Friday, October 2, 2009

Huntley The Harlequin Historical Undone That Came Undone


Chapter One

 
London 1816



Theodora’s startled face came to rest with a painful thud in the centre of Sheppard’s solid back. He lurched forward, but he was able to prevent the two of them from falling face first, into Lady Derby’s prickly holly bush.

Once he was certain that whoever fell onto him had their footing, he turned around to see who was so determined to cause him mischief. The person that greeted him was somewhat familiar, striking, wide-eyed, apologetic and decidedly lopsided. She had broken her heel in the fall and despite his initial irritation, he had to smile.

She smiled back at him from a face bright with embarrassment then said, “I’m horrified and it’s my own fault.”

She frowned in displeasure then pointed accusingly to the glass bowl near the edge of the garden’s path before continuing, “Even if I could not see it, I should have known it was there.”

“I beg your pardon?” Sheppard asked in genuine confusion.

“The bowl,” she said irritably. Then she bent down as if to demonstrate, righted the bowl in question and returned the candle that had fallen out when she tripped over it.

Theodora picked up her broken heel then hobbled past Sheppard to a nearby garden bench. She sat down and pointed to the bowls with the lit candles near the path leading to the other garden path then asked, “Would you be kind enough to fetch me one of those so I may better assess the damage done to my shoe?”

Not bowls… candleholders… imported from Venice,” Sheppard informed her matter-of-factly.

“Oh,” said Theodora, now looking at him for the first time. Lord help her, it was Sheppard Monthermer, the future Marquess of Huntley and her host’s nephew.

From across the ballroom where she, Sonia and Violet had stood pretending not to ogle, he had been devastating. Now that all six feet of his exquisitely angular, feline frame was within pouncing distance he was damn near unbearable. In fact, from her vantage point, he was the devil himself sent to tempt her away from her fiancé and her good sense.

It was sad, she thought, that such a pretty package should contain such a boorish snob, but maybe, just maybe, this was a sign of her good fortune. She should probably thank her lucky stars that his attractive packaging was contaminated or heaven only knew what stupid thing she would’ve said.

My apologies, Lord Monthermer, but in my defence they do bear a rather strong resemblance to overlarge sweet bowls.” She was pleased that she was able to keep her disappointment at his conduct from her voice and even more so that she was able to sound truly apologetic.

Then it was Sheppard’s turn to stifle his disappointment in her. He liked the guileless way she had addressed him until she recognized who he was. Then it was, ‘my lord, this’ and ‘my lord, that.’ He much preferred it when she spoke to him the way she had before, as though he were an irritating friend.

He brought her the candle so she could get a better look at her shoe, and then said, “That’s precisely what I told my aunt earlier when she was instructing her footmen on the correct placement of the silly things.”

For his attempt at bringing back the nature of their earlier conversation, Sheppard was rewarded with a smile and a rather cheeky statement.

“Hence, the candleholders imported from Venice, I’m sure.”

“Just so,” he agreed before adding conspiratorially, “And this was immediately followed by her retraction of my invitation to tea.”

“Surely, you jest.”

“Well in her defence the withdrawal was induced under extreme provocation for, you see, I broke one.”

Theodora could but laugh at the thought of the dignified Lady Derby so moved to vexation she had to banish him from her sight. She barely had herself under control when he asked, “Why should you know that the paths leading to the garden would be lined on both sides with lit candles?”

“Symmetry,” she said as if it were obvious.

“Symmetry?”

She could not of course be alluding to his aunt’s obvious fixation with all things symmetrical, because if she were, God help him.

“I was of course referring to the palpable equilibrium that rules this palace’s décor. Even the structure’s very design exudes symmetry,” Theodora said as if she were annoyed at having to spell it out for him. “And well you know it too. Oh, don’t even bother denying it. I can see you laughing at me.”

“I am not.”

“You are. See there, your shoulders are shaking.”
“Not at you, sweetheart,” Sheppard said his laughter filling the warm aromatic spring air with the rich music of his baritone voice. He looked youthful and far more interesting when he laughed.

