Today is the day our joint Christmas story hits the virtual shelves, so please excuse my bad dancing ;-) We lay the blame for this story firmly at the feet of our reader group, The RavDor Chicks.
They kept saying to us that they would love for us to write a story together, so here it is. We had so much fun writing this, not least, because I made a trip up to Scotland, and we wrote this amid much laughter, and fuelled with chocolate, wine and Gin and Tonics.
In fact, we had so much fun writing this story, that we are planing more collaberations, so watch this space.
Now, without further ado, here is The Dukes' Christmas Abductions, and because I'm nice like that, you can read the start of the story right here and now.
Follow your heart and cross space and time…
When Clara lands the job as curator of Faversham House it’s a dream come true. Especially, when her favorite Regency Erotica writer Vicky Hopewell shadows her in the run up to the annual estate ball—a tradition left over from Regency times.
The costume ball is always the highlight of the year, but neither woman expects to be confronted by two drop dead gorgeous Dukes.
Daniel Danvers, the Duke of Hockwell thinks Clara is one of the servants invited to the estate ball.
Kit Capel, the Duke of Aulban cannot understand why his wife Victoria acts as though she doesn’t know him.
As both couples slowly come to terms with the reality of their situations, where does their happiness lie? It can’t be as easy as simply following your heart.
Be Warned: bondage, spanking
Available now from Evernight Amazon Amazon UK
(Copyright 2015 Doris O'Connor and Raven McAllan)
Haversham House, Christmas Ball, December, Current time
“Good lord, I need a minute. How anyone could breathe with these freaking stays on, I have no idea.”
Clara gasped for breath, and rolled her eyes at Vicky’s smirk. Her new-found friend looked as fresh as a daisy, dammit, whereas Clara was sure she was going to pass out soon, if she didn’t get these torture objects off of her.
“Wuss. I told you, many ladies in that era didn’t bother with stays but you insisted.” Vicky rolled her eyes. “Your fault. Me? I had more sense. Hence I didn’t wear any under my costume.”
Clara grimaced anew and looked pointedly from her heaving cleavage to Vicky’s nice tidy handful.
“You get away with that. Without scaffolding of some sort I’d be wobbling all over the place even more than I am now. My boobs are too damn big.”
“Rubbish, and the girls are perfect for a Regency dress. Let’s face it, my 34 As are blink-and-you’ll-miss-them nonentities. Why do you think I have a supply of chicken fillets and tissues all over the place? A becomes C. You know full well most women would kill for your cleavage. As for stays … overrated. Hell, Clo, I didn't even put a chemise underneath ... you know," she added at Clara's blank look, "a sort of petticoat under a petticoat. That coal sack you’re wearing, and complaining it chafes your pussy. At least in Regency times they weren’t rough and coarse if you were aristocracy, but still, I guess in this day and age you have to get what the costumier thinks is authentic. But hey it’s no wonder you’re overheating in that get up. Bet you still got your knickers on too, right?” Her impossible friend, who was enjoying herself far too much at her expense, giggled. “I haven’t. What’s the point in daring to go bare, if you cover it all up? We need to get you out of those awful things you call knickers. In the meantime…”
She paused to snare two flutes of champagne off a passing footman, and pressed one into Clara’s hand.
“Bottoms up. You’ll feel better once you’ve had another drink.” Vicky winked at her, and grimacing
Clara downed the lot in one go. She wasn’t a huge fan of the bubbly stuff, but it did lubricate her throat, and left a nice buzz behind. Well, either that, or the lack of oxygen to her lungs was making her this fuzzy headed.
“Are my ladies quite all right?”
James, Haversham’s resident butler, swooped in with his usual majestic grace. It always left Clara feeling somewhat inferior, which was ridiculous. She was curator of this great house, after all. Yet next to the whitehaired, impeccably mannered James, whose family had been butlers in this house since the beginning of time—if he was to be believed—she always felt like an imposter. He certainly never looked at her with the great respect he bestowed Vicky from the minute she’d arrived.
“Lady Victoria Hopewell, my pleasure to welcome you to Haversham House.” The voice wasn’t actually unctuous but not far off. Luckily her friend had held in the giggle Clara was certain she wanted to give and apart from the twinkle in her eyes, showed no surprise at the greeting. Instead she got into the spirit of things, bowed her head, and murmured her acquiescence. Only, once he was out of earshot, she’d dissolved into fits of giggles.
“Goodness, he does take this whole Regency authenticity to the extreme, doesn’t he? No one ever called me Lady Victoria before, or if they have it was so long ago I don’t remember.”
“Yes, well, that’s James. He’s just one of the oddities that surround this house. No wonder their previous curator left. The poor man probably gave himself an ulcer working around the impossible demands placed in the will of the last Duke of Hockwell.”
Vicky nudged her in the ribs and gesticulated. “Shh, he’s waiting for us now.”
