Letter posted from Cheltenham, England, to Morristown, New Jersey, 1832 leaked to The Teatime Tattler
My darling Earnestine,
We arrived in Bristol Wednesday, two days behind schedule,
much the worse for weather, and happy to be back on solid ground. My darling Howard’s
brother sent a carriage to convey us from the harbor, and we couldn’t leave
swiftly enough for my nerves I tell you. If England has a less salubrious port
than this one, I don’t want to encounter it. Nefarious appearing individuals
lurked along the docks and at every corner where seedy and disreputable
establishments abounded. One has heard frightening stories of civil unrest
about the place as well, but we saw nothing of that sort. Once quit of the
place, England’s green hills unfolded in front of us and I was able to put my
The voyage proved as tedious as I anticipated. Howard
devoted himself to cards in the common room leaving my Ellie and I to our own
devices. Not far into the journey a new acquaintance alleviated our boredom—thank
Mrs. Gordon Melrose, the sister-in-law of an actual baronet,
regaled us with tales of society and the sites of London, whetting our appetite
for the capital I can tell you. She also enlightened us about one of our more
mysterious fellow passengers.
Ellie pointed the man out almost as soon as we embarked from
New York. The girl does have an eye for a fine specimen of manhood! Tall and
lean with thick auburn hair, he had the air of one of those frontier types
young girls find so romantic, yet he dressed like a gentleman. Oddly, he
carried a three-legged cat. We rarely saw him without the beast. When Howard
complained to the captain about the presence of a feline, he was told that
having a predator to keep vermin from the hold was in fact good luck. Ellie
pronounced it adorable, though I could not see how a deformed cat could hunt.
In any case our mystery man proved to have more to his
credit than good looks. Mr. Melrose informed us that Randolph Wheatly—the man’s
name so she said—possesses important connections. His sister, the Countess of
Chadbourn holds sway in the highest reaches of society, and is a friend of two
Duchesses no less. Think of it Earnestine, a countess! (That is the wife of an
earl in case you aren’t as fully
informed as we are).
I thought it prudent to encourage Ellie’s interest in the man, but the girl was profoundly disappointed by his curt refusal of any social overtures. Quite reclusive, he moped in solitude and scowled at all who approached, as if his troubles weighed him down. Ellie of course found his brooding good looks irresistibly attractive, poor girl. When we docked he moved rapidly off the ship and disappeared into the unsavory streets of Bristol, as though the horrid place had been his final destination, something I cannot believe.
Oh well. Perhaps we will encounter him in London. Perhaps
he’ll introduce us to his sister, the countess. Think of it Earnestine!
Your loving sister,
About the Book
Rand has good reason to brood on the voyage and to hurray away. He has a people to rescue, and family conflict to face.
Two hearts betrayed by love…
Desperate and afraid, Meggy Blair will do whatever it takes to protect her children. She’d hoped to find sanctuary from her abusive husband with her Ojibwa grandmother, but can’t locate her. When her children fall ill, she finds shelter in an isolated cabin in Upper Canada. But when the owner unexpectedly returns, he’s furious to find squatters disrupting his self-imposed solitude.
Reclusive businessman Rand Wheatly had good reason to put an ocean between himself and the family that deceived him. He just wants the intrusive woman gone, yet it isn’t long before Meggy and the children start breaking down the defensive walls he’s built. His heart isn’t as hard as he thought. But their fragile interlude is shattered when Meggy’s husband appears to claim his children, threatening to have Rand jailed.
The only way for Meggy to protect Rand is to leave him. When her husband takes her and the children to England, Meggy discovers he’s far more than an abuser; what he’s involved in endangers all their lives. To rescue the woman who has stolen his heart, Rand must follow her and do what he swore he’d never do: reconcile with his aristocratic family and finally uncover the truth behind all the lies. But time is running out for them all.
Award winning author of historical romance usually set in the Regency and Victorian eras, Caroline Warfield reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the world. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.
