Fri
Aug 25 2017 10:00am

H&H Quickie #20: Megan Frampton Presents “Recipe for Reconciliation”

Lady Be Bad by Megan Frampton

Today we're thrilled to welcome Megan Frampton (author of Lady Be Bad) back to Heroes and Heartbreakers with a scene that we know will leave you wanting more!

Earlier this month, we asked you to offer suggestions (“prompts”) as inspiration for a short original scene, and you blew us away with all of your great prompts.

Here are the prompts she chose for “Recipe for Reconciliation” (with thanks to everyone who left a suggestion, because there were so many fantastic options):

Prompts chosen:

Frances wiped the perspiration from her forehead as she pondered just how to get into the house. It had been ruthlessly, terribly hot all week, and even though it was past midnight, the heat remained oppressive.

She stood in the garden, shifting from one foot to the other, nerves tangling her stomach into knots.

This was it. This was the only time she could possibly get in and take what she’d come for without anybody noticing, until it was too late. And by then, everyone would have the information that was so closely guarded inside the house.

If she thought about it too much, she usually ended up dissolved in giggles. Even though it was an entirely serious matter. For her family, at least.

Frances herself didn’t care if the Richmonds never got the chance to taste Lady Cordelia’s infamous ale biscuits, but it was all her grandmother could talk about. Rant about, if she were being honest.

So here she was, preparing to break into the Wellesleys’ family home in search of a highly-guarded recipe. For ale biscuits.

She heard herself emit a smothered snort, sounding as though it was as loud as a cannon. Even when she wasn’t thinking about it too much it made her laugh.

But according to her grandmother, and a few generations above hers, it was the most deadly situation. The Wellesleys and the Richmonds had, a century or so ago, been inextricably entwined through marriage, and the respective families had started a bakery and brewhouse together, eventually combining the two products into one. The aforementioned ale biscuit.

She’d never tasted it herself, but she’d heard her grandmother talk about it often enough—delicious, biteable, salty, but also sweet. Not to mention perfectly crumbly. It sounded like the ideal gentleman, one who did not look like Mr. Lucas Wellesley, the owner of the house she was preparing to break into. Except for the crumbly part; she couldn’t imagine how that would be manifested in a human being.

Stop stalling, Frances, she reminded herself, taking a deep breath.

She walked up to the house, momentarily grateful for the heat that had resulted in the open windows, even though Mr. Wellesley was in the country, not in London. The servants remained in town, but Frances knew they were out at the dancehall, all of them except for the ancient butler, who was partially deaf and slept on the other side of the house anyway.

 She raised the window and hoisted herself onto the sill, pleased she’d thought to borrow her younger brother’s clothing for this escapade. Charlie was enamored of Jeremy Bentham’s utilitarian philosophy at the moment, so his clothing was dark and serviceable (as compared to last year, when he’d gone through his Romantic period. Brightly-colored scarves would not have suited her purpose as well).

And then promptly tumbled into the room, landing flat onto what felt like a rug. A worn rug, judging by how hard she tumbled.

“Ouch,” she said in a squeak, raising herself up on her hands.

“You could have rung the bell,” a low voice said as she saw the spark of a match. “Although the entrance would have been much less impressive.”

***

What was Miss Frances Richmond doing in his library? Why was Miss Frances Richmond in his library?

Those are the same questions, idiot, Lucas chided himself.

He stepped out from behind his desk, extending an arm to Miss Richmond, who was on hands and knees on his floor. Glaring up at him as though her current predicament was his fault.

“Thank you,” she murmured in a begrudging tone of voice.

She rose, stumbling as she did so she ended up pressed up against him, the top of her head reaching his chin.

She was taller than most of the ladies he knew, not that he was normally this close to any of those ladies. Not that he wanted to be, not the way he wanted to be pressed up against Miss Richmond. Frances.

She leapt away before he could do more than breathe in her scent, a mixture of violets and her own distinct odor, exacerbated because of the heat. When she did, he saw she was wearing gentleman’s clothing, something that should not have made her look even more enticing.

Even though it did.

“Why are you here, Frances?” he said, crossing his arms over his chest. “Let me guess,” he continued, raising an eyebrow at her. “It is that damned recipe. I promise, those biscuits are not nearly as delicious as your grandmother reports. I’ve had them.” Bitter, crumbly, and dry. Rather like her grandmother, if he were being honest.

Nothing like her. Which he’d known himself for too short a time two years ago. Back then they’d spoken of repairing the damage between their two families, their marriage being the ultimate recipe—ha!—to banish the antipathy.

But then they’d argued about their shared family history, and she had stormed off, and he hadn’t seen her since.

Until now. Tumbling through his window like a Frances-shaped arrow, piercing his heart just as much as she had that time before.

Judging by her expression, her pride had been pierced. Nothing more.

“The recipe itself doesn’t matter,” she replied, lifting her nose in the air. So adorably contentious he wanted to bite her. Unlike what he ever wanted to do to those biscuits. “It’s the principle of the thing. Grandmother will not stop talking about them, and she won’t let me live my life until she has the recipe in hand.”

“What do you mean, live your life?” He narrowed his eyes. “Do you mean you plan to marry?”

Her cheeks flushed, something he could see even in the dim flicker of the candle. His heart hurt even more at the thought of someone else touching his Frances, even though she hadn’t been his Frances for years.

“No, I do not plan to marry. Not right now, at least.”

He exhaled in relief. 

“Well, then, I have a proposition for you. One that will get you the recipe.”

And keep her from ending up as another man’s wife.

“And what might that be?” She sounded skeptical. He didn’t blame her. He’d be skeptical if his long-ago but now estranged love was offering some sort of bargain.

He’d always appreciated her sensibility.

“Agree to an engagement and I’ll give you the recipe as a betrothal present. Then, later, you can break it off.”

Although hopefully by then he’ll have persuaded her to make it a real marriage. One filled with warmth, and spice, and that would hold together no matter what.

Entirely unlike those damned ale biscuits.

***

Learn more about or order a copy of Lady Be Bad by Megan Frampton, available now:

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Megan Frampton writes historical romance under her own name and romantic women's fiction as Megan Caldwell. She likes the color black, gin, dark-haired British men, and huge earrings, not in that order. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and kid. You can find her at meganframpton.com, at facebook.com/meganframptonbooks/, and @meganf.

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1 comment
Kareni
1. Kareni
What a fun scene; I'd happily read more! And now I want to try an ale biscuit and form my own opinion.
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