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I only sought a lady’s maid… and now this…

Such goings-on in the manor of Lord and Lady M–!

I had it from Lady M– herself!

A faint rapping came upon the door. The soft voice of Emma, the parlour maid, followed. “My Lady?”

“Enter,” I called.

Emma entered and curtsied to me. “Pardon me, My Lady, but the young woman is here about the position. Would you like to see her in the morning room?”

“Yes, thank you. I’ll be there presently.” With a sigh, I stood from my seat at the desk and stretched, glancing around my bedroom with a wince. Dresses, chemises, ribbons seemed to have strewn themselves over every available surface. I was sorry for Hannah, my maid, but she truly was not well, and the trip away with her daughter would do her the world of good. I desperately needed a lady’s maid.

Never mind, perhaps this one will be suitable.

I straightened my bodice and patted my hair back into position. Earlier this morning, Emma had tried her best with my coiffure, but she had never been trained as a lady’s maid.

C’est la vie.

My husband Lord M—’s ancestors frowned down from their portraits at the picture I must make with my less than salubrious attire, but I was, indeed, trying to remedy that situation this morning.

Emma stood beside the closed door to the morning room, curtsied and opened it. I entered, and the portal clicked closed behind me.

The girl, dressed in a tidy shirt and skirt, stood beside the fire in the grate, her pelisse over her arm. She curtsied, then looked directly at me, which I found refreshing.

“Good morning, and you would be Rachael,” I said, as I seated myself in one of the comfortable French chairs.

“Yes, My Lady. Good morning to you. Thank you for seeing me today.”

“Mmm. You understand I seek a lady’s maid. Have you a character?”

She handed over the single sheet of paper, folded and sealed. I glanced at the seal. Sutherland, no less.

“And what was your position at Sutherland’s?”

“If it pleases you, My Lady, I was a parlour maid there, but me mum trained me to be a lady’s maid since I was young.” She dropped her eyes to her wool-lined pelisse and the fingers of one hand crushed her carefully pleated skirt as she stood waiting for my next question.

“And you do not wish to continue as a parlour maid?”

She swallowed hard and looked back at me. “No, if it pleases you. I wish to better myself, to honour the memory of my mother.”

“You’re well-spoken. Your mother’s doing?”

She nodded. “Yes, My Lady.”

“And why do you wish to leave the employ of the Sutherlands?”

She took a deep breath and tightened her jaw. She finally answered. “Do you wish to hear the acceptable answer to that question or the truth?”

I smiled at her. The girl had gumption. “I appreciate being given the choice,” I said, with a wry grin. “The truth, please. Always.”

“It’s to be the truth, then.” She tightened her jaw for a moment. “I’d aspired to the position of lady’s maid there, but one young Master Sutherland… he was a bit free with his hands on more than one occasion, and… well, luckily, I was blessed to be holding a hot warming pan in mine, and… no one was injured, but the noise was tremendous.” Her lips twitched, but she kept a straight face. “Several other servants rushed to the room. I escaped and stayed as far away as possible from the young master. Fortunately, or unfortunately,” the girl looked down at me with a grimace, “on the same day, a young girl from the estate, Sofia, came into service as a tweenie.” She looked at me again, her brow wrinkled.

“Go on, please,” I said.

“Not only has her whole family been sent out to the coast in the Clearances, but Sofia was waiting for her young Robert, the son of the old Tacksman, and the love of her life, to return from his military service, but, well, things have gone badly for the young miss. Very badly. I know it is just a matter of time before…. well, before she is dismissed… and then his attentions could return to me. I’m a good girl and don’t want to go that way, if it pleases you, My Lady.”

I frowned at the character in my hands, as yet unopened.

Was there any point opening it?

 

Author’s note:

For those of you who have read the first book in The Long Trails series, A Long Trail Rolling, this is the first of Scotty’s stories. As you may remember, Scotty is the trading post proprietor in A Long Trail Rolling, my award winning debut novel. Scotty’s real name is Robert, not Scotty, but you’ll have to read the as-yet unwritten books to find out the reasons he changed his name!

I invite you to wait to hear the rest of Scotty and Sophia’s story in the boxed set by the Bluestocking Belles, coming later this year!

