Just Another non-Manic Monday

 

This past weekend I visited a few blogs involved with Weekend Writing Warriors and a few of them are writing snappy mysteries involving feisty female P.I.'s, and it had me thinking of the very first book I ever sold to a publisher. Because I'm wallowing in nostalgia, I thought I'd share one scene.

To set the scene:

Shelby Stewart - a small-time private investigator, determined to make it on her own without any help from...

Tank - aka, Jake Steele, ex-husband, and former business partner. His main goal is to win back the heart of Shelby and he'll get some help from...

Polly - Shelby's best friend as well as her very bored receptionist. She is firmly in the corner that Shelby and Tank should get back together.


***

He pushed off the desk and moved around to stand in front of me. By sitting at my desk, I’d boxed myself in. That Tank was aware of this was evident by the hint of a smile touching the corner of his lips. Testosterone and male awareness poured off him and my heart suddenly began pounding in my throat and I closed my eyes. He drew close enough that I caught his scent.

He smelled like peppermint. I bit back a groan. I used to love peppermint.

I could feel the warmth of his breath, brushing my temple and had a death grip on the arms of the chair. This time I’d stay in control. No good-looking, drop-dead, gorgeous man would turn me into a wilting female. No way, not this time. I... Warm lips covered mine.

Blank. My mind went blank when he began nibbling on my lower lip. He was such a good kisser. Wanting more I leaned forward, lips parting in anticipation. My eyes flew open when he broke off the kiss. With his face mere inches from mine and his eyes twinkling with humor, I knew I’d been had.

“See you later, darlin’.” He straightened and swaggered out, looking like he kissed girls senseless all the time. Bemused, I watched him walk away. His jeans, low on his hips, the material faded and worn, caressed him like an old friend. He really did fill those Levis out nicely. Oh crap! I forgot to tell him where he could stay.

“Guest bedroom only,” I called after him. “Tank?”

The front door slammed. Why did my noodle go on vacation whenever he was around? Heavy sighing could be heard in the next room. Polly was drooling over Tank again.

“Pull it back in, Polly. I can hear dripping from here.”

She sighed out, “Oh god, he’s the most gorgeous man ever!” I pictured her with her chin resting on her palm, all gooey and dreamy-eyed, watching him get on his motorcycle. “I don’t know why you won’t take him back, honey. If he was mine, I’d be in his front pocket all day.”

Yeah, well, those days were over. I grabbed the keys to my car. I should have about an hour head start on him. By the time he got to my place, dropped off his stuff, and made it out to the Grant’s, I’d be long gone.

I loved it when a plan worked.

****

What do you do when things don’t go According to Plan? For starters, you trick, deceive and lie to the very person who ruined your best-laid plans.

Welcome to the world of Shelby Stewart, P.I., who’s been hired to find socialite, Harrison Grant. To complicate matters further her ex-husband, Tank shows up looking for Harrison as well, albeit for a very different reason. Harry is the prime suspect in the grisly murder of a call girl in L.A.

That wouldn’t be so bad, but Tank plans on staying at Shelby’s house and makes it obvious he’s quite willing to help her heat the sheets, again. Shelby knows that sex with Tank is dangerous, fast, and sometimes a little dirty. Now is not the time to become side-tracked.

Frustration becomes Shelby’s newest partner as she makes plans to out maneuver Tank in their parallel quest. Tank, on the other hand, is always one step ahead of the game—and is not what, or who Shelby thought.

He broke her heart once before. This time she’ll harden her heart. This time his sweet, slow kisses won’t take her knees out from under her. This time she won’t tumble into bed with him. This time it will all work out ~ According to Plan.




WEEKEND WRITING WARRIORS #84

Sorry for missing last week. We had some obligations and I knew I wouldn't be able to visit everyone's blog. We were supposed to have a family BBQ before restrictions get slapped back on. We are a small family. Even with everyone in attendance, our bubble never exceeds ten people. Now - if we were to go back to British Columbia, the numbers would swell exponentially. My husband is the youngest of nine. When we lived there, we would rent a local hall for things like the family Christmas dinner and we even rented a small hall for our own New Year's celebration. Loud. Noisy. Fun. I miss them.

Ah well, soon we can travel again and then have a good visit. Let's get crackin' on this story. It is now available at Amazon (Kindle Unlimited until June). Click the image in the right sidebar for more details.

We left off with:

“I will allow you to dislike him Lizzy, and you are not required to dance with him. Ever.”

“I do believe that is one promise I will have no difficulty in keeping.”

