Susan and I have added a dash of history to our next Stephanie Browning Romance. He stands three inches high, when not on horseback, wears a smart navy uniform with gold braiding, and best of all, he’s a total chick magnet.
Officially, he’s a dragoon, a soldier in the 13th Light Dragoons who travels by horseback, but fights on foot, an advance scout for the British army capable of jabbing at the enemy and making a hasty exit.
When you’re dealing with a drop-dead gorgeous American movie star like Marc Daniels, our leading man in Undone by the Star, a touch of gravitas is required. Like a passion for history, and a well-loved collection of toy soldiers inherited from his British godfather.
And while in London, staying at The Sadler Hotel, why not add another soldier to the collection? And who better to show him the antique halls along Portobello Road than our strong-willed heroine, Alexis Kirkwood, The Sadler’s head concierge?
“These are amazing,” Marc said in her ear, breath warm against her skin. While Marc spoke with the dealer, Alex pressed up against the counter, her eyes roaming over the mock battles and rows of infantrymen. They were sorted by regiment, and lined up on shelves at the back of the stall. She surprised herself, happily identifying uniforms and time periods: Napoleonic, Victorian, the American Civil War, World Wars I and II. No wonder Marc found them so fascinating; they were a microcosm of history.
Four chapters, and many challenges later, Marc has moved out of the hotel leaving Alex to get on with her career while he wrestles with his. Lonely and miserable in his unfurnished flat, he is thrilled when Alex shows up at his door with a hamper full of goodies. He might have nothing more than a mattress on the floor, but he finds a way to set the stage…
“So,” Marc said releasing her hand. “We have two choices. Sit on the stools in the kitchen and eat off the counter…or…” he bent down, grabbed a corner of the duvet, and gave it a rolling tug, “…picnic in front of the fireplace.”
Strawberries and champagne work their magic under the watchful eye of the tiny lead soldier. He stands guard from the top of the mantelpiece as Marc and Alex explore their relationship, a silent reminder of their first afternoon together…
Knowing Marc’s passion for history, Alex knew it must have riled him to be typecast as an action figure, but between the candlelight and the soft yellow glow filtering through the trees outside, she could see why the producers in Hollywood would be so anxious to keep him. The shadows in the room emphasized the strength of his jaw and his rugged handsome features. He was all man, authoritative when necessary, and someone to rely on. She’d never seen his films, but she’d gotten to know the real Marc. He was kind and considerate, and had stood doggedly by her side, no questions asked, when she needed him most.
“Tell about me about these dragoons of yours,” she said softly.
“Are you sure? I’ve been known to bore even the most hardened academics.”
Alex curled up in the folds of the duvet and rested her head on his knee. “You have my full attention.”
Marc let his fingers brush her hair gently as he explained how the dragoons were part of the regular army, but their job was to sneak behind the enemy lines and bring back information.
“Kind of like spies?”
“Kind of like spies….” He smiled down at Alex. “Their scouting skills became legendary, and eventually the British Army gave them their own regiments. Our guy wears the uniform of the 13th Light Dragoons.”They held each other’s gaze for several long moments letting their mutual attraction play out, heightening the anticipation of what was to come.
Whoever said history was boring?