Saturday, April 28, 2018

CAPTAIN JACK RYDER - Regency Sons series Excerpt!

Enjoy two stories in one. Here's a taste of Harry and Erina
 

In the stables, Harry stroked the sleek neck of Erina’s bay, Jessie. “Nice mare. Now, why are we here?”
In the feeble light cast by the lantern, she couldn’t read his expression. But it didn’t matter. She’d made up her mind. “I wanted to tell you what I’ve decided. Thought I should although I don’t really owe you anything.”
He folded his arms. “I am agog with excitement. What plan have you in store for us?”
“Not us. Me.”
“Oh?”
“I plan to travel across the country, riding Jessie.”
Harry stared at her. “You are joking of course.”
“No, I’m not. I’ve considered it most carefully. I am an excellent rider. I shall dress as a man.”
“Of all the mad schemes!” He scowled. “Congratulations. I’m difficult to shock, but you have achieved it.”
“I planned to go by stage, but I’m rather short of money.” She hadn’t expected him to be pleased but this forceful reaction surprised her. “I am of age. And it really doesn’t concern you. You can go home with a clear conscience knowing you did your best.”
Harry raked his fingers through his hair. “So, I’m to go happily home, with the knowledge that you will be ravished and murdered in a day or so? Is that your opinion of me?”
“I think you’re a very nice man,” she said coolly. “But apart from our fathers’ putting their heads together, you have nothing to do with my life or what I choose to do with it.”
Harry folded his arms and leaned back against the stable door. “May I ask your destination? Just as a matter of interest?”
“Ireland.”
“Jack’s on his way there. What’s the attraction of Ireland?”
“My mother’s family live just outside Dublin.”
“How long since you’ve seen them?”
She turned away to stroke Jessie’s smooth head which was thrust over the top of the stable door. “I’ve never met them.”
“Ho!”
“What does ‘ho’ mean, precisely.”
“That my suspicions are proved correct. This is a madcap scheme, Erina. And you know it.”
She lifted her chin. “I don’t see why.”
“You should write to them. Perhaps someone will come to England to visit you.”
“I don’t have time to,” she snapped. “And you know that full well.”
“I see.” Harry moved away from the door. “If you stay, you will be forced into marriage. With me. The very worst thing that can happen to a lady.”
Erina raised her hand. “Harry, that’s not true. I like you, I do. But I don’t love you.” She frowned. “And you don’t love me.”
“Please don’t tell me what I feel or don’t feel.”
He stalked the length of the stables and back. “Before I leave here tomorrow, will you promise me not to go off on this dangerous expedition? We can discuss it again when we meet in London.”
“We have only a matter of days. And once I’m in London without my horse, I’ll be stuck.”
She stepped closer to try to coax him onside. Placed a hand on his claret silk waistcoat. Beneath it his chest felt muscular and strong. Somehow, she’d never thought of him that way. Hastily, she withdrew her hand. “Will you help me?”
“Help you? Good Lord, Erina, what are you asking of me?”
“To defy your father and mine, Harry.”
“Contrary to what you obviously believe, I am no longer ruled by my father. But he has his heart set on this union. I am fond of him and hate to disappoint him. He has wanted me to settle down for some time. Says he might turn up his toes without seeing his first grandchild.” Harry paused. “If we just give it time, I’m sure he’ll relent…” He raised an eyebrow. “Help you to do what, exactly?”
“Come with me. At least see me onto the boat at Holyhead. I’ll be fine from there.”
“Apart from everything else, you truly believe I would ride all the way to Holyhead?” he spluttered. “I’d rather travel on the back of a hay wagon.”
Might he be relenting? It would be so much easier if he took her there. And riding did raise some difficulties. “You must own a vehicle of some kind. Can’t you hire one? It won’t raise eyebrows if we’re two men traveling together.”
“Ha! You think you’d make a convincing man?”
“I’ll cut my hair.”
“You wouldn’t look like a man if you shaved your head and dressed in a subaltern’s uniform.”
“Why? I’m tall enough.”
“Your…” He waved a vague hand. “Figure.”
Erina looked down at her bosom. She had been cursed with a rather large one. “I shall use binding. Honestly, you are merely throwing excuses in my way. Women dressed as men in Shakespeare’s works. In Twelfth Night, it worked perfectly well for Viola.”
He sighed. “That was a play. This is real life.”
“Very well, don’t come with me. Remain here to please your father. I shall go alone.”
“No, you won’t, damn it.” He threw up his hands. “It so happens that I own a curricle. But I insist you dress normally. You can be my sister.”
She tried to hide her glee. “We don’t look alike.”
“Cousin then.” He attacked his hair again, which just flopped neatly back into place. “My God, what am I agreeing to?”
“Too late to renege,” she said silkily. “You’ve given your word.”
“I intend to send a letter to my father somewhere along the route. To set his mind at rest.”
Harry raised his eyebrows. “How thoughtful.”
She reddened and looked away.
“You know what will occur to them, don’t you?” he said.
“What?”
“An elopement.”
Pleased, she nodded. “But that’s a good thing, isn’t it?”
His brown eyes narrowed slightly as they studied hers. “Is it?”
“They won’t worry. Father will think I’ve done it to save him the expense of a wedding.”
He tapped a booted foot and sighed. “All right. We’ll depart from London on Thursday. I’ll contact you on Wednesday to make the final arrangements.”
Erina’s heart began to bang joyfully. “Oh good. This is exciting, isn’t it, Harry?”
Harry scowled. “I said you’d exhaust me if we married. How right was I? And we’re not even man and wife. I don’t know about you, Lady Erina, but I’m going to bed.”

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