A Day in the Life of Johann Conrad Dippel (the real-life inspiration for Dr. Frankenstein)
(As told to DeAnna Knippling)
*Who are you?
Tell us about an average day in your life. I am an investigator of great renown, among those who study the chemical and esoteric elements. My patron is Conrad Reiz, Baron Frankenstein. Although he does not live in the castle here, he highly values my work. Not many people have the intelligence needed to do so. As far as what I do on any given day, it should be enough for you to know that I have the most rigorous practices, and do not stoop to equivocate my results.
Are you a lark or a night owl? I am a man, and do what it is necessary for men to do, regardless of the hour.
Do you have your own dwelling? If so, do you own servants? I am honored to be a guest of Baron Frankenstein, who maintains the castle and its grounds. I have had the occasional assistant, but none who please me.
How do you think your ‘average’ day compares to other people’s? I understand that most people find themselves crushed, both mentally and physically, under the weight of their daily tasks, taking no pleasure and only the barest sustenance from them. Most people are animals, unworthy of better.
Give us a brief rundown of your day from when you wake to when you sleep. Your inquisitiveness is unseemly.
Do you court danger? I certainly do not cower before it. I have encountered many dangers, in experimenting with chemicals as I have. But with fortitude, intelligence, and care, those dangers can be made more or less negligible.
Do you think your life is fulfilling? What, in your opinion, ought it fulfill? I am not a superstitious man and do not believe in prophecies or the like.
If you had the choice what would you change in your daily life? I would wish for a servant of the greatest strength and obedient loyalty, who understood the principles, if not of my work entire, then at least those of chemical reactions, and in preventing injury. His appearance would be of no consequence. I would employ a demon or an ape, if I could only find reliable assistance.
Tell us a little about your home/environment/land – how does this reflect on your day to day life? I was born here, at the castle, and was educated by the baron. The Oldenwald, or “old-wood,” is a superstitious area, with many legends of witches, hauntings, and curses. All nonsense, of course. But I find that the peasants’ superstitions have both assisted me, by keeping the curious at bay, and hindered me, by preventing me from obtaining skilled help and the materials I need. I will admit to having played tricks upon the peasants from time to time.
Are you organised or chaotic? Does this annoy your family/companions? I am organized, in such a way that allows me to pursue inspiration and insight. I believe my methods annoy everyone around me, but for Baron Frankenstein—although he is often away from the castle. My methods, however, are none of anyone else’s business, and should not be considered a matter deserving of pleasure or displeasure. Those who live here in Baron Frankenstein’s absence have no right and no accurate means of judgment of my methods, and would be better off staying silent as the grave.
Read more about Joseph Conrad Dippel in “The Legends of Castle Frankenstein,” now included in the Might Have Been book bundle, on sale now! See www.WonderlandPress.com for more about DeAnna and her work.
Might Have Been – Tales and Retales
only 5.99 for all 17 stories!
From retellings of classic fairy tales to legends and lore told around the hearth, this collection presents stories of wonder and fantasy—some straight up and others with a twist.
Children’s tales from Serbia and Russia feature water spirits and household sprites, knight princes and giants, whirlwinds and the Golden Horde.
An unusual visit to Wonderland follows Alice as she encounters the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, and Humpty Dumpty under horror’s shadow. The secrets of a most infamous castle, Burg Frankenstein, deliver up ghosts.
While a trio of sexy gender-swap tales yield Snow White, Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast with spice.
Romeo and Juliet—and vampires, the Three Little Pigs as you’ve never seen them, Cinderella embracing witchcraft…these are the Might Have Been, folklore, granny tales, and fairy tales turned upside down or glimpsed darkly in the mirror.
*Not all stories suitable for kids.
