Friday, July 22, 2011

CAW Chapter A Week

The Gentleman Takes a Bride in The Wedding Season

By Louise M. Gouge

Surely Elizabeth Moberly was born to be a nobleman's bride. She can't possibly be attracted to the untitled stranger who interrupts her cousin's wedding. Yet Elizabeth finds herself drawn to Philip Lindsey's tender heart and strong faith. And if Philip has his way, he'll convince Elizabeth the only title she needs is Mrs. Lindsey, beloved wife.

The Wedding Season reached #8 at for Kindle romance anthologies! It has been in the top 50 for over a month.

Hampshire, England

June 1810

"I will not settle for an untitled husband." Lady Diana Moberly lifted her pretty little nose and sniffed. "I shall find a peer to marry, or I'll not marry at all."

Seated beside her cousin in St. Andrew's Church, Miss Elizabeth Moberly listened with rapt attention. After all, Di had just returned from her first London Season and knew everything about courtship and marriage. And in a few minutes, the wedding ceremony would begin, and Di's older sister would marry a handsome gentleman she met at Almack's only two months ago. An untitled gentleman. Di insisted she would do better.

Before Elizabeth could voice agreement, her other cousin, Miss Prudence Moberly, squeezed Elizabeth's hand and leaned around her to address Di.

"But what if the Lord wills for you to marry a good Christian gentleman without a title?"

Elizabeth swung her attention from Pru back to Di.

Di sniffed again. "La, such a question, Pru, but just what I would expect from you. Haven't I told you? The Almighty and I have an understanding about such things." She gazed down her nose at Pru.

Elizabeth released a quiet sigh. She and her two cousins had been born within months of each other eighteen years ago. The youngest daughters of three brothers, they looked almost like triplets, with blond hair, blue eyes, and ivory complexions. They had enjoyed a merry childhood together, yet these days their views on most everything were different. Di was always ready with an opinion on any topic and brooked no contradiction. Pru was the sweetest soul, but she never backed down from differences with their more influential cousin, especially on spiritual matters. Elizabeth vacillated between the two, but these days she tended to follow Di, who always seemed to have more fun.

Still, Elizabeth could not deny the peace she felt in this small stone church, which her family had attended for over two centuries. Nor could she guess how many relatives had been baptized here or how many lay buried in the ancient graveyard outside. This building was a place of beginnings and endings and all good things in between. Whenever she came here, it seemed to enfold her in sheltering arms, encouraging her always to seek God's will, whatever she might undertake in life.

Perhaps she could take the advice of both cousins. She would ask the Lord to send her a titled Christian husband.

But this was Sophia's day, and Elizabeth wished her great happiness with Mr. Whitson. Today, all things seemed to smile upon the bride. The sun shone brightly, and no one in their vast family had succumbed to illness to spoil the celebration. Flowers from Aunt Bennington's garden and bright green and white ribbons bedecked the altar and the pew ends, filling the air with the heady fragrance of roses.

The rustling of ladies' gowns and the shuffling of leather shoes on the wooden floor caught Elizabeth's attention, and she glanced over her shoulder. Across the aisle, several people had moved down so a tall young man of perhaps three and twenty years could slide into the pew.

Goodness, he was handsome, if a bit untidy. His wavy black hair appeared to have been arranged by the wind, and his black coat, while quite the mode, had a leaf caught under one lapel and perhaps a stray burr or two clinging to the sleeves. His lean, strong jaw was clenched, and his blue eyes gleamed with the look of a man set on accomplishing an important task. The gentleman must have ridden posthaste to arrive in such a condition. At the sight of him, Elizabeth's heart seemed to hiccough.

Or perhaps it was Pru's elbow in her ribs. "Tst," her proper cousin admonished.

"Humph." Di's ever-uplifted nose punctuated her disapproval of the latecomer.

