"Sweet Disorder" mini-story: a new story quilt

Way back in January, I offered to write Lively St. Lemeston stories for folks who donated to organizations that protested the Muslim ban, and Korey took me up on it. Sorry it took me so long to get to this, Korey.

October 1813

“Are you sure you don’t want me to make myself scarce?” Nick asked, setting the tea to steep.

“Why would I? My friends love you.” Phoebe was laying a modest collation of bread, cheese, and cold roast goose out on their table—the half not covered with dictionaries, newspapers, and magazines, anyway. She arranged the butter, the pickles, and the little jars of mustard and fig preserves between the plates and stood back to survey her work proudly. The Lively St. Lemeston Society for Bettering the Condition of the Poor’s Committee for the Encouragement of Charitable Subscriptions and Bequests was coming over to work on their quilts for this year’s Gooding Day auction.

“In case you wanted to talk about me, I suppose.”

She spared him a glance, and a grin. “Think highly of yourself, don’t you?”

“I meant in case you wanted to complain about me!”

She came over and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. “I know. Not today, but thank you. But I think Mr. Gilchrist is taking Reggie Jr. nutting after he and Helen show him off to the ladies. I’m sure you’d be welcome to go with them. I know you love that boy.”

Nick did, and even managed to find himself in charity with weaselly Mr. Gilchrist when Reggie Jr.’s many delightful qualities and habits were the topic of conversation. Still, the weather had been damp, and the forest ground would be muddy and uneven. “I’ll stay. What are you doing for your quilt this year?”

She blushed. “I…”

He laughed. “Is it obscene? I can think of a few scenes from your recent work of fiction that would look splendid immortalized in art.” A Merry Widow and Her Three Suitors had proven a smashing success with purchasers of erotic novels, and Phoebe was hard at work on a sequel. Nick blushed himself, rather, thinking of some of the questions about his anatomy he had been called upon to answer.

She poked him. “Unless someone brings quite a lot of pink fabric, it’s out of the question. No, I’m doing scenes from Byron.”

Nick, recognizing this for the love letter it was, was for a moment so overcome with emotion he couldn’t speak. “Which ones?”

She looked away. “I don’t know yet. Probably the Spanish warrior maid, and the vampire eating his daughter from The Giaour…

“Better hope someone brings a lot of red fabric,” he observed, but he couldn’t sound dry. “Come here and let me kiss you.”

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