- Fairy Tale Fatesby Leah Cutter
- The Charming Trilogy Vol. 1 by Kristine Grayson
- The Legends of Castle Frankenstein by DeAnna Knippling
- Snow Truer Loveby AJ Tipton
- Brick Houses (Uncollected Anthology: Fairy Tales) by Annie Reed
- The Return of Alice by Robert Jeschonek
- Into the Forest Shadows by J.A. Marlow
- Handsome and the Beast by AJ Tipton
- THE RUSSIAN STORY BOOK – 12 Illustrated Children’s Stories from Mother Russia by Richard Wilson
- Tales of Old Giralliyaby J.M. Ney-Grimm
- R+J Sucks, vol 1 by Ann Hunter
- Hunting Red by AJ Tipton
- Lost: Cinderella’s Secret Witch Diaries (Book 1)by Ron Vitale
- Return to Wonderland by Tanya Lisle
- Fairy Tales Revisited on Silvery Earthby Barbara G.Tarn
- Redd’s Hoodie by Karen C. Klein
- HERO TALES AND LEGENDS OF THE SERBIANS – over 80 Serbian tales and legends by Woislav M. Petrovitch
Calling all readers! Fill your library with N. N. Light’s Book Heaven Snuggle Up With These Books Readathon picks. 56 books from multiple genres featured plus a chance to win one of the following:
Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
Enter to win a $25 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
Enter to win a $15 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
Enter to win a $10 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
I’m thrilled to be a part of this event. My book, The Shining Citadel, will be featured on 14th November. I even talk about what I’m thankful for this year. You won’t want to miss it.
Bookmark this bookish party and tell your friends:
Brothels and Prostitutes by Jane Fenwick @jane_fenwick60 #neverthetwain #historicalcrimenovels #romance #victorianwhitby
Brothels and prostitution feature in the opening of my new book Never the Twain. Men have used prostitutes since time began. There is even one mentioned in that very famous book The Bible!
Prostitution has always been a way for women to support themselves when all other means of earning a living have been exhausted. Very few women would have chosen this path had another option been open to them. In Never the Twain identical twins April and May find themselves in the unenviable predicament of being sold into prostitution.
Never the Twain is set in 1890 a time when it is easy to forget that women had very few rights. Women were considered chattel and on marriage were passed from their father’s care to that of their husband. Women like April and May, the protagonists in Never the Twain, had no male protectors and so had to make their own way in the world. April and May, through no fault of their own, are sold into prostitution so their actress mother can be rid of them. The acting profession in Victorian times was regarded as only a step away from prostitution and so it is easy to see why the twins’ mother would place them in the care of a Madam.
Educated women were still rare and middle class educated women rarer still. Had they been impoverished vicars’ daughters they would have found it relatively easy to get positions as governesses or companions. However, without a letter of reference they would have struggled to gain respectable employment. The twins could have taken work in domestic service or shop work but April and May would have found such work low paid and demeaning. Without means or protection their options would have been limited and falling into the poverty trap was a risk to avoid at all costs; once you lost the roof over your head there was no social security to fall back on. Once their “mother” died April and May were very much on their own.
Each twin had a different solution to their dilemma but ultimately the solution they agreed upon led to dire consequences. April knew that although they were educated it would be difficult to find respectable positions though she was willing to try. However, she allowed her twin to convince her to enter the brothel as a way of buying time – they were assured they would be untouched until their eighteenth birthday. It was a decision they would both come to regret.
Every port and harbour had their fair share of prostitutes. In seafaring towns prostitution was especially rife. Men who had been at sea for months had needs and a range of options were available for them to choose from when they were back ashore depending on their tastes and budget. From tuppeny streetwalkers to those who worked the inns, taverns and bawdy houses. And then there were the higher class brothels such as the one in Never the Twain, Mrs Jansen’s establishment where the higher ranks of the seafaring community, as well as the local gentry, were catered for.
In Victorian times gentlemen of rank often married for reasons other than love. The aristocracy, and increasingly the newly emerging merchant classes, often married to improve their finances and position in society. They married to join two influential families together or to gain the dowry of an heiress. Couples often married to unite two prominent families where one provided a title and the other party supplied the money. These misalliances often resulted in some gentlemen seeking their pleasures elsewhere especially once their wives had produced an “heir and a spare”.
