Category Archives: Snippets

Mondays are for Music: Track 08

I’m excited about today’s music post because the piece actually belongs to a scene that I just wrote the other day! And because  of my total lack of participation on this blog (for good reason. I’m getting a lot of work done!), I’ll share it with you. 🙂

By the time he entered the room, ribbons, bows, and wrappings littered the floor. Wentworth had said he bought gifts for both him and Luke. He failed to mention showering Luke with gifts. Everywhere Aiden looked there were female accessories and trinkets. Boots, stockings, hats, gloves, a red cloak lined with the fur of an arctic fox, a diamond brooch, and an array of soaps and perfumes all scattered across the settee she had abandoned as she opted for a seat on the floor.

“This is a bit unnecessary,” Aiden announced as he stepped over a pile of curled ribbon, “I much prefer to travel lightly.”

“You’re just a killjoy,” said Wentworth, handing his partner a gift wrapped in black paper.

Aiden turned the package in his hands a few times, uncomfortable with the anticipation displayed in the two seated on the floor.With a shrug he released the box of its packaging and upon reveal, shook his head, laughing.

“I thought I might save us some time,” Wentworth mused.

“Thanks,” Aiden replied, admiring the box, containing exactly two hundred bullets specifically designed for his pistols, “I do hate making the trip to stock up.”

“It’s my turn!” Luke exclaimed, pulling out the gift she had purchased for him. Aiden raised a brow and Wentworth pointed to his new emerald stickpin, showing it off proudly.

She stood, and with two hands and a hopeful smile, presented Aiden with his present, wrapped carefully in the exact shade of red that matched her gown and the inside of his collar (he was wearing that coat today, she noticed). He took it from her gently, never removing his gaze from hers, the image of her sleeping on the floor burned into his memory.

Nodding, he opened it, and when he pulled the riding gloves out from the paper, his breath caught and he nearly felt his heart stop.

Useless.

That was what his father had deemed him. A child with a stutter could be silenced, but a boy who feared horses could not learn to ride and would be of no use to him at all. He would never inherit the dukedom if he didn’t learn his place.

Gabrielle was screaming. He could hear her voice through the thick wood doors that was their father’s study. She yelled and pulled fits, demanding the man be less cruel, but in the end, the truth was that she was not his mother and held no power over his upbringing.

Sinking against the wall, seven year old Aiden sighed and frowned at the carpet. He shouldn’t be alive. Everyone would be much happier if he hadn’t ever been born.

“They’re having it out again, are they?”

Aiden looked up to see the elegant structure of his brother-in-law looking curiously at the doors.

“What’s he on about this time? Surely he knows by now that your speech is nothing to be frowned upon.”

“H-h-hors-horses.”

Micah St. Lawrence, the only man (save Fletcher) to ever look upon Aiden as a human being and a respectable member of society, frowned at this. “Horses? Have you let them go?”

When Aiden shook his head, his black hair falling over his eyes, Micah sighed. “I see. You are still fearful of them.”

The boy looked up at him, hurt reflecting in his eyes, and frustration visible on the lines of his brow. With a gentle smile, Micah crouched down to his level and with a smile, withdrew a pair of riding gloves. They were camel in colour, to match all of his earthy, yet bright attire.

“Do you see these?” he asked, not expecting a response from Aiden. He had learned to keep his questions rhetorical for the most part. “These just arrived today from the glover. There was a bit of an accident at the tannery, in which a wizard spilled a pot of magic dust over all the leather.”

Aiden perked up, his eyes becoming curious and filled with wonder. Did wizards exist? He had never seen one.

“The dust, so I was told, was meant to ease fear. The tanner intended to use it on the saddles, to keep horses from becoming too skittish, but alas, it fell all over the wrong leather.”

He took one of Aiden’s small hands and slid one of the oversized gloves onto it. “I will teach you to ride, and with these, I promise you will not be afraid.

“Let Gabrielle and your father have words. We shall visit the stables and pat my horse.”

With both hands lost inside of his new gloves, Aiden nodded and, walking closely beside the man he wished so dearly to be his father, anticipated proving himself worthy of inheritance.

“Do you like them, Mr. Finnegan?”

Aiden blinked, returning to the present and looking down at his gift. The backs had been embossed with his initials, just as his saddle was.

“You’re a busy man,” Luke went on, “and I noticed that you haven’t taken the time to purchase yourself new gloves, as badly as you need them.”

Wentworth chimed in then. “Perhaps you would like to take Miss Avery for a ride down the lane.”

Still off balance, Aiden merely hummed in agreement. “Of course,” he said, “I’ll be right down.”

He left the room, dazed, and when he stumbled slowly into his chambers, he rested his back against the door. He took a few breaths to calm himself, clutching the new gloves with white knuckles.

