I wear glasses. Almost always have, and probably always will. I got my first pair of glasses at 7 months, a month following my first eye surgery. Since then, not a day has gone by that I haven’t worn the pesky things (or contacts). Just last week, I visited the optometrist and nearly brained the man. I won’t say why… But on the upside, I got a new pair of glasses that I just picked up yesterday, and in my excitement, I felt I needed to tell someone!
There’s an old adage among writers, “write what you know.” So I decided to create a heroine with eyesight that rivals mine. The only difference is, she gets to love a lofty lord, and I married a commoner…
For lack of any other juicy tidbits about my life to divulge at the moment, I thought I’d post an excerpt from my upcoming novel, Her Secondhand Groom. A little background on this, Juliet (the heroine) wears glasses so thick that every time she moves her head, they slide. A few scenes before this, Drake took notice of just how heavy his wife’s spectacles were and how the heaviness of them had brutally rubbed the skin on her nose raw. He also discovered that the man who’d fit her for these wasn’t an honest sort. Thus, he decided it was time she had new spectacles, and took her to London to see the best man in the trade.
“Are you ready to go see Mr. Nills?” Drake asked as the morning light filtered in through the curtains.
Juliet rubbed her eyes then put on her heavy spectacles for what she hoped would be the last time. “Absolutely.”
“Shall we walk?” Drake asked after they’d finished breakfast.
“We shall,” Juliet agreed, tying on her bonnet. The weather was turning and it was rather cold, so she grabbed an extra muffler and wrapped it around her neck.
Drake chuckled. “You look rather fetching dressed like that.”
“Well, it’s rather brisk out, wouldn’t you say?”
“Not today it’s not.” He opened the door, and much to Juliet’s surprise, she wasn’t given an instant chill.
“Odd.” She reached for the end of one of the scarves she was wearing, determined to remove it.
Drake’s hand shot out and stopped her. “Leave them. I’ll enjoy peeling all those layers off of you later.”
A chill ran down her spine at his promise. “Which way, my lord?”
“To the left, my lady.” He offered her his arm, then they descended the steps. “We’re only a short distance from Mr. Nills’ shop. There’s no reason for us to take the carriage.”
A block later, they were there.
“You weren’t jesting,” she murmured as he opened the door for her.
“I rarely do.” He walked in behind her. “For reasons I have yet to understand, most of my jests are misunderstood.”
Juliet blinked. How could that be?
An ear piercing screech of wooden chair legs scraping across the wooden floor stole Juliet’s attention.
“Ah, Lord and Lady Drakely,” the clerk inside the building said.
Drake removed his hat. “We’re here to see Mr. Nills.”
“Yes, yes,” the clerk agreed. The stout man pushed his chair in, and dropped his quill. “I’ll be right back, my lord.”
“No need to come get me, Davis,” a tall slender man with short blonde hair, and a flawless suit of clothes said, walking into the room.
“Nills,” Drake greeted.
“Lord Drakely.” Mr. Nills shifted his gaze to Juliet. “Lady Drakely, I presume.”
“Pleasure to meet you,” Juliet said.
Mr. Nills cocked his head to the side and tapped one long, slender finger against his thin lips. “Those have to be the thickest lenses I’ve ever seen.”
“Forgive him, Juliet,” Drake murmured. He reached for her hand and gave it an affectionate squeeze. “Nills here often speaks without thinking.”
“Oh, so you two have a lot in common, then,” Juliet quipped.
“Enough chatting, let’s go have a look at those orbs,” Mr. Nills said, gesturing to an open exam room.
Juliet walked in first. This room was nothing like what she’d seen in that little back room in Mr. Hunt’s shop. In the middle of the room sat an elevated chair, surrounded by tables. On the tables were boxes with rows and rows of marked lenses and prisms. She smiled. Caroline would never want to return to Watson Estate if she were to ever this room.
“Have a seat, Juliet. Today is all about you.”
Juliet turned around to look at the strange man she’d married. Ever since he’d cleaned her up and held her following the first time they’d been intimate, she’d realized there’d been far more to him than she’d originally thought. He wasn’t always an insensitive brute who didn’t give a fig about others, he did. He just didn’t know how to show it.
“Mind if I have a peek at those?” Mr. Nills asked, reaching for her spectacles.
