Today we are welcoming author
Dayna Leigh Cheser
link at the end of the sample chapter will take you to Dayna's website and a contest!!!!
DEBUT AUTHOR, DAYNA LEIGH CHESER, EXPLODES ONTO THE ADULT HISTORICAL ROMANCE SCENE WITH ‘JANELLE’S TIME,’ BOOK ONE OF HER EPIC ‘TIME’ SERIES, THE STORY OF THE GRAYSON FAMILY IN 1830s NEW HAMPSHIRE
“If you love the magic of romance and the romance of magic, this is a book for you.” Kenneth Weene, author of Tales From the Dew Drop Inne, Memoirs From the Asylum, & Widow's Walk
Janelle’s Time is the story of the great love between a New Hampshire farmer’s daughter and the younger son of an English Duke.
From her father’s death to the birth of twin daughters, Janelle makes it difficult for Richard to keep her safe.
Unaware of Janelle’s maternal-line powers, the couple time-travel to 14th century England, where they meet Richard’s ancestors - and discover some startling truths about his aristocratic family.
Logan Conor, the Scots Duke of Muileach, crashes Richard and Janelle’s wedding, bent on revenge, but finds his own true love instead.
On their wedding trip, a madman attempts to kidnap Janelle - twice.
Later, Richard unknowingly betrays Janelle who strands him in England. Richard finally arrives home, but fate separates them again – and he misses the birth of his son. Will they ever make a life together?+
Filled with unexpected twists and turns, their love story spans two continents, and hundreds of years. But, can their love survive their very different backgrounds and the endless obstacles life throws at them?
Dayna Leigh Cheser – Biography
Writing ‘runs in the family.’ My mother is a multi-published non-fiction author, and my two brothers make a living writing, one as a newspaperman, the other as a copywriter. My sister edits her church newsletter.
My father was a school teacher/reading specialist (later an elementary school principal) when I was little. During story-time one night when I was about four years old, I stopped him and asked how he said the same thing every time he read that story to me. That night, he started teaching me to read. It began a life-long love affair between books and me – for that, I am grateful.
In junior high, I wrote short stories to entertain classmates. In high school, one English assignment was to write my autobiography. In the teacher-specified chapter entitled ‘Future Plans,’ being a published writer topped the list.
After a college professor told me I ‘couldn’t write my way out of a paper bag,’ I stopped writing for many years. Then, in the late 1970s, I wrote an article for “World Radio News” (San Diego, CA) about our amateur radio club providing communications for a March of Dimes Walkathon. The ‘WRN’ editor used my article word-for-word.
In early 2002, between jobs and wanting to write, I sought a third-shift position and used the ‘free time’ to write what became ‘Janelle’s Time.’ When it was complete, I shelved it. In 2009, the WIP came off the shelf. By August 2011, it was ready – at last - for submission.
In 2009, I started a Twitter account, @Writers_Cafe. I feel as if I’ve earned a degree in ‘book publishing’ since then! You can learn so much from over 14,000 followers.
I penned an article about @RileyCarney, a Colorado teen, and very prolific YA fantasy author, who heads her own non-profit literacy project. Never officially published, countless people have seen it, thanks to Twitter retweets and some carefully chosen email inboxes.
On New Year’s Day, 2010, I went ‘live’ with my blog. It has evolved into a combination of chronicling my writing journey and hopefully helpful posts on publishing industry topics.
In the fall of 2011, I added ‘DIY Interviews’ to my blog (see the left column of my blog for details on doing your own interview). Several authors have submitted ‘interviews’ to date.
Janelle’s Time is Book 1 of my TIME Series. Book 2, ‘Moria’s Time’ was my NaNoWriMo project for 2011. I reached 51,000 words on November 26! Now, I have to finish that book, and three more in the series: ‘Adelle’s Time,’ ‘Logan’s Time,’ and ‘Clarissa’s Time.’
Moving into 2012, I’m very excited about the release of ‘Janelle’s Time.’ It’s the culmination of a life-long dream – and is only the beginning of my retirement career. I’m working on “Moria’s Time,” book 2 of the Time Series.
My husband, Pete, and I have been married over forty-three years – no children. We lived in Massachusetts for thirteen years, and then moved to New Hampshire for eleven years. In 1992, we moved to Florida.