When his thoughts returned to him, he reached over to his wardrobe and pulled out the gloves he had worn for over twenty years. It was with these gloves that he had found his confidence and learned to ride. There had been no wizard, he learned that later on and Micah was even better a man than he was given credit for. He had faith in Aiden when no one did. He shared Gabrielle’s pride in him, and saw past his handicaps, knowing that beneath the stuttering and the fearful fits, he was still just a boy who needed love and tenderness like any other.

Steeling his nerves, Aiden brought the gloves over to the corner and, pulling out one of the miniatures, placed the image of Micah inside of them. It was time to move on.

“I won’t forget you,” he whispered, a promise more to himself than anyone.

Fletcher watched from the doorway, and when Aiden turned, he nodded in silent approval.

The Book of Luke completion progress: 42%

The Noble Project completion progress: 10%

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Mondays are for Music: Track 07

One thing that is important to know about Aiden is that he lives on Memory Lane. He is fueled by thoughts of his past, even though he swears up and down that he is unaffected by events prior to the present. But that is because he is a liar. He spends most, if not all of his time alone thinking on the years that have gone by, how they could have gone differently, and why they caused him to be what he is.

So today, I’ll give you a little bit of memory music and, since I haven’t in a while, a little scene to go with. I don’t have an exact place for this moment yet, but it will find its way.

A Message for the Queen (Remembering Marietta) from the film 300.

It reminded him of her. Of course it did. Everything reminded him of her. Aiden pushed his fingers into his hair and stared out into the night. It was cold outside and there was a steady breeze up on the roof that brought a chill to his bones, but still he sat there almost unmoving.

It had been ten years to the day tonight. Had he been a better man he would have been married for ten years tonight. He would have had a son. He’d be six.

Aiden had no desire for children and it was easy to say he didn’t even like them, but like every man, he had pride, and a part of upholding said pride is to bear a son. Children weren’t children for long (he certainly wasn’t) so for the short while that he had to deal with the screaming brat didn’t seem too bad in comparison to the glory that his son would carry on in his name.

Marietta wouldn’t have made a good mother. She wasn’t loving or tender towards children. She didn’t have any desire to destroy her perfect figure or to soil her hands with the dirty work of caring for a baby, but that was what nurses and governesses were for.

That would be it. One child. One son. Their life would have forever consisted of glittering balls, silks, feasts, flashing lights and the whirling, dizzying lifestyle of those most fortunate. He would have provided all of that for her. If there were anything that she ever felt a need for, she would have it. She was his sun, his center, his hope. She had been the only person that ever showed how much she truly cared, that she was honest and good to him, for him, that she was his forever, that she’d never leave like the others had.

But she lied.

So here he was, ten years later on the rooftop of a hidden house, still wondering why. He had it all. He did it all. Why would she leave him? It had been an entire decade and still he wanted to know. He couldn’t live without knowing. Not knowing is what had driven him to become what he was. Aiden Finnegan, The Black Duke. The Black Duke wasn’t a duke at all, but a man who once had the entire world at his disposal. Now he was left with nothing of his own. Now everything came with strings.

He remembered her face. He remembered the way she smiled at him and the way her bottom lip pulled down when she was worried. He remembered seeing her angry. There was something about her when she was angry that he found himself unable to resist. Marietta didn’t have hurricane like fits or large sweeping rants. She was quiet and icy, malicious and cruel. If ever there were a woman who used her position to gain advantage over her enemies, it was Marietta Grace.

But even as similar to Aiden as she was, that wasn’t the reason he loved her. Aiden loved Marietta because in his lowest of lows, she had been there to pick him up, to hold him and whisper her ever gentle, ‘I won’t leave you.’: the mantra that he clung to.

Even as a child she had understood him. She knew to tread delicately around his sour being and never did she consider speaking out of line. She sat before him, stitching lace or practicing her handwriting while she listened to him. Sometimes he wouldn’t say anything at all and neither would she. Simply being in the same room as her gave him peace of mind.

Marietta never challenged him. Aiden’s word was absolute and she knew it. She never whined, complained of even pouted unless the soft change in facial expression was carried out with intent to seduce him. She knew her place (naked, beneath him) and never thought to test it.

As a younger man, Aiden had been cocky. He wasn’t stupid. but he had been too self absorbed in his misery, and confident in his power to realize that there were bigger things going on than his fame and fortune.

Poor bastard. 😦


How to Charm a Lady – The Finnegan Way

Even though it is safe to say that Wentworth is the comic relief of this series, it is oftentimes the things that Aiden says that have me laughing the most. He’s just so uncaring and thoughtless in his speech, and most of his disdain is directed at women, leading me to wonder how it is he manages to find himself in the good graces of any of them.

But then, perhaps his attitude is his charm, so I gathered up a bunch of his words of wooing, but I don’t advise anyone to tuck them away as pickup lines. Someone might call the police.

“Do not mistake favoritism for friendship,” he snarled, tightening his grip, “you mean one thing to me.”

He scoffed, crossing his arms and leaning up against the wall. “You? I thought only I could make you tremble in fear.”

“I won’t save you. Should Xander choose to kill you, I will find another with your talents.”