Now for my lines this week:

“Speaking of promises, we’ll discuss your unauthorized visit to Netherfield Park later.” Mama cut a quick glance toward Papa. “Can I behave in a silly manner with the gentleman from Derbyshire, my dear? I’m sure we will not court his great opinion.”

“Maybe just a little, my love. We don’t want him to influence his amiable friend with a poor opinion.”

“Then I shall flirt with sensibility and lead him on a merry dance.” Mama turned her intelligent gaze upon Lizzy. “Now, missy. What is this I hear about you going to Netherfield Park this morning?”

And a taste of more:

“Mrs. Nicholls sent word that two of the upstairs maids had fallen violently ill. She thinks it could be a simple case of eating some bad food, but she wanted to promote Sally from the kitchen for the few days the others would be indisposed.”

“Why would she not ask the sister who is acting as hostess for Mr. Bingley? Surely that falls within her realm of duties while they lease the manor.”

“It appears Miss Bingley - while telling all that she has the capacity to be the mistress of a grand estate - lacks the knowledge. Her vaunted seminary for young women did not give her the sense of a goose. She has absolutely no concept of how a house is run efficiently. Mrs. Nicholls was beside herself with worry.”

“Hmmm… very well, but I do not want them to know we are involved with the estate. You must take great care when it comes to our newest tenants. I don’t have a good feeling about them. They almost make my fluttering and heart palpitations reappear, and not as a charade.”

Lizzy reached over and took her mother’s hand in hers. “I will be a soul of circumspection and stealth. As it is, I’ve asked Mrs. Nicholls to meet me in the afternoon while the others are occupied with their tea for our bi-weekly meetings.” Her breath hitched. “Oh, dear.”

“What is wrong?” Mama asked.

“In my haste to take Jeremy around, I forgot to lock away my personal stationery from the desk in the study.”

“It’s not the end of the world if they are found, but I do believe it’s better if Mr. Bingley remains unaware of who actually owns Netherfield Park. I want him to like Jane for herself.”

Weekend Writing Warriors is a fun blog hop where authors share eight to ten lines from a Work in Progress. If you'd like to check out some other author's writing, please click on this link: WeWriWa

WEEKEND WRITING WARRIORS #83

Since last week's offering, much has happened. I finished Pride and Perception, tapping out at 72.5K words. This is the longest book I've ever written, it is also one of the fastest. For those of you who have known me for a few years, you know that I am a very slow writer. It usually takes me over a year to write a book. This story's genesis occurred on Dec 13, 2020 (I keep all my plot bunnies safely penned in OneNote), wrote a teaser for the first chapter on a JAFF site on Dec 15, 2020, and began writing in earnest on or about Jan 2, 2021. In a little over eight weeks, I had it complete.

I am in shock.

I am also in love. I wrote all these characters fairly close to Miss Austen's outline, but as she didn't give us much on the character of Mr. Darcy I freely delved into him and fleshed out his friendship with his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam. Some of my favorite scenes are between these two gentlemen, and I will say - Mr. Darcy is not so fussy with his language when he's with a man who's known him ALL his life. I'll be sharing excerpts from Pride and Perception on Austen Authors, March 24, 2021. Please come on over and share in the conversation on that date.

So, having said all that, let's get on with this week's snippet.

We left off with:

“Whom do you mean?” Darcy turned around and looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and said in a voice that would have frozen over the Thames, “She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me. I am in no humor at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.” At Bingley’s horrified gasp, he continued. “You had better return to your simpering partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.”

My seven lines:

Stunned, Lizzy took small comfort in the apologetic look Mr. Bingley afforded her before removing himself to seek the company of Jane. Mr. Darcy gave her one more haughty look before stalking off to join his own party, who’d not strayed far from the door, as though they expected to take flight at any moment.

Lizzy remained in place, not wishing the rude Mr. Darcy to think his words had pierced her outward confidence and toyed with the idea of sharing his caustic comments with friends. It was only when she remembered the words Papa had spoken to her mother earlier, of taking the high road when it came to the gentleman from Derbyshire, that she pasted a smile on her face and joined her parents, ne’er a caustic word crossing her lips. She’d no sooner greeted her Mama that she was asked to dance and was never in want of a willing partner for the rest of the evening.

She also never realized the eyes of one taciturn gentleman followed her all night. Even when he danced with the ladies of his party.

Continuing on with the start of Chapter Two:

“I still cannot believe he said that about you.”

Jane laid a comforting hand upon her arm. After more than two weeks, Lizzy had finally shared what Mr. Darcy said on the night of the Assembly.

