A Historical #WritingChallenge!

WritingChallenge image

Hi everyone,

This week we are bringing you a Harlequin Historical Romance writing challenge!

Sometimes characters’ actions in the present, just wouldn’t have been acceptable in the past! So your #writingchallenge this week is to:

Motivate your rakish hero’s decision to take a virgin debutante to bed, whilst keeping him both alpha and sympathetic!

We’re all looking forward to reading your responses!

The SYTYCW Editors x

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Comments

  1. Kimber Li

    Oookay, but I’ve never been interested in Rakes before. However, I can imagine what one of my heroines might do to one. Mwa-ha-ha! Oh, yeah, that bad boy’s goin’ down.

  2. lucretia richmond

    Tyler Webster had always wanted her. He knew he could have her, he knew he could help her get over losing her fiance to another woman, but he didn’t even trust himself how could he expect her to? He could heal her heart, and give her the opportunity to know what it was like to really be wanted; to feel needed with no strings attached. He wasn’t ready to promise her forever, but he could help her forget the man who broke her heart, she wouldn’t even remember his name after one night with him. She was sitting alone having a picnic by the pond trying to block out the sun from her face. Her beauty charmed him, it was hard to look away from her. Why would he want to? She was told to stay away from him which made it all the more exciting. She couldn’t walk away from what her heart wanted and it wanted him as much as he had to have her. Most of the ladies in town couldn’t resist him and Lady CoraLynne would find it quite difficult to do so which made it simple gain for him.

  3. Christy Hayes

    He rode into town with her on his mind, wondering if he would see her again just the thought of her had the pit of his stomach quivering. He needed to stop thinking about her, he needed to think about the saloon, where he could get a shoot of whiskey to ease his mind.
    He sat in the corner alone with his thoughts. Should he find her while he was here or just leave it alone. Leave her alone, it was for her best interest, she didn’t need a man like him. A gun slinger, a gambler with nothing to offer but a life a crime and running from one dusty old town to the next, no she deserved much better. He gathered his supplies and a bottle of whiskey. He thought camping just outside of town would be best, he thought he would be less likely to cross her path there.

    He was settled down by the camp fire and about half way through his bottle of whiskey when he heard the rustling of bushes behind him. He quickly jumped up ready to draw his gun when he saw her. ” So you think you can just ride into town and not give a lady a proper hello” He didn’t know what to say. How did she even know he was here? None of that mattered, he couldn’t take it no more he wanted her. He walked over to where she stood grabbed her by the waist and pulled her into him. Kissing her soft sweet lips. Fueled by whiskey and consumed by passion thinking was now something of the past. He quickly found himself unlacing her bodice. Finally he regained his senses and pushed her away ” What the Hell are you doing here Emma, Just leave” With out saying another word she ran back through the bushes. Tears were streaming down her face, she knew it was a bad idea to follow him to his campsite but she couldn’t resist him, she had felt an overwhelming desire for him since the first day she had met him.

  4. Kimber Li

    Blood, spit filled Henry’s mouth when his face hit the floor.

    A knee drove into his back.

    Arms wrenched and locked behind.

    Lily’s luscious lips breathed hot on his ear. “We need to come to an understanding, My Lord.”

    “Lily?” He prayed his voice didn’t come out in a whimper.

    “Just because I’m a virgin, doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m doing.”

    “Uh…”

    “Just because I’m a lady, doesn’t mean I’m a coward.” She spat and it dripped onto his earlobe.

    “Please…”

    “I don’t give a damn about your reputation. I don’t like rakes. And I don’t like you.”

    “Why…”

    “I married you to get close enough to the Prince Regent to stop the French assassin. That is all.” Lily released his hands and backed off him.

    Henry rose to stand, keeping his eyes against their wedding bed, quite aware that his mouth still hung open in shock. “Lily.”

    “Once the job’s done, we’ll get an annulment.”

    “What if I won’t give you one?”

    A flash came from her white lace nightgown and pressed to his throat as a silver blade. “Then, I’ll kill you and make it look like an accident. Pig. Are we clear?”

    “Yes.” Henry pressed his fingers to the drop of blood left when she pulled the dagger from his neck. “So, I assume we won’t be sharing a bed.”

    “I’ll sleep with you at least once.”

    “You wwwwill?” Air rushed through his chest near a convulsion.

    “Of course. I want to see if I like it.” Lily used a crisp white handkerchief to wipe his blood from her knife. Her face betrayed not a hint of real affection.

    “Oh.” Henry exhaled and trailed his finger down the bedpost as he dared a step closer. The heat returned to his face and neck. His ears burned.

    Lily shifted her narrowed eyes to him, finding him unworthy of complete attention.

    “I promise you will absolutely love it.”

    “We shall see.”

  5. Marna R.

    Ohhh! This looks like fun. A part of me wants to try the #HistoricalBlitz, and another part is daunted by the research…
    But this – this I’d love to try. (WARNING: I wrote this freely. I needed the 15 minutes or so of distraction.)
    *
    “Once this stay slips loose, you’ll belong to me. Only me. Do you understand, little Miss Constance?”
    Her breaths, sweetened by the cinnamon in her late cup of brew, drifted down over his face. Stirred into lifting his gaze beyond her heaving bosom and the strained front of her short corset, Edmund’s eyes widened at the small smile awaiting him.
    She shouldn’t be smiling.
    Crying and bemoaning her poor luck, yes. Shouting down the household to free herself of a rake for a husband, yes. Whispering “yes” so softly he’d had to lean forward and read her lips, no.
    “What I am trying to impart is there is no going back beyond this night. But I won’t hold you to my chambers or my name if you deign to leave this instant.” Edmund’s lips thinned once he said his piece.
    The candle on his writing desk flickered, once, twice. He’d lost count before she said, “Yes. I fully accept my part in this union, Lord Edmund Cosgrove.” Then her smile slipped slightly. “I am indebted to you beyond the simple request of marriage.”
    “Simple,” he choked the word out. How was this simple?
    “What I meant is simple as two people finding companionship in one another,” she stammered, finally losing the composed, serene image. She sighed. “I apologize if you’ve had an intended in mind. If things had turned out differently with Robert – with my brother, I wouldn’t have been a burden to you now.”
    “Don’t.” His plea closed her thin, pink mouth on whatever else she’d wanted to impart. Edmund hadn’t meant to be forceful. The mere memory of her shivering out in the freakish snap cold autumn weather, tied to that tree like an animal…and by someone she called family. Edmund hadn’t mused then, and he wouldn’t entertain it now as to how events might have turned up had he taken a different route from his usual late evening ride.
    “One thing I’ll require of you from here on forth, Miss Constance – Lady Edmund Cosgrove, is for that name never to be mentioned. Not in under our roof.”
    “Our?” That silly smile of hers was back. The naïve fool, he thought bitterly. The naïve, untouched, radiant fool who was now his under the eyes of Heaven, his elder sister, her husband and the nosy Reverend.
    He sucked in a breath and held it at the ghosting touch of her smooth, if not slightly moist palm on his cheek. “Lord Edmund Cosgrove, I’d happily be yours.”
    “Mhm…” was all he managed.
    Like his teeth, his fingers clenched before they flexed and sought up from her natural waist. Slowly, agonizingly, Edmund moved his hands up, his fingers cresting each bone of her ribcage. He closed his eyes, turned his hands around to her back, under that wealth of black hair of hers and grasped the ties.
    Patience.
    Lord Edmund Cosgrove was exercising an extreme abundance of a trait he’d never believed himself to possess. Until Lady Edmund Cosgrove that is.
    “Say it again.”
    He could almost see her smile. “Lord Edmund Cosgrove, I belong to no one else but you from this night forward and, if you’re happy to have me, forevermore.”

  6. Elle Marlow

    A woman’s scream jarred him awake and set the dog to barking. Cracking open an eye, Wyatt happened to aim his gaze right at a young female being yanked from the stage, her skirts and dark hair tangling with the dust.
    Toby Mason held her by the arm and pulled her like a rag doll. The man had a rotten reputation and for a good reason. Wyatt sat up straight in his chair then patted the dog on the head to settle him down.
    She was new in Tombstone, that part was obvious, but who was she? If she was one of Mason’s whores, she sure didn’t look like it, nor act like it for that matter.
    “I told you. I’m here for Liam Rutledge. He ordered a bride. I am most certainly not a soiled dove!” she cried, as she used a parasol to give ole Toby a good whack upside his head. She was rewarded with a swift slap to the face that left her sprawled out in the dirt of Allen Street.
    Wyatt stood, straightened his hat and pointed down to the dog to stay. He stepped down from the board walk and made it just in time to tap Toby on the back just before the man was about to land a swift kick to the pile of skirts on the ground.
    “That’s quite enough, Mason. Get lost.”
    “But that’s my whore. I paid good money for her!”
    “I’ll be the judge of that. Now git.”
    The woman struggled to get to her feet as she slapped at her skirts. A string of profanities left her mouth until she straightened herself. The moment they made eye contact, something inside his chest stumbled and squeezed his throat.
    “Thank you, Marshall. My name is Josephine. I’m due to meet Mr. Rutledge here today as his bride.”
    Wyatt tipped his hat, unable to remove his gaze from the thick swath of raven hair that fell at her sides, or the pleasant curves not well hidden under the layers of calico.
    “I hate to tell you this, but Mr. Rutledge passed away two weeks ago.”
    The expression on her face fell. “Well, as usual, it would seem I don’t have much control of my own future, do I? Of course, what female does? Can you direct me to the least despicable establishment? I guess I’m about to be a whore after all.”
    “Forgive me, but you don’t look…”
    “Of course I don’t. I’d been saving myself for marriage, if you must know.”
    He tucked his fingertips into his pockets considering her. Ruby red lips lifted at the corners as sunlight danced in her eyes. The dry dusty air heated considerably as they stood amongst horses and stages running past.
    “I got a better deal for you. How about we talk over drinks at the Crystal Palace?”
    “And then?”
    “And then I’ll teach you everything you need to know to stay alive in Tombstone.”
    She opened her parasol, lifting an eye brow and flashing him a wide smile.
    “Sounds like an offer I can’t refuse, Marshall.”

  7. Elizabeth Keysian

    Maybe he had been jealous.

    “I need to know more about Mr Carnforth. What is it about him that makes your heart skip a beat?”

    There was a long pause, filled only with the scrunch of their feet on the surface of the lane and the repetitive call of a chaffinch from a hawthorn bush.