From the journal of Sophie Hartford – the Tattler has received her PRIVATE Journal from Chateau de Fontanes, the Pyranees, 1818
We returned to the chateau today. I was sorry to say goodbye to my friends in
Ax-les-Thermes but the marquise assures me we’ll go back there soon. For now,
we’re going to spend a quiet few days here in the mountains, and I’m going to
be watching my sister closely. I sense she’s attracted to Joachim. Indeed, who
wouldn’t be, so handsome and warmhearted as he is. With those big brown eyes
and that smile like sunshine, he’s most alluring. But Nell is Nell and she hides
her feelings behind a cool composure. On the other hand, Joachim is making it
plain he likes and admires her.
This afternoon we went down to the stables and the two of them started talking together. I may be four years younger than Nell, but I’m grown up enough to see that Joachim only had eyes for her. So I dawdled around, stroking my horse, petting the stable cat, and then sat down on a bench. Joachim’s lurcher dog, Flocon, came and sat by me. They didn’t notice they were alone as they wandered off down the paddock, talking all the time. At several points they stopped, I could see them waving their arms around as they discussed something. Surely they must be coming to an agreement. Indeed, all the stableboys and grooms found excuses to come out and watch them as well.
My romantic hopes were sadly dashed when
they returned, and I found they’d spent the entire time talking about educating
the poor children of the estate. But tomorrow is another day and I’ll think up
a scheme to bring them together. Why is my 22 year old sister resisting such
29th April. This morning Nell was in the music room, helping a
little boy with his lesson. I casually told Joachim of this and soon I saw him
rush along to the music room. The little boy came out, and I pretended to be
arranging flowers in a vase in the corridor, so as to keep an eye on the door, in
case anyone else tried to go in. Flocon has become attached to me and he sat
watching as I fiddled with the flowers. A rather long time went by and I began
to worry that our kind hostess might come in search of us. So I tiptoed up to
the door, which wasn’t quite shut.
Somehow I stifled a gasp on seeing them
locked in a very passionate embrace
on the windowseat. As I peeped, they
slid down until Joachim was lying almost on top of her. Oh, my stars! What
lightning progress from yesterday’s formal behaviour. But I had to stop them before
they forgot themselves utterly. Suddenly I had a brainwave. I nudged the door a
little further open and pushed Flocon into the room. He started barking and ran
to jump up at his master. I saw Joachim jerk his head up, so I pulled the door
shut again and fled.
This evening. At dinner I
was expecting an Announcement but they both behaved as usual. Such a
disappointment. And later, when we came up to go to bed, Nell didn’t say a word
about her relationship with Joachim. She’s being very sly but tomorrow I shall
tell her that I KNOW!
About the book: TheOutcasts
Joachim is the youngest of the three Montailhac brothers.
Always close to the land, he now manages his father’s estates and
livestock. Athletic and handsome, Joachim seems to have an
ideal existence. But he has a guilty secret and it suddenly reappears to
cause havoc. His life is further complicated by dealing with an accident at the
iron mine on the estate just as visitors arrive, bringing yet more problems.
Nell and Sophie Hartford are cousins of Joachim’s sister-in-law, Olivia [see Scandalous Lady]. In the Spring of 1818 they find themselves outcasts from their officer father’s home in Paris, and are forced to accept Olivia’s assurance that her mother-in-law, the Marquise de Fontanes, will make them welcome. After all, says Olivia, life in the family chateau in the Pyrenees will be a tonic for them. Two unhappy girls struggle to fit into the very different lifestyle of the large and slightly exotic Montailhac family. At the same time, danger threatens from a deranged criminal bent on vengeance against their hosts.
Read an excerpt from The Outcasts
Nell seemed to have grown even prettier while he was away. Joachim joined his family in the Assembly Rooms and gazed appreciatively at her while she exchanged greetings with several of her new friends. Her primrose yellow dress brought out the russet gleams in her hair. She looked elegant and appealing. Glancing towards his mother he found her watching him with a twinkle in her eyes. She raised an eyebrow and he stepped close.
‘Mother, you’ve wrought a miracle. When she first arrived, dressed all in grey, I called her ‘Miss Dismal’ to myself. Now, I wonder if even her own father would recognise her.’
