“How’s my hair?” Shana says.
“What about my feathers? Are my feathers straight?” Anna asks, taking over the looking glass in the foyer.
“I can NOT go in there without my quizzing glass! I’m so blind I’ll accidentally start a conversation with a palm tree!” Vanessa wails.
“Ladies!” I cry, bringing everyone’s attention away from their fidgeting. “What on earth has possessed you? You’ve all been here before. You know Lady B doesn’t bite.”
Although I myself am a little nervous. I’ve never brought such a crowd into the ballroom before. (And heck, I once brought a ship.) Four authors, as well as four pairs of heroes and heroines. Not to mention a liberal amount of boughs of holly, mistletoe, and the occasional Santa suit. And yes, I know it’s October.
But Anna Campbell, Shana Galen, Vanessa Kelly and I are in the holiday spirit and celebrating the release of our free (!) short story anthology A Grosvenor Square Christmas. And what better way to celebrate than invading the Ballroom?
“That’s not what we’re worried about,” Shana explains. “We’re worried about her.”
I look over to where Lucy Frost, Lady Winterson, is shedding her heavy winter cloak. Even though it is only October, wherever Lady Winterson goes, it’s December 25th.
“Why on earth are you worried about Lady W?”
“Because,” Anna explains, “She is the hostess of No. 3 Grosvenor Square’s Christmas Ball. And Lady B is the host of this ball! There is bound to be some rivalry. Surely they’ll stare daggers at each other.”
“We’ll be lucky if they limit it to staring.” Vanessa adds.
“Guys, Lady B isn’t like that.” I say dismissively. But then I start to think, is Lady B like that? I’ve seen her engage in social warfare with the Dowager Duchess of Dovedale, for simply having a higher title. What would she do to Lady Winterson, for having a competing Christmas Ball?
“Don’t worry about me, girls,” Lady Winterson says, giving us a wink and wiggle as she marches forward. “I can handle our hostess.”
“Lucy!” Lady B cries, sweeping towards us in the receiving line.
“Heliotrope!” Lady Winterson echoes, and leans forward to air-kiss Lady B.
“It has been far too long.”
“Since last Christmas, I’m afraid.”
Of course. I should have known Lady B and Lady W would be friends. After all, they both have London mansions, and issues with the time-space continuum.
“I would never miss your Christmas Ball… but you have missed far too many of mine.” Lady B scolded. “Too cooped up with your Philbert to come and call?”
“Now, now. Philbert is my butler, Heliotrope. You know that.”
“I know he has a fine pair of legs.”
“Well, I hope to make up for my egregious absence now,” Lady Winterson trilled. “I have brought ever so many young couples for you to meet.”
“And authoresses, too,” Lady B says, looking us over. “Why am I not surprised that you are involved in this melee, Miss Noble?”
“You know me too well.”
“First, we have Miss Galen, with her young lovers – although their love is young, The Duchess of Harcourt is actually a decade older than her darling Gabriel Lamarque.”
Shana curtsies as she brings her couple forward.
“Next, there is Miss Kelly, with Amelia Easton. She thinks of Nigel Dash as a dependable friend rather than a suitor, but Nigel’s determined to change all that.”
“Better get to work on that, Mr. Dash,” Lady B admonished.
“And Miss Campbell, with excellent plumage in her hair.”
“Don’t let Albert see you, he might come and try to mate with your head.”
“Erm, right,” Anna says. “May I introduce Campion and Lachlan? As you can imagine with a title like His Christmas Cinderella, my short story is a romantic retelling of the fairytale.”
“And lastly, your own Miss Noble,” Lady Winterson pulls me forward. “And her horse-loving tomboy Susannah Westforth.”
“And where is Miss Westforth’s hero?”
“Oh, he’s always late,” I reply. “He’s probably still on his Grand Tour, not realizing that the little girl who followed him around at home is now all grown up.”
“Hmm… Miss Noble, I don’t know if I approve of tardiness in heroes,” Lady B frowns at me. “I recall a castrophe the last time this happened.”
“Regardless of the punctuality of Miss Noble’s characters,” Lady Winterson says, stepping in. “I do hope you’ll forgive me for my absences, let us invade and redecorate the Ballroom for the festivities.”
“Of course, Lucy, of course!” Lady B replied. “The more the merrier. After all, I enjoy nothing more than a good holiday party!”
Tell us what you love about the holiday season, whatever holiday you celebrate! One lucky commenter will win a fantastic gift: A copy of Kate Noble’s Let It Be Me, a copy of Vanessa Kelly’s His Mistletoe Bride and this awesome Batman tree ornament (the sigil of Lady B’s house, and lest we forget, how her name is pronounced.)
And don’t forget – our FREE holiday short story e-anthology A Grosvenor Square Christmas is out now at all major e-retailers! (except B&N. They are taking their sweet time loading it. Grrr…)