Juliet slid them off and handed them to him.
“Hmm. These frames have got to be no less than one hundred years old.”
Juliet frowned. “That cannot be, sir. My father bought them from Mr. Hunt no more than ten years ago.”
Mr. Nills harrumphed. “Mr. Hunt,” he grumbled. He cleared his throat. “And did Mr. Hunt tell you they were new?”
“Well, no. But I assumed they were. Why would anyone lie about such a thing?”
“Because he’s a cheat,” Drake said. “Don’t worry about it, Juliet. You will get a new pair today. Ones I am sure were manufactured in this century, if not this decade.”
“That you will,” Mr. Nills agreed. “Tell me, Lady Drakely, are you able to see now that I have your spectacles?”
“Hmm, and what can you see?”
She licked her lips. She always hated to be asked that when she removed her spectacles. It made her feel vulnerable.
Drake’s large hand touched her shoulder. “It’s all right, Juliet. There are no wrong answers. Just tell the man what you see.”
“I see―” she blinked her eyes― “I see your outline,” she said at last.
“Can you see what I’m doing?”
She squinted. “Yes, you’re waving your arms like a madman.”
He chuckled. “Very good. Anything else?”
Drake snapped his fingers. “And here I was, hoping you were going to ask me to cheat and help you.”
Juliet’s brow puckered. “Why would you think that?”
“Yes, Lord Drakely, why would you think that?” Mr. Nills drawled.
Drake coughed. “Forget I said anything. Just fit her for some new spectacles, would you?”
“That wasn’t your attempt at a jest was it?” Juliet asked.
Drake didn’t answer her and Mr. Nills began to chuckle. “Since you can’t see it, Lady Drakely, I’ll tell you. Your husband’s face is as red as your coat.”
“I told you I don’t jest often,” Drake said. “Now you know why.”
“I guess so.” That was the worst attempt at a jest she’d ever heard. Perhaps it was a good thing he rarely jested, even if it would make him appear less rigid if he did so.
“All right, Lady Drakely, I’ll be just a few more seconds with these spectacles, then I’ll fit you for some new ones.”
Drake’s other hand came down on her other shoulder and he leaned so close to her, she could feel his breath on her ears.
“Wh-what are you doing?” she whispered.
He didn’t answer how she thought he might, instead, he said, “Mr. Nills has put on his own spectacles now―he wears them on the tip of his nose, by the way―and he’s eyeing your pair in the most curious way I’ve ever seen, almost as if the lenses contain some sort of mystery.”
“What are you doing?” she repeated, her voice more serious this time.
“I’m being your eyes.”
Those whispered words melted away any last crystals of ice which had formed around her heart the day they married. “All right,” she said unevenly. “And just what am I seeing?”
“Well, Mr. Nills is now holding those old heavy spectacles out in front of himself. Care to know a secret?”
“I had no idea Mr. Nills was so strong. The way his muscles are flexing due to the weight of those spectacles, I have a suspicion any minute the seams of his coat are going to rip.”
She jabbed at him with her elbow, and despite herself, a giggle passed through her lips. “While I admit that jest was slightly better than your last, it was still far from unbelievable.”
“It doesn’t matter if it’s believable or not if it still gets the desired reaction. Now stop giggling and I’ll tell you what Mr. Nills is doing now.”
“All right, I’m ready.”
“Now, he’s turning them over in the lamp light. And now he’s… Uh, he’s pushing on one of the lenses now. Plop! He just poked one out! Gracious, Mr. Nills, was that what you were intending to do?”
“I’m not familiar with this particular lens,” Mr. Nills explained. “I’m hoping Mr. Hunt at least had the wits about him to mark the strength on the ridge of the lens.” He sighed. “Not on this one.”
“Oh, now he’s picked the frames back up and he’s pressing against the other lens. Care to wager how quickly he gets this one out?”
“No. You could lie to me, and I’d never know.”
He chuckled. “Do you really think I’d do that?”
“Absolutely.” she lied. He might have a few other distasteful characteristics, but lying wasn’t one of them.
“All right, I’ll just go back to explaining what the peculiar Mr. Nills is doing.”
“No need,” Mr. Nills said, dropping what sounded like her spectacle frames and the lenses they once held. “That no-good, two-bit, quack didn’t bother to mark them. No matter. I’ll just start with a six and go from there.”