“Are you ill, Miss?”

Luke nodded and Aiden let out a disgusted grunt. “Brilliant start to a new life as a delicate lady, don’t you think?”

Snapping her head up and forcing back a cry of pain, she glowered at him. “I have never been on a boat before,” she said testily.

“It’s a ship,” he corrected blandly.

“It will be easier to be rid of your fleas.”

“Curiosity is healthy.” She was gripping the edge of the ship now, leaning backwards, her heels the only things keeping her vertical. She really was a child.

“It kills cats, I hear,” he replied, with little emotion.

    “I have never considered myself a gentleman, Miss Avery.”

“I’ve half a mind to let you stay there,” he replied, checking his timepiece, “but fortunately for you, I am not permitted to leave you in dirty barns.”

    Luke grabbed the back of Aiden’s jacket and tugged hard, letting out a low hiss. “Are you on good terms with anyone?”

His reply was short and simple. “No.”

Aiden nodded, but dismissed her father quickly. “I wasn’t aware that you were literate.”

Offended, Luke’s eyebrows knit together as she frowned and spun around, giving him her back. “That is very rude,” she said, dipping the nib fiercely into the blotter.

“I am rarely polite,” he said offhandedly.

“People don’t marry for love, Miss Avery,” he said coldly, staring up at her

    “You trust me.”

She nodded and he lit another cigarette.

“Then I will be your undoing, Miss Avery.”

“Arrogance is in my blood,” he told her, “it’s the Finnegan way, you see.”

“You’d never be able to learn,” he said, moving to stand behind her. Without much thought, he leaned over, stretching his arms over her shoulders, and placing his large, weathered hands over her own petite ones, “Your hands are too small.”

Aiden noticed her discomfort and smiled. “Come now, Miss Avery. Do not tell me you’ve never been victim to a proper flogging.”

“Did you shoot your father?”

With one hand on the small of her back, he nudged her forward. He had no more use for this room.

“No, I poisoned him.”

“I had no brothers,” he replied, a flat fact. “and if you even so much as think to to hold me accountable for my sister’s death, I will splatter your insides down these stairs.”

Ah, what a ladies man.


Mondays are for Music: Track 04

When my parents went to Las Vegas almost ten years ago, they brought me back something very exciting. The soundtrack to Cirque du Soleil’s O. Alright, so my dad bought the soundtrack for himself, but he was very eager to share it with me and I’m so glad that he did. Though I didn’t get a chance to see it when I went to Vegas two summers ago, the music from that show has, hands down, been one of the biggest influences in my writing.

I’ll admit that a lot of writing I got done to O was not words of The Noble Project. I was in high school, and in the midst of an epic fantasy with fairy princesses, banished mermaids, and of course, the innocent human who gets himself tangled up in love with said princess.

I know. Gag, right?

In any case, the point is that all of this music really drives me to write, but there is one piece in particular that really spoke of The Noble Project and I am so happy to include it in the unofficial ST.

This track, Simcha, (re-named The First City/The Whorehouse) is a super fun piece that accompanies our trio as they journey off the ship (I know we’re going back a ways here haha) and into the city where Glendale’s tavern is located. It is filled with dancing and wonder as Luke takes in all the new sights:

The city was bustling with people of all sorts, much unlike her town. In her village, everyone had been set in their ways and the ways of their parents before them and their parents before them. Here, it seemed as if people had made their own choices. Women were laughing, men were hauling goods across the streets, and small children were chasing cats and dogs. Musicians sat on the corners, strumming their strings and beating away at various percussive instruments, their hats turned upward, a silent request for a bit of silver.

“This is wonderful!” Luke cried out to Wentworth who was riding carefully alongside her.

“The sun does know how to shine,” he agreed, raising his voice against the noise of the streets.

This was something Luke hadn’t considered. By the sea, this city had the wonderful advantage of having the sun visible at all hours of the day. It reflected off of the ocean’s glassy surface and radiated through the very streets, unlike her own town, where smoke hung thick over the rooftops and caked itself onto the very walls that made up their houses.

“Ah, but there are places far more beautiful than this pit!” Wentworth called to her, giving Rosie’ s reins a small flick and trotting on ahead.

But as the song comes to a close (and I could ask Mr. Frenchie the proper musical term for this, but I’m lazy), it gives a more mystical, slightly haunting feel that melts off oh-so-perfectly as they enter the decrepit old tavern:

When the door shut behind them, Luke felt the brightness of the sun leave her body as autumn leaves are blown from the branches by a gust of wind. There was no light here, not any that gave way to daily living and the cheer from the streets dissipated with each step that she and the blonde man beside her took.

As awkward as she felt in this unknown place, it was Wentworth that stood out. The walls of this place were made of stone, the beams and tables of dark, aged woods. The men that sat at them wore dark breeches, worn to the threads, and dirty linen shirts. Beards, it seemed, were a requirement for entrance. Additionally, every man here was thick. They were huge men, akin to bears if she were going to make such a comparison.

