Romantic Times Magazine
Amethystby Lauren Royal
Amethyst Goldsmith is as beautiful as the jewelry she creates, but her passion for her craft does not extend to the dull apprentice her father has arranged for her to marry. When the devastating fire of 1666 sweeps through London, Amy believes she is rescued from this fate, only to land in the arms of the dashing, unattainable Colin Chase, Earl of Greystone. In the… See more details below
Amethyst Goldsmith is as beautiful as the jewelry she creates, but her passion for her craft does not extend to the dull apprentice her father has arranged for her to marry. When the devastating fire of 1666 sweeps through London, Amy believes she is rescued from this fate, only to land in the arms of the dashing, unattainable Colin Chase, Earl of Greystone. In the aftermath of disaster, the rules of society are temporarily abandoned long enough for a shopkeeper's daughter and a nobleman to discover their shared destiny . . . yet not long enough to erase the past, or the broken promises only love can heal. . . .
Lauren Royal became interested in the Restoration period at the age of 14, when she snuck a valuable first-edition copy of Forever Amber out of her great-uncle's library. Luckily she survived the ensuing warfare and, having decided she'd grow up to be a writer after winning the "Why My Mother Is The Greatest" essay contest in the third grade, began amassing a collection of history books and taking copious notes with the intention of someday writing novels of her own. A fourteen-year career as the CEO of her own jewelry store chain delayed those dreams, but she never forgot them.
Lauren is a Southern California native. When she's not at home in front of her computer, you can find her at a rock concert, at a hockey rink watching one of her husband's or two sons' games, or at a Scottish Festival watching her daughter compete in Highland Dance. A laptop has been surgically attached to her body. She was born without a housekeeping gene. She likes to think she's into scrapbooking, but she never finds time to actually put anything in her albums.
Romantic Times Magazine
Old Book Barn Gazette
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Prologue & Chapter One PROLOGUE
London Monday, April 22, 1661
"Here, there's room!" Amethyst Goldsmith shouldered her way through the crowd, her parents and aunt murmuring apologies in her wake. "Come along, 'tis starting!" When she finally reached a few bare inches of rail, she clasped it with both hands and turned to flash them a victorious smile.
Hugh and Edith Goldsmith came up to join her, shaking their heads at their daughter's tenacity. Laughing, Hugh's sister Elizabeth squeezed in behind. Ignoring the grumbling of displaced spectators, Amy spread her feet wide to save more room in the front. "Robert, over here!"
Robert Stanley tugged on her long black braid as he wedged himself in beside her. She shot him a grin; he was fun. Although he'd arrived only last week to train as her father's apprentice, Amy had known for years that she was to marry him. So far they'd gotten along fine, although he'd been surprised to find she was far more skilled as a jeweler than he. Surprised and none too pleased, Amy suspected. But he would get over that.
She might be female, but her talent was a God-given gift, and she would never in this lifetime give up her craft. Robert would just have to get used to the idea.
With a sigh of pleasure, Amy shuffled her shoes on the scrubbed cobblestones. "Look, Mama! Everything is so clean and glorious." She breathed deep of the fresh air, blinking against the bright sun. "The rain has stopped . . . even the weather is welcoming the monarchy back to England! Have you ever seen so many people? All London must be here."
"Even more from the countryside, I'd wager." Her mother waved a hand, encompassing the crowds on the rooftops, the mobbed windows and overflowing balconies.
Amy looked up as a handful of tossed rose petals drifted down, landing on her dark head like scented snowflakes. She shook them off, laughing. "Is it not beautiful? Just look at all the tapestries and banners."
"Just look at all that wasted wine," Robert muttered, with a nod toward the fragrant red river that ran through the open conduit in the street.
Amy opened her mouth to protest, then decided he must be fooling. "Marry come up, Robert! You must be pleased King Charles will be crowned tomorrow. Twelve years of Cromwell's rule was enough! Now we have music and dancing again." She felt like dancing, like spreading her burgundy satin skirts and twirling in a circle, but the press of the crowd made such a maneuver impossible, so she settled for bobbing a little curtsy. "We've beautiful clothes, and the theater--"
"And drinking and cards and dice," Robert said pointedly.
"That too," Amy agreed, turning back to ogle the mounted queue of nobility parading their way from the Tower to Whitehall Palace. Such jewels and feathers and lace! Fingering the looped ribbons adorning her new gown, she pressed harder against the rail, wishing she too could join the procession.
"Where did they possibly find so many ostrich feathers in all of England?" she wondered aloud, then burst into giggles.
Her aunt laughed and wrapped an affectionate arm around her shoulders. "Where do you find the energy, child? You must come to Paris. Uncle William and I could use your happy smiles."
Amy hugged her around the waist. Aunt Elizabeth had lost her three children to smallpox last year, and Amy knew she still bore a heavy heart.
"We need her artistry here," Amy's father protested, poking his sister with a grin. "Your shop will have to do without."
"Ah, Hugh, how selfish you are!" Aunt Elizabeth chided. "Hoarding my niece's talent all for your own profit." She aimed a mischievous smile at her brother. "'Tis no wonder we moved to France to escape competition."
