Today, for Fiction Friday, I’m running an excerpt of my Gold-medal winning novel, In Name Only. I will be giving away two Kindle (or PDF) copies of my novel. Just leave a comment below before Monday, May 23, 2011.
Caroline descended the back staircase to the kitchen. Although she hadn’t taken note of the room before, she found it to be spacious with two cast iron cooking stoves which lined the far wall and a large wooden table with a grinding apparatus attached to it in the center of the room. Servant bells lined the wall above the door. Patsie was chopping a yellow squash at the center table and Selly was washing dishes at a long table which lined the outside wall. The smell of baking bread caused Caroline’s mouth to water and, for a moment, she forgot why she had come down to the kitchen.
“Well now, top o’ the mornin’, Miss Caroline,” said Patsie. Selly turned around and nodded her greeting.
“What is it, Miss?”
“I intend to speak with a woman at the church to find you a place where you can stay for the duration of your confinement.”
“You’ve been so kind. Thank you.”
“You should not be going through this alone.”
Just outside the kitchen, a loud voice bellowed. “Get the damn horse or I’ll be telling Mr. Martin to fire your black ass.”
One of the bells above the door began to ring.
“I must go. I do not wish for him to see me,” Selly was wiping her hands on her apron and walking toward the stairs to the main floor.
“Mr. David,” she whispered, and pointed toward the back door.
“Yes, well, I want to see him. I should like to tell him what’s on my mind.”
“But, Miss,” Patsie called out. “Sure an’ ye can’t be talkin’ ta a man by yer lonesome, tain’t proper. I’m just after tellin’ ye that.”
“I’m not alone. You’ll be in the kitchen. Besides, it’s improper for a man to not take responsibility for his child.”
Patsie shook her head as Caroline rushed out the doorway. David O’Donovan was speaking to the black servant. She had no idea what they were discussing, but Mr. O’Donovan had a distinct frown on his face. She approached him, her chin raised. The moment that he noticed her, his expression softened and he became charming, almost inviting.
“Miss Martin, to what do I owe the pleasure of your company?” As he spoke, she could smell alcohol on his breath. She stepped back, kept silent and glared at him.
“Pray tell, have I done something to displease you?” he asked, his mouth curved in slight amusement.
“Displease may be an understatement, sir.” She regarded him with the angriest scowl she could muster.
“Well, you certainly have gotten my attention, young lady. And may I just say that you are looking lovely today, despite the frown on your beautiful flawless face. If every girl looked as you do in black, she would want only to wear that color.”
She walked closer to David and whispered, “Why do you refuse to help the girl who carries your child within her?”
His face darkened. “Oh, so that’s what’s troubling you. Well, you know, Miss Martin, with girls of her sort, one has to. . .”
Caroline cut him off with a slap to his face. Surprised, he rubbed his cheek, his frown quickly turning to a smile. “Oh, dear. Would you like to slap the other side,” he asked, then turned his other cheek toward her.
Caroline remained silent, her eyes narrowed with contempt.
He leaned close to her face, his voice quiet but firm. “Did Selly tell you I was the only one? Well, my dear Miss Martin, I’m certain I was not.”
“And you know this how?”
“Miss Caroline?” Patsie’s high-pitched voice stopped Caroline from continuing.
She quickly leaned her head through the kitchen doorway.
“Patsie, what is it?”
“I’m havin’ ta tell ye, Miss,” she whispered, “a colleen shoun’t be a talkin’ ‘bout such things.”
“I don’t care.” Turning back toward David, she walked close to him, the top of her head an inch or so away from his chin. “Mr. O’Donovan, Selly told me there was no other.”
“And you believe a common lower class servant?”
Caroline cringed. Common, lower class?
“Of course. Why would she lie?”
“Well, no one forced her.”
“Today if ye shall hear his voice, harden not your heart.”
David raised his eyebrows. “I never took you for a Bible thumper, Miss Martin.”
“I’m a Christian, Mr. O’Donovan.”
“Your naivete is endearing and I don’t want to destroy your obvious innocence, but the servants freely do this.”
“Your behavior makes me ill.”
“Ah, you are even more beautiful when you’re angry. Do you realize your freckles darken? It’s very becoming.”
Caroline again glared at him.
“Aren’t you going to slap me again? I was hoping you would.”
“You are. . .”
“What? I’m what?” He stepped back and eyed her up and down. “Well, Miss Martin, I’ll tell you what I am. I am. . .shocked!” he said, a huge smirk on his face.
“Whatever do you mean you are shocked?”
“Most certainly I am, Miss Martin.” He leaned in close to her and whispered. “You’re. . .not wearing a corset, are you?” His eyebrows were raised and now he was smiling broadly.
All of a sudden, Caroline’s face became flushed, her eyes widened. Now she was embarrassed that she had left her corset off. David O’Donovan, of all people, had noticed.
“Miss Caroline?” she heard Patsie call her again.
Caroline sighed and hurried into the kitchen.
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Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable and Full Quiver Publishing