An Improper Derailment Chapter 7

Chapter 7
Where the traveling arrangements are not to Mary’s liking…

steam engine

Catch up with Chapter 6!
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Steam billowed up from the engine. Light filtered into the loading platform, obscuring everything from sight. The heavy loader beasts grunted, and hissed.

Being in close proximity to the animals made Mary nervous. It was bad enough having to travel through the streets of Chicago behind an ostrich, she now had to brace herself, knowing they were near by.

Born and raised in a city, and as a proper young lady she did have riding lessons. The biggest animal she was used to having to deal with were horses. Even if the riding stable had trained for the larger saurans.

She followed the porter down the row of train cars to her carriage.

A large shadow loomed through the steam. Mary jumped, heart pounding, afraid that the impending dark that approached her was one of the saurans.

“Miss Dryer.” The voice that rolled out of the cloud calmed Mary more than she cared to admit.

The tension in her back relaxed, and if it weren’t for her corsets, her posture would have slumped noticeably.

He tipped his hat to her, and she found her composure. How dare this man be so familiar with her. She did not know him, she did not care for his company. It did not matter than a million men this afternoon had already tipped their hats in her direction in a gentlemanly acknowledgment of her presence. What mattered was that this brute was here to make sure she got home to be married off to the highest bidder.

She shuddered and let out a low growl. Her grandfather had ruined everything. Pythagorus could probably bank roll whomever George Dryer had cornered into marrying her sight unseen.

She tipped the porter after Marshall took her carrying case from the other man.

“Come with me.” His voice was a gravely command.

With a harrumph she followed him up and into the train. The man didn’t even have the decency to allow her to mount the steps first.

She walked with as much dignity as she could muster down the narrow passage. They encountered another group headed in the opposite direction. Mary began backing up, they would have to make their way to the juncture of the two cars before the others could pass.

Marshall didn’t budge. She couldn’t see his face, but the face of the porter facing him told Mary all she needed to know. He was glowering and being intimidating. She would have to speak with him privately about his behavior if he were to be in public with her. She would not tolerate boorish caveman like rudeness. If he wanted to be that way, he could excuse himself and go ride one of those beastly saurans.

With much fussing the other party backed up. Mary nodded and gave them a weak smile along with her sincerest apologies. “I am dreadfully sorry. Trains are so small, but still so much more comfortable than traveling by horse cart.” She scurried to catch up with Marshall once passed her embarrassing ordeal.

“Mr. Hunt.”

He ignored her and continued walking. Which Mary noticed with some satisfaction, was difficult for him and his broad shoulders in the narrow space. He had to twist slightly to the side and lead with his right shoulder.

“Mr. Hunt.”

He turned his head back to cast a quick glance at her. “Marshall will do just fine. I’m not one of your fancy gentlemen.”

“Obviously. That is what I daresay we need to speak about.” She stopped following him and stomped her small foot. He wasn’t paying her any attention at all. It was infuriating.

He finally stopped and slowly turned all the way back to look at her. He said nothing. He slid open the door to a passenger compartment. He tossed her bag in, and then held up his hand indicating she should enter next.

She stomped her foot again, and with another indignant huff she stormed passed him and into the compartment.

She wasn’t able to stomp far. The room, if it could be called that was barely larger than a wardrobe where she stored her dresses.

“Where is my state room? What is this?” She demanded.

There were bench seats facing each other, with racks above their heads.

Marshal shouldered his way into the small space.

Mary was astounded to silence that the man had the audacity to enter her room without permission.

She stumbled over her own tongue as he took his hat off and placed in on the rack, before shrugging out of his coat and sitting down.

How dare he!

“Mr. Hunt!”

He looked up at her, completely unaware of the affront he was causing.

She pointed her finger indicating the door. “You should leave sir.”

“Sit down,” he told her.

She stomped her foot. “Not until you explain what is going on here. And then exit my room.”

“What is going on here is I am settling in to take a nap. We have a long ride ahead of us, and the lounge car, and open-air observation cars will not be open until we are underway and out of the city.” He squinted at her like he did not fully comprehend her, something Mary did not find unexpected.

“My room, you should leave.”