The marquise squeezed his hand. ‘Poor girls. Cast out as they were, no wonder they were so dejected. It is a pleasure to see them thrive here.’ She smiled at the buzz of light hearted chatter coming from the group. ‘Now you can keep an eye on them. I want to talk to my friends for a while.’
‘Hey, Joachim,’ one of the young men greeted him with a horrified air, ‘Did you know what’s in store this evening? Old Deschamps is going to recite one of his endless poems.’
There was a general muttering and some groans.
Nell gave a choke of laughter and looked enquiringly at Joachim.
He crossed his eyes at her, which made her laugh aloud. He sobered suddenly, staring into her green-grey eyes. She really was lovely, especially with that wash of pink colouring her cheeks. He wanted to get her away from the others.
‘Do you play cards? Then we could escape to the card room.’
‘No, neither of us plays.’ She looked round for her sister, but Sophie had disappeared.
‘She doesn’t like poetry recitals, I take it?’ said Joachim, amused.
‘No, but this is rude. I must find her.’
‘I’ll come with you.’ They slipped off towards the other room. ‘Well,’ said Joachim, ‘it seems we don’t care for poetry recitals either.’
She gave him a glance full of mischief, and laughed again, making him want to get her right away from everyone. ‘Let’s hope we don’t find Sophie too quickly, then.’
However, ten minutes later, Sophie was nowhere to be seen and Nell was showing signs of alarm.
‘I’d better see if she’s returned to the recital,’ she decided. They stood in the doorway, peering in. The marquise saw them and beckoned. Nell went to her and sat down. The poet was in full flow, and Joachim shook his head at his mother, who shrugged. He turned back into the card room and came face to face with Sophie. She smiled naughtily.
‘I saw you looking for me,’ she told him. ‘Bertrand spotted me but he didn’t say anything.’
She tossed her head. ‘You had more fun looking for me with Nell than being bored to death in there. Let’s play cards.’ She spun away, towards a table at the back of the room, where Bertrand was shuffling a pack of cards. He rose to his feet and pulled out a chair. Sophie sat down, casting a look of triumph at Joachim.
‘Nell said you don’t play,’ he protested.
She bit her lip, looking shamefaced suddenly. ‘Not really,’ she mumbled, ‘but I can watch you.’
A few of the older players were casting disapproving looks their way, although there were other ladies in the room. It was simply that Sophie was so very young. His mother would give him an earful later but until the poet finished his recitation, they would stay here.
‘Vingt-et-un?’ suggested Bertrand, dealing. The luck went against him for several games. He slammed his cards down. ‘Let’s have a drink. It might turn the luck in my favour.’ He beckoned to a waiter and held up three fingers.
‘Have they still not finished next door?’ he asked. He smiled at Sophie. ‘There’ll be some folk-songs later. You’ll enjoy that.’
She agreed and glanced at the approaching waiter. She stared for a moment and gave a gasp of surprise.
Joachim heard her and looked up. It was that toothy lad, and something was wrong. He saw the boy’s face change as he looked at Sophie. He set the tray down awkwardly, keeping his head bent down.
Bertrand picked up a glass and offered it to Sophie.
‘Er, no, no, sir,’ spluttered the waiter, jerking his hand out, but Sophie had already raised the glass to her lips.
‘Don’t drink,’ said Joachim sharply. Too late.
She set the empty glass down and tossed her head. ‘I’m old enough to drink wine, you know.’ Then the blood drained from her face. She put a hand to her throat. ‘Aargh,’ she croaked.
Both young men were on their feet. Joachim seized Sophie by the arm. ‘Get Nell,’ he shot at Bertrand and pulling Sophie’s arm round his shoulders he half-walked, half-dragged her towards the back door, which was close by.
‘Open it, you,’ he panted.
The rabbit-toothed waiter darted to obey.
They barely made it outside before Sophie began to retch. Joachim pulled out his handkerchief and was turning to look for some water when something struck him on the back of his head. He saw a mighty flash of red and then nothing more.
About the Author
Beth Elliott loves speaking different languages and traveling to out of the way places. A Welsh mother and a Lancashire father mean she has a complicated mix of imagination and practical common sense. After a teaching career in several countries, she settled in the Thames Valley. Settled, that is, except when the traveling bug takes her. An excuse for this is that she has published a number of travel articles, and of course, she can use the settings for her novels.
