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Category: Bluestocking Belles Page 2 of 36

Scandalous Ducal Family Continues to Shock

As the Little Season draws to an end, one question is on every person’s lips. “Who is Elias W.?”

We understand from reliable sources that this young boy was found, dear reader, in a workhouse! A child of the gutter, we might be forgiven for assuming, and of no possible interest to proper families. However, his reception into one of the highest households in the land suggests that at least one of his parents was of very high birth, indeed.

All over London, people are wondering who it was. The W. family, despite their high estate, have had their share of scandal–generation after generation of rakes, at least two of whom (now sadly no longer with us) might have sired the boy. Since one was the father and one the brother of the lovely lady who has taken the boy home with her, perhaps all is explained.

And now, or so it is said, the lady is looking for a husband, after years of refusing all offers. Is it for the boy’s sake? Beyond a doubt, she will find one. She is no longer in the first flush of her youth, but she is still one of the great Diamonds of the ton. And the loveliness of her person pales in comparison to the loveliness of her dowry.

Still, should it prove (as some have whispered) that the link between Elias and the W. family is on the maternal rather than the paternal side, any gentleman might think twice about the cost of bringing such a scandal under his roof. Even the new Viscount B., who has been seen much in the lady’s company.

Like Elias, Lord B. has been sprung on Society without warning, when all believed that Lord L., his father, had male offspring. He has, by all accounts, been practicing medicine in the Royal Navy. An odd pass time for a future earl, it is true, but not as odd as continuing to work as a doctor in one of London’s worst slums.

Still, a man who does not turn up his nose at providing treatment to thieves and prostitutes might tolerate a workhouse brat as a ward for the sake of beauty, whether of the lady or her delightful money. Perhaps, after all, the Diamond and the Doctor are made for one another.

To Claim the Long-Lost Lover

Novel 3 of The Return of the Mountain King

Sarah Winderfield has refused every offer of marriage she has received since Nathaniel Beauclair convinced her to run away with him seven years ago, and then disappeared without a word or a trace. But now she needs a husband. She has a child to love and to protect, and the child needs a father.

She does not expect to meet Nate also on the marriage mart. Should she let him explain? Can she believe him?

Dragged back to England to feed his father’s pride in family, Nate refuses to give into the man’s demands that he take a wife. The only woman he will ever love is lost to him, married to a husband chosen by her father—or so his abducters said seven years ago, while they were beating him.

But when Nate finds that Sarah is still single, he rushes to London. Surely, they can find again the promise they believed in when they were young?

Through a labyrinth of old rumours and new enemies, two long-lost lovers must decide whether or not to claim one another, and win the bright future they both desire.

Preorder links (releases 30 July)

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B096RLJJBZ

Links to other retailers: Books2Read: https://books2read.com/CMK-Claim

Excerpt

“You look lovely this evening,” Nate told Libby, as she joined him in the foyer.

His father’s wife glowed with pleasure. “And you look very fine yourself, Bentham,” she replied.

He bowed and offered his elbow. “Madam, your carriage awaits.”

“I am so looking forward to this evening, Nate. Perhaps tonight you might meet the young lady who will be your wife!”

Nate smiled and nodded, keeping his reservations to himself. Not unless my Sarah is present. But she is not yet in town, so it won’t be tonight. And even if she was in town, she would surely not be visiting the Hamners. Lady Hamner had been a ward of the Duchess of Haverford, and—according to Libby—the Dukes of Haverford and Winshire had been feuding since Winshire arrived back in the country with a whole quiverful of foreign-born children.

He allowed day dreams about their next meeting to while away the carriage ride and the wait in the street for other carriages to move out of the way. Libby continued to chatter, but she seldom required a response beyond ‘Is that right’ and ‘If you say so’.

It must have been a good thirty minutes before they were announced by Lord and Lady Hamner’s butler. Libby led him over to the Hamners to be introduced, and Nate looked around as he crossed the room.