Meanwhile, check out my other books on my website!

Thanks so much for coming by today!

xx

Lizzi Tremayne

 

About Lizzi

Lizzi is one of the newest Bluestocking Belles!

Lizzi grew up riding wild in the Santa Cruz Mountain redwoods, became an equine veterinarian at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and practiced in the Gold and Pony Express Country of California before emigrating to New Zealand.

Busy raising two boys, farming, and running her own equine veterinary practice, she never thought she’d sit down long enough to write more than an article. A serious injury, however, changed all that, and planted her in one place long enough to jump-start her new career as an author!

With Lizzi’s debut historical romance, A Long Trail Rolling, she was: Finalist 2013 RWNZ Great Beginnings; Winner 2014 RWNZ Pacific Hearts Award for the best unpublished full manuscript; Winner 2015 RWNZ Koru Award for Best First Novel and third in the 2015 RWNZ Koru Long Novel section; and Finalist, 2015 Best Indie Book Award. Her newest novels and novellas, all released in 2017, are currently entered in more contests, and she’s working on her next novel!

When she’s not writing, she’s swinging a rapier or shooting a bow in medieval garb, riding or driving a carriage, playing in the garden on her hobby farm, singing, cooking, practicing as an equine veterinarian or teaching high school science. She is multiply published and awarded in special interest magazines and veterinary periodicals.

Lizzi is new to the Belles, but she’s loving the friendships she’s already developing with the rest of the ladies. She adores how they’re so progressive, organized, and fun. Best of all, they are all willing to put themselves out there, together, to achieve more, create more, than would be possible going it alone.

Lizzi loves to connect with her readers!

You can learn more about Lizzi and her books here or on these social media sites:

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A Flower of Scotland in Flight

The Forfar Inn

Forfar, Angus, Scotland

Roslyn Grant pulled her cloak tighter around her as she watched the coach pull away from the inn, her thin shoulders shivering in the cold air. What to do now? The coach fare to Forfar had cost every last penny of her small savings, and what had it gained her but a mere forty miles from her villainous stepbrother?

“Kin I help ye wit’ yer bag, miss?”

A boy about twelve in a torn jacket and brown wool cap pointed at the small valise at her feet.

Roslyn blinked and bent down to pick it up herself. “Thank you, but no, I can manage it myself.” No doubt he was wanting to earn a coin or two, not knowing that her pockets were as bare as his. In any case, the bag was light enough, as she’d had time only to stuff inside a spare gown, stockings and undergarments, and her nightrail.

The boy stared at her curiously and she realized she must appear a strange sight, standing immobile in the middle of an inn yard with a cold wind whirling about her.

“I’d best go inside,” she said hesitantly.

“There’s a first-rate fire goin’ in the public room,” he offered.

She nodded. “Yes, of course.” The worst they could do was throw her out again. So she took brave steps to the door and made her way inside.

Two men sitting at the bar eyed her with interest, but she walked past them with practiced ease toward the fireplace, where she put down her bag and stretched her hands out toward the fire.

“Kin I git ye somethin’, miss?” A weary-looking woman carrying a jug approached her.

She yearned for a cup of tea, but without coin to pay for it, she shook her head. “No, thank you.”

The door opened again, letting in a gust of icy air and about a half-dozen rough-looking men, cursing and behaving raucously. Roslyn ignored them, leaning closer to the fire, but the harassed serving maid could not.

“Liz-zie! Git yerself over ‘n wait on the new folk! I ain’t payin’ ye to stand there ‘n flap yer tongue!”

Lizzie reddened. “Ye don’t pay me to do the work o’ two,” she said under her breath. “When I see that Ellen girl agin, I’ll give her a piece ‘o my mind, ‘n that’s a fact.”

Roslyn perked up. “Are you short of staff then? I-I might be able to help.”

Lizzie looked her up and down. “Needin’ some o’ the ready, are ye?”

Roslyn nodded. “I-I’m looking for a position, yes.”

“Ye sure ye kin handle rough folk like these ‘uns?” She waved her hand toward the newcomers.

Roslyn set her shoulders back, untied her cloak, and hung it across a chair before making long confident steps toward the table of hooligans.

