Yesterday, marked my 6 year scandal-versary as my friend called it. It was six years yesterday that Intentions of the Earl debuted! In honor of this, I put my first series–Scandalous Sisters Series, which includes Intentions of the Earl, Liberty for Paul and To Win His Wayward Wife on sale for .99 for the complete boxed set through Sunday!
Due to how large the file is, Amazon is the only store that can support it right now. I’m still working on trying to get B&N to post it, too. *fingers crossed*
Intentions of the Earl—Andrew Black a penniless earl makes a pact to ruin Brooke Banks, an American hoyden, never suspecting for a moment he’ll lose his heart along the way…
Liberty for Paul—Liberty Banks, an American vicar’s daughter, loves propriety almost as much as she hates Paul Grimes, the man her father is mentoring, and will go to any length she sees fit to see the improper man out the door and out of her life. But when she’s forced to marry him, she’ll learn there’s a lot more to life, love and this man than she originally thought.
To Win His Wayward Wife—A gentleman who’s spent the last five years pining for the love of his life will get his second chance: marriage to the beautiful, witty, but rather withdrawn Madison Banks. The only problem? She has no interest in him.
And…I wasn’t going to share this because I am sure you are all tired of me changing these particular covers, but the ebook covers for my Fort Gibson Officers Series have changed for the last time. I think she did a fantastic job. I really enjoyed the previous covers as they were done by someone I know locally, however, I was having a hard time getting these books to move, so to speak, and I took someone on board to do the marketing of them and this was a change they wanted to make. Nothing inside of the book has changed.
And here they are! (Paperback updates will come shortly.)
Election Day is tomorrow! Escape the chaos and vote for your favorite Rose Gordon Hero–
Online of course, not really on your ballot.
So in the spirit of “I cannot handle anymore political turmoil and arguing”, I will be hosting my own list of measures to vote on up on Facebook tomorrow. I am not holding a totally fair vote because I don’t plan to post all the questions here tonight–you’ll have to visit my Facebook Page to vote on all the measures. (And of course there will be plenty of prizes to go around.)
The big question, however, is…Who at the end of the night will be crowned the most beloved Rose Gordon. This hero will get special privileges (don’t they all already??) for the next four years and of course be crowned the King of Rose Gordon’s Heroes at the end of the night.
Now of course with so many candidates, it’s only right to hold a small debate so without further ado, I have brought them all here to give a short speech about why THEY deserve such an honor…
[I should warn you that much like the other debates we’ve all witnessed this year, most of the candidates do NOT stay on topic and interrupt each other often…Be warned.]
Gentlemen, in three sentences, or less, could you please tell us why YOU should hold the coveted spot of Most Beloved Rose Gordon Hero for the next four years. We shall go in order of appearance, Andrew Black, Earl of Townson, we shall begin with you.
BENJAMIN COLLINS, DUKE OF GATEWAY: Pardon me, Rose, but actually I appeared before Townson. *grins wildly and folds his arms across his puffed out chest* And in his own book no less…
That will be enough of that.
ANDREW: Yes, we all remember that profound moment, you made the book start with a bang…or should I say a slap heard around the world?
Enough! You two are starting to remind me of real life too much and I do wield the power to remove you both from the running. Now, we shall begin—in the order of heroes. Andrew, you’re your first.
ANDREW—HERO FROM INTENTIONS OF THE EARL: As Rose’s first hero, I should think the honor belongs to me. Not only as the first am I the one she obviously used up her best traits and dialogue with, but I am also the one whose book has been read most, therefore I am most well known.
shoots a sharp look at Gateway
GATEWAY: *throws hands up into the air* I’m entitled to my own opinion on that. His book might have been downloaded more, but have you seen those reviews?
No and I don’t care to. Paul, your turn.
PAUL—HERO FROM LIBERTY FOR PAUL: I was saddled with Liberty, need I say more?
*sighs* If you didn’t fall madly in love with her by the end, I’d say the honor is yours by default, but…
PAUL: *grins* All right, I think I should be the favorite because A. I got Liberty to stop reading—and quoting—books on propriety; B. I also beat her at her own game; and C. I had my clothes stolen while in the tub, D. beans—that were supposed to be my head—stabbed to an oblivion AND E. am ninety percent sure that my mother-in-law glimpsed me naked. Franky, I’m a damn shoo-in.
Ahem, well, I’m not sure what to say to that. Next?
GATEWAY—HERO FROM TO WIN HIS WAYWARD WIFE: No, Paul, I’m the shoo-in. I’ve been Rose’s most loved hero from the start.
ANDREW: Yes, I recall everyone rooting for you all during my romance with Brooke. NOT!
GATEWAY: As I said, I’ve always been the favorite. Have any of you ever peeked in Rose’s inbox? No? It’s me the young girls write about and tell tales of their swooning and say if Arid Alex over there could fashion a time machine, they’d travel–
SIR WALLACE BENEDICT: I believe you’ve spoken more than three sentences.
*all eyes swing to Wallace who is adjusting his cravat*
GATEWAY: Sorry, chap, I was trying to stop at a prime number.
And I have a feeling you aren’t done yet… Nonetheless, you are for now. Alex?
ALEX BANKS—HERO FROM HER SUDDEN GROOM: If I was playing the pity card like Paul, I’d remind everyone I have the nickname of Arid Alex and was once betrothed to Lady Olivia. *shudders* However, I shall instead remind you all of my intellectual pursuits of a regular subscription to Prominent and Avant-Garde Horticulture, being an avid student of chess, having been entrusted to be the guardian of several young ladies…and as Gateway so nicely pointed out, if anyone was capable of creating a time machine, I’m your hero. Therefore, most beloved hero…again, I’m your hero.
GATEWAY: Are we supposed to applaud now?
ANDREW:I don’t know, but his speech is more worthy of applause than yours.
I won’t warn you two again. One more outburst and you’ll be excused from the room.
GATEWAY: Are you threatening voter fraud?
No! You’ll still be in the running, I can’t delete you from the ballot at this late date, but I will banish you from the room so you won’t be able to have another word. Now, let’s hear from Marcus.
MARCUS, LORD SINCLAIR—HERO FROM HER RELUCTANT GROOM: Hands down, I think everyone would agree I am the most honorable of all of your heroes. Even the ones who are given such an honor in their book title— *casts his grey eyes to where Sebastian, Giles and Simon, the three heroes from the Gentlemen of Honor Series, are seated* —I had a lovely young woman staying in my house unchaperoned for quite a while and not a whisper of scandal befell either of us. Nor was she in any way unmarriagable when she left.
PATRICK—HERO FROM HER SECONDHAND GROOM: *snorts* Sir Wallace might disagree with that. She wasn’t very interested in marrying him after you’d given her a lesson in male anatomy and base desires courtesy of a little book in your library.
MARCUS: I’d say all four of our wives— *gestures to Alex, Patrick, Sir Wallace and himself* —benefited in some way from Lady Bird’s Ladybird Memoir.
SIR WALLACE: *clearing his throat, and whispering* I can’t complain too much about that book, Patrick.
MARCUS: *stretches legs out in front of himself, crosses ankles* See? Emma’s gift to Edwina was the perfect apology.