A profile caught his eye. He shrugged it off. He had seen Sarah wherever he went for the past seven years, and a closer look always disclosed a stranger. This stranger turned towards him, and he stopped in his tracks, cataloguing changes. The fair hair was slightly darker. The heart-shaped face he remembered had matured into a perfect oval. The slender body of the long-remembered girl had ripened to fulfil its promise. But, beyond any doubt, Lady Sarah Winderfield stood on the other side of the drawing room, a smile on her lips as she talked with her friends.

Her gaze turned toward him just as Libby tugged on his arm. “Bentham! Are you well?” He let her pull him along, and Sarah’s gaze drifted away. He wanted to cross the room to her; accost her; demand that she recognise him and all they’d once meant to one another.

Some modicum of sense kept him stumbling after his step-mother. Men change between seventeen and twenty-four, he reminded himself. And people who have been through experiences like mine more than most.

Still, of all the meetings he’d imagined, he’d never envisaged one in which she didn’t know him.

Will she be mine?

Sir Rolf stared across the great hall to the woman who held his affection as she danced across the floor to a lively tune. Her current partner, one of several who had won the honor of a dance at today’s tourney, was of similar age to Lady Lynett. He caught her gaze and a smile spread across her features and gave Rolf hope that he could somehow capture her heart. But others stood in his way, along with the knight who came to stand beside him.

“She will never be yours, Rolf,” Ian MacGillivray murmured as he, too, watched the lady who now frowned whilst she observed them.

“And you think you will win her hand?” Rolf asked knowing full well that Ian had more of an opportunity of marriage with the fair lady than he did. After all, she had been in love with Ian once. “You had your chance years ago before you disappeared to seek your fame.”

“Lynett was young then and at the time I had nothing to offer her. You know that. She is a woman full grown and, now that I have inherited, I am more than suitable to provide a lifestyle that she is accustomed to. What do you have to offer?”

Rolf glanced at Ian. What indeed? Love perchance? He ignored the underlying taunt and returned his attention to the lady. “I was here to dry her tears whilst she mourned that you did not come back for her. Every. Single. Day. That alone should prove my worth, not that I must needs justify anything to you.”

Ian sighed. “We were comrades once… fighting for the same cause. We can put our differences behind us and remain friends. I only have Lynett’s best interest at heart.”

Rolfe scoffed. “And you think I do not share a similar mind as to what is best for the lady?”

“We are both fools,” Ian said with a shake of his head. “Neither of us will have an easy time winning the lady’s love.”

Rolf’s heart lurched in his chest as though Ian’s words held some merit. As the music died down, Lord Dristan motioned towards him. “If you will excuse me, Ian. I have a dance to claim with the fair Lynett.”

Rolfe did not wait for a reply. Instead, he went to the woman he wished to wed with all his heart. If this was the only time he would ever hold her in his arms, so be it. He would enjoy this moment to cherish for the rest of his lifetime.


This is an original piece from Belle Sherry Ewing for her medieval romance A Knight To Call My Own. Read on to learn more about this bestselling novel.

A Knight To Call My Own:
The MacLarens: A Medieval Romance (Book Two)
By Sherry Ewing

Excerpt:

Lynet should have expected this to happen when she had stated she would stay with him. But nothing in her score of years had prepared her for the sensation of her very first kiss as a woman full grown. She would have thought such a momentous event would send her heart flipping end over end, but ’twas further from the truth than she cared to admit, even unto herself. Although mildly pleasant, such a kiss as this did not make her want to profess her undying love to the knight who would offer her everything she desired if she could but learn to love him.

Perchance, she did not put enough effort into such an endeavor, for how was she to know how this kissing business was accomplished, having only experienced it once afore as a young girl with Ian, haphazard and brief as that had been. She took a step closer. Rolf must have taken this as a sign of encouragement. He deepened their kiss, and Lynet quickly became aware of two startling revelations. For one, Rolf had far more experience than she herself did when it came to kissing and certainly knew what he was doing. The second was far more disappointing to her peace of mind. She abruptly realized, if they were to marry, she would be settling into a relationship where they may have found a common accord, but Lynet would never truly love him deep within her heart. They both deserved much better than such a fate as that.