“Sorry, Juliet. I thought by bringing you here we’d get you some smaller lenses, not bigger ones,” Drake whispered in her ear.
She rolled her eyes. “He’s not talking about the thickness being six inches, it’s a measurement of some sort but not thickness.”
“All right. But just so you know―”
“Why doesn’t the doting groom have a seat so I can be about my business?” Mr. Nills intoned, presumably to save Drake from saying something to embarrass himself.
Drake coughed. “Right. I’ll just be over here.”
Mr. Nills moved his chair in front of her and for the next forty-five minutes waved different lenses in front of Juliet’s eyes. “I think these’ll do.” He held two lenses up in front of her eyes.
“These’ll do” was an understatement. Those lenses were by far better than the ones she’s been wearing. Lighter, too.
“If you’d like to hold them up to your eyes, I’ll show you which set of frames I can fit them into.”
“You mean I have a choice?” she asked, astonished.
“Not much of one, but yes.” He waited until her fingers were gripping the lenses then let go. He walked across the room then came back with about six different sets of frames. “I have the appropriate shape lenses to fit them in either the circular frames or the rectangular ones.”
Juliet leaned down to look at the six sets of frames in front of her.
“What of these,” Drake asked. He waved a pair of the frames around that required lenses that weren’t rectangles or circles, but more of an awkward five-sided shape. Most odd.
Juliet stared at him. “Do you have cotton in your ears? Mr. Nills said he only had the lenses to fit these.”
Mr. Nills sighed. “Actually, Lady Drakely, I do have the lenses to fit the ones Lord Drakely suggested. I didn’t think to suggest them, however, since gentlemen are typically the ones who choose those.”
Juliet scowled. She understood why a gentleman would be more prone to select those unusual-looking spectacles. They were what ladies would consider hideous, and a gentleman would consider interesting. “No, thank you. I’ll choose one of these pairs.”
“Are you sure, Juliet? You’d get to have green lenses.”
She ignored him. “I think I should like the silver rectangles.”
Drake waved her off. “Reconsider. Just think of how much fun it would be to walk around with the world tinted green.”
“I’d rather not.”
“Here, won’t you just try them on?” He extended the spectacles to her.
“No, and I’d suggest you not put them on, either.”
Of course, like a child who’d just been told not to go somewhere, Drake slipped those silly-looking spectacles on. “You can’t imagine yourself wearing these?”
She pursed her lips so she wouldn’t smile at the ridiculous image her husband was creating in front of her. “No.”
“Pity.” He took them off and immediately began rubbing the pads of his thumb and forefinger over his closed eyelids.
“Get a headache, did you?”
“I bet you’ll listen to me next time.” She laughed and handed the lenses she’d been holding next to her eyes to Mr. Nills, who handed her her new pair of spectacles.
“There won’t be a next time,” Drake said, practically shoving those ridiculous spectacles into Mr. Nills’ hand.
Juliet stood and adjusted her scarf then walked over and picked up those two, inch-thick lenses she used to wear and dropped them into her pocket.
“A souvenir?” Drake asked.
“No. I thought Edward might like them.”
Drake’s brow puckered. “Who?”
“Oh,” he said, nodding. “I bet he would like those. He’s too young to play with them now, but I imagine when he gets older, he’ll have an excellent time using them to start small fires at Watson Estate. Won’t his Papa love you?”
Who cared if Alex loved her? She only cared if Drake did. She started at the thought, then cleared her throat. “Oh, he won’t do anything to get into trouble with them.”
“That’s what you think.” Drake picked up her old, empty frames and slipped them into his breast pocket. “Just think though, you can give them to him to play with now and Caroline won’t have to worry about him choking on them.”
She rolled her eyes.
“Might I suggest the British Museum,” Mr. Nills said abruptly as the two were almost out of the room.
“Pardon?” Juliet and Drake asked in unison, turning their heads back to face him.
“You were planning to take your lady out to put her new spectacles to the test, were you not?” Mr. Nills asked, pride for his mastery of his trade evident in his voice and face.
Drake smiled. “Oh, I have plans for her all right.”
Juliet shivered. She’d bet Drake did have plans for her, and those plans had nothing to do with her new spectacles. Not unless one considered them resting on the nightstand beside his bed a plan.