    “It is difficult to say. I have known him from a child; our families were friends. He treated me with the same disrespect a brother would give to a sister. But he let me look at his toys, his tin soldiers, his spinning tops, let me ride on his rocking-horse and when he had his first full-grown steed he sat me in front of him so I could admire his riding skills. Then he went off to school and I missed him and when he came back he looked so smart, so grown up. He showed me his school books, how much he had learned, how good he was at his lessons, and he showed me his geometry diagrams and his sketches until I was so full of admiration I felt I would burst. As he grew older he became such dandy.”

    She chuckled, and he smiled at her, but she was hidden in her bonnet, staring straight ahead, her mind locked on the past. He regretted having opened the subject.

    “And you have continued to admire him.” Not love. He very much hoped it wasn’t love.

    “I have. He has been to Oxford, and won all kinds of prizes. He dances well, sings, plays the pianoforte-”

    “A man of many talents. But of course, there are plenty of other men who display such qualities. Has he ever given you reason to believe he felt the same way about yourself?”

    “I don’t know. You gentlemen can be very hard to read; you play your games, you have your rivalries, you lay wagers on who will be the first to steal a kiss from a particular woman -”

    “Has Julian ever kissed you?”

    This time it was she who halted in mid-step. She withdrew her hand from his arm and turned to face him.

    “That is an impertinent question, Sir.”

    “It was you who opened the subject of kissing. Well, has he?”

    She bit her lip. He wanted to bite it too, but not in that way.

    Her gaze fell, and the mouth tilted downwards. “Not yet. That’s why I came to Wycherley, to find out how to make Julian see me differently, to see me as a woman.”

    “I see you as a woman. I cannot imagine a fellow who wouldn’t.” And he knew exactly what he would like to do with such a woman.

    Tilting her face towards his, she gave him a sideways look. The glint returned to her eyes.

    “Well, that’s something, I suppose.”

    “Stand still. There is something I need to do.” There was a lot he needed to do. But for her sake, he would begin slowly.

    “What’s that?”

    “Trust me.” The ribbons of her bonnet came undone without difficulty. He removed it reverently and watched the sun turn her hair into threads of spun gold. How ludicrous to hide such splendour from the light! But he understood about the delicacy of young ladies’ skins. The bonnet would be returned presently.

    He put it between her hands, then bent and placed a kiss on the top of her head, relishing the feel of the fine hair against his mouth.

    There was no movement, no response. Which simply wouldn’t do. He might as well be kissing the hair on a plaster doll.

    Dropping his hands to her waist, he drew her against him, and kissed her properly.

  8. Jennifer Nichole

    He woke at days first light. She slept in his arms like a babe, innocent and trusting in his ability to save them. Heat existed everywhere their bodies touched, everywhere else was damp with the dew of the swamp’s mossy floor.
    She had been so vulnerable last night, it had made him angry. He remembered again the desire that had been reflected in her eyes by the burning light of the gypsies fire. She had drank too much. Danced too much. Been too damn pretty to tempt him like that. She shouldn’t do things like that to him. He didn’t love her the way she was in love with him and yet she wanted him to. She always had, no matter how he pushed her away. You weren’t suppose to love your future servant that way. She never had known how to stay in her place.
    Now here they were in trouble, on the run and he was to blame.
    “Wake up.” He whispered in her ear, trying not to kiss it. It was so delicate and soft against his lips.
    She moaned softly and woke. Silver green eyes opened, contrasting the tan of her skin and the darkness of her long hair. Her eyes glowed in the electric blue of the dawn and she turned in their cocoon so that they were face to face. Her lips parted but no words came out, she suddenly kissed him with no warning and he grabbed her. His kiss pressed her innocent body into the earth and he punished her with it. His taste imprinted her and she only whimpered in want of what she asked for.
    He pulled back cruelly from her body. “We have to go. Now. Before we are found.” He said standing and pulling her up more harshly than he meant to. She held her slightly stinging hand looking down. “What did you want me to do? Take you right her in the swamp?” He said indicating the wetlands surrounding them. “Have you no pride at all?” He said picking up her cloak and put it around her shoulders.

  9. Fiona Marsden

    If her father had chosen anyone but Percival Wantley he wouldn’t be here tonight. James knew Percy too well. They’d sat beside each other at the gaming tables and under the reek of scent and powder, the sickly odour of corrupted flesh permeated the air around him. Long years frequenting the doxies around Covent Garden had given the man something far more virulent than mere pleasure. The thought of innocent Eleanor Faintree in Percy’s bed was an offence to humanity. Not all the paint in the kingdom would salvage her rare beauty once disease racked her body.
    Eleanor was here now, dancing with Lady Feversham’s son, an honoured guest at the Feversham’s annual ball. Percy had slid off to the gaming tables in one of the salons. As usual. Her dark hair was piled high and lightly powdered above her pale unpainted face. He remembered the silky locks braided as she played in the orchard of her father’s country estate with her wolf hound. Only a year or two and now all was changed. Her embroidered gown with lace trim was of the best, bought on tick to enable the girl to make a good match. Faintree’s fortune had vanished long ago at the tables. James doubted even Eleanor’s dowry remained intact. She must marry well or her father faced ruin.
    The music faded and Eleanor curtseyed a thank you to Tom Feversham. Her grey-green eyes, large and framed by thick lashes, widened as she saw him. “My Lord?”
    “Will you take a turn in the garden, Mistress Faintree?”
    A touch of colour brought a glow to her pale cheeks. “I’m not sure …” She looked around, as if seeking escape.
    “Your aunt is playing cards in the library with her cronies.”
    “Oh.” It came out breathless. “I would very much enjoy it.” Tentatively, she laid her hand on his arm and allowed him to lead her through the opened windows onto the patio.
    “Shall we descend to the rose garden? The scent on a night such as this will be exquisite. As you are.”
    Her hand clenched on the fabric of his coat, crushing the velvet. It didn’t matter.
    “Sir, you must not flirt with me. You know I am … affianced to Lord Wantley.”
    “Are congratulations in order?”
    She shivered, despite the mildness of the air. “Father is pleased.”
    “And you, my dear.”
    “I’m sure I will grow used to it.”
    By now they were alone, wending through the shrubberies. She hardly seemed aware of the distance.
    “You have an … affection, for Lord Wantley?”
    Again that quiver. “I hardly know him.”
    He halted, turning to face her. It was now or never. “You’ve known me for many years, Eleanor.”
    “Yes.” Her eyes shimmered in the moonlight. Surely not tears? “Since I was turned eight years old. When you came for the shooting party with, with Mistress Amberley.”
    He wished she hadn’t reminded him of that licentious party at this point. There were not many points difference between Percy’s career in profligacy and his own. But he’d been shocked to find a child not long out of the nursery observing the goings on from behind the stair rail. Faintree had been widowed young and partied hard. As had his friends and the young blades like himself who’d gathered in his train.
    That was why he’d stood back when Eleanor came to London to be presented. Why he hadn’t responded to the appeal in her eyes when it became known she was put up for auction. He had the money. Despite the years at the tables, he knew how to husband his resources. But he’d known a rake like himself didn’t deserve someone like her. Still unspoiled despite her father and her dubious upbringing.
    “Eleanor? Do you trust me?”
    Her bright gaze fixed on his. “To the ends of the earth.”
    “We won’t need to go quite that far. Do you come with me?” He indicated the carriage drawn up in the laneway.
    Her fingers shifted to grasp his hand. “Yes. I do.”

  10. Karen Christopherson

    Hi editors! I don’t think this is what you wanted to read, but it’s what I came up with. I clashed present time with the past. I’ve always loved the movie “Lost in Austen” so I took that idea and flew with it. Hope you enjoy it.