Wentworth, on the other hand, had donned himself in silver today, his buttons a shining onyx, and the embroidered fairy tale scene of his topcoat all varying shades of periwinkle, royal, and navy blues. His boots today were black (his favourite mahogany pair clashed something fierce with the cool tones of the day), and Luke was almost certain it was a real sapphire that was nestled at his neck today.

Despite his obvious overdressing, no one seemed to notice the flamboyant gentleman. Or perhaps they were making a point of avoiding eye contact. Whatever it was, no one was interested in bothering them.

“Where are we?” Luke whispered to him, holding his arm tightly.

The door slammed open, then shut again, and Aiden marched past them, barking an order at the bartender. The man made a few short hand gestures and Aiden crossed his arms, waiting.

“We’ll just be stopping here for a few days,” Wentworth replied cheerily, helping Luke up into a high stool at the bar, “to gather supplies and chart our course, those sorts of things.”

Luke looked around wearily. Aesthetically it didn’t look much different than her father’s tavern. It was a bit bigger, and slightly darker, but really, a tavern was a tavern. This place, however, did not have a homely feel. It was cold and damp and smelled of fish. No one was smiling here, save Wentworth, and even the rats that scurried across the floor were giant beasts of a rodent.

“We’ll be staying here?” she asked, watching as a drunk man drank his last for the day and with a grunt, fell off his chair, unconscious.

And there you have it. Track 04. Have a listen. You’ll like it. 🙂


Recap: 30% Progress

Whee! This morning I reached my estimated 30% mark! This is very exciting because reaching any checkpoint is a whole lot of fun. As I did with the 15%, I’m going to post a recap from 15%-30% and we’ll see what’s been happening that we may not have touched upon here.

Luke discovers that Aiden is in the good graces of very few people:

“They like Mr. Simon don’t they?” she asked cheekily. While the girls had clearly expressed their sensual opinions on Aiden, it was clear that Wentworth was the crowd favourite. Luke understood that easily.

The bartender scratched his balding head. “Simon, yeah. They get themselves dressed up all pretty when he comes to town.”

“I’ll bet,” Luke murmured, “and I’m sure they’re all dying for Mr. Finnegan to get his hands on them.” She paused to let out a humorless snort, “I’m sure he’s something to swoon over.”

When the man before her failed to see the sardonic laughter in her tone, she let the smile fade from her face. The bartender’s features darkened and his breathing quickened. Luke had gotten too comfortable.

“That man,” he said lowly, his fingertips shaking as he reached for the large mug the brunette had rejected, “Finnegan.”

A freezing sensation shot through her bones at that moment as she watched his eyes burn with a silent fury.

“I hate that man,” he said, his nose wrinkling up in disgust at the mere thought of him, “fucking son of Satan himself.”

They were the strongest words against a man that Luke had ever heard spoken. With her father considered a disgrace to their community, and her mother not in a socially acceptable state of mind, she had heard it all.

[…]

Though the man looked as if he might either spit fire or hurl his ale across the room, he didn’t. Instead, he took a long swig.

“I had a daughter once,” he said quietly, “wife too.”

Luke licked her lips and scooted forward on the stool. ‘Had’ and ‘once’ were generally terms used by folks who no longer possessed such assets.

“Were they taken by the Infection?”

His strong hand came over hers then and she jumped. He squeezed her hard, but he was trembling. “They were taken by him,” he hissed, “hired me, he did, to do an impossible task. When I failed, he took them.”

Aiden displays some more trigger happiness:

Mr. Espott chose not to respond to this, finally turning his attention to Luke.

Who is this?” he asked, tucking the scissors underneath his right arm while he grabbed her chin with his bony left hand, “your daughter?”

“No.”

“No, of course not. You aren’t so old.” He moved down, grabbing the extra fabric at her waist. “Dress is too big,” he murmured. His eyes traveled up to her hair and his already critical face became puzzled. “What happened to your hair?”

Luke lifted her arm and thrust her arm out at Aiden. “He cut it off!”

“Cut it off, you say?” He turned to Aiden, “why on Earth would you do that?”

Aiden waved a dismissive hand, “If you think she’s in an unfortunate state now, you should have seen what she looked like when we found her.”

Mr. Espott straightened, giving the girl another once over, but not revealing his opinion. “So this is how you treat your women then, truly? It is no wonder she left.”

There it was again, the trigger that Aiden needed. But with the shining silver pistol pointed directly at his forehead, the dressmaker didn’t even flinch.

“So it’s true then,” he whispered, “you have changed.”

“You will mind your tongue,” came the low response from the man behind the weapon.

One of the seeds of Aiden’s past is planted:

Something hard and heavy settled in Luke’s stomach then.

“He loved her, didn’t he?”

“Loved her?” he asked, shaking his head, “Yes. And then… she destroyed him.”

