Here's a short sample out of my current work-in-progress from George's perspective!
The letter felt almost like it was burning a hole in my pocket. I’d already read it close to a dozen times and practically had it memorized. Miss Independent had asked Mr. Eligible for poetry, and I was quickly realizing that I had made the offer without thinking.
I didn’t know the first thing about poetry.
I had already gone through the entire study in our London townhouse and pulled every volume I recognized as poetry from the shelves, the stacks of books on my desk growing impressively tall and leaving me feeling progressively more overwhelmed. Did she expect me to attempt to write my own poetry? Or to demonstrate that I had a thorough knowledge of the greatest poets’ works? I had neither.
I picked up the oldest, shabbiest one of the bunch. Paradise Lost. Was it a first edition? It was difficult to tell, but it may well have been. I frowned and nodded, impressed at my ancestors. But owning a thing was different from understanding it.
I cracked the book open and skimmed through the first page or two before realizing that I had already completely lost the thread of the narrative in the mentioned names. I wrote down the names and references I did not recognize and tried to continue pushing through the work for another thirty minutes before I noticed my head had begun to ache.
“Teatime,” I muttered. I left the study to call for a tea tray and heard a bit of giggling coming from the sitting room. Anne must have guests.
An image of Miss Williams and her big round accusatory eyes slipped into my mind. Was she here now? I was still determined to prove her wrong–I certainly do care about Anne. We enjoyed an excellent camaraderie.
I hesitated for a mere second outside the door before I opened it, and the giggling abruptly ceased. Three sets of female eyes stared at me as I entered the room. Perhaps checking in on my sister wasn’t something I did as often as I ought to, given how foreign this felt.
Catching Miss William’s gaze with my own, I cleared my throat and bowed as the three ladies awkwardly stood up and dropped swift curtsys. “Jane. Miss Williams. Miss . . . er . . .” Blast! What was the other one’s name?
“Miss Marianne Cunningham, sir.”
“A pleasure,” I said quickly. “Please, do not let me disturb you. Anne, I wanted to ask if you’d like to take tea with me.”
She frowned, and a couple splotches of heightened color appeared on her cheeks. “Oh. I . . . very well. Is something wrong?” she asked. Fiend seize it, Miss Williams was right. She looks like she’s seen a ghost. I ground my teeth lightly, biting back the bitter taste of being proven wrong.
I marked the slight tension in Anne’s shoulders, the worry in her face, and the sudden formality in her tone. Each observation sliced like a knife. I sighed.
“No. I only wanted to spend a bit of time with my only sister,” I said, forcing a cheerfulness I didn’t feel.
“Oh, I . . .” She glanced at her two friends. “Miss Williams, Miss Cunningham and I had all planned to take tea together. But perhaps . . . would you care to join us?”
I looked from my sister to her pretty friends and managed to coax a smile onto my face. “Thank you for the invitation. I would . . . be delighted.”
I tried to ignore the surprised stares they gave one another, but it was harder to ignore the mild explosion of hushed whispers as soon as I popped my head into the hallway to request that tea be brought to the sitting room.
They quieted as soon as I returned, and I pretended I hadn’t heard them.
A heavy silence fell, as awkward as any I’d ever felt, but I was determined to push past it. “Miss Williams,” I said. “I trust you have been well?”
“Well enough, sir,” she said. She looked at me curiously, but did not seem irritated, so I took that as a sign of success.
“And you, Miss Cunningham?”
“Very well, I thank you.” I had always noticed the large birthmark on her cheek, but hadn’t noticed when she’d changed from a gangly little girl into a young woman. She was a fetching young thing in her own way, just as my sister and Miss Williams were. None of them were little girls anymore–they all had grown into something shockingly like adult women. What did that make me?
My eyes strayed back to Miss Williams. They seemed to keep finding her. “I cannot remember–did you have a brother, Miss Williams?”
“I did. An elder brother, Wilford.”
“Wilford Williams?” I said with a smile. “What a name.”
“He died fifteen years ago.”
The smile fell from my face as I stumbled over an apology. The tea chose that moment to arrive, and I was grateful for the distraction from my faux pas.
“I know that the three of you have long been good friends,” I said. “But it has recently been . . . brought to my attention that I ought to know you and your goings on better, Anne.”
“Who has brought it to your attention?” she asked, and she seemed a little nervous. “What gossip have you heard about me?”
“No gossip,” I said quickly, holding up my hands. “I’ve only been chastised for not spending more time coming to know and care for you. I’ve been told I’m lax as a guardian.”
“Who would say such a thing to you?” Anne said in some dismay. “And what business is it of theirs?”
Oh, dear. I had not realized she’d get up-in-arms so quickly over this. My mouth felt dry as she glared at me, awaiting a response.
“I did,” Miss Williams said.
who am I?
My name is Mary-Celeste, but my friends call me M.C. I am a writer, wife, mother, amateur gardener, sourdough bread baker, n00b video gamer, Austen enthusiast, tabletop gamer, Trekkie, and generally cheerful human being. I write Regency romances and I post about it here (among other things). Thanks for stopping by!