“No Miss, not your room.”

“Then I should leave, where is my stateroom?” She was shocked he would have let her enter his cabin, but he had tossed her bag in here so unceremoniously.

“Sit down Miss Dryer. This is our room. There are no staterooms available on this train, and your grandfather did not send me with enough funds to acquire a private Pullman car for your feminine needs.” he kicked his rather long legs out, and propped his boots on the plush seat across from where he slouched. “I was able to get us a private compartment. Don’t worry, once the conductor has checked our tickets, I will not be spending my time in here. I have already lined up a card game that will keep me occupied for the majority of our days on this rolling cart. You will only have to suffer my company for a few hours this afternoon. And then at meals, which I will take with you. The rest of the time. I trust you will be comfortable enough in here.”

Mary slowly lowered herself to the seat. Resigned that she was stuck with the brute, she allowed herself to sit, but she would not do away with the trappings of her outer coat in the presence of this practical stranger.

She cast about the small space, there was not room for her trunks.

“Where are my trunks? My traveling items?”

He shrugged. “Baggage car I would assume.”

“And they’ll be delivered when?”

Marshall Hunt let out a sharp derisive laugh. “How did you manage to get from San Francisco to Chicago?”

She sat up straight and lifted her nose to him. “Not with a man in my chambers, that’s how!”

©2019 Lulu M. Sylvian

Happy 1-year Book Birthday Longing

On this day last year Longing was released!

Longing-solo

Shane bumped Justin’s arm with his knee, causing the kid to lose control of his game character.

“Hey, what gives?” Justin complained.

“Let’s go for a ride. C’mon.” Shane nodded his head, indicating they needed to leave. “We need to talk.”

Justin whined, “You’re not gonna talk to me about my dick, are you?”

Shane laughed. “The only dick we’re gonna talk about is your dad. Let’s go.”

Justin shrugged and powered off his game.

Shane drove for about twenty minutes in silence before Justin started talking.

“So I thought you and Mom broke up.”

“We just had an argument, man. It happens.” Shane suppressed a smile. It was good that Justin had started talking. All his informal therapy sessions with Melinda had taught him that much.

“But you didn’t come back. I didn’t think you were gonna.”

“J-man, me and your mom go way back. And I always come back around. Always. You’re my family. You, Stacey, your mom, a little argument isn’t going to drive me away for very long.”

“Then why is Dad divorcing us? We’re his family, and he’s just walking away from us. He’s being mean about it too.”

Justin turned and stared out the window. He shrugged and adjusted in his seat. Shane figured he was wiping at tears. This was all too much for the kid to handle. He didn’t need to hear what Shane thought of the man. He didn’t deserve to be their father. He didn’t deserve their tears.

“Dogstar wasn’t there when we got back. Mom took him to the vet, huh?”

“Yeah, J-man. She got him back home where he belongs.” Shane felt that was about right. He was with them where he belonged.

They pulled into a parking lot in front of a stucco building with a low tile roof. Shane cut the engine off.

“What are we doing here?” Justin looked eagerly from the building to Shane.

“Well, your mom thought that maybe…” Shane shrugged.

“I can get a dog?”

Shane nodded.

“Really?”

“Really.”

Justin ran inside the Humane Society office, leaving Shane to follow him.

The house smelled like garlic and onions when they got home.

“Stacey, get down here!” Justin yelled as soon as they walked in the door.

Lucy came into the living room first. She looked around, and her eyes fell on a carrier case. “I thought you were going to bring home a dog, not a cat.”

“Cats,” Shane corrected.

“You got cats?” Stacey asked as she walked down the stairs.

She went straight to the carrier and peeked inside. She lifted one black-and-white cat out. The animal shivered as she sat and cooed at it, stroking its fur. Justin lifted out a second cat, this one whiter with black markings. The kids sat and held their new charges.

Lucy pulled Shane aside. “What have you done?”

“We got a beautiful little girl,” Shane practically purred. “She looks like an Australian shepherd. It was love at first sight. They let Justin meet a few dogs, but she crawled right in his lap. She’s getting fixed in the morning, and we’ll pick her up after school. The cats were Justin’s idea. He thought Stacey would like the cats.”

