Is it really the middle of summer already? Where has the year gone? Okay, I was going to share a bit more from Heartfelt, but I was afraid of ruining a little surprise I set up in that one. So…. how about a little bit more from upcoming Something Like a Lady, the Regency romance I currently have in progress with my writing partner, Kim Bowman?
“You could have gone to London and—”
“Oh, be quiet! I — wonderful, Annabella. Now you’re talking to yourself.”
As if to agree and scold her at the same time, her stomach rumbled and cramped with hunger pains. The little bit of bread and cheese she and Juliet had been able to sneak out of the main house hadn’t lasted long, and now the bread was completely gone, pilfered by a ruddy mouse. Annabella glared at the cook pot. She should have chosen something lighter, easier to throw.
And then what? Wrestle the field mouse for the crust? Have you really sunk that low? Her stomach rumbled again. Perhaps…
A single horrid lemon sat in the middle of the table, its rough yellow peel mocking her. Of course the filthy mice couldn’t possibly have made off with those. No, they had to go for the bits of food she found palatable. She snatched up the oblong fruit and rolled it between her palms. If she cut into it, the lemon wouldn’t last very long before it spoiled. She should wait until she was desperate. She released a heavy sigh and thought again of the mouse and her crust of bread.
She was desperate.
Why, oh, why had she not rationed her food better so it would last longer? She picked up a long knife—the only one she could find in the derelict cottage. Then she sank her teeth into her bottom lip as she concentrated. The dull knife fought with the thick peel and the lemon rolled out of her hand once, but finally she managed to slice off the end. The acidic scent rose to torment her nostrils and her hand shook as she raised the slice to her mouth.
The bitter, sour juice squirted onto her palate. Of its own accord, her face scrunched up and a shudder wracked her body. The juice hit the back of her throat and her stomach gave a mighty heave. Try as she might, she simply couldn’t bring herself to swallow down the tart fruit.
The acid taste intensified the longer she let it set on her tongue. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t force the foul lemon down and finally had to spit it out. To say she’d made a muck of it was putting it lightly. She deserved to die here in the cottage alone for letting her pride get in the way and causing her to send her dear friend Juliet to London in her place. Annabella’s food supply would be gone in another day or so, sooner if she couldn’t keep the pest mouse at bay. Now that the foul creature had absconded with her last crust of bread, all she had left was the lemon and a single turnip, which she had no idea how to cook. She’d chewed on its mate the evening before. The bitter root had tasted nothing at all like her favorite creamed turnips.
<><><><> Ahhh, poor Annabella… Maybe someone should tell her the adage about life handing one lemons and what to do with them… But I have a feeling if anyone tries they’ll get more than an ear stuffed with said lemons. <><><><> You can read about her friend in London right now in A Lot Like a Lady. Available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble at 99 cents for a limited time!
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