Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Scarborough Snog (#historical #kiss #contest)

Happy Sunday!

Yesterday marked the fourth annual (I think) Smut by the Sea extravaganza, organized by the vivacious Victoria Blisse (who is also responsible for the Sunday Snog tradition). Alas, I could not attend this year, but I marked the day by writing a brand new story, triggered by my memories of my visit to Scarborough for the event in 2015.

The mists of history lie heavy in Scarborough, from the Vikings to Victorians. As I wandered through the park on the hill overlooking the sea (complete with a statue of Queen Victoria), I could almost see the ladies strolling along the paths in their bodices and bustles. My story today brings one of them to life (and of course features a kiss or two). I've even illustrated it with some of my own photos from last week's trip.

Having gone to all this trouble, I decided to run a contest to encourage you to read the tale. After you read the story, leave me a comment with your email, and tell me what you think should happen next

I'll randomly select one person who comments. The winner can choose one of my historical romances as a prize: Challenge To Him (MF BDSM set in the Gilded Age in America), Monsoon Fever (MMF menage set in Assam, India, after WWI), or Shortest Night  (MM and MF set in Shakespearean England).  

Oh, and when you are done here, do head back to Snog Central for lots more sexy Sunday kisses.

Anything but a Gentleman

Meredith’s curls adhered to the back of her neck, stuck there with most unladylike sweat. Though several days remained until the end of May, summer had arrived with a vengeance. Perched on a tree-shaded bench in the elegant park near the top of the tramway, she found but scant relief from the relentless noonday sun. In her tight bodice and layered skirts, she could scarcely breathe. 


Her parents and sister had retreated to the hotel to refresh themselves before luncheon. Meredith had promised to follow soon.

Do let me sit for a few minutes, “ she’d pleaded. “The sea looks so lovely from up here. I will miss it when I’m in out in the country.” Reluctantly, her father agreed.

Now she was alone in the manicured gardens, a rare pleasure. All sensible holiday visitors had followed her family’s model. She trained her eyes on the faraway line where the pale sky met the blue-green ocean. If only she could sail away, to the Continent perhaps. Or to America! She’d gladly relinquish her privileged life, in return for her freedom. 


That was naught but an empty dream, though. Indeed, she would soon pass in deeper and more permanent servitude.

Life was so unfair. If she’d been born a boy, she might have found the adventures she imagined. Instead, in a month’s time, she’d be imprisoned on a country estate leagues from anywhere, wed to a near stranger twenty five years her senior. She screwed her eyes shut against the sting of gathering tears.

Why the sighs, pretty lady?”

Her eyes flew open. “What—what are you doing here?” The young man’s attire and manner made it obvious he was no gentleman. He wore no waistcoat or cravat. His shirt sleeves were rolled to the elbows, baring his tanned forearms, while his hands were buried deep in the pockets of his rust-brown trousers. A tartan cap perched on his unruly black locks. His open collar revealed a shocking glimpse of yet more hair. A man of the most common sort—though there was something familiar about him.

The speaker chuckled. “’Tis a public park. In fact, I have more right to be here than you, seeing as I was born in Scarborough.” His broad Yorkshire accent testified to the truth of his statement. “You, you’re just a tourist, come out from the city to enjoy our little diversions.” He gestured toward the distant horizon and the gleaming ocean. “But you han’t told me why you’re weeping. A lady like you, with every advantage the world can offer, should be all smiles.”

That is none of your business, sir.” Meredith emphasized the honorific, so inappropriate to this interloper. His confident grin unsettled her. Black sideburns, too long to be fashionable, framed his overly-red mouth. His smile broadened in response to her scrutiny, showing surprisingly good teeth. He met her eyes with a boldness that made her feel faint. What dreadful manners he had! With difficulty, she turned her gaze back toward the sea. “Please depart and leave me in peace.”

Yea, but you’re not. At peace, I mean.” Without asking her permission, he folded his lanky frame and settled him on the bench, not a foot from where she sat.

A wave of heat crashed over her. She snatched her skirts away. The young man laughed once more.

You’ll not catch anything from me, girl. Come now, tell me your sorrows. I know you can’t share ‘em with your own people.”

As I indicated, my sorrows, as you put it, are none of your concern.” Meredith knew she should simply stand up and walk away from this impudent stranger. Somehow, her limbs failed to obey her.

Let me guess, then. You’re about to be married off. Pledged to some gent who don’t interest you in the slightest.” He surveyed her slender form with obvious appreciation. “Here’s you, so young and beautiful, and all that’s going to be wasted on some lordling who don’t care for anything but his hounds and his horses.”

No, no, that’s not true...” she began. To her horror and mortification, she dissolved into tears before she could complete her objection.

There, there...don’t cry, my pretty.” He captured her gloved hand in his work-worn fingers and gave it a squeeze. “I’m sure Lord So-and-So isn’t worth your tears.”

Lord—Lord—Roderick Walters—of Rathborne Hall—Herefordshire,” Meredith sobbed. “He’s—he’s fifty six, and looks ten years older. Bald and paunchy, with a dreadful mustache... And I—I—in just four weeks...Oh, I can’t stand the thought of him! I can’t!” A fresh squall of tears shook her.

“’Tis a true shame, lady. You deserve better.”

Meredith raised her eyes and saw genuine sympathy in those of her companion. Moments ago, laughter had lit their green depths. Even now, when he was serious, they sparkled, gem-like. “I—I’ve never been anywhere, or done anything exciting. My parents treat me like some hot house flower. If only I were a man...”