    What the heck was she doing in a Colin Firth film?
    “Hello,” he said straightening as he stepped over the threshold. “Are you quite comfortable?”
    If by comfortable he meant waking up to a freezing cold room with walls made of stone and a crunchy bed made of half straw, and the other half duck feathers and sheep wool, then yes, maybe she was. She wriggled in her costume, looking at it for the first time. She could barely breathe and her armpits were tight and uncomfortable, but the material itself felt and looked expensive. She wanted to tell him yes. If she said no…she would sound like a prat and she also didn’t want word getting out that she was a princess. This business was a tough one and word got around fast. “I’m not really sure…”
    The only memory she had was setting her alarm last night before she fell fast asleep. Other than that, she didn’t know where she was. Who was she supposed to be and why didn’t she know her lines? Why didn’t she know anything? She hadn’t drank last night…and hadn’t taken any hallucinogens as far as she knew, so how on earth did she get here? And where was here? She looked at Collin Firth and her smile returned automatically, happy she had finally made it to the big time, even if she didn’t remember how exactly.
    God, he was strikingly gorgeous, she thought as she drooled over him. Handsome, brave, strong and self-assured and not to mention quite tall. She hadn’t expected him to be so tall. Hadn’t she dreamed of this moment? Having Collin Firth look at her like this, with his well-rehearsed, reserved outlook hiding all sorts of emotions and only making her love him even more! God, she wanted to take this man, lie him on the bed and strip him bare…but no, she thought…that could never happen. She had to control her incessant hormones. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity and she was not going to blow it, by well…blowing Mr. Darcy. She cleared her throat and tried to clear her head as well. “Can you please tell me why I’m here?” she said, smiling at him again. “I seem to have forgotten.”
    He looked thoughtful for a moment. “You hit your head.”
    That was it…she had hit her head. Okay, now we’re getting somewhere, she thought with relief.
    “I’m not surprised you don’t remember.” He paced the floor, walking back and forth. Then he stopped and straightened his tailored costume jacket in front of her. “What do you remember?” he asked and studied her with those careful, cautious eyes.
    “Nada.” When he arched his brows curiously, she added, “Sorry. Not one thing.”
    “We are to be married.”
    She wanted to whoop high into the air, but she contained her emotions. Did that mean there would be a kissing scene? Or better yet…a love scene? “Which version are we doing?” she asked him excitedly, automatically assuming it would be a Pride and Prejudice theme. “The A&E or the other new one? Or is this a different one altogether?” It could be the comedy one, she thought, the one with that funny modern girl who goes back in time. Lost in Austen? But the setting was all wrong and this Darcy was dressed in some pretty fancy clothes, clothes then went way earlier than his previous parts, maybe say…the 1500’s?
    “I have to tell you…” she said rubbing some warmth back into her arms vigorously and ignoring the racking shiver running through her. “This is so exciting for me. I am so blessed for this opportunity to work with you. You have no idea.”
    “You are happy about this? I am confused. You were not happy at all yesterday. My men chased you around your camp and then you fled for the moors. You tired out my poor men and I finally had to mount my horse to come get you myself. It would seem nobody could catch you otherwise.”
    She smiled. “I run every day and I don’t smoke. I guess that’s why you’re men couldn’t catch me.” But why had she been running away from them? Yesterday, she had been working at the restaurant and then went straight home. She wasn’t camping. Wait a minute…none of this was making any sense again.
    He frowned looking at her in deep thought as if she were an anomaly. “What do you run…from?” he asked curiously. “Never mind.” He shook his head. “You kicked and screamed until you fell off my horse. That is how you hit your head.”
    She touched her head for a bump and then looked at her fingers for any source of blood, crusty or fresh. She flinched. It was like looking at someone else’s hands. She turned them over and over. They were slender and long and creamy white. She normally had tanned short fingers with tiny hairs where her rings would sit. These fingers had no rings or hair! Oh, my God, her heart started beating and her head felt light. She flexed her fingers in front of her and waved them around. She pulled up her sleeves, showing long slender creamy white arms to match! Where was the hair on her arms? Where were her arms? She touched her face, her chin and nose. Her nose was longer and the long hated pudge of her nostrils was gone. She breathed in, sucking in air and it made a wheezy noise as if it was pinched. She never made a wheezy noise! She yanked up the skirts of her dress, looking at her legs. Holy Christ! She found all the hair. She dropped her skirts and looked up at him as she backed up against the wall.
    “Are you quite alright?” he asked, blushing at the raise of her skirts.
    She looked up at him and placed her palms face down on the cold stone. She was suddenly warm when she should be freezing. “I think I hit my head pretty hard…” she whispered. “Do you by any chance have a mirror?”
    “No…I don’t usually carry one on my person. They are a bit large.”
    “Right. I’m afraid I don’t know who I am right now.” Quite literally actually. “Can you please tell me my name?”
    “You are Rebecca…Dunsmuir, of the Dunsmuir clan.”
    “Okay…Rebecca…Rebecca,” she repeated trying the name on her tongue. She sounded like a red head. She pulled some of her hair forward. Yup. She was a redhead. “And how do I know you? I mean…what is your name? Do you know my family? Sorry…” she straightened herself. “I can’t remember anything. This is really disconcerting.” This was an understatement. Currently inhabiting another woman’s body was not exactly every day stuff and she couldn’t help thinking that maybe this was some really weird dream.
    “I do know your family,” he said pacing the room again, with his hands behind his back. “We are not exactly on good terms. I will not lie to you,” he said, tilting his chin high as if he was getting in defensive stance. “I have kidnapped you.”
    “That would explain the running,” she said out loud. “Why would you want to kidnap me?” She looked at him. He was deep in thought and her head was starting to feel light again. But she was far from a fainting type person, but even this was too much for her.
    “My family wishes to join with your family, but your family,” he paused and rolled his eyes slightly. “…have been…resistant. They do not like the English and in the words of your father…do not wish to taint their blood with ours.” He straightened. “So I had no other choice. I had to kidnap you.”
    “Of course. What else could you do?”
    He nodded, pleased that she was pleased. “We are marrying in exactly ten minutes. We will consummate the marriage and you and your lands will be mine.”
    “Mine?” she asked. Lands? “As in owned?” She scanned him up and down slowly and he shifted uncomfortably under her gaze. “I’m sorry…but I don’t do being “owned”. Sorry. I don’t care if you are Colin Firth or Mr. Darcy himself…I am not a person to be owned. I would be okay if we had a fling…” she said, forgetting herself for a minute as she stared into his eyes.
    He narrowed his eyes. “A fling?”
    “Right…you wouldn’t know the term. Sex between two consenting adults. Fornication? But no marriage, because that’s way too much of a commitment.” She gave a curt laugh.
    He responded with a look of horror. “You want me to take your virginity…” he asked and stared at her. “Without…marrying you?”
    Again with the horror face. This look did not go so well on Collin Firth. His brows shot up way too high and his eyes had a very naïve look to them. But then he was naïve. He didn’t know her world. She placed two fingers to her temple. “I do it all the time. It’s no big deal where I come from.” Where she comes from? Wake up, Sam…wake up! “Wait a minute…did you say…virgin?” She snickered loudly. “I’m not a virgin…I haven’t been a virgin since…” Wait a minute. This was a different body. A different time. And he looked at her like he wanted to march her up to the guillotine this very minute. “Just kidding! Of course…I’m a virgin…” she said smiling, crossing her fingers behind her back and trying not pull a very strained face. She was going to have to squeeze her legs real tight and pray this woman was indeed a virgin. And if she was…well, she thought, wouldn’t that be a kicker!
    He relaxed a little, but not a lot. “I’ve heard about you Scots. You do like to laugh about everything, but I assure you this is no laughing matter. We must consummate the marriage. And to prove it, you must produce an heir for me.”
    “Heir?” She swallowed and stared at him. “As in heir-child?” She lowered her hand closer to the floor, the boning in her dress sticking under her rib cage. “As in little people?”
    “Yes.”
    “Oh….no…no…no. Thank you, but no…this body was not meant to give birth.” She looked down at her body and smoothed her hands over her womanly hips. Right, she reminded herself again, this was not her body. And this body had beautifully well-made birthing hips. She gulped. Her original body had straight down hips, no jut whatsoever along with ghost boobs. She brought her hands up to her breasts and squeezed massaging the fullness and smiling to herself. Double whoop, whoop! She just made it to boob heaven!
    He watched her silently, but something in his eyes had changed. Oh, boy. It was one thing staring at a man who you’ve adored for eons alongside millions and millions of other women, but to have him standing in front of her like this with eyes that were about ready to devour her…just seemed a little…hmm, I don’t know…scary? She probably should remove her hands from her breasts now.
    She dropped her hands and looked at him. It was her turn to smile stiffly.
    “Maybe…I could have a taste of what is yet to come?”
    “Yes…well. You know…virgin,” she said pointing to herself. “Mustn’t destroy what God made before it’s time.” She smiled and watched him straighten at the word God. She said a silent prayer, thanking the heavens that God was so adored in this time period. Nobody did anything against God’s wishes. Well, they did, but they usually did in the name of God which somehow in their small minds made it a whole lot better. So here goes nothing, she thought to herself. She pretended to pray and look extremely virginal, one eye opening precariously. God…I promise if you get me out of this…I will never have sex with someone I’m not married to again! She thought of that for a second and then retracted. I promise to only do it sometimes. He was circling her now, his breath steaming out into the cold room, his eyes shadowed by desire. “Jesus,” she whispered. “Oh…Jesus I pray for you to help us through this trying time.”
    Cheese whiz! If this were her time, she’d have his lips covered with hers by now and have him lying on his back already as she climbed atop him. Samantha does Mr. Darcy! Completely different scenario. But all she could do was stand there and watch him and keep her hands and sexual desires to herself. She was going to find it incredibly hard in this time period. And question? Was marrying someone in another time period really marrying someone? Besides, what choice did she really have? Do unto Darcy as he would do unto you? “Fine…I will marry you.” Better option anyway, she thought to herself. She didn’t think she was going to be able to keep her hands to herself where he was concerned and vice versa from the hungry look in his eyes. “Ten minutes, you say?” She gulped. “What’s a mere ten minutes?” Hopefully by then she would wake up from this wonderful, yet weird dream.
    “Yes,” he said, still circling his prey. “I suppose I can wait until after we wed.”
    “Now you’re talking,” she said with a strained smile. If she didn’t wake up soon, she was going to have to go to plan B. The only thing was…she didn’t have a plan B.

  11. Jan VanEngen

    Not my usual thing but here goes with a twist….

    Laird Roderick Stewart knew the minute he saw the redhead, she was going to be in his bed before the night was out. Whatever the Laird wanted, the Laird got and it would be her. All in white, her first outing into society, along with so many. After all, he had opened his home to the debutantes. Back from the fights, he was ready for some light hearted fun.
    A path was made for him as he entered farther, dressed in best kilt, ruffled shirt and vest, sporran, wearing his clans colour proudly that were also attached to his shoulder of his black, short jacket that matched the vest.
    People bowed as he walked passed, and went to stand in front of the fireplace and handed a glass of the finest whiskey. There was an open interest in him from the debutantes, except for one, who was looking around, all green eyes, around the portraits.
    Her red hair piled up high, and wearing a dropped shoulder, empire waisted full white dress with the Ross tartan sash. A Ross. Now that could be an issue. Until those green eyes rested on him with an openness that took his breath away. She didn’t look away, apprising him openly as if some sort of prize. The impertinence!
    He signalled his right man over. “Ach, whae is that Ross lassie?” he asked, taking a deep sip of his whiskey, burning all the way down his throat that felt so good, taking away the taste of blood and earth, he had suffered lately.
    “My Laird, a distant niece of Malcolm Ross, who had been staying with them, ever since her parents were killed in the last battle.”
    “So an orphan? Whae is introducing her?”
    “Her uncle, however, my Laird he is delayed.”
    “Then I should do the honours of doing so, bring her to me.”
    “As you wish, my Laird.” Bowing, he left and went collected the Ross debutante and was introduced to the Laird. Speculation went around the room. “My I present Isabella Ross, my Laird.”
    “My Laird,” she bowed, holding out her dress, coming back up, green eyes sparkling with interest, holding out a long white gloved hand that he took and kissed, bowing his head. His dark eyes held her gaze as he rose to his full height of six’ three.
    “It has been brought to my attention that your escort has not turned up at this time. Please let me do the honours of being your escort tonight.”
    Flipping out a fan, she waved it in front of her face. “That is most kind, my Laird, but I dinnea want to put you out.”
    “It would indeed be a great honour to escort such a braw as yourself.”
    “You flatter me, my Laird, and I would indeed be greatly honoured by such things.” Holding out his hand that she took, and together they walked away from the fireplace. Each and every debutante, escorted by young men, were introduced to the crowd, followed by dancing, and a feast.
    Isabella Ross caught the sight of her uncle off to the distance and smiled at him. She had the Laird’s full attention, and by the end of the night, she would be his bride, if everything goes to plan.

