Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rebel Mine, Chapter 4 Part Two

Rene watched the slight sway of Lady Evelyn’s stance, noting how she reached for her father’s arm to steady herself. Seeing it, he tried his best to contain his amusement. Her reaction was priceless...her face flushing a soft shade of pink. But it would not do to have her faint before the masses and embarrass herself or her family. He gave his remark an air of concern.

“I think the heat is too much for Lady Evelyn.”

Guy nodded. “Perhaps it is.” He looked around for aid, finding William and calling him over. Without taking his eyes from Evelyn, Guy introduced him. “Baroness, you know my eldest son.” He glanced at Rene, then at William again. “William, this is Viscount Bergeron. He is a cousin of the Baroness.”

Rene nodded respectfully. His eyes briefly met Evelyn’s as her brother led her away, and he smirked. Then he felt a pull on his arm from Isabelle. He moved away with her, and he heard her barely suppressed giggle.

“It appears you do not know your own strength, cousin. You cause a young lady to swoon at the sight of you. Terrible fiend.”

His mouth formed a crooked grin. He shrugged. “Yes, well...she is but a child. A susceptible creature.”

Isabelle spoke in a hushed tone, leaning her head towards him so that only he might hear.

“From the looks being cast in our direction, many a grown woman might be as susceptible as Lady Evelyn.” She smirked in triumph. “My heart fills with delight at their envy.”

He saw the way she lifted her chin. Vain, proud creature, he thought. Ordinarily, he wouldn’t have given her pretentious nature a thought. But this was no ordinary occasion.

“Be sure to contain your delight, Izzy. Remember that we play a deception, and entertaining as it may be, it is still a game of risk.”

She gave a tiny huff. “Do not pretend to be a wary man, Rene. You are one who has a passion for risk.”

“That is true,” he said. “But even the most daring of men must occasionally rely on their common sense.”

He knew she did not like being reprimanded. But it was necessary, and whether or not she cared to admit it, she knew he spoke the truth. Still, he could hear the displeasure in her voice.

“Yes, yes. I know how to comport myself. Now let us see this child they all speak of. And then we can commence with more pleasurable activities.”

“Wine, women, and song,” he said with a smile.

She laughed softly, and he felt the pressure of her breast against his arm. A subtle gesture, but full of meaning. She was claiming him, and if he had been a man of different disposition, he might have been offended by it. It wasn’t favorable for a woman to be possessive. They were supposed to be prim and docile...much like Lady Evelyn.

The Countess Gisborne and her daughters were seated beside a large cradle, which was placed to one side of the room so that guests could pass and give their homage to the babe. As he and Isabelle approached, Rene cast a glance at Evelyn, who sat at her sister’s side. His mouth curled in amusement. What an adorable child she was, so delightfully girlish in her lavender dress and with her hair pulled back in a thick braid, which was itself entwined with ribbon. Even at a slight distance, he could detect the coloring of her cheeks. She was flustered, the poor thing. But she was doing her best to look dignified. It was true that she knew his real circumstances...that he was not who he appeared to be. And perhaps she had the intention of revealing the truth. But she would not expose him here at this moment. She was a lady, and to disrupt a special occasion would bring shame upon her family. She would not make such a mistake.

With confidence in her discretion, he made his approach with Isabelle. She introduced him, and all the while he watched Evelyn, who refused to meet his eye. Her back was rigid, her head held high and dignified. For a moment he took his attention from her, giving her mother and sister their due attention. He smiled, looking from one to the other.

“Beauty is most certainly a family trait,” he said. “And may the child live a long and prosperous life.”

The Countess gave him a sweet smile and a nod of the head. She seemed to be a lovely woman, both in her physicality and her demeanor. Lady Theodora, on the other hand, did not seem quite as gracious. Though she was polite, there seemed to be an air of haughtiness about her.

Like father, like daughter, he realized.

So whom did Lady Evelyn favor? At this moment there would be no way of knowing. He saw her rise, in a quiet way, and quit the room. Maybe he would follow her and make a proper introduction. She did, after all, harbor a secret with him, and he hoped she would keep it. Perhaps it was time to put his powers of persuasion to good use.