For some, using “high class” brothels as opposed to regular bawdy houses offered ‘respectability’ as the brothels were often well-appointed almost like a gentlemen’s club. The girls were also thought to be cleaner and accomplished in the art of seduction. However, I found from my research, that some gentlemen liked “a bit of rough” too on occasions and would purposely seek out women of the lower orders as something different, a thrill!
The Victorian period saw the rise of a new class; the middle or mercantile class. “New Money” was made from newly emerging industries and manufacturing. The industrial revolution made enterprising men rich. My male protagonists Edward and Alistair Driscoll would have been part of this growth of the Nouveau Riche. Their fortunes had been made in the past from the slave trade and from importing tobacco from the New World – in this instance from Virginia. Now they were dealing in imports and exports and were adding to their fortunes.
Mrs Jansen boasted that her whores were “free from disease” and “practised in the arts of seduction”, something most men of position would appreciate. Men like Captain Edward Driscoll – being from new money – would have been the mainstay of Velda Jansen’s provincial brothel. In a port such as Whitby where a whore could be bought cheaply by any passing sailor, Mrs Jansen’s brothel would have been the epitome of class – if you weren’t from London that is. Anything which could attract her more wealthy clients would have been a boon for the avaricious Madam. So when beautiful, identical twin virgins were offered to her she saw the guinea signs flash before her eyes. She knew a marketable commodity when she saw it and here were two beauties ready for the plucking.
Sometimes prostitutes are portrayed as being happy with their lot or “the tart with a heart” but the reality was seldom so straightforward or agreeable. The girls were effectively slaves and the Madams ruthless. You can probably guess what would happen to one of Mrs Jansen’s “clean girls” if she became infected by a punter or when she lost her looks. Her only choice would be to walk the streets for business. As a result her life span would be considerably shortened. A girl would put up with a lot to keep herself from plying her trade in the dangerous ginnels and inns of Whitby so whatever the punter wanted the punter invariably got. The Madams would turn a blind eye to most things, even if this meant the girls were brutalised. So long as the gentleman did not spoil a girl’s face – the Madams would not be pleased if one of their precious girls were to be disfigured. Very occasionally a girl would get “lucky” and a punter would pay for her sole use or set her up in her own establishment as his mistress. Rarer still was the gentleman who married a whore.
In Never the Twain I wanted to show how devastating it would be for two relatively well brought up, educated young girls like April and May to find themselves in this frightening and dangerous situation. The twins, had they been ‘launched’, would have been sold to the highest bidder and thereafter used and abused day and night until their beauty faded. Such an end for the girls who were only valued for their beauty and bodies would have been shameful. In Never the Twain we see April and May struggle to survive the brothel but their lives soon become marred by jealousy and greed, betrayal and murder.
Never the Twain: A twin tale of jealousy and betrayal, love and murder.
The year is 1890. The port of Whitby is heaving with sailors and where there are sailors there are brothels doing a roaring trade. Beautiful identical twins April and May are in desperate straits. They have been abandoned by their actress mother and are about to have their virginity auctioned off to the highest bidder by a notorious brothel madam.
Their fate is hanging in the balance when Captain Edward Driscoll a handsome, wealthy shipping tycoon from Glasgow saves them before they can be deflowered.
But have they exchanged one form of slavery for another?
April, reluctantly swept up in her twin’s secrets and lies unwittingly becomes embroiled in a murderous conspiracy. Is May’s jealousy stronger than the twin bond which has always connected them?
Never the Twain: A dark blend of Gothic romance and murder.
Jane Fenwick lives in the market town of Settle in Yorkshire, England. She studied education at Sheffield University gaining a B.Ed (Hons) in 1989 and going on to teach primary age range children. Jane decided to try her hand at penning a novel rather than writing school reports as she has always been an avid reader, especially enjoying historical and crime fiction. She decided to combine her love of both genres to write her first historical crime novel Never the Twain. Jane has always been a lover of antiques, particularly art nouveau and art deco ceramics and turned this hobby into a business opening an antiques and collectables shop in Settle. However her time as a dealer was short lived; she spent far too much time in the sale rooms buying items that ended up in her home rather than the shop! Animal welfare is a cause close to Jane’s heart and she has been vegetarian since the age of fourteen. For the last twenty years she has been trustee of an animal charity which rescues and rehomes cats, dogs and all manner of creatures looking for a forever home. Of course several of these have been “adopted” by Jane!
