Sorry, I got involved with my WIP
Plus, I had a very informative and interesting phone call with my lovely editor Clio at Carina yesterday, and then I went out for lunch with The West of Scotland Fibro friends.
So, sorry this went out of mind...
Anyway, I just have to give you a bit of the book Clio and I were talking about. The working title was Find the Lady, but...
Anyway it's Regency, out on September 4th, and this is the beginning...
Lord Theodore Bennett, known to his friends as Ben, and to his enemies—of which there were several—as that bloody Bennett, rolled over in bed, and opened one Brandy-bleary eye. No doubt if a mirror was handy the eye would be as blood red as the wine he thought followed the Brandy. Or was that before? Ben was more than a little hazy with regards to the previous night's activities. The last he remembered was accepting a wager that he couldn't empty the overlarge glass put in front of him, in one go. Had he? He had no idea but it was a certainty someone would let him know if he owed them money.
Ben sighed, winced as the noise set off a blacksmith's hammer in his head, stretched, and froze. Why was a bolster down the middle of his bed? A soft squidgy flesh covered bolster? He patted it cautiously and it moved. He dropped his hand as if it were scalded, and tried to bring his thoughts into some form of order. It wasn't easy.
A woman? He never spent the night with a woman. Never, ever. Bed them and leave them had always been his motto. And not in his own bed. That was a given. Everyone knew, and accepted that. Didn't they?
Somewhere in the back of his fragmented mind he remembered music and damned doves flying overhead. Doves for fucks sake, and he didn't even get a chance to take a pot shot at them. Had he been to Vauxhall to watch one of the many spectacles there? No, the music had been 'churchy', and…Oh my lord. A wife. I have a wife. The events of the previous day came back to him with immediate and hideous clarity. This needed to be discussed further. He reached out to the softness next to him and squeezed.
The bolster stirred and muttered something. Even in his less than awake state it didn't sound complimentary. He pulled his hand back again. Soft fingers fumbled over his body, and fastened on his morning erection.
The screech sent sharp daggers of pain splintering through his head. Nails dug into his skin, and that hammer hit his skull with monotonous regularity.
"For goodness sake, woman," He hoped to hell it was a woman—he didn't think he'd suddenly discovered a propensity for his own sex—"There is no need to awaken ever dog and monkey for streets around. Have you never felt a…" he paused. What polite way did you inform your wife—or who he assumed must be his wife, for surely he was not debauched enough to take another woman to bed on his wedding night—of the way your body woke up every morning? Even it seemed, after an excess of wine and brandy. "A man's body like this? If not get used to it."
His wife struggled out of the bedclothes and sat up with the sheet clutched to her like a suit of armour.
"Of course I haven't. Who would want to feel that?" She shuddered. "As for get used to it? In your dreams, not mine."
She gulped. Actually showed distaste. Even in his bemused state Ben was astounded. It was a first. Woman usually reacted in a much more positive manner.
"Where is my nightrail? Oh thunderheads." Her dismay was obvious.
He glanced to where she looked. A flimsy cotton nightrail hung over the end of the bed, out of arms reach without her showing her all. It looked somewhat the worse for wear. Almost in tatters. Surely she could afford better? He wondered how it had got there. Ben didn't remember taking part in that disrobing. Not that he had any recollection of having anything to do with well, anything.
"How? Oh don't tell me. Of course I haven't. You told me…" She shook her head in such a vigorous manner it hurt him to watch and blew several strands of hair off her cheeks. "Oh never mind. Nevertheless, explain to me one thing, pray. Why?" She spoke baldly, in a none too wifely manner.
Why? Why what? The state of my body? What I said?
"Because this is me." He hoped it was the correct reply. By the way she pursed her lips he was none too sure. Ben tried to expand on his statement a little more. It wasn't easy. He looked in her direction, saw three wives, and had no idea whom to address. However he focussed on the middle one and hoped for the best. He recognised her grim looking countenance.
Clarissa? Her of the voluptuous body, and forbidding attitude. Oh sweet lord. He accepted he was deep in the mire.
"This you what? Are a drunkard?" She snorted. "Then I'll take my leave now and retire to the country and breed dogs. Big ones, with very large teeth, who have an aversion to men, who imbibe too freely."
Give me strength, she knows we are wed and it's too late for anything else, except accept and move on.
"This is me when I awaken. Get used to it, madam, wife." Was his tone as intimidating as he hoped?
Clarissa stared at him from under a dark reddish-brown fringe of hair as if he was a curiosity escaped from the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly.
Why does she have that frizz over her forehead? Dare I ask? Perhaps not.
"Thankfully I won't need to. It won't bother me. As you gave me to believe we will not bed together."
Perhaps this is not the time to discuss her hair.
"Repeat that." Surely he hadn't heard aright?
She ground her teeth. Ben thought that was an expression, not something people actually did.
"We. Will. Not. Bed. Together." She snapped each word out separately.
Definitely not the time.
Her expression dared him to contradict her. "Is that correct? What you told me? We will not share a bed?"
How often was she going to say that?
"Not all the time, no," he said cautiously. Her hands were fisted on top of the sheet, and her knuckles shone white as she flexed and un-flexed her fingers. He kept a wary eye on them. Lady Clarissa Macpherson was somewhat of an unknown quantity. She seemed biddable, but Ben was convinced he'd seen a less than placid gleam in her grey eyes on more than one occasion.
"What do you mean not all the time?" Her voice rose, and he winced. "You said, and I quote. I never spend the night with a woman. Never."
Really, loud noises and a hangover from hades didn't go well together. Where had her father got the brandy? It had been definitely inferior. And he had said that? In essence it was the truth, but she had taken the literal sense much too far.
"Keep your screeching to a minimum for pity's sake," he said and hated the pleading and pitiful tone he used. "We're married. I need an heir. Therefore we sleep, or not sleep, together." He kept his tone as level as he could, considering the Band of The Coldstream Guards played a rousing march in his head.
She raised one eyebrow. "Elucidate."
"We procreate. I spend my seed in you as many times as necessary until you're with child."
She shook her head. "That's where you're wrong. No sowing is necessary my lord."
"Pray tell me why not?" His tone was too even for it to go unnoticed. Surely she wasn't with child? If so it wasn't his, and he wasn't going to be a cuckold.
"You said and I quote once more—please listen carefully—we married because you were protecting my honour. You never mentioned heirs. Well why would you? I evidently have, had," she corrected herself, "no effect on you. That result is reserved for others. Why you decided we had to wed, I have no idea. You don't want me, I'll be a burden, and may be an obstacle in your…Ah I see." She nodded her head. "Of course, tis all clear now."
Ben wished he saw. Her addle-pated, and meandering thoughts were too much for his alcohol soaked brain to process.
"You think I can be a deterrent to those who ask too much of you?" She laughed and shook her head. "If you imagine for one moment the presence, no not the presence, I wouldn't be there, the knowledge of a wife is enough of an impediment for some women, you are not as worldly wise as I suppose. I think to someone like Lady Fennister"—she named his personal bête noir—"or…well others I could but won't name, a wife is a reason to chase you."
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Love R x