I’m standing at the refreshment table, blocking Tessa from view as she spikes the ratafia when the shrill words fly across the room. Tessa gives me the look, the one that says please don’t let her catch me spiking the ratafia.
“She’s looking for you,” she whispers, hiding the bottle of whatever it is she uses behind the fold of her skirts.
For a moment, I consider hiding under the table. I know Lady B’s tone. She’s either got a job or a scolding for me.
“She’s coming!” Tessa says, much more urgently.
And I know I can’t hide any longer. With my biggest smile, I turn to face Lady B. Who is bearing down on us. “Lady B! You look fabulous! Has your maid done something different with your hair?”
Lady B narrows her gaze. “What are you up to?”
Tessa coughs behind me, and I reach out to guide Lady B away from the refreshment table. “What? Up to? Nothing!” Lady B turns a curious eye on Tessa, who smiles innocently. “Was there something you needed?”
The question returns Lady B’s attention to me. Awesome. “Yes. I do need something. There is a gentleman here. And I believe he belongs to you.”
Uh-oh. I do not like it when gentlemen arrive unannounced to the Ballroom. Well, I should rephrase. I like it very much when gentlemen of the other authoresses’ acquaintance arrive unannounced to the Ballroom. But if this one belongs to me…well, this close to release day, it can only be one specific gentleman. And I can tell you , there is no way he will appreciate being referred to as “belonging to me.”
BUT, Katharine has a release next week, too. One can dream. “Are you sure? I mean, couldn’t it be Earl Blackwood? He’s big and Scottish.Likes dogs?”
There is nothing wrong with my memory, or my knowledge of the aristocracy, Miss MacLean.
Rats. Of course there wasn’t. I wince. “He’s one of mine?”
Indeed. He appears very handsome, very quiet and very cold.
“And very difficult, if it’s who I think it is.” I add.
Lady B looks positively thrilled. “I thought maybe so.”
I sigh. “Where is he?”
“Sarah, I don’t have time for your ridiculous games.”
And, there he was. I turn, hands already extended in the universal sign for placation. “I had nothing to do with this.”
His gaze narrows on me. “No? Then I suppose someone else decided to write me into a book and–” he indicates the rest of the ball, “a ball?” He pauses. Then adds, disbelievingly, “A ball? Really? As though this is at all in character?”
I look toward Tessa, and yes…I confess…for a fleeting moment, I am planning to throw her under the bus. She’s gone. Rats again. I return to the matter at hand. “Ok. It was me.”
One black brow rises. “I know.”
“But it was subconscious! I didn’t know it was going to work out this way.”
The black brow remains risen.
“And it had to be a ball. That’s the way the blog works.”
And still. The man’s eyebrow muscles must be very well toned.
“Oh, stop that. I’ve been with you for almost two years, Bourne. I’m over your threatening looks.”
Lord Bourne, would you care for a refreshment? Or perhaps a dance? There are any number of young ladies in the room who would no doubt enjoy taking a turn with you.
The brow comes down as Bourne turns to face Lady B. Now, being his author, I know that what he’s about to say might well get me kicked out of the ballroom, so I rush to interject. “Oh, I have no doubt they would loathe taking a turn with him.”
Lady B looks surprised. “Surely not. He’s a peer, is he not?”
“And well appointed?”
“He’s an obsessive clotheshorse.”
He cuts me a look and I know that he’d like to strangle me. It’s my turn to raise a brow.
“Then I see no problem in his being entirely suitable for any good young woman.”
“He’s suitable for no good young woman at all. He’s a spoiled, selfish scoundrel.” Lady B’s eyes go wide, and Bourne scowls at me, as I continue. “But not for long. I have big plans for him, starting on Tuesday.”
Lady B nods knowingly. “No doubt you do, my girl.”
He narrows lovely hazel eyes on me. “What happens on Tuesday?”
I can’t help my grin. “On Tuesday, my cold-hearted rogue, you meet the love of your life.”
There is nothing better than shocking the hell out of one of your heroes.
I can’t believe A Rogue By Any Other Name is already here and you finally get to meet my difficult, diabolical, darling Bourne! As you can probably tell, Bourne is a hero who requires a great deal of reformation. He’s the ultimate bad boy–Beast to Beauty, Spike to Buffy, Bourne to Penelope. Tell me, what is it about rogues that gets us so excited? Why do we love them so much? Who is your favorite rogue, either real or fictional? And what on earth is Tessa putting in the ratafia?
One commenter wins a signed copy of A Rogue By Any Other Name.
EDITED TO ADD: The Winner of the book is Renee Pajda! Thanks so much for entering, all!