There was a silence in the room as Luke took a breath that shuttered through her corset, but didn’t quite reach her lungs. She wanted to ask. She wanted to know why, and how. She wouldn’t get those answers today, because Mr. Espott had already begun to dress her in various fabrics, his quiet, yet quick pace a signal that he was through speaking on the subject.

They arrive at the first safe house:

Aiden parted ways with them once inside, and Wentworth made a point of showing Luke around to all of the main rooms of the house. Drawing rooms, dining rooms, sitting rooms and observatories. There were music rooms and libraries, a kitchen larger than her father’s entire tavern, and even a ballroom, though she had been told that it was never used anymore.

“That’s a shame,” she said, frowning as she made a couple of hops across the floor, “I would love to have a ball.”

“And someday you shall,” Wentworth answered, leading her back into the hallway, “but for now, we have to do our best to keep out of range of those associated with the Infection.”

Luke sighed, scuffing the marble with her feet, “Do you really think they are looking for us?”

Of course not. He didn’t say it, he couldn’t say it. It wasn’t the Infection they need be worried about, it was the king and his men. He had vowed ten years ago that he would find Aiden and bring him to justice. Wentworth knew Cale wasn’t the sort of man to back down. He would hunt as long as Aiden would run.

Luke finally learns a bit about Marietta Grace:

Fletcher rubbed his forehead. “She disappeared. The day of the wedding, just vanished. –Poof,” he made a small exploding gesture with his knobby hands, “her maids, gowns, jewels, even her carriage. All gone. No one saw her leave.”

Luke furrowed her brow. “Why? What did he do?”

“Aiden has never been a good man,” Fletcher replied, “know that. But there was nothing, nothing done to Miss Grace to make her flee. She was his world, the only thing keeping him sane. His only drive in life was making her happy.”

“A-and she just left?”

“He was already at the altar when they found out. He waited for three days, no food, no drink, no sleep. We all tried to get him down, but he refused, claiming that she would show.”

As the memory flooded Fletcher’s mind, he closed his eyes, steadying himself. “He lost all touch with humanity that day. Whatever shred of a man was left in his soul tore itself away and he became this,” he waved his hand around the room, “this monster.”

     “Mr. Espott believes in him,” Luke said softly, “do you?”

“I’ve learned to adapt to his elevated fury,” Fletcher admitted, “but I would very much like to see the man who was simply bitter. Do I think I will? No. Not in this lifetime.”

Philip Avery visits his estranged wife:

Inhaling deeply, Philip pressed his palm to his forehead. He shouldn’t be thinking of such terrible things (but how could he not?) when he was here in this house. He was here to tell her. He was here to see her.

He was here to remember.

Her voice broke through his silence then, followed by Tommy’s frantic footsteps and the slamming open of the drawing room doors.

“Philip!”

A half frightened, fully forced smile appeared on his face as he turned to her, expecting to see what everyone assumed to be true: a crazed, frizzy haired woman with eyes as wild as the corner preachers and clothes tattered and unkempt. What he did not expect, was the vision of a woman before him.

Isabella Avery, the woman that had once been his best friend, his wife, his savior stood before him in all of the radiance of a new bride. Her hair had been done up in an elaborate coiffure, her gown was not of the finest materials, but what Philip believed to be the most fashionable design. Her eyes shone brightly, a blueish grey, and the way she strode across the room made him to believe that if he had any interest in women, he would want nothing more than this one back in his home.

“Oh Philip!” She cried, taking his hands and squeezing them gently. “It has been far too long!”

She’s crazy.

Isabella smoothed out her skirts and, taking a calming breath, smiled at his back. “You are welcome to stay here, Philip. If being at home is too difficult.”

“Thank you,” he said, sniffing and dabbing at his eyes, “but I would hate to impose.”

“It’s no imposition,” she argued, “I would be honored to have a great friend such as yourself under my roof.”

He let out a sardonic chuckle. “My apologies, Izzy, but it might be a bit awkward for your lover to visit with you and your husband.”

The light laugh that floated through the room hit him with a pang of nostalgia and when he faced her again, her face was bright with amusement, as if he had told a joke.

“Oh Philip, don’t be ridiculous. Cale is a good husband. I would never dream of taking a lover.”
,
So they were back to that.

Knowing that he wouldn’t be able to advance in his quest, not with her help, he smiled back at her. “Of course not,” he said quickly, “your husband loves you very much.”

“He does, doesn’t he?” she mused, laughing again.

 More than you know, Philip thought, allowing Tommy to lead him out of the room. They would leave now, and he wouldn’t return. He couldn’t play with her, not when their daughter was in danger. Isabella didn’t remember, and as much as it pained him, for her, perhaps it was best that way.

We are given a nugget of information:

“I’m not restless,” said Aiden, pulling off his riding gloves, worn from years of use, “this simply is not productive.”

“It’s hard to imagine you bored here, my friend,” Wentworth chuckled, throwing out his arms, and putting the estate on display “you were born into this! Enjoy it for the sake of nostalgia.”

Aiden’s face turned stony and his hands clenched. “There is nothing nostalgic about it.”