  12. Rebecca Laurence

    He had his pick of any woman in the room. Being the king meant that every noble in court wanted his daughter to be the one that the king picked. He was young, ,athletic and quite handsome. He was getting tired of having every maiden flaunted in front of him. Growing more despondent with the dreary specimens that were being presented to him.
    As he paraded around the edge of the ball room, he noticed the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. Her dark hair pulled up in a simple twist, delicate tendrils twirling down the sides of her face framing the most exquisite violet coloured eyes. He had never seen eyes that colour before. They reminded him of the purple crocus flowers that stretched their necks in springtime, searching for the midday sun. As he approached she turned away. His heart sang and a smirk grew on his face as he anticipated the upcoming game of cat and mouse.
    The crowd parted like the red sea as he made his way closer to his prize, wondering who she was and why she hasn’t been presented to him yet. She stepped sideways towards an older man, seeking shelter from the approaching storm. A fleeting look into his eyes, capturing his gaze for a split second before hiding under the cover of thick full lashes, as she turned her head slightly away from him. He radiated strength and power with his strong jawline tilted slightly skyward, making him appear to be looking down his nose at all that crossed his gaze. His chocolate brown eyes surveying his kingdom around him.

    “Good evening your majesty, “ the older noblemen addressed. “I do hope you are enjoying yourself tonight?”

    “Yes I am Mr Lockhart,” the king replied without taking his eyes off his prey. “And who is this magnificent creature.”
    He gestured towards the mysterious girl, that was now standing in front of him. The rise and fall of her bosom gaving away the anxious excitement that she was obviously feeling. Hypnotising and intoxicating. The heat of her body emanating a soft scent of lavender.

    “This is my niece, Miss Evangeline Montcroix.”

    “Your majesty.” Evangeline bowed her head as she dipped down into the ceremonial curtsy. The satin of her bronze coloured skirt, billowing out around her as it kissed the floor.
    The king took her hand and raised it to his lips. She was sending signals to all the right regions of his body and he knew that she was the one he was taking to his chamber tonight. “I have never seen you here before. Are you visiting?”

    “Yes your majesty, I have been visiting my uncle while my father has been doing business in Maidstone.” Evangeline fluttered her lashes.

    “And will you be staying long?” The king was wishing she would be here long enough to frequent his court. He intended to make her his mistress.
    “Not long your majesty. My father should be returning within the week.”

    His heart stopped. This may be the first and last time he would see her. He had to make his move now. “Mr Lockhart, I would like it if you would allow your beautiful niece to walk with me a moment in the garden. I think she may enjoy the night sky. The stars seem to be dancing along with the music tonight.”

    “Of course your majesty,” Mr Lockhart bowed before the king as he gently stepped away from his niece allowing space for the king to take his place next to Evangeline.

    “I think that should be a decision that is for me to make, should it not?” Evangeline questioned flirtatiously.

    A cardinal sin had just been made. No-one had every questioned the king before. This was going to be a thrilling hunt. And when he had caught his prey, he intended to make her pay.

  13. Mairibeth

    I’m considering entering the Historical Blitz but thought I’d join in with this for fun anyway! Loving reading all the entires – so interesting to see how everyone has interpreted the prompt.

    Finlay Macpharlane, 4th Earl of Lennoxvale, would have recognised those eyes anywhere. The sapphire blue velvet of her mask served more to highlight than to hide them. He watched from the mezzanine as Isabella Buchanan, youngest daughter of his late father’s closest friend, hurried through the thronging crowd at the masquerade ball. Her black domino almost served to cover her gown but flashes of the pale blue muslin visible marked her out as a debutante. And this masquerade was as far from a debutante’s ball as it was possible to get. Didn’t she know what sort of party this was?
    “You’ll have a hell of a time getting anywhere near that one,” said his companion Lord Harry Moffat following his gaze.
    “She shouldn’t be here,” Finlay replied.
    Harry shrugged. “Maybe not, but she is. And I’ve heard there’s a wager.”
    “A wager?” Finlay’s blood ran cold. The two friends watched as Isabella reached the French doors that led out onto the terrace. With a quick glance behind her she stepped outside. Alone.
    “Archie Ferguson and his cronies.” Harry said. “One hundred guineas for bedding her before the masquerade is over. Easy money if you ask me but—”
    Finlay’s hand clenched into a fist and he glared at his friend.
    “—but she’s not my type,” finished Harry, grinning. Then he nodded at a group of three young rakes who were stepping though the doors onto the terrace, led by Archie Ferguson. “If you’re going to save the girl then maybe you should hurry.”
    Finlay didn’t need to be told twice. He pushed past Harry and down the stairs.
    The odds of Isabella remaining a virgin by the end of the weekend’s debaucheries were slim to none – especially if there were a hundred guineas at stake. And if someone was going to seduce her why should it not be him? At the very least he’d minimise the consequences for her and ensure she retained as much of her reputations as was possible in the circumstances. He wasn’t going to let some other young buck ruin her merely for sport. Besides, the money would be a welcome addition to his coffers.
    By the time he reached the terrace Isabella had been backed against the balustrade by her three suitors and was looking around herself for a means of escape. Ignoring the protests of the three younger men he took Isabella firmly by the arm, leading her down the terrace steps into the dark gardens.
    “What do you think you’re playing at?” He demanded as they made their way round the house towards another entrance, one that would spare them any audience.
    “Finlay? Is that you?” Isabella asked.
    “Yes, and you can thank me later for saving you.”
    “Saving me?” She said. She stopped so abruptly that his arm jerked painfully. He turned to face her. “But you haven’t saved me. I need to… I have to… You don’t understand.”

  14. Chrissie

    Maybe this is the wrong era, but it’s the wild Est circa 1870:

    Ben smiled and nibbled the tips of Sarah’s fingers, one by one. She was offering herself in consolation. He lowered his mouth to hers in a gentle kiss. Pain over the loss of his brother and the emptiness he’d lived with so long released. Their passion exploded like flames in an open campfire.
    His kiss deepened as they moved against each other, touching and caressing bare skin, desperate to become one. But this mindless seduction had to stop. He was insane to let it go on when she was injured, knowing it would hurt her. He swept them both across to the deepest part of the pool where it lapped against the mountain of rock jutting skyward.
    He laid her back along the smooth stone shelf just beneath the water’s surface and covered her slender body with his own. Groaning, he closed his eyes to bliss. He was so much larger than her delicate form. He didn’t want to hurt her, but the need to fulfill their desire for each other pushed him onward. He wanted to sheath himself deep within her, make love to her until they were both equally sated.
    “Sarah,” he mumbled against her silky cheek. “Stop me, if you don’t want this too.”
    He wanted to take her here and now. But in her sore condition that wouldn’t be fair, nor would they be able to enjoy the full measure of their first joining. He groaned again, his mind tormenting him. To hold her close, to caress her soft skin, and kiss her until she was breathless for need of him would have to do.
    “I can’t…stop you,” she whispered.
    He raised up and gazed down at her. Her long auburn hair floated out around her face in the shallow water. Her blue eyes sparkled like the depths of the mineral spring’s pool. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen and he was a goner for sure.
    She smiled tenderly and he felt a slight pain, somewhere in the vicinity of his heart. He was falling for her as sure as a star falls out of the summer sky. When she went back to her own time, his heart would harden and he would never allow this kind of passion to happen again. But for the next three weeks, she needed him. She would be his to protect and adore. He could put off his revenge a little longer. Killing the sheriff would not bring Sonny or Jenny back, and he wanted to spend more time with Sarah before it was too late.
    “Kiss me, Ben,” she coaxed softly.
    He lowered his face to within inches of hers, but did not succumb to her plea. Not yet. “Sarah, darlin’, you’ve bewitched my soul.”
    A slight breeze picked up, sending a sprinkle of gooseflesh along her creamy chest. Her nipples puckered and peeked out of the shimmering water in wanton temptation. He wanted to keep her lying like this forever, a goddess of passion and desire. His blood pumped wildly in his veins. He felt dazed, unsure of why he allowed her to tangle-up his emotions.
    She wrapped her arms about his neck and tugged his face downward to meet hers. “I need more of you than I can have, Ben Rye. If you won’t make love to me, then you’d better keep kissing me, or I’ll explode into a million pieces right here in this wonderful pool.”
    Her words were like an aphrodisiac, and he chuckled. “Where have you been all my life, Sarah? I’ve been looking for a woman just like you.”
    “Well, I’m here now so quit talking, quit staring at me like you’d love to swallow me whole, and please…please, kiss me.”
    He didn’t need any more encouragement than that. His mouth covered hers, and she opened to him, a flower to the sun. His tongue reached gently inside, tasting the sweetness he would remember always.

