First, I have to admit that those who’ve been following my blog for a while have a much better chance at guessing correctly, because I talked about the event that inspired the scene a while back, but whether you guess correctly or not, if you give a genuine guess in the comment section, you’ll be entered to win an early copy of His Jilted Bride.
Without any further ado, here is the excerpt, followed by the question for a chance to win:
[PLEASE NOTE: All excerpts posted here are under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any manner without my express permission. Also, please be aware that this is taken from the copy that is currently with the proofreader, so minor typographical errors are possible.]
“You’re it!” five-year-old Lady Amelia Brice squealed as she pressed her dirty hands against Elijah’s back.
Elijah remained seated in his shady spot on the grass and swatted at the neighbor girl who had an odd tendency to think of him as her playmate. “I’m not playing.”
“And why not?” She put her hands on her hips and pursed her lips.
He shrugged. “I don’t want to.”
A sound of annoyance erupted from her throat and she stomped her foot. “Elijah Banks, you are no fun!”
“Isn’t he, though?” Henry, his twin, chimed in, grinning.
Lady Amelia twisted her lips and enthusiastically nodded her agreement. “He sure isn’t. But I know how to get him to play?”
“Sure do. He just needs a little kiss!” She puckered her lips and leaned forward.
Eight-year-old Elijah was off his bottom and to his feet before she could come within a foot of him, let alone touch her puckered lips to his skin.
His standing position didn’t deter her. Lips still puckered and ready, she stepped closer to him.
He took a step back.
She came closer to him again.
This time, he fled.
“You’d better run, Elijah, because when I catch you, you’ll be getting this kiss whether you want it or not,” she called as she chased him around the field. Her unpinned, mud brown hair whipped wildly in the wind as she chased him around the maple tree and down the stone walkway leading to the shed, trampling over his mother’s wildflowers before running up the large hill that led to the house.
“I’ll get you,” she called to him with a wild giggle, making kissing noises as loudly as she could while she chased after him.
“No, you won’t,” Elijah shouted back. He crested a hill and came to a halt when he saw his brother Alex, who was home on academic leave from Eton, sitting under a tree and reading some boring tome about plants.
Elijah pressed his finger against his lips then ran behind a large oak.
From behind the tree, he positioned one eye so he could watch Lady Amelia.
She reached the top of the hill, her dark hair plastered against her sweaty face.
“Alex,” she said, gasping for breath.
Alex nodded to her and Elijah moved his head back behind the tree, debating about just when he should start running again.
A twig snapped from somewhere from somewhere in Alex’s vicinity and he peeked around the tree just in time to meet Lady Amelia’s grey eyes, then he was running again. Only this time he didn’t have the same lead as before.
In front of God, Alex and everybody within hearing distance, Lady Amelia called for him to stop so she could grant him his kiss. But he didn’t. He ran as fast as his bare feet could take him.
Just then, the door to his family’s estate swung open, revealing Mother and Father.
Elijah came to a halt and Lady Amelia ran straight into his back, knocking them both to the ground.
She must not have noticed his parents standing there, for right then, without a second’s hesitation, she pressed her lips against his in a slobbery kiss.
Immediately, he pushed her away and ran the back of his hand over his now moist lips—that’s what a boy was supposed to do when kissed, wasn’t it?—then shoved to his feet.
Lady Amelia stood, her eyes wide. If she’d been anybody else, it’d be terror that would make her look so scared. But Elijah knew better. Amelia Brice was the most stubborn, shameless girl he’d ever met. She wasn’t terrified; she was merely surprised.
“Elijah, Lady Amelia,” Mother greeted, favoring them both with a warm smile.
“And what has the two of you running as if the Angel of Death is nearby?” Father surprised him by asking. Father had no real shame, either, and often asked blunt questions just to see the expression they elicited on someone’s face. So the fact that he hadn’t made mention of what Elijah would forever have to remember as his first kiss caught him unawares.
“She was trying to kiss me,” Elijah blurted.
“It didn’t look like she was trying to me, my boy,” Father said. “I just hope you’ve used your tooth powder recently or that might also be your last kiss.”
Elijah’s cheeks burned. “Well, if not using tooth powder will keep her away from me, I’d better go throw all of mine into the fire right now.”
Mother’s face fell and Father sent him a sharp look at his unkind words.
“Elijah, you know what you must do,” Mother said softly.
Elijah swallowed and turned to face Lady Amelia. He twisted his lips. “I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings,” he muttered.
Mother shook her head and extended her hand down toward Lady Amelia. “Come. I was just about to take tea in the drawing room and I’d love for you to be my guest.”
A grin split Lady Amelia’s red face. “Truly?”
“Truly. Come along now before it gets cold.”
Elijah watched in silence as Lady Amelia accompanied his mother into the red brick house.
Shaking his head, he turned to go find Henry.
“Elijah,” Father called.
“Yes, sir,” he said, turning back to face his father.
“Come sit, I want to talk to you about how you treated your friend.”
Elijah scrunched up his nose at the way his father had referred to her as his friend. “She’s not my friend.”
“Is that so?” Father drawled, leaning against a tall white pillar in front of the house. “You seem to play with her quite a lot.”
“Only because she comes over here all the time.”
“She does that because she likes you, son.”
“Why can’t she find anyone else to like?” Elijah asked through gritted teeth.
Father shrugged. “I have no idea. She might find a friend who’d treat her better if she did though.”
Shame washed over Elijah. “I apologized to her,” he said in a tone that matched the one he’d used when he’d issued said apology.
“Yes, you sure did mumble one, didn’t you? And you even made sure to allow yourself a measure of pride by letting her know that your apology was only being made if you’d hurt her feelings.”
Elijah shrugged. “She’s the one who chased me around the estate trying to kiss me. I doubt I hurt her feelings.”
“Perhaps not,” Father conceded. “But that doesn’t matter. When an apology is made, it needs to be sincere or not made at all.” He pushed off the column and ran a hand through his dark blond hair. “Son, you might not like her now, but one day you might. Then what will you do when she wants nothing to do with you because of the way you treated her?”
Elijah burst out with laughter. “Do not worry, Father. The chances of Alex having a love match are far greater than my being attracted to Lady Amelia.”
The question is: What on earth would inspire me to write such a scene?
The winner will be selected Friday, January 25, 2013 at 3pm CST and notified soon thereafter. Thanks to all who play along.