Lucy slid into his arms. She felt so right.

“Justin was right, she’s gonna love those cats.”

©2018 Lulu M Sylvian

Read it now
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Dangerous, release a year ago today!

dangerous-tiltFamily goof-off and all-around playboy Dante has been tasked with finding the missing branches of the family tree. It’s a big tree, but luckily he’s a trained investigator. What he finds instead is Geena. Only she doesn’t understand how important she is to him and she’s slipped through his fingers. Now he wants to drop all his responsibilities and track her down.

Geena’s traveling companions are the trifecta of feminine beauty. They are thin, rich, and stylish. Everything she is not. She’s shocked when the hot guy starts hitting on her. What she doesn’t know yet is that Dante isn’t just a guy. And to him, she’s not just another in a long string of women in his loose past.

Dante has seen the mate glow and he knows what it means. He needs to convince Geena that this time he’s serious. At the same time, he needs to keep his new family members in check before they blow the family lore wide open and expose their secret.

Now Available as ebook

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An Improper Derailment Chapter 5

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Chapter 5… In which Mary would rather travel without a proper companion in Marshal Hunt’s company than be in the same parlor with Pythagorus a moment longer.

Marshall Hunt took over the entire chamber. Mary couldn’t take her eyes from him. He not only physically filled the space, but his presence also sucked the oxygen out of the room. Mary found it difficult to breathe.

Charles and Pythagorus kept taunting him with stupid questions. They were all stupid questions.

Mary worried her hands together.

How could her grandfather have sent such a man to escort her back to San Francisco? Didn’t that old man understand just how inappropriate all of this was?

“Mr. Hunt,” she finally brought herself to ask the one question that she could not fathom.

“How exactly did my grandfather come to have you in his employment?”

He turned and leveled his gaze on her. She sucked in her breath as those blue eyes looked over her. Her entire body thrummed with the power he emitted. And she was to be in his company for a full week.

This was unconscionable, how dare her grandfather not hire a proper escort like a matronly widow?

“Miss, Mr. Dryer hired me while I stood in his parlor. Our fairs are paid for, and we have separate staterooms. My job is to make sure you get from place A to place B. You will be safe.”

“I think we must object to this,” Janey finally contributed something to Mary’s situation. Unfortunately, she wasn’t effectively helping Mary.

“I could go with. Another person to ensure of Miss Mary’s security.”

Mary cut a hard glare across the room at Pythagorus. Marshall Hunt made her nervous, but Pythagorus now turned her stomach. And to think that even before lunch this afternoon she was considering him as a potential suitor.

“That’s a brilliant idea. Charles, you go,” Janey said. “Mr. Hunt, your services won’t be required as my husband will escort my sister back to San Francisco.”

Charles coughed uncomfortably. “Janey dearest, I would have to rearrange my appointments.”

“Janey,” Mary said in a scolding tone.

None of this was appropriate: her grandfather contracting with a rough man such as this one that stood before her, Charles choking on his own breath trying to get out of traveling as a guardian, and Pythagorus twirling his mustaches in the corner like some melodrama villain.

“Mr. Hunt, would you object if I found a respectable traveling companion to accompany me on the journey? I doubt you will find my conversation to be passing of interest.”

The tall man nodded, and his eyes flashed an unreasonable blue. “Miss if that would serve your needs to ensure the safety of your person, by all means, secure yourself a traveling companion. But mind you, she needs to be responsible for her own actions. I am not some babysitter of the weaker sex. I am a transporter, and you are a package I have been paid quite well to ensure the safe delivery of.”

Mary grasped her hand on her throat in shock. The crassness of this man discussing payment in company such as this.

“Mary,” Mr. Peterson artfully slid his hand into her free one, and lifted it to his lips.

His heavily waxed mustache tickled the back of her hand, and she unexpectedly let out a giggle. She flushed, not in delight of his touch, but in shame that she displayed such a lack of control.

“Allow me to be the one to deliver you back to San Francisco, and safely to the bosom of your grandfather. Together we can experience this vast country.”

Her gut instinct was to snatch her hand away. Pythagorus was not interested in experiencing anything but what was under her skirts. There was no way she wanted that man anywhere near her while confined on a train.