“Can I get ye some ale, gentlemen? Or is it food yer wantin’ We’ve some fine stew this evenin’,” she said with a look at Lizzie, who appeared to be stifling laughter.

“That so?” said one man, taller and bigger than the rest. “Ole Jack’s stew’s never bin called ‘fine’ afore. Jack git a new cook?”

“He did,” she fibbed. “Me. I cooked up the stew tonight.”

The innkeeper, ‘Ole Jack,’ stared at her incredulously from the kitchen door.

“In that case,” said the big red-headed fellow, “we’ll each have a bowl o’ the pretty gel’s stew. Won’t we, mates?”

They all roared their agreement, and Roslyn hustled toward the kitchen, shrugging sheepishly at the innkeeper. “Yer hired,” he said. “Fer tonight. Wot’s yer name?”

“Ros-er-Rachel,” she lied, using the alias she’d invented previously, in an attempt to cover her tracks.

“Rachel,” he said with a conspiratorial wink. “Git in the kitchen ‘n serve up the stew. Mebbe fancy it up a little. Lizzie! Git ’em some ale!”

Roslyn tied an apron around her waist and went to work on the stew, first siphoning the fat from the top and then adding in some finely chopped onion and thickening it with a little flour. The men, when they tasted it, declared it was the best stew they’d ever had. Roslyn brushed off their improper advances with such practiced good humor that their ringleader declared his intention to return the next night to wear down her resolve.

“Ye say ye need a job?” inquired the innkeeper. “Ye kin have Ellen’s. A lazier lass I never saw. Comes in late more ‘n half the time ‘n sometimes not atall.”

“I wouldn’t want to take Ellen’s position,” Roslyn said. “But I don’t mind helping out for a day or two, until I can find something permanent. In return for food and a place to sleep,” she added.

It would be too easy for Teryn to find her at the Forfar Inn, whatever name she used. Her most pressing need, however, was food and lodging. Once that was satisfied, she could work on devising a longer-term solution.

Roslyn Grant is fleeing the stepbrother who stole her inheritance and sold her to a brothel. Without money and facing the perilous Scottish winter weather, she has only her wits to keep her safe.

In search of one of the Flowers of Scotland, Quinn Murray finds her at his estranged uncle’s home, employed as a housekeeper. Slaying her dragons for her might not be enough, however. Can there be a happy ending for this earl’s heir and a long-lost descendent of Robert the Bruce?

This story will be coming out in the spring with the rest of the stories in the Flowers of Scotland series.

About The Flowers of Scotland series

Only The Marriage Maker can pull flowers from the ashes…

Few men are legends in their own time, great fame more often coming years, even centuries later, and by the pens of scribes who rely on long-told tales rather than fact. Even so, now and again, larger-than-life heroes appear, the sheer force of their personalities raising them above all others. These are the fabled ones, flesh and blood men whose lights blaze so bright they eclipse all who’ve gone before them, as well as those who follow.

In the early years of the thirteen century, when medieval Scotland was entrenched in the treachery and chaos of the Wars of Independence, one such man emerged from the tall shadow of the great William Wallace. This man went on to lead Scotland in a fierce fight for freedom that culminated with his 1306 crowning as King of Scots and then, in 1314, with his stunning victory against Edward II of England at the Battle of Bannockburn.

This man was Robert the Bruce, Scotland’s greatest hero king. Even after his triumph at Bannockburn, he railed against England for another fourteen years, finally securing full Scottish independence in 1328, one year before his death.

Extraordinarily beloved by his men, Robert Bruce was also known for his good looks and charm. Yes, he loved the ladies, and they flocked to him. Such adoration from beautiful women is hard for any man to ignore, especially a warrior king always on the move, long away from hearth and home. The Bruce was married twice and is known to have especially loved his second wife. Yet, medieval wars were brutal and it proved too great a temptation to decline the feminine comfort offered him at every turn.

In short, he succumbed. The hero king who came to be known as the Flower of Scotland for his chivalry, sired many bastards and, great-hearted as he was, he ensured that each one lacked for nothing.

But time rolls on, and after but a few centuries, glory-seekers claimed descent from Scotland’s most revered king. Fortunes turned, and some of his true descendants fell from favor. Eventually, no one remembered that their blood carried the richness of such a great and heroic man.

