July 13th is Excerpt Monday! Has it REALLY been a whole month?
Where is the summer going? *sigh*
Bria and Mel are on a roll! Check out the snazzy cards they had made to hand out at RWA Nationals this year, that I’ve stolen for a banner. This month they’re inviting everyone to play along with Excerpt Monday! You don’t have to write romance or belong to any special group, just write and want to share your stories. If you’d like to join in this meme, visit the Guidelines page for more details.
This excerpt is from Revealed. In the spirit of summer and the Italian Ice kiosk that’s opened near us, I’m taking everyone back to Gunter’s again this month! As always, any comments or criticisms are welcome. Enjoy and stay cool!
As their curricle slowed to a stop under the Maples lining Berkeley Square, Marcia scanned the line of conveyances. Fashionably dressed young ladies perched in phaetons in the shade of the trees eating their ices while gentlemen leaned against the rails of the fence along the square. She repeated to herself that she did not search for anyone in particular.
One of Gunter’s waiters dodged on-coming traffic to take their order. Her mother requested her usual Parmesan ice and Marcia settled on a muscadine ice. The sweeter white currant ice scented with elderflowers was more to her liking than the savory flavor of her mother’s favorite parmesan.
As the waiter scurried across the street once more to fetch their order, Marcia heard a voice from behind their curricle herald a woman’s approach.
“I say, Lady Skeffington.”
Marcia twisted in her seat to peer over the back and was surprised to see the Duchess of Bolster heading straight toward them. She wondered why a lady of her rank would be out of her carriage. Surely, she had footmen to do her bidding.
“Your Grace. A pleasant surprise.” Her mother greeted the Duchess warmly, appearing anything but surprised.
Suddenly, the truth of the situation struck her. Marcia had observed enough machinations and strategy sessions of the ton’s matchmakers over the years to recognize an accidental rendezvous when she became trapped in one.
“We – Lord Barrington and I – just stopped off for an ice. James had some sort of meeting with his man of affairs and I was dying for an ice.” The Duchess smoothed a hand across her stomach, a subtle reminder of her delicate state.
“My deepest apologies, Your Grace.” Her mother feigned a look of shocked horror. “Please, you must join us in our curricle.”
“I should hate to leave Lord Barrington alone.” The Duchess glanced over her shoulder and Marcia followed her gaze along the line of carriages to where he stood.
“I have just the solution.” Her mother beamed. “Marcia will go sit in your landau while you join me here.”
“Mother.” Marcia tried to protest, but her mother raised a gloved hand to silence her.
“Everything shall be quite all right, dear. No one will question your spending time alone with a gentleman here at Gunter’s. It’s quite the done thing.” The Duchess and her mother smiled sweetly, resembling fat cats who had just gotten into the cream far more than fashionable ladies of society ever should.
Marcia sighed and allowed a footman to assist her descent from the curricle. The Duchess nimbly hopped up into the curricle, took her recently vacated seat and smiled over her shoulder at her.
“Don’t worry, darling. I’ll have the footman bring your ice.” Her mother waved cheerily and settled in to visit with the Duchess.
Marcia stood there despite the clear dismissal. Either she could appear lost and forlorn or she could go along with their plan and sit in the Duke of Bolster’s landau. No one said she actually had to converse with him.
Resigned, she turned and walked to the landau emblazoned with Bolster’s ducal crest. Barrington lounged against its side, his hat dangling from his fingers. More than the heat of the day warmed her cheeks as she drank in the sight of him. As she approached, sunlight glinted off his golden locks as his head jerked up. The look of surprise on his face was too genuine to have been feigned.
“The Duchess feared you would become lonely waiting by yourself.” Marcia cared not that her voice sounded sulky and sullen. “That and there is scarce room for two ladies and their skirts to manage comfortably in our curricle.”
He stood there, watched her, said nothing. Wasn’t the oaf going offer to assist her into the carriage, at least? Marcia rolled her eyes and glanced around for a footman.
“Don’t bother. The Duchess—” He fairly sneered the title. “—sent them into the Tea Shop to fetch a box of almond pastries and her chocolate cream ice.” His brusque words pricked at her. Apparently, he had no wish for her company either.
Marcia grabbed the bar beside the door and hauled herself into the carriage. Staring past the driver’s seat, she imagined the speculations and assumptions made as passersby witnessed her sitting alone in the Duke of Bolster’s landau while Lord Barrington leaned nonchalantly against the side.
She didn’t care. People would think what they wished regardless. At least this particular location guaranteed her reputation would not suffer.
Although Lord Barrington, his own reputation quite tarnished, leaned against the carriage, her standing in the ton was liable to be bolstered by being seen with him in the Duke’s conveyance in front of Gunter’s. Her mother and the Duchess obviously played this game for keeps.
Marcia silently folded her hands in her lap and waited until a footman in the Duke’s colors appeared beside the carriage holding her muscadine ice.
She nodded her thanks to the fellow, ignoring Barrington. The pale cream ice had been shaped into a small cluster of grapes and served in a silver dish the size of her cupped palm.
The scent of spring rose from the bowl. She dipped into the ice and scraped off a dainty portion. Raising the spoon to her lips, she reminded herself to savor the first spoonful as long as possible. Subsequent ones never satisfied the same way. Cool, tangy crystals burst in her mouth releasing the delicate, subtle taste of summer. Marcia closed her eyes and leaned against the squabs while the world around her melted away like the ice on her tongue.
If you enjoyed this, you might enjoy some of my other Excerpt Monday offerings.
Check out these other excerpts, but please note the genre and rating so you don’t get any surprises! (Please note: not all participants may have their excerpts available before 8:30 am EDT Monday Morning).
Mel Berthier, Urban Fantasy (PG 13)
Bria Quinlan, Rom Com (PG)
Joining them this week:
Kinsey W. Holley, Paranormal (PG)
Caitlynn Lowe, Epic Fantasy (PG)
Dara Sorensen, Paranormal (PG)
Babette James, Fantasy Romance (PG13)
Christina DeLorenzo, YA (PG 13)
Nika Dixon, Romantic Suspense (PG 13)
Bryn Donovan, Paranormal Romance (PG13)
Julia Knight, Fantasy Romance (PG 13)
Adelle Laudan, Contemporary Romance (PG 13)
Jeannie Lin, Historical Romance (PG13)
RF Long, Paranormal (PG13)
Rebecca Savage, Romantic Suspense (PG 13)
Crista McHugh, Paranormal Romance (PG 13)
Leigh Royals, Historical Romance (PG 13)
Jax Cassidy, Contemporary Romance (R)
Maya Doyle, Paranormal Romance (R)
Cate Hart, Paranormal (R)
Ali Katz, Historical Erotic Romance (R)
Inez Kelley, Romantic Comedy (R)
Aislinn Kerry, Paranormal Romance (R)
Elise Logan, Fantasy Romance (R)
Cherrie Lynn, Paranormal Romance (R)
Alina Morgan, Urban Fantasy (R)
Vivienne Westlake, Erotic Historical (R)
Stephanie Adkins, Erotic Romance (NC 17)
Evie Byrne, Medieval Paranormal Romance (NC 17)
Kim Knox, Erotic SF Romance (NC17)
Lauren Murphy, Erotic Romance (NC 17)
Kirsten Saell, Erotic Romance (NC 17)