The Mysterious Stranger


WIPWed-1024x427 WIP Wednesday

A bit from a book I’ve just begun. My heroine, Dinah, is what as known as a poor relation. When her cousin darts off to the nearby great house to attempt to ingratiate herself with a man she believes to be a duke’s heir, they meet someone else entirely, one Dinah encountered on the road a day or two before.

***

Fillmore gestured to the door, but Selina dragged her feet, studying what she could see as if cataloging the assets. Dinah bit her cheek to keep from hurrying her in front of the overbearing butler. They were almost there when another gentleman, walking across the hall between two rooms gazed toward them and paused.

Dinah’s mysterious stranger appeared to recognize her. He began to walk toward them as Fillmore impatiently opened the door. Dinah held her breath. On foot he appeared less ferocious. His body tilted to one side, and he walked, with a swaying gait that was not quite a limp. He radiated power and confidence none the less. Who was this man?

“We have guests, Fillmore?” he said.

“These ladies called on Mr. Tavernash,” Fillmore said with clipped tones.

“As nearest neighbors we thought to welcome him. You…”  Selina’s voice faded away under the force of his frown.

The stranger glanced at Dinah and then Fillmore. “Neighbors?”

“The Honorable Selina Selwyn is the daughter of Viscount Selwyn,” Fillmore said, his tight jaw making the words sound as if he forced them out. He glared at Selina.

Dinah noticed a flicker of recognition at Uncle Ludlow’s name. This man wasn’t an utter stranger to this place.

“Kindly introduce us Fillmore,” he said. There was no mistaking the command in his voice.

The butler scowled in disapproval but complied. “Miss Selwyn, my I present Mr. Gideon Kendrick.” He didn’t add anything to explain the man’s presence at Mountglen nor his air of authority.

Kendrick peered pointedly at Dinah.

“And her… Companion,” Fillmore finished.

“My cousin, Miss Dinah Selwyn,” Selina clarified.

Kendrick studied Dinah so intently she had to fight not to squirm. “I’m honored, ladies,” he said with a slight inclination of his head.

For a moment Dinah thought he would say more, feared he’d allude to their previous encounter, but he did not.

Soon enough they were out the door and on their way back down the long drive. Selina sighed dramatically. “Thank goodness that man is not the heir. Isn’t he horrid?”

Dinah didn’t think so. Not in the slightest. His posture may be odd but she found his air of authority, and intense dark eyes compelling.

Selina ignored her. “I know who he is. Did you guess?”

Dinah blinked. She had no idea what her cousin babbled about.

“He’s the brother, the half-wit cripple. Do you think he’s come to cause trouble for poor Mr. Tavernash?”

Note: excerpts from works in progress may have not yet been edited, will likely undergo change, and may not even make it into the final work!

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