This was going to be my April teaser, but the last couple of weeks were busy with the Merola Opera Program’s annual Benefit Gala, A Royal Affair (there are Mélanie and I above in our tiaras). So the April teaser is being posted in early May. It’s a scene from the novella I’m writing about Malcolm/Charles and Mélanie/Suzanne’s engagement and wedding, provisionally titled The Lisbon Bride. In this scene, Charles/Malcolm tells his valet Addison that he’s going to be married. It’s fascinating for me to go back in time and discover who these characters I know so well were at the start of their relationship.
I’ve also posted a new letter to the Fraser Correspondence from Aline to Gisèle.
Charles stared round the sitting room of the lodgings he had occupied since he’d come to Lisbon four years ago. Papers overflowing the writing desk. Books crowded on the bookshelves that lined three walls (two of which he’d purchased after he moved in) and stacked on the floor and nearly every available surface. One comfortable frayed tapestry wing-back chair by the fireplace. A door leading to the adjoining bedchamber, also crowded with books but with little else to give it a personal stamp.
“Sir?” His valet Addison’s voice cut in on his thoughts. “Is anything the matter?”
“No. That is—“ Charles turned to look at the man who’d been his valet since he went up to Oxford. “I’m going to marry Mélanie de Saint-Vallier.”
A genuine smile broke across Addison’s reserved face. “My felicitations, sir. To you both.”
“Thank you.” Charles cast another glance round the room. “She’ll be coming to live here. As will Blanca.”
‘So I would presume.
“We’ll have to—“
“Make room.” Addison, who had presided over a bachelor establishment for nearly a decade, seemed unfazed. But then very little fazed Addison, from unexpected guests to French snipers. “I’ll speak to Señora Rivera and see if we can have the small room down the passage for Blanca—Miss Mendoza.”
“We should have another chair in the sitting room at the very least.”
“And a chest of drawers for the bedchamber. I’ll see what I can do. I imagine Mrs. Fraser will wish to purchase more after she settles in.”
“Mrs. Fraser.” How odd it sounded. His mother had been Lady Elizabeth Fraser, a welcome distinction now. He didn’t need his parents hanging over this oddly begun marriage any more than they inevitably would. “Thank you. Addison—“ Charles turned to look at his valet. They had depended on each other, shared tight quarters, saved each other’s lives more than once. Addison knew him in ways no one else on earth did. Yet they rarely spoke of personal topics. “Do you think I’m a fool?”
“I’ve always thought you possessed a very keen understanding, sir. This only confirms that opinion.”
“I don’t have the least idea what I’m doing.”
“I expect that’s true of many people when they get married. Miss Saint-Vallier is an exceptional woman. You’re a fortunate man.”
“I’m well aware of it.”
“And she’s a fortunate woman.”
Charles smiled. But it couldn’t banish the bite of incipient failure.