He waited briefly, allowing an appropriate amount of time to pass. Lady Theadora had the baby taken from the room, proclaiming that he had been admired enough for the night. The pre-dinner entertainment commenced as Isabelle walked the room with him, introducing him to several people. Most of them expressed genuine delight in meeting him. Others pretended to be familiar with his family name, and he wanted to laugh at such a blunder.

As he walked away from a young baron and his wife, Rene spoke under his breath to Isabelle.

“Methinks I am not the only charlatan. They claim to have heard a name that was born entirely of your imagination.” He scoffed, shaking his head in amusement. “The nobility is the same as it ever was.” Looking down at her, he watched as she lifted her pomander to her nose. These were her people...not his. And though he was enjoying himself thus far, he saw no reason to remain fastened to her side the entire night.

“You should go and circulate among your peers, Izzy. I am sure you will have much to talk about.”

She made a face...a pouty expression he knew well. She was such a needy creature, but now was not the time to indulge her. Besides, he had other things on his mind, and her presence would only be a hindrance. As he gently removed her hand from his arm, he gave her a crooked smile.

“Run along now...cousin.”

Her lips were pinched in a sign of displeasure. And to alleviate keep it from becoming an impending difficulty...he leaned close and whispered a naughty promise in her ear.

That did the trick. Her attempt at being sour was quickly thwarted, as evidenced by the little grin that spread across her lips. She gave him a knowing look as she left him...and a moment later, he stepped out in search of his shy little maiden.


Evelyn walked along the gravel path that lined the side of the manor. Her face was no longer flushed, thanks to the cool night air. Her hands were no longer trembling. But her mind rushed with thoughts and fears.

Why was he here? And what game did he play at, dressing as a nobleman? She recalled his confession of being sly and crafty. Was it his intention to perpetrate his crimes on her family?

Oh, these worries were too much! She would go now and confess all that she knew. It would bring her punishment, she knew. But better to endure punishment than to let her home and family be put in danger.

“I will slay the serpent before it corrupts,” she thought. "No knowledge of sin shall destroy our paradise.”

She took a step forward, determination in her movement...and she was rendered frozen by the sound of a voice.

“A fine evening here. Do you not think so, my lady?”

He stood in a lazy fashion with a shoulder leaning against the stones of the house, his arms folded.

“Do not fear. My intentions towards females have not changed since last we met.” He looked down at himself. “Although, my wardrobe has vastly improved, I must admit.”

She was not accustomed to being alone with a man, and though this was the second time they’d met in private, she was no better prepared than before. But it would not do for him to see her fear. She tried her best to sound valiant and assertive.

“What is your intent here, sir? If you seek means of supporting your crimes, you will be sorely disappointed.”

He shrugged, speaking carelessly. “My needs are fulfilled at the moment, thanks to the generosity of my cousin. Isabelle is a lovely woman.”

Now he righted himself, drawing closer. She wanted to step away from him, for his approach seemed predatory. But she stood her ground. And when he spoke, his tone had a surprising gentleness to it.

“Come now, Lady Evelyn. Let us make an attempt at friendship. After all, you have been kind enough to maintain your silence. Methinks that makes you a tender-hearted person. Will you now turn on me and prove me mistaken?”

She opened her mouth to reply, but wasn’t certain what to say. Then a question came to her.

“What of your pursuers? Do you not fear discovery? Is it foolish to believe you will not be found.”

He shrugged. “My former employees are true nobles. In their eyes, a servant and a bit of furniture are one in the same. I doubt that their recollection of me is very keen. And now that I am transformed into something respectable, they will be none the wiser. My cousin has given me much to be grateful for.”

She struggled with the decision of whether to trust his word or to call him out for his dishonesty. Wasn’t it right that she should be suspicious?

“If the Baroness is your relation,” she said, “Then there is nobility in your blood. So what need have you to be a thief?”

He seemed to hesitate, as if seeking the right reply. And the one he gave was hardly an answer.

“It is a complicated matter...”

His pause took her quite by surprise. His eye rose from hers to looking over her shoulder, as a quizzical expression came over his face. She glanced back to see what so interested him, but there seemed to be nothing there. Was he playing a game of distraction? She turned back to look at him.

“Something interests you?”

His eyes were still fixed on some point. His tone grew quiet. “There, among the trees. I think perhaps I spy one of my own.”