ALEX: Your wife gave that…that…filth to my sister?!
GATEWAY: *cackles* Sir Wallace, you rascal! *lets out a low whistle and shakes his head* I suppose it’s true what they say, it’s always the quiet ones who are the biggest scoundrels. *stands and claps Sir Wallace on the shoulder* Since Rose is gesturing for me to get my arse out, I will go, but Sir Wallace, I’d be honored if you’d take my seat over in the Scandalous Series section. I do believe you having a naughty book has entitled you to a seat with the other debauchers. *bows* I shall take my leave now, I had no idea I was in such depraved company.
ALEX: *Scrubs hands over his face.* The image that is now in my head isn’t going away.
MARCUS: You’ll get over it. I do recall spotting a copy of it in your library. Need I remind you that you are married to my cousin?
ALEX: Point taken. Patrick, I think it’s your turn.
PATRICK “DRAKE”, LORD DRAKELY—HERO FROM HER SECONDHAND GROOM: I willingly admit that I made a few mistakes with Juliet, my heroine, but I’d like to think I redeemed myself during our trip to London. Also, if it weren’t for me, poor Simon over there would have never had his happily-ever-after. So in a way, I’m a HERO FROM two books.
ANDREW to ALEX: I think he’s been spending too much with Gateway, he’s getting a swell head.
ALEX back to ANDREW: That or with his wife and now he thinks he’s as good of a matchmaker as all those of her sex think they are.
PATRICK: I hate to tell you two weasels this, but Brooke and Caroline both think they’re some sort of skilled matchmakers, too.
All right, fellas, let’s stay on course. Sir Wallace?
SIR WALLACE BENEDICT—HERO FROM HER IMPERFECT GROOM: 1. Contrary to my book title, I am undeniably a perfectionist. 2. Unlike some of the others in this room, when scandal knocked on my door, I was ready to do the right thing. 3. Despite my love for being impeccably dressed and as proper as a straight pin as Rose put it, when love was on the line, I put my own wants aside and chased her down at all costs.
ALEX: Chased her down? No you scaled the side of my house and broke into her room.
SEBASTIAN—HERO FROM SECRETS OF A VISCOUNT: There is nothing wrong with that.
ALEX: There is when she didn’t invite him to do so.
SEBASTIAN: *face flushing, shrugs* Again, I don’t find anything wrong with it if he gets the girl in the end.
SIR WALLACE: I did. *pushes chest out* And an enlightening little treatise to boot.
Let’s move on to the heroes of the Brides Series. Edward?
EDWARD BANKS, LORD WATSON—HERO FROM HER CONTRACT BRIDE-: Oh? I get to enter the running, do I? I wasn’t sure if I’d get that honor since I’m the only one Rose killed off! I think that means I should forever be memorialized as the most beloved. Oh, is that too morbid? All right, I think ultimately I should be the most beloved hero because I’m the one responsible for building the stargazing gazebo that brought about at least two happily-ever-afters. If it weren’t for me being friends with the late Lord Sinclair, Alex wouldn’t have met Caroline—
ALEX: Or have been engaged to Lady Olivia.
EDWARD: Yes, as I mentioned before, I was lost in celebration that night. Believe me, there was a lot of celebrating. Joseph was finally free from having to visit Bea’s bed and the wine just kept flowing… *waves a hand through the air* Not to mention, I fixed things between Alex and Caro by reminding her that he’s a man. If it weren’t for me and Regina, Alex, Elijah, Henry and Edwina wouldn’t be here and I would have never been born and John wouldn’t have gone to America to meet his wife. And…finally, if it weren’t for me, Andrew wouldn’t have inherited such a beautiful painting.
ANDREW: Thank you. I’m still cherishing it.
JOHN BANKS—HERO FROM HIS YANKEE BRIDE: All right, Edward, we get that you’re making up for lost time of not getting any scenes in three of your four children’s books, but enough is enough. Besides, I know the true identity of that “artist”. Not to mention, you allowed your heroine to sink the Gallant…
EDWARD: She looked so fetching as the boat went down, I’d have allowed her to sink a whole armada had I had one.
All right, gentlemen, we have a lot more to hear from–
EDWARD: No we don’t, I’m the most beloved. *grins* They need not even speak.
JOHN: Now who has been spending too much time with Gateway?
John, it’s you’re turn.
JOHN: As hero to Carolina I have faithfully done my duty and played countless games of charades. I stood up to her beastly parents and rescued her closest confidant. I endured being sewn into a bundling bag, being watched shamelessly on while bathing in the pond, had to bear witness to a dirty, old merkin lying in the street while eloping, and in the end, swept my girl away from her parent’s evil clutches and eventually brought her and my three daughters to London where all of Rose’s stories began.
EDWARD: You’re rather smug, aren’t you, Trouble?
JOHN: *shrugs* The boot fits.
All right you two, nearly two hundred and fifty years later and you two are squabbling like little boys.
EDWARD: We’re brother’s, that’s what we’re supposed to do.
And now, for another set of Banks Brothers—Elijah?
ELIJAH BANKS—HERO FROM HIS JILTED BRIDE: *squares shoulders and slowly looks around the room* Fellas, you can all go home. This victory is mine. You all might think you rescued your heroines, but I—*points at chest*–I did. I not only saved her from being married to a scheming, lying, reprobate who likely would have done unmentionable things to her person, but I did it by shimmying her through a church window in her wedding gown, no less. *chuckles* And no more, either.
HENRY BANKS—ELIJAH’S TWIN AND HERO FROM HIS BROTHER’S BRIDE: What Elijah neglected to mention was said man hadn’t even shown up yet. So how exactly he spared her such a life… *shakes head* Can anyone truly be certain?
ELIJAH: Right you are, Henry. I was also rescuing her from the humiliation of being jilted. I thought that was implied by the title. And just because he hadn’t shown up yet that day, didn’t mean he didn’t still have plans for her.
HENRY: That’s true, however, had you not married her and just brought her to safety, you’d have been able to fulfill an earlier promise you’d made.
ELIJAH: Oh, you mean I’d have married Laura—YOUR wife? *cocks head to the side* If what I spied in the garden is any indication, I think you ought to be thanking me.
ELIJAH: My thanks?
HENRY: *stares at him* I’ll refrain from singing carols at Michaelmas this year.
ELIJAH: That’s even better.
Throws hand up. Henry, it’s your turn.
HENRY: *rubs chin* As I just mentioned I did marry the young lady Elijah had promised marriage to. And I don’t regret it. I did first try to find her another suitable husband because what else can you do when a woman you barely knows shows up on your front door stoop and demands marriage? If rescuing heroines is the key to winning, I should say that I rescued mine from herself when she was spitting out phrases in French that she didn’t know the meaning of. And finally, I do believe, I exercised perfect self-control in the carriage while taking my—not my brother’s *scowls*—bride to Scotland.
ELIJAH: And on the way back?
HENRY: Is none of your damn business.
EDWARD: That’s my boy.
JOHN: Only you would be proud.