  15. Ellay Branton

    Josephina could barely breathe. It wasn’t the corset tightly hugging her waist, or the sultry heat of the Caribbean night that stifled her. It was his eyes.
    The dark gaze that swept over her with the swiftness of a candle flicker held knowledge of a woman’s body – and what to do with it. She felt exposed under that piercing stare, the layers of clothing she wore suddenly seemed as thin and sheer as the mosquito netting draped over her bed.
    “Baron Creighton,” she stammered, sidling closer to her desk where the letters to her sister lay open on its surface. “What are you doing in my rooms?”
    The letters were normally kept in a bundle in a drawer. He must have read them. Outrage over the violation of her privacy was outweighed by the fear of him discovering her plans of revenge.
    “Mi’lord, get out. Now.” Her voice held only a tiny tremor, which she hoped he would attribute to indignance.
    He shook his head slowly, and advanced toward her in measured, predatory steps.
    His black hair was loose from it’s queue and it fell to his broad shoulders. His dark evening suit fitted his strong, lithe body. For a brief moment, he reminded her of a large panther she had once seen in a cage. The beast had been captured and displayed by an obscenely wealthy Marquis. She’d been riveted by its snarls as it paced and glared behind the iron bars. It had been beautiful and frightening.
    The creature who came toward her now held that same beauty, but he was not caged.
    “Oh no, Miss Duarte.” He stopped inches away, looming toward her until she was forced to lean backward over her desk with precarious balance. “But you aren’t Miss Duarte, are you?”
    She jumped when his hand came up to gently trace her lower lip. The fear that had her heart racing was enhanced by a flush of desire. Her body wanted him. It always wanted him. Despite her loathing for the man that had ruined her sister, Josephine couldn’t quash the wanton sensuality he conjured in her.
    Josephine attempted to appear confused. The wild hope that it hadn’t been he who had found and read her letters was only a last grasp of desperation. “Whatever are you talking about?” Her lip tingled from his touch.
    Anger flared to life in his eyes, and something else, something bleak and almost sad. His dark, wicked smile did nothing to dispel the turmoil of his gaze. “Stop pretending, Miss Locklyne.” He spoke her true name with a sneering voice.
    Her own ire surfaced. How dare he be angry with her? He was the one who had seduced and tossed aside Madeline, leaving the girl with no future, and a babe, besides. Her hand slid over the letters to grab the small dagger she used to open her missives. She watched his eyes widen in surprise as she held the point to his stomach.
    “You dare to be vexed with me?” She hissed. “You’re a hypocrite, Baron. A rake, with the morals of an alley cat!”
    With a deft movement, Grey seized her hand and the dagger fell with a soft thump to the rug. He pulled her toward him, his hard body pressed against her. The possessive hold further awakened her body. She struggled with herself as much as with him.
    She knew it was fruitless. A small part of her understood her sister’s fall from grace. Grey Creighton had been charming, witty and attentive for the past two months in his pursuit of her. The naive romantic that dwelled in her heart had fallen for that side of him. Only by reminding herself that he must have also behaved the same way toward Madeline had Josephine been able to remain determined.
    “Was it all a pretense, I wonder?” he mused, his deep voice next to her ear sending tremors through Josephine. “Those spirited debates, the shy smiles?” He nipped her earlobe, and she couldn’t hold back a whimper. “Do you know what I think, Miss Locklyne? I think your passionate nature is the truth. That, at least, cannot be hidden.”
    Grey’s kiss stopped her thoughts. His previous embraces were enough to set her aflame, but this time he held nothing back. Almost cruel in his passion, he pushed his tongue past her lips. She was unaware of when she stopped fighting him and began kissing him in return. Her arms were around his neck, she was clinging to his jacket, her fingers tangled in his hair. His mouth softened a fraction over hers, but was no less demanding. She could feel his hand on her backside, branding her with his touch.
    His abrupt end to the kiss as he stepped back left her feeling bereft. He stood several feet away, breathing as raggedly as she.
    For a long moment he stared at her. There was still a lingering hurt in his eyes, as though she’d wounded his heart with her betrayal. Odd, though she’d planned to injure his pride and feelings much worse, there was a tight fist of guilt in her stomach. She wanted to see him smile at her again, like he had when he’d kissed her in the garden. There had been a warm light in his eyes when he touched her so reverently. So many times she’d almost wanted it to be real, to believe that all Grey’s honorable actions weren’t just a pretense. If she hadn’t known the truth, she’d have fallen completely in love with him.
    When he finally spoke, cold dread ran through her.
    “We are going back to England, tonight. No, do not shake your head at me.” He paused as he saw her chest rise is a furtive breath. “No yelling, either, Miss Locklyne.” That wicked smile returned. “Or I’ll make sure whomever comes through that door sees you in a truly compromising position.”
    “Why?” Her voice was a hoarse whisper. She had risked much to attempt revenge, and it seemed the gamble was going to cost her everything. “Why are you doing this to us? What did Madeline and I ever do to you?”
    “Madeline did nothing.” His voice hardened. “And I never laid a hand on your sister. She’s much too young and unworldly for my tastes.”
    “Liar,” she said, mindful to keep her voice down, knowing his threat to compromise her was not hollow. “Madeline told me everything. You wooed her, then seduced her. When you found out she was -” Josephine couldn’t say it without blushing. “She’s going to be a mother, and you’ve tossed her aside like garbage.”
    “And you thought what, Miss Locklyne?” Every time he said her name, it became more mocking. “You’d make me want you? Fall in love with you so I’d propose? Then toss me aside, damaging my pride? You’ve a very high opinion of yourself.” He waved away whatever response she was going to make. “It doesn’t matter. Pack a bag, and be quick.
    Josephine knew he’d just take her away without any of her belongings if she pushed him. Frantically trying to think of a way out of her situation, she blindly stuffed some things into a satchel. He watched her carefully, ready to stop any action that might thwart his purpose. In bare minutes she was finished, but her room was a mess. Hopefully it would appear as though she struggled with her captor, and cause an alarm to be send up.
    “Now, you will write a note saying we’ve run off together to be married.” He sneered. “Make it convincing love.”
    “I will not!” She said, heedless of the volume of her voice.
    “You will. If you don’t want complete ruination of your entire family, you will. One sister’s fall is a pity. Two would be devastating to all of your connections.”
    Seething, Josephine did as he bid, but refused to write more than a few lines.
    “Where are you taking me?” she asked, helpless anger making her shake.
    “I told you. We are boarding my ship tonight. And then, Miss Locklyne, I will have you.”
    Her gasp of outrage didn’t seem to affect him. “Fear not, you will get the proposal you wanted. However, you won’t get to set me aside. We’ll be married by the captain in the morning, after you’re well and truly deflowered. Then, you’ll have nowhere to hide, and you’ll listen to the truth of the matter.”The dark gaze that swept over her with the swiftness of a candle flicker held knowledge of a woman’s body – and what to do with it. She felt exposed under that piercing stare, the layers of clothing she wore suddenly seemed as thin and sheer as the mosquito netting draped over her bed.
    “Baron Creighton,” she stammered, sidling closer to her desk where the letters to her sister lay open on its surface. “What are you doing in my rooms?”
    The letters were normally kept in a bundle in a drawer. He must have read them. Outrage over the violation of her privacy was outweighed by the fear of him discovering her plans of revenge.
    “Mi’lord, get out. Now.” Her voice held only a tiny tremor, which she hoped he would attribute to indignance.
    He shook his head slowly, and advanced toward her in measured, predatory steps.
    His black hair was loose from it’s queue and it fell to his broad shoulders. His dark evening suit fitted his strong, lithe body. For a brief moment, he reminded her of a large panther she had once seen in a cage. The beast had been captured and displayed by an obscenely wealthy Marquis. She’d been riveted by its snarls as it paced and glared behind the iron bars. It had been beautiful and frightening.
    The creature who came toward her now held that same beauty, but he was not caged.
    “Oh no, Miss Duarte.” He stopped inches away, looming toward her until she was forced to lean backward over her desk with precarious balance. “But you aren’t Miss Duarte, are you?”
    She jumped when his hand came up, to gently trace her lower lip. The fear that had her heart racing was enhanced by a flush of desire. Her body wanted him. It always wanted him. Despite her loathing for the man that had ruined her sister, Josephine couldn’t quash the wanton sensuality he conjured in her.
    Josephine attempted to appear confused. The wild hope that it hadn’t been he who had found and read her letters was only a last grasp of desperation. “Whatever are you talking about?” Her lip tingled from his touch.
    Anger flared to life in his eyes, and something else, something bleak and almost sad. His dark, wicked smile did nothing to dispel the turmoil of his gaze. “Stop pretending, Miss Locklyne.” He spoke her true name with a sneering voice.
    Her own ire surfaced. How dare he be angry with her? He was the one who had seduced and tossed aside Madeline, leaving the girl with no future, and a babe, besides. Her hand slid over the letters to grab the small dagger she used to open her missives. She watched his eyes widen in surprise as she held the point to his stomach.
    “You dare to be vexed with me?” She hissed. “You’re a hypocrite, Baron. A rake, with the morals of an alley cat!”
    With a deft movement, Grey siezed her hand and the dagger fell with a soft thump to the rug. He pulled her toward him, his hard body pressed against her. The possessive hold further awakened her body. She struggled with herself as much as with him.
    She knew it was fruitless. A small part of her understood her sister’s fall from grace. Grey Creighton had been charming, witty and attentive for the past two months in his pursuit of her. The naive romantic that dwelled in her heart had fallen for that side of him. Only by reminding herself that he must have also behaved the same way toward Madeline had Josephine been able to remain determined.
    “Was it all a pretense, I wonder?” he mused, his deep voice next to her ear sending tremors through Josephine. “Those spirited debates, the shy smiles?” He nipped her earlobe, and she couldn’t hold back a whimper. “Do you know what I think, Miss Locklyne? I think your passionate nature is the truth. That, at least, cannot be hidden.”
    Grey’s kiss stopped her thoughts. His previous embraces were enough to set her aflame, but this time he held nothing back. Almost cruel in his passion, he pushed his tongue past her lips. She was unaware of when she stopped fighting him and began kissing him in return. Her arms were around his neck, she was clinging to his jacket, her fingers tangled in his hair. His mouth softened a fraction over hers, but was no less demanding. She could feel his hand on her backside, branding her with his touch.
    His abrupt end to the kiss as he stepped back left her feeling bereft. He stood several feet away, breathing as raggedly as she.
    For a long moment he stared at her. When he finally spoke, cold dread washed away the heat of her desire.
    “We are going back to England, tonight. No, do not shake your head at me.” He paused as he saw her chest rise is a furtive breath. “No yelling, either, Miss Locklyne.” That wicked smile returned. “Or I’ll make sure whomever comes through that door sees you in a truly compromising position.”
    “Why?” Her voice was a hoarse whisper. She had risked much to attempt revenge, and it seemed the gamble was going to cost her everything. “Why are you doing this to us? What did Madeline and I ever do to you?”
    “Madeline did nothing.” His voice hardened. “And I never laid a hand on your sister. She’s much too young and unworldly for my tastes.”
    “Liar,” she said, mindful to keep her voice down, knowing his threat to compromise her was not hollow. “Madeline told me everything. You wooed her, then seduced her. When you found out she was -” Josephine couldn’t say it without blushing. “She’s going to be a mother, and you’ve tossed her aside like garbage.”
    “And you thought what, Miss Locklyne?” Every time he said her name, it became more mocking. “You’d make me want you? Fall in love with you so I’d propose? Then toss me aside? You’ve a very high opinion of yourself.” He waved away whatever response she was going to make. “It doesn’t matter. Pack a bag, and be quick.
    Josephine knew he’d just take her away without any of her belongings if she pushed him. Frantically trying to think of a way out of her situation, she blindly stuffed some things into a satchel. He watched her carefully, ready to stop any action that might thwart his purpose. In bare minutes she was finished, but her room was a mess. Hopefully it would appear as though she struggled with her captor, and cause an alarm to be send up.
    “Now, you will write a note saying we’ve run off together.” He sneered. “Make it convincing love.”
    “I will not!” She said, heedless of the volume of her voice.
    “You will. If you don’t want complete ruination of your entire family, you will. One sister’s fall is a pity. Two would be devastating to all of your connections.”
    Seething, Josephine did as he bid, but refused to write more than a few lines.
    “Where are you taking me?” she asked, helpless anger making her shake.
    “I told you. We are boarding my ship tonight. And then, Miss Locklyne, I will have you.”
    Her gasp of outrage didn’t seem to affect him. “Fear not, you will get the proposal you wanted However, you won’t get to set me aside. We’ll be married by the captain in the morning, after you’re well and truly deflowered.”