Wishing to please her cousins, Elizabeth stared ahead. Her aunt, Lady Bennington, sat on the front row with her eldest son, the viscount. In the second row, Elizabeth's parents, Captain and Mrs. Moberly, sat with one of her brothers.

Soon the door beside the altar opened, and the vicar, Mr. Smythe-Wyndham entered, followed by Uncle Bennington, the bride Lady Sophia, and Mr. Whitson.

Elizabeth's resolve about titles wavered when she saw the groom. Tall, with broad shoulders and blond hair that curled around his well-shaped face, Mr. Whitson more than made up in form what he lacked in rank. Elizabeth could not deny cousin Lady Sophia had found a handsome man, even though Elizabeth preferred darker features.

As if summoned by her own thoughts, she turned toward the dark-featured stranger across the aisle. Seeing the stormy expression on his face, she drew in a quiet gasp. His strong, high cheeks were pinched with. . .anger? Dark stubble shaded his clenched, sun-bronzed jaw. His black eyebrows met in a frown over his straight nose, which pointed like an arrow toward the wedding couple, while his blue eyes shot flashing daggers.

Alarm spread through Elizabeth, but she had no time to think or act.

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God and in the face of this congregation to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony." Mr. Smythe-Wyndham intoned the opening words of the solemn rite in his rich baritone. He read of God's purpose for marriage, then moved on to charge the couple to confess it now if there existed any impediment to their union.

Suspicion shot through Elizabeth, and her gaze again slid across the aisle to the dark-browed stranger. His face exhibited a controlled rage much like her father's when indignation filled him over some serious matter. The man edged toward the front of his seat, like a lion about to spring upon its prey.

"If any man do allege and declare any impediment," the minister read, "why they may not be coupled together in Matrimony, by God's Law, or the Laws of this Realm—"

The stranger shot to his feet, holding high a folded sheet of vellum. "Indeed, sir, I do declare an impediment."

Copyright 2011© Louise M. Gouge and Deborah Hale. All rights reserved. Do not reprint.

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Hero in Hiding

By Mitchell Bonds

It's Monty Python meets Lord of the Rings. It's an unholy hybridization of Shrek and the Enchanted Forest Chronicles.

It's an Epic of Disastrous Proportions, and it's available on Amazon.

The sequel to the comedic fantasy satire "Hero, Second-Class," Hero in Hiding brings more laughs, more magic, more Monologues, Diabolical Plots, and in-combat narration than its predecessor. Join the young Hero Cyrus Solburg as he attempts to foil the plot of Voshtyr Demonkin and his attempt to rule the world with the P.L.O.T. Device!


"Serimal! Brother dearest! Come out and play!" Voshtyr spun the tube and flicked it out at arm's length. A marble column a few yards away exploded into dust. "I know you're here," he called. "You can hide until I reduce the castle to rubble, the rubble to dust, and the dust to nothing, but you'll just be wasting both our time!"

"Then waste this, Demonkin!" Jolan hurled one of his black lances at Voshtyr's head.

Voshtyr dropped to the ground, and the bolt passed overhead and blasted the single remaining loadbearing column for the only patch of roof left standing on the entire castle. It collapsed into rubble.

Voshtyr pushed himself up, dusting himself off. "Tsk, tsk, Hero," he said, looking at Jolan. "Destroying centuries-old architecture? That should come out of your pay!"

Jolan scowled. "Don't even start with the cute insults. And no, before you start, I don't care what your plans are, what the number of Heroes you've killed today is, or how pathetic you

think I am. You keep your kharestin Monologue to yourself."

The two sized each other up.

Voshtyr flexed his metal arm, snapping his concealed blade in and out of its chassis.

Jolan took a wide stance and allowed all four of his mechanical limbs to vent pressure. "Looks like you've had some work done too," he said. "Who designed yours?"

"Beelsephaz, Chief Demonic Artifactor," Voshtyr said. "Do you like it?"