Today we will include a sample chapter from the book, tomorrow, my review and a character interview.
Chapter Nine – The Wedding, June 25, 1831
At the top of the stairs, Richard’s brothers and father waited. Janelle had asked Damian to give her away, a duty he was delighted to assume. As Janelle approached, the men smiled their approval. Each in turn hugged her and kissed both her cheeks in the European fashion. Janelle blushed prettily.
Next, her sisters, brothers, and in-laws stepped forward, each wanting to give her their love and best wishes. Sarah handed her the bouquet of wine-red and ivory roses. Finally, Maura smoothed the veil over her head.
In the festively decorated, candle-lit hall below, Janelle could see neighbors, friends, and relatives milling around, talking in subdued voices. The minister’s wife, Pearl Hopkins, started playing the piano, and the guests took their seats. Once everyone was seated, she started playing their chosen wedding song, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. Damian took Janelle’s hand and placed it on his right arm. Maura, dressed in a wine-colored gown of fine linen adorned with ivory ribbons, took his left arm. With Richard’s brothers and Janelle’s siblings leading the way, they descended the wide staircase. The guests turned and collectively exclaimed their surprise—stunned at the exquisite bride. It was Janelle’s moment. Head high, she found Richard, right where he should be, waiting for her on the raised platform. Anthony, serving as best man, stood by his side. Sarah, dressed similarly to Maura, and carrying a bouquet of ivory roses, stood opposite him as matron of honor.
Richard was wearing black top hat, which, on someone so tall, looked a bit odd to her. His black velvet pants and low dress boots encased his legs and feet snugly. One of his two concessions to the wedding was an ivory shirt of the same material as her dress, rather than his usual white. The other concession was a black velvet tailcoat instead of his usual waistcoat. Janelle smiled as her heart swelled.
After a short pause to seat Maura in the front row next to Lady Susannah, Damian escorted Janelle up the two steps, then removed her hand from his arm. Leaning over, he kissed her hand gallantly, then placed it into Richard’s before turning to take his seat beside his wife. Though he would later deny it, there were tears of joy in his eyes as he watched his youngest son marry.
“Dearly beloved,” Reverend Hopkins began, “we are gathered here ...”
The minister droned on. Richard looked into Janelle’s eyes and saw only love. She looked into his and saw the same. With a small sigh, Janelle gave herself over to Richard forever.
“... speak now or forever hold your peace.” The minister recited the familiar words. He paused, though certain there’d be no objection.
“Damn right, I object.” Everyone turned toward the deep voice that shouted from the back of the gathering.
The body attached to the voice stood up, prompting a gasp from the audience. At six feet, eight inches tall, with broad shoulders and bulging muscles, he looked positively dangerous. He had fiery red hair, and deep blue eyes—that blazed with his obvious anger.
Richard stared in disbelief. Logan Conor, the Scots Duke of Muileach, looked none too happy. Richard groaned. Why this? Why today? I haven’t given a thought to Logan in years.
Janelle, hearing Richard’s groan, glared at him. “You know this man?” she hissed. “How dare he disrupt our wedding?”
Mobilized, Janelle gathered her skirts and marched to the stranger with Richard at her side. As she approached the uninvited guest, she somehow knew he was the threat to Richard she’d dreamed about during her recent illness. While she hadn’t seen his likeness in her dream, she knew he was the one. She could feel the menace in the man.
Standing this close to the stranger, she nearly lost her nerve, but was determined to oust him. She also had to protect Richard. She turned to tell him but, before she could speak, he took her arm, pulling her back. He whispered, “Nay, sweeting. ’Tis not your fight. Logan and I are old friends.”
Logan heard the comment. “Friends, the man says,” he shouted in his strong Scots accent. “Some might say, mayhaps, but I dunno call Richard of Devonwood ‘friend’.”
“Richard, listen to me. This man is the man from my dreams, the one who was after you.”
“Logan? After me? Ha. Indeed, my love. I suspect he’s been after me for years—ever since Paris.” Laughing, he pushed Janelle behind him. “Let me deal with him. It’s a misunderstanding, that’s all.”