“My apologies,” said Wentworth, holding up his hands, though they both knew there was nothing apologetic about his words. “I was never a duke, so I suppose I wouldn’t know.”

“You’re walking a thin line,” he was warned. At mention of the title he once held, Aiden grew, if possible, even more bitter about their stay in the estate.

But Wentworth merely sighed and smiled, peering into his teacup and then frowning when he realized he had drank it all.

Luke delivers a below the belt punch:

“I can’t marry without love,” she replied softly, to which Aiden began to chuckle bitterly. She immediately shot him a look of disgust as she stood, picking up her sketchbook to leave.

“People don’t marry for love, Miss Avery,” he said coldly, staring up at her. He wouldn’t let her walk out just yet. There was a fire inside him, a growing need to destroy something, and she had so conveniently landed before him.

But then, she said something quite unexpected.

“You did.”

Aiden’s silence was heavy. So heavy in fact that the entire room seemed to be crushing down on the three. Even Wentworth had nothing to say. Luke knew that the words she had spoken were uncalled for. She also knew that she would have to begin defending herself quickly if she wanted to succeed with this man.

Standing before him, she leveled her gaze to his and set her jaw. He wasn’t going to escape anymore. She wouldn’t let him behave like a boorish hermit, treating her like dust hidden beneath his carpets. They stood like that for some time and when Luke finally turned to leave, she left him with just one word.

“Almost.”

Aiden lets us know just what type of romance these two will have:

Luke lifted her chin. “I trust no one.”

Lowering himself to her, Aiden reached out and took her face into one of his hands with little regard for her personal comfort.

“You trust everyone,” he breathed, squeezing her jaw before he shoved her away and turned, lighting up a cigarette, “that is the difference between us.”

“I trust you.”

The words came out as a whisper, a small accusation that crept its way underneath Aiden’s coat and up his spine. He’d never heard those words before. As he inhaled, he imaged what sort of expression she was making and wondered why he felt a pang of familiarity each time he looked at her. She hadn’t said anything further, nor was she making an effort to leave.

He stood for some time, contemplating her, while she kept herself against the wall, pondering his reactions to her words. When his cigarette was finished, he let it fall from his lips and onto the tiled floor where he crushed it with his boot. Someone would clean it.

He looked to her, and sure enough, she was just as he had left her.

“You trust me.”

She nodded and he lit another cigarette.

“Then I will be your undoing, Miss Avery.”

Aiden is still trying to know why she looks so familiar:

“Have we met?”

The question caught her off guard and she whipped around, giving him a rather puzzled look. “Excuse me?”

She didn’t seem to mind at all that he was half naked now. Her complexion had returned to normal, her jaw was steeled as it often was when he was speaking to her, and there was no trembling in her fingers.

“Mr. Finnegan, I do believe that I would remember meeting someone like you.”

“Ah, so I am memorable.”

Since when did he partake in banter?

“I’d say so,” she snorted, “no one broods the way you do.”

But as usual, Luke diverts the conversation:

    Aiden bit back a curse. He was unused to showing his bare torso. The women he laid with rarely got the pleasure of feeling his flesh as he devoured theirs, and Fletcher never commented on his body when he was bathing. He had nearly forgotten about the marks he had acquired over the years.

Absently, he brought one of his hands up over his shoulder and felt. They were there, raised and silky, as scars often are. There were more than what he could feel, far more than he wanted to admit. Some were thick and jagged, some thin and delicate, crisscrossing over each other in a deranged display of lattice work. There were others, larger imperfections that had once been series of welts, but over the years, had faded into ugly patches of pink.

“How did you get those?” Luke pressed, her voice still low, with a hint of dark wonder.

Aiden drew his hand from his skin and, without much thought, undid the first button of his breeches. He was through with her. Her eyes widened and her breath hitched. She took a single step back, but otherwise made no motion to leave.

“They were a punishment,” he told her, “and that is all you need know.”

“One punishment?”

There was doubt in her voice that he didn’t like. He undid the second button. She spun around and inhaled sharply.

“We’ve never met,” she confirmed, keeping her head high and her thoughts clear. He was taunting her, mocking her, manipulating her. She heard the third button release and she let out a humorless laugh.

“Really Mr. Finnegan, when was the last time you were in my town?”

As she closed the door behind her, retreating into the safety of her own proper bedchamber, where there were no naked brutes to torment her, Aiden considered her words. She was right. When had been the last time he had been so far North?

Peeling his breeches from his body, he shook his head. The last time he had been up there had been well over  a decade ago. He didn’t even remember what he had gone for.

🙂 Lots of fun snippets that are enjoyable now, but a lot of them are actually foreshadowing for more important complications later on. I do hope you are enjoying everything!

Book of Luke completion progress: 30%

The Noble Project completion progress: 7%


October Goal: Complete!

Huzzah! I’ve met my word count for October! Halfway through the month, I’m feeling pretty good about that. That also means that whatever comes out until November is bonus material and will put me ahead overall. Woop woop!