She turned to look again. Now she saw the subject of interest. was difficult to discern who in the darkness...was slinking through the grove of trees. Covered in a cloak, the person seemed to be moving at a hurried pace. Another criminal, she thought. This I will not stand for. She took a quick step forward.

“I shall call someone instantly!”

He placed a hand on her arm, stopping her. “Be still and quiet. Time is of the essence when dealing with the criminal element. And why make a grand noise? I think in this case, it is better to act with stealth.”

She wondered what he might do...what she might be made to she watched him disappear into the darkness. Was he conspiring with another? Was she a fool not to go rushing into the house right then, to warn everyone of the danger they were in. Oh, why was this trouble being thrust upon her?

A shocking sound broke the silence...the sound of a baby’s cry. Her heart turned over in her chest, and without thinking she rushed forward into the dark.

By the moon’s light she could see that the Viscount was holding a young woman at bay. A closer look at her face revealed one who was familiar...disturbingly so.

“Adele,” she gasped, shaking her head. But the sound of the crying came again, stealing her attention. It came from a basket that was lying nearby, and rushing to it, kneeling down, she picked up the baby...and realized it was her nephew that she held in her arms. She held him close and shushed him, even as she turned to confront his would-be kidnapper.

“You tried to steal my sister’s child. How could you do such a thing?”

Adele’s head dropped. She began to weep, and as Rene loosened his hold, she sank to the ground. He looked from her to Evelyn.

“Obviously you are familiar with this woman.”

Evelyn nodded. “She works in the kitchens.” Suddenly she recalled a recent conversation she’d heard fragments of. One of the servants had miscarried a child. Could it be that this was the person?

Looking down at Adele, seeing the way she wept so hysterically, the answer was clear. She looked up at Rene.

“She lost her child. So she thinks to have my nephew for her own. And she will be punished for it.”

Rene said nothing. To Evelyn’s surprise, he knelt down beside Adele and put a hand on her shoulder.

“Her punishment will be death,” he said, “And that not done quickly. Or mercifully.”

Adele crawled forward, clutching at the hem of Evelyn’s dress.

“Oh My Lady, have pity. I beg you. Do not let me suffer torture!”

The tearful pleas cut Evelyn’s heart to the quick. And yet, as Gabriel whimpered in her arms, she was reminded of the tragedy that might have befallen her family. Thinking of that, her anger threatened to overwhelm any sense of pity she felt.

But before she could condemn Adele to her fate...Rene spoke in a calm voice.

“Lady Evelyn, perhaps you should take the child indoors. This night air cannot be good for him, and I am certain he is already missed.”

She wondered what he would do with Adele. Would he let her go? Would he bring her to the manor to face punishment? She wished to linger on these details. But the baby was of greater importance. If his absence was known already, the entire household would be in chaos. And poor Thea would be beside herself with terror. Leaving Rene to deal with Adele, she held Gabriel close to her chest and hurried back towards the house.

The moment she neared the threshold, she saw the first signs of chaos. The guests were all mingling in a noisy fashion, many of them shaking their heads and wringing their hands. She could hear Thea’s cries of panic coming from up in the gallery. And Guy was storming towards the door with Owen, William, and Lucien following behind him. She hurried towards them.

“Papa, Lucien!” she cried. “I have him!”

She placed the baby in Lucien’s arms, and a moment later Thea came flying down the stairs. She rushed forth to seize her child, clinging madly to him as her tears of panic became tears of grateful joy. As she peppered Gabriel’s face with kisses, Lucien put his arm around her shoulder and heaved a sigh of relief. His brow became stern as he looked at Evelyn.

“Where was he? Who carried him off and why?”

She started to speak, but her father gave her no time. As Cassia came to his side, they both drew close to Evelyn, and Guy’s eyes were wild.

“Speak up, daughter. We will know this deviant and have them dealt with on the spot.”

“The criminal has fled, Papa. But the Viscount has given chase.”

“Viscount Rene?” asked William.

At the mention of his name, Evelyn wondered where he was and what he had done with Adele. Her answer to William’s question was given with an air of distraction.

“Yes, brother. It was he who spotted Adele. Were it not for him, she might have been gone with Gabriel before anyone knew of her crime.”

Livid, Thea spoke through her tears. “A servant tried to take my son? Where is she? I will have her head for this!”