Amy giggled. Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle William had been forced to move their shop when business fell off during the Commonwealth years. But they'd flourished in Paris, becoming jewelers to the French Court, and would not think of returning now.
"I'm glad you came for the coronation, Auntie. 'Twould not be the same without you."
"I'd not have missed it," Elizabeth declared. "Old Noll drove me out of England, but though my home is elsewhere now, 'tis God's own truth that no one here is happier than I."
"Listen!" Amy cried. A joyous roar rolled westward toward them, marking the slow passage of His Majesty in the middle of the procession. "Can you hear King Charles coming? There are his attendants!" The noise swelled as the King's footguards marched by, their plumes of red and white feathers contrasting with those of his brother, the Duke of York, whose guard was decked out in black and white.
All at once, the roar was deafening. Amy grasped her mother's hand. "'Tis him, Mama," she whispered. "King Charles II." Glittering in the sunshine, the Horse of State caught and held her gaze. "Oh, look at the embroidered saddle, the pearls and rubies--look at our diamonds!"
Amy cared not for horses--she was terrified of them, if the truth be told--so she paid no attention to the magnificent beast himself. But three hundred of her family's diamonds sparkled on the gold stirrups and bosses, among the twelve thousand lent for the occasion. "Oh, Papa, I wish we could have designed that saddle," she breathed.
Aunt Elizabeth laughed, then her hand suddenly tightened on Amy's shoulder. "Charles is looking at me," she declared loudly.
Amy's father snorted. "Always the flirt, sister mine."
Amy's gaze flew from the dazzling horse to its rider. Smiling broadly beneath his thin mustache, the tall King waved to the crowd. His cloth-of-silver suit peeked out from beneath ermine-lined crimson robes. Rubies and sapphires winked from gold shoe buckles and matching gold garters, festooned with great poufs of silver ribbon. Long, shining black curls draped over his chest, framing a face that looked older than his thirty years; the result, Amy supposed, of having suffered through exile and the execution of his beloved father.
But his black eyes were quick and sparkling--and more than a little sensual. Some women around Amy swooned, but she just stared, willing the King to look at her. When he did, she flashed him a radiant smile.
"No, Auntie, he's looking at me."
Before her family even stopped laughing, the King was gone, as suddenly as he had arrived. But the spectacle wasn't over. Behind him came a camel with brocaded panniers and an East Indian boy flinging pearls and spices into the crowd. And then more lords and ladies, more glittering costumes, more decorated stallions, more men-at-arms, all bedecked in gold and silver and the costliest of gems.
Yet none of it mattered to Amy, for there was a nobleman riding her way.
'Twas not the richness of his clothing that caught her eye, for in truth his was plain in comparison to those around him. His black velvet suit was trimmed with naught but gold braid, his wide-brimmed hat decorated with only a single white plume. He wore no fancy crimped periwig, but his own raven hair fell in gleaming waves to his shoulders.
Deep emerald eyes bore into Amy's, singling her out as he angled his horse toward her. His glossy black gelding breathed close, but she felt no fear, for the man held her safe with his piercing green gaze. She felt as though he could see through her eyes right into her soul. Her cheeks flamed; never in her almost-seventeen years had a man looked at her like that.
He tipped his plumed hat. Flustered, she turned and glanced about, certain he must be saluting someone else. But everyone was laughing and talking or watching the procession; no one focused their attention his way. She looked back, and he grinned as he passed, a devastating slash of white that made Amy melt inside. Long after he rode out of sight around the bend, she stared to where he had disappeared.
"Amy?" Robert tugged on her hand.
She turned and gazed into his eyes, pale blue, not green. They didn't make her melt inside, didn't make her feel anything.
Robert smiled, revealing teeth that overlapped a bit. She'd not really noticed that before. "'Tis over."
The sun set as they walked home to Cheapside, skirting merrymakers in the streets. Her father paused to unlock their door. Overhead, a wooden sign swung gently in the breeze. A nearby bonfire illuminated the image of a falcon and the gilt letters that proclaimed their shop Goldsmith & Sons, Jewellers.
There came a sudden brilliant flash and a stunned "Ooooh" from the crowd, as fireworks lit the sky. Amy dashed through the shop and up the stairs to their balcony. Gazing out over the River Thames, she watched the great fiery streaks of light, heard the soaring rockets, smelled the sulfur in the air. 'Twas the most spectacular display England had ever seen, and the sights and sounds filled her with a wondrous feeling. If only life could be as exhilarating as a fireworks show.
When the last glittering tendril faded away, she listened to the fragments of song and rowdy laughter that filled the night air. Couples strolled by, arm in arm. Robert stepped onto the balcony and moved close.
His voice was quiet beside her. "This is a day I'll never forget."
"I'll never forget it, either," she said, thinking of the man on the black steed, the man with the emerald eyes.
Robert tilted her face up, bending his head to place a soft, chaste kiss on her lips. 'Twas their first kiss; she was supposed to feel fireworks.
But she felt nothing.
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