Her Regency Tales are
stories of intrigue, adventure and romance, with a few real people in among the
cast of characters who find themselves caught up in events that rather upset
their normal lives. She hasn’t yet put Napoleon himself in a story, but he’s on
the waiting list. On the principle of ladies first, especially in the Regency
era, Lady Hester Stanhope played a small but vital role in ‘Scandalous Lady.’
From her own experience of life in Turkey, Beth likes to add a
touch of exotic to some of her stories. But adventure and romance can – and do
– occur just as easily in London, Bath or Brighton as in Constantinople.
For more information, visit her at the following links.
Have I got a story for you, my dear readers. Over here at the Teatime Tattler the ladies are a buzz. We’re excited to tell you about an event you will not want to miss. Storm Chasers are coming to Wentworth Hall, I tell you. What are Storm Chasers you ask? All I can say at this time is they’re very much what you might already be thinking. However, I’ve been warned by none other than the Prince Regent himself not to reveal a word to anyone. I’m taking his warning serious. However, what I can tell you is that everything you may be curious to know about can be found inside the pages of Storm Chasers of Wentworth Hall.
Yes. Your vision is not impaired. That is a hot air balloon.
It’s no secret that this correspondent was more than a little concerned when
this particular on dit was first
revealed. After a fair amount of research, believe it or not, there are
actually two types of balloons in competition with each other so to speak.
Hydrogen gas and hot air balloons. Research on the feasibility of hydrogen gas
balloons dates as far back as 1662. Hot air balloons date all the way back to
220-280 A.D. in China, no less.
Needless to say, the hot air balloon is this correspondent’s preferred choice. The first unmanned ascension was attempted by Joseph-Michel and Jaques-Etienne Montgolfier. The French! Who can believe it? And not too long ago either. September 1783 to be exact. The balloon was called Aerostat Reveillon. It took flight in Versailles and was manned by three non-human living creatures. Yes, you heard right. A sheep called Montauciel meaning “climb-to-the-sky,” a duck, and a rooster. Their journey lasted eight entire minutes with a safe landing. I say, they should have included a pig in the ranks. Or maybe a frog?
As diverting as this may be, these accomplishments are of the utmost importance. The first tethered flight also happened in 1783, one month later, in October. Those pesky Frenchmen powered on until the first untethered, manned flight happened also in France. That is Paris, France on November 21, 1783. This balloon was piloted by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent le Vieux d’Arlandes. How, you might ask, is all this possible? A smoky fire under the neck of the balloon in an iron basket. That’s how.
France refused to stop there because only a few weeks later,
the first manned hydrogen balloon
flight occurred on December 1, 1783. This flight was piloted by Jacques Charles
and Nicolas-Louis Robert. They carried a barometer and thermometer making this
the first balloon flight to provide meteorological measurements. Storm chasers
Take a look at the photos this correspondent went to great
lengths to acquire:
Hot Air Balloon
Explaining the science behind hot air and hydrogen will have
to be left to the experts. It’s no wonder Prinny insists on complete discretion.
Readers be warned. The Crown has plans in the works.
And what about England? The first balloon flight in England actually
happened in 1784 not too long after France. This correspondent has reservations
on that account in any event. One cannot believe everything one hears regarding
Until next time…unless, of course, too much has been
revealed in which case this correspondent will be answering to the powers that
Storm Chasers of Wentworth Hall releases on April 18, 2019. It’s currently on pre-order at: Amazon but soon to be available across all digital outlets.
A flurry of activity whirred through the parlor of Lady Benedicta Rangecroft, where a gathering of ladies was setting up to hear the news of London from Lady Selina Peckham. The tea service, complete with both China and Indian, a selection of finger sandwiches, and delicate pastries were set with the finest care. The visiting guests, five in total, made up the most influential women in Morgan Hill, South Carolina.
themselves with social responsibilities prior to the taking up the
responsibilities of motherhood, which would unavoidably usurp their valuable
time. This meeting was an invaluable opportunity to discuss important matters
of the day. And by extension, to stay abreast of the news from foreign lands.
