Welcome to Hump Day Hook, a weekly list of authors showcasing their work around the Internets. A big thanks to the wonderful peeps at Hump Day Hook for making this possible.
This week, a brand new story! SILK & SCORN, The Silk Series Book 2. It’s coming soon, peeps, so this is an extra special sneak peak!
Irritation tugged, but Arthur suppressed it. Emotion would get him nowhere. “Mrs. Wetherall?”
With a sweep of her skirts, she turned from her contemplation, ridiculous hat still disguising her face. He frowned. That enormous hat was absurd. Why did women think such things were attractive? In addition to being ludicrous, it no doubt put undue pressure and strain upon her neck.
The lady and her hat settled into the chair before his desk. Ill at ease, Arthur sank to his own chair.
Lacing her hands in her lap, the lady finally spoke. “I find I require the services of a solicitor in regards to my late husband’s will.”
The hair at the back of his neck stood up. No. Oh, Christ, no.
She looked up, and every muscle in Arthur’s body seized.
Mrs. Wetherall, formerly Miss Sarah Stanhope and the bane of his childhood, glared at him from beneath her ridiculous hat.
Swallowing, she asked the question that had caused her agony these two years gone. “Why did you stop writing?”
Again a flicker of something in his eyes. “I thought it best.”
“Did you?” Pain she’d thought buried crashed through her. It had hurt, so badly, when he’d stopped writing. Though she’d never wanted to admit it, she’d known it was because of those missteps she took, the idiotic troubles she’d gotten herself in, and now it would cost her his friendship. Even a return to London, a hope to begin anew, wouldn’t change it if he were ashamed of her.
She focused on the least painful. “Did you know how fiendish boring it was without you? Without your word of home and your briefs and what you were experiencing at the Old Bailey?”
He crossed his arms. “Apparently, you decided scandal was a judicious use of your time.”
She flinched. She hated that she was known for scandal, that boredom and circumstance pushed her to folly. Well, she would not let him see how his words affected her.
Squaring her shoulders, she lifted her chin. “I cannot undo what has been done, Thomas. I should never have agreed to those engagements, or any of the other hundred missteps I’ve made. But I…I had hoped—That is, I thought you might understand.” Breath shuddered through her. “Were you ashamed? That you knew me?”
“Nic, no.” Striding forward, he made as if he wanted to take her hands in his. “I was never ashamed of you.”
His smile faded as something began a slow smolder in his eyes. “Nic. Thank you for helping.”
She shivered. “Of course.”
“Nic?” he said.
Barely able to breathe, her gaze drifted to his lips. “Yes?”
“I’m going to kiss you now.”
“Yes.” Her eyes drifted shut.
Slowly, his lips met hers, brushed once, twice.
“Thomas.” She sighed and, as his mouth took hers again, she felt the shape of his smile.
Pleasure rushed through her, sharp and bright. Never had it been like this. All the boys she’d kissed, the men she’d teased, none had made her feel as she did now. Emotion swelled, until it felt her heart was too large for her chest and would encompass all of her, occupy her totally with this feeling for him. For Thomas.
Threading her fingers through the short hair at the base of his neck, she smiled as he placed his lips against her eyelids, her brows. Cupping her face, he placed a string of kisses along her cheek and over her temple before returning his mouth to hers.
Pulling back, he smoothed his thumbs against her cheekbones. “I can’t resist you, Nic.”
“Good.” She placed her hands over his. “I can’t resist you, either.”
Eight years ago…
Thomas Cartwright and Lady Nicola Fitzgibbons were friends. Over the wall separating their homes, Thomas and Nicola talked of all things – his studies to become a barrister, her frustrations with a lady’s limitations.
All things end.
When her diplomat father gains a post in Hong Kong, Nicola must follow. Bored and alone, she falls into scandal. Mired in his studies of the law and aware of the need for circumspection, Thomas feels forced to sever their ties.
But now Lady Nicola is back…and she won’t let him ignore her.
~ Excerpt ~
Thomas took a breath, knowing he had to phrase this just right. “Lady Nicola, while I am cognizant of the honor you do me, I don’t believe it appropriate you visit me in my chambers. Shall we arrange a time that suits us both, perhaps for a walk about the park?”
China-blue eyes laughed at him. “Oh, pish. Don’t be such a fuddy-duddy, Thomas. We never stood on such ceremony before.”
Didn’t she know he couldn’t be her friend? Not since their ways had parted and she’d become who she was, while he had become who he was. “Our situations were different before, Lady Nicola. It is not appropriate for a lady of your standing to visit a bachelor in his chambers.”
“Who is going to comment? No one knows I’m here.”
Was she serious? “My clerk knows you’re here. By now, the senior clerk undoubtedly knows you’re here. Before ten minutes have passed, everyone in the building will know you’re here.”
“Well, then, they are a bunch of shocking gossips, and I should not like to know them any better.” She folded her hands in her lap.
“Not the point, Nicola.” Bloody hell, but she drove him mental. She tore at him and picked at him until he didn’t know where he stood. Always she’d done this, taken what little sense he had and driven it right out of his brain.
“I should say it is the point. Our visit would not distress you, if it weren’t for them.”
“It should distress me in any case. You should not be here.”
“Do you know what I’m hearing, Thomas? I’m hearing a vast amount of negativity, when you’ve not even greeted me properly. Why, you’ve yet to kiss my hand, or perhaps give me a h-hug.” Chin up, she looked at him with eyes brimming, and he saw right through her facade. She was truly hurt he’d not yet greeted her as he should.
Helpless, he stared at her. How did she do it? How did she turn his brain to mush? She’d been here less than five minutes, and already she had drawn him back in.
But she was right. He hadn’t greeted her as he should.
Standing, he went to her and drew her to her feet. “Welcome home, Nic.” And he hugged her.