Three weeks ago I hounded my sister authoresses, Monty and Lady B (and all our attending gentlemen) into carriages in a mad rush to return to London in time for The Ball of the Season that Lady B hosts in How a Lady Weds a Rogue. Now after snow, rain, moors, sheep, a handsome highwayman, pretty unicorns, slipping togas, too much whiskey, almost pirates and handcrafted stone furniture, we’re here!
We all tumble out of the carriage into a garden and I sigh an enormous breath of relief. But then—
“Wait.” I grip Sarah’s arm. “This isn’t Lady B’s garden.”
“It’s Vauxhall Gardens,” Miranda says, pronouncing it perfectly. (I never remember to pronounce it correctly. Blame eight years of French and a French-Belgian husband?)
“But we have to be in your gardens, Lady B!” I wring my hands because that’s what heroines do when they’re distressed, I suppose, and I’ve learned a lot from my heroines about things like that, which plunges me deeper into panic because it’s at Lady B’s ball that my heroine Diantha becomes truly distressed when the man she’s expecting, her hero who has already rescued her from certain danger several times, Wyn Yale, doesn’t show up because a huge Scottish assassin has been threatening him and she— Ack! “That is to say, we have to be at your house, Lady B! Now!”
“Well, I don’t know,” says Sabrina. “There are quite a lot of nice hedges and dark corners here.”
“And any number of tasty— er— that is to say, handsome gentlemen wandering around,” Tessa adds.
“And paper lanterns,” Kate says. “We considered paper lanterns for our wedding reception decorations, you know.”
“Oh, paper lanterns really are so lovely, aren’t they?” Gaelen agrees.
Sarah nods. “More importantly they’d provide just enough light for Katharine’s heroine and hero to catch glimpses of each other’s—
They all stop. (I pause for a moment to appreciate how lovely it is to write dialogue and actions for actual live people.)
I clear my throat. “All right. You ladies—and Monty—know I’m on a pretty tight schedule here. My hero and heroine are going to have make-up se— um— enjoy a much-anticipated reconciliation in Lady B’s garden momentarily and we haven’t even begun to decorate for the ball that they’re attending.” I turn to Lady B and hope my face shows sufficient desperation. “Lady B, I beg of you, may we please go home now? Finally?”
Our hostess fixes me with a serious stare. “Yes.”
I cheer! Miranda, Sarah, Sabrina, Kate, Lauren, Gaelen and Tessa cheer! Monty cheers!
And then I realize the carriage is gone.
“The carriage is gone,” Lauren confirms.
“The carriage is gone?” Kate repeats.
“The magical carriage?” Sarah sounds downright forlorn.
“How can a magical carriage just up and disappear?” Miranda is skeptical.
“Magical carriage . . .” Monty murmurs.
And then I see it. We all see it.
Sparkles. I kid you not. Fluttering all around us in silver and gold like we’re princesses in some Disney movie.
“Well, we did see a unicorn, after all,” Sabrina whispers as the sparkles descend upon us.
And then, quite abruptly, we are standing in the middle of the ballroom in Lady B’s Mayfair house. We’re all dressed in our prettiest ball gowns, and our hair is perfect (though Kate’s hair is always gorgeous so hers doesn’t entirely count), Monty is dashing in ball attire, Albert has a diamond stud tucked in his feathers, and we’re all a little dazed.
But I don’t have time to be dazed. The ballroom is bare—no decorations, no refreshments, no musicians, nada! This, however, does not phase me. I am Ballroom authoress! Hear me roar!
“Ladies and gentleman?” I clap my hands. I’m excited. This is it! We’re back, we’re here, and all we need to do to ready the place for the ball in How a Lady Weds a Rogue is right here in my head. “Let’s get started!”
What do you always do to prepare for a very special party? One commenter today will win a signed copy of How a Lady Weds a Rogue (available tomorrow)!