Guy took her by the shoulders, turning her over to her mother. Cassia led her away. Evelyn stood in one spot, looking between her departing mother and sister, and the circle of her father and brothers. They would form a party, they bring the fugitive to justice.

While they discussed their plan, Evelyn cast her eye upon the door.

Where was he? She wondered. When would he return?

A thief he might have been. And a deceiver. But those offenses seemed so unimportant to her now. He had saved a most precious member of her family, and for that alone he was deserving of forgiveness.

Perhaps he was not so very bad after all.

She thought of his words regarding Adele...his compassion for her. It was the kind of tenderness her mother would have shown. And she marveled at the thought that a man would show such feeling. She’s never known such a man before. Not even Lucien, who had such a kind heart, would have shown the mercy that the Viscount bestowed upon Adele.

Viscount indeed, she thought. For the first time that night, she felt a genuine smile on her lips. He was a rascal through and through. It was doubtful that his title was genuine.

Or was it?

He was a man of many secrets, and she found herself wanting to know him.

If only he would return...and at last, he did.

He came in quietly, as if returning from a simple stroll. The guests did not take particular interest in him, except to nod to him in greeting. Guy was the first to approach him, meeting him halfway across the room. Unable to resist, Evelyn drew as near as she could, being careful not to seem too eager. She heard the Viscount say in a low voice...

“Forgive me, my Lord Earl. But the woman cannot be brought to you.”

Guy narrowed his eyes, his expression dark. “Why not?”

“She fell as I gave chase and struck her head upon a jagged stone. She is dead, my Lord.”

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Book Giveaway...And The Story Behind The Story

Available on Amazon
Hello Everyone,

This one is for my literary novel "Oh, That I Had Wings" which some of you have already read. For those that haven't, this is your chance to own a free copy. This is a love story/drama set before, during, and after WW1.

The contest starts today and ends November 15th, which gives everyone plenty of time to enter. If you'd like to enter, just send me your email info and I will add your name to the list of contestants. Good luck to everyone, and if you need more info, just drop me a line.

The Story Behind The Story...

I didn't intend to write this book, and that's the truth. It wrote itself, and if you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about, I'll tell you. A few years ago, I started writing a little tale called "Finding Grace," about a young woman who flees her abusive home life in search of something better. But as I was writing that story, the background story kept getting in the way. Grace had an older brother named Jack, with his own story, and no matter how I tried to keep his story minimal, it just couldn't be contained. So I had to give Jack his own book. And it turned out to be much more than I anticipated...

Jack's story is not a true story, but it is very much inspired by real life. In many ways, Jack is modeled after my father. My dear old dad doesn't think he's anyone to be inspired by, but I beg to differ. He grew up in a tiny little Kentucky town that doesn't even appear on most maps. He was the third child and second son, born in a house made out of railroad ties. Not long after dad was born, my grandfather sold a car a few cows to buy a tiny little house down the road and that's where my dad grew up. They had no electricity, no indoor plumbing or heating, and the house was very cramped after my dad's two younger brothers were born. In all there were five kids...Ellen was the oldest and the only girl. Then it was Dewey, my dad, Roger, and Donald.

The stories I've been told about living in that house...MAN, there are a lot of them. In the winter, without running water, they had to use a wash bucket that sometimes froze during the night. They had to break the ice and use the cold water to wash. To keep their feet warm at night, they heated up bricks and wrapped them in rags, or they would heat up earthenware jugs, and put them between their feet while they slept. When the weather was decent, they bathed in the creek. Maybe I'm spoiled by modern living, but I can't imagine such primitive bathing. I LOVE my shower. But I digress...

Aside from living without modern conveniences, they lived in a male-dominated society in a town ruled by religion. My grandfather was like most men of the time and place. He ruled with an iron fist, and he was not shy about punishing his children either in public or in private. If you've ever played with the limb of a tree and heard it make that swishing sound as it cuts the air, just try to imagine being hit with it. Just thinking about it gives me the creeps...