EDWARD: Had your wife produced a boy, you’d understand. As it is your girls—
JOHN: Are the most scandalous sisters to ever step foot in London, yes, I know.
EDWARD: I was going ot say saints, but your definition works, too.
All right, we need to–
GATEWAY: *pokes his head in the room* Are you hens still clucking? You all know I won this competition before it even started.
ANDREW: Only if you’ve been out there rigging the votes… *arches eyebrow*
MARCUS: Besides, I think you’d do well to spend a little more time around Alex and allow him to explain to you the difference between hens and roosters.
GATEWAY: I can borrow Sir Wallace’s naughty book for that, I’m sure.
Gateway, come join us again. Apparently, without you making inane and unsolicited comments everyone else feels they need to.
GATEWAY–*lumbers in and falls into a vacant chair* Ah, to be the scapegoat.
Now, let’s switch gears and hear from our American heroes—Wes, are you ready?
CAPTAIN WES TUCKER—HERO FROM THE OFFICER AND THE BOSTONER: About as ready as I was for a spirited and slightly angry young lady to come parading into my life, throwing rocks and making impossible demands.
2ND LIEUTENANT JACK—HERO FROM THE OFFICER AND THE SOUTHERNER: Sounds to me like you’re complaining.
CAPTAIN GRAY—HERO FROM THE OFFICER AND THE TRAVELER: Which you certainly weren’t doing when she came. I do believe you went around whistling a merry little tune as you packed your things and strutted up to your new bedchamber in the married officers wing of the barracks.
WES: Indeed I was. But keep in mind, I managed to keep Allison safe from harm of the other men and from herself with a sewing needle. I used her excellent throw to all of our advantage and taught her how to swing a bat—she can now best even the best in rounders.
JACK: Yes, that all sounds so exciting, lest we forget your book isn’t a shoot’em up.
GRAY: No, that was saved for your book. Would you care to share with everyone just exactly what went on at the shooting range that day?
JACK: That was a private moment between Ella and me.
*laughter from around the room.*
EDWARD: Good for you, young man.
Jack, why should you be most beloved hero?
JACK: I certainly went through some of the worst—sent off for a mail-order bride and received a young lady who was angry with me from the start. *face reddens* For which I do take full responsibility. Nearly lost my heroine to a spider. Had to ride a horse with a man who wore little more than an eyepatch over his…unmentionables, sat in the tent of a naked and half-crazed medicine man—and that was only the first half of my tale. As Gray mentioned, I taught my girl how to shoot…*face turns crimson and coughing ensues* and gave her another sort of education as well.
GRAY: *voice dripping with sarcasm* And now, I’ll never be able to shoot at the range again without that thought. Thank you.
JACK: *grins* You’re welcome.
GATEWAY: Would you like me to ruin a few places in England for you?
GATEWAY: *chuckles* Pray continue.
Gray, you’re turn.
GRAY: I do believe I am the most beloved. I had a rekindled romance with a woman I was once forbidden to talk to and because I kissed her–
JACK: Should you remind everyone why you were kissing her?
GRAY: *ignoring Jack, continues*–we were married and I inherited a dragon for a father-in-law.
JACK: *snorts* I have the same father-in-law!
WES: Yes, and thanks to the two of you, he’s now the general at our fort.
JACK: It’s not my fault. I didn’t know Ella’s father was a grumpy old general when I started writing to her. Hell, even Gray didn’t recognize Ella when she first came.
GRAY: And if I had, would you have sent her back?
JACK: Well, no.
GRAY: Then it seems you should stop your complaining about the old dragon.
WES: And you should, too. You both chose to be connected to him. I did not.
GRAY: As I said, if Jack had known any more about Ella’s identity it could have been avoided.
WES: Yes, but then you wouldn’t have had your wife.
GRAY: No, I wouldn’t have–*eyes crinkle and a broad grin takes his lips* and dealing with her cantankerous father is a small price to pay to have her.
Gray, is that all you have to say?
GRAY: No, I have plenty to say if these two would shut up for two minutes. I married a woman who had no reservations in her dislike for me. As has been mentioned, her father didn’t like me either. But even so, she managed to win me over and I daresay, I won both of them over, too.
JACK: That’s the best you could come up with?
GRAY: Yep, I’m Michaela’s all-time favorite hero. I don’t need to be anyone else’s.
*silence fills the room…until broken by none other than GATEWAY* Ah, spoken like a men letting his privates doing the thinking for him—and not the hundred men you command.
GRAY: *shrugs* Her opinion is the only one I value.
That’s very sweet, so then should we stop this competition now and let you all get back to your respective heroines?
SEBASTIAN GENTRY, LORD BELGRAVE—HERO FROM SECRETS OF A VISCOUNT: Hell no. I did not break into the wrong sister’s bedroom and hie my worst nightmare off to Scotland, marry her, lie to her, diligently try to find her another husband while secretly longing for her and praying she wouldn’t wind up with Stoic Simon just to give up now. I love Belle more than life itself, but by golly, I’m the most beloved hero—I’ve even won an award.
Your book isn’t the only one to be nominated for an award, Sebastian, (gracious this man needs to be taken down a peg), Patrick, Edward and John have been finalists, too.
SEBASTIAN: Ah, but they all came in second. I won. And a reader’s choice, nomination style entry no less.
EDWARD: Not true. I won some something or other once, too.
SEBASTIAN: Nobody seems to remember that. Not even the contest officials when it was time to publicly reveal the winners. But me? Oh, they made up this huge poster of my book. The thing was so big, Rose couldn’t get it back home from the conference. A local friend—and saint—kept it at her house for almost two and a half years until a mutual friend happened to be driving across the US and brought it to Rose. See, it’s right here!
GATEWAY: I think I’ve found my match for most conceited.
SEBASTIAN: Exactly, the Gateway Era is over and the Sebastian Era has begun.
SIMON APPLETON—HERO FROM PASSIONS OF A GENTLEMAN: I still can’t believe Isabelle chose this for herself.
HENRY: Ha, if awards were given out for which hero made Rose bang her head against the desk most while writing their book, Elijah would win handidly.
SEBASTIAN: And Simon would win for most re-starts.
JACK: Gray would be a close second for that one.
Hey now! Stop airing MY dirty laundry. Giles, are you ready?
GILES GODDARD—HERO FROM DESIRES OF A BARON: I don’t need this award. I married Lucy a woman who loves me no matter what I say and do. With Lucy came Seth. The boy asks me uncomfortable questions about the origins of babies, when unsightly hair will appear, and now calls me Papa. I already have my reward.
SIMON: And don’t forget a brother.
GILES: How could I? You’re the reason I was questioned about the appearance of body hair.
SIMON: And the reason you met Lucy.
GILES: Yes, it was because of you we met, but you certainly didn’t have any intentions of backing down.
SIMON: I’d met her first.
GILES: And it was obvious that she didn’t return your interest. At least it was obvious when I read the book—living it was a different matter.
All right—again, more bickering brothers! Simon, you’ll have your turn in a bit–
SIMON: Of course I will. I already had to wait two years to get my book, why not wait longer to have my turn to speak.
In order of heroes, I think Gareth is next.