Slowly, and with a coy smile, she removed her hand from his.

“While I do appreciate your offer, Mr. Peterson, I will decline. Just as it is inappropriate for a young lady of my status to travel unaccompanied with a complete stranger as my escort, I believe it would be beyond scandalous for my escort to be a friend such as yourself. You have business here to attend to. No, I will secure myself a proper lady’s companion, and trust that Mr. Hunt is only concerned with my well being, as a package he is to deliver.”

Pythagorus began huffing and making objecting sounds.

Marshall Hunt cleared his throat.

Mary felt trapped between a snake and a hard place.

“How soon do we leave?”

©2019 Lulu M. Sylvian

need to catch up? Read Chapter Four here!

Ready for more? Read  Chapter 6!

WIP-It Wednesday

stay up for hours just watching her breathe

I didn’t know how to express the feelings I experienced. Hell, they barely felt like feelings. They felt like exhaustion, commitment, obligation. It was slogging and difficult work.

Anything and everything I had done in my life for the past eight years I revisited with tweezers and magnifying glass scrutiny. How could I have changed the outcome? Why didn’t I have the outcome I thought I wanted. How could I go back and change everything?

I began having dreams where I could time travel and now-me would tell past me to make little changes.

I would wake up because I couldn’t breathe.

My apartment felt confining, constricting. I ran outside just to breathe more than once. I had waking nightmares of dropping Myrna. At those times I would look into the side crib, assure myself that everything was alright, and then stay up for hours just watching Myrna breathe. She was here, she was safe.

I hadn’t forgotten to feed her or change her diapers. I hadn’t left her someplace and then not been able to remember.

I started to look up my foibles so many times. Each time I either couldn’t complete filling out the search field, or I would not click on the links.

When I finally clicked on one of the links I fell down a rabbit hole of patient cure thyself bull. Blogs that looked like they had useful articles denied the existence of postpartum depression, others tried to sell me essential oils to get out of my funk. And too many of them assumed I had a partner who could help me with my burden of guilt.

©2019 Lulu M. Sylvian,currently untitled from the Phantom Stars Trilogy

Merry Christmas

12

Merry Christmas for those that celebrate. Happy Tuesday to the rest of you!

On the first day of Christmas Natalie met Chris. Follow them as they find love during the Twelve Date of Christmas
http://lmsylvian.com/the-twelve-dates-of-christmas-christmas-day/

An Improper Derailment: Chapter 4

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Chapter four, where Mary falls…

Mary held a kerchief over her mouth, to protect her delicate sensibilities from the spewing smoke of Mr Peterson’s vile contraption.

Charles and Pythagorus were having a mighty fine time, and that was fine by Mary. The more time they spent oohing and ahhing over the noisy machine the less time Pythagorus Peterson spent vying for her attention.

And to think, she had been hoping for a proposal from the man. He had turned into a positively repugnant human being. And she had thought she had known the man.

He had insulted her at every turn, making insinuations and undesired advances. She pursed her mouth and set her brow, at least she had found out how distasteful of a human he was now. She would never have been able to put up with his misdeed if they had gotten married

Janey sat, not saying a word, but she patted Mary’s hand in sympathy. Of course, Mary figured her sister assumed she was upset over the loss of opportunity at a future connection with the Peterson family, instead of what was really upsetting Mary. Py insulted Mary and no one, not Charles, not Janey, had defended her honor.

She claimed to feel faint to avoid their post-luncheon stroll. However, now she felt trapped on the riding platform.

Py’s carriage crawled along at a dreadful pace. He claimed they were traveling at a brisk ten miles an hour. Mary questioned the validity of his claim, as she watched horses, and people of foot outpace them.

They crawled around the corner, and finally made it to the street with Janey’s house.

Mary’s heart lurched, or maybe that was her ride.

A dark figure lurked in the shadows on the porch. Dark full-length duster, dark hat, dark. Mary’s breath hitched, or maybe that was the ride lurching again.

With a cough and a spit they stopped.

The dark figure descended the stairs.

