20 November 2008

Excerpt Thursday: Sandra Schwab

Bewitched by Sandra Schwab
Thursdays on Unusual Historicals means excerpts!

Here's one from Sandra Schwab's latest release from Dorchester, BEWITCHED. Sandra writes: After a magical mishap that has turned her uncle's house blue, the heroine of my latest novel BEWITCHED is stripped of her powers and sent to London in order to be introduced into polite society and to find a suitable husband. In the following scene, she is attending a private musical party, where she meets the handsome, rakish Sebastian "Fox" Stapleton for the second time. (Their first meeting didn't go too well!)



Amy scratched her nose.

"Don't tell me you're bored, Miss Bourne?"

Her head snapped around. Blue-grey eyes regarded her intently beneath arched cinnamon brows.

Her own eyebrows shot up in surprise. "Mr." --Carrot--"Stapleton."

"Miss Bourne." He inclined his head, and the candlelight ran a fiery path over his hair. When he straightened, she noticed how his dark brown coat accentuated the breadth of his shoulders. A golden floral pattern gleamed on the black waistcoat beneath.

Very stylish.

Apparently disinterested, he gazed over the crowd while his fingers drummed a noiseless tattoo against his thigh.

Stylish, but sadly as cold and as odious as an old fish.

"A nice crowd tonight, is it not?" she remarked pointedly.

He turned his attention back on her, frowning. "I understand you were to meet Mr. Fermont. May I offer you his apologies? Unfortunately, he is ... indisposed tonight." His lips curved into a charming smile. Charming, but careless. A smile one might bestow on a small child.

Amy's nostrils flared. Under the hem of her long dress her satin slipper tapped the floor. If he meant to impress her with all his freckled, carroty glory, he’d failed miserably.

"He asked me to come in his stead. To make up for the loss. So ..." He gestured with his hand. "Shall we take a seat?"

"Why not." Other than the fact that, while his waltzing technique might be divine, he was cold as a fish and apparently also a stiff bore.

They chose a pair of plush-covered chairs and sat down. Leaning his arm on the back of the chair in front of her, he turned towards her. "I understand I am to explain the music to you."

"Indeed." She clasped her hands in her lap and valiantly suppressed the urge to twiddle her thumbs.

"You don't normally like music?" His was a polite, bland voice. They might have been talking about the weather.

"The opposite is the case, I assure you."

"Ah." He nodded knowingly.

Oh yes. How could she have forgotten? Carroty hair, cold as a fish, a stiff bore, and on top of that he was a Mr. Know-It-All-Magic-Doesn't-Exist. Splendid.

Once again Amy was left to wonder what exactly she had done to deserve this. True, turning Three Elms blue was a serious offense--what if somebody had paid them a visit that afternoon? Or what if one of the villagers had happened to pass by the house? Cobalt blue manor houses were rather difficult to explain away. But still, being forced to mingle with obnoxious people in a city that reeked with dirt seemed too harsh a sentence. The quaint cottage and the ill-tempered, scarred tomcat all at once appeared very appealing indeed.

"But you don’t play the fortepiano yourself?" the voice of the horrid Mr. Carrothead cut into her reveries.

Now she did twiddle her thumbs. "No, I'm afraid not. I never had the opportunity."

The buzz around them increased as people chose seats, and chairs scraped over the floor.

"What a pity." He moved on his seat. "Then your family does not own a fortepiano?" When he leaned back, the sleeve of his coat slipped up and revealed a small strip of skin above the white glove.

He had, Amy discovered, freckles even on his forearms. Spots of cinnamon between coppery hair. Again it intrigued her, this contrast between attributes of maleness and the cheeky splatter of cinnamon dust. As if there were mischievous depths to that stiff, formal, probably even slightly bored man.

She shook her head and forcefully dragged her attention back to the conversation. "A fortepiano? No, it's not that. The instrument was just always" --snapping at everybody besides my cousin-- "otherwise occupied."

Once more, her companion gave a sage nod of his head. Cinnamon splatter or not, he was certainly most irritating! Why didn't he say anything more? "I quite understand."

Amy gave him an arch look. "I seriously doubt that, Mr. Stapleton."