GARETH, LORD WORTHE—HERO FROM THE PERFECT LADY WORTHE: As many of the others have said, I already feel like I’ve won because I was blessed to have such a wonderful heroine to spend the rest of this life with. But…since Rose is twisting our arms for these speeches, I will say that I am indeed gentlemanly and clever. I was the HERO FROM her first novella who apparently knows exactly how much is in my bank account and takes abbreviated naps throughout the day. Not to mention, I married my best friend’s younger sister against his wishes, that’s pretty damn brazen and heroic, if you ask me.
GATEWAY: Twisted your arm? Hmmph.
Aaron, your turn.
AARON LENTZ, HERO FROM MISTLETOE & MICHAELMAS: I had to endure a Christmastide stay with the straightforward Duke of Danby. The man is so obsessed with matchmaking, I went to his house as part of my duty as a vicar and less than a fortnight later I was in need of one myself. Also, for the record, it should be mentioned, my name wasn’t always Aaron. I was given that name the afternoon the book was submitted because another story in the anthology had a hero with the same name. How is that for enduring?
JOHN: I wondered how you ended up with what was originally my name.
I confess, I confess! Aaron is telling the truth. His name was different when I wrote the book and I had to change it. John is also correct—his name originally was Aaron. But when I was typing Aaron, my fingers were moving so fast I’d capitalize both As. Plus, Intentions of the Earl didn’t need anyone else with an “A” name. Now, let’s move onto our next hero: Joel.
JOEL CUNNINGHAM—HERO FROM JESSE: BRIDE OF SOUTH CAROLINA: What can I say? I was commissioned to bring the girl I’d once loved more than life itself one hundred miles in my wagon to a train depot so she could go off to the wilds of Montana and marry Mr. Perfect—which couldn’t have been too perfect or he wouldn’t have submitted an ad for a mail-order bride. I kept my hands to myself—most of the time, my trousers buttoned up—a blasted hard thing to do at times and reined in my sarcasm–
No you did not!
JOEL: And no you did not have this book done by Oct. 26, 2015 like you were supposed and yet you still told everyone you had. If I remember right you were only 1,000 words in.
What has that to do with anything?
JOEL: Nothing, other than I was the perfect hero to write about. If I hadn’t been so easy to write about you wouldn’t have gotten this book done in under a week.
GATEWAY: Dang! Here I thought my book was the fastest at ten days.
JOEL: No, mine took less time but after meeting you today, I see why yours took so long. You’re a fountain of fodder.
GATEWAY: Thank you. I enjoy being complimented.
JOEL: Yes, and so does my wife. Who, I’ll have you all know I managed to win over on that trip despite fear of her father catching us, being robbed, having to sleep outside, meeting a deranged man who loves his junk more than Andrew and Gateway hate each other and more sarcastic remarks than have been shared here today.
You are correct, Joel. On all scores. James?
JAMES NORTH, EARL OF WYNN—HERO FROM THE WOOING GAME: I daresay this award is in the bag for me. Charlotte and I had a nasty first start. Blooming humiliating all the way around if I dare say. However, I managed to win her—even woo her—and all by sending her anonymous letters of admiration, a feat not even the notorious Banks men—or heroes of the Banks women–could pull off.
GARETH: The first missive you sent her, wasn’t so anonymous….or charming.
JAMES: Shhh! I made a mistake. You’ve made one I’m sure.
SIMON: Is it my turn yet? Have I waited long enough?
Yes, Simon, you can go now.
SEBASTIAN: I don’t know why you’re bothering to, I’m sure everyone has already decided.
GATEWAY: Yes, they only needed to hear the first three.
ANDREW: Nope. Just the first one.
SIMON: Well, aren’t you both rather cocksure? Haven’t you ever heard of “saving the best for last”? My book was “in the works” for two blasted YEARS. Rose received emails inquiring when it was coming out. People asking why they couldn’t find it. She even received a very nasty email about tying her to a chair and making her write it. I daresay, if the emails are to be believed, I would consider this contest already over. Name me the winner and hand me my crown.
SEBASTIAN: Just because they asked about you and demanded she write your book doesn’t mean they liked it. Heck, if sales reports are any indication, I’d honestly say your book is the least read book Rose has written!
SIMON: That’s because everyone read your book and hated you so much they didn’t want to risk reading the others in the series for fear of encountering you again.
SEBASTIAN: Again, may I point your direction to Exhibit A?
All righty then, I think we’re done.
GATEWAY: No closing remarks?
No, you’ve all said more than enough already. All right ladies, you’ve heard what they have to say and tomorrow—on National Election Day—you can cast your vote for your favorite Rose Gordon Hero on Facebook. Please read over this as many times as you feel are necessary and share with your friends who might like to vote.
From just outside the window of my living room where everyone had gathered…GABRIEL ELLIS—FUTURE HERO FROM HIS PENNILESS BRIDE: Damn. She’s been receiving emails about the whereabouts of my story for four years—that’s before more than half of these fellas were heroes—I now have another four years to get my story, read all of their books to dig up the most gossip and I’ll be an easy win next go-around.
Ah, Gabriel, you forget…since your story hasn’t yet been written, you could be the most scandalous of them all!
Today I have Madison Banks here with me to give us her take on Paul and Liberty and their unfortunate first impressions on each other. Thank you for joining me today, Madison. You are actually in a rather unique situation since you were present for the first…uh…incident involving Liberty and Paul. Is there anything you can tell us we don’t already know.
I don’t think so. I told everything to Brooke already, that’s all there was to say.
Ah, but you’re assuming everyone who’s reading this has already read Intentions of the Earl.
You mean they haven’t? Well, they should go to pick up a copy post haste! All right, you make a valid point, so I’ll just give a brief summary of what transpired that dreadful day. Mr. Grimes overheard Liberty say some unsavory comments and gently put her in her place. Shocked, and undoubtedly embarrassed, Liberty shot to her feet and said some equally unsavory comments to Mr. Grimes. Something about him not having any ballocks and hoping his troubles worsen so he has to go live out the rest of his life in a hole. It’s been a while, but I think that just about covers it.
She seems a lovely girl.
Actually, she is. Aside from her annoying love for propriety and her utter hatred for Mr. Grimes she truly is a lovely girl. You just have to get to know her a little better, you’ll see.
I think we shall all get to know her better very soon. However, do you think Mr. Grimes would agree with your description of her being lovely?
No, of course not. I don’t mean to sound critical, but have you read Intentions of the Earl? The two cannot tolerate each other, anyone who’s read the book would know that.
I’ve read that book more times than you think. But that’s not the point, what I was saying was… Wait. Have you read the book?
Of course, I did! Who hasn’t? Well, except for those who haven’t found it yet and didn’t want to cut short this interview to go find their copy. Although, just between us, I must admit I had to skim a few areas since Brooke is my sister and all.
But of course. And did you learn anything from the book?
Yes and no. Naturally, I already knew most of the details of Brooke and Andrew’s relationship because she told me, but I had no idea exactly why Mr. Grimes sported that nasty bump on his forehead at Brooke’s wedding, nor all the details of his lawn bowls game with Liberty. However, what I was most surprised to learn happened at the front of the book. Spacey? Really? Putting aside, the fact that the word “spacey” probably wasn’t even a term anyone would have thought to use back then, I was still rather shocked because all this time I actually thought you liked me.