I want to show a little bit of Luke’s father, Philip. I’ve been showing off a lot of Luke and Aiden interactions, but as fun and insulting as those two may be, the reality is that she was stolen. Right out from under her father’s nose. The man is on the verge of a total breakdown, but he knows something that we don’t. 🙂

Philip Avery sat at the bar staring into his ale. His eyes were bloodshot and his face was drawn. His normally trimmed beard had grown wild and unmanageable, and his knuckles whitened as he held one of his hands in a fist.

It had been almost two weeks since his daughter had gone missing, and there was little that his fellow townsfolk were offering to help.

Tommy laid a gentle hand on his arm, taking a seat next to him.

“You should sleep,” he said softly, “robbing yourself of  your health is not going to bring her home any faster.”

Philip took a ragged breath and closed his eyes. “They think I am mad.”

And they did. When Tommy and Philip had first run from the tavern after the men in cloaks, the townsfolk thought nothing of it. No one took kindly to strangers, and these men had a business to keep afloat. When Luke never came home, Philip began to ramble on about her captors and not much of it made any sense.

It was a beast that had taken her, he insisted. A giant brute of a man whom he had encountered before. They laughed at him. Even Tommy was unsure about the truth his parter was spewing. He didn’t voice his doubts as bluntly as everyone else, but Philip knew.

“Are you certain it was him?”

Philip nodded. “Yes. I would recognize that man anywhere.”

Tommy sighed quietly and took up a mug of ale himself. “So he’s back then.”

“It’s just as I’ve been saying,” Philip said, his voice a jaded, bitter whisper, “the Black Duke has returned.”

Because of his situation, he is coerced by Tommy to visit his wife, Isabella, and explain what has happened to their daughter. The only thing is, Isabella is, in short, barking mad.

Reaching over the small table, Philip took hold of her wrist, preventing her from leaving the room. “Isabella. Calm down.”

“Let go of me, Philip,” she said evenly, “we may have been married once, but my king is in danger. I must go to him.”

“I never divorced you.” His normally friendly and inviting eyes were now cold and harsh baring down on her. “You are still my wife.”

Expertly, she pulled her wrist free and hurriedly crossed the room. “I’m sorry!” she called back to him.

Tommy moved to soothe Philip, but he pushed him aside, reaching for Isabella’s arm again, and pulling her from the doorway. With a crushing grip on her elbow, he stared her down.

“My daughter is missing,” he growled, “Your child has been kidnapped and all you can think about is your imaginary lover! Get ahold of yourself, woman!”

“Philip,” Tommy said, coming up behind him, “it’s not her fault.”

“Cale loves me,” she protested weakly.

“He doesn’t even know who you are,” Philip whispered, pleading with her to come to her senses. “You’ve never met him.”

Finally allowing himself to be wrenched away from her, he watched her reaction from a few feet away, thankful for the strong hand Tommy kept on his shoulder.

“I can’t help you,” she said, lip trembling, “I don’t know what you want from me.”

“I don’t want your help,” he told her truthfully, “I just want you to remember.”

I absolutely adore Isabella. She’s generally quite comical, her infatuation with the king balancing out the heavy romance (if that’s what you want to call it) between her daughter and, the Black Duke himself. 🙂 In fact, the third book in this series is going to focus around Isabella’s obsession, Philip’s determination to find Luke, and Cale, the poor weak, sickly king who finds himself tangled in this fierce family drama. But we will save that for later.

For now, I’ll end this with a doodle.

Aiden has to hold his compositions tightly because Luke likes to peek at them. She can’t read music, but he is sensitive because they aren’t finished.

Book of Luke completion progress: 28%

The Noble Project completion progress: 7%


Snooping Around

Luke Avery is a troublemaker. She doesn’t mean to be, she is just curious. Curiosity often leads her to trouble but there’s just no getting around that with her. Naturally, with Mr. Espott having fed her the piece about Aiden’s long lost love, she just can’t help herself. She needs to know.

She can’t ask Aiden. She’s only know him for a little over a week and she’s seen him pull a gun on about twelve people. It’s unlikely he’d be willing to share his dark secrets with her.

And then there is Wentworth. He’s always rather cheery and open with her, so she decides to see what he can teach her.

When they arrived at the main foyer again, Luke held back slightly. “Mr. Simon, may I ask you something?”

He turned to her with a cheeky look of curiosity. “Anything my dear.”

She took a breath and glanced up at the giant portrait of a woman she didn’t know. “What can you tell me about Marietta Grace?”

For the first time in his career, Wentworth paled and found himself rooted to the ground. There wasn’t a single witty retort he could come up with. With labored breath, he swallowed.

“How do you know about Marietta Grace?” he whispered, his hand coming up around her upper arm and squeezing tightly, “What do you know?”

Luke could sense his fear and she knew he wouldn’t speak on the matter. This issue was taboo, she was now discovering and even though Wentworth was playing friend, he would not confide in her.

