Sorry I'm a bit late posting this. I've scoured my recent work to find an excerpt I thought would entertain my readers and the one I've picked is from a short story titled Michaella's Match.
This story is closely connected to my novel Heartless, taking place a few years after that story's conclusion. Lady Michaella Harcourt is the star of this short, the sister of the heroine from Heartless. Some of you may remember her as the sweet, meek, legitimate daughter of the Earl of Harwood. She developed feelings for Gabriel St. Clair but fate (aka The Evil Author) had other plans.
(If this story was longer and wasn't destined to be part of an anthology of Regency shorts, it would be titled Melancholy, In keeping with my one-word titles for this "series," just so you know.)
Without further ado, here is part of the opening scene of Michaella's Match. Enjoy! ♥
The dancers swirled by, dresses billowing out with each swift turn of the waltz. Ladies smiled, content with their partners, satisfied they were pleasing their parents with their actions. Gentlemen smirked, pleased with their conquests, satisfied they held the prize of the Season. The vibrant gowns of the duennas and widows mingled with the muted tones of the débutantes, creating a shimmering rainbow in the candlelight, accented with sparkling gems.
Lady Michaella Harcourt stood off to the side, blessedly alone for the nonce. She couldn’t endure one more moment of fake smiles and condescension. She watched the dancers, bitterness tugging at her heart. She witnessed one young girl fall in love with the man who held her, his own eyes so focused on the girl in his arms that Michaella knew the rest of the world ceased to exist for them.
Tears stung the back of Michaella’s eyes. She knew that feeling, remembered the all-consuming joy to be had with a gentlemen who returned one’s regard. The press of a hand, stolen glances, and the assurance that he would speak one day, making his feelings known to all, kept one holding on. And if one found oneself alone with one’s love, for just a moment, a stolen kiss, a sweet, all-consuming embrace might be all one had to hold onto, years later.
The crack in her heart deepened, sending a shaft of pain through her body. She stumbled back, disappearing behind the shrubbery that lined the grand ballroom. Her shaking legs threatened to send her to the floor.
How could the pain remain so fresh after so many years? She’d found a man she loved, one who’d adored her, made her feel safe and secure. She may not have been allowed to marry him, spend her life with him, but she’d still had much more than most young ladies.
Years later, her pain should be nonexistent, or at least manageable. Yet she could no longer see her sister, her beloved sister, the one with whom she’d never had secrets. As time passed the pain did not lessen, as she was told it would. It only increased, bringing envy and bitterness with it.
She envied her sister’s happiness. Leandra was married to the worst man in England, yet her happiness was visible for all to see. Her duke treated everyone with contempt, but for Leandra he was a different man. He loved her and her alone. He’d changed for her. He continued to change for her.
And it was that very man who’d arranged a marriage for Michaella, the sister he’d gained through marriage. He’d found a man he approved of to be her husband. The arrangements, the details, and the final agreement were all carried out through letters, hidden from Michaella’s mother. The countess would not look kindly upon the duke for interfering.
Good manners demanded Michaella at least call on the duke, on her sister, assure them both of her good health and continued love for them. It was no fault of theirs that the one man she truly loved was gone.
A tear escaped. Brushing it angrily away, Michaella straightened. It was enough. She could no longer wallow in her misery. She had to move on, and her betrothal was just the thing. Perhaps babies would help her leave the past fully behind, allow her to grow, maybe even find the happiness she’d so briefly enjoyed with Gabriel.
Just the thought of him sent the pain coalescing through her. How could life be so unfair?
“Steady, my lady,” a voice whispered close to her ear, making her jump. “You would not want the tabbies catching sight of you in such a state.”
©2013 Laura J Miller. All Rights Reserved.
Thank you for taking the time to read my excerpt! For more Sweet Saturday Samples, please click HERE.
♥Happy reading, writing, and blogging!!♥
There's a jukebox in my head. It's currently playing
♫♪ Joelle (FFXIII-2) ~ Village and Void