Here’s a third helping from my latest work in progress, a sequel to my Regency short story A Gift Unsought. This will probably be the last one, at least for a while, as I’m starting nanowrimo on Friday.With the family dressed and occupied with welcoming the guests to the ball, all but the footmen and cook enjoyed a welcome respite from the day’s busy work. Alethea sat head to head with Pierce at a corner of the kitchen table, apart from the others for a stolen moment, but under their watchful eye, all the same. “You must be exhausted, my poor Pierce.” He paused in the middle of rubbing an aching neck to smile at her with sleepy eyes. “I’ll not die of it, at least.” “Is Lord Jonathan much trouble for you?” He shook his head. “No more than anyone else. Truth be told, aside from the stories, I don’t see why everyone must paint him such a villain. He treats me well enough. He confides in me, a little. And from what he tells me, he seems not so bad.” “No doubt his Lordship’s considerable charm masks his true nature.” Alethea remembered her brief encounter with Lord Jonathan on the evening of her arrival. Pierce gave a short laugh, more like a snort. “Do you think so little of my judgement, my dear?” Alethea coloured. “No. Of course not. I only meant …” She held up her hands, helpless. “His Lordship has been hopelessly indulged, of course. But I do see a desire in him to please his mother and his uncle, to do right by society. He seems most anxious to mend his reputation.” “And you’ve ascertained this while helping him on with his coat?” Alethea laughed a little, with no trace of scorn. “I feel it takes much more than that to truly know a person.” “You were so certain you knew me when first we met.” Pierce took her hand under cover of the table, glanced around, brought it to his lips. “I was pleasantly mistaken.” She warmed to him, but snatched her hand away with a teasing smile. “Take care not to resurrect my initial opinion.” “That I’m a rake? However would I do that?” “Taking liberties with an innocent maid,” she whispered. He smiled back, raising his eyebrows briefly.
As always, let me know what you think!