.” I handed him my list. “I must say I was quite surprised by your note, saying you would call today. But I’d hoped—and here you are, poised to make my little job quite a bit easier.”
By job, I was referring to my plans to play matchmaker to him and Miss M— regardless of either of their preferences on the matter.
At this point, he stopped to read my plan:
- Make your intentions clear
- Send her a cornucopia of her favorite flowers
- Ensure everyone knows your intentions
- Give her a special gift—one she cannot return.
- Take her for a ride
His head jerked up, and a faint blush colored his cheeks. “Is take her for a ride a euphemism for…”
I shrugged and withheld a snort. “Time will tell.”
- Waltz with her in private
- Give her a taste of passion
- Take her sailing
- Bare your soul
Now ladies, pay particular attention to this point in our conversation. For when he finished, I immediately articulated my warning:
“Heed me, lad. You must follow this plan to the letter. No skipping steps. No combining steps. And no funny business.”
He didn’t even blink. “When do we begin?” he asked.
“December 22. The Ruthford’s Winter Solstice Ball. I know. They’re a touch pagan, but it’s the perfect segue into Christmastide, which we shall spend at my home near Bath, and we need every opportunity available to us if we hope to secure your engagement by Twelfth Night.”
“Twelfth Night,” he repeated in a bit of a daze.
“Too soon?” I asked.
The duke smiled. “Absolutely not. Just wondering if I can wait that long.”
“Good answer. You’ll do.”
“And if the weather thwarts our departure for Bath?”
“Harrumph. It wouldn’t dare.”
“Heaven forbid.” The duke bowed and turned to leave, a smile on his handsome face.
“Duke? Leave everything else to me.” I help up my finger in warning. “I mean it, lad. Everything. Else.”
The duke dipped his head. “Yes ma’am.”
Now, perhaps I should have added: “Repeat after me. No skipping steps. No combining steps. And no funny business.” A second time.
And wouldn’t you know, it all began to unravel on Christmas Day when he botched Step Four completely.
Which required a new step: Step 4.5— Apologize in a grand way; grovel if necessary.
I must say he executed step 4.5 beautifully over Christmas dinner.
But then, His Graceless Idiot decided steps 8 and 9 weren’t truly necessary.
Weren’t. Truly. Necessary.
Now. One would think that when wooing a reluctant woman, a man would take and follow the advice he had received from a knowledgeable person who was/is, in fact, a woman.
But then again, he is only a man. Flawed and human, though beautiful in his way.
Fortunately for him, my Umbrella and I work magic.
Unfortunately for you, you will have to read the latest story in the Umbrella Chronicles by Amy Quinton to find out what happens next—release date, November 2018 and included in the 2018 Bluestocking Belles Holiday Boxed Set. Details to come!
Lady Harriett Ross,
Self-proclaimed Motley Meddler * Mistress of Destiny * Wielder of the Infamous Umbrella
I’m just an old woman with opinions. On everything.