“I hope we’re not interrupting…” an annoyed voice called out from behind her.

Shame flooded through her, down to her very toes, as they swiftly broke apart. To be caught in such a compromising position such as this and by him, of all people! She turned to see none other than Ian himself making his way up the last of the parapet steps, followed closely by her brother Aiden, who strode menacingly towards Rolf with a clenched fist.

“I should call you out for taking advantage of my sister!” Aiden bellowed, wedging himself between her and Rolf. “What the devil were you thinking to touch her so?” Rolf threw both his hands up, obviously not willing to fight her brother in front of her.

“’Tis wretchedly obvious he was not thinking at all, Aiden,” Ian drawled, taking her elbow. “Come, Lynet. I will escort you to your chambers.”

“Nay! I will go nowhere with you, Ian,” she professed in embarrassment whilst trying to wrench her arm free with little success.

Aiden whirled around, glaring at her ’til she snapped her mouth shut. “You will go with Ian to your chambers. You have enough to worry about in the coming days with all the rabble outside our gates vying for your hand and should get your rest whilst you may,” her brother ordered. He made sure his words were abundantly clear, giving evidence he was not pleased with her behavior.

Her emotions torn between the three men, she watched as Aiden made to usher Rolf from the battlement wall. ’Twas clear her brother had no qualm about leaving her alone with Ian. But she knew otherwise and what this could mean to her already tattered heart. Ian was by far more dangerous to her wellbeing.

“Rolf,” she called, stepping towards him although Ian’s grip kept her from getting any closer to him. “I will see you on the morrow.” He gave her the briefest of nods as acknowledgement afore leaving with Aiden, who continued his lecture as they did so.

Lynet stood in silence as she watched the turret door shut with a resounding slam. She made the blunder of looking up into Ian’s stormy face once they were alone. His visage was furious with possibly a hint of jealousy hidden in the depths of his eyes. ’Twas hard to tell what the man was pondering inside his head, but she knew she would not have to wait long afore he spoke his mind. When he did, it caused her to inwardly cringe.

“You will not meet with him by yourself again, Lynet.” He enunciated each word with clenched teeth, giving confirmation to the anger he was holding in check. “Do I make myself clear?”

Her own rage exploded to the surface like blinding, white-hot lightning. “Who do you think you are that you assume you can just order me about and tell me what to do?” Courage to stand up for herself raced through Lynet, for she would not let him see how he affected her so. Her reckless and traitorous heart skipped a beat with his nearness. Damn the man’s soul to hell. How she hated him!

“I will tell you who I am, lass. I am the man you will forever bow down to and call husband come the end of these games,” he roared ferociously, like a wounded animal.

“I will neither bow down to you, nor any other man, you worthless cur,” she shouted right back at him.

Ian grabbed her arms, giving her a shake ’til she felt her teeth rattle. “You will submit to me, you stubborn woman. Do you not even realize when you have met your match?”

She lifted her head at him with narrowed eyes. “Aye, as a matter of fact, I do, for he just left with my brother!”

“He is only the captain of your guard, Lynet. He has no right to lay claim to you as his future bride,” Ian retorted hotly, “nor to steal your kisses in the moonlight.”

“That did not stop you from loving my sister when the same held true of your position. What makes you think you are a better man than Rolf to hold my affection, or that you can do a finer job of kissing me? I enjoyed his lips on mine and will kiss him anytime I should choose to do so,” she snickered, tossing him a defiant glare that all too quickly fell from her features. With one glance upon him, she might as well have slapped his face, considering the look he gave her. She knew she had pushed him too far.

