Oh, la vache!
The rebellious and dare I say, scandalously improper, Lady Minnie Ravensdale, might have been sighted for the first time in years by a dedicated reader of this column in Paris.
If you last recall, the finishing school runaway disappeared four years ago in London. Rumors run amok of her whereabouts after a police officer in Whitechapel reported she posted bail for an Irish thief caught cheating at cards at the so-called gentlemen’s club, Millay’s. It’s not a well-hidden secret that the gentlemen’s club is frequented by those in London with deep pockets only to leave them with a bit light thanks to the gaming tables and boxing ring. Of course, those are only rumors. Mr. Ainsworth, owner of the club opposite that of London Hospital, prides himself on running a respectable operation.
The reader reports that while in Paris on holiday, she spotted someone with a striking resemblance to Ravensdale kicking up her skirts at the den of iniquity itself, the Moulin Rouge. Has the niece of the infamous “Devil”, Bly Ravensdale, been so embraced by the wicked ways of Bohemian Paris?
It has well reported that the famous adventurer and celebrated hero after fighting in Afghanistan still upholds his wild ways, despite serving as a foreign diplomat to India and Iraq since returning to England to marry the family’s governess. Scandals abound in the Ravensdale family!
The reader goes on to report the woman is known to the morally polluted side of Paris as Evangeline Dupree, a much sought after temptress. And while her French is flawless, this letter gives credit to the earlier reports of her slumming around Whitechapel because she was seen once again with that Irish thief (now known as The Mad Paddy), speaking perfect English at the opera before the two slipped behind the a curtained room for several unchaperoned moments.
Oh, la vache, indeed!
So readers, it appears that the Ravensdales once again will be filling this column with their wild and improper behavior, as only can be expected for the nouveau riche. Once a finishing school runaway with bold dreams of becoming a ballerina, it seems Lady Minnie Ravensdale is now a lady of the demimonde, gracing the morally tainted music halls of Paris.
S. Clemens, Esq.,
Editor of the Teatime Tattler
Meet Rebecca Paula
Rebecca Paula writes smart, emotional contemporary and historical romances about flawed characters brave enough to live outside the lines and embrace the messy and complicated bits of life and love. Also, there’s kissing.
She’s a champion of Byronic heroes, a wanderlust connoisseur, a hopeless romantic, and is epically losing the battle of conquering her TBR pile (okay, TRB closet). Rebecca lives in New Hampshire with a cat who thinks she’s a dog, and her YouTuber husband.
When not writing or reading, she loves ghost hunting shows, singing along to ‘Hamilton,’ or scouring stores for a cute dress with pockets.
Buy Links for A PROPER SCANDAL, The Ravensdales, #2
It was a long walk, longer than he expected. They passed the time in general silence, which was best. He didn’t have anything else to say to Anne. To know more would just invite her closer to him, and Alex hadn’t come to London to become friends with anyone. He came to discover who he truly was. He wished, above all, to know his true name.
“You know, you’re a terrible pickpocket,” Anne said finally.
Alex shrugged. There wasn’t much he was good at, but he wanted to be. And that’s what drove him to London, as well. When the hunger for more finally possesses a man’s soul, it’s unrelenting. “You were too easy of a mark. I like a challenge.”
“We might have been friends, Alex. If the world was different and time didn’t matter.”
She shuffled a few steps ahead of him, stopping short at a great wall of bird cages that towered above them at a pet shop. The air reeked of ammonia and sawdust. Anne stood in front of the cages, her hands held tight behind her back. She watched the tiny finches inside flit about their home of bars, her eyes wide, her mouth drawn into a frown.
This was the sad girl who had run away, the one who stared at the caged birds as if she were right there beside them.
“Don’t you miss your family? Don’t you want what they can give you? I mean, Christ, Anne. You’ve just slept in a whorehouse for two days pretending to be my wife. You’re wearing rags. And now I’m supposed to just let you walk away and fend for yourself as some ballerina girl. Didn’t you have the world at your feet?”
Anne silently stripped off her glove and wiggled her finger between the bars, clicking softly to a yellow canary sitting along on a perch while the other finches hopped around the cage. “I have a parrot named Raja with fine blue and green feathers. He came with me from India.” The bird edged closer, tilting its head toward her. A soft smile spread across her lips while her eyes brimmed with tears. “Don’t you think we should let them all go?” She turned to Alex, a tear running down her cheek. She didn’t move to brush it away, she simply looked at him, imploring him to fix the world for her. And damn if he didn’t want to do just that.
Alex scratched the back of his neck before stepping closer. He wished to say yes, he wanted to say yes to bring back her smile and he didn’t understand. Before Anne, there had only been his mother and the mysterious woman who helped him and Danny escape. But Anne was different. Anne clouded his head and put a strange pressure against his chest, and that black mood that was slowly consuming him was held off by her soft voice. No doubt she could tame the rowdy crowds of London with a voice such as hers. She was a beauty through and through. A rare rose.
“No one sets a caged bird free, darling. I suppose that’s what makes them beautiful.”
Anne wiped her cheek with the back of her hand and straightened. “Of course. How foolish.” She turned and continued on her way, her head held high as she passed the towers of cages, a kingdom of kept creatures.
“If you stay out of trouble, perhaps we can sneak back one night and do so.”
She glanced back over her shoulder and stopped, looping her arm around his. She dropped her head against his shoulder for a moment, one searing moment that set his body on fire. “Wouldn’t that be lovely? Even if we never do so, what a pretty thought to think of all those birds flying off under the cover of night.”
They walked side by side until the theater rose from across a busy square. He slowed, following Anne’s lead as she took in the scene before them. The intersection was busy, the cafes crowded, and the air smelled of tobacco and garlic. Peddlers yelled, shouting for passersby to buy international newspapers. The square itself was shabby, the grass sodden, and the iron fence surrounding it rickety.
“La vie de bohème,” Anne whispered, unlinking their arms. She stopped in front of the theater and took a deep breath, her arms on her hips. “This could be the start of everything, Alex. Can’t you feel it?”
He shrugged, unable to take his eyes off her. Regretfully, he handed her her bag. “Listen, Anne—”
She waved him off, spinning in a circle instead and nearly tripping and collapsing to the ground.
He reached out his hand and steadied her. “I wish you the best.” He reached into his pocket, already feeling the loss of what he was about to do. He filled her palm with the money she left on the nightstand. “Try to keep out of trouble. I suspect I’ll be finding myself by the docks. If you’re in need of a friend.”
Anne quickly took the money and stuffed it inside her reticule, then looked up, beaming. “You know, you could always come find me. I’ll be the one onstage.” She winked, then spun around, leaping through the air before she laughed and knocked on the door.
And that was it of Anne, the girl he meant to rob blind. She didn’t put any food in his stomach, but she had given him something far more—a fire in his belly to conquer London.