Friday, November 11, 2011

Free Fiction Friday - Installment 1.5

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. 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.  

Past Segments:  1234


                Awkward silence reigned as everyone entered the dining room. Servants were still hastily rearranging table settings to accommodate the larger than expected party.  Olivia winced in sympathy for her mother. When the numbers were only one off - three ladies and two gentlemen - they would have been able to situate themselves without being too obvious of the disparity. Now there were two extra ladies. No one could help but notice.
                "Bit of a bungle," Mrs. Ruggiford said with a sniff.
                Lady Bedford opened her mouth to defend herself. She gave a small sigh and let it close without saying anything. There really wasn't anything to say. Lord Clampton's aunt had said it all.
                Everyone stood in a huddle just inside the doorway, ready to eat but unsure of where to sit. Finally Lord Bedford stepped forward and offered his arm to Mrs. Ruggiford. "Madam, I would be honored if you would sit next to me."
                "Be glad to. Minnie, you talk well enough. You can sit on my other side." Mrs. Ruggiford took Lord Bedford's arm and made her way to the table, towing a willing Minnie in her wake.
                Lady Bedford scooted past Lord Clampton and settled in at the head of the table. Lord Clampton sat across from his sister with Olivia to his right. Another awkward pause filled the room as they discovered that with this seating arrangement, even if the gentlemen were to offer the food to the ladies on either side of them, Minnie would be left without.
                "She's got two hands that work perfectly well," Mrs. Ruggiford stated. To emphasize her  point she grabbed up a platter of turkey and offered it to her niece. As Minnie helped herself and giggled uncontrollably, Mrs. Ruggiford passed a sweeping glance around the table at her other companions. "One day we'll all laugh about this."
                Her forthright attitude seemed to put everyone at ease, and Olivia realized what made her such a popular person, despite her uncommon behavior. She had an ease about her that made you comfortable, even with her blunt, shortened phrases. She realized she had seen Mrs. Ruggiford around town before, but never realized her connection to Lord Clampton. Mrs. Ruggiford was one of the matrons that everyone liked but nobody talked about.
                "I'm so excited about our trip." Minnie giggled some more as she speared a potato with her fork. "John says we're going to meander our way up to Birmingham. After a nice long visit with Lady Mulligan, we can either take the long way back to London or come straight back. Aunt Lillian says there is the most amazing jeweler there who can make absolutely anything. I'm going to dream up the most intricate piece I can think of and commission it. Then I can wear it around town next year and amaze everyone."
                Lady Beford smiled, then covered it with a cough. "I did not realize this trip was going to be so long. You'll miss most of the season, Olivia. I'm not sure how I feel about you missing that many opportunities. Are you sure you want to take this trip without having your future settled?"
                Olivia felt her face heat. This dinner was such a farce already, would anyone notice if she crawled under the table? Her mother's very pointed look in Lord Clampton's direction told everyone what she was thinking, if they didn't catch her veiled meaning in the first place.
                "Speak up, lad." Mrs. Ruggiford grinned at her nephew. "Are you going to save her daughter's reputation?"
                "Her reputation is not in danger, aunt. You are going to be in attendance the entire time." Lord Clampton's neck began to redden.Perhaps he wanted to join her under the table, Olivia thought. Immediately she decided that was a bad idea. Her mother would take that as an excuse to instantly send an announcement to the Times.
                "She can keep him in line, Lady Bedford. You have nothing to worry about." Minnie reached a reassuring hand over to her hostess. "When we were younger, Aunt Lillian always found out when John was getting into mischief. Once he and his friend William were playing Rounders out behind the stable."
                "Minnie," Lord Clampton growled.
                Minnie ignored him. "They wouldn't let me play, because I was a girl and so much smaller than they were. Looking back it's understandable, really. Aunt Lillian wouldn't have said anything if they had just refused to let me play -"
                "Don't bet on it. Girl can play rounders. Hit it far enough and you can walk the diamond." Mrs. Ruggiford stuffed a carrot in her mouth with a decisive nod.
                "They threatened to play with my doll's head instead of the ball."
                "Miniford." Lord Clampton sounded like he was in actual pain.
                "Aunt Lillian said if he wanted to play with a doll he could have just said so, instead of making me cry in order to do it. She made him carry a doll around everywhere for an entire week."
                Lord Clampton sighed. Olivia muffled a laugh with her napkin. He looked so miserable that Olivia leaned slightly to the side to whisper encouragement. "That isn't so bad, really."
                "It gets worse," he mumbled.
                Minnie's grin got even wider. "He tried to hide it by carrying it in a bag or under his cloak, but it was summer so he looked rather odd in his cloak, too."
                "Just skip to the end, Minnie. Food's getting cold." Mrs. Ruggiford pointed at her niece's untouched plate.
                "Oh, very well. He had this elaborate plan to walk with me into church so the doll could be between us and everyone would think it was mine, but then I got sick and couldn't go. When he got caught with the doll he told everyone that since I had to miss church, I sent the doll to listen to the sermon for me."
                Laughter flittered around the table.
                Lady Bedford eyed her guest again. "That was a very sweet idea, Lord Clampton. Thinking like that will make you a wonderful father some day."
                Olivia groaned.
                "You want to invite another chaperon, John?" Mrs. Ruggiford asked. "Might take more than just me to satisfy Lady Bedford.
                Olivia grinned. Now it was her mother's turn to blush.

                Next week, our little band of travelers will head out of London. Obviously this will be no ordinary little road trip -we have a couple to get together! What do you think should happen to start that little spark of romance between John and Olivia? Is something going to happen that makes him see her differently? Is she going to realize how kind her really is and get a crush on him? Leave a comment below to move the story along.

Comments are now closed. Please look for the next installment in the story.


  1. They should become friends first, maybe by having to work together to keep peace between the sister and aunt.

  2. I love the friendship angle. I think that is the best way to a deep romance.
    But I think that the other two occupants of the coach should fall in love with Olivia first and plot to kindle a burning flame between her and John.
    Of coarse they will blunder tremendously/hilariously creating events that would normally drive a wedge between a couple but only makes them draw closer to over come.