Each week an author shares a first meeting excerpt on First Sight Saturday. Today I welcome fellow Love Historicals author Christy Carlyle with her Victorian historical romance novella, Scandalous Wager. Christy’s fun fact is that she’s lived in London and and Ireland, and is married to a Scotsman. This excerpt is the first meeting between Lizzy, a volunteer teacher, and Ian, a detective in a poor area of London.
Lizzy thought back to the first moment she’d seen Detective Inspector Reed. Her father had brought him home to dine with the family. Papa had brought home other young men, promising police officers or freshly minted detectives who might make a good match for Sara. Lizzy knew they weren’t invited for her sake. She could never catch a man’s eye when her sister Sara was in the room, and at four and twenty she was well past what most men considered a favorable age for a wife. And, really, she was content to believe marriage was not her fate.
So she watched the parade of hopeful young men that graced their dining room table and smoked a pipe afterwards with her father with minimal interest and all the detachment she could muster. Though kind, well-scrubbed, and faultlessly polite, none of them were for her. Their gaze lit only a moment on her plain brown hair and eyes before fixing themselves on the golden-haired, blue-eyed beauty of Sara. Sara was marriageable and possessed all the attractions men desired. Unfortunately, Sara was as picky as Lizzy was plain, and none captured her attention as she did theirs. None had truly captured Lizzy’s attention either until the night her father introduced them to Inspector Ian Reed.
His dark beauty literally stole her breath away and she’d ducked out of the drawing room to cough and choke and attempt to tame her stampeding heart. Foolish, ridiculous feelings assailed her. Her mind raced and her body throbbed with an ache she’d never felt before. Panic struck too. She was no Sara. There was nothing about her that would set a man swooning or cause him to fancy her. She could not draw, embroider, or even carry on a polite conversation. Her tendency to mention politics always raised eyebrows or resulted in glares from her mother or father, letting her know she had overstepped the invisible boundary between charming young woman and bluestocking.
She would never have her pick of this man or that. But Lizzy had never wanted this man or that. Only Ian Reed sparked wild emotions in her.
She’d peeked around the drawing room doorway and spied him firmly ensconced between her mother and sister on the settee. Papa was holding court, telling some story about Inspector Reed’s valiant work while sparing himself none of the glory. The way he told it, he had pulled the man out of obscurity and turned him into the most promising detective Scotland Yard had ever seen.
Reed sat quietly and humbly accepted Papa’s profuse praise. Yet he also appeared slightly embarrassed and a bit lost, as if he’d been dropped into their company unexpectedly. He took regular sips of the cordial Papa had offered, and Lizzy enjoyed watching the movement of his mouth against the glass and the way he sometimes licked his bow-shaped upper lip after swallowing a bit of the concoction.
Then he looked up and saw her there, listening furtively, lurking around the corner as if she didn’t belong. His eyes were so dark. For a moment she thought them black, but then the fireplace kicked up, brightening the room, and she noticed a hint of amber in their depths. His brows and lashes were dark and stood out in striking contrast against his pale skin. He wore his hair long, as detectives were allowed to do. It curled at the ends and curved in shiny black waves around his face. His clothes were neat and well cut, nearly as well tailored and fine as her father’s best. And his mouth. She could not look at his mouth—his wickedly full, perfectly shaped lips—without licking her own.
He’d caught her staring. Her gaze shot up to his eyes and she found he still watched her. His gaze burned into her, melting her. Though separated by the space of the Ainsworth drawing room, it was as if they drew near each other.
END OF EXCERPT
You can find Scandalous Wager at Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00I1HVPXA.
You can find Christy at
Christy and I welcome any questions and comments, and I hope you’ll come back every Saturday for a new first meeting excerpt!