Of course, no one forgot Robert Bruce. His fame burns as brightly as ever. Some historians are obsessed with him, delving deep into history to uncover every nuance of his life and deeds, including the amorous tales.

When one such historian discovers four young women whose lineages trace directly to the Bruce, this man is deeply troubled. The Flowers of Scotland, as he views these Bruce descendants, should not suffer lives of hardship and obscurity as these women do.

Sir Stirling James

Something must be done and he knows just the man to help them; Sir Stirling James, The Marriage Maker. Sir James is a regular at the Inverness pub run by the hobby historian, an establishment named The Melrose for the final resting place of Robert the Bruce’s heart; Melrose Abbey.

Sir James, a true patriot, and history buff himself, agrees that the four young women deserve triumphs of their own. He knows just the four men worthy of them—men who, like the Bruce, possess charm, rank and standing. These heroes can sweep the lassies off their feet and into a world of happiness and love they never dreamed possible.

About the Author

Susana Ellis has always had stories in her head waiting to come out, especially when she learned to read and her imagination began to soar.

A former teacher, Susana lives in Toledo, Ohio in the summer and Florida in the winter. She is a member of the Central Florida Romance Writers and the Beau Monde chapters of RWA, Maumee Valley Romance Inc., and the (in)famous Bluestocking Belles.

Website: http://www.SusanaEllis.com

Blog: https://susanaellisauthor.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Susana.Ellis.5

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SusanaAuthor

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The Witch’s Claims

Mr. Clemens, our editor doesn’t know what to make of this woman who claims to be a witch, but she insists every word  of this tale is true.

Some people think the “Ring of Belief” is a myth, but as one of the witches attached to the ring I can tell you they’re wrong. The magic is unpredictable, but real, and I shudder every time I think about what I’ve seen over the centuries. It’s my task to help the men of the Clan MacKay find love. Now you might ask, “How hard could that be?”

Would you believe that men in some eras are far from lovable? At least during the Regency Era the gentlemen have a veneer of civility. Some of the Scots in the Georgian Era were impossible. Why, I had to bring a woman from the future to find a match for Caden MacKay. And, she brought her dog. (Alright, to be fair, I gave Scruffy a choice and he wanted to come with her.)

WitchWell, Caden wanted nothing to do with my choice. Part of that may have been my fault. I miscalculated in bringing back a Sutherland, but to Ariel’s credit she didn’t back down. The two of them didn’t always understand one another. You don’t believe me? We can go back in time and I’ll let you listen in. Oh, that’s right, you wouldn’t know what just happened. Ariel saved Caden’s life and they shared their first kiss. Now, be very quiet:

Caden turned to his cousin. “We’ll search the windows above. By now the coward has fled, but we may yet find something to unmask our would-be assassin. Then we’ll attend to your urgent matter.”

He drew Ariel aside far enough that Ian couldn’t hear them. His expression screamed, I’d rather fight a dozen well-armed warriors than be in debt to a Sutherland. “Thank you for . . .” He simply stared at her.

“Saving your life?” She waited. Nothing. “Kissing you?” She raised her eyebrows. “Just trying to fill in the blank here.”

He blanched, but then heat filled his eyes. “Aye.”

“Well, one of us had to take the bull by the horns.” Okay, best not to dwell on that image. “I mean, I was curious. I wanted to kiss you. No big deal. It was just a kiss.”

“Aye.”

“Will you stop agreeing with me.”

His smile was genuine and she felt it to the tips of her toes. Good heavens, the man had charisma.

“I’ve nae had a woman who wanted me to disagree with her.”

“Well, I’m not like most women.” That was true enough. She’d never done the ‘let’s talk about boys, clothes and makeup thing’ with a group of girls. Somehow, she’d never fit in.

He smiled down at her. “Aye.”

“There you go, agreeing again.”

“Perhaps it’s because you make yourself so agreeable.”

She couldn’t contain the laughter that burst from her lips. “Really?” The word came out between gasps. “Oh, I wish you could have been there to tell my teachers. Not that they’d believe you. They thought I questioned everything.”

“Then they didnae ken you.” His brows drew together. “I believe the stone was meant for me, but just in case, I want you to take care.

