DAY 13

I wrote this scene for All's Fair in Love and Scandal, when Douglas is trying to find out more about the mysterious Madeline Wilde. Since I'd written a scene in Love and Other Scandals about Douglas's mother being intent on matchmaking for him, I thought he might go his mother. Eventually I changed my mind, but I always like a scene with a hero or heroine and their parent.

Deleted scene from All's Fair in Love and Scandal

“Douglas, you were supposed to dance with Felicity Drummond,” said his mother in mild reproof.

“Who?”

“Lord Drummond’s youngest. You danced with her several times early in the Season.” His mother threw up her hands at his continued blank look. “A lovely young lady. She’s got a very handsome dowry, excellent connections, and she’s sweet-tempered.”

“Ah—her.” He nodded, summoning a vague memory of a blond girl with a plump bosom. “I didn’t see her. I have a question about another lady, Mother.”

Her eyebrows shot up. “Indeed! Who, Douglas?”

“Madeline Wilde.”

For a moment there was silence. From his mother’s shocked expression, Douglas could see he’d asked a bad question, but that only made the answer more intriguing. Upsetting his mother had never stopped him before, after all, and he was going insane wondering about the woman. “I met her last night and she snubbed me. Who is she?”

“Perhaps it’s best if you take the snub at its value,” she said tartly. “I don’t think you ought to associate with her.”

That did nothing to quench his curiosity. “Now I really must know. Perhaps Joan will tell me.”

“As much as I appreciate the image of you sharing tea and gossip with your sister, I suggest you heed my advice.” She gave him a stern look. “Women like her are nothing but trouble.”

As if his mother’s definition of trouble matched his own. In Douglas’s experience, they were complete opposites, in fact. “How so?”

Lady Bennet sighed and looked at the ceiling, as if praying for patience. “If I tell you, will you give your word to be discreet?”

“Absolutely.”

“And to dance with proper young ladies?” she pressed. “Really Douglas, it’s time you settled down. A young man may sow his wild oats—I understand that—but—“

“Now, Mother,” he said in warning. “You just got Joan married. You ought to be reveling in that triumph! And quite a coup, too, landing Burke. I never thought I’d see him take a wife, but there he was in the church, pledging his troth to her like a besotted fool.” He shook his head, still disbelieving.

“I will revel in your marriage, too, young man!” She ruined her stern tone with a fond glance. “I want my children to be settled and content before I die.”

“I have no doubt you’ll live to see your grandchildren settled and content.”

“No thanks to you!” She pressed her lips together. Recognizing a moment for contrition, Douglas ducked his head and put on his most abashed, downcast look. It never failed with ladies, and it was especially effective on his mother. Within a minute she relented, reaching for his hand. “I want you to be happily settled,” she said in a much gentler tone. “Madeline Wilde is not the sort of woman who will make a man happy.”

“Then what sort is she?”

“The sort who will always keep a man guessing. She’s led more than one gentleman on a merry chase that ended in nothing.”

“Nothing?”

His mother sipped her tea, eyeing him over the rim of the cup. “Nothing respectable.”

That was fine with Douglas. By ‘respectable,’ his mother meant marriage, which didn’t figure into his plans. “So she merely became their lover?”

“Douglas!”

He spread his hands in innocence. “She’s a beautiful woman. She’s a widow. She’s obviously got some funds. Why would she need to marry someone?”

His mother pinched the bridge of her nose. “I can’t imagine. But Miss Drummond is far prettier, if you ask me.”

He hadn’t, and he didn’t agree, but never mind that. “Of course,” he agreed quickly. “But I know all I need to know about Miss Drummond. It’s Mrs. Wilde who interests me at the moment.”

The Scandalous Series

<Love and Other Scandals> It Takes a Scandal All's Fair in Love and Scandal' Love in the Time of Scandal A Study in Scandal Six Degrees of Scandal

The Secret of My Seduction