Once a month, Bria Quinlan and Alexia Reed host a bunch of authors who get together and post excerpts from published books, contracted work or works in progress, and link to each other. You don’t have to be published to participate–just be a writer with an excerpt you’d like to share. For more info on how to participate, head over to the Excerpt Monday site or click on the banner above!
This month’s excerpt is drawn from Revealed. I decided to continue where we left off last month’s excerpt where Barrington and Marcia were paired up at dinner and he has no clue why she’s so standoffish with him. She can’t believe even he has forgotten the incident which solidified her introverted tendencies, when after all he was to blame, too bad if he didn’t know her identity at the time.
As always, any comments or criticisms are welcome.
The man was impossible to ignore. All her attempts failed. She never expected to be betrayed by her own proper upbringing. Good manners had allowed him get around her defenses. She had felt obliged to reply, conditioned as she had been in the nursery and schoolroom.
Would you please pass the salt?
As she savored the warm, husky tones in which he had delivered that line, warmth flooded her cheeks. Then she noticed the flower precariously balanced on the edge of her plate. She plucked the bloom from her plate and tucked it into her lap, hoping no one else had seen.
She couldn’t afford to allow herself to be drawn in by his boyish charm and devilish good looks again. She admitted to being mystified and intrigued by his attention to her tonight.
Could it be true? Had everyone, as Daphne claimed, but her forgotten the incident six years ago? Marcia didn’t think it possible even Lord Barrington had put the incident from his mind. She didn’t think she liked what that revealed about her.
“What do you want?” She allowed her anger to thrum beneath her whisper. She strained to keep her voice low enough to avoid being overhead by anyone else at the table.
“To pass an enjoyable evening.” He leaned closer so he could whisper just as quietly. He glanced, once again, to where the Duchess sat. He was as nervous as an errant schoolboy afraid of being caught, which made no sense since the Duchess had, so obviously, paired them off earlier.
“Then why disturb mine?”
“You do not mean to tell me that you enjoy wooden conversation with youths barely old enough to shave. Do you?”
“I enjoy conversing with gentlemen who know how to behave as such.”
A fleeting look of hurt and guilt flashed across his face. Perhaps he hadn’t forgotten.
“I assure you, last night was an aberration. Put it from your mind.”
Last night? She frowned, recalling Lady Henrietta’s mention of Barrington’s name linked with scandal from the previous night. He had forgotten too.
“It shan’t happen again. Your reputation will not suffer as my dinner companion tonight.” His gaze darted from the Duchess to the Duke and back again. “I am on my best behavior.”
“I referred not to last night, my Lord. However, if you feel you should bear the burden of guilt, I shall not stop you.” She sniffed, taking another bite of beef.
“I do not recall giving offense, so I must assume my reputation has once again preceded me. Why do you dislike me so?” The intensity of his gaze bore into her until she was almost convinced the secret of his existence might hinge upon her response.
She took great care to finish chewing and swallowed before she replied. “Dislike you, my Lord?” Dislike didn’t begin to describe the range of feelings she had harbored over the years.
“How, then, would you describe your attitude toward me, if not as one of dislike?” She tried to ignore the quirk of his eyebrow and focused once again on her plate.
“I fail to comprehend your meaning, my Lord.” Her throat was tight and dry. Swallowing only emphasized how her tongue no longer fit behind her teeth. She reached for her wineglass. Concentration slowed the tremors in her hand to an occasional twitch and she managed a sip of wine without splashing any on her dress or placing the fine white linen tablecloth in danger.
“I’ve seen you at various events around Town. You don’t look at me. You look through me.”
He had been watching her? How long? In an effort to distract her self from those disturbing thoughts, she set the wine glass on the table, placing it far out of her reach, lest it topple.
“At first, I thought you merely shy and reserved.”
She nodded. That was certainly not a closely held secret.
“Then I noticed not everyone is held at bay. You are very close to Lady Daphne Holtcombe, are you not?”
