Crisis points on WIP Wednesday

Upstairs, the little maid looks after the children in the nursery. What do the villains plan for them when they have disposed of the women?

Upstairs, the little maid looks after the children in the nursery. What do the villains plan for them when they have disposed of the women?

A few weeks ago, I talked about plotting as the process of asking ‘What could possibly go wrong?’ and then making that happen. This means a story becomes a series of moments where the hero or the heroine (or, perhaps, the villain) is heading for their goal, full steam ahead, when something happens to deflect them.

Of course we, the readers of romantic fiction, know our protagonists will eventually find their way to safe harbour, quite possibly in a far better destination than the one they planned at the start. So we sit back and enjoy the journey. Not so the poor characters who face the cliff-hanger chapter endings, the crises, blocks and turning points, the things that go wrong.

This week, I’d love you to share a crisis or turning point. Mine is from Prudence in Love. Prue and her sister Charity have been packing to leave the house Charity shared with the villainous Earl of Selby now that she has discovered his real character. But Selby and his cronies have arrived before they can escape, and are planning rape and murder. But first, Selby cannot resist showing off to his friends, by demanding that Charity demonstrate for them her competence at fellatio.

She leaned forward, opening her mouth, and slid her eyes sideways to meet Prue’s. It was enough. As Charity grabbed the most vulnerable part of Selby’s anatomy and squeezed, Prue flung herself on the hand in which Annesley held the gun and knocked it upwards. From the stairs, Barnstable gave a yell at the same time as Selby’s anguished scream.

Prue had no time to look at how the other women were faring. Annesley was larger and stronger than her, and close quarters was not how she would win this fight. Still, if she could get the pistol off him, if Charity had enough wits about her to come to Prue’s aid, they might have a chance.

He was forcing the barrel around towards Prue when Charity hit him over the shoulder with an iron pot, and the gun went off with a loud reverberating bang, throwing him backwards.

Prue sprawled where he dropped her, but was gathering her feet beneath her to throw herself back into the fray, when Charity threw herself down between Prue and Annesley. “Prue? Are you hurt?”

The swine had missed, thanks to Charity, but she had not hit him hard enough. He was leveling the pistol again, grinning broadly. On the stairs, Barnstable was dancing in place, complaining. “She bit me! I was going to be nice, little girl, but…”

Selby’s voice was high and strained, as he dragged Charity away from Prue by her hair. “You’ll pay for this, Charrie, you filthy little trollop.”



6 thoughts on “Crisis points on WIP Wednesday

  1. From Never Kiss a Toad. 🙂

    Toad Northope, Marquess of Abersham, leaned his head back against the edge of the tub, adjusting a towel behind his neck, his eyes shut against the dim light of the low oil lamp he had lit in his dressing room, willing away the headache that threatened. He had drunk enough brandy to feel mildly ill, but not enough to be thoroughly sotted. Not nearly enough to be the friendly, charming, dissolute rogue he knew himself to be. He was hungover before the evening even started. Pathetic.

    And unacceptable. Only one more night to enjoy himself before he was called to account for being sent down from school—again—and after that, he would surely be confined to Dalrymple House until his father, The Duke of Wellbridge, decided how to punish him this time. He might as well make the most of his freedom. Toad rather hoped that as a Cambridge man now, he was getting too old to be disciplined like a schoolboy, but he wasn’t sure His Ducal Highhandedness would see it that way. The situation was so very like the one that had seen him sent home from Eton two years ago. Only twice as bad.

    He groaned. God, I hope no one tells my mother.

    If his parents hadn’t been at Wellstone, and Toad hadn’t been sharp enough to come directly to London when the incensed Cambridge don had packed him into one of the College’s carriages, he would already be under house arrest, and would have heard hours upon hours of lectures on his honor and position by now. Parliament would open the day after tomorrow, so of course, his father, the Duke of Wellbridge, would appear for that, but until then, presumably, no one knew he was in London at all until he showed himself.

    He reached a hand over for the brandy he had waiting on a table nearby. Taking a long draught, he sighed at the sheer quality and flavor of his father’s best. The silent censure of his father’s butler, Blakeley, was testament to what he could expect when His Royal Imperiousness arrived to have his say. If the duchess was with him, so much the worse, for Toad’s mother’s disappointment cut in a way his father’s rancor never could. But for the moment, their certain condemnation could be ignored.

    He poured another drink down his throat and refilled his glass, considering whether or not he should arrange for a woman later, and whether any of his friends were in Town. Certainly, that would be a better way to spend his evening than enduring the disapproval of the servants, and he hadn’t been to his favorite London brothels since last spring. He tugged at the bell pull to summon a servant to heat more water for the cooling bath, then adjusted the towel behind his head again and took another sip of his drink.

    When the door opened, he didn’t even open his eyes, just said, “I need more hot water, if you please, and have someone send up a tray.”

    At the voice that materialized, he jumped. “What you need is to be spanked like a little boy until you learn what it is to be a man.”

    “Father!” The Duke of Wellbridge—not the face of the man who was Toad’s father, but rather the one who was his liege lord—loomed over the tub and his errant son. “I thought you were at Wellstone.”

    “Clearly, you did.”

    • A crisis indeed! To a not quite 18 year old boy, his father— arriving unexpectedly when the boy knows himself to be in trouble— is a horrid surprise. Not as horrid as the one his authors have in store, however. 🙂

  2. A bit from The Renegade Wife. Rand wakes up and finds Meggy and the children gone.

    He took the stairs two at a time. The children’s room and the attic were empty, denuded of any sign of Meggy Campeau and her children. A folded piece of vellum lay on the coverlet with one word in pencil on top, “Rand.” He ripped it in his rush to unfold it.

    Please remember you are not responsible for our well-being. You are not to suffer for problems that aren’t yours. I thank you for all you’ve done and wish you may reclaim your life as it was. I am sorry we imposed our difficulties on you. Don’t worry about the children. I will protect them.
    Meggy Blair

    The string of curses Rand let loose made his already painful head throb. The blasted woman had slipped something in his tea. He glared at the empty laudanum bottle next to Lena’s bed.

    He grabbed his coat and hat from the peg in his study on his way to the door, ran to the barn, and threw open Algernon’s stall. His empty stall.

    Rand searched the barn but found no sign of his horse. A quick inspection showed him that the other animals were unmolested. The goat munched weeds along the margins of the forest. The chickens pecked their way across their pen. Only one other creature appeared to be out of place. He didn’t see Cat—not in the bedroom, not by the fire, and not in the barn.

    She took Cat. My horse and my cat. He didn’t know whether to be touched or furious. Sentiment made him vulnerable; he chose furious. He hugged anger to his heart. One more damned, duplicitous woman has run out on me. I should have expected it. This one is a thief, too.

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