And today, as luck would have it, Lady Selina Peckham, is gathering to delight
the group with news of London.
Peckham, while standing by the fireplace holding the mantle with one hand, was
in thoughtful preparation to perform an imitation of Henry Irving’s performance
of Mathias in “The Bells”.
was precisely at this time,” Lady Selina began, with a flourish of her arm and
placing her wrist upon her forehead, regaling the group with her
performance. “I was dumbfounded, upon
the realization that Mathias, the primary lead character, would be haunted for
the rest of his life because of a moments madness.”
point, Lady Christmas Harper, set down her tea cup and saucer with such command
that all could hear the clang of the china. “But didn’t you say that Mathias
had virtually killed a seed merchant in order to gather money to pay off his
Selina’s shoulders slumped knowing that the critical moment was destroyed with the foolish
question. “My dear, it’s not a simple matter of murder, he was a desperate man,
the seed merchant was overly fortunate, . . .”
was a heathen to take another man’s life for such a selfish reason.” Lady
Christmas stood to make her views known beyond doubt.
kerfuffle, Lady Gertrude Stark, reached out for her third sandwich. She
carefully slid the sandwich behind her tea cup, in order, that it would escape
Lady Benedicta’s attention.
Clearing her throat, Lady Benedicta gently set her tea on the table and ushered her opinion to the fore. “Please, let us remember that we are here to fortify our minds with clever new ideas and thoughts to ponder. We are fortunate that Lady Selina so willingly exposed herself to the dangers of the theatre in order to regale us with the story of Mr. Henry Irving’s performance. Let us be understanding. Continue please,” Lady Benedicta said with authority, and again sat poised with her tea cup and saucer in her lap.
smiled patiently at her challenger until finally Lady Christmas capitulated and
dutifully took her seat among group.
said, Henry Irving’s performance in “The Belles”, was tragic magnifique.
I am not over praising his skill when I say his command of the stage is nothing
less than astonishing. No other actor will ever be able to match his resonate
vocalization, masculine gait across the stage, and his tender fall from grace,”
she said tipping her head just enough to show due reverence to the performer.
moment of stillness that followed Lady Selina’s pronouncement, Lady Gertrude
captured another three cookies from the closest tray, having already finished
the earlier sandwiches. She briskly eyed the room, so as to make sure that her
theft went unnoticed by all.
It was at
this time Lady Philippa leaned forward, glassy eyed and swooning. “It sounds
like the most romantic evening that could ever be endured. How can you stand
that the performance ended?”
Christmas, upon hearing turned her head from the conversation and bit her lip.
just this one note of appreciation, Lady Selina drew herself to the cushion
closest to Lady Philippa and prepared herself for yet another confession. “That
is not totality of the surprises we endured that evening.”
stood again, and walked about the room while she gathered the perfect words to
compliment the most important revelation of the evening.
gathering of women, beyond Lady Christmas, waited with bated breath.
arrived at the Lyceum Theatre, and after we enjoyed the opulence of the crystal
chandeliers, the velvet wall dressing, and the handsomely carved wooden
banisters. After we were met with dignitary’s, business men, and their elegant
wives. After we…”
“Get on with
it, can you?” Lady Christmas nearly shouted.
Lady Selina turned her back toward Lady Christmas and continued her talk
focusing entirely on the other three in the room. She noticed for a brief
moment, that Lady Gertrude had a biscuit crumbs on her mouth. Lady Selina, not
wanting to be distracted, offered a most discreet wiping of her own mouth, to
entreat Lady Gertrude to wipe the crumbs away. Then she continued, maintaining
her dignity to the end.
were seated in our most comfortable box seats, and just before the performance
began, can you imagine what happened next?”
tell us, before we are lost in your circular theatrical tale,” Lady Christmas
outburst was followed by Lady Benedicta clearing her throat for the third time
in this conversation.
please do put us out of our suspense,” Lady Philippa said, clapping her hands
and bobbing her knees up and down.
you will, the red velvet curtain opens, the gas lights on the stage using some
magical method of sorcery. . . “
Holy Mother of God, what demon story is being inflicted on me now!” Lady
Christmas exclaimed her protest at the top of her lungs.