Jane has always loved the sea and although she lives in the Yorkshire Dales she is particularly drawn to the North East coast of Yorkshire and Northumberland. This coastline is where she gets her inspiration for the historical crime and romance novels she writes. She can imagine how the North East ports would have looked long ago with a forest of tall masted ships crammed together in the harbours, the bustling streets congested with sailors, whalers, chandlers and sail makers. These imaginings provide the backdrop and inspire her to create the central characters and themes of her novels. As she has always loved history she finds the research particularly satisfying.
When she isn’t walking on Sandsend beach with her dog Scout, a Patterdale “Terrorist” she is to be found in her favourite coffee shop gazing out to sea and dreaming up her next plot. Jane is currently writing a historical saga series again set on the North East coast beginning in 1765. The first two books are being edited at the moment; My Constant Lady and The Turning Tides. Look out for My Constant Lady in 2020.
Out Now—Stateless (Stateless Series, Book 1) by Meli Raine (@meliraineauthor) #romanticsuspense #romance #suspense #newrelease
Release date: October 15, 2019
Genre: Romantic Suspense
When you’re born without a trace, no one knows you’re a weapon.
I lie for her.
I hunt for her.
I kill for her.
And above all, I betray my mission for her.
She doesn’t know why. She doesn’t care why.
Treason comes in many forms.
Love is one of them.
Our training taught me to be a sociopath. A machine. A pawn. Nothing more than a tool for a larger goal, without attachments or feelings.
Our teachers forgot one important detail:
Pawns shouldn’t have hearts.
Yet we do.
It turns out our emotions are our greatest weapon.
And I know exactly where mine are aimed.
The Stateless Series also includes:
Traceless (releasing 11.19.19)
Fateless (release date TBA)
Amazon (everywhere): https://geni.us/statelessAMZ
Apple Books: https://geni.us/statelessApple
Google Play: https://geni.us/statelessgoogle
Audiobook narrated by Joe Arden and Andi Arndt!
Audible (preorder now!): https://geni.us/statelessAudible
Amazon audio (preorder now!): https://geni.us/statelessAMZaud
Excerpts & Teasers (PLEASE CHOOSE ONLY ONE TO USE WITH YOUR POST)
I do not sleep.
Kina does, though, and that matters more.
Sleep is a luxury when we are in Woods. She knows it. I know I should catch an hour or two, especially with my five-night punishment and determination to go for six, but I can’t.
What did I just say?
What did I just do?
Kina has the dreams. I have the dreams. I’ve never told anyone else anything that wasn’t one hundred percent part of The Mission.
To confess emotion, to confess my own dreams that do not fit The Mission, could be punished by death.
Or worse. What if I really am so weak? Emotion is shameful. It’s disgusting.
We fail every time we feel.
She knows this. I know this.
And yet we both spoke. Shared.
What does this mean?
With her sleeping beside me, I let my mind wander, giving in to the luxury of imagination. For years, the dream has been the same.
A burning wood fire.
A screaming boy.
A woman with long hair being shot.
A man with a shaved head and blue eyes like mine beaten by another man with a log.
And me with my bow and arrow. My hands are tiny, the skin around the knuckles dimpled. I’ve worked with the four-year-olds here at the compound. I know what young hands look like.
Why would I dream like that?
Meli Raine writes romantic suspense with hot bikers, intense undercover DEA agents, bad boys turned good, and Special Ops heroes — and the women who love them. Meli rode her first motorcycle when she was five years old, but she played in the ocean long before that. She lives in New England with her family.
