First Page: unpublished manuscript – Historical Romance (victorian)
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Blush of a half-drunk glass of rose wine left perilously close to the window’s edge where her arched foot had grasped the mahogany sill at moments of untempered pleasure. Blush on her thigh where his hand slipped from a caress to a slap that made her gasp with disconcerting shivers. Blushed echo of candlelight on a single teardrop amethyst earring that dropped to the floor with distracted abandonment.
Blush on her cheek when she caught her own disheveled hair in the first reflected morning light, bringing the hazy focus of day to the evening prior’s exertions. Never in her nineteen years of pristinely mannered boarding schools and white-gloved riding lessons had she imagined the rose of heat rising from a lover’s first kiss. Not until Tremont Montclare stormed into her father’s parlor three evenings ago with a pretense of dispute in the trades of his family land and a sidelong eye for the magistrate’s virgin second daughter.
Catreen Carlow was plain by any ambitious eye. Shorter and slighter than her eldest sister, greyer eyes than her sassy younger sister, not as regal in bearing as her father had hoped, a shade less winsome than it might take to win the hand of a suitably groomed admirer. Or so she had been made to believe. She looked, in short, like her dead mother, her father’s second wife: not her father’s first choice, neither the lasting choice. Her mother died in the ignoble moment of birthing her, and her father had remarried three months later to one who could survive both the bearing of his children and the raising of those he had already borne. His father hardly gave her a second glance since, and she was raised equally by her diffident nannies and then indifferent nuns. At nineteen she had outgrown boarding school and had only home to return to, so under the blooming apple trees of late spring she arrived to a house neither welcoming nor hostile. The household of father and sisters and stepmother and assorted maidservants and field hands had hardly noticed her come.
But Tremont had noticed her arrival.