  16. Clara Fairfax

    Grace Arthur looked like a little English sparrow, her drab, plump, plumage a foil to the sumptuous silks and muslins worn by her fellow debutantes. No one would ever compose a sonnet to her beauty and by her own reckoning, her accomplishments numbered none.

    The Duke of Cambridge was in need of an amusing mistress to while away his nights in town. Miss Arthur was a most unlikely candidate.

    Only the very greastest simpleton would consider recruiting a low-born young lady in the midst of her first season to such an exacting role.

    And yet … She held herself as regally as any Queen. While others trembled before him, and hardly dared stammer more than two words together, she challenged him as soon as he gave her the opportunity.

    If the possession of kind heart counted for anything in society, she would be one of its leaders. But society, and he, were slow to recognise true worth.

    He might be slow but he was not a dullard.

    Captain Bourne, the son of a blacksmith, whose legendary bravery on the battlefields of the Peninsula Wars had earned him a field commission, showed her a trifle too much attention for his liking. The good Captain might be a more suitable mate for the daughter of a Cit by society’s reckoning, but the man stumbled over reading dispatches, and Miss Arthur’s true accomplishment was the quickness of her mind.

    Something twisted inside him under his left breast as she caught his gaze and her face softened into a smile. If he had his way, at that very moment, the entire ballroom would be transported to the Antipodes, leaving behind only he and Miss Arthur.

    Her warm brown eyes were as gentle as the touch of her hand as it had rested in his when he had led her in the Cotillion not half an hour earlier.

    The Captain reached forwards to whisper something in Miss Arthur’s ear, taking her attention from him, and bringing a flush to her cheeks. His hand tightened around the stem of his glass as anger rose inside him in an unstoppable wave. Dammit, this would not do.

    Miss Arthur’s life was not to be wasted living among soldiers who had no appreciation of her keen mind. Worse still to consign her to the company of village yokels.

    Society might dictate his choice of wife, but no one would dare criticise his choice of mistress. Where the Duke of Cambridge led, others followed.

    The Captain could look elsewhere for a wife. Miss Arthur was about to take up residence in his recently vacated apartment in Grosvenor Square.

  17. Fiona Marsden

    I can’t resist these challenges

    Tonight, Antony, Lord Runnersby would have his revenge. He declared it to the night sky before entering the carriage that would take him the final stage to Little Maybury. No uppity chit of a debutante would get the best of him. The girl was only moderately good looking, and her dowry wouldn’t keep him in neckties. Not that he intended to marry her. Not now. He’d been prepared to overlook her faults, ignore her lack of dowry. For weeks, he’d danced attendance on her, making a cake of himself in front of the ton. Amelia’s aunt and her cronies had been crowing with delight at his downfall. Bets were being taken at White’s.
    And then she’d snubbed him. At Almack’s. In front of everyone, she had declined his hand for the waltz and walked away. He’d been fool enough to pursue her, to ask how he had offended her.
    “Amelia? What’s wrong? What have I done?”
    She’d pulled herself up to her diminutive height and somehow managed to look down her nose at him, despite his more than six foot frame.
    “It appears, my lord, that there is very little you have not done.”
    It had only been a matter of time before she learned of his reckless past. He’d wondered which of her acquaintance had taken pleasure in defaming him. It could have been anyone. He’d never been discreet in his liaisons. “That’s all over. In the past.”
    “In the past. Yet only yesterday I saw you in company with your mistress, Madame Barry.”
    Damn. He’d been forced to be polite to the woman when he ran up against her at the Library. Amelia’s bosom friend, Mary Ashforth and her priggish brother had been there. He hadn’t seen Amelia but no doubt she had been somewhere with her nose in a book. “She is no longer a concern. We parted company months ago.” Frustration made him take a false step. “In any case, you ought to know better than to throw up a man’s former associations.”
    The flinch, accompanied as it was by the quiver of her bottom lip and the wide, wounded eyes, stabbed him to the heart, suffocating him.
    “I have no wish to become another of your associations.”
    “It was marriage I intended to offer.” His mother, before her death had warned him that someday he would regret his licentious living. He had dismissed her words. Now they came back to him, twisting his gut. Regret was of no use. The way she looked at him, head held high and her hands clasped at her chest told him as much.
    “Do you think I desire marriage from a man who has cuckolded his friends and acquaintances? I want a husband who will respect those vows, not resume his dalliances with other men’s wives the moment he becomes bored or I start an heir. It is also repugnant to me that I might be required to greet my husband’s mistresses with equanimity in Hookham’s or in the drawing rooms of the ton.” She’d sucked in a shaky breath. “So while I am ‘honoured’ by your very kind attentions, I would be pleased if you could no longer make me an object of your gallantry.”
    He’d stood like a fool on the edge of the dance floor while she gathered up her aunt and left him to face the inquisitive stares of Lady Jersey and her coterie.
    Tonight it would be her turn to be discomforted. Her flight to the country with the Ashforths had followed hard on that night. It had taken a little time to organise, but he’d wangled an invitation for her and her friends to an affair at his old friend’s estate near where she was staying. Once there, Amelia would come to his hand. He’d been respectful, held back the passion the chit had inspired, knowing she was a spark waiting to ignite under his expertise. No more. Tonight she would be his, in every way.

  18. Christy Hayes

    I just have to applaud everyone. These are all so good. I’m new to this site and this is my first challenge I’ve always been very leary of people reading what I write, author stage fright. So I really didn’t know how I would feel about posting here. I LOVE IT, it is fun ,challenging , and inspiring. Already looking forward to the next.

  19. Chrissie

    Sorry to enter two but we need a pirate tale:

    The Mystic Sea sat at anchor just off the shore of Gull’s Island, rocking in gentle waves. Captain James Hawk peered overboard into the clear blue water at all the fish and kelp swaying to and fro. He had a decision to make. Either he keep the wench as his own in his cabin for the rest of the journey or he set her free for his hearty crew to have their way with her.

    No, he couldn’t be that cruel. Even if she was a castaway they’d found stranded on a lonely stretch of beach, his shipmates would be her demise. She couldn’t be much more than eighteen years and most likely a virgin at that.

    Her fiery red hair and lovely green eyes told him she would make a challenging lover. He chuckled as he recalled the way she fought her captors when they’d brought her aboard this morning. And he’d forfeited his cabin to keep her safe, making a claim to her that he wasn’t sure he wanted to keep.

    The last thing he needed was a feisty woman to control while he tended to his ship and crew. Yet, if he were to set her free, miles from civilization, she would surely die. The choice was a simple one. And he would not regret the safe harbor of a female’s arms. It had been far too long.

    He tapped twice on the door to his cabin before he entered. She was huddled in the cot and glared at him as he crossed the floor. He shed his pistol and sword, setting them carefully aside and well out of the wench’s reach should she attempt to attack him during the night. On second thought, he set them both inside the trunk and locked it.

    “What do they call you?” He approached the bed but paused to kick off his boots, one by one.
    She shook her head but didn’t speak a word.

    “You can either share your name or we can get on with this matter.” He sat beside her but didn’t try to touch her.

    Her chin rose high and she shot daggers at him with her emerald green eyes. “Mary O’Reilly.”

    “Mary.” He liked that name and it suited her, but he didn’t think for one moment she was telling him the truth. “My name is James Hawk, but most call me Wynn.”

    “Are you taking me back to America?”

    He raised a brow and considered her question. “In a few weeks time—yes. But we have work to do before I can sail northward again. What happened to you, Mary?”

    Her eyes pooled with tears and she swiped them away. “I want to go home. I’m the last survivor. I’ve been alone for days. I miss my family…my mother…oh! You wouldn’t understand.”

    “I know your ship must have sank somewhere nearby.”

    “By your ship’s cannons, sir.”

    He laughed outright. She was smarter than he gave her credit for. It had been his ship that sank the Anna Belle last week. “I apologize for your inconvenience. Be that as it may, we have a problem. You need protection and I need my sleep.”
    With that message hanging between them, he undressed to his long johns and climbed into be beside her. She scrunched up against the wood plank wall and pulled the blanket up to her chin. He reached up to snuff out the candle, closed his eyes, and feigned sleep.

    “I want you to know if you leave my cabin or make an attempt to harm me, your safety will be lost as sure as the crew and family you so dearly hated were lost when we attacked your ship.”

    She sucked in her breath. “How did you know I hated them?”

    “Who do you think sent me to interrupt your journey?”

    “Randall…oh my god. He’s the only one who knew I didn’t want to marry that pig in Barbados.” She spat the words as if swallowing poison.

    He chuckled though he didn’t open his eyes. “I suggest we get some sleep now, Mary. Unless, you have other ideas for my entertainment. I have a ship to run and a prize to protect.”

    “I’m not a prize. I’m a woman.”

    “And a very beautiful one at that. We can either sleep or I can make love to you. The choice is yours, Mary O’Reilly.”

    Her gasp was the last he heard before drifting off to a peaceful night’s sleep.

  20. Tessa Redlin

    What better way to motivate our hero than to have our heroine do it?

    Isobel Watkins tracked her prey over the top of the fan she fluttered lazily in front of her face. Her clear blue eyes missing nothing as he greeted his brother, who had just arrived. She took note of his conservative attire, simple black waistcoat with dark grey breeches with black boots, snow-white shirt and a silver cravat. Not a single obnoxious, bold-colored piece of clothing to be seen. No one could every call him a dandy.

    Bennet Harrington smiled broadly when his brother Alistair arrived. Finally, someone intelligent to talk to. As far as Ben was concerned, there was nothing more boring than a ball. If it wasn’t for his mother’s instance that at twenty-seven it was high time he settled down and provided the earldom with an heir, he would be at his London townhouse, enjoying the charms of his mistress.