I for one am glad you’re not,” he told her, with a half-smile.

Her chest ached. Her cheeks burned. Still, his attention made the moment easier to bear. “I’m barely seventeen,” she murmured. “And my life is over. I’ve never seen Paris. I’ve never been in love. I’ve never been kissed.”

Ah! That, at least, we can fix.”

Somehow he’d managed to take hold of her other hand. He pulled, and she slid towards him along the wrought iron bench, until his trousered leg touched her hip. The day grew immeasurably hotter.
Her protests died on her lips as they met his.

His mouth molded to her own with a firm pressure that hinted of great strength, held in check. He did not force himself upon her. Instead, he tempted her, the smoothness of his lips a thrilling contrast to the stubble that grazed her cheek. A vigorous, male scent rose from his flesh, sweat mingled with something sharper. It dizzied her. The world whirled around her as she closed her eyes and allowed herself to sink more deeply into the kiss.

Her partner sensed her surrender. Releasing her hands, he grasped her shoulders to draw her closer. Her frantic heart beat against his tightly muscled chest. She moaned as a tuft of the hair protruding from his shirt brushed her own throat. The intimacy—it was overwhelming! She knew she should stop him, that she’d be thoroughly ruined should anyone observe the liberties he was taking, but the sensations were too delicious for her to relinquish.

He took advantage of her parted lips to slide his tongue between them. Reckless and hungry, she opened further, inviting him to explore. He claimed her completely then, drinking her in while his fingers trailed down her sides, teasing her through the many layers of silk, linen and muslin that separated his skin from hers. She dared for a moment to imagine what it would be like to shed those oppressive layers, to truly bare herself to his touch. Oh, what a wicked woman she was! The bliss surging through her erased her dutiful guilt.

He tasted—sweet. Like the caramel toffies Alice had bought that morning as they strolled along Foreshore Road. All at once she realized why he seemed familiar.

You—you’re the candy vendor,” she gasped, struggling to extricate herself from his arms and catch her breath.

He did not try to restrain her. “Thought you didn’t recognize me. You seemed in some other world when you passed my stall today.”

She remembered him now, though—his bold eyes and the way he’d winked as her mother hustled her away. “You followed me!” she exclaimed. “What are you doing here? What do you want?”
Nothing, lass, that you don’t want to give.” His conspiratorial tone made her shiver. He knew perfectly well she wanted him to kiss her again.

A hot flush swept through her. What in the world was she doing? “I must get back to the hotel, before my family comes looking for me. I cannot be seen with you.”

The toffee man gave her a sad smile. “No, that wouldn’t do, would it? Run along then, my little lady.” He rose to his feet and tipped his cap. “Good day to you, Miss.”

Meredith lingered on the bench, one gloved hand clutching the other. “But...”


I—I don’t even know your name.”

His emerald eyes gleamed. “It’s Tom, Miss. Tom Barnes.”

I’m Meredith. ‘Tis best I don’t tell you my surname.”

Tom nodded, a cocky grin lighting his face. “A true pleasure, Miss Meredith. But maybe I should call you Merry. Seems like a fine name for a sad lady like you.”

She laughed, and felt the awful tightness under her breastbone relax. “Not as sad as before, thanks to you, sir.”

I could offer you further cheer, if you’d let me.”

Oh, what madness to even think on it! “I doubt that would be advisable, Tom.”

He shrugged. “Perhaps not. Then again, you should trust your instincts.”

Right now, my instincts feel far from trustworthy.” She offered her hand. “Goodbye, Tom. I’m very glad to have—ah—made your acquaintance.”

The candy seller pressed his lips to the back of her hand, in exaggerated mimicry of a gentleman. She couldn’t suppress a chuckle. When he finally released her, he fished around in his pocket for several moments.

Here,” he said, pressing something small and hard into her palm. “You know where to find me.” Turning his back on her, he headed down the stairway to the beach, whistling.

Meredith watched him disappear before she examined the item in her hand. It was a toffee. She unwrapped the twisted, waxed paper and popped it into her mouth. The taste reawakened luscious memories.

She was whistling, too, as she strolled back toward the hotel. After all, she’d be in Scarborough for another week. Anything was possible.

Don't forget to leave a comment with your email! 
What should happen next?


sharon baker said...

They should get together

pansypetal said...

Someway, somehow, Tom will provide the longed for adventure. How exciting.

Unknown said...

I thought perhaps Tom is in disguise, and his really someone Lord or other. He is in Scarborough to have some fun, but ends up falling in love with Meredith.

Unknown said...

Someone has seen them, someone villainous, perhaps someone in Roderick Walters's employ. Then...Blackmail!

Oh, this is fun!

Lisabet Sarai said...

Ah... but well-bred young ladies couldn't run off with riff raff like Tom, no matter how charming he might be. Though perhaps she'll risk it.

Lisabet Sarai said...

I think he has already started in that area LOL!

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hmm. Now that's a wrinkle I hadn't thought of!

Lisabet Sarai said...

You have a devious mind, Regina!

Anonymous said...

She goes ahead with marriage to the Lord but in the wedding when it gets to if someone objects why this man and woman shouldn't marry Tom yells out and she runs to him and never looks back!

Lisabet Sarai said...

Now that's dramatic! But who are you? You didn't leave a name or email address! Don't you want a free book? ;^)

Lisabet Sarai said...

Congratulations to Regina! You're my winner.

Thanks to everyone who left a comment!

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