I do like you. That’s why I have the perfect hero lined up for you to marry.
Save your ink. My interest in marriage in general rivals Liberty’s interest in Mr. Grimes. Actually, that’s not true. Liberty does have an interest in Mr. Grimes. It just seems his indifference toward her soured her feelings for him.
Just because I sit quiet and tend to let my eyes wander off to…to….out the window, does not mean I’m a featherbrain. The truth of it is, I’d wager Liberty was attracted to him from the start, but he seemed rather disinterested. Or if he was interested, he surely didn’t make it known.
Very observant. Would you say if the two were to marry interest for the other would spark?
I suppose it’s possible. But it’s unlikely they’d willingly marry.
So it is. That just means the hand of fate (or in this case, my hands) will have to interfere and see what can be done.
Just as long as those hands don’t try to create a fate for me, I don’t care what you do.
Oh, ye of little faith, you–and all our other readers–will just have to see what I have in store for you in To Win His Wayward Wife. Don’t roll your eyes, you will be the heroine. And, even more exciting, you’ll be back in the interview chair in the next week or so when I do character interviews for the characters in that book. Doesn’t that sound exciting?
Can hardly wait.
I knew it. But please try to contain your excitement. Until then, keep reading everyone!
Good morning, all. Thank you for joining us on this nippy Monday morning. Today I am interviewing Andrew and Brooke Black, the Earl and Countess of Townson. Brooke is Liberty’s eldest sister and seemed to be her greatest confidant during the time in which Brooke was securing her own match. Would you agree with that statement, Brooke?
BB: Absolutely. Liberty came to me several times during my courtship with Andrew to complain about “him” as she’d taken to referring to Paul Grimes.
What kinds of things did she say to you about him?
BB: Oh, well, nothing you don’t know already. She hated the man–
AB: And, I think it’s just as important to add, he rather disliked her, too. However, his reasons seem to hold far more water than hers.
BB: He’s right. The poor man had far more reasons to dislike her than the other way around.
Now, Andrew, quit grinning like a simpleton. I know it must be rare your wife admits you’re right, but try to dim that handsome smile, it’s hurting my eyes. Instead, why don’t you tell me about some of these incidents?
AB: To be quite frank, the one event I was privy to hear about is not one I–or any man for that matter–would like to discus, much less think about again.
Brooke, I see you giggling. Care to answer for him?
BB: No, I quite agree with Andrew’s ascertainment. I can see why a man would be loath to remember such a thing. Nor do I wish to revisit that particular conversation. Instead, I’ll just tell you that it took me about fifteen seconds to surmise the two disliked each other when I first saw them seated next to each other at dinner. She confirmed it, however, the next day when she burst through my door like a madwoman and declared she absolutely hated him and rattled off the most awkward story I’d ever heard, up to then, that is.
Are you saying that the awkward story that goes along with the memory Andrew is so vigilantly trying to repress over there is currently the most awkward story you’ve ever heard?
BB: Yes. I’d say so. Her second tale was far worse than the first.
Well, considering she’d practically accused him of lacking ballocks during the first story, I can only imagine how much worse the second story was. For Andrew’s sake, I’ll stop this vein of my interview. How about we talk about Mr. Grimes. What do each of you think of him?
AB: I rather like the man. He’s a good man to have around when you’re in a tight spot.
BB: Oh, stop. Andrew only likes the man because he agreed to marry us on the spot without asking any questions or putting his palm out for money.
AB: No better way than that to endear oneself to an impoverished man.
That’s right. You had what was it, forty pounds to your name at the time?
AB: Sadly, yes.
BB: Let me answer this one! To quote Andrew, “I have enough, madam. Discussing money matter is considered vulgar in English households. But if you truly must know, I have enough for you to have this…” Then he usually whips something he’s bought for me out of his pocket.
You actually ask your husband about his finances?
BB: Only because I know it leads to him giving me something! The first time I did it, it was completely innocent. It was right after he installed his mines and I asked if they were producing. He scowled, told me money matters were a man’s affair, then gave me the wedding ring he couldn’t when we married. Now, I just ask him to see if he has something for me.
Smart girl. I wrote you well. It seems Andrew’s mines were just the ticket. Very good. I’m glad it all worked out. For both of you. Now, back to Paul, Brooke what are your feelings on the man?
BB: I truly don’t know him so well, I’m afraid. When we first met, I thought he was a bit off. Cold. But the few times I’ve been around him in the past few months, I’ve rather warmed to him. He’s actually not so cold and distant, nor boring and stodgy like Liberty seems to think.
AB: I agree. He’s actually rather nice when you get to know him.
Do either of you think Paul and Liberty should set aside their differences and make a match of it?
BB: You better not suggest such a thing to Liberty, steam will start spiraling out of her ears.
AB: I’d like to amend my former statement. I don’t think the two would willingly put aside their differences and try to make a match of it–nor would we all wish for them to. However, if something–such as a scandal–were to come up that would force them to marry, I think they could eventually push aside their dislike for the other enough to give off the appearance of a cordial marriage.
Cordial? Not love?
AB: Probably not.
Is love so important?
BB: I think so. I know we can’t all marry for love, but love does make the harder aspects of marriage easier. I don’t care who her husband ends up being just as long as somewhere in his heart he loves my sister and her insufferable ways. If he does, I”m nearly certain she’ll be hard pressed not fall in love with him, too.
AB: But in the meantime, he better guard his–
Oh dear, look at the time. I think it’s time for you two to back to living out the rest of 1812, while I go make breakfast and pack lunches. Join me next time when I talk to Madison, Liberty’s other sister, to see what she can tell us about Liberty, Paul and their rocky relationship last year at the house party.
Another old interview repost for everyone to enjoy! 😀
Good morning! Today I’ll be talking to Turner, the Banks family butler from Liberty for Paul. Please excuse my tardiness this morning, Turner. I seem to have been caught up in tasks such as laundry and cleaning. In the year 2011, the words: maid and mother have become interchangeable, I’m afraid. But I’m sure you understand household tasks better than anyone being a bulter and all, right?
Good. So tell our readers, what is it like being the butler for the Banks family?
Quite interesting really. There’s always something going on in that appallingly decorated house. Sometimes I’m allowed to admit a certain earl and sometimes I’m not. One time–
Excuse me for cutting in, sir. Please remember our stenographer over there is writing down everything you say and posting it for all the world to see. We wouldn’t wish to unintentionally get you fired for revealing too much private information.
Right you are. I’ll just say the house is always abuzz.
Abuzz? I wasn’t aware someone from the early 1800s knew that word.
We don’t. I’ve never heard it before. But I overheard you use it while you were talking to that little black box thing a moment ago and gleaned it meant a lot was going on. Did I use it incorrectly?
No. You used it correctly.
Good. Then it is safe to say, the Banks house is always abuzz with some sort of exciting activity.
Very good. Let’s move to our next question. Would you say, with the exception of during this interview, that one of your most important roles as a butler is to exercise discretion?
