Today we bring you a very special, exclusive Valentine's Day treat! Earlier this month, we asked you to offer suggestions (“prompts”) for author Manda Collins to use as inspiration for an original scene. And now we're delighted to present her short story (!!!!), “Miss Easterling's Highland Fling”! Here are the prompts she chose (with thanks to all who commented!).
- A kiss in a curricle near Rotten Row
- A working (non-aristocratic) hero
- A horse named Crystal
- A plus sized heroine
- Long overdue declaration of love
“Miss Easterling's Highland Fling” by Manda Collins
Miss Eleanor Easterling straightened her hat as she stalked away from the line of open carriages and curricles snaking its way down Rotten Row.
“Miss Easterling,” cried the fashionable fribble whose phaeton she had just leapt down from, “I beg you, come back! Your Grandmama will never forgive me if I do not bring you home safely!”
But Eleanor ignored Reggie Hart's plaintive cries as he tried to keep his horse, laughably named Crystal, from bolting. She had agreed to accompany him on a drive in the park against her better judgment —the Harts were neighbors of the Easterlings back in Devon—but she had not spoken above five words with the young man before she realized his only purpose in inviting her was so that he could get his hands on her inheritance. Not only had he attempted to propose marriage on their way to the park, but once there, he'd tried to publicly compromise her in an attempt to override her refusal. At five and twenty, and more curvy than the fashion plates dictated, Eleanor knew her own worth, and it would take more than a spendthrift with more hair than wit to trick her into marriage. She might be a bookish spinster, but she had more sense than that. And she certainly wouldn't be giving her hand and fortune away anytime soon.