Social Media Links:
Reviews and Endorsements for Meli Raine Books:
“The first book in the False trilogy is a psychological thriller worthy of Hitchcock, keeping you guessing until the very end.” — Apple Books Editors
“…intrigue and dark humor on display in this thriller…”
While the immediate—and more compelling—tension in Raine’s (A Shameless Little Bet, 2018, etc.) heart-pumping series opener comes from Lily’s constant proximity to her would-be killer, the action takes place against a backdrop of secret government scandals. The “screwed-up D.C.-insider scandal,” as it is clumsily summarized early on, is pleasingly twisty…
Fortunately, Lily’s voice is captivating, wry, and tough enough to sell this thriller. The novel ends with a cliffhanger that startles, if only because readers will have become so attached to Lily.
— Kirkus Reviews
“Fresh, riveting, and thrumming with emotion and romantic suspense, False Memory is absolutely unputdownable. You need this book!” – New York Times bestselling author Meghan March
“I accidentally lost a day to this trilogy! It is unputdownable. Apparently I’m on a dark-and-twisty binge, and this book is addictive.” – USA Today bestselling author Sarina Bowen (review for Harmless series)
Release blitz organized by Writer Marketing Services.
Out Now!—Hard Pressed by Queenie Black (@queenieblackwr1) #books #novella #newrelease #BDSM #EroticRomance #HEA #amreading #ebooks #spanking
Master Lucien has one night at Club Hard.
One night…to show bodyguard Rose Dainty that he can be the Dom she needs,
One night…to show her that submitting to him doesn’t make her weak, that true submission requires strength and trust.
Will pushing Rose to her limits prove to her she can trust him with her body and heart, and can she let go of her deepest fears long enough to enjoy her surrender?
They both have everything to prove and everything to lose.
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2Nv7Umr
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2OaD6qg
I’ve always loved writing and I won my first prize for a short story when I was still at primary school. I’m an avid reader of romance and erotic romance and can usually be found with my nose in a book. The dynamics and sheer variety of human relationships fascinate me, and this is what I like to explore in my writing. I live in North Yorkshire with my husband and cat where I enjoy running and Tai Chi.
social media links:
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/queenieblackauthor/
I mounted the six shallow steps and faced the double front doors. Twin carriage lights cast a soft gleam over the brass plaque with its discrete lettering:
Private Members Only
I desperately wanted to run back down the steps, leap into my car, and drive home, but if I did, nothing would change, and I’d go back to dividing my time between working out, Candy Crush Saga, and the occasional night out with my friends. I might miss out on learning something about myself, something that could make a difference in my sex life. Worse, I might miss a chance at love.
I stayed, my feet rooted to the floor, but the insides of my hands were so damp, my finger slipped on the brass bell, setting off a short, discordant jangling. I winced as I rang it again properly this time. That certainly wouldn’t endear me to anyone.
Shifting from foot to foot, trying to keep the blood circulating in my toes, I looked around. Behind me, the gravel drive snaked away to a discreet carpark, and trees and shrubs created shadows within shadows. Autumn had finally reached London and in this exclusive part of it, crisp, clean air and earthy leaf mulch replaced the smell of fast food and exhaust.
I shifted again, starting to get irritated. If you were going to demand a woman wear nothing but a skirt that barely covered her butt, and a top that was little more than a bit of elastic bandage—on me it was ridiculous, if I sneezed, I’d pop out over the top—then you should damn well open the door promptly. Now, despite wearing my warmest coat over the absurd ensemble, there was a distinct draught zipping under my hem and freezing my exposed butt cheeks.
I lifted my finger to stab the bell again, and the door swung open.
Bloody hell. A real butler. I was no stranger to mansions with staff. Working as a bodyguard meant I saw the inside of a lot of wealthy homes, but so far, a liveried butler was a new one to me.
“Can I help you?”
I cleared my throat, wondering if there was any etiquette for addressing a butler, aware that my finger was still lurking in the vicinity of his eye. “Umm, I’m, ah, it’s Ms. Dainty. To see Mr. Dufort. I’m expected.”
He waved me through into a large marble-floored hall with a fire burning at one side. A wide, elegant staircase at the back curved away to the upper floors.
“I’ll inform Mr. Dufort that you’re here, if you’d like to take a seat.” He indicated a collection of sofas and easy chairs huddled as if for warmth around the fireplace. I made a beeline for the heat.