Yes. Always. I should hate to bring embarrassment or shame upon the Banks family by revealing something that might be considered…uh….shameful or embarrassing, such as the time I found young Liberty in a compromising situation where she was–
Remember our stenographer?
Of course. How could I forget her? She’s rather fetching, she is.
Yes, well, please remember she is taking notes of everything you say. Turner, be completely honest now, is there anything that might make you abandon discretion and spill all you know to an outside source?
Hmm. What about a thousand pounds?
One evening in December, around Christmas, I saw Miss Liberty heaping clothes–
Well, I guess now we know his price.
No, you don’t. I gave my story to Lady Algen for a tankard of ale and a plate of hot mutton.
All right, then. I think that does it for today. Enjoy your weekend and come back Monday for another character interview. Now that we’re off the record, dish the dirt.
I was walking down the hallway, trying to look busy when I saw a slightly open door and a pile of men’s clothes sitting just outside. Being the ever dutiful servant that I am, I brought them downstairs to be laundered. Then when Mr. and Mrs. Banks came home, I led them upstairs to greet their guest and when the door opened, there it was, Mr. Grimes and Miss Liberty were…
This is a repost of my interview with Elizabeth Black, Dowager Countess of Townson on her take on Liberty and Paul…
Hello again, today I have the ever-blunt Elizabeth Black with me. You may remember her as Andrew’s mother from Intentions of the Earl. She’s graciously agreed to meet with me today and I wager we’ll get no refusals to discuss certain topics today.
Quite right. I’ll tell you whatever you want to know.
I bet you will. I understand you’re going to be a grandmother soon, is that exciting?
Yes, very. I was a bit surprised when I’d heard Andrew had married, but shocked really to find Brooke was expecting.
Yes. When it was discovered she’d not conceived on her wedding night, like I had, I figured my chances of ever holding a grandchild had just evaporated. Apparently, my son was better at convincing his wife to share his bed again than my husband was. Not that he ever tried.
Quite likely. Enough on that. Tell me, do you like Brooke?
Of course I do! She’s the prefect daughter-in-law for me. See, like me, she seems not to give a fig about the rules of propriety. We get along very well, indeed.
Wonderful. I’m glad I could write two people who get along so well. But, I must know, does she do anything that gets on your nerves? Even just a little?
She has this habit of dragging out all her miniatures and regaling me with stories of her and her sisters. Not that I mind too terribly, mind you. It’s just, well, at times she reminds me of a ninety year old dowager showing off miniatures of her children and grandchildren. Most odd really.
Would it be safe to say you could identify one of her family members in a crowd.
Without a doubt. I could even tell you their interest, naughty deeds as children, even their most embarrassing secrets. I know it all.
Do you have any opinions about Liberty?
That girl needs to quit consulting books about manners in an attempt to find a husband. If she truly wants one of those annoying creatures, she needs to let her hair down and embrace the feelings I suspect she has for a certain individual.
You suspect she has feelings for someone?
Of course she does. No proper young lady gets driven to use the word ballocks by just anyone. Trust me, with all the information Brooke has poured out upon me, I have a sneaking suspicion Liberty has quite an infatuation with the man. Unfortunately, she’ll never admit it to anyone, particularly herself.
Hmm. Do you think she could be convinced to admit to such an emotion?
I suppose. But it doesn’t matter. From what I understand Brooke’s father has forbiden her to even go near the man after she elbowed him in the very same ballocks she accused him of not having.
Brooke told you that?
Not in quite so many words, but I got the general idea. Though I do get the impression she hadn’t intended to hit him there, but the result was the same, nonetheless.
Yes, well, I think that does it for today. Thank you for taking your time travel carriage to the year 2011 to talk to me, Elizabeth. Join me tomorrow for an exclusive interview with Turner, the family’s unusually unusual butler! Until then!
Here’s another Liberty for Paul character interview. This time featuring her parents, one of my favorite couples, John and Carolina Banks (John and Carolina get their own chance to squirm as propriety flies out the window in their own story, His Yankee Bride).
Good morning, as you know, I’ve been dragging the characters from Liberty for Paul out from under the cobwebs of my mind and conducting interviews with them this week to give an insider’s look at the relationship between Paul and Liberty and what to expect in their story. Today I am speaking with John and Carolina Banks, Liberty’s parents. What can you tell me about said relationship, Mrs. Banks?
CB: Not much, I’m afraid. The two seem to despise each other to no end and never really speak to one another.
Yes, I gathered that. Mr. Banks, do you have anything to add?
JB: No. I think Carolina said it best. For some reason the two have been at odds since just after I first introduced them.
I see. Mrs. Banks, I assume you were there, too, do you think something happen at that first introduction that caused the friction?
CB: It’s possible.
CB: Well, he might have inadvertently crossed a line as far as Liberty is concerned.
JB: It’s probably best we don’t go into all that. I love my daughter and would do anything to protect her from scorn, so since talking about such a topic may not be in her best interest, I think it best we speak about something else.
I find it rather curious you say you’d do anything to protect Liberty. Just how far would you go?
JB: As far as I have to. But hopefully she’ll continue to stay on her best behavior and I’ll not be forced to behave inappropriately.
Her best behavior, eh? And what of Mr. Grimes and his behavior?
CB: Pish posh. Paul is a very fine gentleman. Besides Liberty’s imagined impropriety about the man, he is a perfectly respectable man. I complete faith in him.
Let’s have a moment of honesty, have either of you ever thought you’d like to see him as your son-in-law?
JB: Unfortunately, that won’t be happening. Madison has a very strong aversion to marriage in general that matches Liberty’s aversion to Paul.
And if by some chance he did become your son-in-law?
CB: Then we’d be attending a funeral a short time later.
JB: The only question is: whose?
All right. Let’s say for some unseen reason the two do decide to marry, urp hold your objections, this is all hypothetical. Now, say they decide to marry, I’d assume Mrs. Banks, as her mother, you’d help her plan an extravagant wedding.
CB: Of course I would! It’s the mother’s duty to guide her daughter on her most important day.
And what of the very important wedding night? Will you be “guiding” her about that, too?
CB: I—I—I sup—suppose so, yes.
Would you care to give us a quick rundown of that speech?
CB: Absolutely not. That is a private conversation had between a young girl and her mother!
Forgive me. I didn’t mean to pry. I was just making sure she was going to be properly informed.
CB: She will be. Not that it’s any of your business.
Good to know. It would be absolutely terrible if she lacked the knowledge on such a sub—
CB: She’ll be informed. Now can we change the subject, please?
Of course. Would you like me to open a window, your face looks awfully red?
CB: Just finish your questions so we can go back to the Regency where we belong.
Right. Well, actually I think I’m out of questions and nearly out of time. But before we go, Mr. Banks, can you please tell us how you’d handle things if an article were to appear in the newspaper suggesting Liberty tried to seduce Mr. Grimes?
Hypothetically speaking, of course.
JB: I don’t know what I’d do after I scraped myself up off the floor in shock. Fall back down again, perhaps.
