Gabrielle Bisset

Friday, September 2, 2011

Weekend Creation Hop and New Excerpt From Masquerade

So it's Labor Day weekend (well, almost) and summer's over. It's been a busy one, hasn't it?  We've got a new month and lots of great things will be happening in the fall, so let's try not to mourn summer too much. 

I'm participating in my dear friend Shah's Weekend Creation Hop, which I mean to do each week but then get wrapped up in all sorts of other things and forget.  Well, not this week! 

And since her hop is a call to creativity, I'm including a new excerpt from Masquerade today.  In this scene, Annelisa is brainstorming with her sister about how to find a way to make the awful Earl of Swindon not want to marry her.

Annelisa lay across her bed, her arm covering her eyes. “Cecile, think. There has to be a way.”
“You don’t think father will do this to me, do you? I couldn’t bear being stuck with an old man!”
“Cecile!” Annelisa sat up and glared at her younger sister.
“I’m sorry! It’s just so awful.”
“That’s exactly why we need to figure out a way to make the honorable earl not want me.”
Cecile sat down beside her sister, puffed her cheeks, and blew the air out in frustration. “What if you became big and fat? Men never like that.”
“In one month? I don’t think even Pippa could make enough pies to achieve that.”
“Could we make you uglier?”
Annelisa leveled her gaze at her sister and squinted her eyes.
“I didn’t mean that you’re already ugly! Don’t look at me like that. You know what I meant!”
“I know, but this isn’t helping. I don’t think Thornton Sutcliffe would care if I got fat or ugly. As far as I can tell, he barely noticed I’m even human.”
Annelisa fell back onto the bed in disgust. Cecile meant well, but they were getting nowhere. She was missing something right under her nose.
“Do you know anything about him? Oh, Anne! How could father do this?”
“I know very little of him, and what I do know, I don’t like a bit.”
“Other than his shortness, stoutness, and surliness, what else do you know that could help you?”
Annelisa buried her face in a pillow. “Cecile, there’s nothing else to know. He’s odious.”
“Oh, don’t cry! There’s got to be something that will make him call off the marriage.”
The two sisters remained silent until Annelisa sat bolt upright. “I’ve got it! I know what I have to do!”
“What? Tell me!”
“You must promise you’ll tell no one, Cecile. No one can know what I’m going to do.”
“I promise! Now tell me!”
“The earl seems to think it’s of vital importance that I’m a virgin. So all I have to do is not be one.”
Cecile leapt to her feet in shock at her sister’s implication. “Annelisa Fielding, you can’t! It’s improper!”
“What’s improper is that in this day and age a woman is still traded like cattle. Relinquishing my maidenhead is a small price to pay for my freedom.”
“I don’t know about this,” Cecile said as she began to wring her hands.
Annelisa rose to face her sister. “I need to know you’ll keep my secret, Cecile.”
Her sister hesitated a moment but then nodded. “I promise I won’t tell another soul as long as I live.”
“Good. Now I just need to decide who will be my comrade in arms. Any suggestions?”
“You can’t do that with any of the men we know. It would be a scandal.”
Pacing, Annelisa nodded in agreement. “I know. There must be someone who would be willing to keep our coupling a secret.”
“Perhaps you can find someone at the Stewarts’ masquerade ball tomorrow night. There are sure to be many possible men attending.”
Annelisa stopped and considered her sister’s idea. The season’s first masquerade ball would be perfect. Everyone would be wearing masks, and if she wore her hair differently, her choice wouldn’t know it was her.
“But most of the guests are from our social circle.”
“Not everyone.”
“Annelisa, who do you have in mind?”
“Someone who is respectable, honorable, and best of all, soon to be leaving Britain.”
Cecile grabbed her sister’s arm to stop her from pacing. “Who?”
A broad smile lit up Annelisa’s face. “He’s perfect. I just hope he’s not too honorable.”
“Annelisa! Who?”
“Count Nikolai Shetkolov.”
“Father’s friend?”
“Yes.” Annelisa saw the shock registered on Cecile’s face. “What’s the problem?”
“Do you even know him?”
“What do I need to know? He’s an appealing man, always charming, obviously intelligent as he’s a diplomat for the Russian Tsar, and if I’m not mistaken, he told Father he would be returning home soon.”
“But isn’t he a bit older than you?”
“Cecile, I’m not choosing a husband. I’m choosing a lover for one night to eliminate the one thing the Earl of Swindon believes is worthwhile about me.”

I hope everyone has a great weekend!