Excerpt from "His Lady"

UPDATED His Lady.jpg

(FYI - this excerpt starts on Chapter Two)

It took great pains, but Regina forced her eyes open and glanced around, slowly gaining her bearings. By the stiffness in her limbs and the way she sat, she wondered where she had been sleeping. This certainly wasn’t her soft bed at home.

There wasn’t light for her to see. Not yet, but as she continued to blink and force her mind alert, she recalled staggering into the family’s coach and falling onto the seat before darkness filled her mind.

 

She closed her eyes again and breathed deeply. The dizziness was gone, thankfully, and only a slight pound stayed in her head. Perhaps she could return to the party. It obviously wasn’t more than an hour, or her mother would have been in the coach with her as the driver took them home.

 

Regina blinked again and turned her head toward the window. She reached over and moved back the curtains. Lord and Lady Montague’s house was still lit up, and shadowed figures of couples dancing were seen through the windows. Yet it almost appeared as though there were fewer carriages than before when she had climbed into the family’s vehicle.

 

Rubbing her forehead, she frowned and sat back against the seat. Why had it seemed that more time had passed than just an hour? Her body and mind felt completely rested. It must have been longer. If that were so, then why hadn’t her mother come to get her?

 

She yawned, stretched her arms… and touched another person sitting beside her. Gasping, she swung her head in that direction. The darkness veiled the person’s identity, but the small amount from outside the coach’s window outlined a man’s figure.

 

Fear crawled inside her like a frightened cat, making it difficult to breathe. Then again, breathing would only disturb the person next to her. Clearly, this wasn’t her father next to her. The man’s shoulders were too wide, and his hair was too short. The way his head was tilted as it rested on the back of the seat let her know he was asleep.

 

Confusion filled her and caused the throbbing headache to return. Why would a man be in her coach while they were both asleep? This made no sense at all.

 

She should leave while he was asleep. Being alone with any man like this was highly scandalous. Her reputation could be ruined. But what if someone saw her sneaking out and the man exiting the vehicle later? How could she get out of this predicament?

 

Her stomach twisted with indecision, and she couldn’t see any way out of this. Did the driver know? And if he did, why hadn’t he alerted her parents by now?

 

Slowly and careful not to make a noise, she leaned toward the window again and peered out. Indeed, there were not as many vehicles as when she and her parents had first arrived. Perhaps she would be safe to leave now before she was discovered.

 

The man beside her groaned and shifted on the seat. His arm circled her waist and pulled her against his body. His head dropped to her shoulder as his face rolled toward her neck. Gasping in panic, she clutched his arm. Although she should push him away, she could tell he was still asleep. She needed to keep him that way. Waking him up would be devastating for them both.

Regina breathed slower as she tried to calm her fiercely beating heart. As soon as she could make the panic rising inside her leave, she would be able to think of a way out. She had always been clever that way. However, being this close to a strange man and smelling his manly scent of spice and leather… and feeling his warm breath on her neck made havoc jump inside her. Even dancing with men had never made her feel this jittery.

 

The man groaned again, snuggling closer. His lips rested against the pulse of her throat. Could he not feel her erratic heartbeat? Then again, if he were asleep, he wouldn’t be able to feel anything. Now was the time she wished she wouldn’t be able to feel at all. Every time he breathed, his breath caused her to tingle with awareness.

 

Holding her breath, she tried to peel his arm away, but that only made him hold her closer. Inwardly, she groaned. How could she get out of this without waking him? Perhaps she had to wake him, but she couldn’t. Even though he was in her coach by mistake, they were still together, and they had both been asleep. The odds of coming out of this without a scandal were highly unlikely.