Her laughter died. “Why would anyone want to kill me?”

Have you offended anyone aside from Ranald, the Countess or Robertson since I met you?”

“I don’t-So, I speak my mind. Is there a law against that in this century?”

“No. And I prefer plain speaking, but I’m nae most men.”

“No, you’re not.”

Do you see what I mean? Caden MacKay was one of my more challenging cases, although his twin, Gavin, may just be my worst assignment yet.

witchAbout the Book

Caden Mackay would never bed a Sutherland, let alonemarry one. Bloody hell, what had possessed his twin brother to propose to one of the she-devils? And what is Caden to do with the Sutherland beauty who appears, as if by magic, in his library? The defiant intruder is the enemy, but she is unlike any woman Caden’s ever known, and her tantalizing curves and wide green eyes could tempt a monk. He must devise a way to stop the wedding. But can he stop the desire that makes him long to make Ariel Sutherland his own?

Ariel’s life had never gone the way she’d hoped, but ending up in eighteenth century Scotland was a stretch, even for her. If not for her dog, Scruffy, she might have thought she’d walked into a romantic daydream. Especially since the object of her desire appears to be entirely too virile. But can she find her way back to her time, before her too-handsome Highlander makes her believe that love can conquer in any century?

Buy it here

About the Author

Dawn Ireland has  written several award-winning novels set in England, Scotland and Ireland. She prefers the Georgian era, because that time period fascinates her with its rules and intrigue. Her characters often defy society by refusing to follow expectations. After all, what woman in her right mind would want to wear panniers?

Then again, she might write romance in order to do the research. Can you think of another profession that encourages you to sit in the audience at Harlequin’s Male Model search, and take notes, or just sigh?

Dawn lives in a Victorian home in Upstate New York with her husband.

http://www.dawn-ireland.com/startpagina.html

The Poor Wee Lass!

HighlandsThe Highlands are agog with the news of the impending marriage of Ailsa Cameron to the dreaded Laird Duncan MacLean. Clans MacLean and Cameron have been enemies since St. Columba walked these lands. All know these two clans rather break bones than bread. Now, they are binding together for peace.

And that poor lass, Ailsa Cameron—she is a sweet, tender soul they say. Ailsa the Tender— as she is known—will be no match for Black Duncan MacLean. The Laird is a man who likes to display the heads of his enemies on pikes, not display the type of affection the lasses like. The man doesn’t smile and lives a spartan life few came withstand. Worse, he has vowed to kill any Cameron who steps on MacLean land.

Yet, there may be hope for the bride and her groom…Black Duncan has loved before and had his heart crushed like heather beneath a foot. If Ailsa can somehow reach the heart he has buried then a chance for love and happiness exists.

All fear that Ailsa doesn’t stand a chance.

An excerpt from The Marriage Alliance

Duncan MacLean took stock of the lass. Her curtain of blazing tresses draped down to her hips. She had green eyes. Easy to notice since she gawked at him. Her complexion seemed fair, if not pale with fear. Her fine features exhibited a delicate quality yet a resoluteness radiated from her high cheekbones that should have held the rosy bloom of youth and health. Comely lass…If she closed her gaping mouth.

“She’s puny,” Duncan said to his two trusted commanders, Caelan and Lachlan. These two men had been at his side since he wielded a wooden sword. He valued their judgment, sought their advice and half the time adhered to it, and they guarded his back.

“It’s her inferior bloodline,” Caelan replied.

Duncan agreed. If Cameron men were stunted, it was only proper their women were even smaller than wee. He expected too much from a Cameron Female.

“At least, you’re not wedding the Urquhart lass. What’s her name?” Lachlan asked Caelan while peeking at the Cameron female.

“Nessie,” Caelan grunted.

“Oh aye, the Loch Ness monster,” Lachlan said, with a brief laugh. “At least this one’s a bonnie lass.”

“I do not care about her looks,” Duncan replied, secretly pleased she bore no resemblance to her father.

Lachlan snorted. ‘That’s what every man says until he’s shackled to a beast.”

Caelan smirked and Lachlan puffed his chest with pride.

