One of My Favorite Scenes…
I’m sure when asked to name their favorite scene, most writers pick something with their hero and heroine. Don’t get me wrong. I love Lord Nathaniel and Lady Georgette. The delicate dance of their two souls is a delight and I’d be hard-pressed to single out a favorite scene. But in One Night with a Rake, love isn’t limited to the titled few. Georgette’s lady’s maid, Mercy, and her handsome, but not over-bright footman, Reuben Darling, have been inching toward each other since Mercy first left her life as a whore and came to work in Yorkingham House. In this scene, their relationship takes a major leap forward…
Reuben knew the rich were different. It was more than the cut of their clothes or their fancy educated talk. Everything they did seemed to shimmer with elegance. Like the way Lady Georgette and Lord Nathaniel were moving together around the room, for instance. Every step in time bespoke quality.
Even though the dance did look a bit like doin’ the unmentionable deed with their clothes on. Still, if the nobility did it, it must be all right.
“I never seen that dance before,” he whispered to Mercy. The pair of them had sneaked up to the little balcony usually reserved for the string quartet that played when Yorkingham House hosted a ball or soirée. The curtained space offered a perfect spot to watch the couple below with no danger of being caught hovering near the open doorways.
“It’s the waltz,” Mercy whispered. “But they’re doing it a good bit slower than usual.”
With each pass around the room, the space between Lady Georgette and the gentleman shrank until Reuben could see no daylight between them at all.
“Is he holding my lady a good bit closer than he ought?”
Mercy nodded, holding a slim finger over his lips to shush him.
“Thought so,” Reuben said, bending so he could whisper into Mercy’s little shell of an ear. He decided the need to keep quiet was a good thing if it meant she let him put his lips so close to her tender earlobe. “Should we stop them?”
She shrugged. “It’s just a dance. Her ladyship’s not complaining.”
Judging from the soft, doe-eyed expression on Lady Georgette’s face, she wasn’t likely to complain in the near future either.
Reuben and Mercy watched in silence for a few more minutes. The light scent of violets with a musky undertone teased Reuben’s nostrils.
“Have you been into milady’s perfume?”
Mercy’s gaze jerked toward him at that. If she’d been a cat, her back would have been fully arched. “She knows about it. She told me to help myself, so she did. Don’t ye be thinkin’ I’ve got sticky fingers.”
“I wouldn’t think that,” Reuben said. “I was only thinking how nice you smell.”
“Oh.” The cat’s back settled a bit. Mercy turned away to peer down at the dancers. “Thank you, Reuben,” she whispered. “Er, you smell nice too.”
“Me? I don’t wear no scent.”
Something inside him leaped up in joy. It was the first time she’d ever called him by his Christian name. He was usually “Mr. Darling” to her.
Unless it was “lummock” or “moron” or some other name that folks might consider an insult. He knew she was teasing when she did that.
He hoped she was teasing.
One of her shoulders lifted in a little shrug. “Must just be you I’m smelling, then.”
As they stood there side by side, he was achingly aware that her hand was brushing against his. Not so close as to be considered actually touching, but near enough to tease the dusting of hair on the back of his hand. He bit the inside of his cheek to contain himself.
Then Mercy nearly surprised the breeches off him. She slipped her fingers into his hand.
“Ye know what they say about dancing, don’t ye?” she whispered without looking at him.
He shook his head, then realized she couldn’t have seen that movement since she was still peering through the slit in the thick velvet curtains. “What do they say?”
She slanted a sly gaze at him. “That it’s all about using music as an excuse so folk can do upright what they’re thinking about doin’ lying down.”
Lying down? Reuben swallowed hard. All his muscles tensed up hard, too. Yes, indeed, hard described him just about everywhere.
Mercy looked up at him, her eyes enormous in the dimness. “I haven’t danced with a man in while.” She ran her little tongue over her bottom lip. “A long while.”
Reuben’s groin ached as he slipped a hand along the curve of her waist. “I don’t see as how we could do a reel here in this little space, but I collect we might manage that waltz thing if we take really small steps.”
Mercy made a low growl in the back of her throat. Then she dragged him out of the curtained balcony and into the narrow hall used only by the help. She didn’t stop there, pulling him behind her toward the back stairs.
“What about milady?” he asked.
“Milady’s fine. She’s a big girl,” Mercy said. “She can certainly manage a gentleman like Lord Nathaniel or I’m much mistook.”
Instead of heading down to the common room below stairs, Mercy began climbing the steps.
“We’re not going back to join the others?” Reuben asked.
“Then where are we going?”
She stopped on the step above him, turned around, and cupped his cheeks. Then she kissed him, right on the mouth.
It was hard and quick, a resounding bass drum bang of a kiss. It reverberated through him, clear to the soles of his feet.
“Ye’re a fine figure of a man, Reuben Darling, and we’re going to my room,” she said simply. “Now don’t ye say another word. Or I might just change my mind.”
Reuben purposed in his heart not to utter another sound, if his hope of heaven depended upon it.
He suspected it truly did.
© Mia Marlowe, 2013
Thanks for having me here today! Here’s a question to start the discussion in the comments. After their tryst, Mercy tells Reuben that she was just having a bit of fun, that their relationship is only physical. He tries to convince her that she deserves more. She deserves to be loved and he’s not coming to her bed again until she believes that. How do you think Reuben can show her he loves her without tumbling between her sheets again? What says “unconditional love” to you?
ONE NIGHT WITH A RAKE BY CONNIE MASON AND MIA MARLOWE – IN STORES JUNE 2013
For King and Country, Three Notorious Rakes Will Put All Their Seductive Skills to Work.
After All, The Fate of England's Monarchy is in Their Hands.
Since the death of his fiancée, Nathaniel Colton's polished boots have rested beneath the beds of countless wayward wives and widows of the ton. He's careful to leave each lady smiling, and equally careful to guard his heart. So seducing Lady Georgette should pose no problem. But the beautiful reformist is no easy conquest, and Nate's considerable charm fails to entice Georgette to his bed. To woo her, Nate will have to make her believe he cares about someone besides himself--and no one is more surprised than Nate when he realizes he actually does.
Praise for One Night with a Rake:
“Passionate interludes and scintillating twists and turns will entice historical fans.” —Publishers Weekly
“Mason and Marlowe pen another seductive winner... Lots of interesting characters, plenty of action and passionate, wicked adventures!” —RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Connie Mason is a New York Times bestselling author of more than 50 novels. She was named Storyteller of the Year in 1990 and received a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews in 1994. She currently lives in Florida. Mia Marlowe is a highly acclaimed new voice in romance whose debut novel released in Spring 2011 from Kensington. She lives in Boston. Together, they are working on the next book in the Royal Rakes series, Between a Rake and a Hard Place, which will be in stores in January 2014. For more information, please visit http://www.miamarlowe.com .
To Purchase One Night with a Rake
Mia is giving away one copy of Waking Up With a Rake(Book 1 in the Regency Rakes series) to one lucky person, answer Mia's question above and make sure to include your email address to be entered. Contest is open to US and Canada residents only. Winner will be drawn on July 3rd.