That heading got your interest, didn’t it? Perhaps it’s an age thing but I really have found something that eclipses sex. That feeling when a good story comes together really gets the juices flowing, especially for someone like me who can start a book with only the vaguest idea of where the story will take me.
True to form, that happened with my latest release, Finessing the Contessa. Lord Robert is established in previous books in the Forsters series as being a champion chess player. I thought it might make a good start to the book if he was travelling to play against other masters, including the elusive Sicilian widow, Electra Falzone. He also just happens to be carrying a secret report for his brother, the marquess, and is supposed to deliver it to the Home Secretary. He overhears the contessa agreeing to steal the report from him.
This is how she goes about it.
Rob always slept naked and saw no reason to change his habit simply because a lady planned to pay him an unannounced visit. Nevertheless, he pulled the coverlet up to his waist to spare her blushes. He left the bed hangings open, and a full moon together with the dwindling fire supplied some light in the chamber. A leather pouch containing his notes on a chess gambit protruded from the pillow next to him—the best method he could think of to gain a close-up view of the contessa.
A considerable amount of time passed. So much time that Rob began to think she’d had a change of heart. “Come along, sweet lady. We have a game to play that has nothing to do with chess.”
As though she’d heard him, the soft rustle of her clothing and a waft of gardenias alerted him to her eventual presence even before she lifted the door latch.
“Ah,” he muttered with a taut smile. It begins.
The latch squeaked, sounding unnaturally loud in the silent building. Rob opened one eye and saw her poised on the threshold, candle in hand, looking ready to flee if he stirred. Obligingly he closed his eye again and manufactured a series of gentle snores. Apparently satisfied that she hadn’t disturbed him, she emitted a soft sigh as she closed the door soundlessly behind her. One eye again open, Rob watched her put her candle down, well clear of the bed, and examine the room.
She moved towards a small desk in the corner and rifled through the papers Rob had left for her to find. They didn’t detain her for long. She turned in a tight circle, nibbling the end of her index finger as she tried to decide where next to search. She’d hardly spared a glance for the bed and appeared to be deliberately avoiding it. As she rummaged carefully through his valise, Rob saw a profusion of dark curls escaping from a long braid and a slim yet curvaceous body beneath a high-necked gown. Unfortunately, that was all be could see without revealing his conscious state.
Finally, she approached the bed. Eyes closed again, Rob heard her gasp. Obviously she’d seen the pouch. The scent of gardenias pervaded as he sensed her leaning towards him. When she didn’t immediately reach for the pouch he would have given much to know what she was doing.
Making sure he really was asleep, presumably, since something about him obviously engaged her attention. She stood there for a long time, and Rob was sure he could feel the warmth of her gaze focused on his face, the lightness of her breath peppering his naked torso. Had she undergone a last-minute change of heart? He willed her to continue with her thieving intent. How else could he find out what she was up to? The desire to open his eyes and look at her face grew steadily more urgent, and Rob was hard-pressed to remain in his supposedly unconscious state.
Come on, contessa. I don’t bite.
Eventually Rob felt the pillow move, his cue to open both eyes. Before she could react, he snaked out an arm, caught her round the waist and tumbled her down on top of him.
“Arghhh, what do you think you’re doing?”
Rob elevated a brow. “Shouldn’t I be asking you that question?”
I had no idea why she turned thief when I wrote that opening, no idea what was in the report and why it was so important. I let the characters make up their own minds about all that stuff as the story progresses. That makes it all the sweeter when the loose ends get tied up and the story gels.
Finessing the Contessa – available now from Carina Press http://bit.ly/1d86Cpx and all good etailors.
Okay, so the feeling of achievement is better than sex, but is it better than chocolate? Now that is a tough call.