Dad was lucky in one way. He was stubborn, and he grew up with a bit of a temper. And he was a big guy, so when he got in a fight he always won. But he wasn't a bully. Because of my grandfather, he HATED bullies and he would beat the crap out of them if they asked for it. Once, when he was playing king of the mountain at school, another kid tried to push him off the he broke the kid's arm. I don't know if he really meant to do that, but others kids knew not to mess with him. Eventually his temper turned on my grandfather. One day, when my dad was sixteen, he threatened to kill him. My grandmother talked him out of it, but not long after that, dad joined the Army. My grandmother was very upset by the idea of him leaving, but he didn't blink an eye. He spent six years in the military. He became a drill sear gent and served a tour of duty in Vietnam. After he came back, he and my mother got married and they've been together for 43 years.

They stayed in Kentucky for a few years, but eventually they left and moved up north. Eventually they had my older sister, and then me, and then my younger sister. We grew up in a small house in a small town just outside of Chicago. It wasn't a perfect childhood, but then again, is anyone's childhood perfect? My parents have been the best they can be, and my dad has always been my role model. If ever there was a copy of a child and parent, it's me and him. We look alike, we talk alike. We're both middle children with that classic middle-child syndrome. But if there is a difference between us, it's that I have mostly happy memories of growing up. And much to dad's credit, he never tried to breed a hatred in me of my grandfather or my grandmother. We went to see them all the time, occasionally on weekends and always at Thanksgiving and Easter. When I was a kid, I never saw the dark side of my grandfather, and being in that little town never gave me anything but happiness.

I thought it was fascinating to be in a place where everything shut down at dark...where they only had four TV channels and every meal was eaten around the kitchen table. I have fond memories of being in the chicken coop with my grandmother and holding warm, fuzzy little chicks. I played in the barn and the hayloft. I climbed trees and fences, and I went swimming in the swimming hole. At night, we would sit out on the porch and look up at the stars. Needless to say, it was idyllic for me. How boring it was to come home to the suburbs of Chicago. I was always ready to get back on the road "Down Home" as my parents called it.

As an adult, I'm aware of how much my views have changed. I no longer wear rose-colored glasses. I know now that I was shielded from certain realities. But I am thankful for being allowed to see both sides. I like to think my mind is much sharper, my views more open, and my imagination brighter because of it. I know he would call me crazy for saying this, but I owe my dad an awful lot. In some ways, I think he created the writer in me.

Thanks, Dad. You're the best, whether you want to admit it or not.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Rebel Mine, Chapter 4 Part One

Sorry this has taken so long...


Standing upon a stool, watching the seamstress embellishing the hem of her dress, Evelyn trembled with nervous energy. She had attended celebrations before, but none so grand as the one her father had planned to welcome his grandson. All of high or low estate would be there, but more importantly, this would be her first introduction to her future husband.

Guy had sent word to his old friend, the Duke of Larouque, inviting him to attend the party. And in the correspondence he had suggested using the occasion to let their children be introduced. They would arrive in only a few days time, and Evelyn’s imagination was on fire with curiosity.

What would he be like? Not even Guy had met him, despite being very old friends with his father. When pressed for information of the father’s appearance, in order to conjure an image of the son, Guy did not give much detail. All he said was that the Duke was tall and fair-haired, but he could not recall much more than that. It had been too long since they’d seen one another, and his memory wasn’t so clear.

For Evelyn, the vague description made her mind come to life with imaginings of a sly, fine-looking with a wicked smile and brilliant green eyes.

Stop that this instant, she told herself. Such imaginings will lead to no good.

Now would be the cruelest of times to stage an act of rebellion...even if it was only in thought. Life was so sweet at this moment. The house was filled with such good tidings, and it would be wrong to destroy the peace.

Looking over to the window seat, she watched a ritual being played out that had become quite familiar of late. Thea was there, with their mother beside her. Cassia was reaching for the baby, and Thea was fretting about it.

“Mind his head,” she told her mother. To which she received a reproachful look.

“My darling girl, I have mothered four children and I will soon nurse a fifth. I am quite adept at handling babies with care. Now away with you. You will be of great interest tonight and you must make yourself ready."

To her mother’s urging she gave a slight pout, but Cassia gave the command a second time, her voice more stern. Reluctantly, Thea went from the room, leaving Cassia wagging her head.

Evelyn smiled at their interaction. It was clear how enamored Thea was of her child. But everyone agreed that she was overly nervous when it came to him. She could hardly bear to give him up to others, even members of the family.

