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Friday, March 19, 2010

Crit Friday - First Sighting #2 "A Scandalous Wife"

Robert Haslett, the Earl of Masten, glanced around his sister’s opulent ballroom and wondered, not for the first time that night, why he was there. These sorts of aimless functions were precisely why he spent most of his time in Dorset. "Every year it gets worse and worse, Rob; and I get older and older, less able to tolerate her all together.” Chester Peyton, the Marquess of Bainbridge, complained as he ran a hand through his dark hair. Everyone else at the Hambly’s annual ball seemed to be enjoying themselves; but Chet, a hulking giant and normally cheerful man, was set squarely in the doldrums.

Robert smiled at the marquess dismissively. “Come now, she can’t be all that bad.”

“It’s worse than I’m letting on,” Chet insisted firmly with a crinkled brow. “She’s pestering me nearly non-stop.”

It was every mother’s duty to bully her son into a finding a proper wife. Chet had avoided it for too long at thirty-seven and Robert chuckled at his friend’s continued reluctance to his obvious fate. Though the two had been friends since their boyhood days together at Eton, Robert had to agree with Lady Bainbridge on this matter. Her son was a bit long in the tooth and quite overdue in selecting a bride.

“Well, then finally settle on a chit and make your mother happy.” This conversation was tiresome, they’d had it on more than one occasion. Robert would much rather be discussing his stables, the latest races, or something else of interest. Besides, it wasn’t as if finding a wife would upset Chet’s daily routine. His life would continue as it always had, just like every other married man of their acquaintance.

Robert scanned the ballroom until his eyes settled on a pretty little thing near the entrance to the drawing room. He smiled when he saw her. Light from the chandeliers reflected off the soft hues of her strawberry blond hair, piled high on her head. She wasn’t like the other girls in their light pastel gowns and demure looks. No, the pretty girl that caught Robert’s attention was bold in a rich sapphire colored gown that was eye catching in its contrast with her light hair and creamy complexion. She seemed much too daring for Robert’s own conservative tastes, but Chet…Well, Chet could use a bold woman. “That girl there, you look like you could be her father, but perhaps she prefers older men. Quite pretty.”

Chet followed his friend’s gaze and when he spotted the girl Robert found, his laugh boomed so loudly couples stopped dancing and turned towards the disruptive sound. Robert was accustomed to Chet’s affable demeanor, so the guffaw had no affect on him, except that he raised his eyebrows slightly in question.

After wiping a laugh induced tear from his eye, Chet shook his head in dismay at his friend. “Honestly, Rob, that was nicely played. I appreciate your good humor.”

It was common knowledge among their set that Chet could be extremely picky when it came to women; this was why he was still single and unattached at thirty-seven. But Robert couldn’t detect anything outwardly offensive with the girl in the sapphire dress. On the contrary, she was breathtaking. He rubbed his chin in frustration. Shouldn’t Chet at least make the acquaintance of the girl, before he rejected her outright? “And what exactly is so funny? What could you possibly find wrong with that girl?”

Chet tried not to laugh again, and draped his arm around his friend’s shoulder. “Well, for one thing, she’s your wife.”

JERRICA: What a fantastic first sighting! Hah! I'm definitely intrigued, so I hope to see this published one day so I can read the rest! I wish I had more to say, but I couldn't find anything I didn't love about this entry. Well done!

HEATHER: Wow. What a great first sighting. Imagine not recognising his own wife! I believe this story should be published soon - if it isn't already. I've nothing to offer but praise. Thanks for submitting.

AMY: Loved the setup and laughed at the revelation. This reads as if it is the beginning because I didn't have the feeling I was being plopped into the middle of the story but knew where we were and a good feel for the two speaking. I would have liked to continue reading. Good luck.

CATHERINE: LOL! Well, a bomb was dropped in that ballroom, for sure. I loved the set-up, and I definitely would want to read more. In particular, I want to know how it is that Robert is married, yet doesn't even recognize his own wife. In the paragraph beginning with "Robert scanned the ballroom," I found myself a little distracted by the repetition of both the words light and pretty. I think you could improve the flow of this by either eliminating or replacing the uses of some of these instances.

SAMANTHA: I was a little confused by who was speaking at first. Maybe you would want to mention that Robert is standing in the ballroom with Chet before Chet speaks. Otherwise, it was fantastic. It made me chuckle, and the revelation of the girl's identity was well played.

JULIE: I am always one for revelations, so you captured me at the end when Robert did not recoginzie his own wife. Well played. This hooked me and had me wanting to read more.

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