Theodora could barely bring herself to look away, and to make matters worse the poor lighting of the candles was casting a shadow on him that made the sharp angles of his face appear even more alluring. She stared openly at his crystal-clear blue eyes shining dark and colourless by the small flame.

She liked him laughing even if it was at her expense and wondered if he did it much.
The little she knew of public persona was very dark, not brooding exactly… that description better suited his cousin Lord Harry Monthermer. Sheppard’s expression read more of resolve and purpose, as if everything he did was towards a predetermined end.

After he stopped laughing, Theodora said, “So, it lends to reason that if one side of a garden path attached to said house had bowls with lit candles the –”

“Venetian candleholders,” Sheppard corrected.

Theodora rolled her eyes then said, “Then logically the other side would also have Venetian candleholders. Albeit unlit and dangerously close to the middle of the path. That being said I can honestly say that I have no excuse and should have known it was there.”

“Naturally,” Sheppard said thoughtfully, “A matter of simple deduction really.”

Theodora smiled up at him, her clear grey eyes reflecting the warm flicker of the candle he held in his hands. Her smile seemed to be permanent. Even when she scolded him just then, she did so with a smile. He realized something else about her smile… the damned thing was contagious. From the moment she had collided with him, he had not stopped smiling.

He liked her smile.

Loved the way it started in her expressive grey eyes then radiated from her flawless skin to pull at her gorgeous lips. Her smile was marred now by a little frown in the centre of her brow as she examined her broken heel.

He wanted her smiling face directed at him again so he put the candle down and took the shoe and heel from her hand. He inspected it from one angle and then the next before giving her his diagnosis.

“You will more than likely need a cobbler to repair the damages,” he said judiciously.

“Then I must leave at once,” announced Theodora, her smile widening significantly, causing her eyes to sparkle.

“To find a cobbler?” Sheppard asked suddenly worried about her impending departure. That and he was scarcely capable of rational thought with her smiling at him with that wicked glint in her eyes.

“Heavens no, I just don’t want my obvious asymmetry to provoke any further mayhem.”

She took the shoe from his hand, slipped it on her foot, stuck out her legs and giggled. She laughed thus for a good minute wholly oblivious to the effect the sound of her voice was having on poor Sheppard. He felt as if he had been set aflame, and stupidly glanced down to where he had put the candle to make certain it had not somehow engulfed his feet.

She consumed his senses as he sat in the rose garden, smelling only the sweet lily that radiated from her warm flesh. His eyes devoured every inch of her from the top of her honey tresses to the tips of her little broken shoe.

She was all sumptuous curves from the firm round breasts framed in the silk of her empire waist gown, glowing in the candlelight to the soft flare of her inviting hips resting only a hair’s distance from his on the stone bench. She was a goddess straight out of a renaissance master’s repertoire.
She was smiling again.

It was that smile, there now lingered on her face that was the source of Sheppard’s temporary madness. He was confident that he would most certainly perish from want if he did not possess the lips that wore that smile and when she turned her face towards him, the smile still on her lips, he leaned down and kissed her.

Despite his premeditation, once his lips touched hers he was just as surprised as she was. His lips parted over hers and he became an open nerve completely susceptible to the rhythm of her very soul. The honesty of her response slowed his movement to where he felt his body was trying to memorize hers, this feeling, this moment.

She was divine and he worshipped her with all the skills he had available to him and still despite it, he was possessed by her. He, with all his experience consumed by this smiling maiden who seemed to have surrendered completely to his touch.

It was as though her entire being responded to his touch. Her lips moulded to his causing a sort of heated friction before giving way to his tongue hungry for access. Then she gave a little groan of appreciation and he was undone but she did not appear to have noticed for she was coming apart herself.

She was all feeling.

Feeling his mouth tender and hot on hers as he deepened their kiss then his tongue in her mouth produced a sensation pleasurable when it caressed hers. She was sure she would melt.

He had ignited something deep in her and it was urging her to be closer to him.

To take ownership of her desire and peel back the layers of him. Possess him the way he had done her. She ran her hands over the expanse of his wide muscular chest and shoulder in order to anchor herself to him.

