A kitten from the Bluestocking Belle’s box set Holly and Hopeful Hearts needs a home.
In my story, The Bluestocking and the Barbarian, Snowball is tempted from hiding by dangling gold tassels on James’ boots.
“I reckon gold tassels on the boots would be right proper, my lord,” the footman ventured.
He was right, too. Gold tassels that swung as James walked, catching and then losing the light. Not that gold tassels were going to make up the ground he’d lost with Sophia, but still…
“See what you can find,” he told the servant. “Adam, go on ahead and find your lady. I’ll be down in a minute.”
So it was that when he left his chamber, three gold tassels dangled from the front of each boot and proved a tempting target. A white kitten darted out from under an occasional table when James stopped to close the door behind him and took a flying leap at the tassels, as James discovered when he felt the sudden weight.
He took a careful step, expecting the small passenger to drop away, but it buried its claws and its teeth into its golden prey and glared up at him.
“Foolish creature,” he told it, going down onto the knee of the other leg so he could remove it, carefully lifting each paw to detach the tangled claws. “These gaudy baubles are to attract my lady, not a fierce little furry warrior.” He lifted the kitten in one hand and held it up to continue his lecture face to face. “Now where do you belong, hmmnhmmn? Have you wandered off from your mama? Do you belong to this house, I wonder, or did you come with a guest?”
The kitten squeaked a tiny meow.
“No, little one. I will not put you down to chew my tassels, or to trip one of the great ladies or to be trodden on by one of the gentlemen. You are a pretty little fellow, are you not?” He tucked the cat against his chest and rubbed behind its ears, prompting a loud rusty purr incongruously large for the small frame of the kitten.
Although focused on the kitten, he was aware of footsteps approaching. It was Hythe, who looked uncomfortable in a tight-fitting jerkin over short ballooning breeches that allowed several inches of clocked stocking to show between the hem of the breeches and the thigh-length fitted boots. The short robe, flat cap, and heavy flat chain gave a further clue, and Hythe had tried for authenticity by stuffing padding under the jerkin—a pillow, perhaps?
“Henry the Eighth?” James ventured, half-expecting Hythe to walk past without speaking or make another intemperate verbal attack.
Instead, the younger man nodded. “My sister Felicity picked it. Er… I wanted to speak with you… I owe you an apology, Winder… Er… Elfingham. My sister Felicity told me that… Well, the fact is I made an accusation without checking my facts.” Hythe nodded again, clearly feeling that he had said what he needed to say.
“Very handsome of you, Hythe,” James said.
Hythe ran a finger around inside his collar, flushing slightly. “Yes, well. The thing is… You will tell Sophia that I apologized, will you not?”
Ah. Clearly Sophia had expressed her discontent.
“Sisters can be a trial, can they not?” James said, and Hythe warmed to the sympathy.
“Just because she is older, she thinks she can…” He visibly remembered his audience. “Sophia is of age and will make her own decisions, but I think it only fair to tell you that I have advised her to wait until after the hearing at the Privileges Committee before she makes any decision.”
James inclined his head. “I understand your position.” Which would not prevent him from doing his best to persuade Sophia to ignore the advice.
Time to change the subject. He held up the little kitten. “Do you happen to know where this little chap belongs?”
Hythe flushed still deeper. “So that’s where he got to. He… ah… appears to be mine. In a way. The housekeeper’s cat had kittens, and this one seems to have adopted me. Little nuisance.”
But Hythe’s hands were gentle as he took the kitten from James, and he tucked it under his chin, his other hand coming up to fondle the furry head.
“I’ll just put him back in my room so he doesn’t get in anyone’s way. Foolish boy, Snowball. Do you wish to be lost? Was the fish not to your taste?”
Hythe retreated back down the hall. James could not hear individual words, but from the sound of his voice, he was continuing his loving scold. And James had managed to have what almost amounted to a conversation with his intended brother-in-law. He would count that as a win.
Follow the book links to learn more about the stories. Enter the rafflecopter below to be entered for the random draw to win the kitten.
The winner will be announced at the Book Launch Party on November 13th. The other kittens in the novellas are also looking for new homes, so be sure to keep an eye out for them! Good luck!