Shannon here: Heartsong Presents author, Tiffany Amber Stockton shares an excerpt for her book 2 in the Liberty’s Promise trilogy: Quills & Promises. Leave a comment by Aug. 28, 8:00 PM Central for a chance to win a copy of Liberty’s Promise or a bonus giveaway: Stuart Vaughn Stockton’s science fiction book: Starfire.
Quills & Promises Excerpt:
“Chelcy!” Fifteen-year-old Elanna Hanssen waved at her best friend and crossed the cobblestone street toward the town green, lifting her petticoats to avoid the mud from the recent rains.
“Oh, Elanna, I am so happy to see you!” Chelcy Greyson embraced Elanna in a warm hug, then stepped back. Her eyes gleamed, and she looked ready to burst with whatever news she had to share.
“Tell me the latest before your stays snap.”
Chelcy covered her mouth with her gloved hand and giggled. “Is it that obvious?”
Elanna gave Chelcy’s arm a tug and led her toward the stone bench at the edge of the green. “When I saw you, I thought you had somehow managed to capture the sunlight and shine it through your eyes.”
“How romantic!” Chelcy pressed her hands to her heart. “Is that from one of your poems or journals?”
“No, it is original and new as of today.” Perhaps someday all of her writing would amount to more than ink blots on parchment paper. For now, however, her friend took center stage. Elanna pointed a finger at Chelcy. “No more delays. Tell me your news.”
Chelcy clasped Elanna’s hands in her own and bounced on the stone bench. Elanna grinned at the enthusiastic display.
“I could hardly believe it when Mother and Father showed me the letter. It took so long to get here, and we only had three days to prepare for his arrival. We had not seen or heard from him in four years, and now he is here. It is so exciting. I do not know how I managed to remain calm this long. Mother had to remind me at least five times every day to relax and focus. Somehow, I completed my daily tasks and—”
“One moment,” Elanna interrupted. “Slow down. You spoke so fast I only caught half of what you said. Now, what letter did you receive? And who sent it? Who is here?”
Chelcy touched two fingers to her lips and offered a sheepish grin. “Do forgive me. I told you how excited I was.”
“Yes, that much I gathered. Will I ever get to hear who is visiting, or is that going to remain a surprise until I meet him?”
“My cousin,” Chelcy announced in a rush. “His name is Madison Scott, and he is visiting from Massachusetts. There are reports that the war is spreading, and he wanted to spend some time with us before things get too bad.”
A cousin? From the north? Elanna didn’t know why that would be cause for such excitement, but Chelcy had enough exuberance for them both. This Madison must be held in high esteem with the Greysons since it appeared they had gone out of their way to prepare for his arrival. She had to know more.
“So, your cousin is visiting. Is he somehow connected to the Boston Assembly or to some influential person?”
“He is not a councilman, no, but he does wield a certain amount of influence among the soldiers in his regiment.”
A soldier. That explained some, at least. “He managed to get enough time away from his regiment to travel this far south? He must be more than a common soldier.”
Chelcy nodded. “He is the eldest son of my uncle. After spending several years serving in England in His Majesty’s Royal Army and risking his life for his commanding officer during an attack by the French, he returned to Boston and has recently attained the appointment of major.” She grinned. “You are going to love him.”
“Are you singing my praises again, Chelcy? I must confess, the stories you tell make my accomplishments sound larger than life.”
Chelcy jumped up from the bench and threw her arms around a rather dashing gentleman. Elanna couldn’t see quite enough of him to get a clear view of his face, but he did make a stylish figure in his uniform. He returned Chelcy’s hug with equal fervor, then unwound her arms from his neck and stepped back to get a better look at her. When Chelcy turned again to face her, Elanna caught a full vision of her cousin. Dashing only dusted the surface of an accurate description.
“And who might this charming young lady be?”
Madison took a step toward her, removed his hat with a flourish, and bowed. Gallant and handsome. What a winning combination. A dangerous one, too. He was already leagues ahead of most gentlemen Elanna knew.
“Madison Scott, milady. Might I have the pleasure of an introduction?”
“Oh, Madison, cease with your frivolous social graces. This is Elanna Hanssen, my best friend.”
The glint in his eyes accompanied a beguiling grin. “On the contrary, my dear cousin.” His attention never wavered from Elanna’s face. “One must always adhere to the social customs in order to guarantee a good first impression.” He reached for one of Elanna’s hands and raised it to his lips. “Would you not agree, Miss Hanssen?”
Elanna could barely remember her name, let alone come up with an appropriate response to his query. By the gleam in his eyes, he certainly knew the effect he had on her. That only made a reply much more difficult. But she’d never backed down from a challenge before, and she didn’t intend to start now. With all the grace she could muster, she withdrew her hand from his grasp. Snapping her fan in front of her with several brisk strokes, she took the needed moment to compose herself.
“I would say, Major Scott, that your observation is correct. Regardless of the circumstances, when in mixed company, one must always adhere to the social rules that govern polite society.”
Chelcy released a dramatic groan. “Oh, Elanna! Not you, too.”
Madison regarded Elanna with undisguised admiration. It was evident that his boldness wasn’t met with indifference often; rather, he no doubt enjoyed great success with the ladies. Just how many ladies graced the soldier’s life? The fleeting thought came unbidden, and she quickly dismissed it.