“I know that Mr. Finnegan was in love with her,” she replied quietly, not taking her eyes from the painting of what looked to have once been the lady of the house, “and that she did something terrible.”

“Keep your curiosity at bay,” he warned, removing his hand from her arm. With a nervous laugh, his checked his timepiece. “Goodness! It’s late. I’ve some affairs to tend to, Miss Avery. You should entertain yourself for a while. Perhaps you might enjoy the conservatory at this hour.”

Eh, well, not much luck there. It’s too bad for both Aiden and Wentworth that he wasn’t able to conjure up a quick dismissive story. Being taken by surprise will do that to a person, I suppose. This is where the story starts getting complicated for all involved. The more truth that Luke knows, the more difficult it will be for the pair of con men to do their job productively. But otherwise we wouldn’t have much of a story, would we?

Now because she wasn’t able to obtain the information she wanted by asking, Luke decides to do something a little risky. Wentworth did tell her to entertain herself for a while, didn’t he?

So what better way to keep busy than to search Aiden’s personal belongings?

With a light hop, she dashed back to lock her door, then threw open the one that connected the two rooms. Heart pounding, she stepped inside. She’d never been inside a man’s bedchamber before and even she knew the social repercussions to be had if she were caught.

She walked slowly, taking in all of the dark woods and masculine fabrics. The door locked with a definitive click and she turned, scanning the room for something, anything that might help her.

There wasn’t much.

Everything was in its place. His clothes had been put away into the wardrobe, the vanity was arranged perfectly, waiting patiently to prepare a gentleman for dinner. Drumming her fingers against her cheek, Luke pursed her lips.

And then she saw them.

Tucked away in a corner, stacked in a pile, were three bags. They hadn’t been touched and they hadn’t been unpacked. Of course they hadn’t. She recognized those bags. Aiden had fitted Jeremiah with them on a few occasions and they had sat, just as they did now, in the corner of the room in Glendale’s tavern.

Hurrying over to the corner, Luke grabbed the canvas and pulled, hauling them across the floor. She tossed them up onto the bed, clambering up to follow, and after rubbing her hands together in anticipation, she dug in.

The first was boring. Clothes, mostly. They hadn’t been placed in the wardrobe and she imagined this was an emergency bag. He was a dangerous sort of man, so naturally he would have to be prepared for things to go sour. Her heart fluttered at this. He had probably been on many adventures in places she only dreamed of.

The second was filled with maps and tools used for making them. There was one pocket filled entirely with money, more money than Luke had ever seen at one time. Another was filled with ink and parchment, some of which had halfway finished compositions written on them. So he played the piano.

He wrote music.

The third bag was smaller and held his personal items. She found the idea of Aiden even having anything he held dear to him strange, and these were the things she was most interested in. She puled it closer to her, reaching in and first pulled out four miniatures.

The first miniature was of a man whom she didn’t recognize. The second, a beautiful woman who resembled Aiden. Turning it over, she found no date, name, or other marking. Was this his mother?

Setting that aside, she picked up the third and was shocked and tickled to find that it was of the king. He had  been much younger then, probably about the age she was now. He was a handsome man, with kind eyes and a bright smile that suggested the zeal he had for his life. Seeing this, Luke’s heart grew heavy. She doubted he possessed that smile now. From what she had heard, his illness had robbed so much of his strength that he was pushed around in a wheeled chair to keep from fainting.

These musings led her to thoughts of her mother, Isabella, who wasn’t dying, but had become something completely unlike herself.

Shaking solemn thoughts from her mind, she reached for the last miniature and wasn’t at all taken by surprise.

Marietta.

There she was, in all of her glory. It wasn’t a portrait like the others, no. This was so typical of Aiden. It was a nude, but it was painted with such class and beauty that it took Luke’s breath away. This what was what a real lady looked like.

Feeling slightly discouraged, she reached in the bag for other things Aiden carried.

Letters.

The envelopes were unaddressed, and the seal was broken, denoting that Aiden had already read them. Carefully, Luke slipped one from the envelope and unfolded it. The paper was faded, and the creases were so thin, it was clear that he made a habit of reading them frequently.

For years.

They were love letters, sent to him from his dearest Marietta. They were filled with jokes, news, gossip, sweet nothings, and occasional hints of something slightly filthy.

“So this was Marietta Grace,” she whispered, reading each one carefully. Never, not in any of the words gracefully painted on the page did she make mention of unhappiness or distress. She wanted him as badly as he was in love with her. There were no notes of his cruelness, nothing stating that he had a vicious temper or had made her feel less than him in any way.

Aiden had been wronged here. If nothing else, Luke believed this.

Being the romantic that she is, she’s putting together a story in her mind that may hold very little truth, and out of pity, we will start to see her fascination with the dark Aiden Finnegan start to become something more akin to sympathetic affection.

No good will come of this. 🙂

Book of Luke completion progress: 23%

The Noble Project completion progress: 6%