Richard’s father and brothers, along with Janelle’s brothers and brothers-in-law, circled around Logan. Guests seated nearby scrambled to put distance between themselves and the enraged man.
Janelle found herself squeezed out of the circle. Maura snatched her arm and dragged her from the hall, mounting the stairs at a pace that surprised Janelle.
In her room, Janelle shook free and turned to the door, but Maura stood barring her way.
“That man—Logan—he’s the man who was after Richard in my dreams. I didn’t actually see him in my dream, but I know he’s the one. I warned Richard, but he laughed and told me he’d deal with Logan. Then he pushed me out of the way. Richard’s in danger. I must go to him.”
“No, my dear. You’ll stay right here. The men will tend to the situation with that uninvited guest. Don’t worry.” Maura was not about to let Janelle go back to the hall until it was safe to do so.
“Nay, Janelle. You’ll not change my mind, no matter what you say. The family men are there, and there are dozens of other men in the hall. The stranger will harm no one, of that I am certain.”
Finally, Janelle conceded she’d have to wait the situation out in safety. Richard obviously knew the man, so he should be the one to deal with him. Still, the stranger looked menacing. She sat on the edge of the bed, shredding her lace handkerchief.
In the hall below, Richard and Logan stood toe to toe. Richard knew with absolute certainty from their time in Paris he couldn’t take Logan in a fight, so, unless Logan made the first move, they were at an impasse.
Damian demanded an answer. “All right, Logan, what’s this all about? Richard’s getting married. Whatever differences you two may have can be worked out tomorrow.”
“Nay. ’Tis here and now. ‘Tis been too long already,” Logan growled, crossing his arms over his chest and glaring at Richard.
Realizing he’d get no answer from Logan, Damian turned to his son. “Richard? Why is Logan here? What’s his problem?”
Richard bemoaned his luck. He really didn’t want to talk about this. Without taking his eyes from Logan, he answered his father, “You know that Logan, his brother Daniel, and I were in Paris a few years ago. We spent the summer at the French court but, then in September, the King died. We concluded the new king was too treacherous so we sought our entertainment elsewhere.” He paused, not wanting to vocalize the next words, but knowing he had no choice. Taking a deep breath, he continued. “We made the rounds of the bars and brothels.”
Damian heard Susannah catch her breath behind him. He hadn’t known much about Richard’s time in Paris but, hearing his son’s story so far, he wasn’t at all sure he wanted to know any more.
“One night, we met a French nobleman, Francois Pierre de Gauld, fresh from a broken betrothal to a woman he loved greatly. He took us to some high-class brothels, not the usual back-street places we’d been frequenting. At one of these places, Logan met Minuet, the daughter of an impoverished nobleman. She was intelligent, charming, witty, worldly, and very beautiful; he fell hard for her.” Richard shifted position; the tension was cramping his muscles.
“One day,” he continued, “Minuet left Paris, or so Logan was told. As soon as he found out where she’d gone, he followed her only to return weeks later, empty-handed.
“Truth was, she hadn’t actually left Paris. When Logan arrived at my lodgings to tell me she’d left town and he was going after her, she was in my bedroom, hiding. She didn’t love Logan and couldn’t deal with the intensity of his feelings for her. She’d told him ‘no’ countless times and was trying to escape his attentions.”
Damian’s face turned red in anger. “Do you mean to tell me this is about a woman?”
Logan seemed to get even larger as his rage flared. He hadn’t known Minuet was hiding at Richard’s that day. His fists clenched as he glowered at him.
Ignoring Damian’s question, Richard went on with his recounting. “Minuet was a wonderful woman. With Logan gone, I agreed to look after her, even knowing he’d likely be very angry when he returned.
“Coincidentally, Minuet left Paris just days before Logan returned to visit a cousin. At first, Logan thought I’d held her for safekeeping. When I finally got through to him that Minuet didn’t want to see him anymore, he stormed out. I didn’t see him again until right after Minuet returned. He had to have been watching my lodgings because before she had a chance to say more than a few words, the door crashed down, and Logan, very drunk and very angry, muscled into the room. He had me in his sights. Several times, he charged me. The first time, I stepped aside and he crashed into the wall, leaving a big hole. The second time, he lost his balance and sprawled onto the floor.