“And I gather that your family has raised you according to those same customs.”
“Indeed. After all, Papa is a member of the assembly, and Mama is quite influential with the wives of the assembly members.”
Elanna could count at least four times in the past month when the assembly wives had been invited to their home for tea. Something big loomed just beyond the horizon. She could feel it.
“It appears New Castle benefits greatly from the contributions of your family. From what my dear cousin tells me, it will not be long before these counties break off to become a colony in their own right.”
Chelcy swatted Madison with her fan. “So you did read my letters.”
Madison feigned insult and slapped his hat to his chest. “But of course. Do you doubt my interest in local politics? You reside in a town that is situated close enough to Philadelphia to be a significant source of information.”
Finally! A topic of interest to Elanna. Despite her mother’s objections, Papa kept her informed about significant news from his meetings. Although not privy to everything, she learned enough to stay up to date. She tried hard to contain her excitement. “From what Papa has told us at home, many members of the assembly wish to separate these counties from Pennsylvania so we can fully govern ourselves without their interference.”
“And where is home, Miss Hanssen?”
“My family owns a farm a few miles southwest of town along the Christina River.”
“Perhaps I shall be able to call upon you there someday.”
Elanna dipped her head and brought her fan once more to shield her face. “Perhaps, Major Scott.” The sooner, the better, for she was developing a great desire to enjoy his captivating presence and quick wit for more than these few moments.
It had been several months since a gentleman had turned her head. Her twin brother, Edric, teased her often about spending all of her time with pen and paper. But that was how she best expressed herself. God had gifted her with the ability to communicate using the written word, and she refused to waste that talent by ignoring it. Wouldn’t Edric be surprised to learn she had met someone despite that solitary activity?
“Very well,” Chelcy announced and stepped between them, “if you two insist upon this formal address, I believe I will return home and leave you both here to determine who will win the social skirmish.”
Her friend’s declaration dissipated the cloud that had fogged Elanna’s mind since Madison had joined their conversation. Had she just been openly coy? Mama would lapse into vapors if she had witnessed such brazen behavior. She’d do well to rein in her actions and her tongue or else risk consequences far worse than her private guilt.
Chelcy touched Elanna’s elbow and drew her out of her musings. “Will you be attending the town meeting with your father next week?”
Oh, the meeting! She’d almost forgotten. “Yes, of course. With Edric learning what’s necessary to take his position come his eighteenth birthday, I would sooner miss my own birthday celebration than the opening of the assembly.”
Her dramatic expression elicited a giggle from Chelcy and a chuckle from Madison.
“As always, delivered with flair and pomp.” Chelcy smiled. “Is it any wonder why I find you a pure delight?”
Elanna placed a hand on her chest and raised her chin just a bit. “Just think how utterly dull your life would be without me in it.”
“Perish the thought. I refuse to even think of such misery.”
Madison raised one eyebrow. “And you accuse both Miss Hanssen and me of frivolous speech?”
A tinge of pink spotted Chelcy’s cheeks. She snapped open her fan and hid behind the folds. “I do believe that is my cue to withdraw from this fine company.” She motioned for Elanna to step aside with her. “Guard yourself, my friend,” she cautioned, dipping her head close. “My dear cousin has a reputation with the ladies. I fear from your expression that you have already succumbed to his charm. Promise me you will keep your wits about you.”
Elanna placed a hand on Chelcy’s upper arm. “I assure you that my wits will remain firmly intact. Your cousin has done nothing more than behave as any gentleman would.”
“I might consider him more of a rogue,” Chelcy countered, a twinkle lighting her eyes.
“Be that as it may, you have no need to be bothered about me. I vow to remain in clear view of passersby. Edric and Papa and my three uncles would lock me in my room and teach your cousin a lesson with their fists should I do anything to cause tongues to wag.”
A sigh escaped Chelcy’s lips. Relief filled her expression. “Very well. I shall leave you alone together…as long as you promise to tell me all that transpired when you come to town again for the meeting next week.”
Laughing, Elanna brushed cheeks with her friend. “I promise.”
With that, Chelcy was gone. Flutters commenced in Elanna’s stomach, and she placed a hand atop the affected area. Forcing herself to calm, she gave Madison her full attention, but he was the first to speak.
“Shall we?” He extended a hand toward the bench. She sat and tucked her skirts beneath her, laying her fan across her lap. A part of her knew she should probably start for home, but another part wanted to hear the news from this soldier. The latter part won.
About Tiffany: Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood. Today, she is an award-winning author, online marketing specialist, and a freelance web site designer who lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have a one-year-old daughter and a vivacious Australian shepherd named Roxie. She has sold eleven books to Barbour Publishing with many more stories yet to be told. Three of her novels won annual reader’s choice awards and in 2009, she was voted #1 favorite new author for the Heartsong Presents book club. Other writing credits include over twenty writing articles for various publications, five short stories with Romancing the Christian Heart, and nine contributions to the book, 101 Ways to Romance Your Marriage. A born-again Christian since the age of seven, her faith in Christ has often sustained her through difficult experiences. She seeks to share that with others through her writing. Read more about her at her web site: www.amberstockton.com.
Come back August 27 for a romantic interview with Stuart Vaughn Stockton & Tiffany Amber Stockton.