Duncan blocked out Lachlan. It still dumbfounded Duncan that he was taking a wife and a Cameron no less. MacLeans and Camerons had been enemies since before his birth but that ended with a priest and a vow before the Lord. Warring with the Camerons sounded much more thrilling than standing before a priest and vowing his life to her.

When the red-haired rat offered peace for both clans to war against their common enemy the MacKinnons, his plan shocked Duncan. When Cameron offered marriage to his only daughter, he felt insulted. For some daft reason, he never pulled his broadsword from it scabbard and cleave Cameron in half but instead, he sat and listened. For some reason unfathomable to him even now, he decided to wed the lass.

Duncan smirked. Much as he expected, this puny woman to behave as a Cameron, ready to run, she remained at his side. She must have realized there was no escape or rescue but she kept her head lowered.

He stared at the top of her head, waiting for her to spare him one glance. She had the loveliest hair he had ever seen, streaks of auburns, coppers, golds and bronzes blended to create her silky strands. He only beheld such radiant tones when the sun set over the highlands. In the deep recess of his mind, he was grateful her hair wasn’t the palest of blonde. Hers pleased him.

It was convenient he preferred her waving tresses since he would only see the top of her head from the rest of his days. The woman hadn’t looked past his chin.

That might not be a bad thing. He recognized her fear of him, after all, he was Duncan MacLean, and it was right he be feared. Yet, she risked his displeasure and wrath to state her wants even as her voice trembled but her daring pleased him. How much more spirit she had hidden away? Duncan wanted to seek it out, see her face color from it. Hell, he was enjoying the prospect of having her as his wife.

But she was Cameron.

Forgetting that truth could kill him.

He barely survived the last betrayal.

As he recited the vows, she leaned toward Father Murray. While he pledged his troth, never raising his voice but adding more bite when he heard her hiss, “Must he stand there with his arms crossed as such?”

Father Murray waved her to silence. She shrugged. Duncan smothered his grin. Aye, her spirit pleased him. She wasn’t weak like other Camerons. When he vowed to love and cherish her, she humphed in a high-pitched tone like a mouse trapped in a cat’s mouth.

He was the cat.

About the Book

Her hand in marriage could secure peace and safety for those she longs to protect.

Lady Ailsa Cameron is not the most patient of souls. She has even slept through a few high masses. Still, this gentle lass never did anything wicked enough to deserve her father’s pronouncement that she must wed the dread Black Duncan, Laird of Clan MacLean.

As leader of the Spartans of the North, Duncan MacLean has inspired many a gruesome tale throughout the majestic highlands and beyond. Duncan accepts Laird Cameron’s offer of his daughter’s hand in marriage and pledges to make war against their shared enemy, Clan MacKinnon.

Duncan aches to possess his ravishing bride as passionately as he vows never to lower his defenses again. Love blooms between them nonetheless, until betrayal incites a war. Clan MacLean is in danger as are Ailsa and Duncan – but the thing in most peril is their love.

Can past enemies become lovers at last? Or will the flame in their hearts be consumed by the fires of war?

Pre-order Link for The Marriage Alliance

About the Author

An Air Force brat, Mageela Troche has lived throughout the world then landed in New York City. She wanted to leave the same day she arrived. Yet, with her stubbornness, Mageela learned to like the place and the libraries were the main reason. Since she was a little girl, Mageela wanted to be an author and an actress, however, once in college, she changed her life plan in the pursuit of money. After all, college loans must be repaid.

With life’s twists and turns, she returned to writing and focused on the romance genre. Mageela Troche’s first break came when she sold a short story to a magazine. She sold two more before the publication of her historical romance novel, The Marriage Alliance. She has gone on to write four more novels and a novella.

Mageela is currently writing in the cramped corner of her Big Apple apartment. She is the proud owner of a Black-masked lovebird named Boobula. She loves to hear from her readers and can be found online at MageelaTroche.com

Shocking Revelations in a Lecture Hall

Mr. Clemens has rented a theater near Covent Garden for this event. To his delight, the placards posted around London seem to have brought out a huge crowd. We had to turn people away.