“The third time, he connected, pinning me against the wall. Using all my strength, I shoved him away. He careened across the room, bounced off a doorframe and, out of control, slammed into the terrified Minuet. Screaming, she crashed headlong through the window.
“I ran to look. In the moment before Logan tackled me, I saw her on the ground twenty feet below. Knowing I could never best Logan, I struggled to get away from him, something only possible because he was so drunk. Once free, I ran for the street.
“Outside, I ran around the building to where the trash was dumped until it was carted away. Fortunately, there was plenty of trash. Hearing Logan behind me, I dove into a big pile near the back of the alley, hoping I was well enough hidden from his view.
“Logan started rummaging through the trash but soon gave up. In his frustration, he bellowed something about finding me and destroying my life as I’d destroyed his, then he left. I wanted to go to Minuet, but I was afraid Logan would return, or worse, would be with her when I arrived. When darkness fell, I slipped up the stairs to my rooms. I didn’t know if Minuet was dead or alive, but I knew I had to leave Paris immediately.
“Over time, I began to think Logan’s threats were hollow. What could he do to me? When we came here, I thought I was safe from him. How would he ever find me here? I put him and his threats out of my mind … until today.”
“We wondered why you came home from Paris early, without notice, and silent about it,” Sinjin observed.
“What about Minuet,” Anthony asked.
“I,” Richard sighed, despondent, shook his head and shrugged, “I don’t know.”
Logan picked up the story. “She survived the fall, but she was nay the same Minuet.” Sadness replaced the anger. “She lived for three long years, a broken woman, sorely wounded in body and spirit. She was in constant pain and needing around-the-clock care. A friend of hers wrote to me, knowing how I’d loved her. Once I knew where she was, I went to Paris and stayed with her until she died. That day, I held her close and promised I’d make Richard pay.” Logan then turned so only Richard could hear, “Finding you was easy. I went to Devonwood looking for you. Your mother was more than happy to tell me.”
Richard sighed. He couldn’t blame his mother. She didn’t know.
Logan’s anger returned. “So here I am and now you shall pay.” He lunged at Richard, a feint, but enough to alarm the men. Richard took an involuntary step backwards while the other men tightened the circle around Logan.
Sinjin spoke, giving voice to the obvious. “It seems to me, Logan, that in your grief, you’ve got it a bit wrong. You drank too much and you attacked Richard. As a result, Minuet died. It’s unfortunate, to be sure, but not Richard’s fault.” Sinjin took a breath. “And, from the sound of Richard’s story, she didn’t love you. She repeatedly tried to convey that message to you herself, to no avail.”
Logan responded loudly, “Minuet loved me. I loved her. If he hadn’t taken her in, she’d have come to me.”
Anthony, keeping an even tone, said, “Is that a fact, now?”
Logan turned on Anthony, Richard forgotten for the moment. “What can you know of this? I loved her greatly and she knew it.”
“I’m sure you did, but don’t you think it might be she cared for Richard more than she cared for you?” Anthony dodged Logan’s swing. The few guests still standing nearby scattered, retreating to the far wall.
“Logan!” Richard sought to get his attention off Anthony. “Minuet didn’t love you the way you loved her. At the beginning she was intrigued, but you overwhelmed her, frightened her. She asked me to protect her from you. To be clear, we never had the kind of relationship you think we had. We were friends, nothing more.”
Logan, bunching his muscles for a swing at Richard, stopped mid-swing. “You say?”
“That’s right. We never shared a bed. Didn’t she tell you?”
“Nay.” Logan paused for a long moment, thinking. “Trifles,” he growled. “Minuet was the woman of my dreams. Now she’s gone. Likewise, you’ll not have your dreams.” Logan’s muscles bunched again as he took a swing at Richard, who dodged it, but barely—Logan was not only large, he was quick.
“What will you do, Mister Logan?” A new voice piped in. Reverend Hopkins came from the corner of the room. “Will you kill Richard?” He paused. “I don’t know about Paris or Scotland, but killing people isn’t legal in America. Are you willing to spend the rest of your life in prison or, worse, face execution? Everyone here will swear you’re guilty. There’d be no escape.”
