Hard Questions (part 2)
All right, it’s immodest but I have never been able to pinpoint a favorite scene in IN SEARCH OF SCANDAL. I enjoy every scene in the book—now. I won’t lie and tell you that revising was a joy, but as a new author, I had to revise and re-work continually. I’d still be rewriting if my publisher didn’t insist on that deadline. But there came a point in the revising process when I realized how much the story was improving with the heaps of editorial feedback I received.
But if I have to choose, there’s one scene in IN SEARCH OF SCANDAL that evolved more easily than others: the ‘marriage negotiation.’
During a house party in the country, Will and Charlotte are caught in the woods come nightfall. Without a lantern, the trek home is too dangerous to attempt. They seek shelter in a decorate hermitage. (Yes, convenient. Perhaps you guessed the little folly was also equipped with a cozy fireplace and bed.) Come dawn, Will and Charlotte’s return to the house is witnessed by the other house guests. Lest Charlotte’s reputation be ruined, Will decides he should marry her to present a picture of sincerely-committed lovers.
Both Will and Charlotte are of two minds over the proposal—both wanting and fearing the union. Will fears the deepening intimacy between them, but also wants to be with the woman who brings happiness into his life in the midst of his depression. Charlotte is hurt by the idea that Will only offers marriage out of a sense of responsibility, but wants to experience marriage with her dream man for any amount of time. Charlotte’s yearning for adventure spurs her to accept Will. But only if he agrees to a few terms first…
“I will marry you, and I will thank you for it,” Charlotte said.
He swept her face cautiously. “All right.”
“But I have requirements.”
He stood very still. Then with a quick nod of his head, he widened his stance and crossed his arms. “Yes, of course. Name them.”
“Yes…I, uh…” Was she really doing this? “They are conditions, actually, which are perhaps more forceful than requirements. And they are not negotiable, but before you become too alarmed, there is only one—no, three—that I demand. I suppose ‘demands’ would be the more appropriate term if we are to—”
“Charlotte. The conditions?”
“Yes, right.” She clasped her hands to keep from fidgeting. “First, you must agree to talk to me.”
“Conversation, I mean. A half hour each day and not warnings about the weather. And I should like it to be uninterrupted, and you should initiate the topic from time to time.”
She raised her brows, hoping to disguise her nervousness with annoyance. “Because that is what a wife would naturally require and this particular conversation will grow tedious if you question every condition I set forth.”
He pursed his lips, studying her face as if he might discover her reasoning there. Seeing nothing in her careful expression, he frowned. “Fine.”
She heard Wally’s words again. She’d not forgotten a one: He loved me as I loved him, and there was not a day we let pass without telling each other that. It was in every embrace…in every good morning and good night…
“I require you bid me good morning and good night. Every day. With a kiss.”
Will blinked. “What do you mean?”
He rubbed a hand over his face, mulling her demand for a thoroughly insulting amount of time.
“Oh, honestly! It is not as if I have asked you to wear a pink pinafore and skip through Hyde Park with a hoop and stick.”
He sighed. “All right, agreed. And third?”
She began to speak, then had to start again. “We will sleep in the same bed.”
“Absolutely not. What happened this morning would only happen again.”
“And?” she asked, heartsore at his reaction.
His mouth dropped open to speak, but no sound came out.