Very good, then. That’s all we have time for today. Join us tomorrow when we talk to Elizabeth Black, the dowager Countess of Townson. Until then, you can find out how Mr. Banks responds if such an article were to appear (hypothetically, of course) or if Liberty is properly informed of what to expect by clicking here. Until then, good day.
Another repost to follow up the interview with Paul. [Also, my random winner from the other day’s question about what they’d do without in the world is…Pansy Petal. Please email me at email@example.com with your email address, preferred eBook reader and book selection and I’ll get right on it! A huge thank you to everyone who participated.]
And now, the interview…
Good afternoon, Liberty. Thank you for meeting with me.
The pleasure is all mine.
We’ll see about that in a minute. *Clears throat* Very good. Well, what can you tell our readers about yourself?
I’m the youngest of three daughters. The oldest is Brooke, she recently married an earl after the two of them were found….found…uh…in a peculiar situation. Then there’s Madison–
Pardon me, can you tell them more about you?
Sorry, I get carried away at times–
…That’s putting it mildly…
…Anyway, hmmm, I don’t know what you want to know.
Do you have any hobbies our readers might be interested in knowing about?
I like to read.
Very good, so do our readers. Most of them enjoy romance books. Do you enjoy romance novels as well?
I suppose. I’ve never really read one.
But you love to read! What does a young lady your age read then if not tales spun of a romantic nature?
Is that code for books about manners?
Perhaps. Perhaps not.
I get the feeling like someone else I recently interviewed, you don’t wish to discuss certain topics–
How very perceptive of you, Ms. Gordon.
Unfortunately for you, there is a subject you are going to discuss. Quit shaking your head. You’re going to discuss it if I have to burn your precious propriety books and pin you to the floor.
I don’t want to even think of him. Please. Let’s talk of something else. Anything else. I’ll even tell you all the details of my five hundred ninteen books about manners. Please just don’t make me speak of that dratted man.
The lady doth protest too much.
Oh, stop it. I have no feelings for that…that…that creature. He needs to do the world a favor and go crawl into a hole.
And do you see yourself joining him in this hole of his?
Ms. Gordon, if I was not just a figment of your imagination I might take umbrage with that comment and chalk you up on the same list I have him on. But since I cannot do that, I shall simply fold my arms and shut my mouth, effectively giving you writer’s block.
Ah, I see. You do care for him. Contrary to what you believe, I am rather perceptive at times and I think his indifference toward you has fueled the fire for your angst against him.
You should probably stop that. It’ll eventually leave marks. Now, just tell me this, I know you haven’t seen the man in some months now, but is there any reason you might have for seeking him out?
Fascinating. What if he were to see you naked?
He wouldn’t! He couldn’t! He shouldn’t! He better not! What are you talking about?!
Well, that concludes our interview for today. Come back tomorrow to see what Mr. and Mrs. Banks have to say about Liberty and Paul’s unusual relationship.
Ms. Gordon, don’t ignore me! You better tell me what you were talking about right now. Rose! Rose! Come back here…
This originally posted March 2011–and is “set” before the book, Liberty for Paul.
Good afternoon, Paul. Thank you for agreeing to talk to me (like you had a choice).
No problem. It’s my pleasure and…er…duty.
Oh, stop that scowling. Just saying the word duty isn’t going to lead to talks of propriety. At least not from me.
Good. Tell us, how would you describe yourself?
Yes, and your personality traits if you will.
Hmm, well, I’m slightly above average height, I have green eyes, blondish hair, wear spectacles. I don’t know what else you want me to say.
Do you have any distinguishing marks or scars on your body?
(Coughs) Yes…er…a scar. Next.
By the way you’re blushing, Mr. Grimes, I daresay you have something to hide.
No, nothing to hide.
So you do have something. interesting. And where, pray tell, is it?
That information is unnecessary. Next question, please.
Fine. I’ll let the matter drop. For now.
You’re welcome. All right, what are your feelings about Liberty Banks?
(No immediate answer)
Sir, unclamp your jaw, please and answer the question.
Liberty and I have an unusual relationship.
That’s an understatement. Now, would you be so kind as to explain your relationship with Miss Banks?
It’s a love-hate relationship really. See, we both love to hate each other. Kind of. Well, actually no. It’s more like she has a passionate hatred that seems to consume her soul toward me and I just merely find her annoying. Unfortunately, her undisputable hatred for me has led to several…shall we say, uncomfortable moments for me.
Where to start… Let’s see, she’s openly called me a coward and questioned my manhood, she’s “inadvertently” elbowed me in the groin and she’s hurled a book at my head that knocked me unconscious and left a bump the size of an egg on my forehead for a week.
Hmm, that doesn’t sound very endearing.
No. It doesn’t.
So is it safe to say you wouldn’t enjoy being married to her?
Now, that, Ms. Gordon is an understatement. I have no desire to be in a room with her, let alone married to her.
All right, calm down. We won’t speak of her anymore. Let’s talk instead about you.
What would you like to know?
Who is Lucy Whitaker to you?
I didn’t see that one coming. She’s a woman I once admired.
All right. I proposed to her. But it was a long time ago and I don’t wish to discus her, her son, her wretched aunt or anything that has to do with that family.
Understood. Let’s talk about your relationship with John Banks. How exactly did you and Liberty’s father become acquainted?
He agreed to act as my mentor last spring when I approached him about a sticky situation that was going on in my church.
A sticky situation, you say? Care to divulge?
Mr. Grimes, I’d have never thought you’d be so difficult to interview. You’ve a mark upon your person you don’t wish to discuss, a former love interest you’re not inclined to talk about and now you hint at secrets you will not share. You seem to be far more interesting than the bore we met in Intentions of the Earl. Do you have anything further to say for yourself?
No. I don’t think so. Oh, wait. Something about the way you’re looking at me just now makes me think I’m going to marry, fall in love with and share all my secrets–including my scar, former proposal, and unpleasant church situation–with that hoyden Liberty Banks.
You’re a smart man, Mr. Grimes. All those things and so much more will be happening to you very soon!
Back by popular demand…or perhaps because of a threatening email…today I’m posting the follow up from last week.
To back up…
Rounding the screen, Paul swiftly walked to the end of the tub and leaned down to retrieve his clothes.
“Looking for something?”
Paul’s hands instinctively flew to his privates and his head snapped up so fast he was left with a dizzy feeling—or maybe the dizzy feeling was caused by the sight in front of him, he wasn’t sure.
Not three feet away, standing by the fireplace was his nemesis, Liberty Banks; and she was holding his clothes—directly over the roaring fire.
They weren’t actually on fire. Yet. He considered that fortunate, indeed. “Would you kindly give me back my clothes?” Paul asked irritably, glancing down at his hands to make sure he was covered properly. She might have the illusion that he owed her the privilege of viewing his body because he’d seen hers. Unfortunately for her, he wasn’t in the mood to become a source of virgin entertainment.
Liberty laughed. “You don’t need to cover up. I already saw your…” She trailed off and sent a pointed look to where his hands were doing their best to shield at least part of his body from her view. She smiled up at him with a crooked smile. Her dull brown hair was coming loose from the hideous bun she always wore on the top of her head and a lock was falling into her face, partially covering one of her hazel eyes.
