Short blurb: When a runaway heiress masquerades as a seamstress, she complicates the life of a tortured barrister who specializes in rescuing females in distress. Can he save her from a disaster of her own making or will the past repeat itself?
In this excerpt, Stephen shows up at the dress shop on a rainy spring day with a basket of flowers.
He handed her the basket of flowers, then shrugged out of his coat and handed it and his hat to Peggy O’Shea. She gave him a flirtatious smile in return before hanging the wet items on a nearby rack.
Elinor stepped forward. “Flowers, Mr. Chaplin?”
He turned toward her. “Ah, Mrs. Brown. Yes, I thought these spring blossoms just the thing to brighten Madame Latour’s shop on such a dismal day.”
“How very kind you are,” said Ellie. “But an entire basketful?”
He smiled. “The young girl selling them was in despair over the lack of customers. She appeared to be almost drowned and nearly in tears, so I bought all she had, including the basket.”
“And paid far more than they were worth, I am certain,” Elinor murmured.
“Did you say something, Mrs. Brown?” he asked with a raised brow.
“Nothing of importance.”
He rummaged through the basket and produced a nosegay of bluebells, which he presented to Dolly. “These are for you, to match your eyes.”
Her blue eyes grew wide with wonder as she accepted the nosegay. “Oh, sir, no one ever give me flowers afore.”
“Well, I am certain this will not be the last time,” he said gallantly. Ignoring Dolly’s worshipful look, he returned to the basket for another nosegay, white violets this time, which he gave to Peggy.
She bobbed him a curtsy. “Oh, thank ye, yer lordship.”
He gave her a warm smile. “You are very welcome, Miss O’Shea. But I am not a lord, merely a mister.”
“No matter. ’Tis a fine gentleman ye are, to be thinking of us working girls.”
“Girls, why do you not go on home?” Mimi asked. “You have all worked so very hard today, and there will be no more customers, n’est-ce-pas?”
With glad smiles for Mimi, and more thanks and curtsies for Stephen Chaplin, the girls donned their cloaks and left the shop.
“I will get a vase for these lovely flowers,” Mimi said. “Please come into the parlor, Monsieur Chaplin, and warm yourself by the fire. I have made the coffee and there is water for tea.”
“Thank you,” Stephen Chaplin said. He delved into the basket one last time before handing it to Mimi. As she left the room, he handed Elinor a bunch of purple violets.
Elinor held them to her nose and breathed in the sweet, delicate fragrance. “‘A violet in the youth of primary nature, forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting,’” she quoted.
“‘The perfume and suppliance of a minute; no more,’” he added softly.
Startled, she gazed into his warm honey-brown eyes and her pulse began to race. She would have to guard her heart around this man? Why did he have to have such an effect on her? Was it simply because he was the only eligible gentleman she had ever known?
No, a gentleman who brought flowers to poor shop girls and quoted Shakespeare was surely out of the ordinary. What a catch he would be for some young lady. But of course, not for her.
Lady Elinor’s Escape is available at Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00CHSNEII
What’s your spring flower?