It was all the talk around the shire that Lucien had fathered a fine child, and despite her motherly concerns, Thea was eager to have the local nobility admiring her son. The celebration of his birth was to be a splendid event. It would be a nine day event of tournaments and feasting...of merriment and great exchange between important people. Politics were a matter nearly as anticipated as any leisure activity. Talk of Gabriel’s birth would lead to discussions of proposals and marriages...the joining of families, the gaining of properties and the acquisition of inheritances. Evelyn knew that her own dowry would be the subject of some interest. And her future husband would certainly be at the center of such a meeting. And she wondered...

Would Simon of Larouqe find her pleasing?

She lowered her head, losing herself in deep thought. Her mother and sister had found absolute happiness in their husbands. There seemed to be no reason to think that she should not find the same joy in marriage. But nothing in life was certain. If only she could know something of her future mate. What was his temperament? What were his tastes and pursuits? But more importantly, would he be happy with his betrothed?

“Evelyn, what troubles your mind?”

The suddenness of her mother’s question brought her back to herself. She lifted her head, smiling sheepishly.

“Forgive me, Mama. I did not mean to daydream.”

Cassia smiled. “No harm done, dearest. But pray...tell me what sets your mind to wandering.”

Casting her eyes slightly down, Evelyn gave a small sigh. “Mama, what do you suppose the Marquis will be like?”

She knew it was unseemly to be curious, especially about such things. A lady was not expected to assess her betrothed, but to be entirely gracious and accepting of him in every way. And yet she knew her mother well...that she would not frown on such a matter. As if to give evidence of her understanding nature, Cassia gave her daughter a little smile. Turning to a servant, she handed Gabriel over, instructing him to be cleaned and fed. Then she spoke to the seamstress.

“Will you give us leave for a moment?”

After the woman had gone, Cassia took Evelyn’s hand in her own. She spoke softly.

“Evie, you have not been yourself these last days. I must know what vexes you.”

“I have wayward thoughts, Mama.”

“About your husband?”

Among other things, Evelyn thought. But the subject of handsome thieves was a matter best left in the far corners of her mind. Her future husband was of greater importance. And she did indeed wonder about him. To her mother’s question, she gave a small nod. Cassia sighed, placing a light kiss upon Evelyn’s hand.

“My darling, your concerns are nothing new. Every bride is uneasy at first. We all have hopes and fears, but we must trust in the Almighty to guide us along the way.”

“But will I be happy with him? Will I find the closeness that you share with Papa? And that Thea shares with Lucien?”

Cassia’s smile was confident. “I am sure you will be the happiest of women. Contentment in marriage seems to favor me and mine.”

Evelyn embraced her mother, basking in her love and confidence. Though her mind still swirled with many thoughts, she felt stronger now...more ready to face the task ahead of her. Cassia pulled back, her expression taking on a more serious light.

“Now then...I shall let the seamstress commence with her work. Our guests will soon be upon us and we must be ready for them.”

Evelyn nodded. As her mother left, and the seamstress returned to her work, she felt a new confidence flowing all through her being. Her marriage would be a joy, just as her mother had said. There was no reason at all to think of troublesome creatures such as matter how charming and handsome they were.


A footman knocked on the chamber door.

“Lady Evelyn, The Earl wishes to speak with you immediately. He awaits you in the solar.”

Claudia had just put the last touches to Evelyn’s hair when the summons came. Rising from her seat to answer the call, she wondered what could be amiss. At so busy a time, she would have thought him very much occupied. To call her to the solar, and with haste, seemed rather strange at that moment. She hurried along the hallway leading to her parent’s quarters, and looking in, she saw her mother and father sitting together. They seemed to be in disagreement on some matter, and she hesitated to intrude on their privacy. But before she had the chance, she was spotted. Her father waved her forward.

“Evelyn, come.”

Cautiously she stepped forward, looking from one parent to another. “Papa, is something wrong?”

Guy drew his hand over his mouth...a familiar gesture of worry and frustration. He sighed.

“You must replace your Mama as hostess.”

Evelyn’s mouth fell slightly open in surprise. She looked to her mother, who held a hand to her head as she let out a frustrated breath.

“Guy, this is not necessary. I am perfectly fine.”

“You nearly swooned. That is not a definition of fine.”