“Indeed, such a rude man. Not handsome enough to tempt him, indeed. His manners, though there was not much evidence of them, seems to indicate he is well bred, but not inviting.” Mrs. Bennet settled her skirts about her knees, then folded her hands onto her lap, spearing Elizabeth with a confident look. “I give you leave to dislike him Lizzy, and you are not required to dance with him. Ever.”

“I do believe that is one promise I will have no difficulty in keeping.”

Weekend Writing Warriors is a fun blog hop where authors share eight to ten lines from a Work in Progress. If you'd like to check out some other author's writing, please click on this link: WeWriWa

Oh! -I forgot to add. I keep all my plot bunnies penned separately. One time I had them bunched together and they spawned a series. I know better now. Hugs and squishy kisses to all of you this fine spring day!

THURSDAY THREE HUNDRED ~ MARY #11

SHE'D RATHER EAT BLOOD PUDDING FOR A MONTH THAN ENDURE TONIGHT'S FESTIVITIES

Chapter Three

Before Mary knew it, the days had flown by and the night of the quarterly Assembly was upon them. She stood staring at her reflection, wishing she could refuse to attend. The dress Mama had commissioned from London was lovely. Although the pale-yellow silk boasted a modest scoop neckline with delicate capped sleeves edged with lace, she was a tad uncomfortable with how much of her bosom was on display. Fine clothes did not ensure her a successful night of dancing. She would not be surprised to find herself seated along the edges of the assembly hall just like all the other times, and wondered, with a wry twist of humor, if her gown would clash with the wall paper. A knock on her bedroom door claimed her wandering attention and the reflective glass revealed her mother peeking around the door into her room.

“Why aren’t you ready? Your Papa is waiting.”

“Can I not stay home?”

“Stay home? Absolutely not.”

“I will not enjoy this evening, Mama.”

How could she explain, to a woman who lived for social gatherings, that she’d rather eat blood pudding for a month than endure tonight’s festivities?

“You certainly won’t if you approach it with an attitude like that. No young man worth his salt will want to partner with such a sour puss as you.” With an agitated sniff, head held high, Mama turned and headed for the stairs.

Mary took a moment to quell her rising agitation. Becoming vexed with her mother was not the way to begin the evening. Her mother had been positively giddy with excitement preparing for the Assembly as tonight all of Meryton would recognize her as Lady Bennet. The upcoming hours stretched interminably before Mary. Her only hope lay in Mama becoming fatigued and wish to leave early.

“Mary! Stop delaying. Your Papa does not like to be kept waiting.”

“Coming, Mama.”

She picked up her shawl and threw it over her arm. The evening still retained some warmth from today’s sun; however, if they stayed late at the Assembly, the night air would be too cold for bared arms.

“Mary!”

“Coming,” she called back and closed the door of her room before hurrying down the stairs. Her mother stood framed in the front door; the color high on her cheeks. Her silk gown of deep blue became her and on impulse, Mary gave her a light kiss on the cheek. “You look lovely, Mama. Papa will not enjoy the evening if he’s busy fighting off other men.”

“Oh, you.” Mama tapped Mary’s arm with her fan as she giggled like a schoolgirl. “Your father never enjoys these events, as you well know, and he will not fight off any men. I shan’t be asked to dance. I’m too old.”

“You, Madam, are wrong on one account. I intend to dance with you,” Papa declared from the front step. “Let us be off, and don’t kick the dueling pistols I loaded into the carriage.”

“Mr. Bennet!”

Mary could only shake her head at the teasing tones of her parent as she climbed into the carriage. After years of subtle derision on her father’s part to their mother, this light-hearted exchange gave her hope for their future, regardless of the baby’s sex.


WEEKEND WRITING WARRIORS #82

Never end your day without telling those you hold dear that you love them. An online friend of mine (funny how the internet has expanded our social circles) lost her husband. News such as this always hurts my heart. Hubby was in the military and we lost many, many friends during his time. We stopped counting at seventeen. It never gets easier. It took me a few days to mourn with her and then I settled back into my writing. I'm working on the final chapter at the drafting of this post.

We left off with Mrs. Bennet worrying about her two youngest making a bad impression on the party from Netherfield Park.

To freshen your memory:

“We agreed, Fanny, the local Assembly was the perfect venue for our two youngest daughters to make their soft come-out. We are among friends here and they can’t get into too much trouble where they are so well known.”

My ten lines:

Mama tapped her fan into the palm of her hand. “Yes, but I did not think the Netherfield party would be so disobliging and they will get the wrong impression of our family.”

“Weren’t you planning on being a bit flighty yourself, to test the waters?”

Lizzy watched as her mother cast an assessing look toward the dour Mr. Darcy, who’d begun to pace the edges of the hall.