The next few
moments were a flurry of activity.
Lady Philippa audibly gasped, pulled out her ornamental fan, leaned back in her
chair, and waived the fan briskly in front of cheeks. Which by this time, at
the mere mention of sorcery had gone flush with excitement.
Gertrude took the break in the conversation to refill her tea cup and fill her
saucer with the final pastry on the serving tray.
Benedicta stood, placed her hands on her hips, and with an admonishing glare,
stared fiercely at Lady Christmas.
take care not to insult a guest in my home or you will be forced to leave and
not return again. It doesn’t matter that you are my sister-in-law. Am I made
It was at
this point that Lady Christmas, whose eye’s had filled with scorn, looked to
the heaven’s for strength. She muttered a soft prayer to herself and finally
took her seat once again, and braced for the worst. Which was inevitably to
without hesitation, Lady Benedicta nodded for Lady Selina to continue.
had determined her best opportunity to complete her story was to focus her
attention toward Lady Philippa and remain this way through the duration of her
“As I was
saying, the gas lamps on the stage were extremely bright and this was the first
time I had seen anything like this. But the lights in the theatre were dimmed
to the point that the entire audience was sitting in the complete dark.”
exclaimed Lady Christmas.
exclaimed Lady Benedicta.
exclaimed Lady Philippa.
Lady Gertrude said, and pinched an untouched sandwich from another woman’s
Philippa moaned in astonishment. She was dumbfounded beyond measure. Her fan
flipped with such energetic gyration that it nearly split up the middle. “Well, I have never sat in the dark during
the performance of any kind, let alone in a box seat with my husband. The
entirety of the audience could see you. In the dark, it’s near madness.”
shook her head, “No my dear, all the audience was in the dark. Never in my
life, and I have been witness to dozen’s of plays, have I ever
sat entirely in the dark with my husband in a public venue. I don’t mind
saying, it was thrilling to say the least.”
smiled passed across Lady Benedicta’s sober face for the first time today.
There was a
stillness that fell across the room, each woman in her own seat pondering the
“I’ll tell you
ladies, it was a celebratory event,” Lady Selina said taking her first sip of
About the Book
Eleven lovelorn singletons. Eleven tales of Cupid, catastrophe, and maybe more…
These characters have had it with love—or, if not with that, with Valentine’s Day. But no matter how they fight it, Cupid refuses to relent. From struggling singles to secret crushes to enemies turned much, much more, these lightning strikes of love will add a spark of hope to your holiday.
Worst Valentine’s Day Everflips the script on lonely hearts who seem destined for Valentine’s disaster. If you like laugh-out-loud rom-coms, terrible dates gone right, and gorgeous happily-ever-afters, then you’ll love this adorable collection. It ain’t all hearts and roses; but these tales of triumph will find your faith in Valentine’s Day—and your faith in love—restored.
Daphne Masque – Writes about Romance in the theatre for any time period.
Daphne started keeping a journal during her formative years, junior high. Journaling and bad poetry started her love of working with words. She didn’t know it would last a lifetime. She went on to study Theatre Arts in college and since that time she’s been working in the theatre for over four decades. Her love of dialogue, storytelling, and bringing characters to life has been her passion ever since she first stood on the stage. Writing romance has brought a new dimension to her craft. She adores putting the two elements of romance and theatre in the same world. She hopes you enjoy her stories as much as she enjoying writing them.
Garrick of Clan MacLaren burst through the turret door whilst rushing after the distraught woman as she ran towards the battlement wall. Lady Coira Easton almost collided with a kitchen serf who quickly moved out of her way. His eyes briefly met Fira’s as they passed one another on the narrow stairs but he had no time to worry over the troublesome look she gave him. He had bigger problems on his mind than to wonder what she was doing so far from Berwyck’s kitchens.
He hurried to Coira’s side. “Dinnae worry yerself, lass. We shall think of something,” he whispered suddenly finding his arms full when his lady reached out to him for support. He could do nothing less but clutch her trembling body to his own. “Please, Coira… I canna stand yer tears.”
