Bonus Scene: “Desire is different from wanting”

 

“He does not want me.” Arabella stared into the trees above, trying to imagine herself back in their father’s house in Cornwall, or at the chateau in France, anywhere else, and failing. There was nothing left in her imagination but the handsome sailor-turned-nobleman. The man it seems she had finally succeeded in pushing away forever.

“Of course he wants you.” Ravenna tossed a ball across the green and Beast loped lazily after it.

The afternoon was brilliant, the sky crisp, the waning sun warm, and the park full of people—nurses pushing prams and toddlers waddling about and older children released from their tutors running this way and that with hoops. Ladies and gentlemen strolled the walking path, a horseman or two trotted along, and beyond on the carriage track the vehicles of society made fashionable displays in which Arabella would never again participate.

“Ellie, of course, is terribly afraid he will desert you,” Ravenna added.

Arabella slipped her palm over her belly. “Ellie may be right.”

“She isn’t.”

“Desire is different from wanting, Venna,” Arabella said quietly.

“I cannot see how.” Ravenna dropped down beside her on the bench. “The princess thinks Ellie is wrong and that the duke is an honorable man. Is he?”

“Yes,” Arabella said without hesitation. Then she felt the memory of his hands on her and thought perhaps honorability was a complicated matter. “But honor does not always suffice.”

“Hm.” Beast planted his shaggy face in Ravenna’s lap. She stroked his brow. “Why do you think our sister is mistrustful of men?”

Arabella glanced at Eleanor walking along a path not far away, elbows linked with Jacqueline. “It is surely to do with Taliesin, I think. She has always refused to tell me.”

Ravenna frowned. “He would never hurt her intentionally. Never,” she added with certainty.

“No. But sometimes I think a man can hurt a woman without intending to.”

Ravenna stood again with a deep breath. “Which is why it’s really best to confine oneself to three sorts of interactions with men.”

“And those are?”

“Arm wrestling, drinking contests, and foot races, of course.”

“Hopeless hoyden,” Arabella said, the smile that chased her lips a relief.

“Pirate’s wife,” Ravenna countered, then dimpled. She took up the ball and threw it. Beast ambled after.

 

I removed this short scene from I Married the Duke because of chronology: in the final version of the novel, the story’s timeline didn’t allow for Eleanor, Ravenna and Princess Jacqueline to be in London all at once with Arabella before the wedding. But the scene reveals bits of character about Eleanor and Ravenna that I especially like, so I’m delighted to share it here. 

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