She nodded again, attempting to puzzle out his purpose, if indeed he had one beyond irritating her.
“Neither do you shun the company of every gentleman at many events.”
He phrased his words as a statement, not a question. She swallowed uncomfortably. The piece of meat hadn’t seemed so tough a moment ago. She decided no response was required of her.
“So I am left with the impression you harbor a certain, personal dislike for me.”
“It is not personal, my Lord.” She hated lying, but if he didn’t remember his part in her utter humiliation, she refused to be the one to remind him.
Maybe she would have to admit Daphne was right if even Barrington had forgotten the incident. She needed to put the past behind her and move on.
“I am nothing like my mother. I find no joy in crowds nor in making small talk with strangers.”
“You also have a peculiar notion as to what passes for small talk as well.”
As he formed the word ‘peculiar’, she scrutinized his mouth, fascinated by the luscious shape of his lips. Memories of the kiss they’d shared rushed back to her.
“My Lord, I…” Her protest tapered off half-formed on her lips as she tried to slam the door on the memories flooding from the dark hollow in her heart where she had crammed them when she ran from her tormentors all those years ago.
“When was the last time you considered furthering an acquaintance?” As he turned to look her in the eye, his knee brushed against her skirts.
“I-I’m n-not sure, my Lord.” Six years ago. Just a mere three weeks shy of six years.
“You should try it sometime.” With that, he turned back to his meal, his attention and patience withdrawn.
If you enjoyed this, you might enjoy some of my other Excerpt Monday offerings.
Links to other Excerpt Monday writers
Note: I have not personally screened these excerpts. Please heed the ratings and be aware that the links may contain material that is not typical of my site.
So, to kick it off, our hosts:
Alexia Reed, Urban Fantasy (R)
Bria Quinlan, Rom Com (PG13)
Joining in this week:
Jane Bled, Yaoi/M-M Erotica/Vampire/Paranormal/Horror (PG 13)
Danie Ford, YA Urban Fantasy (PG 13)
Heather S Ingemar, Dark Fantasy (PG13)
Babette James, Fantasy Romance (PG13)
Cynthia Justlin, Contemporary Romance (PG 13)
Kaige, Historical Romance (PG 13)
Julia Knight, Fantasy Romance (PG 13)
Jeannie Lin, Historical paranormal romance (PG 13)
R.F Long, Fantasy (PG13)
Shawntelle Madison, Paranormal Romance (PG 13)
Debbie Mumford, Fantasy (PG 13)
Bria Quinlan, Rom Com (PG13)
Megan S, Paranormal (PG 13)
Rosalind Stone, Women’s Fiction (PG 13)
Jo Lynne Valerie, Paranormal Romance (PG 13)
Kendal Ashby, YA (R)
Jax Cassidy, Contemporary (R)
Cate Hart, YA Paranormal (R)
Inez Kelley, Romantic Comedy (R)
Aislinn Kerry, Fantasy (R)
Jeanne St. James, Contemporary Erotic Romance (R)
Cherrie Lynn, Paranormal Romance (R)
Jeanette Murray, Romantic Comedy (R)
Christa Paige, Paranormal (R)
Michelle Picard, Fantasy Romance (R)
Mary Quast, Contemporary Romance (R)
Alexia Reed, Urban Fantasy (R)
Zora Stout, Contemporary Erotic Romance (R)
Sara Brookes, Erotic Sci Fi (NC 17)
Emily Ryan-Davis, Romance (NC 17)
Ella Drake, Historical Paranormal Romance (NC 17)
Angeleque Ford, Erotic Dark Urban Fantasy (NC17)
J.W. Hankins, Dark Fiction (NC 17)
Annie Nicholas, Paranormal Romance (NC 17)
Kim Knox, Erotic SF Romance (NC17)
Michelle Polaris, Erotic Futuristic Romance (NC 17)
Bryl R. Tyne, Contemporary M/M (NC 17)