Logan feigned a move toward the group of men who backed the minister. Their tentative forward movement ceased immediately. Logan whooped with laughter at these American’s lack of courage.
Richard said above Logan’s laughter, “Nay, my friends! I appreciate your support, but we must resolve this here and now, else I’ll spend a lifetime looking over my shoulder.”
Reverend Hopkins nodded, grateful for his dismissal from the fray.
Richard’s mind flashed to Janelle. His eyes darted about the room, searching for her. Damian whispered, “She’s upstairs with Maura.”
No longer having to worry about his bride, Richard turned to Logan, “This has to stop right now. I didn’t steal Minuet from you. I didn’t hurt her, and I didn’t kill her. It was an unfortunate accident. I’m not the source of your grief. Therefore, you can leave voluntarily, or we can help you leave, but leave you will. I’m getting married, and you’ll not stop me.”
Logan hesitated. Could it be that his grief had pushed him this close to the edge? He would always love Minuet, but maybe it was time to put the past behind him and get on with life. He wavered, undecided.
From across the room, Janelle’s friend, Rachel Turnbull, took a step forward, alone. Logan saw the movement and looked her way. Rachel was a score and five, well past marrying age. Her family had despaired she’d ever marry. Wearing a full skirt of brown brocade adorned with ivory ribbons and an ivory silk blouse that buttoned to the throat and wrists, she was pretty, though not a classic beauty. A short-sleeved jacket of the same brocade as the skirt covered her shoulders and fastened with one large button at the waist. Slowly, Rachel approached Logan, her serious hazel eyes in a heart-shaped face sizing up the stranger. At just two inches below six feet, Rachel was tall, but Logan towered over her by nearly a foot.
The other guests made way for her approach. Soon, she stood before the intruder, gazing up, her unbound, golden blonde hair falling to well below her waist. Captivated, Logan reached out and touched it, fully expecting to feel heat, but finding it cool and silky to touch.
“Mister Logan,” Rachel began, her voice low and tremulous, “You’ve loved your Minuet long and well. But it’s time you loved again.” She reached out and touched his black linen waistcoat. He caught her hand, brought it to his lips, and kissed the palm, watching her intently as he did. Rachel shivered visibly, closing her eyes. Rachel’s mother, near fainting, hastened to find a chair.
“Well, miss, just who might you be?” Logan said, his voice now calm. He smiled, amused. Such a warm-hearted smile from the intimidating man tugged at female heartstrings throughout the hall.
“Rachel Hannah Turnbull, sir. My family owns a farm near here.” She tossed her head to indicate the general direction of her family’s farm. Her hair shimmered in the candlelight.
Logan was lost. He’d loved his Minuet, but she was gone. This fearless vision standing before him was life. For the first time in a long time, he felt alive. Lifting Rachel off the floor, he held her at arm’s length over his head, and laughed. She didn’t struggle against him and apparently didn’t mind being over eight feet in the air, high above everyone else in the room. Slowly, he lowered her to where he could kiss her. She welcomed the long, impassioned kiss. Ladies around the hall fanned themselves as the temperature in the room soared. Logan set Rachel carefully on the floor, but refused to let go of her hand.
Turning to Richard, Logan growled, “Don’t ye have a wedding to get done?”
Damian was stunned and angered by what he had just witnessed. “What? That’s it? You follow Richard halfway around the world to avenge your whore, then a pretty girl appears and you forget all about your precious Minuet?”
Edward and Anthony lurched forward, seized their father by his arms and yanked him away, hoping to avoid a completely new confrontation.
Noting their actions, Logan smiled indulgently.
To Richard, Sinjin insisted, “This wedding must go on right now, before anything else happens.” Not waiting for a response, Sinjin took the stairs two at a time.
“Let’s go, my dear. We’ve a wedding taking place downstairs.”
Janelle jumped and ran. From the top of the stairs, she scanned the hall, but saw no sign of any injured guests or damaged property. She saw Logan … standing by the door with Rachel? They’re holding hands! What happened here? Janelle shook her head, almost violently, to rid herself of the image of Logan and Rachel, and to concentrate on getting married. Right now, that was more important.
As they had been before, the guests were seated and waiting. Then she saw Richard, standing with the minister, looking at her, waiting patiently. With a cry, she hurried down the stairs, straight into his arms. He held her close and assured her everything was fine.