Good evening. This is an occasion for celebration. Standing here in the theater and looking out among you, I am reminded of which happened to me several years ago, when I had succeeded in writing one of my stories and my characters were as alive to me as…

(Mr. Clemens laughs and takes a seat in a large chair that’s set on stage with two chairs facing him. Behind the chairs are potted palms. Beneath them is a rich oriental carpet. The lights illuminate the setting. The rest of the stage is dark.)

Hang’d if I didn’t see those characters and speak to them. Well, tonight I have a treat for you. I’ve pulled a real coup. I’m about to interview the hero and heroine, Lord Alex, and Lady Lisbeth, of my dear friend Ruth A. Casie’s book, The Guardian’s Witch. I see you’re all ready and our guests have arrived. I’ll fill you in on their story when the interview is over.

[footsteps walking across the floor]

Samuel Clemens: (Facing the audience) Just as I promised, today’s guests are Lord Alex Stelton, the exceptional knight who put his life on the line for the woman he loves. Also here is his extraordinary wife, Lady Lisbeth. She too was willing to risk it all–to save the man she loves.

Alex Stelton is the seventh son of Lord and Lady Stelton. Alex’s father is also a seventh son, an oddity that arises in the Stelton family from time to time. Lady Lisbeth and her younger sister, Laura survives their parents Lord and Lady Reynolds who were lost to us in a terrible carriage accident and their brother, Richard. Richard died valiantly on the Welsh battlefield.

(Turning to his guests) Thank you both for taking time to talk to us today. The first question I have is for Lord Alex.

Alex: Please, call me Alex.

Samuel Clemens: Certainly. Alex, what was your first impression of Lisbeth?

Alex: I’m embarrassed to tell you.

Lisbeth: He avoided me for weeks.

Alex: (Taking Lisbeth’s hand.) That’s not quite correct. You made it perfectly clear that you wanted no part of me. As a matter of fact I got a very clear impression that you would’ve been quite happy if I had disappeared like the others the king sent to protect you.

Lisbeth: Well, what did you expect? You came marching into Glen Kirk all proud and self-important just like all the others.

Alex: (Raising an eyebrow to his wife.) Did I now?

Lisbeth: (A bit contrite.) Well, maybe not exactly like them. (She pulls her hand away from his and faces him.) How was I to know?

Samuel Clemens: (Cough.) How did this disagreement start?

Lisbeth: He didn’t tell me for weeks.

Samuel Clemens: I beg your pardon. What didn’t Alex tell you for weeks? (Looking at Alex Mr. Clemens noticed him squirm, just a bit.)

Lisbeth: He didn’t tell me we were married.

Samuel Clemens: Married? I don’t understand?

Alex: Wait a minute, Love. You didn’t exactly make it easy.

Lisbeth: Love— (She shot Alex a glance that could turn him into a pillar of salt.)

Alex: (Alex faced the Mr. Clemens) I won a bet with King James. If I held Lisbeth’s Glen Kirk Castle safe for one year it would be mine. Having an estate of my own has been a goal of mine for some time.

Lisbeth: (Foot tapping.)

Alex: (Rakes his hand through his hair.) After meeting my part of the bargain, I went to London to collect my winnings and ended proxy wed to Lady Lisbeth by order of the king.

Samuel Clemens: He what? And you didn’t tell her for weeks?

Lisbeth: (Folding her arms in front of her glaring at Alex.) Exactly.

Samuel Clemens: Perhaps we should move on. Lisbeth, I understand you come from a long line of healers and that you are quite gifted. My sources tell me you’ve used that gift to save Alex more than once.

Lisbeth: (A humbled look crosses her face.) Yes, I work hard to keep the people I love safe.

Samuel Clemens: (Shows Lisbeth a charm.) I understand you place these charms in the trees around Glen Kirk.

Alex: (Takes the charms out of Mr. Clemens’ hand.) My wife has a notion that the pretty bits shine and distract. (He gave Mr. Clemens a cold stare.)

Samuel Clemens: I understand there are rumors that your wife… [shuffle papers] uses incantations—

Alex: (Stands dragging Lisbeth with him.) This interview is over.

Samuel Clemens: (Obviously upset.) I’m sorry m’lord. I meant no disrespect to your wife or you. But sir, your wife’s special talents are common knowledge far and wide. It is to be honored sir, not reviled as some may think.

Alex: I clearly told your man that those questions were not to be asked.