“Yes,” she finally huffed out on a sigh. “Very well. Let Lydia have her light flirtation, but we still must take care that her reputation is not stained beyond any hope of redemption. If we are judged by our country manners, then so be it, they are not worth our attention.”

“I am sure, between her sisters and myself, Lydia will not come to any harm.” He squeezed his wife’s hand with great affection. “In case I forgot to tell you – you look absolutely lovely tonight, Mrs. Bennet.”

To continue the scene with the infamous insult:

“Oh, you!”

She flushed and brought up her fan to cool her heated cheeks. Lizzy grinned and moved away, catching sight of the empty chair. With a sigh, she lowered herself onto the lightly padded seat and, while watching the dancers, remembered her friend with fondness. Her silent reverie was interrupted with the advent of Mr. Bingley accosting Mr. Darcy not more than four feet from where she sat.

“Come, Darcy,” said he, “I must have you dance. I hate to see you stand about in this stupid manner.”

“I most certainly will not. You know how I detest the activity, especially if I’m not acquainted with my partner. At an assembly such as this’ – he snorted in derision – ‘it would be insupportable. There are no women in this room whom it would not be a punishment for me to stand up with.”

“Fie, Darcy!” cried Bingley. “I would never be as fastidious as you. Why, there are several here who are uncommonly pretty.”

“You are dancing with the only handsome girl in the room.”

Lizzy took note that he looked in the direction of Jane and smiled. At least Mr. Darcy had some good taste.

“Oh! She is the most beautiful creature I ever beheld.” Mr. Bingley glanced over Mr. Darcy’s shoulder and seeing Elizabeth, whispered loudly, “One of her sisters, sitting down behind you, is very pretty and I dare say agreeable. Would you let me introduce you?”

“Whom do you mean?” Darcy turned around and looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and said in a voice that would have frozen over the Thames, “She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me. I am in no humor at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.” At Bingley’s horrified gasp, he continued. “You had better return to your simpering partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.”

Weekend Writing Warriors is a fun blog hop where authors share eight to ten lines from a Work in Progress. If you'd like to check out some other author's writing, please click on this link: WeWriWa

THURSDAY THREE HUNDRED ~ MARY #10

THAT WAS WHEN HE KNEW.

HE'D KISS MISS MARY BENNET; THE ONLY QUESTION WAS WHEN.

We left off with:

... if he were honest, he’d never taken notice of her because she always remained in the background, a nondescript little puddle of brown or gray muslin.

Now for this week's three hundred (+) words:

Still unobserved by any of the guests, he took his time to assess the young woman seated at the pianoforte. Her hair was lustrous and dark, similar in color and texture to Elizabeth’s. In fact, she favored her elder sister in many ways, with a heart-shaped face and dark eyes, which at the moment glared at the music sheets as though they’d personally grieved her. Her gown, blue silk, hugged her figure to perfection, and on their own accord, his eyes roamed over what was displayed behind the instrument, skidding to a stop when he reached her… heat licked his cheeks and quickly moved south. No longer decked out in predictable, ill-fitting drab colors, the gown showed her assets to their greatest advantage. Dear God in heaven, Darcy would call him out onto the field of honor if he knew where his traitorous thoughts had wandered. And rightly so.

She struck another discordant note and bit her lip again in frustration. His heart almost thudded to a stop and that was when he knew. He’d kiss Miss Mary Bennet; the only question was when.

“Richard!”

His reverie was interrupted by Elizabeth spotting him. He turned with a smile and advanced toward her, noting in his peripheral vision the slight start Miss Bennet gave when she realized he’d been standing nearby, unobserved.

“Cousin Elizabeth, or should I say, The Honorable Mrs. Darcy, how lovely to see you, Madam.” He took her hand and bowed over it. He was pleased to see her flush slightly.

“Stop that, and I am still your cousin. Come along.” She withdrew her hand, tucked it around his arm, and began directing their steps toward the far side of the room and Darcy. “When did you arrive? I did not see you come in.”

“I admit to sneaking in through the servant’s access, and have been here but a few minutes,” he said. Gazing into your sister’s beautiful face, he didn’t say. Nor did he add, admiring her d├ęcolletage.

“Fitz is most anxious to speak with you about the upcoming ball. We wish to corral Mama before she lets her new title estrange everyone in Meryton.” 


WEEKEND WRITING WARRIORS #81

What a week! I'm eighteen chapters into this story and have been producing about 2K / day, and I've only just had Lizzy leave Hunsford. So much more to write!

