First, I should qualify–I didn’t mean to bring him.
He’s not even supposed to be out yet. No one has met him. Not my editor, not my agent, not even my best friend. And when I was dressing to make the trip to Beaufetheringstone House, I most certainly did not plan for today to be the day he decided to show his face. I mean, come on. Doesn’t he know that I’m not ready for him yet? That I know very little about him and I’m still in that place where he’s only partially cooked?
“Did you just refer to me as partially cooked?”
Oh, dear. Why didn’t you tell me he was right here? “I did. I’m sorry. But you have to admit…you’re not exactly…ready for this.”
He casts a serious look around the room. “For this? It’s a ball. About the most ordinary ball I’ve ever attended. Well, if you don’t count the parrot in the corner eating the crab puffs.”
“They’re lobster patties, actually. And that’s Albert. Don’t take him on. Lady B will have your head.”
“She shan’t be able to reach it. Do you see the height of me?”
“I do. And let’s discuss that, shall we? A man your size doesn’t fit through most of the doorways in London. And don’t even get me started on carriages.”
He cocks a smile. “I make do, love.”
You realize that you are not the first handsome hero I’ve met, do you not?
“But I am the tallest, aren’t I?”
He takes a step toward me. “And?”
“And…I’m thinking of making you shorter.”
He raises a ginger brow and crosses his arms across his chest. “Try it.”
“Are you threatening me?”
“I am. You make me shorter, and I’ll refuse to touch the girl you send me.”
This gives me pause. “You wouldn’t.”
He smirks. “Oh, but I would. Everyone’s talking about how Simon’s chivalry made you mad.”
“I was 340 pages into my manuscript and he still refused to do the deed!” I cry out, far too loudly for a ballroom. A young woman nearby shoots us a look of surprise.
My companion smiles at her, all white teeth and handsome jaw. “She’s an authoress. She isn’t used to being outside of her home.”
The young lady blushes. “You shouldn’t be speaking to me. We haven’t met.”
His voice goes dark and lovely. “Oh, but we will.”
Ha. No way is this guy going to be able to resist his heroine. It’s my time to smirk. “You know, Simon didn’t have a chance once I realized what game he was playing. Look at them now.” I point across the room to where the Duke & Duchess of Leighton are not-even-a-little-bit concealed behind a potted plant, kissing. “They can’t stop themselves.” I try for my darkest, most lovely voice. “And you won’t be able to either, when I pull out the stops.”
My dark and lovely comes out creaky and odd, but it gets to him. He harrumphs. Actually harrumphs.
I feel triumphant.
“You know there’s only one r in harumph.”
“How do you know how I spelled it?”
“I’m in your head, Sarah. I know everything.”
For his sake, I hope it’s not true. Because as much as I’m overwhelmed by the fact that he is here, in the ballroom, I would hate for him to discover that–No. I won’t say it. If I don’t think it, he won’t know. I will think of other things. Things like corn on the cob…
“Why are you feeding pigs in your thoughts?’
…and Martha Stewart…
“Why is that proper looking woman in gaol?”
…and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man…
“What in hell is that?!”
He can’t know. Well, he can know about the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Though I doubt he would believe me if I told him the story of Ghostbusters. He can’t know the other bit.
His eyes narrow. They are grey and beautiful. Huh. That’s something that I’d never noticed before. “What can’t I know?”
I turn to look for someone to save me. Miranda is deep in conversation with Lady B and someone in a…is that a girl in a closet? And Gaelen is surrounded by a group of very large, very handsome, very focused men. She’s obviously more of a pro than I am, because I can’t even handle my one very large, very handsome, very focused man. I can’t even meet my very large, very handsome, very focused man’s eyes. I try edging around him. “I promised I would find Sabrina. I should go.”
“Sabrina is over in the corner, talking to a plant. What can’t I know?”
“Don’t change the subject, Sarah. What can’t I know?”
I narrow my gaze on him. “You’re going to be difficult, aren’t you?” Not another one. I’m up to my eyeballs in difficult heroes. Just once, I’d like a guy who wants to go home and read a book and not cause a shocking amount of trouble. It occurs to me that such a hero would not make a very good romance. Drat.
“If you aren’t careful, yes, I shall be difficult. I can keep you here forever. We’ll never move forward. You doubt I can’t?”
I remember the time Gabriel left Callie in the fencing club for two weeks while he punished me. I would not care to repeat the experience. “Fine. But you have to promise you’ll leave this ballroom and go get ready for your book. You’re almost ready.”
He bows once, short and quick. “I promise. Now what can’t I know?”
“It’s just a little thing, really.”
He raises a brow.
“Not even worth mentioning, come to think of it.”
“Sarah. You are trying my patience.”
“Ok! Ok.” I take a deep breath. “Ok. But you can’t be angry.”
“Oh, I think I can.”
“For God’s sake, woman! What is it?”
“You don’t have a name.”
He freezes. Actually freezes. So still that I have to look around to confirm that I haven’t stopped time. But no, Tessa is a few feet away trying to soothe a woman who is clearly ready to bolt out of this room. I’m thinking I might join her. But instead I turn back and face the music.
He is staring at me. “What are you saying? Of course I have a name.”
This surprises me. In a good way. In a very excellent way. “You do? How fabulous! What is it?”
His chest puffs out in that way that difficult heroes’ chests puff when they’re about to solve all your problems. I wait, breath bated. ”It’s–” he stops. Tries again. “It’s–”
“My name is–” He stopped again, his grey eyes darkening as he stares down at me, jaw tight. “What. Have. You. Done?”
Yup. I’m in trouble.
Quick! Throw me a rope! Share your favorite romance novel hero name in comments…and tell me why you like it so much! After that, if you feel like naming my hero, feel free to offer a suggestion or two!