It’s my birthday–well, tomorrow is–and to celebrate, I’d like to post a sneak peek from the upcoming TOO SINFUL TO DENY, starring Mr. Evan Bothwick and Miss Susan Stanton. They seem to have gotten off on the wrong foot, so let’s eavesdrop a bit to see just how badly things are going…:
â€œWell, Iâ€™m afraid I must be off. I do appreciate your many kindnesses this morning, Mr. . .â€
Incredible. Twice in his arms and she didnâ€™t even know his name.
â€œBothwick,â€ he supplied helpfully. â€œMarquess of Gower, Earl of Huntington, Viscount Rockham.â€
â€œWhat?â€ There was no suchâ€”
â€œJust bamming you.â€ His grin was infectious. â€œEvan Bothwick.â€ He rose to his feet and held out his hand. â€œPlain old â€˜mister.â€™â€
Right. Susan shook his hand without a word.
Now that he had a name and a personalityâ€”and no pistolâ€”he was a little less frightening and a little more. . . well, not normal, given the grains of sand caught in his hair (although that was her fault) or the drinking habit (possibly her fault as well) or the missing stockings (God only knew whose fault that was). He seemed approachable. Uncouth, but good-spirited. The sort who never had a problem making friends.
What on earth was he doing in Bournemouth?
â€œHave you lived here long?â€ she found herself asking.
â€œLonger than you. What brings a proper London miss to this great metropolis?â€
Stalemate. Neither one of them was eager to discuss their past. The best plan, she decided, was to keep him talking. Heâ€™d reveal himself naturally, during the course of conversation.
â€œI must admit,â€ she said casually, â€œthe â€˜cityâ€™ ambience here in Bournemouth isnâ€™t quite the same as back home.â€
â€œOh?â€ He swirled his brandy glass and played along. â€œIs something lacking?â€
â€œIt may be the case that I havenâ€™t explored the entire shopping district yet,â€ she allowed magnanimously, â€œbut I didnâ€™t seem to come across jewelers, frozen ices, modistes, and the like. Nor did I notice any theatres, pleasure gardens, racing tracks. . . not even a church.â€
â€œWhich explains what our man of the cloth was doing in Sullyâ€™s tavern. Poor sap has nowhere else to be.â€
This gave Susan pause. â€œDoes anyone here have somewhere to be?â€
Something in her voice made him lean forward, elbows on knees, and ask, â€œTruthfully?â€
He appeared to ponder the question. â€œNo.â€
Thatâ€™s what she was afraid of. She wasnâ€™t sure how long her parents expected her to remain here (theyâ€™d surely said â€œforeverâ€ out of anger) but Susan didnâ€™t intend to stay one more day.
â€œYou may have noticed the beach,â€ Mr. Bothwick continued slowly, appearing to give her question much thought. â€œBut I wouldnâ€™t recommend bathing in it.â€
He plucked a piece of seaweed from his breeches. â€œI can assure you.â€
YOUR TURN: There’s love at first sight, and then there’s getting sand all over a gun-toting stranger. What are some of your favorite (or at least memorable!) ways two people have met? Real life, books, or movies, it all counts. Please share!