The minister cleared his throat. Strangely, it was enough to get everyone’s attention. Richard and Janelle stood before the minister and, at the end of an only slightly rushed ceremony, were pronounced husband and wife.
Seconds later, Logan said from the back and over the noise of the happy crowd, “Preacher! A wedding, right now!”
Heads turned to see Logan, with Rachel, approaching the platform. Richard and Janelle barely had time to get out of the way before Logan and Rachel stepped onto it.
“Married?” Janelle, said to Richard. “What happened here?” Before Richard could answer her, Logan proclaimed his intentions.
“Just do it. Now. Legalities later,” Logan growled at the minister.
Janelle removed her veil and placed it on Rachel’s head, then handed her the bouquet. Rachel stood with tears in her eyes, thankful for a friend like Janelle. Anyone else would’ve been angry at having to share the spotlight. “I know this is crazy, Janelle,” Rachel breathed as they hugged. “It doesn’t make any sense at all but, when I saw Logan in the back of the room, the formidable man with the towering rage, I somehow knew he was the one.” She glanced at Logan and shivered. “He’s wonderful, Janelle. He’s so big, so strong, and so ... primitive.” She shivered again. Tonight. Tonight, I will learn about lovemaking. Of that, I have no doubt.
“Oh, Rachel, I’m so happy for you, really I am.”
Richard agreed. “You certainly brought him up short. It took a lot of courage, but you defused a tense situation. I don’t know what would have happened without your timely intervention.” He kissed her on the cheek.
Janelle hugged her friend again and sent her to her groom, then turned to Maura and asked to have someone prepare a room for the other newlyweds. Maura smiled and nodded. She’d already spoken to Eleanor, but it was so typical of Janelle to be thinking of others, even on her own wedding day.
Afraid to do anything other than perform the ceremony, Reverend Hopkins marshaled his thoughts and, in a matter of minutes, introduced Lord Logan and Lady Rachel Conor, the Duke and Duchess of Muileach, to the guests. Logan handed several coins to the minister, who could only stare at the small fortune in his hand. He thanked Logan profusely, and then hurried to his wife. With this, and what Richard had given him earlier, they could finally retire.
The Turnbull family was in shock. For years they’d worried about Rachel’s future, then here, in the space of a few minutes, she was married, and far better than they could ever have imagined. She was the Duchess of Muileach—a Scots peer!
The day had been full of surprises, but the celebration wasn’t over. There was the feasting and dancing, which would go on well into the night, long after the couples departed for their rooms. The food was abundant, and in great variety: hot, thick chowders and hearty casseroles; meat courses with all the fixings, including whole turkeys and large hams; a cornucopia of fresh spring fruits and vegetables; and desserts of cakes, pies, and puddings, including Richard’s favorite, Yorkshire Pudding, a dish made from a pancake-like batter cooked with meat drippings.
After the meal, Logan was feeling generous and allowed he’d idealized his relationship with Minuet. Richard breathed a sigh of relief.
Richard told Logan of how he’d come to know and love Janelle. Logan, seeing Janelle and watching her with her family and friends, could understand Richard’s feelings.
As if on impulse, Logan reached out, and snatched his new wife from the clutches of her family, “Come, wife, we be leaving now.”
“No, Logan,” Janelle planted herself between Logan and the door. “You’ll not be leaving tonight.”
“You say?” Logan stood, hands on hips, glaring at her. She certainly was fearless.
“Yes, I say.” Janelle laughed. “We’ve a room ready for you and your bride upstairs. My home may not be the grand castle you live in, but it’s comfortable. Besides, Rachel will have to pack her things before departing for Scotland with you. She needs more than just the clothes on her back. She didn’t come here today intending to wed. You wouldn’t bring her to your people without a proper trousseau or dowry, would you? Also, her family needs time to adjust. Today was quite a shock to them. You may find yourself here for several days, at least. So relax and enjoy the party tonight.”
Logan chuckled. “So, Richard, we are no longer free men. We now have to think of ‘the wife and family.’ And, it seems, we’re to take orders from the women.”
