About A Gentleman of Substance
Written by A Gentleman of Substance
Michael St. James is something of a cad, and now he’s paying for it, banished to a backwater, post-colonial Virginia town for his sins. Happily, he finds something to occupy his time in the form of Daniel Calhoun, a stiff-necked local squire who simply begs to be taken down a notch for his arrogance. The two begin a torrid affair, and Michael pushes them to the very edge of social extinction with his wild ways, drawing Daniel into mischief at every turn.
Eventually Michael realizes that he teeters on the very brink of ruining Daniel’s life as thoroughly as he has his own, and decides to do the honorable thing. Will it be too late for him to convince Daniel he can do the right thing? Or will Daniel Calhoun decide perhaps he doesn’t want a gentleman after all
"I mean no offense to you at all, Madeline, but this must be the most excruciating event I've ever attended."
Smoothing the beauty patch on her cheek back into place, Madeline looked at him sidelong, and her painted lips stretched into a thin smile. "Well, I did warn you that this was not Boston, nor Philadelphia."
"My dear, this is not merely provincial. It is positively barbaric." Michael was fairly certain Madeline would not take umbrage with his statement, and, indeed, she offered only a slight shrug of her bony shoulders. Another displaced member of society, thanks to her husband's agricultural bent, the lady could easily understand his ire at his unwilling banishment to this backwoods hellhole.
"You have no one to blame but yourself."
Oh, and was that not the truth? Not that Michael would ever admit it aloud, at least not to her. Still, she had a point. If only he had learned the hard-won lesson of discretion before he was sent away in disgrace to this tiny corner of Virginia. Sadly, though it perhaps was indeed the better part of valor, discretion had never been his strong suit. Deciding to start immediately upon a campaign to better his familiarity with the word, Michael chose not to answer the accusation and sipped at his brandy instead.
What a lot of boorish, semi-illiterate louts, he thought as he surveyed the room. Yes, he knew that was unfair. Yes, he was certainly spoiled by the glittering soirees of New York and Boston. But really, he could go to a tavern in Newport and find better conversationalists than these people. Listening with only half and ear to his companion, Michael amused himself by cataloguing the poor fit of this one's coat or the obvious outline of that one's truss.
"Oh. Oh, my. Who is that?" The grip Madeline had on this arm became suddenly painfully tight, which made Michael return his attention to her.
Following the direction of Madeline's pointing fan, Michael looked. Oh, my, indeed. Clothed in a rather old-fashioned coat of somber blue, with equally somber breeches and hose, the gentleman in question removed his hat and handed it to the servant just inside the door. Tall, well-built, with hair the color of walnut heartwood pulled back into a severe club at the base of his neck, he was truly a magnificent specimen. He was brown as a nut from the sun, with tiny lines that crinkled at the corners of his eyes when he smiled at his hostess, and even from the distance of half the room, Michael saw that those eyes were a rich, mossy green. Michael shifted uncomfortably as his body tightened. So much for his resolution to practice discretion.
"Well, well, Madeline," he said. "You did promise me amusement. It very well may be that you did not lie to me after all."