WELCOME to the excerpt thread for Hope's Betrayal. To get us started I ask "what's not to like about a puppy?" - as Captain Huntley presents his mother with a present...HOPE'S BETRAYAL - synopsis
One wild, winter's night two worlds collide.
Known for his ruthless efficiency, Captain George Huntley is sent to stamp out smuggling on the south coast of England. On a night raid, the Captain captures a smuggler, but finds his troubles are just beginning when the lad turns out to be a lass, Hope Tyler.
With Hope as bait, the Captain sets a trap to catch the rest of the gang. But in a battle of wills, with his reputation at stake, George Huntley starts to respect feisty, independent Hope. Challenged by her sea-green eyes and stubborn loyalty Huntley now faces a new threat - his growing attraction to a sworn enemy. But a love where either Hope betrays her own kind, or Captain Huntley is court-marshaled, is not an easy destiny to follow.
EXCERPT - in which Captain Huntley gives his mother a gift
It was a comment in a letter from his brother that put the idea in Captain Huntley's head which culminated with George hobbling towards his mother's bedchamber with a puppy clamped under one arm. Using his cane to rap on the door, he pictured Hope on the other side, with those tilted feline eyes and high cheekbones. The puppy felt him tremble and tried to wriggle free. As the door opened George boosted the pup higher on his hip and assumed an expression of cool indifference.
Hope's face was a picture of surprise, her pink lips parted slightly and her brow arched.
"What is that?" Hope stared at the bundle of fur slipping out of his grasp. Huntley frowned, finding it increasingly difficult to be dignified whilst carrying the unruly creature.
“I would have thought it was perfectly obvious. Tis a puppy.”
“What have you there, George?” In a white linen nightgown, a lace cap on her greying hair, his mother called from the bed.
The thing was, the pup had wriggled so far backward he had the wretched thing in a head lock. The puppy squealed and both women gasped, as if they'd lost their wits. Huntley was beginning to doubt the wisdom of his plan as he limped across the room and with a twisting turn, deposited his furry burden on the bedcovers. The back of shirt felt damp against his skin and he suspected the creature had urinated on him. Distracted, he rubbed his shirt and sniffed his fingers just as a chorus of excited squeals broke over his head.
The puppy, released from the head lock, shook his floppy ears and, mountaineering over the counterpane, made straight for Lady Sherminster.
“How utterly adorable!” His mother clapped her hands. George regarded her with surprise for she was entirely transformed, wearing a gooey expression as she waggled her fingers to beckon the puppy closer.
The pup was white with tan patches, his fur long, his tail fringed with a silky twist and that tail was at that moment beating a steady rhythm on the blankets.
“I'm told he is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.”
The pup completed his sojourn across the covers and flopped beside his new mistress, staring up with soulful brown eyes. He squirmed his head along the blankets and rolled over to expose a rounded belly. Tentatively her ladyship's fingertips brushed against the exposed pink underbelly which made his tail wag harder.
The effect this small dog had on two otherwise rational women, bewildered Huntley. With a chorus of ooohs and aaaahs, their entire attention was focused on the wriggling mass of fur. All semblance of intelligent, rational people dissolved as they cooed over the pup. Huntley didn’t know whether to be pleased or bemused. Equally enraptured, the pup had snuggled against her ladyship and as a pink tongue licked at her arm and she giggled.
“George he is adorable, but I don’t understand. Who does he belong to?”
“Oh didn’t I say? He’s for you. A present.”
The two women stared at him.
“I didn’t know you had it in you George, but what a wonderful idea. Thank you.’
“I’m glad you approve.” From the corner of his eye he saw Hope staring at him with new appreciation. Huntley bristled for, it wouldn’t do for them to think he was going soft. “Strictly speaking, this isn’t all my idea.”
“It was something Jack wrote, some tale about when Eulogy’s housekeeper was ill, and it struck a chord with me. Of course if you don’t want him I can take him back.”
Constance now held the pup in her arms, pressed firmly against her bosom, his large brown eyes starting to close as he fell into an easy sleep.
“Don’t you dare. He’s mine…my… Jasper.”
“That’s a lovely name.” Hope’s face aglow, she too leant over and stroked the Jasper’s velveteen forehead. “It suits him so. Shall he sleep in here, Ladyship?”
“Oh yes, a basket beside the fire. The poor thing seems exhausted. I expect being man handled by George here is tiring.”
Huntley rolled his eyes. “It’s not easy carrying a pup when you have a bad leg.”
“Still, let him sleep now.” Taking care not to disturb Jasper, her ladyship slipped deeper under the covers. “I think I’ll nap now. We can keep each other company.”
She looked from Huntley to Hope and her expression changed. A look of comprehension dawned on her face that made George uneasy for he recognised when his mother was up to something.
“Now dears, why doesn’t George, take Miss Tyler to the parlour for a nice cup of tea. She’s worked so hard these past few days, I’m sure a break wont go amiss.”
Hope glanced at George. "Are you sure, Ladyship?”
“I’m tired. Little Jasper will keep me company. Now, go!”
Huntley’s mood soared but he was careful to conceal his triumph. “Come Miss Tyler, let us leave mother in peace with her new friend.”
Huntley swallowed hard. In his plan he had yet to work out what he would say to Hope when they were alone.
To his surprise, in the corridor Hope grasped his arm, and rising on tip toe fluttered a kiss against his cheek. His blood surged in response.
“That is the nicest, sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. Thank you.”
Huntley swallowed hard, confused. All his life he’d been striving to be strong, to be a leader and hide weakness, whilst all along it seemed it was all right to have a softer side. The sensation was not unlike standing on a ship’s deck with the landmarks he held as constants spinning around him. Where, he wondered, was all this going toend? http://www.amazon.com/Hopes-Betrayal.../dp/B0084ND8ZY