Enjoy this excerpt from ALONG CAME A LADY by Christi Caldwell and be sure to grab a copy! It’s out now and available everywhere.
“Are you going to drink it or cradle it?” he asked, changing the subject. Rafe lifted his tankard, clarifying his question.
Edwina raised the steel cup to her lips and inhaled. Her pert nose wrinkled, and her face pulled in a grimace, and with that, Rafe managed another smile since he’d caught sight of his brother in all his happiness. “It smells horrid.”
Holding his tankard out, he clanged the ring against hers in a mock toast; challenging her.
He thought for a moment she intended to reject that challenge, he should have known better.
Taking in a deep breath, Edwina raised a glass, tipped it back, and chugged.
The long, graceful column of her neck moved rhythmically and quickly as she downed the contents of her drink.
“Whoa, you are not supposed to consume it quite so quickly,” he instructed, hastily reaching across the table, and resting a hand on the fingers cradling her mug.
Edwina set it down with a little splat, and then ever so gingerly, dabbed at the corners of her mouth. “That is…rather horrid stuff,” her shoulders and chest lifted as she hiccoughed, and he grinned.
Mr. Ward immediately reappeared and eyed Edwina’s empty tankard approvingly. “I knew I was right about this girl,” he said proudly. “Knows her spirits, she does.”
From over the top of the innkeeper’s hand, as he poured, Edwina caught Rafe’s eye.
“Do not say anything,” she silently mouthed, perfectly annunciating each syllable.
“I wouldn’t dream of it.” Rafe followed that assurance with a wink.
“What is that, Mr. Audley?”
“I was just saying to the lady I couldn’t dream of a more splendid ale,” he expertly substituted, and the already tall innkeeper grew several inches under that praise. Bustling off, Mr. Ward went to refill the tankards of the table of nearby patrons.
“You’re not horrified.”
Her tankard still in her hands, Edwina dropped her elbows on the table and leaned across the small, cylindrical surface. “That was your intention and plan.”
Rafe’s cheeks went warm.
Edwina’s eyes rounded. “Why…why…you are blushing, Mr. Audley.”
“That is p-preposterous,” he sputtered. “I would never do anything like… Like…”
“Blush?” she winged up an eyebrow and edged forward another fraction so that their elbows touched. “You needn’t worry,” she whispered. “Your secret is safe with me. The men and women who work for you will never learn about your blushing.”
And that brief good humor, ended with that reminder; the reminder of his brother’s new role. And their father’s determination to control Rafe’s life.
From ALONG CAME A LADY published by arrangement with Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2021 by Christi Caldwell.
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date published : August 24, 2021
pages : 320
narrator : Timothy Campbell
length : 10 hrs, 8 min
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