an excerpt from Home Cure, my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel
"Mr. MacDonald. I need your help in convincing Miss Ashewood to acknowledge my unborn child as having been fathered by her brother, Crispin Ashewood."
MacDonald paused, then said, "Miss Smythe, I’m certain that Miss Ashewood will not be swayed or convinced by anything other than something from Crispin Ashewood acknowledging such. Do you have such a letter?"
She shook her head without speaking.
"Or a letter of commitment with respect to your engagement? Something wherein he refers to your understanding? Some high member of Bournemouth society, someone beyond reproach or question, who could speak as a witness to your engagement?" He held out little hope for this. Still, despite what he knew to be true from having read the letters she’d sent to Crispin, she was a pitiable sight.
Again, she shook her head.
"If Miss Ashewood were to support you, any other legal probelms could be dealt with.” he said. “The family solicitor, Mr. Tate, would know better than I, but assurance of legitimacy from her would be accepted by society in general without question. However, without some proof, Miss Smythe, it will be exceedingly difficult, essentially impossible to convince her."
She said, "She would listen to you. I believe that in you, she sees the last trace of Crispin Ashewood. She would accept your word almost as coming from him, perhaps the only word in the world that she would accept in such a manner."
He looked down the deserted lane, uncomfortable, but resolute.
"Miss Smythe, please forgive me, but I cannot act on such a matter without something more than your word alone as to how this transpired." He didn't want to tip his hand.
"Then I am ruined." She said it straight out, without blinking or flinching. "Without your help, Mr. MacDonald, I am ruined." She set her face to be resolute and determined, and moved a step closer to him.
"Mr. MacDonald. I have nothing to offer you but the truth, as plainly as I can present it. I have nothing more with which I can convince you as a gentleman." At this, she looked him full in the face, her green eyes bright and liquid. "A gentleman would not be swayed by offers of compensation for his efforts on my behalf. I have no money to make such offers, either as a down payment to secure your aid, or as promises of future payment for services rendered." She moved a step closer. He could smell lavender and roses and cinnamon.
"If need be, I can offer to compensate you, not as a gentleman" she said, "but as a man." One more step closer and her bosom was pressed against MacDonald's chest, brushing lightly, satin against wool. "Mr. MacDonald, I can and do offer a down payment for your representation of my case to Miss Ashewood." He could feel her breath on his chin, warm and moist. "A man back from service to his country might find such an offer... attractive." He felt her hand brush the front of his pants, the side of her fingers tracing the length of his erection from tip to root. Despite himself, he twitched forward. "I am utterly in earnest, Mr. MacDonald. Serve me in this, carry my case to Miss Ashewood and convince her of the legitimacy of Crispin's child," her fingers closed on him, "and I will return your service. Handsomely."
She released him and stepped back. "I will do whatever I have to do in order to assure that Crispin Ashewood's son has a future. I will do anything at all, Mr. MacDonald." She reached up and, never taking her eyes from him, undid a single button at the top of her dress. She stood so, regarding him with a level gaze and the barest trace of skin uncovered. Then, she turned and walked across the road toward a tall hedge off to the side. She entered a break in the hedge, turned back to him and, just as slowly as before, undid another button. She moved behind the hedge and was hidden from sight.
MacDonald stood still in the middle of the empty dirt road, pulse pounding.