“Nonetheless,” he said stiffly, twisting his body to offer more protection from her gaze. “Your game is up. And unless you want to see it again, you’ll give me my clothes back.”
“Are you threatening me, Mr. Grimes?” Liberty asked archly, lowering her hand an inch and bringing his clothes that much closer to the flames. “It seems to me that I hold all the cards, or clothes, as the case may be.”
“Indeed.” Did she want to see him naked? A chill ran down his spine. There was only one way to find out. Turning back to face her, he said, “Well, if you’ve already seen it, and you’re still holding my clothes, then I guess you didn’t get a good enough look. Do you want another peek?” He took delight as her eyes widened when he moved one of his hands away, still leaving him somewhat covered.
Under normal circumstances, he’d never be so bold as to issue such a challenge or follow through with it, but his irritation with her, coupled with his strong desire to have his clothes back and be on his way, was impacting his brain and turning him into someone he didn’t recognize.
Outstretching his free hand, Paul asked, “May I please have my clothes back now, or do I need to remove my other hand and get them myself?”
“Why should I give you your clothes back?”
“Because now we’re even,” Paul snapped.
“We’re not even,” she responded sharply, her gaze at his waist, absorbing what was exposed to her curious eyes.
“No? Would you like to bathe me, is that it?” he countered, slowly reaching for the clothes she held hostage above the fire.
“No,” she snapped, her eyes flying to his. She took the small bundle of his clothes and brought them to her chest, wrapping both arms around them and clutching them tightly to her chest.
“All right; then give me back my clothes.” He reached out farther, attempting to grab them from her arms, but she was holding them with all her might and he knew that in order for him to get them back, he’d have to use both hands.
Liberty smiled at him again. If he weren’t so infuriated with her at the moment, he’d almost think she looked pretty. Of course nobody else, including Liberty, he’d bet, actually thought she was. She had plain brown hair combined with hazel eyes and a long nose. Her mouth was wide with slightly crooked teeth and she was nearly as thin as a scarecrow. Her looks would be considered plain at best, not pretty or ugly really, just plain. But when she smiled, it lit up her face and transformed it in a way that he found rather attractive. The trouble was, she barely ever smiled, and never specifically at him—until just now.
“You’ll get your clothes back when I’m satisfied I’ll never have to clap eyes on you again,” Liberty said tartly, still smiling.
“I agree,” Paul said heartily, more than happy to oblige her. “Give me my clothes and I’ll be gone in less than ten minutes.”
Liberty shook her head. “No, that’s not good enough. I need insurance. I need to know you’ll not be coming back into this house, or my presence, ever again.”
“And taking my clothes is going to accomplish that?” Paul could feel his irritation growing again. Why didn’t she just give them back to him already?
“Don’t worry, you’ll get them back—eventually,” Liberty said, scooting along the wall away from the fireplace and to the shadowed corner.
“Listen here,” Paul hissed. “If you think that you’re going to continue to hold my clothes while I stand here naked, you’re greatly mistaken. I’ll get my clothes back one way or the other; and if you don’t give them back of your own accord, you’ll wish you had.”
“How so?” she queried from the dark corner.
Paul slowly walked closer to her. He could hear the rustle of fabric and knew she was about to do something with his clothes. He just didn’t know what. “I’m not keeping myself covered because of my own modesty.”
“I’ve already told you that you could move your hands, I already saw your thing,” she said nonchalantly, a ripping noise following her words.
Paul didn’t believe her the first time she’d told him she’d seen his tool, and he certainly didn’t believe it when he moved his first hand and her eyes were drawn to his waist like a moth to a flame. But he’d had enough, and if he had to wrestle her to the ground naked in order to get his clothes back, so be it. Removing his other hand from his privates, he raced to the corner, bent on grabbing his clothes from her evil clutches.
Liberty squealed and ran in the opposite direction, causing him to nearly collide with the wall. Throwing caution—and pride—to the wind, Paul ran after her. He chased her around the furniture, going over the bed, around the wardrobe, behind the screen, around the tub, to the vanity, and back to the tub, knocking over the screen with a loud crash as they zipped by. Paul reached out and stopped her by taking hold of the loosened ribbon on the back of her gown.
“I’ve got you now,” he breathed in her ear, after he’d tugged her back to rest against his chest.
“No, you don’t,” she said, moving in such a way that made the ribbon he held slide through the loops, freeing her from his hold. She immediately scurried to resume her former position by the fireplace.
Paul looked down at his hand where the ribbon that had once been a bow on the back of her gown now lay across his palm in a wrinkled mess. Looking back up, he saw Liberty over by the fireplace with her gown in complete disarray. Most of the buttons going down the front were undone, showing the tops of her breasts and about three inches of her corset. There was a tear in her gown along the stitching of her sleeve and the skirts were crumpled beyond repair. Her hair, for the most part, had fallen down and looked to be in an awful tangle. There was no way she could look like that after briefly running around the room, could she?
Throwing the ribbon down to the floor in disgust, Paul stared at her. She had a blank expression on her face and her gaze was leveled on his waist. But he didn’t even care. He was beyond caring. “See something you like?” he teased, hoping to distract her, so he could grab his clothes.
Her face turned crimson and she pulled her eyes up to his face, not quite meeting his eyes. “Actually, no, I didn’t. I think I would’ve liked what I saw much better if that scar,” she pointed to a jagged scar he had on his left hip that ran from his hipbone to half an inch from another part of his anatomy, “went just a little farther over.”
“You’re a bloodthirsty one, aren’t you,” Paul said easily. Leave it to her to want him emasculated, as if this whole situation weren’t bad enough already.
“I’m not bloodthirsty,” she said hotly. “It’s just a shame, that’s all.”
“A shame I was not unmanned?” he asked in disbelief. “I think that part of my anatomy has suffered at your hands enough already, thank you.” What had he ever done to her to make her harbor this hatred for him?
“How did it happen?” she asked quietly, ignoring his remark.
Paul was in awe. Her voice had been so quiet it was hard to be certain, but he could have sworn her tone had held a hint of sympathy. “When I was twelve, my brother Sam and I found my uncle’s old fencing rapiers. Never having had a fencing lesson, we started wildly swinging them around at each other. Neither of us realized the protective tip wasn’t securely attached to Sam’s until, in one undisciplined swing, Sam’s tip flew off and his rapier cut me.” Paul saw her wince and added ruefully, “Although you’ve expressed disappointment that his rapier did not travel farther, I’m rather glad it stopped where it did.”
“I’m sorry for my earlier remark, it was most unkind of me,” Liberty said softly, still looking at his scar.
“It’s all right,” he assured her. Compared to all the other things she’d said or done, that was nothing. “May I have my clothes now?”
His words pulled Liberty out of her trance. Looking down at the clothes in her arms and her own gown, she bit her lip before she looked up and met his eyes again. “I…I…”
It didn’t matter what she was going to say or do next, because just then the door to his bedchamber swung open and was followed by a shriek of surprise.
Though Paul had his back to the door, he deduced who it was; and for further confirmation, he knew with certainty he’d guessed correctly when Liberty turned as white as chalk.