Samuel Clemens: M’lord, Alex, this woman was ready to risk everything for you. She was in the midst of conjuring up the true criminal responsible for the treason for which you were accused. She was using her magic in front of the king and his court, all to protect you. Surely you know what a grave risk she was taking.

Alex: Don’t you think I know that. (Alex took his wife in his arms.) I cringe each time I think of how close she came to being judged a witch and the consequences that would have been metered out.

Lisbeth: Alex, (she pulls gently away from his embrace) come sit down. No harm was meant, surely you know that. (She pats his arm.)

Alex: (Regaining his composure.) I will not dwell on it, Lisbeth. I will protect you always.

Lisbeth: Yes, Alex. I wouldn’t have it any other way. But all here know who and what I am. There is no longer a need to hide that I am a witch.

Samuel Clemens: We have a little more time. Alex, I understand that your wife is very talented. Her dreams of the future appear to come true.

Alex: (He looks at his wife and does all he can to contain his smile.) My wife has many talents. Her dreams are–exceptional.

Lisbeth: Shhh Alex.(She leans close to him.) No one else will understand.

Alex: (Totally forgetting Mr. Clemens for the moment.) You call me into your dreams and we… Faith, (A smoldering look passes between them and he rakes his hand through his hair.) I want to spend the rest of my life in your dreams…

Samuel Clemens: Well, thank you both very much. (Pulling on his shirt collar.) A bit more information than I wanted. Is it warm in here? (Mr. Clemens turns to the audience) You can find out more about Lord Alex and Lady Lisbeth and what Lord Alex references in The Guardian’s Witch by Ruth A. Casie.

Before we go any further, I’d like to acknowledge our stage crew for their commitment and fortitude to see this project to fruition. Many technologies had to be developed to make this happen and credit must be given where credit is deserved.

General Manager — Norma Leigh Lucid
Theater Manager — Helen Back
Maintenance Supervisors — Earl E. Bird and Ella Vada
Musical Supervisor — Kerry Oki
Lighting Engineers — Flint Sparks and Les Volt
Sound Crew — Mike Rafone and Constance Hum
Traffic Manager — Joy Rider
Legal Advisor — Sara Bellum
Researchers — Paige Turner and Rita Booke
Commissary Director — Jasmine Rice
Security Directors — Barry Cade and Anna Conda

Funded by donors Hy Price and his wonderful wife Lois Price

About The Guardian’s Witch

England, 1290

Lord Alex Stelton can’t resist a challenge, especially one with a prize like this: protect a castle on the Scottish border for a year, and it’s his. Desperate for land of his own, he’ll do anything to win the estate—even enter a proxy marriage to Lady Lisbeth Reynolds, the rumored witch who lives there.

Feared and scorned for her second sight, Lisbeth swore she’d never marry, but she is drawn to the handsome, confident Alex. She sees great love with him but fears what he would think of her gift and her visions of a traitor in their midst.

Despite his own vow never to fall in love, Alex can’t get the alluring Lisbeth out of his mind and is driven to protect her when attacks begin on the border. But as her visions of danger intensify, Lisbeth knows it is she who must protect him. Realizing they’ll secure their future only by facing the threat together, she must choose between keeping her magic a secret and losing the man she loves.

Available for Nook, iBook, KOBO or Kindle

Look for other stories in the Stelton Legacy Series

About the Author

RUTH A. CASIE is a USA Today bestselling author of swashbuckling action-adventure time-travel romance about strong empowered women and the men who deserve them, endearing flaws and all. Her Druid Knight novels have both finaled in the NJRW Golden Leaf contest. The Guardian’s Witch, part of the Stelton Legacy series was a Reader’s Crown Finalist. Ruth also writes contemporary romance in the Havenport series with enough action to keep you turning pages. Ruth lives in New Jersey with her husband, three empty bedrooms and a growing number of incomplete counted cross-stitch projects. Before she started writing time travel romance, she was a speech therapist, international bank product and marketing manager, but her favorite job is the one she’s doing now—writing time travel romance. For more information, please visit www.RuthACasie.com or visit her on Facebook, @RuthACasie, Twitter, @RuthACasie, or Pinterest RuthACasie.

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