Brothers or sisters on WIP Wednesday

d78ec673dec2a74d62d4bed3f8dd7badAll of a character’s intimate interactions can help to display or develop character, and in some ways no one knows you better or can more easily push your buttons than your brothers and sisters (or cousins or other close relations that you grew up with.

In this week’s WIP Wednesday, I’m looking for an excerpt that shows your related characters in a scene where we learn something about them because of what they think or how they behave.

They had talked it over at length while still staying with Charlotte, and in the carriage on the way from Essex. At inordinate length.

Charity could not, would not stay in Selby’s cottage. She would go somewhere she was not known, and introduce herself as a widow, using another name. Mrs Smith, she said, for who was to find one Mrs Smith among thousands?

But how she and the children were to live was a problem. Prue would help, of course. She could double the allowance she was paying for Antonia’s care, would triple it if Charity would allow. Tolliver’s work paid well enough, and she had a little set aside.

Charity wanted to borrow Prue’s nest egg. She had some idea of setting up a milliner’s shop. Not in London, but somewhere that was cheaper to live and safer for the children. “Even you said I make beautiful hats, Prue,” she argued.

True enough, but running a business required more than an eye for fashion and an artistic touch with a needle. Prue didn’t want to see her savings disappear and leave Charity and the girls in a worse case than before.

“We need somewhere for you and the children while we think about how best to make your plan work,” she told Charity. “I know a lady who supports women in trouble such as yours. She may have a place.” Or she may never wish to speak to Prue again, in which case they would have to think of something else.

One thing Charity was determined on; Prue was not to ask Selby to support his daughters until they were somewhere he could not find them. “It is not as if he is going to give us any money, anyway, Prue. He barely gave us a thing when I thought I was his wife. Just a few pounds now and again when he visited. He paid the servants directly and is several quarters in arrears, Prue. Oh dear. Should I not pay them before I let them go?” Another problem for her to worry at until Prue was ready to leap screaming from the carriage with her hands over her ears.

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5 thoughts on “Brothers or sisters on WIP Wednesday

  1. This is from ‘Lord Foxdown Book 3’ of ‘The Four Lords’ Saga Series.’ This confrontation not only involves siblings but their mother as well.

    The duke sighed resignedly and nodded in acquiescence. Telling Jocelyn to get what his friend needed from the housekeeper, he, Fox, and Anna headed for his study. At the door, he stopped Anna by putting up his hand and denying her entrance. “This is between Fox and me. I will speak with you later.”
    “Oh, no we won’t, brother dear. This involves me, and I will be part of this discussion.” Anna had crossed her arms and had her chin almost to his chest as she glared up at him, and he glared right back.
    Foxdown started to say, “Anna…” but she interrupted him.
    “No, Gareth, it’s important that I hear what my brother has to say to you. It involves both of us.”
    He just looked at her for a moment with love in his eyes, took her hand, and gently kissed her knuckles. “Only if Crispin agrees.”
    Her brother huffed in exasperation and finally gave in as he knew Anna Marie would never give up. Of all of his sisters, she was the most stubborn, and it seemed that trait would be foremost in this situation as well.
    ***
    As they sat, Crispin asked if Fox would like a brandy. He knew he needed one desperately because now he was taking on his father’s role in this instance, and he was not comfortable with it at all. When he asked his sister if she would like a port, she also requested a small brandy which caused the duke to pause and stare at her. Shrugging, he poured drinks for all of them after warning Anna Marie to sip hers.
    The sip she had taken was still too much, and she had tried to catch her breath when the liquor made her gasp and her eyes water as it burned into her stomach.
    “And that is why your brother cautioned to sip your brandy, my love. It’s an acquired taste.”
    Both men chuckled, but the duke’s chuckle died quickly as he subjected Fox to a stern glare. So, this relationship was apparently more established than he had thought. This was going to be a difficult discussion. He opened his mouth to express his displeasure when they were interrupted by a soft knock on the door. Before he could bid the person enter, the door pushed open, and in walked the dowager. Crispin—sitting at his desk—just sighed and laid his forehead on his raised fist.
    In a tired voice, he complained, “Mother, why are you here?”
    The dowager duchess curtsied low then replied, “This discussion involves my second eldest daughter, and I have a vested interest in it.”
    “Mother, if Father were still alive, would you insist on being here?”
    “Yes, I would, and your father would have allowed it as well. He and I did everything together.”
    Resigned to the situation, the duke capitulated with another sigh. “Very well. Please, have a seat. Shall I ring for tea?”
    His mother sat and smoothed her skirts before replying curtly. “I think not. This discussion should be rather short.”
    Raising one eyebrow, the duke just looked at his mother in frustration. With elbows propped on his desk and his chin resting on his fists, he asked, almost rudely, “Am I to expect my wife in a few minutes also?”
    “No, Your Grace. The duchess has too many guests that are lingering that she needs to care for. However, she does expect to hear the outcome of this meeting.” She then turned to Lord Foxdown and asked, “Are you well, sir?”
    “Yes, thank you, Duchess. The cold cloth is helping with the swelling and the pain.”
    Crispin cleared his throat loudly as he was getting rather impatient to find out exactly what Fox was about. Because he was aware that Fox’s reputation in Town was as bad as his own had been, he was almost afraid to ask what he wanted. Lord Foxdown anticipated his question and proceeded to tell him.
    “Your Grace, let me first say that my intentions are honorable. I was with Anna only for a few minutes on the terrace as I asked her to marry me. She has accepted my offer, and my next step was to ask for your blessing on our marriage. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to do so.”
    “No…I dare say you did not,” said the duke, with a sneer, and in a disgusted tone of voice. Turning to his sister, he sternly asked, “Anna Marie, did you accept him?”
    With her head raised high and a stubborn look in her eyes, she replied, “Yes, Crispin, I did.”
    Frowning, Crisp rubbed both temples as a headache began forming behind his eyes. I’m the duke. Is no one intending to respect my authority in this matter? He sighed again, and shook his fists in frustration. “Anna Marie, you don’t know what you’re doing.”
    “Crispin, I am twenty-two-years-old, and I know what I want.” Turning to Lord Foxdown and taking his hand in hers she stated, “I want to marry Gareth. I have reached my majority and do not require your approval.” Her look of defiance made the duke wince as he was aware that she was free to choose. That fact alone added to his frustration of the circumstances.
    The duke’s mother used the lull in conversation to inject a comment. “Your Grace, may I add my thoughts to this discussion?”
    “Yes, Mother,” he said with a groan. Why ever not? Everyone else seems to want to express an opinion as well.
    She looked at her son with understanding in her eyes, nodded and then continued. “Anna Marie hasn’t had an opportunity to have a full season in Town as yet. It was delayed when your father was injured and, of course, delayed further when he didn’t recover and we lost him.” She paused and hung her head for a few moments, and all were quiet as the deceased duke was much loved by all who had known him. Regaining her composure, she drew a breath and began again. “With a full year of mourning, that meant further delay, and I had hoped that she would have a full season in the coming spring that would allow her to experience everything as a debutante—with Susanna—including the attention of a number of young men. I would ask that Lord Foxdown give her that opportunity before pushing his suit.” Gareth winced as he remembered her request of four months earlier.
    “No, Mama,” came the anguished cry from the duke’s sister. “I have no interest in the season. We went for the little season, and there was no one who caught my eye. Only…” Her gaze strayed toward Fox. “…Gareth.” Her last words ended on a sob.