“May I take your coat?”
I crossed my arms tightly. No way was I exposing my scantily clad self. “Ah, thanks, but I’m a bit cold.”
“I see my guest has arrived, Henry.”
I turned away from the fire to see Lucien Dufort crossing the hall toward me. The floor seemed to drop a few inches and I had to grab the back of a chair to steady myself as his delicious, rich chocolate voice with its faint French accent wound around me, setting my heart hammering.
A tall, elegant man, he moved toward me with predatory intent, covering the floor in loose, confident strides, but it was his eyes that held my gaze, dark eyes, sharp with intelligence and power. He wasn’t a handsome man. His narrow-bladed Gallic nose, inherited from his mother, was slightly overlarge for that, but his lips were sensual, and the mix of tenderness and lust in his expression as he looked at me sent electric tingles charging down my spine.
“Rose, welcome to Club Hard.” He lifted my hand and pressed a kiss to the back of it, his tongue flickering into the little hollow between my two smallest fingers, mimicking the act of sex. Normally, that would be an instant turn-off, but when Lucien did it, everything inside me melted. I tugged my hand free and shoved it into my coat pocket. This was bad. We hadn’t even started yet and my hormones were doing a happy dance.
“Your coat, ma petite.”
I undid the buttons reluctantly and he stripped it off my shoulders, giving it to Henry before indicating my feet. “Barefoot, please.”
I obeyed, steadying myself with one hand on Lucien’s forearm. I could have rested it there all day, enjoying the feel of thick bone and the flex of hard muscles, but I quickly unzipped my boots and gave them to Henry, who took them as solemnly as if I was handing him the crown jewels for safekeeping. He disappeared, taking my things with him, and I stood shivering, waiting for Lucien to say or do something. I shouldn’t have felt vulnerable. I fought with this amount of flesh on display, so it shouldn’t have bothered me, yet insecurity and apprehension crept hand-in-hand up my spine. “Lucien?”
He cupped my chin, his palm warm and sure, his thumb stroking my cheekbone in a gesture I found calming. “Tonight, you will address me as Monsieur, or Sir.” His words sank deep inside me, reaching a place I wasn’t aware existed. A place I didn’t want to believe existed. I stepped back, dislodging his hand.
Lucien’s cheek creased in amusement. “So, ma belle perle, the challenge begins. Are you ready?”
Release blitz organised by Writer Marketing Services.
Out Now—Eyes Wide Open – MMF BDSM Erotic Romance by Lucy Felthouse (@cw1985) #menage #BDSM #MMF
A chance meeting opens Fiona’s eyes to some very sexy possibilities.
Recent graduate Fiona Gillespie is stuck working in a grimy pub in London’s East End, and living in a horrid flat. It’s only while she figures out what she wants to do career-wise, but that’s easier said than done.
When she sees an advertisement for a job at a plush Mayfair hotel, she jumps at the chance. Determination and a spot of luck land Fiona her dream role—and it comes with accommodation included.
Her job and living situation sorted, things are on the up. Unfortunately, her personal life is lacklustre. It doesn’t bother her, though—not until she meets businessmen James and Logan, and her head is well and truly turned.
When a misunderstanding leads Fiona to James and Logan’s sumptuous top-floor hotel suite, she has no idea what she’s about to uncover. Her imagination runs wild, but not wild enough to get to the truth—James and Logan are a couple, and they’re into some seriously intriguing activities.
Fascinated, she launches herself into a whole new world with the two men. But is this just physical, or is their arrangement set to become something more?
*Eyes Wide Open has been re-released with a stunning new cover and has been re-edited.
Universal link: http://books2read.com/eyeswideopenV2
Continuing to surreptitiously peer at the men over the rim of her glass, it hit her that this was the first time in months she’d looked at a man with interest, much less two men—and at the same time! She was ready to snatch her gaze away if one of them happened to glance at her, but it wasn’t surprising the pair had attracted her attention.