Charles puffed up his chest and jumped from the platform. His attempt at an aggression display brought a smile to Mary’s lips. Charles was so pitiful.

With a sigh Janey declared, “He is so manly.”

Mary stifled a choke. “He is.” She didn’t mean Charles.

Charles puffed, while the other man loomed. He was a giant of a man, not only tall but broad through the shoulder. His face was hidden by the brim of his hat, but Mary could make out the line of a strong square jaw.

Charles returned to their ride and reached up pulling the step stool down.

Janey reached forward and stepped delicately down with the assistance of her husband.

Mary felt a chill slither up her spine. She turned and faced Pythagorus. In full view of everyone on the street, and those who cared to look out their window, Pythagorus pulled Mary against his chest.

With a gasp, she shoved hard against him before e could open his mouth and insult her yet again.

The action propelled Mary out of his arms and to the edge of the platform.

Her heel slipped. She teetered for what felt an eternity. In slow motion, Mary slid backward. She hung in space, the clouds adorable little animals of puff in a perfectly blue sky.

A scream split the silence.

She fell forever, knowing that this was the death of her. She held her breath waiting for the hard impact as she crashed to the pavement.

The hard crack of her death didn’t come. She fell softly and was lifted, her vision heading back up into the sky.

Suddenly she was upright and held firmly against a wall of leather. Slowly she slid down, aware that on the other side of that leather was a man.

“You all right Ma’am?”

The rumble of voice had a soft drawl to it.

Mary looked up into the bluest eyes she had ever seen. The face of her rescuer was rugged, yet majestic, strong yet beautiful.
Breathlessly she answered, “I believe you have saved my life.”

“My pleasure Mary.”

Her name rolled from his lips like thunder and shook her to her toes. A sensation she had only ever experienced during a spring storm full of lightning. His arms still held her close to his body.

She didn’t fight to escape, she didn’t want to.

“You know me? I’m sorry I don’t know your name.”

“Hunt, Marshall Hunt. George Dryer hired me to escort you to San Francisco.”

©2018 Lulu M Sylvian

Come back next month when Mary learns who exactly  Marshall Hunt is

Catch up with chapter 3 where Pythangorus shows off

Read the next chapter where Mary is torn between propriety and running away

An Improper Derailment: Chapter 3

Chapter three, where Pythagorus is inappropriate…

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“Oh,” Mary paused as she stepped onto the porch.

Immediately in front of the house, making an infernal rattling noise, and coughing up smoke, a carriage, but no horses rumbled noisily in the road.

Charles climbed up onto the device with the joy of a child.

“Pythagorus, this is astounding!” he called out, loudly so he could be heard about the din.

Py smiled and swaggered to stand next to the contraption.

“Isn’t it just? I’ve the only one in Chicago. I swear the future is steam powered. My uncle already made his fortune thanks to the steam engine. I’m going to make mine with the rail-less passenger compartment.”

“I do believe Charles has found another scheme to invest our income in dear sister,” Janey confided to Mary as the two women stood on the walk gaping in wonderment at the machine.

The wheels, six of them, varied in size from small baby pram sized ones in the front to standard horse carriage ones in the middle to extra tall high wheeler sized ones in the back. Between the largest wheels, an oak barrel bound with shiny copper perched, with what appeared to be a wood-burning kitchen stove attached at the back.

Charles reached down and positively pulled Janey up into the riding compartment, which was barely more than a platform with benches. It was a good thing the weather today was lovely. Mary didn’t think riding this rail-less monstrosity looked to be particularly comfortable. She grimaced at the thought of being hauled up as if she were live stock or having to sit upon it in the rain.. Her face twisted into what she expected to be a most unpleasant continence.

Her sister was married and didn’t need to behave with propriety, but Mary was betrothed to whom she could only assume was a man of position. She needed a means of ascending to the riding platform with decorum. She turned back to look up at Janey’s house. As expected a good portion of the household staff were inappropriately gawping at Pythagorus’s toy.

“Would one of you fetch me a step stool?” she asked the gathering crowd of staff members. A disheveled young boy disappeared in a flash.

“Mary, Mary, Mary why not allow me to raise you to lofty heights in my arms?” Pythagorus lowered his lids to give Mary a positively indecent leer.