  2. Oh, you know I love sibling stories! This pair are cousins who were once as close as brothers but who are estranged. Haunting the scene is Rand’s brother Fred who has left the country. They boys of A Dangerous Nativity have grown up, not without difficulties.

    “I met Jonny,” Rand said, accepting a third glass of port.
    “I expected you would. He spends a much of his time at Chadbourn House.”
    “He is a bright boy. You must be proud of him.” Rand gripped his glass. Should I mention his illness? He had no idea how comfortable Charles might be with the subject.
    “I am. He endures his illness with courage and grace.”
    Rand relaxed somewhat. “I wasn’t sure— That is, Catherine told me. I’m so sorry, Charles. It must be devastating for you, and for Julia.” He meant every word, and was distressed to see Charles stiffen.
    “I manage. I have no idea about Julia,” Charles said through tight lips.
    Rand raised his eyebrows. “What do you mean?”
    “I haven’t seen Julia in two years. She hasn’t seen Jonny in longer. I have no idea how she ‘manages.’” He looked directly at Rand. “Don’t look at me like that Randolph Wheatly. We separated less than a year after we married. It happens. If you stayed you might have delighted in my misfortune.”
    Charles glared at Rand who could think of nothing to say. When the silence became painful Charles sank back in his chair. “Don’t worry. Though it seems unlikely Jonny will never be duke, know that he is loved. I love him as if he were my own.” His voice rose when he continued, and an emotion Rand couldn’t identify gave force to his words. “He is my own. Don’t try to say otherwise.”
    “What are you implying, Charles? Of course he’s your son. You were eager enough to bed his mother.”
    “I didn’t touch Julia until our wedding night. Jonny came into this world six months later. What do you think I’m implying?”
    Something uncurled in Rand’s chest. His cousin may be many things, some unpleasant, but he wasn’t a liar. Rand’s dearly held belief that Charles seduced Julia while he knew—he had to know—that Rand still held hope of a betrothal crumbled into dust.
    “But who then?” Rand’s confusion muddled his thoughts and thickened his speech.
    “You dare ask me that? You’ve seen my son. The family resemblance is unmistakable—and thank God for Jonny’s sake.”
    Awareness, when it finally came, left Rand breathless. He shook his head. “Not me, Charles. I am not that boy’s father.”
    Charles stared back, his face suffused in sadness. He leaned forward, but he said nothing.
    Rand went on without waiting. “I adored Julia, I wanted her desperately, but I never touched her. She was too good, too pure. Her innocent flirting had me in a frenzy of frustration, but I didn’t take advantage.”
    “Innocent?” Charles sneered. “Someone impregnated her. If not you then who the hell did?”
    “You separated over this?” Rand gasped. “She isn’t the first young woman to fall from grace.”
    “We separated after I caught her with one of the grooms. Jonny was six months old and she had ignored him the entire time. She told me his illness disgusted her and she would have naught to do with him.”
    “Julia?” Rand’s shock must have registered on his face because Charles reached out a hand and touched his arm.
    “The woman you loved didn’t exist, Rand. Do you know what she told me when I realized how advanced her pregnancy was? She told me you raped her.”
    Blood drained from Rand’s head leaving him lightheaded. He shook his head as if to deny it.
    “I knew that for the lie it was, dear cousin. You would never force her. Later. . . ” Charles shrugged, downed his glass, and poured another as well as one for Rand. “I tried to see you before you left, did you know that?”

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