The tailored business suits would draw the eye even on someone unremarkable. But on these two, the fine clothing was practically an orgasm for the gaze. They sat opposite each other, and their angle to her meant she had a view of both their profiles—lucky her.
The one to her right had very dark, almost black hair, with a bit of a curl to it, a long straight nose, a trimmed goatee and, if she wasn’t mistaken, deep blue eyes. It was hard to tell for sure from this distance and perspective.
The one on her left had lighter, shorter hair, stubble that by some magical feat still looked smart, and the most sinful lips she’d ever set eyes on. And speaking of eyes, she thought perhaps his were green. What she wouldn’t give to go and check both of them out close up, preferably naked.
Shocked at her own sudden lustful thoughts, she inhaled more than drank another sip of the juice. Unfortunately, it hit her throat all wrong and she almost slammed the glass down as she started to cough. She tried so hard to suppress the cough, eager not to draw attention to herself, that she made it worse. Snatching up the thick linen serviette from the table, she held it to her mouth as she spluttered in a most embarrassing manner, and tears began to roll down her cheeks. By now, she was sure the whole damn restaurant was staring at her, and she wished the tablecloths reached the floor, like the ones in the restaurant upstairs, so she could hide under the table until she regained her composure.
Swallowing repeatedly to try to soothe her irritated throat, she gasped as a gentle hand laid on her shoulder, which set her off all over again.
“Oh God,” came a voice. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to make you jump. I just wanted to make sure you were all right. See if I could help.”
Unable to speak, Fiona waved a hand to try to signal that she’d be okay, but unless the guy was a mind reader, he’d have no luck figuring that out. Blinking through the tears that marred her vision, her urge to hide underneath the table grew stronger. Christ, it was only the hottie with the blue eyes. And, if she wasn’t mistaken, his sexy friend with the green eyes was also hovering close by, concern etched into his handsome features.
Managing to drag in a breath, she huffed out, “Thank you.”
Just then, Jeremy arrived with a carafe of water, complete with ice, and poured her a glassful. “Here you go, Fiona. Drink this. Are you all right? Anything else I can get you?”
She picked up the glass and took a tiny sip of the freezing cold liquid, hoping it wouldn’t make her cough again. She seemed to have got a handle on it, though her now-sore throat wasn’t at all happy with her. After taking several more tiny sips, she let out a sigh of relief—it seemed her mortifying coughing bout was over. Then she moved on to bigger gulps, buying herself some time to think of something witty to say, anything to convince the three men looking at her that she wasn’t some kind of imbecile who couldn’t even manage a glass of juice without choking.
Unfortunately, her creative brain, which had been on fire up until she’d started lusting over the hotties, had taken its leave. So she decided to opt for the truth. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to disturb you. My juice just went down the wrong way, that’s all. I’m fine, really. I’ll just finish my drink and be on my way. Thank you for the water, Jeremy.” She aimed a weak smile in his direction.
Blue Eyes turned to Jeremy. “Yeah, thanks, buddy. If you need to get on, we’ll keep an eye on her for a bit, make sure she’s okay. Don’t worry.”
A little warily, Jeremy looked at the two men, then at Fiona. “Are you going to be all right, Fiona? Do you need me to call someone and let them know you’ll be late or anything?”
She shook her head. “Honestly, Jeremy, I’ll be fine. It was just a coughing fit, that’s all. No lasting damage, except maybe to my makeup. And no, nobody will be missing me yet. It’s fine. Thank you so much, though.”
“Just give me a wave if you need me,” he said, backing away.
With that, he morphed from concerned acquaintance into an efficient waiter in an instant and went back to looking after his tables and the patrons frequenting them.
Knowing she’d now have to address the two men who’d caused her blush-worthy incident in the first place, she took yet another huge gulp of the icy water, then dabbed at her face with the serviette. Putting it down, she turned to Blue Eyes, who still stood by her side, but had removed his hand from her shoulder, with a wide smile.
“I’m so sorry,” she said again. “Please excuse the state of me, I’m sure I must look terrible. Thank you so much, both of you, for coming to check on me, but I’m really fine. No Heimlich manoeuvre required. I’ll just finish my drink… drinks… and be on my way. Please feel free to go back to your meeting.”
