As you know from Katharine’s post on Monday, things have been a little frantic at the Beaufetheringstone country estate. Monty is here with his toucan Harold…<squawk!!>
“Oh for goodness sake, Albert. Haven’t you gotten over your irritation with your cousin?”
<squawk!> Uncivilized! <squawk!>
“Fair enough. But you’d better get used to it. After all, he’s Lord B’s heir…which means if anything unfortunate happens, he shall be your sibling of sorts.”
<squawk!> Miss Noble loves me! <squawk!>
“Yes, Kate does love you. But I’m not sure Monty would part with you. What with you being Lady B’s…” and likely the heir to her fortune, which Monty will no doubt want. I keep that bit to myself.
And besides, this post isn’t about our feathered friends. It’s about the fact that Katharine has caused something of a ruckus. That is, on Monday, she was alarmed enough by the arrival of a rather nice hound to convince Lady B that she simply could not spend the autumn in the country as usual. Instead, we were all informed yesterday that Beaufetheringstone Manor was closing its doors to guests (even authoresses!) and the entire household was returning to London.
I was fine with it, honestly. I mean, I’m a city girl. I don’t like the country and its grass and bugs and heat and…well…countryness. But I figured I at least had another few days to see if I could get Monty to take a swim in the Lake. You know, for research purposes.
Well, it turns out that when Lady B says post-haste, she means it. It turns out post-haste is today. Here. Now.
Which is why we’re all here, in Lady B’s coach.
And when I say all of us, I mean, all of us. Lady B, Monty, Albert, Harold, and eight authoresses. In a carriage.
“A surprisingly roomy carriage,” Lauren says at my shoulder.
I look up from my scribbling. “Not roomy enough for you to not read over my shoulder.”
She shrugs. “I couldn’t help it. Colin Firth wet.”
I cede the point.Miranda jumps in. “It is a roomy carriage, though. Much roomier than one would expect from the outside.”
“It’s like a clown car,” Sabrina says, relaxing against one side of the rocking conveyance.
There is a pause while we all realize that this thing is holding ten people and two birds. And we’re in 18wheneverwherever.
“It’s a little known fact that all Romancelandia carriages are roomy inside,” points out Tessa, “They have to be. For tall heroes. And…other things.”
“What other things?” Monty asks, leaning toward her with a leer.
She blushes. “Oh, you know.”
Monty grins. “I think you ought to tell me.”
“Yes, Tessa,” Kate says, “You should tell him.”
Tessa turns to her. “Shouldn’t you be with your new husband? I mean, didn’t you just get married?”
“There wasn’t room for him,” Kate says simply.
“She means he chose not to take a road trip in a carriage with eight romance authors,” Gaelen says dryly.
“Smart man,” I say. “But how is he getting back?”
“To 2012?” Kate asks.
“I meant to London, actually, but now that you mention it…”
“Best not to consider the space-time continuum too carefully,” Sabrina reminds us, eyes closed.
She’s headed for a nap, but makes a good point. I return my attention to Kate. “Well? How’s he getting back?”
“He hitched a ride with Lord B.”
There is a pause. Sabrina’s eyes fly open. “With Lord B.”
Kate nods. “I know. I was shocked, too. But the invitation came this morning, delivered to the room. Lord B likes husbands, it seems.”
“Of course he does,” Lady B speaks up for the first time, stroking Albert’s feathers. “Why wouldn’t he? Being an excellent one himself.”
We all murmur our assent and ignore the fact that Kate’s husband has received the GREATEST WEDDING PRESENT EVER. Full hours with the elusive Lord B. Hours? Days?
“How long will it take us to get back to London, anyway?” I ask.
Lady B sighs. “A good three-weeks.”
Miranda sits up. “Three weeks? Where in hell are we?”
Lady B cuts her a look. “I do not care for your tone, Miss Neville.”
“I don’t care to be in a carriage with this lot for three weeks, Lady B.”
Lady B’s gaze narrows. “You do not travel well, do you?” When no one speaks she adds, “Are you saying that none of you know the precise whereabouts of the Manor?”
We all have the grace to look chagrined.
Tessa perks up, “Well, three weeks means Scotland, right?”
“Dear me, no. The Scots!” the lady shudders.
“There’s nothing wrong with Scots, my lady,” Katharine defends.
“Not yours, of course, Miss Ashe, but generally, I find that they’ve fine legs and brute strength…” she hesitates. “Perhaps they’re not so bad after all.” She shakes her head. “Either way, we are most certainly not in Scotland. Beaufetheringstone Manor is on the Isle of Wight.”
We all pause at that. Lauren leans over me and pokes her head out the open window. “But…” she pulls her head back in. “Lady B…we’re in a carriage.”
Lady B gives Lauren a look. “I am aware.”
Lauren looks around for allies. Sabrina jumps in. “Lady B…I think Lauren is trying to say that the Isle of Wight is on an island. Which means we should be on a boat.”
Lady B returns to stroking Albert’s feathered head. “I’ve never thought much about it.”
My mouth is hanging open. “Space-time continuum issue?” I suggest.
“Or crazy hostess issue,” Gaelen says.
“I beg your pardon, Miss Foley?”
“Er…I said, hazy coasts, my lady. That must be how we missed the boat ride.”
A great snore comes from another corner of the coach. Monty is asleep. Leaning indelicately on Katharine’s shoulder. She doesn’t seem worried. In fact…yep. She’s smelling him. “He does smell of sandalwood,” she whispers.
“But there’s one thing I don’t understand,” I say.
“Just one?” Sabrina says.
“If we’re on the Isle of Wight, how will it take three weeks to get to London? Even with the missing boat?”
“Especially with the missing boat,” Lauren says happily, “Much easier to just drive.”
“We have to be prepared for anything,” Lady B says.
“What does that mean?”
“Only that, in my experience, anything can happen on long journeys,” Lady B says, cryptically.
It’s going to be a long three weeks. “I might need a drink if I’m to survive this.”
“I brought the leftover ratafia,” Tessa offers helpfully, reaching beneath her seat and extracting a lovely old bottle.
“Excellent! Now it’s a party!” Miranda says.
And then it happens…
Welcome to The Ballroom Blog Choose Your Own Adventure! For the month of September, each writer will write a scene on the road trip back to London…and set up the next post. You get to choose the next step of the story! So!
And what are your solutions to interminable
carriage car rides?