Snippet from The Captain and The Countess, set in England in Queen Anne Stuart’s reign 1702 – 1714. Release date from MuseItUp Publishing 21/02/2014
Captain Howard and The Countess of Sinclair sat side-by-side opposite Mrs Radcliffe on the sopha upholstered in crimson damask.
Although Kate smiled at him, the expression in her large blue eyes remained as cool as it had been when she first entered the salon. “Tomorrow, please join those who visit me daily at my morning levee.”
“I fear my voice would be lost among many thus casting me into obscurity,” Edward replied much amused.
“I don’t take you for one to be ignored, sir. However, I respect your wishes. Besides those who seek my patronage, there are many gentlemen eager to wait on me. ’Tis more than my porter’s life is worth to deny them entry.” She turned her attention to his godmother and raised a pencilled eyebrow. “Mrs Radcliffe, do you not agree it is pleasant to lie abed in the morning while indulging in conversation with one’s admirers?”
“Come, come, madam, confess you value their advice,” Kate teased.
looked at her most favoured admirer, Sir Newton. Frances
Kate turned her attention to Edward. “I have no doubt you would become a cherished member of the group of those who seek my favour.”
“Countess, life at sea teaches a man to be wary of enemies, not to compete with them. I am not a flirt who is given to haunting ladies’ bedchambers.”
“If I seclude myself with you tomorrow morning may I have the pleasure of your company?”
“Alone with you in your bedchamber? How improper Are you always so careless of your reputation?” he asked with a hint of laughter in his voice.
Her eyes widened. “I have no reputation to guard, Captain.” She had spoken in a forward manner he was unaccustomed to in polite society.
“Have you not?” Edward needed a plunge in icy water.
A frozen glimpse of despair deep in her eyes unsettled Edward. Did he imagine it? He could not speak. Why should a lady like the countess despair?
He recovered his voice. “If it is your custom to take the air in The Mall, I shall be pleased to be your sole escort.”
Kate fidgeted with one of the diamond buckles that fastened her satin covered stays. “Are the battle lines drawn?”
“Don’t confuse battle lines with a mere skirmish at sea.” His voice hinted at the chuckle he restrained.
“There are those who would welcome an invitation to a tête-à-tête with me.”
He preferred to take the lead in affairs of the heart. “Perhaps I am not one of them,” he teased. “Maybe I would like to be your friend.”
“My friend? Is that all you want of me?”
His eyes widened.
Kate laughed. “No, I thought not.”
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