“’Tis hopeless, Garrick,” she sobbed. “If my cousin will not give his consent for us to wed, he will marry me to another. How will I bear it?”
How indeed, he thought remembering his meeting with Dristan of Berwyck. His laird had warned Garrick that his life would be all but over if he so much as touched the hem of Coira’s gown. And now here he was with his arms wrapped around his lady offering her what comfort he could.
“Hush now, my sweet. Dry yer eyes. I willna have this upsetting ye.” Coira lifted her head and he witnessed for himself her tear filled eyes. He swore his heart broke all over again and he could not imagine a life without this woman at his side. He pushed back a lock of her hair when it fell across her face and laid a kiss upon her forehead.
“I cannot marry another, Garrick,” she said, echoing his own thoughts, “not when my hearts desire is to belong only to you.”
“’Twill not come to that, I promise ye.”
“You cannot make such a vow, my love, and I will not hold you to it. You know my cousin better than most. When his mind is made up, he will not change his decision for me to marry no less than a knight.”
“I will make him see reason, Coira, and prove my worth upon the lists,” Garrick proclaimed. “Trust me…”
She gave a heavy sigh. “You know I do with my very life, Garrick. Now kiss me as a token of your affection for I must needs return to Amiria’s solar afore I am missed,” she insisted as she closed her eyes and leaned back her head.
He wasted no time claiming the lady who more than proved her own desires when he deepened their kiss. He was unsure how long they stood there wrapped up in their own little world but the sound of Coira’s name being called from the turret stairs broke the spell woven around them. Not wishing to be caught opening disobeying his liege lord, he reluctantly pulled Coira from his arms.
“I must go,” she declared even though her eyes told him she would rather stay. “I will see you at the evening meal.”
He could only nod in response, not trusting himself to have further speech with the lady. Instead he watched her leave to disappear down the stairway. Garrick leaned his arms against the battlement wall, lost in thought, ’til he felt a hand upon his arm. He did not expect to see Fira at his side. Her eyes were swimming like pools of jealousy for she clearly could not mask the emotions etched upon her mutinous face.
“What is it, Fira?” he asked, almost hating to hear her answer. She had been bothersome of late with hopes that there was something between them. He was unsure where she had gotten such a notion for he had been nothing but polite to her in the past.
“What does that outsider have that I do not,” Fira hissed.
“I willna discuss the Lady Coira with ye,” he answered, hoping she would let the matter rest. Such was not going to be the case.
“Ye shall regret not taking me up on me offer, Garrick. ’Tis best tae stay with yer own kind instead of thinking ye can wed someone above yer station.”
Garrick scowled, her words thrusting into his heart like a dagger. He did not need Fira to remind him that he was only the clan’s piper and not a knight. “Dinnae be daft, Fira. I have already told ye I am not interested in what ye offer tae any of the men who pass through Berwyck’s gates. Be off with ye and mind yer own business,” he snapped harshly as he lost what little patience he had left.
Fira gave a laugh. “Ye best remember me words, Garrick,” she answered leaning her shoulder upon the wall and crossing her arms.
“If ye willna leave me in peace, then stay and enjoy yer view,” Garrick huffed. He gave her no further thoughts and made his way back to the Great Hall. He would have been troubled to learn just what the woman had in store for him and his future.
This is an original piece by Sherry Ewing. Garrick and Coira can be found in The Piper’s Lady in the Bluestocking Belles’ box set Never Too Late.
The Piper’s Lady
True love binds them. Deceit divides them. Will they choose love?
Lady Coira Easton spent her youth traveling with her grandfather. Now well past the age men prefer when they choose a wife, she has resigned herself to remain a maiden. But everything changes once she arrives at Berwyck Castle. She cannot resist a dashing knight who runs to her rescue, but would he give her a second look?
Garrick of Clan MacLaren can hold his own with the trained Knights of Berwyck, but as the clan’s piper they would rather he play his instruments to entertain them—or lead them into battle—than to fight with a sword upon the lists. Only when he sees a lady across the training field and his heart sings for the first time does he begin to wish to be something he is not.
Will a simple misunderstanding between them threaten what they have found in one another or will they at last let love into their hearts?