Green Eyes stepped a little closer. “You look just fine, sweetheart, except for being a little flushed, but that’s no bad thing.” He shot an almost imperceptible glance at Blue Eyes, and Fiona had to wonder if she’d imagined it. And if not, what on earth did he mean by that, anyway?
“Yes,” his friend chipped in, moving around so that he, too, could look at her face. “You look great. We’ll be just over there if you need us, all right? Don’t you hesitate to call out or wave, okay?”
Fiona wished they’d stop making such a fuss. But they were just being polite, she supposed. So, fixing the smile back on her face, she said, “Thank you. And I will. I promise.”
She waited until they’d retaken their seats before she started to make preparations for leaving hers. She didn’t want to dash off straight away as that might concern them further and send Jeremy into a tizzy, so she acted as coolly and calmly as possible, finishing the water, then the juice, as she continued making notes on her tablet. Finally, feeling able to leave without raising any eyebrows, she got up and collected her things.
Her movement attracted the attention of Blue Eyes and Green Eyes, and she gave them both a smile and a nod before moving off. She didn’t see Jeremy, who must have been in the kitchen collecting something, so she made a mental note to thank him when she next saw him. That was the downside to posh material serviettes and electronic devices—it meant there was no paper or pen handy to scrawl him a little note with.
She wasn’t quite ready to head back to the PR & Marketing Suite yet, at least not until she’d fixed her no doubt ruined makeup—which would raise a few eyebrows and spawn some questions—so she decided she’d dash up to her room for a few minutes and sort herself out.
After pressing the button for the elevator, she swiped through some of the photos she’d taken on the tablet as she waited for it to arrive. A couple of minutes later, the car arrived with a ping and a swish of doors. She stepped in, pressed the number for her floor and moved back. Just as the doors began closing, she realised the table the two men had been sitting at was visible from her position.
They were still there, and she was glad no one could see or hear her reaction as she looked at them, only to find two pairs of very arresting eyes looking right back at her—with interest.
And, as her view of them grew narrower and narrower until only a sliver was left, Blue Eyes flashed her a positively wicked grin just before he disappeared altogether.
Clinging onto the brass handrail behind her to steady herself, Fiona willed herself to get a grip. She’d been having a really good day, right up until those two had somehow awakened her hormones and made her bloody fruit juice go down wrong. And the way they’d clearly been watching her… and that smile! Shaking her head, she wanted desperately to believe they were some kind of dodgy perverts who frequented hotel restaurants to prey on lone young women, but common sense and cold, hard facts told her that wasn’t the case.
For one, what had they done? Offered help, and concern. That was all. What had they gained? Nothing, except maybe peace of mind in knowing she was okay. Her tablet and phone were still in her possession, so they weren’t thieves. Dodgy folk didn’t spend time in The Portmannow Hotel. It just didn’t happen.
So if they weren’t dodgy perverts and were just two relatively young businessmen, why had they been watching her like that? Their expressions, the looks in their eyes, indicated something altogether different from innocent concern for her wellbeing. The smile Blue Eyes had thrown her had been nothing short of sinful. Lustful, even. One Lucifer himself would have been proud of.
God, was it possible that they… found her attractive?
Lucy Felthouse is the award-winning author of erotic romance novels Stately Pleasures (named in the top 5 of Cliterati.co.uk’s 100 Modern Erotic Classics That You’ve Never Heard Of, and an Amazon bestseller), Eyes Wide Open (winner of the Love Romances Café’s Best Ménage Book 2015 award, and an Amazon bestseller), The Persecution of the Wolves, Hiding in Plain Sight and The Heiress’s Harem series. Including novels, short stories and novellas, she has over 170 publications to her name. Find out more about her writing at http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk, or on Twitter or Facebook. Join her Facebook group for exclusive cover reveals, sneak peeks and more! Sign up for automatic updates on Amazon or BookBub. Subscribe to her newsletter here: http://www.subscribepage.com/lfnewsletter
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