    “Mama won again, I see,” Alistair smirked, gleefully needling his brother and enjoying the obvious discomfort the older sibling was enduring.

    “Was there ever any doubt?” Bennet sighed. “I don’t know why I even bother putting up a fight anymore. She’s right; I need an heir.”

    Alistair raised an eyebrow. “You might want to say that louder, I don’t think all the conniving, grasping mamas of the ton heard you. I mean, if you’re looking for a wife, they would be the ones to talk to.”

    “Just shut up, would you?”

    By the time Isobel fought her way through the crush and reached the brothers she was more than a little put off.

    “Why is it every one of these things is packed full of people?” she groused. “There has to be four-hundred people in this room!”

    Bennet and Alistair laughed at her disgruntled expression before the younger brother stepped forward to grasp her hand and lift it to his lips in greeting.

    “Good evening, Miss Watkins,” he said formally before releasing her hand and she all but snorted.

    “Can’t remember the last time you called me that,” she laughed.

    Bennet watched the exchange with dark expression.

    “Where’s your mother,” he asked sharply. More sharply than he intended, but something about their familiarity bothered him. And she shouldn’t be traipsing around the ballroom unattended, she was far too young and innocent to be on her own.

    Isobel glanced sideways at him and almost changed her mind about her next move, but the memory of her mother’s hopeful expression when she told her Bennet was looking for a wife shored up her resolve.

    “Over there,” she replied with a wave of her hand. “I didn’t see the need to drag her across this crowd when she has a comfortable spot with which to watch the dance floor.”

    “And since you didn’t see the need to greet me properly like your brother, you are going to dance with me next,” she continued, her eyes flashing with mirth.

    Bennet groaned silently and glared at her. Dancing with Isobel was nothing short of torture and she knew it. She was notoriously clumsy on the dance floor.

    “Fine,” Bennet ground out and grabbed her arm, propelling her toward the dancers. “Let’s get this over with.”

    He patently ignored Alistair’s laughter as it followed them on to the dance floor. Thank goodness a waltz was striking up. He swung her into the circle of his arms and looked down at her with a grimace. “Try to follow my lead and stay off my toes?”

    “Only if you be nice to me,” she warned. “Otherwise I’m going to ruin those shiny boots or yours.”

    Bennet sighed. She would too. The minx had temper to match the flaming red hair that was, at the moment, done up in an elaborate style that made him want to do nothing more than take it down and see the red-gold waves cascade over her bare shoulders.

    Bare shoulders? Where the hell had that come from? He shouldn’t be thinking about her bare shoulders. Or any other part of her pressed up against him as they danced. Especially her breasts, which he began to worry would pop right out of her bodice when he noticed just how low the neckline was.

    “You’re too young to be wearing your bodices that low,” he bit out, beginning to sweat as his body continued to react to her.

    “I wore it just for you,” she said saucily. “It’s new.”

    “Why would you wear a dress just for me?” he stupidly asked her.

    “Because I’m seducing you,” she told him in a no nonsense tone, ignoring his strangled cough. “I need a husband and you need a wife, we’re the perfect fit.” And with that, she stumbled and trod on his foot.

    Bennet looked at her as if she’d lost her mind. “I’m not marrying you,” he told her in no uncertain terms.

    “You’ll have to,” she replied airily. “Once you’ve ruined me, you’ll have to marry me.”

    “I have no intention of taking you to my bed, Isobel. So, your reputation is safe,” he drawled.

    “Why not?” she asked with a wicked smile and missed a step so her hips brushed against his. “Don’t you want me?”

    Well, hell. All the blood rushed to his groin as he stared down at the insane woman in his arms. The crazy, manipulative, blindingly innocent nineteen-year-old girl in his arms, who he had no business wanting, much less picturing naked and writhing under him as he was now. His tastes had never run toward untrained virgins and yet, the thought of initiating her into the sensual arts was enough to make him tremble. This had to stop.

    “Isobel,” he ground out between clenched teeth as he circled them around the dance floor. “Enough of this nonsense. When I take a wife, it will be someone old enough to know better than to tease a man like you’re doing right now.”

    “I’m not teasing you, Bennet,” she sighed. “I need to marry and I need to marry now. The money’s gone. Father didn’t leave us in good shape and if I don’t marry soon, we will lose everything.”

    “Why me, for God’s sake!?” he snapped.

    “Because you’re the only one who makes me feel this way when we dance,” she told him truthfully.

    “What way?” he asked before he could stop himself.

    “Like I want you to kiss me.”

    It took everything he had not to.

  21. Jocelyn

    Elias sipped the whisky as he watched Abigail with hooded eyes. The situation seemed to call for the smuggled Scottish liquid fire. His lips quirked into what some might mistake as a smile as his eyes roamed over her red hair and down the petite but generous form. His little sister’s young friend had certainly grown up. With splendid results. No wonder that lecher, the Duke of Wyeth, was willing to make such a settlement. Everyone knew that her father needed it. As his had.

    At the thought of the Duke, his sister and the fact that his father had sold her for money to prop up the thankfully now dead earl’s gambling habits, Elias’s free hand curled into a fist. The short nails dug crescents into the palm calloused from hours spent holding reins or a sword. He’d been deep in the Peninsula when the letters had caught up with him. The damn guerilla warfare had made it difficult to get communication from home. By the time he’d reached England after receiving Beth’s heartbreaking requests that her adored big brother come and rescue her from the repulsive marriage she was trapped in, she had already died in childbirth. It had taken four of Elias’s fellow officers and a week of drunkenness to keep him from riding north to the Duke’s estate and killing him.

    The only thing that kept the licentious duke safe was that he rarely came to London. But the thought of fresh young virgin flesh on which to try to breed an heir had brought the debaucher into town. He’d reached an agreement with Abigail’s spendthrift father. Twenty thousand pounds for an unspoiled bride.

    This time the smile on the firm lips was real as he regarded the young woman across the room now fidgeting with the items on his dresser. Once Abigail had found out about the agreement and determined there was no other way out, the little minx had chased over London until she located him at his club. Fortunately, she’d been circumspect enough to send in her servant to request an audience with her old friend’s brother instead of traipsing in herself. Elias had been half-drunk when he’d accepted the proposal to deflower her with the purpose of making her unfit to be Wyeth’s broodmare. He wasn’t drunk now. The upcoming prospect both alarmed him and made him randy as a stallion sniffing a mare in heat. The smile faded. Was he any better than Wyeth?

    Elias set the glass on the mantel. Well, it wouldn’t be rape. He’d been careful never to have a virgin before. An unwilling earl could end up getting married that way. But he’d had enough women – married and single – beg him not to leave their beds that he figured if he couldn’t make her enjoy it, at least he could breach her carefully. He hoped he could, he corrected, as his body tightened at the sight of the white flesh that rose and fell above the bodice of her gown. Slender as a colt little Abby had developed a marvelous bosom. She was nervous, he could tell from her erratic breathing. So was he. He was afraid that once he was in contact with her silken skin he’d lose all control.

    But the thought of the Duke’s grasping hands on the lush breasts had Elias’s resolve and expression hardening. He’d give twenty thousand pounds himself to confront the duke after the deed was done. Wyeth would never marry Abigail with the chance of her breeding Elias’s bastard. Or with the fact that someone else had tasted the sweet flesh before he could despoil it. Abby had insisted that she could live with the results of the scandal. Most of it, they might be able to keep away from the rabid tongues of the ton if Wyeth’s tongue could be kept silent. Elias remembered his sister’s anguished letters and thought of ways he could keep the libertine’s mouth shut. He sucked in a breath and slowly released it. This would be enough. He’d be saving Abby from a life of misery. If she did get with his child from this encounter, well, they would jump that fence when they came to it.

    Abby’s rounded blue eyes watched him apprehensively as he crossed the room. Elias schooled his face into a more relaxed countenance. It relaxed even more when his keen eyes took in the evidence of erect nipples under the thin material of her gown. Heat rushed through his body. She probably wasn’t even aware of the hint of her arousal. This might go easier for her than he’d hoped. He stopped in front of her, his booted feet nearly meeting the toes of her sensible shoes. Elias’s attention was drawn to her lips when she wet them with the tip of a nervous tongue. He reached out and brushed the pad of his thumb across the quivering white flesh that rose above her gown.

    “I think we’ll start with a kiss,” he murmured as he leaned toward her.

  22. margie stewart

    Southampton Dock, 1860

    …A sleek battleship in full sail…
    Under his breath, Captain Owen Markham whistled a slow march as he watched Lady Georgia Fields shapely figure in buttoned-up, yards and yards of billowing fabric, glide up the gangplank without a flinch, without so much as a backward glance.
    …God help the man who takes her on as his wife. The man would surely be driven mad by the challenged…
    Owen inwardly grinned. His solicitor had been right. She most certainly wasn’t a bolt of plain, ordinary cotton being shipped to the colonies, instead a rare piece of merchandise altogether.
    Outspoken. Impertinent. Irritating. Quite the most desirable young woman he’d ever met. She had a rare fire in her belly–he’d seen and felt that hungry, determined look on the battlefield. She may appear over confident, but in the depths of her eyes he saw a flash of veiled vulnerability. A ghost of a shadow hid in the centre of all that beauty and feistiness. Possibly the last thing she’d want him or anyone to see. That he understood well.
    Outwardly, her pale, proud face may give the impression she was no needy female in want of a man’s protection, despite her newly penniless state and having to ply the high seas for weeks on end to reach her brother in the colonies. He applauded her spirit of adventure, despite the fact it may work against him. And little did she know, going to such lengths to appear over-confident, had the reverse effect on him. Aroused more than his manly curiosity.
    Something inside his chest lifted. An unfamiliar sensation washed over him. Want and need, fought the urge to protect Miss Fields.
    If he were true to the drawing room gossips who’d labelled him a high seas pirate and a rake, it would be so easy not to disappoint them, but he’d be damned if he gave those narrow minded, bigoted spinsters and jealous businessmen an ounce of satisfaction on that score.
    Yet tempted as he was, he had patience…the journey was a long one…the right time and place would come…