He said not another word, but made fast work of guiding her down from the lofty parapet walkway. Her slippered feet barely touched the coldness of the stones beneath her, so rapid was their hasty decent down the turret stairs. When they came to the portal of her chamber, Ian backed her up against the solid wood with his arms resting on either side of her, as he had done but recently. There was no escaping him.

They stood, just the two of them, listening to the crackling sound of the lit torches in the passageway. Far more troubling to her way of thinking was her heaving chest as she attempted to gain her breath. She could no longer stand her submissive stance of looking down at her feet, so she raised her eyes to meet his.

When would she stop making such stupid decisions as actually looking at the man, not that she had anywhere else to gaze, given his close proximity. The firelight from the torches in the wall sconces brought out the red of his hair. She would have sighed at the sight of it, but would not give him the gratification. His heavy lidded, hazel eyes took on a light of their own and seemed to search into her very soul. She gulped and watched a gleam enter those knowing orbs whilst a discerning grin formed on his mouth. A mouth that was rapidly closing the distance between them!

“Do not dare─”

Her words were cut off as his mouth quickly took possession of her own, for possess her he did, with just the slightest first brush of his lips. She gasped when a turbulent wave of searing heat radiated throughout her entire body. But, such a profound encounter only allowed him to further plunder her senses as his tongue began to frolic with her own. Sweet Jesus, what in the world is he doing to me?

She felt his hands cup her face ’til he tilted her head, allowing him better access to her mouth. An unexpected moan escaped her. ’Twas, apparently, what he had wanted to hear from her. The sound surely only confirmed his own damn suspicions that she had told a lie when speaking of the effect of Rolf’s kiss. She was certain such a revelation pleased him.

His hands began a slow descent as they roamed down her back ’til he cupped her bottom, bringing her up hard against his solid frame. She quaked in response to such intimacy between them. Her shock did not stop his arm from winding around her waist, keeping her firmly in place as he continued to devour her last shreds of reality. The disbelief of feeling his firmly muscled body pressed up against her own sent any sense of prudence to remain indifferent to him fleeing from her mind. How could one keep a hold on any form of rationality when all she could suddenly feel was the unmistakable form of his manhood pressed intimately against her?

She was lost, and she unexpectedly cared not. Nay… all she could recognize in her feeble attempts to remain level headed was the fact that any control of the situation she may have had up to this point had vanished as soon as Ian had kissed her. Her arms made their way up and around his neck to playfully finger his shoulder length hair. She mimicked what he was doing to her mouth, letting him teach her what he liked. She must have done something right, for she heard his own groan of pleasure whilst he tightened his grip upon her.

About A Knight To Call My Own:

When your heart is broken, is love still worth the risk?

Lynet of clan MacLaren knows how it feels to love someone and not have that love returned. After waiting for six long years, she has given up hope of Ian’s return. Her brother-in-law, the Devil’s Dragon of Berwyck, is tired of waiting for her to choose a husband and has decided a competition for the right to wed Lynet is just the thing his willful charge needs to force her hand.

Ian MacGillivray has returned to Berwyck Castle in search of a bride and who better than the young girl who cared for him all those years ago. But Lynet is anything but an easy conquest and he will need more than charm to win her hand in marriage.

From the English borders to the Highlands of Scotland, the chase is on for who will claim the fair Lynet. The price paid will indeed be high to ensure her safety and even higher to win her love.

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About Belle Sherry Ewing:

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. 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 and her books on her website where a new adventure awaits you on every page!

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More Scandal for Scandal-Prone Noble Family

Sam, you mentioned when we met several weeks ago that if I came across something interesting there might be a guinea in it. I’m on the track of something now. I’m writing to check that the deal is still on.

I was at my club last night — that’s what you wanted me for, was it not, Sam? The fact that I’m still welcome in Society even though my pockets are to let?

As I was saying. I was at my club last night and I witnessed a confrontation between a peer and another gentleman. I don’t wish to name them just now. You understand, I’m sure. I trust your word, Sam, but my rent is due.

