It’s time for Fiction Friday! How does Fiction Friday work? Well, kind of like those old Choose Your Own Adventure stories, but with a lot more room. Read the installment of the story below. At the end, you’ll find a question. You the reader will get to determine what happens next. Leave a comment. If one suggestion gets overwhelming support, the story will go that direction. If they’re all equally supported, I’ll pick one at random. You get to determine where the plot goes. So read, enjoy, and tell me what you want to happen next.
FICTION FRIDAY – Segment 3
Olivia entered the drawing room only moments before the butler appeared at the door to announce the arrival of Lord Clampton, Viscount of Chesterfield. Her heartbeat sped up a bit in anticipation. The anticipation had nothing to do with the man itself and everything to do with the potential adventure that awaited her. At least, that was what she kept repeating to herself as she waited for him to enter the drawing room.
She dressed carefully today, selecting a muslin gown in the palest of lavenders. Her mother claimed that it made her eyes look more lavender than gray. Her father said it was lovely, which really didn’t mean much since he said everything on her was lovely. Most importantly though, was that she felt lovely in it. Pale purple ribbons formed geometric patterns along the sleeves and neckline while a vine of embroidered violets graced the hem.
Lord Clampton strode into the room. He stopped abruptly and looked around the drawing room, eyebrows arched high over dark brown eyes. “Where is your mother?”
“I believe she is discussing the week’s menus.”
“Why isn’t she here?”
“Because I didn’t tell her you were coming. This is not our normal ‘at home’ day. She was not expecting visitors.”
Lord Clampton’s eyebrows lowered abruptly into a frown. “Why didn’t you tell her?”
“I have demands.”
He cleared his throat. “Demands?”
“Yes.” Olivia perched on the edge of a light blue chair. Her mother had purchased the chair with its gracefully bowed legs and powder blue color specifically for Olivia to receive callers in. Choosing the fabric and style for the chair had been as tiresome as a trip to the modiste for wardrobe fittings.
Lord Clampton settled into the sofa that angled off to her right.
She cleared her throat before continuing. “First, I would like to know what type of conveyance we shall be traveling in.”
“I need more details, please.”
"What do you want to know? It's black on the outside, green on the inside. It has four wheels and plenty of room."
Olivia sprang to her feet, causing Lord Clampton to hastily rise from the sofa. She crossed the room to peer out the window. "Did you drive it here?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"Is that it? The coach we'll be taking?"
"Does this mean you've agreed to come?"
"No. I told you. I have demands." Olivia's face fell in disappointment as she inspected the vehicle pulled up in front of her house. "Please tell me that's not it."
A slight grin formed on Lord Clampton's face. "That's not it."
Olivia sat back down with a distracted nod. "Good. I would hate to have misjudged you. I expect you to have a much keener eye for quality than the town coach outside would indicate. I do hope you intend to replace it soon."
Lord Clampton froze in an awkward bent position, poised to sit back down upon the sofa. After a moment he cleared his throat and sat with a look of curiosity on his face. "Really?"
"Yes. In fact, I insist on it at least being a crane neck carriage if we are to travel long distances in it."
"Are those your demands?"
"Of course not. We are discussing practicalities at the moment. I understand that I will be going along to save you the trouble of conversing with your sister - "
Lord Clampton choked on air.
"- but who will be accompanying us to protect my reputation?"
"My aunt." Lord Clampton coughed discreetly into his handkerchief. "She tends to sleep in carriages and is not what one would consider good company on most days. She speaks in half sentences and mostly to herself, but she is respectable and in fact quite popular."
"Very good. And the coach? You still haven't answered me about the coach."
Again, the small self-satisfied smile graced Lord Clampton's face. "We shall be riding in a crane neck carriage. It even has elliptical springs and full glass windows. I trust that is of a high enough quality to satisfy your sensibilities?"
"Is that all, then?"
"No. We have addressed the necessary details. Now we shall discuss my conditions for acceptance."
Olivia tilted her head in a small nod. "As you like."
"What is it you require above and beyond the removal from London? Dresses? Introductions? Prized invitations? I assure you my aunt can see to them all."
Olivia shook her head so hard the tight ringlets framing her face bounced back and forth in front of her eyes. "No, I'm afraid this will have to come from you."
"I'm not marrying you."
"I didn't ask you to. I have a book. I want you to pay to have it published."
Lord Clampton stared at her for a good ten seconds before taking a deep breath and opening his mouth. Nothing came out. Another ten seconds passed before he tried again. "A book."
"That you want to publish."
"Anonymously, I assume."
"Of course. I intend to use the name Mrs. Rochelle."
"And you want me to pay for it."
"That is my condition." Olivia held her breath and willed herself to remain calm. She wanted this desperately. Even if she managed to save half of her pin money every quarter it would take her years to save up the amount the publisher required. If Lord Clamption said no -
"Yes." Lord Clampton stood and made his way to the door. "We'll leave next week."
"Come to dinner." Olivia restrained herself from clamping her hands over her mouth. Where had that come from? The invitation had blurted itself out before she even completed the thought.
"Tonight?" Lord Clampton looked back over his shoulder, surprise evident on his face.
"Bring your sister. I will have had a chance to talk to my parents by then. They will want to discuss details, I'm sure. This is a highly unusual situation, you know."
"I know. Very well. My sister and I shall come for dinner." With a nod, he headed for the door once more.
"Oh, and Lord Clampton?"
He turned around again, eyebrows raised.
"This bit about the book..."
"We'll just keep that between ourselves, shall we?"
"That would be nice."
"Tonight, then." Lord Clampton nodded his head once more and left the drawing room.
Olivia clapped her hands in glee. She was leaving London, escaping the hordes of dandies, and publishing her book. Life could not get any better.
And then she met the sister.
This week's question has to do with Lord Clampton's sister. What's she like? Is she a perfect lady, a total pill, a chatterbox, or something else entirely. Leave a description and, if you can think of one, the first sentence she'll say when she meets Olivia.
Jacob and Elizabeth I hope you enjoyed seeing your plot elements in the story. I had to alter Elizabeth's a bit to fit the time period a bit more accurately, so I drew a second one as well.
This installment is now closed for suggestions.
This installment is now closed for suggestions.