Had the subtext of his meaning missed her ears, his expression did not.

“Mr. Peterson you go too far!” Mary reached up and slapped him smartly across the cheek.

“Mary, how dare you?” Janey cried out.

Py chuckled and rubbed a gloved hand over the smarting cheek.

Mary thought she heard him mutter, “Clearly I haven’t gone far enough.”

She shot him a withering glare.

Py gave her a charming grin and made a sweeping gesture at his rail-less metal beast. “I simple meant it is of no consequence for me to lift you aboard. I humbly beg your pardon for my play of words.”

“Miss.” The small scullery lad held up a step stool, presenting his discovery to Mary and Pythagorus Peterson.

“Well done me boy, well done. If this isn’t just the very thing, we’ll take it with us so that when we arrive at our lunch the ladies may descend without difficulty.” Pythagorus swept the stool away from the lad and ruffled the boy’s hair.

He placed the step in the road and held out his hand so that Mary could step up and step again, reaching the platform without incident. Py tossed the stool up before leaping to join his party.

“Hold on my compatriots, we are going to be heading off at the daring speed of almost fifteen miles an hour.”

“I say Py how did you manage to calculate that?” Charles asked. He held onto on the side rails, and leaned forward, not unlike a daring passenger standing at the bow of a ship as it crashed into the oncoming waves.

Janey pulled at his sleeve. “Come back from there it’s dangerous Charles.”

“You know Nate Phillips?” Pythagorus called from the rear of his contraption.

“Nate Nate the one we hate?”

“The very one!”

“Good friend of mine went to boarding school together. Horsey type these days.”

“Precisely, I put the old girl to her paces up against one of his trotters. We took one of his known runners and she was able to match speed.” Py boasted.

“Couldn’t you just as easily timed a measured distance?” Mary asked. Setting up a horse race with this carriage thing seemed like so much fluff and nonsense.

“Where is the fun in that?” Pythagorus turned his attention to some dials and nobs. “Hold on, off we go!”

And with a mighty lurch and a bellow of smoke, the rail-less passenger compartment rolled its way slowly northbound toward their dining destination.

 

©2018 Lulu M Sylvian

 

Join us next month when Mary asks, “Who is that man?”

Catch up from the beginning with Chapter 1

Need a refresher on last month and why did Mary change her gown?

Ready for the next chapter?

WIP-It Wednesday the Nano addition

egypt-image

I quietly walked over to where Liam stood and showed him the can. He nodded. I might as well do my job while Glenn was on a tear.

“Why are you still doing that?”

I jumped at Glenn’s loud tirade now directed at me. “He hasn’t gotten any sun for days now.”

I looked at the man like he had lost it completely. I held up the can. “Right, it’s working because I put sunscreen on him throughout the shoot.”

Never considered that Sunscreen Consultant would be a job I held. Glenn just stared at me, holding my gaze. So far it had been an odd week, starting with him pulling me away from my job on set to manage Sebastian Hale’s pale skin.

Every morning I met Liam and applied thick creamy lotion to his ridiculous shoulders and ticklish knees. And every morning I had to insist he do his own chest and abs. I let my hands glide over his skin and up and over the ridges of muscle in his arms and back, probably enjoying the touch a bit too much. He stood there oblivious to my presence, focused on his phone, thumbs flying over text messages.

He wasn’t exactly impolite, he was just used to having people wait on his snobby ass hand and foot. If he wasn’t a job, I wouldn’t even attempt to speak to him. But I did have to tell him how to stand and move so I could rub him down. And why not try to get as much enjoyment out of a job as possible? It’s not like anything would ever happen between us. I seriously doubt Liam James would be able to pick me out of a lineup of tall black men, and I am most definitely not tall or a man. And I’m about as far from black as you can get without being an albino.

Glenn nodded and I was allowed to go back to my little chair in the back and wait until the next time I needed to spray down the star.