I can tell you that one is a very proper gentleman indeed, which is why it was odd to hear him championing a maiden who, it appeared, was at risk of losing that status. In his hand he held a page torn from the betting book! Have you ever heard of a person doing such a thing? But when he explained to the major domo of the club it included a wager on taking a lady’s virtue, his action received that eminence’s approval

The second person insisted that women of low birth have no virtue — he was in a gentlemen’s club so he must, ipso facto, be a gentlemen, yet I hesitate to ascribe the status to him, given that he was the originator of the wager and intended to be the instrument of its success.

At that, the peer, for the gallant knight was a peer, threatened to rearrange his face, and his dastardly opponent threw oil on the fire by shouting a comparison between the young lady in question and her sister. Whereupon, the gentlemen hit him, and a wisty castor it was, too.

The thing is, Sam, I know both men. The cavalier has been adamant in ignoring one of a pair of sisters, and the cad has been equally diligent in pursuing the other. And here’s the thing. Though they have been raised in a noble house, everyone knows that they are the daughters of its head, but not of his gracious wife.

There are so many ways this could develop. A ruination? A mesalliance? A duel? I’ll keep watching, Sam. Just let me know whether it is worth that guinea.

Melting Matilda

Fire smolders under the frost between them.

Can the Ice Maiden Soften the Granite Earl?

Her scandalous birth prevents Matilda Grenford from being fully acceptable to Society, even though she has been a ward of the Duchess of Haverford since she was a few weeks old. Matilda does not expect to be wooed by a worthy gentleman. The only man who has ever interested her gave her an outrageous kiss a year ago and has avoided her ever since.

Can the Granite Earl Melt the Ice Maiden?

Charles, the Earl of Hamner is honour bound to ignore his attraction to Matilda Grenford. She is an innocent and a lady, and in every way worthy of his respect—but she is base-born. His ancestors would rise screaming from their graves if he made her his countess. But he cannot forget the kiss they once shared.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08YS4DHMJ

For Amazon in other countries and for other book retailers, see: Books2Read: https://books2read.com/MeltingMatilda

Regret is a terrible thing!

Lord Nicholas Lacey heard his wife’s tears even before he reached their bedroom door. Rushing inside, Grace was hunched over on their bed. Her grief more than evident whilst her crying broke his heart.

“My darling…” he murmured before gathering her in his arms. “Whatever has you so distressed?”

“It’s all my fault!” she mumbled against his shoulder while her arms swung around his neck in a fierce embrace.

“Certainly not, Gracie,” he replied as his hands took her cheeks in his palms. He kissed them both before taking a moment to wipe the tears from her face. “Tell me what’s happened.”

“Oh Nicholas!” she replied before picking up the newsprint she had thrown onto the floor. “It’s all here in that dreadful Teatime Tattler.”

He gave a heavy sigh before he took the crumbled paper in his hands. Smoothing it out, he began to read whilst a frown formed on his brow.

Gentle Readers:

This just in from our Faithful Correspondent at the Queen’s Barque in Fenwick on Sea!

Who was the fashionable damsel who entered the inn looking like a drenched field mouse, with no one else to give her countenance but her maid? None other but Miss d.C. 

Dedicated readers of The Teatime Tattler will be familiar with the escapades of this particular young miss. She has been a frequent piece of tittle-tattle in previous editions, barely escaping ruination in the past several years. There is sure to be a bit of excitement while she is stuck here.

Which of the several eligible peers also stranded at the inn will she set her cap on? We will just have to wait and see. Knowing her past, anything is possible. Stay tuned for further developments.

Their eyes met and worry etched itself across Grace’s lovely features. “This is hardly your fault, my dear,” Nicholas said.

“I should have gone with her but I thought Miranda would be fine for the short trip down the coast. She had my maid with her and…” she began.

“…you were unwell,” he reminded her whilst he finished her words.

“But I should have known trouble would follow her whilst she travelled to see her friend.”

