Valerie Bowman‘s birthday is June 28th! YAY BIRTHDAYS! She’s sharing an exclusive excerpt with us today, because it’s JUNE. And that means BIRTHDAY MONTH. Which means Thursdays masquerade as Tuesdays. Because I can.
Anyway, the excerpt.
Miss Frances Birmingham has set her cap for the dashing Mr. Charles Holloway. She and her best friend, Annie, have the most clever idea. They’ve arranged a bachelor auction for charity. The proceeds will go to the Royal Society for the Humane Treatment of Animals and the winners will be escorted to the most talked-about ball of the Season by their bachelor of choice. When Frances makes a bid for Charlie, will one fun night’s amusement turn into a lifetime of love?
Excerpt set up: Through a set of circumstances and hijinks, Frances ends up with the mistaken belief that Charlie is, ahem, light in the instep. When Charlie discovers she believes that about him, he intends to set the record straight but not until Frances (who’s been clued in finally by her best friend Annie) has a bit of fun with him first. (wink)
Charlie spent the entire next day attempting to get Frances alone to explain the truth to her. He had no real idea how he’d broach the topic once he got the chance, but he intended to be blunt and quick about it. The sooner she discovered he did indeed prefer women—her, actually—the better. It was suddenly of utmost importance for her to know.
But every time he so much as broached the topic of speaking with her, she made an excuse about helping Annie and Lily with the wedding preparations and nearly ran from him. He couldn’t blame her. She was obviously still uncomfortable after his deplorable behavior last night. And she was here, staying with Annie, to help her friend. It was exceedingly rude of him to try to take any more of her time. But try he did, in between bouts of drinking to his brother’s impending nuptials in the study. The wedding was in a matter of days, and Charlie intended to stay by his brother’s side through it. As a result, by the end of the evening, Charlie had had a bit too much too drink.
The ladies retired soon after dinner, and it was that bit too much that convinced Charlie it was a good idea to sneak up to Frances’s room and tell her the truth. The ladies would be leaving the day after tomorrow for Ashbourne Manor for the final wedding preparations, and Charlie wouldn’t see Frances again until the wedding.
He downed the last of his brandy, excused himself from the two other men in the study, and took the stairs up to the bedchambers two at a time. He rapped only once upon the door before it swung wide, and he stalked into Frances’s bedchamber.
* * *
Frances and Annie had carefully orchestrated their retirement from the dining room tonight. Claiming exhaustion, both women had gone straight up to bed. Charlie well knew they were leaving for Ashbourne Manor soon. He’d been attempting to get Frances alone all day, and she’d successfully eluded him. She’d been half afraid he’d just out with it in the middle of the drawing room full of mixed company and declare himself partial to women right then and there. Thankfully she’d managed to avoid him, and now she’d left him little choice but to come up to her room and confront her.
Right on time, she thought when the knock sounded on the door.
“Come in,” she called and the door swung wide. Charlie stalked toward her, thrilling her a little.
Indecent to have this man in her bedchamber? Absolutely.
Welcome? Oh, yes.
“Wait. You must listen to me.”
The look of determination in his dark eyes made Frances doubt her course for a moment, but she quickly rallied her confidence. “No. You must listen to me first,” she said with as much conviction as she could muster.
Charlie snapped his mouth shut. He was obviously impatient to speak, but she’d insisted, and he was a gentleman.
“First, be a dear and help me with this.” She turned her back to him and presented the buttons of her gown.
“Wait. What?” His voice shook a bit.
“Unbutton me, please?” She was thankful she was turned away from him so he couldn’t see the look of pure glee that was surely pinned to her face, although she was also a bit disappointed that she couldn’t see the shocked expression on his.
Frances gave a showy sigh and tapped her foot impatiently. “I won’t argue that it’s not exactly proper for you to be in my bedchamber, Charlie, but you’ve come here, and I can’t very well call Mary to help me while you’re here, and my stays are pinching me something awful tonight.”
Charlie’s voice faltered. “But I—”
She still didn’t turn to face him but secretly smiled to herself. “Besides,” she added for good measure, “let’s not pretend. We both know this is hardly tempting to you, is it, Charlie?”
She could nearly hear his brain working. He was thinking, all right. Thinking about his options. He could either tell her immediately what he’d come here to say, in which case undressing her was out of the question, or he could play along with her little game and perhaps get an eyeful. A gentleman would tell the truth immediately. But an aroused, tempted gentleman? What would he do? She smiled to herself. She was about to find out.
Her answer came when Charlie’s warm, deft fingers began unbuttoning the back of her gown.
I wanted to thank Lime for having me on the blog today and give a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY shout out to her! We share the best birthday, ever, JUNE 28th! I believe Henry VIII shares the day with us as well. Hmm. Not sure what to think about that. This year on my birthday, I will be going to the spa, eating strawberry cupcakes, reading magazines, and generally doing whatever I like. Pure bliss. Lime, I trust you’ll be having similar good times! So, happy birthday to both of us and I hope you all enjoy my teaser post!
Awww, isn’t she sweet? <3 Valerie also sent along an author bio, but you’ve seen it before, as she’s been super cool and visited us at ALBTALBS before. See? So feel free to check her out and her other awesome excerpts and posts!
Valerie is giving away one copy of this e-novella (A Secret Affair). 🙂 So wish this generous girl a happy birthday!