So begins another…


WIPWed-1024x427 WIP Wednesday

Working away at the hotel post Historical Romance Retreat. I’ve done a bit of character work, and finally got down the opening I envisioned for Duke in Name Only. When Phillip discovered that the title he held was acquired fraudulently, he wandered away to North America determined to create an independent fortune, success of his own making. It hasn’t gone well.

*****

“So who are you really?” demanded the ruffian at the rear of the canoe paddling through changing currents of the Ohio River where it rushed forward to meet the Mississippi. The man smelled as foul as he looked—dirty, unshaven, dressed in filthy buckskins, with a nasty scar down one cheek. He spit over the side and grinned, gaped toothed, at his reluctant passenger.

I’m the damned fool who walked away from the greatest house in Dorset, an army of servants and great piles of money only to get bamboozled, robbed, stripped, and knifed into the bargain. Stupidity hurt worse than the bruises. The seeping would stuffed full of moss by his unlikely rescuer was another matter.

Wet, wounded, and weary, Phillip felt no humor whatsoever. “I told you,” he said. 

“Yer feisty for a man with nuthin’ but the shirt on his back at the mercy of a stranger’s kindness. Say the other again, then. I need a laugh, and you sure as hell aren’t pulling your weight any other way” the uncouth boatman demanded.

Fair enough. Phillip sighed and spat it out through stiff lips. “I am Phillip Roland George Arthur Tavernash, Ninth Duke of Glenmoor, Earl of Wentworth, Viscount Gradington, Baron Walsh.”

The boatman let out a bark of laughter so strong it rocked the boat. “Well Artie, you’re entertaining. I’ll give you that. Folks may pay money to hear you say that with that fancy accent of yours. God knows you’re going to need it.”

“What’s your name then. Perhaps I’ll laugh,” Phillip said.

His companion didn’t answer. Phillip had been told to expect the water where the two great rivers, the Ohio and the Mississippi met to be treacherous. It had been and grew more so. The boatman put his back into his work. A log passed them floating downstream and the man dodged it with astonishing skill. He maneuvered the canoe through swirling currents, sliding around into roiling water that sent them backward, and pushing the canoe forward again, due north against the current.

“Luke Archer,” the ruffian replied a while later. “The one you can thank when I drag your worthless carcass ashore.”

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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