“You could hardly predict the weather that caused her delay, my love. Miranda will survive this as surely as she has survived all her past indiscretions.”

“Are you sure?” she asked, her lower lip quivered whilst she attempted to keep her emotions from bubbling over again.

His wife appeared so helpless and he couldn’t stand to see her this way. He gave her a bright smile before kissing her lips. “Trust me, Grace. Miranda has more lives than a cat. She’ll survive this and come out the better for it. Just wait and see.”


This is an original piece by Belle Sherry Ewing. Miss Miranda de Courtenay was previously seen in A Kiss For Charity and The Earl Takes A Wife. She will now get her happily ever after in Before I Found You that is in the Bluestocking Belles’ next box set Storm & Shelter.

Excerpt from Before I Found You: A de Courtenay Novella (Book Three):

“You look as though you belong here, Miranda.” That voice broke into her musings, causing a shiver of pleasure to race throughout her body. His tone was gentle. Might Jasper still care for her? God help me.

She turned to face him and realized he was closer than she thought. Her breath caught in her throat before she finally answered him. “Do I?” she asked hesitantly, before she shrugged. “I never seem to really fit in anywhere.”

“Maybe you’re just looking in all the wrong places.” His solemn expression seemed genuinely concerned. Miranda’s determination to have a titled man as her husband waned in Jasper’s presence. It troubled her, and at the same time she felt guilty. Wasn’t she being untrue to herself?

“Perhaps,” she replied, quietly. She would concede that something inside her was changing. She wasn’t sure if she cared for the changes or not, but she couldn’t stand to see the hurt she might cause this man once again reflected in his eyes.

A few locks of her hair whisked across her face and Jasper reached out to tuck the length behind her ear. “Miranda—”

“I must apologize if my presence has made you uncomfortable, Jasper. I tried to persuade Grace to pick me up after they were done here,” she interrupted. She gestured at the planks beneath her feet. “As you can see, I failed.”

“You are more than welcome onboard. But you’re not remaining in London?” The ship chose that moment to sway and, before Miranda’s stance could falter, Jasper took hold of her elbow to steady her. Her heart betrayed her yet again when he placed her hand into the crook of his arm to offer his support.

“No, I’m afraid not. Nicholas has purchased a cottage on the coast at Cromer in Norfolk. I’m to accompany them and their children while they look the place over and furnish it. It’s part of my punishment for past offenses, I suppose. I’d rather not go into the details.”

“Spending time with your family hardly seems like punishment, Miranda.”

“I’m glad you haven’t heard the gossip surrounding me the past few years. Elsewise, you’d be like the rest of the ton and stay away from me at all costs. I’m only really accepted among them because of Grace and Adrian.”

He pulled her to face him and lifted her chin. “We may not have known one another for long, but you must know I’m not cut from the same mold as most of society. I’ve lived by my own rules, and, while I try to remain the gentleman my parents raised me to be, I don’t mind taking a risk now and then.”

“Like at the ball?” she asked, trying to keep her nerves calm.

“Yes. I thought you also didn’t mind occasionally dismissing the convention of men and women of their ilk since you decided to dance with me.”

She thought of how a foolish bet with Grace had almost been the ruin of her reputation at Hollystone Hall. A laugh escaped her. “If you only knew…”

“Perhaps one day you shall confide in me. I promise to keep your secrets.” His grin was completely wicked, and another piece of her heart melted.

“I just may hold you to your vow, Jasper,” she teased, her eyes twinkling in merriment while they jested with one another.


Storm & Shelter:
A Bluestocking Belles Collection with Friends

When a storm blows off the North Sea and slams into the village of Fenwick on Sea, the villagers prepare for the inevitable: shipwreck, flood, land slips, and stranded travelers. The Queen’s Barque Inn quickly fills with the injured, the devious, and the lonely—lords, ladies, and simple folk; spies, pirates, and smugglers all trapped together. Intrigue crackles through the village, and passion lights up the hotel.