©2018 Lulu M Sylvian, currently untitled from the Second Endings Trilogy

An Improper Derailment: Chapter 2

Chapter two, in which we learn that Grandfather has ruined everything…

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Mary stood and clasped her hands together. “Have Henrietta prepare my puce gown. Janey, you win. I shall be the one to change, green is now too festive for me to wear. Charles, would you be so kind as to write Mr. Peterson and cancel our luncheon? It is no longer appropriate for me to accept his invitation.”

“Good God girl, what has transpired for such drastic actions?” Charles blustered about the sitting room.

“Maybe we could still accompany Mr. Peterson, and explain to Grandfather?” Janey pleaded. At least she understood the predicament their grandfather had put Mary in.

Mary bit her knuckles and faced out the front window. “How can I?” She faced her sister and brother-in-law in the room so quickly her skirts twisted, and twirled one direction and then back in the opposite direction. Mary grabbed a fist of the acidic green skirts to keep the fabric from further movement.

“Janey, show him.” Mary nodded at the crumpled telegraph her sister now held.

Janey held up her hand with the paper to her husband. “Oh, Charles it is simply horrid.”

Charles took the paper. His eyes scanned over the message more than once. “I guess congratulations are in order,” he chuckled with egotistic mirth.

“Oh Charles, how could you?” Janey collapsed against the arm of the couch.

Mary swept from the room and climbed the stairs to her chambers.

Grandfather had secured and accepted a proposal for marriage from a wealthy man in San Francisco. She didn’t even know the man’s name. All Grandfather’s missive said was that she needed to return to San Francisco immediately, a husband has been located for her.

A husband.

Husband.

She shivered. He was probably one of Grandfather’s cronies, old and fat, and slobbery. He wouldn’t have mustaches as handsome as the young Mr. Peterson.

Mary stood numbly as Henrietta changed the festive green dress for the more simple day dress with a smaller, understated bustle.

She descended back to the main floor of the house only to stop in her tracks. She had distinctly remembered requesting that Charles cancel with Mr. Peterson. There had been plenty of time to jot down a note and have it sent out in the post. But here was Mr. Peterson handing over his walking stick and hat.

“Miss Mary, you look well.” His smile was hidden under his waxed and style mustache.

Mary gathered her senses about her and extended her hand in greeting as she continued down the stairs. She had not intended on making an entrance, and yet, here she was, making an entrance.

“Mr. Peterson, I’m caught off guard. Did not Charles send you a note explaining our situation in this morning’s post?”

Pythagorus Peterson pulled Mary into his sphere of space and tucked her hand into the crook of his arm. He stepped toward the parlor.

He held up a folded, yet still sealed, envelope. “This came just as I was stepping out to attend you here. I must confess I have yet to read it. Since I have traveled all the way here why don’t you tell me what this says? Whatever the news I would much rather hear it from your delightful lips.”

A sob escaped Mary’s throat. She turned to hide her face against his arm. “Mr. Peterson you are too bold. You make presumptions.” She pulled away and ran to hide behind the sitting couch, unaware that she posed in the sunlight framed but the front drapes.

Janey stood and reached for Mr. Peterson. “Oh, we have had distressing news, Mr. Peterson. We have only now been made aware that Mary had been betrothed and must return to San Francisco.”

“You see it would be inappropriate for me to dine with you this afternoon,” Mary cried into her handkerchief.

“Nonsense, we are old friends, and we are allowed to dine together. I will hear none of this. Charles would you, your lovely wife, and her delightful sister, please join me for lunch today? The arrangements have all been made, and I am starving. And my dear Mary, now that we have been downgraded to merely friends I insist you call me Py.” He smiled brightly at them all.

Mary blinked tears from her eyes, he was charm itself. She would miss his company once she returned to the bay area.

“Janey you are too lovely in my favorite color not to insist that Charles bring you out this lovely day.” Pythagorus extended his hand to her and pulled her to her feet. He wrapped Janey’s hand around his arm and patted it.

“I expect you to tell me everything you know about Mary’s fiancé, do fill me in.” He guided Janey from the room.

Mary stared at Charles with wide eyes. It looked as if they were headed to lunch at the Palmer House after all, and she was wearing puce.

 

@2018 Lulu M Sylvian

Catch up on last month’s installment, find out why Mary is wearing Puce.

Next month will Py get his cake and eat it too?