Exclusive Excerpt for Cheshire Cat April 21st tour stop
Lily squeezed her hands into fists. How she ever thought herself in love with Mr. Henry Dalton, she didn’t know. “You are so sure that a woman wrote it, sir?”
His eyebrows lifted over his steel-gray eyes, unnerving her further. She could only wait in furious silence for his reply.
“Yes. Men don’t believe in trapping themselves, and if they did, they surely wouldn’t write a play, giving a woman the idea of how to go about doing it.”
She scoffed, distracted from the mortification of having her compilation read out loud to a group of men and women, some of whom she’d only just met. “Please, Mr. Dalton, must you voice everything you think aloud? It’s quite depressing.”
His mouth opened, but he only managed to stare down at her until she twisted around, determined to ignore him. Since Henry had come to stand close to her, she’d been unable to concentrate, much less comprehend how Miss Appleton had found her plays. For the sake of remaining anonymous, however, she had to keep quiet and composed.
“I believe I should play Miss Gravehart and Mr. Dalton should play Mr. Mortimer,” Miss Appleton pronounced across the room.
“Oh, dear God,” Henry mumbled behind Lily’s back. If she hadn’t been so ready to faint, she might have laughed.
Jane, to Lily’s relief, rose to salvage the disastrous turn of events. “I dare say, Miss Appleton, you are too bold in your requests. Since I am the hostess here, I shall make up the rules, and I say there will be a drawing to see who plays Miss Gravehart and Mr. Mortimer. Are there any objections?”
Lily glanced around, along with everyone else.
“Very well. I shall write ‘Miss Gravehart’ on one piece of paper and ‘Mr. Mortimer’ on another. The rest shall remain blank. Whoever draws the two characters will rehearse and then perform before my guests.”
Of the men, Henry alone refused to draw a card. The winner, of sorts, turned out to be Mr. Waverley. Lily thought of refusing to draw, as well, until she began to fear Henry would assume she wasn’t playing because he wasn’t playing. Pompous.
So, she pulled the card and bent her head, finding the familiar name scribbled on the front.
“It’s all right, Lily,” Jane assured her with a smile. Lily didn’t know what to think of her friend’s relationship with Mr. Waverley anymore. It appeared not even to exist.
“Is this what you’ve hoped for, Miss Scott? To play Mr. Waverley’s lover?” Henry leaned down to whisper.
She turned and blinked at him for a good moment. If she allowed herself to, she might think him jealous. She inhaled and smiled. “Yes, sir. Since I met your friend, less than twenty-four hours ago, I’ve had visions of entrapping him in a loveless marriage where we should aspire to have thirteen children, most of them boys, one of whom we are sure to name after you!”
They glared at each other, her heart pounding with frustration and from the warmth of his breath glancing across her skin. Then, she curtsied and left him to join Mr. Waverley.
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