One storm, eight authors, eight heartwarming novellas.

Before I Found You Blurb:

Miss Miranda de Courtenay has only one goal in life: to find a rich husband who can change her status from Miss to My Lady. But when a handsome stranger crosses her path at a Valentine’s Day ball, her obsession with titles dims. Might love be enough?

Captain Jasper Rousseau has no plans to become infatuated during a chance encounter at a ball. He has a new ship to run, passengers to book, and cargo to deliver. But one look into a young lady’s beautiful hazel eyes, and he becomes lost. Does love at first sight really exist?

Their paths continue to cross until they are both stranded in Fenwick on Sea. Their growing connection is hard to dismiss, despite Miranda’s childish quest for a title at all cost. But what if the cost includes love?

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About Sherry Ewing:

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. 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 and her books on her website where a new adventure awaits you on every page!

Website & Books: www.SherryEwing.com
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A Golden Opportunity

She slipped out the side door of the private wing and crossed Mrs Brewster’s personal garden.

At this time of day, the Brewster family were fully occupied with their duties in the inn. No one was present to see their maid — their now former maid –unlock the private gate to the lane with the keys she had lifted from their hook in Mr Brewster’s office.

She would leave them in the lock. By the time they were discovered, she would be far from here, on her way to a position far, far away.

Freddie was waiting in the lane with his family’s gig and pony. It wasn’t elegant, but it would get them to the nearest coaching inn on the highway, 20 miles away inland.

His eyes widened as he took in the picture she made in her new gown and bonnet. One of the outfits she’d acquired for her new life. As she approached the gig, she saw that he’d found the bag and trunk she’d hidden in the stables last night. She hoped no one saw him take them away. Almost, she asked him, but, no, she mustn’t give him any reason to think she doubted him.

She let him lift her up into the gig, and hurry around to the other side.

“You look right pretty today, Miss Alice,” he said, as he took off the brake and gave the reins a shake. “Walk on, gray mare.”

Alice kept scanning the surroundings, to make sure no one saw them leaving. Not that they could stop her. She was the Brewster’s employee, not their slave. Had been the Brewster’s employee. Her resignation letter was hidden in the clutter of papers on Mr Brewster’s desk. He would find it about the time she was due back at work after her day off.

No, they couldn’t stop her, but if they knew what she had been doing and where she was going, they might make her departure difficult. Certainly, Freddie would not be allowed to transport her.

She smiled at him, and tucked her hand into his arm. Dear Freddie. He was a kind soul, and she felt just a little guilty for using him in this way, but needs must. She wasn’t going to settle for a fisherman’s son and spend the rest of her life in Fenwick.

She had new clothes, a job waiting for her, and money jingling in her reticule. She would say goodbye to Freddie at the coaching inn. Perhaps she would even give him a peck on the cheek — some sort of recompense for the trouble he was going to be in when he got back to Fenwick on Sea.

Freddie was chattering away about the men who had arrived at the inn to question all the servants about the source of the reports that had been published in the Teatime Tattler.

Alice smirked. Miss Abney always said that education gave you opportunities. Alice had found an opportunity. She had always been good at listening to people, putting two and two together, telling stories. Writing them was not much different. Sending them to Mr Clemens had been a clever idea, if she did say so herself.

And Miss Abney was right. The first opportunity had given her another. “I can use someone like you,” the letter from Mr Clemens had said. “Someone with the skills to work within a household and the brains to collect the stories I need.”

Alice was off to London to take up a permanent job as a reporter with The Teatime Tattler.

Alice is a character in the stories of Storm & Shelter. See the link for novella blurbs and buy links, and the collection for some of Alice’s Teatime Tattler reports.

Read more Storm & Shelter flash fiction at our blog hop, where our characters try to figure out who the mystery reporter is.

And congratulations to our prizewinners, who read the book, correctly named the reporter, and had their names drawn in the prize draw.

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