Proposals on WIP Wednesday

I’m posting a proposal scene today. The lady in question is the heroine of Never Kiss a Toad, the book I am cowriting with Mari Christie, who writes historical romance as Mariana Gabrielle and who is a colleague of mine in the Bluestocking Belles. Sally is Lady Sarah Grenford, only daughter of the Duke of Haverford, who you may know as the Marquis of Aldridge. The man tendering the proposal is the novel’s villain.

Post your proposals, folks. I’d love to read them. And don’t forget to share!

c399bc77cf3488d42d075b56376e52c4“I think that funeral-faced wine merchant’s son wants to propose, Sally,” Etcetera told her. “Shall I make an excuse to leave the two of you alone?”

“Do not dare,” Sally warned. “I will make your life hell if you do.”

The genial giant pose slipped briefly, and it was the Nordic warrior who asked, “Do I need to break his neck for you, cousin?”

“Just do not leave me alone with him, Etcetera. I do not like the man, and I do not trust him.”

But in the week leaving up to Christmas, Crowhurst behaved like a gentleman, apart from frequent florid compliments and a tendency to treat any opinions she offered in conversation with patronising amusement. Though if those two behaviours were not gentlemanly, there were few true gentlemen in Society.

So when he found her alone in Command Central on the day before Christmas, she merely greeted him and asked him to put his finger on the ribbon that she was attempting to make into a bow. All her usual helpers were off about the great house on decorating tasks or out with Elf and Uncle James who were captaining the Yule log team. Yule logs, in fact, since no fewer than three would burn from this evening until Twelfth night: one in the chief parlour, one in the Great Hall, and one in the ballroom.

Even Etcetera had deserted her, since his mother and father, the Archduchess of Erzherzog and her consort, had arrived with their younger children.

“What are you making?” Crowhurst asked, though the bunches of mistletoe berries carefully bound among the silk ribbons and paper flowers should have made it obvious.

“We were short one kissing bough,” Sally told him. “I am remedying the defect. It is to go in Grandmama’s drawing room, so I want it to be particularly lovely.” She frowned at the bough, trying to visualise it in place. “I think it is nearly done.” She had chosen ribbons of a deep turquoise blue and a delicate pale green, and flowers in gilt paper and a softer cream tissue, all woven together on the white-washed bough with silver cords.

“I wish to just attach these glass baubles to catch the light.” They were the latest fashion—blown glass fashioned into little ornaments intended to be displayed on Christmas trees after the German fashion the royal family had adopted.

“Yes, very nice. But if it needs to be special, perhaps you should wait until one of your usual helpers returns, Lady Sarah. I am sure they would be better qualified to advise you than I.” Crowhurst’s little huff of laughter was self-deprecating.

“I am not expecting any of them for an age,” Sally said, most of her focus on binding the baubles so they were firmly attached and displayed to best advantage. “I will be finished in a moment, and then, if you are not otherwise occupied, Mr Crowhurst, perhaps you could give me a hand to carry it to Grandmama’s parlour while she is occupied with Aunt Margarete and Uncle Jonathan.”

“The Arch-Duchess,” Crowhurst said, as if he were checking which Aunt Margarete she meant, “and your father’s brother. They have arrived then?”

“Yes, thereby depriving me of all those not off somewhere decorating or out with Uncle James. You did not wish to go out with the duke to bring in the Yule log, Mr Crowhurst? There!” She sat back, satisfied with her work, and at the next moment startled to her feet as Crowhurst suddenly fell to one knee.

“Lady Sarah, I can remain silent no longer,” he declaimed.

“Please, Mr Crowhurst, do not continue.”

Crowhurst ignored her. “I am inflamed by your beauty, your charm, your wit, and I flatter myself that you are not indifferent to me. Lady Sarah, dare I hope you will favour me with your hand?”

The pompous ass. She had done everything she politely could to discourage the man. Impoliteness, then. “No, Mr Crowhurst, I will not.” Never mind that nonsense about being conscious of the honour and so on. It was not an honour at all to be desired for one’s prominent relatives and one’s fifty thousand pounds a year.

Crowhurst surged to his feet and wrapped both arms around her, pulling her tight against his body. “No need to be shy with me, sweet dove. I know you want me as much as I want you.” Sally, one arm trapped, tried to push him away with the other, but he was much larger and stronger and would not release her.

“Let me go this instant! What has got into you?”

“You have, tempting heart-breaker. Your teasing has driven me beyond manners. I am crazed by you, unkind Angel. You must be mine.” He had captured the hand with which she had tried to claw his eyes, forcing it behind her back until he could grasp both her wrists in one hand, pulling her tight against his body. He laughed when she struggled. “That’s right, little treasure. Wriggle against me. Did Abersham leave you the innocent you seem, I wonder? Shall we find out?”

Fear was rapidly winning over fury. She could scream, but no one would hear.

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7 thoughts on “Proposals on WIP Wednesday

  1. You know I have a ton of them! This one is from DANGEROUS SECRETS, which is up for Book Club Discussion next Wednesday at https://www.facebook.com/events/1586066838382951/

    With a sigh and exaggerated effort, he went down on one knee in front of her. He let raw need—to protect, to have a few more weeks of Nora Haley’s life—push honor, honesty, and sense to the ground. He reached for the book in her hands.
    Nora pulled back, wary. He took the book from her and put it on the ground and wiggled his eyebrows at Isabella who giggled in her aunt’s lap.
    “Mrs. Haley, I am aware what a poor specimen of a man I am. However, for Isabella’s sake”—he said the last three words with exaggerated care—“would you accept my hand in marriage?” He thought that if she had any sense she would run all the way back to Dorset.
    “You can’t wish to marry me.” She looked like she had been slapped.
    “Can I not?” I need to do this for her, he thought, refusing to examine his own desires.
    “We hardly know each other,” she said.
    “I quite agree that in the normal course of things you wouldn’t even notice me.”
    “It isn’t that.” If she knew the truth, she denied it. “We don’t know, that is, I’m not—” She fluttered to a stop, eyes wide.
    “Listen to me, Nora. Listen carefully,” said Jamie. He noticed she didn’t object to the use of her name. “You would be in danger in more ways than you can imagine in that world. You could be retained.”
    Her eyes grew wide.
    “You could—you would—be forced into some sort of subservient role in the count’s household. If Isabella became a pawn, you could not save her.”
    Nora paled even further at the mention of the girl. Isabella was the lever he needed. He took it.
    “Isabella is what matters,” he went on calmly. “Your brother feared her fate enough to draw you here from England. Marriage could keep you in Rome where Isabella is safer.”
    He held his breath. The need to do one good thing clawed in him; he had no doubt that protecting Nora Haley would be very good indeed. Despair almost choked him when she didn’t respond.
    “Agree to marry me,” he went on, caressing Isabella’s head where it tipped onto his shoulder, “and we can see to her welfare, whatever that may be.” He had come to love the little imp. Whatever else happened, he would make sure her aunt could protect her.
    Nora continued to frown. She raised her hands in a helpless gesture.
    “I may not be much,” he went on, “but my protection is far better than none.” He held his breath to wait for her reply.
    “Yes, but marriage!” The words burst from her in rush. “We hardly know one another, Major.” She did not, he noticed, make use of his given name. “The intimacy and, and the totality of marriage is difficult enough with someone you know well.” She looked ready to cry.
    “Oh, Nora, I thought you understood. It wouldn’t be that sort of marriage. It may not need to be marriage at all.” Of course it wouldn’t.
    “What sort of marriage would it be?”

  2. I proposed to him. I asked him if he would spend the rest of his life being my one and only. My world and my everything.

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