Then he in answer to her invitation pulled her onto his lap and sliding his hands up her side to caress her breast. Theodora arched her back so Sheppard could have greater access and he pressed his lips against the soft skin just above the neckline of her gown.

Neither of them had intended this and things were quickly getting out of control.

For Christ’s sakes, anybody could happen by and see them yet here they were behaving as if they were in a world all their own.

Then he took a breath and she eased away some and looked him in the face, as if she was trying to determine who he was and how she got there.

Sheppard smiled in commiseration and she reached up and touched his cheek with her fingertips then her face changed. She was lucid again. Then she pulled her hand away from his face looked him square in the eyes and said, “Forgive me.”

She rose to her feet, turned and walked away. Leaving a slightly dazed Sheppard to stare at her departing back.

It took him two full breaths to collect himself and by the time he made to follow her, his Aunt Gertrude appeared out of nowhere with her complaints about his absence from the ballroom.

“You swore to me you would make an attempt with Lady Eloise and keep your grandfather in hand yet here you are hiding in peace while he wears at my patience with his antics.”

“What could he have done in the quarter of an hour I was gone from his side?”

“He created a spectacle, ripping that idiot Powis’ lorgnette from his hand and crushing it underfoot, that’s what.”

“Good for him. I’ve always disliked Powis scrutinizing me through that awful thing.”

“He has ruined my ball and when I told him so he ordered his carriage and left.”

“Maybe that’s for the best –”

“Are you mad? Haven’t you been listening to me? He caused a scene and ruined your cousin’s début.”

“Now, my dear, surely it wasn’t as bad as all that?”

“There’ve long been whispers of his deteriorating capacity and after this bit of madness people will more than likely think him as mad as King George.”

“That may be but he is still the Marquess of Huntley, your father and the head of this family,” Sheppard ground out his tone punishing and unyielding.

“I will not be made to feel the villain when I was the party dealt the injury. He’s your responsibly and I’ll thank you to keep that in mind when next you and he are invited in my home,” she said before stalking off back towards the house then she stopped suddenly to add. “You’re expected to dance at least once with Eloise before this evening comes to an end.”

Damn it, thought Sheppard he could not now pursuit his enchantress if his grandfather had indeed behaved as badly as his aunt claimed. He’d have to go assess the damages and possibly pay remuneration for the damages suffered. Thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as his aunt Gertrude had made it out to be and the only real damage was done to him, for he was unable to locate the beauty from the garden.

Free Harlequin Undone or a perfect example of what eharlequin is not looking for. It's yours now read, enjoy and let me know what you think. Direct link to chapter two here
Part/One of Six,
by Simone Ogilvie

12 comments:

  1. Hi Simone!

    Thanks for stopping by. Your kind comment had me smiling all day...

    Best of luck with your book(s)!

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  2. Thank you Tee I really appreciate you wishing me luck :) I believe in luck

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  3. Thanks Simone for your comment! (I used to be a ballet dancer so I loved the "bravo" part!). I was reading the list of the soundtrack to your letter. I've heard most of them but the one I like best is My Friend by Red Hot Chili Peppers! I too wish you all the best with your book.
    xoxo

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  4. that was really good!

    (AshElizabeth on AW)

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  5. Ash,
    Thanks for coming by and reading my story.
    All my very best,
    Simone

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  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  8. I'm really enjoying this story :) although as usual i started in the middle before reading the start :P can't wait to read chapters 3-6

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  9. Hi Jenny,
    Thanks for reading my story. I'm glad you like it. I love your reading blog you write beautifully and I will continue to visist.
    All my very best to you,
    Simone

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  10. Hey Simone, Thank you for posting on my blog. When I saw the fact that you were once a decorator it made sense why you would focus on the candle bowls. I loved the first chapter and look forward to reading more.

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  11. I quite enjoyed reading your first chapter! :) Moving on to the next now! :)

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  12. My every thanks to you for reading my story Blaire and Véro.
    All my very best to you both,
    Simone

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