Clara watched wide-eyed and full of envy as her friend drew herself up to her full height of around five feet seven. She even looked like a member of the aristocracy who would have graced this elegant house two hundred years ago.
“I say, James, would you be so kind as to show us to the withdrawing rooms for the ladies?” Vicky’s stilted accent shook Clara out of her musings about the state of Haversham House, and focused her attention back on her friend.
James’s lined face broke into a wide smile, and he bowed again.
“Certainly, my lady. If you follow me to the gallery, you will find private rooms off there.”
Vicky grinned and grasping Clara by the elbow, hissed in her ear.
“Gallery, eh? That’s pictures and portraits of the family. Does that mean he’s taking us to the private wing?” Clara had to smile at the excitement in her friend’s voice.
“That means chamber pots and stuff, or is there a loo there?”
“There’s a loo.” Clara smiled at the look of disappointment that spread over Vicky’s face. “You don’t really want to pee in one of those gravy boat things you showed me, do you? Isn’t that taking authenticity a bit far?”
“I guess but…” Vicky punched Clara on the arm as Clara howled with laughter. The noise echoed around the gallery and Vicky shh-ed her. “Stop it,” Vicky hissed. “You’ll get us black balled. No don’t.” Clara sniggered and snorted until tears ran down her cheeks. Vicky tried to be stern and didn’t make it.
“Oh Clo, shut up or you’ll start me off.”
“B … black … balled. I thought lack of sex was blue-balled and okay, I’ve zipped it. Just look around and remember stuff.”
This would be excellent research for Vicky’s next historical romance, after all, and had been the main reason why Clara had ensured Vicky had received one of the coveted invitations to the Christmas ball. They were usually reserved for the cream of society. With a glance back at the crowded ballroom, Clara allowed herself to be led away, satisfied that the evening went as planned, even if the supposed heir hadn’t turned up.
In truth, she was quite curious to see the private wing too. James and his wife, the resident cook and housekeeper, kept the keys for this wing. Clara was due to catalogue all the items in that part of the great house soon. She hadn’t managed to do so yet, her attention taken up with the parts of Haversham House open to the public, and thus paying her wages. Which, should the estate not sort out this missing heir to the dukedom issue, wouldn’t happen for much longer.
James stopped outside the imposing oak paneled door, and unlocked it with great flourish. A strike of lightning lit up the dark interior before the lights came on, and Clara jumped.
“It seems the predicted storm is approaching faster than anticipated. If my ladies will excuse me, I’d better make sure our guests are taken care of.”
James inclined his head, and before Clara could get over her astonishment at the fact that James was leaving them on their own in this sacred part of the house, Vicky had pushed through the door.
With an impending sense of doom, and accompanied by a loud clap of thunder, Clara followed into the dimly lit long hallway. The heavy door clicked shut behind her. Goosebumps broke out on her skin as the temperature instantly dropped, and she rubbed her hands up and down her exposed forearms.
Vicky, who by all accounts ought to be shivering in her barely there outfit, jumped up and down in excitement.
“Wow, look at all these old paintings. These must be their ancestors, and I have to say these two don’t half look yummy. Cousins it says. I think they’ve got the same great grandfather. So there’s a bit of a gap, you know second cousins once removed or something,” Vicky said as she peered at the metal tags on the frames. “But, boy, you can tell they weren’t born on the wrong side of the blanket. Come here, have a look.”
Vicky waved her on, and with a sigh of foreboding Clara stepped forward. The entire hallway lit up in a blinding flash as she did so, and the most enormous rumble of thunder deafened her. Vicky screamed and darkness descended.
Someone or something brushed up against Clara’s back, and she barely suppressed a shriek. She hated the dark with a vengeance, at the best of times. Through the driving rain lashing against the windows now, she heard the sound of a match being struck.
“Deuce, Kit, where the devil are you?”
Spinning round to the sound of that deep masculine rumble, Clara lost her footing as the rug on the floor gave way. A strong masculine arm snaked around her waist, and hoisted her up, against a broad, warm chest. Scents of horse, tobacco, and some woodsy cologne teased her nostrils, as the unknown invader lifted up the lone candle, placed in an old fashioned candle holder, seemingly to study her.
“What have we here? I’m not sure what game my cousin is playing, but I think I shall keep this bounty.”
The man, who looked as though he’d stepped straight out of one of those paintings smirked, and raised one perfectly shaped blond eyebrow at her. A flash of lightning made the diamond in his cravat sparkle, and the ring with what looked like a crest on his pinkie shine brightly in the dim candlelight. He bowed from the waist and took her limp hand in his, to kiss it suavely.
“Daniel Danvers, Duke of Hockwell at your service, Miss…?”
Pressed against him as she was, Clara couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, and for the first time in her twenty five years swooned like a good old Regency heroine.
There you have it. You'll have to buy the book to read the rest, I'm afraid.
Now, where did you put that fizz, Raven? You better not started drinking without me!
Stay naughty, folks.