  23. Kisha friday

    “Its time for you to find a suitor. Benjamin Terrence will be perfect for you.”
    Rachel Trumont rolls her eyes as her mother, Mary, rambled on about her youngest daughter finding a man to settle down with and that she hoped it be soon seeing that she might not live to see get married and have children.
    “Mama, there’s more to life than settling down and having babies. I want to do more with my life than that. Besides, you need me here to help on the farm and to keep them low down dogs off our property. They always coming here trying to take our land. They owe us this land as much as our people struggled to till it they while lives and for what?
    Rachel huffed and puffed about the kitchen stirring potatoes and meat and then opening cabinets to set the table. She really wasn’t in the mood to talk about marriage. It was no big deal. Her sisters got married and had children of their own but she can do so much more without having to lug kids around the farm. Mary stood up to help set the food on the table.
    ” I went ahead and sent for Benjamin to come over for dinner. ”
    Mama! How could you! Well, you can just give his plate to po’ old Buster out in the yard. He’ll eat it cause I ain’t fixing no plate for Benjamin and hr ain’t welcome here.
    “Now don’t argue with me child. You not too old for me to out ya over my knee. Mary gives her daughter a stern warning. ” I meant no harm. I only want you to be happy and live your life.
    “I am happy or at least I was until you asked Ben jamin to come over. Surely, you not thinking we gone get hitched?
    Mary hobbles over to Rachel. She been having a pain in her hips now from being out in the field too long pulling on her old stubborn mule, Bell.
    ” Before you pass judgement on this man, find out what he all about. Ain’t nothin wrong with courtin and I feel Benjamin is right for you. You can’t hold unto your virginity for ever.
    Rachel nearly dropped her plate. Had her mother gone mad? Who said Benjamin would be perfect to take her virginity? If she decided to court a man, he’d have to keep with her. So she’s a bit of a tomboy. Big deal. That just means the right man hadn’t came along to tame her is all. Not that she’d let him anyway. Benjamin came and they sat down to eat. Mary and Benjamin had done the most talking. Rachel watched them two talk and laugh. Her mother should just marry him herself since they seem to be enjoying each other’s company.Once dinner of meat and potatoes, fried cornbread, and collard greens was over Rachel was left to clear the tables and wash dishes. Benjamin stands beside her a little too close for comfort. He twirls his brown hat around clearing his throat waiting for her to speak. Rachel tries to ignore him but it was hard.
    “Thank you for a lovely meal. Benjamin said, you cook real good.
    ” Thank you. You in the way. Move. Rachel needed to put the dishes away and Benjamin was just taking too much space.
    “Why are you so mad at me? I ain’t done nothin to you. Benjamin wanted to know. Rachel wasn’t going to answer him. He ought to know. She saw him chatting with another woman when he told her he got eyes only for her. When Benjamin pressed on Rachel grew a bit agitated and
    Struck the counter with a sharp knife making Benjamin jump a little.
    ” You were with that no good Charlotte girl and now you wanna be all in my face?
    “I was just chatting wit her is all. She ain’t the woman for me. You are. Benjamin said. Rachel went outside. He followed. They fussed until Benjamin had enough and he grabbed her by the waist and kissed her. Once he released her Rachel didn’t have a thing to say. So she punched him on the jaw. Benjamin rubbed his jaw. Some punch that was. Hurt like the dickens.
    ” Now, I done told you that you the woman for me. I wanna court you Miss Rachel Trumont. Make you my wife.
    “I am not a horse for you to tame. Rachel said still reeling from the kiss. She wanted to have another but she needed to compose herself.
    ” You think you can handle me?
    ” I know I can. You’re a stubborn mule and I am too. Benjamin said taking her by the waist again, but I won’t take no for an answer. You gone be my wife Rachel Trumont. Then he kissed her again. Benjamin got on his horse and galloped away.

  24. Kathryn

    It was one of those late November English days when people sought sanctuary in lighted room and drew the drapes against the evil outside.
    Gusts of rain blew down the lanes and across the fields of Sussex, promising frost in the morning. A sky dark as soot made the lanterns set out along the long drive way to the stately house shine brightly. Their glow showed the way to the debutante ball held that evening at Hatfield House and automobiles had been arriving all day.
    Lady Gwendolyn, eight daughter of Lord Salisbury, and the expected belle of the ball was having none of it. A fact her father the Prime Minister of England was blissfully ignorant of as he continued to meet with advisors about the crisis in Africa throughout the evening. The ball was to begin at the stroke of midnight, at the very moment that the young woman would turn twenty-one years of age and he would be there to lead of the first dance.
    Among the guests was a young man who had been helpful to the Americans in negotiating a trade agreement with Brazil to bring coffee and sugar into the rapidly industrialized nation. There was nothing pleasant for John Cavendish in being ordered home to Britain. He had not been back since leaving with a stake from his family that would tide him over till he got on his feet.
    Gaining entry to a house through an upper window was nothing new for John Cavendish. The young woman in his arms was light as a feather as he entered her bedroom and laid her tenderly on the silken sheets.
    He looked down at her, closely examining what he could see of her. She was lovely, he decided, but perhaps she would not know that yet. Her soft dark hair was cut short, showing off her face. There was a decided set to her chin that suggested a bit of temper. Her wide eyes that fluttered as he laid her on the bed, opened wide, giving him a look at the deep pools of blue. He had brought her back to the right room he decided. The room was luxurious, he had expected that, but the paintings on the wall were modern, not Victorian monstrosities that lined the staircases. Decidedly different than what he would have expected for an English girl coming of age in the last decade of the nineteenth century.
    “Oh, no!” she cried sitting up in bed. “You brought me home.”
    She looked, he decided, vexed.
    “How on earth did you get me past mummy? She asked him.
    She deserved an explanation, he decided. It was his fault that she was hurt. If he had not been walking down the lane instead of at dinner, she would never have crashed her bicycle into him and knocked herself unconscious.
    “I climbed in the window with you in my arms.”
    “I was out for a walk,” he finished lamely.
    He put up his hand to stop her asking the obvious, it was only fair that he ask her a question now.
    What he was going to ask her was apparently obvious too. She brought her hand up to the goose egg on her forehead and sighed, closing her eyes. A gesture that he guessed she had used before to good effect.
    Cavendish couldn’t help himself, even though he knew he would regret it. He laughed out loud. Not a mean laugh, a deep chuckle that started low and rose up in him. It was the first genuine encounter with anyone that he had since arriving in England from Brazil. The collar of his dress suit was too tight; he couldn’t stand the protocols that went along with every single event. The clink of silverware and the subdued conversation, the woman sheathed in dresses that looked like suits of armor drove him outside into the clean air.
    The girl was on her feet in an instant, her fists beating at his chest.
    Her lips were soft and yielding, the time infinitely long.
    Understanding the secrets of others was part of what he did for the government. The emeralds rattling around in his pocket were proof of that.
    “Let me guess,” he said.
    “You ran away from home because you want to be an artist,” he hazarded looking at the sketches on the easel in the corner.
    “You think if you come out into society tonight, you will never be free to do what you want.”
    Her eyes looked dazed, like someone had stolen what was most precious to her.
    “It’s a beautiful dress, he said, pointing to the silk gown embroider with oriental dragons. The dress he knew would suit her curves, falling in places and cut low to tantalize.
    “Were you going to wear it?”
    “It’s my zodiac she said. “Father was in China and he brought it back for me.”
    “I don’t see a bustle,” he said smiling.
    “No,” she said. “I simply won’t wear one, even though they have come back into fashion.”
    “Will you dance with me? He asked.
    “Mmm hmm.”
    Her eyes sparkled with merriment. Non-committal.
    Quiet, he was conspicuously tall at six foot four. But he moved, she knew like a cat. She would take a chance that he was right. No one could stop her from pursuing her dreams.
    He could take her to bed, he knew it. She would yield to him, and he could teach her things.
    Pleasure delayed was pleasure gained, he knew.
    She smiled at him. “Will you send up my maid?”
    Off balance, he tripped over his own feet. “Who was playing who?”
    He knew where to get the help she needed and it was just the place to spend the time before the ball began.
    The kitchen.

  25. Vanessa Grace

    “Your reunion must not have been satisfactory if you have taken to hiding in the stable rafters.”
    “I’m not hiding,” she protested. “I only wished for a moment alone to think.”
    “About?”
    “My thoughts are none of your concern.”
    His green gaze flicked up to hers and held. “I suspect everything about you is my concern,” he said in a low voice that made her insides quiver.
    She stared at him and felt a powerful yearning to confide in him. She had thought no one could possibly believe her about Wrotham’s proposal, but Jeremy would be the exception. He had warned her after all. Still, Phoebe held back, unwilling to reveal just how foolish she had been. “You were right. Your brother isn’t the man I thought he was,” she said at last.
    The corner of his mouth twitched. “A surprising concession. I had thought you would sooner swim the Atlantic than admit I could ever be right.”
    “Please don’t tease me,” she begged. “Not about this.”
    His humor faded at her distress. “I apologize. It was never my desire to cause you pain. I wish tonight could have been avoided, but I knew of no other way for you to see the truth of my brother’s character.”
    She believed him. Jeremy had, and always would, done what was necessary to protect her – even from herself. In the face of Wrotham’s betrayal, Phoebe couldn’t imagine a nicer thing for him to say.
    Awareness flared within her, as natural as her next breath. This time she did not stamp down her attraction. Her eyes dropped down and before she could form a thought, raised her free hand and placed it in the center of Jeremy’s chest. Her hand looked positively tiny compared to the broad expanse of him. His skin was warm, far warmer than she thought possible, a smattering of soft, curly chest hair begged for her to explore. She slowly slid her hand down. The defined muscles of his stomach contracted beneath her fingertips.
    Phoebe smiled at the wondrous sensations erupting within her, powerful and real. “This is nice,” she said, looking back up at him. “I like how I feel when I touch you.”
    Jeremy let out a deep breath that sounded vaguely like a groan. “It is equally enjoyable for me,” he said, his voice thick. “I warned you what I would do if you ever looked at me like that again.”
    She remembered. Knew what she would be giving up. Heaven help her, she didn’t care. The feelings inside her were too real, too truthful, for her to stop. Her heart pulsed in her throat even as her fingertips danced. “You said you would show me what it means for a man to love a woman,” she replied. “And you are a man of your word.”
    He dropped his shirt and stopped her roaming hand with his. “You had best know what you are offering, Phoebe. A man can only take so much temptation.”
    She nodded solemnly. “The same must be true for a woman, for I find myself wholly tempted… by you.”
    A muscle in his jaw clenched and relaxed. “God forgive me,” he muttered before pulling her close.