“I did not swoon. Nor did I come close to it. A slight moment of lightheadedness troubled me, but it has passed. A few moments rest and I shall be very well.”

“I will not allow you to stand for hours in greeting. You will remain abed and be cared for.”

“I am not an invalid, Guy. The child is well, as am I. We will not be confined to a sickbed. My Grandson is to be presented to the gentry and I will not be absent from such an occasion.”

Guy made a sound like a growl, turning away with his arms folded...a clear sign of his temper. Evelyn looked from one parent to another, uncertain of what to do. And then, as she had on so many occasions, Cassia found the resolution.

“I will sit with Thea and the baby, if that pleases you.”

There was a silent moment as Guy contemplated her offer. He sighed...a sound of acceptance, though given with great reluctance.

“It may do for the present. But at the slightest hint of trouble, I will remove you from the party and send the entire lot home.”

Evelyn watched his movement, seeing how he would not turn to look at them. He had given in to his wife, and he was not pleased by it. To show his weakness in front of his daughter only brought him further humiliation, and in an angry display he strode from the room, clapping the door shut behind him in a loud fashion.

Looking down at her mother, Evelyn was given a slight smile and a touch of the hand.

“This will be a good experience for you, daughter. It will aid you for when the time comes to manage your own household.”

Good for the future, perhaps, Evelyn thought. But for the present, it seemed like a daunting she was certain she was not qualified to take on.

But she intended to do her best. She turned to her mother, who seemed to sense her nervousness. Cassia smiled, taking her daughter’s hand.

“Do not fear, Evie. I have great faith in your abilities. You will serve well in my place.”

Evelyn sighed, trying to smile. “I hope so, Mama.”


The hall was ablaze with firelight and full of merry noise. Bejeweled and richly robed figures filled every available space, from the floor below to the gallery above, where they admired tapestries and floral displays while sipping from goblets of wine and ale.

Near the entryway, Evelyn stood at her father’s side. Her hand had been lifted in greeting more times than she could count. Some faces she knew, others she did not. But she managed a proper reply to each of them, and with each introduction, she felt her confidence grow. To think she was an equal to this task...a task her mother would have was inspiring to the soul. Her expression was cheerful, and more so when she saw that her father seemed quite pleased as well. He looked around at his guests.

“The queue seems to be growing thin,” he remarked. “The last of the arrivals must be upon us.”

A slight commotion near the door...a turning of heads and murmur of voices...caused them both to look and wonder at the commotion. Baroness LaCroix was making her entrance, and as usual, she was turning many a head. But it seemed that on this occasion, it was not her icy blond beauty that drew looks. It was the gentleman on her arm...a gentleman that was not her husband. Evelyn’s eyes shined with curiosity, and she wondered...

Will a scandal be brought upon us tonight?

She looked to her father, wondering what his reaction might be. His expression was unreadable, giving no hint to his thoughts. Perhaps he was waiting for an explanation. She wished to inquire further, but dared not speak out of turn. She smiled politely as the Baroness approached, and as the pair came closer, Evelyn sensed that there was something familiar about the gentleman. She tried not to think of it as Guy greeted the Baroness, who introduced her companion.

“Sir Guy, may I introduce my dear cousin. Viscount RenĂ© of Bergeron. As my husband is away on business, I must rely on a relation as my companion. I hope this does not offend.”

Guy's expression did not change, but his tone was civil.

“Certainly not." He gave the gentleman a nod. "Welcome, Viscount. I hope your stay is a pleasant one.” He turned to Evelyn. “May I introduce my youngest daughter, Lady Evelyn Gisborne.”

Evelyn smiled sweetly as her hand was lifted. Then, recognition suddenly swept over her. Those eyes. She found herself incapable of words. His voice was rich and smooth.

“My Lady Evelyn. It is a distinct pleasure.”

His lips brushed her hand...and her heart hammered against her ribs. The room seemed to tilt. For the first time in her life, she was certain she might fall to the floor-stones in a faint.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

An Update From Sarah

Hello Everyone!

Sorry I've been away for so long. Besides having a terrible case of writer's block, I've been feeling very under the weather lately. But I'm feeling much better now, and I'm about to get back to writing. I hope to have a new chapter of "Rebel Mine" posted by the end of this week. I'll do my best to finish it and get it posted ASAP.

Thanks for being patient!