“Aye, Logan. ‘Wife and family’ indeed.” He wiggled an eyebrow at Janelle, who blushed. In the back of her mind was a nagging worry about ‘family’ that had been there for months. She and Richard had come together numerous times since that first time in the winter and no child had started. Was she barren?
Richard saw her blush, then the fleeting look of distress. He wondered what thought could be marring their wedding day, a day that should be perfect. “What bothers you, my dear?”
“Nothing. Just a passing thought. Don’t worry.” Janelle wouldn’t look at him.
He wasn’t convinced, but he put the thought aside, rather than make a scene. There’d be time enough to talk later.
Changing the subject, Janelle asked how the marriage between Logan and Rachel had happened. The two men looked at each other, and Richard related an abridged version of what had happened in the hall while she was safe in her room.
Janelle looked at her friend in awe. “You simply walked up to Logan and told him it was time he forgot about his woman and loved again. Rachel, what were you thinking?”
Maura appeared at Janelle’s elbow. “Come, my dear. It’s time. We’ll get you ready for bed now.” Eleanor discreetly approached Rachel in the same manner.
Having heard Maura, Richard whispered to Janelle, “I’ll be along in a little while, probably accompanied by my brothers who’ll see to it I’m ‘properly attired’.” Dropping his voice further, he added, “Is the chicken blood in the bedroom? With Logan here, he’ll definitely fly the sheets come morning. We can do no less.”
“I asked Ricky to put it in Papa’s ….” Her breath caught as the memory of her father assailed her. He’d wanted so much to be here on this day. Shaking it off, she continued, “I’m sure it’s there by now.”
Richard caught her thoughts right away and reacted. “Janelle, my sweet, I know this must be difficult for you, moving into those rooms, but you have me now. We have each other. They’re not your father’s rooms anymore, they’re ours. We have a lifetime of living to do, starting now, starting tonight, in those rooms.” He hated to be this blunt, but he would not compete with his father-in-law’s ghost. He held Janelle close and stroked her hair. “Go, sweeting. I’ll be along soon. We’ll start our lives together tonight—officially.”
She looked up at him, tears gathering in her eyes. She planted a warm kiss on his cheek, then turned and followed Eleanor, Rachel, and Maura up the stairs, amid shouts and cheers from the guests.
Logan watched as the ladies climbed the stairs but saw only Rachel. A longing in his eyes bespoke his aching loneliness. He was so looking forward to this night with his new wife. Wife! He was married now and, soon, he’d have children at his knee.
When they returned to Muileach Castle, he’d rebuild the drafty old house, making it livable again. He could do no less for his new family. For a fleeting moment, he remembered Seanna, his long-time friend and sometimes-lover at Muileach Castle, but he pushed her out of mind. She promptly elbowed her way back in, and he wondered what she would think about Rachel or, more to the point, what she’d do about Rachel. He fervently hoped there’d be no trouble.
Shaking himself, he sighed and took another glass of wine. Richard had watched the play of emotions on Logan’s face but couldn’t know his thoughts. When Logan picked up the glass, Richard took one, too. Wordlessly, they clinked glasses and downed the rich, red liquid, again and again and again.
Upstairs, Maura opened the door and entered what had been Gerard’s rooms. Janelle hesitated in the hall. She hadn’t been here since the day her father died. Taking a deep breath, she stepped inside. Looking around, she couldn’t believe her eyes.
Maura stood in the middle of the room. “I heard Richard. He’s right, you know. You have each other now and your life together. You shouldn’t live in your father’s rooms, so I changed them. These are your rooms; for you and your husband.”
Janelle’s first reaction was anger. How dare this woman, longtime family friend and companion notwithstanding, remove her father’s things from his rooms without permission! Then she realized they really were not her father’s rooms any more. Richard had said it, Maura had said it, and she knew it. Her father was gone. These rooms were where she and Richard would live, where their children would be born, if there were any, and, Lord willing, where they would die, leaving the rooms for the next generation.
Maura watched the play of emotions on Janelle’s face. She knew it was a shock to find all traces of Gerard gone, the walls newly wallpapered, bright, new curtains at the windows, even all new furniture and carpets, but it was a necessary shock. Without it, she would idolize her father at the expense of her relationship with Richard.