"It's not bad . . . for cheap trash," Jolan said. "Mine were designed by Dair Kormari Angelis, master wizard and fine father."

"Cheap trash?" Voshtyr said. "Can yours do this?" His fingers folded and split into knives.

"Something that tawdry?" Jolan said. "Of course not. Mine can do this!" A set of glowing claws sprouted from the fingers of one hand, and his other hand transformed into a hammer. "Your little knife fingers are nothing!"

"Oh, really?" Voshtyr twisted his wrist sideways and tapped on the back of his hand. A full projection of the world appeared, hovering above the arm. Little red pinpricks of light floated inside it. "Can you track all your forces around the world with your arm?"

"No, but I can call my lawyer with my foot!" Jolan bent down and removed his left foot, which he held it up to his ear. "Hello, Cornwall and Associates?" he said. "Jolan Foster. No,

I don't need anything, just making a point. Goodbye." He put his foot back on. "Top that, nancy boy!"

"I can and will!" Voshtyr looked peeved. He tapped his shoulder. "Death ray!"

Jolan slapped his thigh. "Explosive launcher!"

Voshtyr pointed to his elbow. "Grappling hook!"

Jolan pulled a silver screen out of his left arm. "Tanning screen!"


"Beverage warmer!"

"Sandwich press!"

"Nail gun!"

"Alarm clock!"

"Hang glider!"


Jolan looked at Voshtyr askance. "You have a spork?"

"Well . . . yes?" Voshtyr said. "You never know when you might need a spork."


"So it looks like there's only one way to settle this," Green said, drawing his knives.

"All right," the Dwarf said, readying his halberd. "What'd that be, then?"

"A dance-off, of course!" Green threw down his knives points first in the dirt on opposite sides. "He who has the smoothest dance moves keeps the stone. Have at ye!"

The Green Falcon leapt into the air and did a backflip, then launched into a series of acrobatic loop-kicks and tumbles.

The Dwarves looked at each other as if stunned. And then, as a squad, they began to dance.

* * *

It is a little known fact that Dwarves, of all the Races in the world, are the best dancers. It stems from the fact that, over the course of the takeover by Axebeard and his ilk, most forms of

political and personal expression were either severely limited or completely banned. No speech was allowed against the government, nor fliers permitted to be printed, and any assembly for any purpose had to have a government monitor present to enforce these laws.

One thing Axebeard overlooked was the art of Dance.

Thorbeard Hammerheart, a master of Break Dancing, an ancient art combining the artistic and graceful movement of dance with the destructive power of berserker rage, began teaching local Dwarves his art as a manner of political protest. Over the next few years, handfuls of Dwarves would show up in front of the Polithaus where Axebeard held his meetings, and they would dance in protest. At one point, five hundred Dwarves danced in unison in the Grand Square of Underhall, and then they attacked the building.

Dancing gave the Dwarves their freedom from a tyrant, and thus they practice it to this day.

* * *

The Dwarves opened up with a set of unison squat kicks, followed by some traditional Polka crossed with some sort of violent stomp.

Green countered with an Electric Slide and the Wyrm.

The Dwarves launched into a spinning Break Dance, and pulverized boulders as they spun on their heads, slammed to the ground, and did flips off one another.

It went on for five minutes. Green's lack of teammates severely limited his available options, and at the end of that time, he ran out of impressive dance moves.

The Dwarves finished by running up the side of the valley and jumping onto one another's shoulders, then striking a dramatic pose all at once. They held the ta-da pose for a moment, all breathing heavily and glistening with sweat. And maybe some glitter.

The two tiny men Cyrus had seen earlier stepped out of the shrubbery and clapped. "Well done, well done!" said the little man in blue. "Very impressive, both sides. But the victory goes

to the Dwarves."

The Dwarves laughed and clapped Green on the back. "Ye may be a Hero, lad, but you just got served."

(C) 2011 Mitchell Bonds and Marcher Lord Press. Do not reproduce without permission.

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