Friday, December 16, 2011

Free Fiction Friday - Installment 1.8

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:  1234567


After a leisurely ride through the country, the party had stopped at the home or Lord Bromley, Baron of Gimbleshire. He and Lord Clampton had several business dealings together and the stopover would serve the dual purpose of allowing them to spend the night in comfort and letting Lord Clampton deliver some papers.
None of them expected to find the house bustling with dinner party preparations.
 Lady Bromley, it appeared, was not going to let the opportunity to entertain such a high ranking man as Lord Clampton pass her by.
“It’s just a small dinner party, I assure you. I simply couldn’t fathom asking Lord Clampton to sit down to a simple family meal.”  Lady Bromley gave a whole new meaning to the words gushing and fawning.
“Not a problem for me,” Mrs. Ruggiford said. “Give him the party and the rest of us will take the simple family meal.”
Lady Bromley blinked. “I beg your pardon?”
Minnie rushed forward to grab her aunt’s arm. “What she means is that she’s quite tired from the trip. Would it be all right if we just send a tray up to her room? The rest of us will be happy to attend your gathering.”
Olivia smiled. The girl was learning.
Trunks were brought in, dresses were readied, and hair was repaired in record time. Guests began arriving before the ladies had even made it to their rooms.
Olivia decided to peek in on Lord Clampton’s aunt before going down to the drawing room.
Mrs. Ruggiford settled onto a chaise lounge, wrapped in a green velvet dressing robe. She waved her book in the air. “Dinner party with the bard tonight. Don’t miss me.”
Olivia chuckled as she headed down the stairs. With such a successful example of irreverence as a guide, it would be a miracle if Minnie developed any social graces at all. The proof of this was staring her in the face when she joined the already mingling guests.
Minnie stood in one corner of the room, chatting merrily with a small group of three other guests. The conversation appeared to be flowing nicely and Minnie was holding herself as a proper young lady should when conversing with a group of gentlemen. There was one problem though.
She was wearing her hat.
Olivia was the last to arrive in the drawing room. Their hostess began the processional to the dining room as soon as she spotted her final guest. Olivia never made it across the room to her new friend. She was forced to watch the mismatched ribbons and plumes dance above Minnie’s head a few feet down the table.
When the ladies finally retired, Olivia wondered if it would be best to let the hat remain. Minnie appeared to be holding her own with the group. Removing her hat now could undermine her confidence enough the make her hide in the corner. Olivia decided not to risk it and prayed she wasn’t also telling the pig story.
The gentlemen joined them much sooner than Olivia expected. She was quite grateful since she assumed this meant to party would dissolve soon and she would be able to retire for the night. Even leisurely travel could be quite tiring.
She had not counted on Lady Bromley.
“I have a special treat for everyone!” The hostess clapped her hands like a delighted little schoolgirl. “Miss Elizabeth Stratford has agree to play the pianoforte for us tonight so that we might enjoy a little impromptu exercise and entertainment with a little dance or two.”
Olivia groaned. She knew ladies shouldn’t groan in public, but she just couldn’t help herself. Dancing. There was going to be dancing. Dancing could go on for hours.
“May I have this dance, Miss Bedford?”
Olivia turned to find Lord Clampton standing behind her, hand extended in invitation.
“Of course, my lord.”
“Please, call me John. The trip will be much more enjoyable if we don’t stand on formalities.”
Olivia smiled. “John, then. Please call me Olivia.”
The two took their places for the dance. It was a fairly quick moving one that would not allow for much conversation between partners. This didn’t concern Olivia overmuch since she wasn’t trying to further her relationship with any of the men on the dance floor that evening. John apparently had other ideas.
“I have something to confess,” he whispered as they passed each other.
“What?” Olivia asked when they had once again met in the middle to skip their way down the train of dancers.
“Minnie isn’t the real reason I asked you to come on this trip.”
Olivia looked up at John in surprise. The man didn’t acknowledge it, staring straight ahead, a blank look on his face. “I – I –“
Olivia’s shock and inability to articulate a sentence didn’t matter for the moment since they reached the end of the line and took their place among those forming the walls of the dancing pathway. It was a solid minute before they were once again side by side.
“I had another reason,” John said.
Olivia nearly growled in frustration as she pranced around in a circle with all the ladies.
“What was it?” she asked as she took his arm one more time.
“I’m afraid it is rather personal,” he said before he handed her off to another gentleman.
Personal? It was personal? Olivia tugged harder at her current partner’s arm, trying to hurry the dance around to the next formation.
“What was it?” she asked again, desperation settling into her belly.
“I –“
The music ended. John bowed while Olivia curtsied. She was still rising to her feet when Lady Bromley swooped by and drug John off to meet some of the ladies that were present.
Olivia stamped her foot as she watched John disappear into the small crowd of people.

Okay, readers, it’s your turn? What is John’s REAL reason for inviting Olivia on the trip? Does it have to do with his feelings? His sister? Something else? Throw you ideas in the comments below.

Comments are now closed for this segment. Please look for the next segment of the story. 

1 comment:

  1. His family has been after him to marry and pointed out Olivia as a girl like one he should marry. His plan could be to show them that he spent time with Olivia and nothing developed.