“Maura,” Janelle whispered, her voice tight with emotion, her hands clenched at her sides, “Where are my father’s things?”
“They’re in the attic, my dear, carefully packed away. Nothing discarded, not a single thing, not even scraps of paper. Someday you can bring it all down and tell your children all about their grandfather.” Maura paused. “For now, however, you must put your father aside. If you don’t, your marriage will suffer. Richard deserves better than playing second fiddle to a dead man.” There. She had spoken her piece. Seldom in all her years with the LeDuc family did she ever knowingly inflict pain, but a little now would forestall a great deal more in the future.
Silent, Janelle stood in the center of the room, turning slowly as she took in the changes. When had Maura done all this? How had she missed the obvious activity here? Did Richard know? At last, Janelle began to accept what had happened here. Maura sighed in relief.
Dorothy knocked and came in to help Maura remove Janelle’s gown. That done, she left with the dress for packing away after washing. After Janelle had a quick sponge bath, Maura produced an alluring dressing gown.
“Oh, Maura, it’s gorgeous, but so sheer. It doesn’t leave much to the imagination.”
Maura chuckled. “And, do tell, just what’s left to imagine between you two?”
Speechless, Janelle blushed furiously, feeling like a naughty child. She’d suspected all along that Maura knew what was happening. Now, confronted with the truth of it, she squared her shoulders. “Of course you knew.” After a minute, she said, “Um, while we’re on the subject, in all this time, there’s been no child. Am I right to suspect Gram’s magic may be involved here?”
“Of course, dear. Do you think I’d let you play your love games without it? The tea I’ve greeted you with each morning for months now has contained special herbs to prevent a child.”
“Ah. And, that’s why the tea was bitter?” Maura nodded. Janelle’s eyes popped as she realized there’d been no tea this morning. Janelle felt strange inside. “There was no tea today. Does that mean I could be pregnant tomorrow?”
Maura chuckled. “It’s possible, of course, but probably not. Sometimes it takes a little time for the effect of the herbs to wear off. Also, the timing may not be right. Don’t worry, dear. Your mother had no trouble getting pregnant. You won’t, either. Look at your sisters. They have eight children between them, all live births, and not a single miscarriage. Why, that’s unheard of! Nay, my dear. You needn’t worry.”
Years ago, Maura had sworn that Adrienne’s daughters would not die as their mother had, birthing four live children, and three miscarriages in just eight years. Adrienne had been pregnant at some time during nearly every year for the first eight years of her marriage. Insanity! There had then been five years, carefully and secretly herbs-enforced, before Adrienne had gotten pregnant again, but the long years of abuse to her body had taken its toll. She died giving birth to Janelle.
“Come, dear. ’Tis time for you to be in the bed to receive your husband. I think I hear a commotion coming this way.” Maura hurried out through the other door just as the hall door flew open, and a much-disheveled, more-than-slightly-drunk Richard, minus all but his small clothes, stood in the doorway. Anthony shoved him into the room. He stumbled and turned to those at the door, swaying slightly. His brothers blocked the doorway so no one else could enter, much to the dismay of those behind them who had hoped to get a peek at Janelle in her nightclothes.
Only Logan was able to break the blockade. Inside the room, Logan stood legs apart and arms folded across his massive chest. Janelle felt a small clutch of fear in the pit of her stomach. Downstairs, he’d been large. Here, he was a giant. Logan started laughing. A fast, almost effortless swipe of his hand sent Richard flying to land in a heap on the bed, causing Janelle to scramble to the far corner, pulling the covers with her. Still laughing, Logan reached over and, with another effortless move, tore off the last of Richard’s clothes. Naked, Richard froze, out of fear or embarrassment, or both—Janelle couldn’t tell. Logan pointed in the general direction of Richard’s sex and laughed harder. He turned and left the room, still chortling. From the hall, Janelle heard him bellow, “I’ll go to my lady now. She’ll know a real man!”
The men in the hallway were quiet, the levity gone.
Anthony closed the door.
I Love, love, love this chapter. The wedding chapter is just amazing. In fact, the entire book is incredible. Stay tuned...tomorrow is my review, a character interview and more, much more!!!!
FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW TO DAYNA'S WEBSITE AND A FANTASTIC CONTEST!!!