Last week we left with Lizzy joining her parents for introductions to the party from Netherfield. As a recap, I will remind you that the Bennets own Netherfield Park and Longbourn is not entailed away from the female line and the citizens of Meryton are unaware. Also, for my story, Mrs. Bennet is not flighty and vulgar, but to test the mettle of our fair Mr. Bingley, she's willing to put on a show.

And... we're off!

As it turned out, Jane’s head was not turned by Mr. Darcy. Instead, her attentions were captured by the delightful Mr. Bingley. Upon introduction, he successfully petitioned her hand for the next two sets. When asked if he liked dancing, Mr. Darcy flatly stated, ‘No,’ and left their party. Shocked at his abrupt rudeness, Mama gaped after him. Something she hadn’t done in years. She caught her husband’s eye and waved him over.

“What is it, my dear?”

“When you visited Mr. Bingley, did he seem addled in the head?” she said in a low voice so it wouldn’t carry.

And... we have more!

Mr. Bennet took a step back and assessed his wife. “I don’t understand what you are asking me.”

“When a young man of good manners as well as good fortune befriends another man, who is abominably rude to a newly introduced person, does that not also speak to his character?”

“You are speaking of Mr. Darcy.”

“One and the same.”

“Mrs. Bennet, I caution you against making the same mistake as Mr. Darcy. You do not know his character and what he is thinking. His manners might be lacking, but do not take the low road with this, my love. You are better than that.”

Mrs. Bennet huffed and Lizzy choked back a snicker. It wasn’t often that her mother’s feathers were ruffled.

“Fine,” she finally acceded, “but I take leave to not like him.”

Papa kissed Mama’s cheek, disregarding the raised eyebrows at his open affection.

“I give you leave not to like him.”

“Would you check on Lydia and Kitty? They’ve been a trifle too excited this evening and I’m pretty sure Lydia has been flirting with the Westcott boy. I don’t think we should have allowed them to come this evening.”

“We agreed, Fanny, the local Assembly was the perfect venue for our two youngest daughters to make their soft come-out. We are among friends here and they can’t get into too much trouble where they are so well known.”

Weekend Writing Warriors is a fun blog hop where authors share eight to ten lines from a Work in Progress. If you'd like to check out some other author's writing, please click on this link: WeWriWa

 


THURSDAY THREE HUNDRED ~ MARY #9

...she always remained in the background, a nondescript little puddle of brown or gray muslin.

We left last week with:

By the time he’d changed and reassured the terrified man he would not be sent back to the front lines, it was almost noon before he escaped Town.

Continuing on with this weeks' 300:

When one of the horses threw a shoe twenty miles outside of London, he almost cried defeat and turned back. The only thing that kept him within the posting inn walls was the terrifying fact that Mother had threatened him with an afternoon soiree at Lady Fosscroft’s. The soiree was not what he wished to avoid; it was the lady’s two very eligible, very well-dowered daughters who had no qualms, it seemed, of settling with a second son. Ever since their debut two years ago, he’d been careful never to be alone with either of them. As long as he had his wits about him, there would be no ‘accidental’ compromises forcing him down the aisle.

He nursed a tepid mug of ale while waiting for the farrier and wondered what else could go wrong before the day was out. Most likely, there would be a downpour before he reached his destination. Luckily, the horse was expertly re-shod, and he was on his way in under the half-hour. The sun had begun its final descent when he bade farewell to Grandon at Wilton Manor swung up onto Euros, which had been tethered to the carriage, and cantered up the graveled drive to Netherfield Park.

Because of his many delays, Richard arrived late for Hurst’s dinner party and heard everyone gathered in the front drawing-room. Not wanting to draw attention to himself, he asked the butler not to announce him. Familiar with the layout of Netherfield Park, he hastened toward one of the servant’s entrances and slipped into the drawing-room through a hidden door situated near the pianoforte. Upon entering, he glanced around the milling guests and only paused from going forward when a discordant note was played, followed by a whispered, “Horsefeathers.”

He turned to see who had whispered such an innocuous saying and saw Miss Mary Bennet seated at the pianoforte, biting a lush lower lip. Time stopped. There was no other way to describe the moment. It simply stuttered to a standstill.

She was beautiful. How had he never noticed that before? He paused in thought and realized that he’d never held a proper conversation with her. Not once in all the family gatherings over the past few years, not even when he taught the ladies how to shoot after the incident at Nathan and Caroline’s wedding ball. He was fairly certain she’d been in attendance at Darcy’s house for the infamous dinner when Adborough reconciled with Georgiana. Still, he’d been too busy glaring at the erstwhile Duke to care, and, if he were honest, he’d never taken notice of her because she always remained in the background, a nondescript little puddle of brown or gray muslin.