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"Well, I suppose I could strangle him with a trollop," Kylie Dobson mused. Trollop. That was the long stringy thing from a cow's stomach, right?
"Tripe," he corrected.
"Oh, right. T-r-i-p-e."
Kylie's fingers clacked over the keyboard, accepting the correction from a voice in her head while the scene tried to unfold before her. Her fingers hovered over the keypad, frozen.
Could you strangle someone with tripe?
She rolled her eyes and brought up her internet server to search the web. If she didn't get it right, it was one more thing the final line editor would comment on.
The scene faded from her mind, replaced with the stark black typeface on white screen. The cursor taunted her with slow even flashes. The tripe was an errant thought anyway. Kylie wasn't ready for that scene, but the one she was trying to write wouldn't. There had to be an explanation. Maybe she should rewrite the scene from Miss Sutterfield's eyes?
Kylie scrolled back to review what she'd written.
Mrs. Brecklewhite's missive was clear. He was to report to the solarium to discuss matters concerning Miss Sutterfield.
Lord Gafton crumpled the vellum. Having arrived at the Sommersby winter party only two days prior, it had not escaped his notice that Mrs. Brecklewhite's sole intention was to see him wed to Miss Sutterfield. He had every expectation that the chaperone of the lovely young lady meant to trap him alone with Miss Sutterfield and secure a promise of marriage.
He would not go unprepared.
Firming his lips into a thin line, he proceeded down the curving stair of the Marble Hall entry, through theattached Great Parlor and its adjoining withdrawing room, and walked briskly along the west wing to reach the solarium at the end, facing the maze garden.
Kylie's frustration welled up inside her. Here. This is where it had all gone to pot. Lord Gafton was supposed to be happy to see Miss Sutterfield, to welcome any scheming on the part of the girl's chaperone to hook them up. But for some unknown reason, he was pissed. How was that possible considering she'd written him to be half in love with Miss Sutterfield before the winter party began?
She'd always felt rather blessed to be one of those people who "saw" the scene occur as her fingers dashed across the keyboard to keep up with the images. And until two days ago her method had never faltered.
But now Lord Grafton was being difficult.
Kylie resumed typing, forcing the scene to emerge.
Lord Gafton pushed the door handle, finding the blushing miss in question wringing her hands in the fabric of her day gown. Her golden locks captured the sun like strands of costly silk. Her ocean-colored gaze skipped over him and darted to the hallway beyond. She should be everything he wanted, yet Milo's skin crawled with the urgency to leave.
"No, you have to stay put! You like this girl. She's yours. It's a setup, don't you get it? Finally, she will be yours," Kylie growled at the screen.
"Oh," the angel said, "I had thought you to be--" Miss Sutterfield broke off, her blush deepening to the crimson shade of the roses embroidered on her gown.
His glance darted around the room. They were alone, as he had suspected. She had thought him to be some other person? Had the chaperone secured her cooperation by telling her she'd meet another, more favorable gentleman? A clandestine meeting without a chaperone did not speak well of Miss Sutterfield's character, and with sudden insight he remembered her eager glances and coy smiles for another.
Ah, she had anticipated a meeting with Lord Darrow.
Milo pushed the door more firmly, opening it completely to the hall as he stood aside. Miss Sutterfield shot him a curious look, her blue eyes blinking rapidly, an innocent pawn in her chaperone's machinations.
Her head canted to the side. He could almost see her thoughts tumbling downhill to rest atop her right temple--so much room was housed within the confines of her skull.
"What?" Kylie shrieked. She lifted her fingers off the keyboard, staring at her offending digits. "What are you thinking, Milo? C'mon. Keep her there another ten minutes--not even ten, I'll make it two--just keep her there so Mrs. Brecklewhite can find you together as planned."
Men. Did you have to explain everything for them?
Miss Sutterfield's gaze darted between the open door and the stony visage of the man who guarded her freedom. With a sudden cry, she caught up her skirts and raced for the hall, slipping past Lord Gafton in her single-minded quest.
"Go after her, Milo," Kylie muttered under her breath. She visualized him standing in the open solarium door and turning to the hallway, but she could not make him move. "That's stupid. Of course he'll move. I invented him."
"I have no intention of pursuing her, my lady."
"Yeah, you do, you just don't realize I'm right, yet. Go get her, stud."
In her mind's eye, Milo turned and looked up at the far left corner of the room ... directly at her from her author's perspective. "You must be joking. Truly, you cannot expect me to pant after the vacuous chit you have described."
Kylie frowned at the mental argument. She saw no reason why he couldn't be in love with Miss Sutterfield, but apparently her subconscious disagreed.
She grabbed her stack of notes--jotted-down thoughts that came to her about the characters as she wrote. She scanned the scrambled list of Milo's characteristics, then picked through to find Miss Sutterfield. "Vacuous? That's nowhere on this list. Miss Sutterfield is not vacuous." She dropped the stack and rubbed her temples.
"She blinks between sentences as though she cannot fathom the direction of her next thought. Have you carried a conversation with her? You have not. You merely wrote her attractively and expect me to react on physicality. There is naught to hold my interest."
The image of Milo reprimanding the ceiling made her lips twitch with mirth. After ten hours of writing, Kylie decided she'd finally cracked.
"Not bloody likely, my lady. You've merely tired enough to listen to reason." Milo glanced down the hallway in the direction Miss Sutterfield had run. "Perhaps if you wrote a character more akin to yourself, I'd chase after her."
"Great. Now I know I'm losing it." She hit the save icon on her document and closed her laptop. "Wow, Kylie, you really need to get out and find a man. You've reached a new low when you imagine your hero hitting on you."
In the kitchen, she grabbed a wine glass from the cabinet and a bottle of red from the fridge, Kylie poured herself enough to fill the bowl of the glass before putting the bottle away. The microwave declared the time was two a.m. in bold green numbers. It was later than she'd thought.
Still needing time to decompress, Kylie dragged her feet through the medium pile carpet to her bedroom. She hit the play button on her CD player for the soothing, husky sound of Norah Jones.
By the third song, Kylie had drained her glass and hit the lights. The CD player would run its course and stop. Her pillow called to her. She'd brush her teeth tomorrow.
Kylie dropped back, cuddling under the covers as sleep wrapped its drugging arms around her.