First and foremost, Merry Christmas (and of course Happy Hanukah if that is your belief). I hope you are all doing well and have a wonderful holiday, no matter which one you choose to celebrate.
Because it IS Wednesday I have an obligation to my readers, yet it is Christmas, so perhaps this might be uncouth… So, as you might guess, I had much to debate last night and I mean this as absolutely no sacrilege, but because I do have a number of readers who love these posts more than any of the others. I’d considered posting the scene where Marcus and Emma play draughts, since it is by far the most fitting for the title of Wicked Wednesday, but in the spirit if Christmas, I did tone it down a little and instead will post with the most memorable aspect of this book: Lady Bird’s Ladybird Memoir.
Emma hadn’t paid much attention to where Marcus had gotten the book he’d shown her, but she’d been paying attention when he put it back. She was seven-and-twenty, well past the blushing debutante age, and she was curious. So why not satisfy her curiosity? She knew if anyone, especially Marcus, were to ever know what she was doing; they’d be shocked to the core. But nobody would find out. She’d just flip through the book to see the pictures, then put it back.
She took her first tentative step and winced. Her leg hurt. Badly. She widened her stance and took another step, taking care not to let her legs rub together as she padded over to the box he’d put that naughty book in, then frowned. He’d locked it! Her eyes quickly scanned the shelves and the vanity for the key. She didn’t see it anywhere. She sighed and reached up to her hair. She’d used a hairpin to pick a lock before; she just have to do it again. Pulling out a pin from the top so as not to compromise her entire coiffure, she bent the pin to make it straight and jabbed the end into the keyhole. She jiggled the pin for a second and smiled when the click of the lock broke the silence.
For good measure, she threw a glance over her shoulder before opening the lid. “Lady Bird’s Ladybird Memoir,” she read aloud. She hadn’t caught the title earlier. The shock over Marcus even owning a book with naked pictures was too much for her to care about such a trivial matter as that. Then Emma knit her brows. There wasn’t a single mention of a LadyBirdin all of Debrett’s. And she’d know—she’d memorized the entire dratted thing, after all. Not to mention the fact that she’d spent countless Seasons in London without ever encountering a single mention of such a person. Who was this Lady Bird?
No matter. She carried her treasure back to the bed. Careful to climb in so she wouldn’t bump that extremely painful cut on her leg; she adjusted the covers and ran her fingers over the lettering on the front. Nervous excitement raced through her. Taking a breath, she opened the cover and used the tip of her index finger to flip past the first few pages. She got to the table of contents page and blinked. “’Chapter One, The Differences Between a Lord and Lady’. I’d sure hope she’d know the difference,” Emma muttered, dropping her eyes down to the title for Chapter Four. “Hmm, ‘A Man Versus a “Gentle”man’. Interesting.”
Impatiently, she flipped the page to chapter one and thought her eyes might pop out as she started reading. The author of this book had written real stories about her lovers, using enough hints for just about anyone to recognize who she was talking about.
Emma devoured the first page, and then the second, followed by the third and fourth. Before she knew it, she was sprawled out face-down on the bed, face flushed, heart racing, nearing the end of the fifth chapter. When she’d first started, she’d occasionally glanced at the clock that hung just above Marcus’ vanity to make sure it wasn’t nearing dinner and she wasn’t about to be interrupted. Now she was too enthralled to care.
Taking a quick break, she put her finger in the book to mark her page and flipped through the rest to see how much further she had. She sighed. There was too much there to read in an hour’s time. She’d have to get as far as she could today and sneak it back out again later.
Keeping her place marked, she went to that page Marcus had shown her earlier. The night Gregory had decided to show up naked in her bed was not the first time she’d seen him naked. Thankfully, it was the last. As a double reason to rejoice, she hadn’t actually seen that specific part of him that night. It was either covered by the sheets or his hands after she kneed him. However, she hadn’t been so lucky a few months back when his robe “accidentally” came untied just as he entered her room to ask if she’d like him to stoke the fire. She cringed. For years she’d had to endure his subtle hints and uncomfortable innuendo. It wasn’t until about five months ago he’d become more bold with his advances.
Pushing the image of Gregory and his unattractive body out of her mind, she looked down at the drawing of the man in the back of the book. Perhaps Marcus had been right. From the five chapters she’d read, “Lady Bird”, who Emma was convinced now more than before was a fictional name, had described in detail many male members. Some long, some short, some thin, some wide, all different. She blushed. These were not thoughts for proper young ladies. Then again, neither was reading such a scandalous book. She sighed. She was an old spinster governess now. She’d never have a chance to be with a man anyway, so what was the harm in reading the book? Nobody would know, and after she finished, she’d just put it back and pretend to be the naive girl everyone thought her to be.
Curiosity urged her to flip back a few pages and look at all the pictures. She’d read enough stories to have an idea of what she’d find. Just as her finger grabbed hold of the paper and had it nearly flipped back, two sharp knocks sounded at the door.
“Don’t come in!” She didn’t know how long she could keep her guest outside and dared not take a chance walking across the room to return the book. Instead, she crawled up to the head of the bed, shoved the book behind the mountain of pillows, then turned around and sat with her back leaning against the pillows. “All right, you may come in now.”
The door opened and a frowning Marcus walked in. “What were you doing in here that I had to wait in the hall?”
“Getting dressed,” she said airily.
He blinked. “You seem to be wearing the same thing you had on when I left.”
Emma grabbed the edges of the robe and held them closed, trying in vain to scowl at him. “Not that it’s your concern, but I had my robe off,” she lied.
Nodding, Marcus took a seat in an empty chair. His face looked slightly pink and every time he looked in her direction, he’d shift and jerk his eyes away.
“Did you come in here for a reason?” she asked after he fidgeted in his chair for a few minutes.
“I wanted to talk to you about earlier. Emma, I was only trying to take care of you. I didn’t mean to—”
“I know,” she cut in. “It’s of no account. I was embarrassed then, but I’m not now.”