Wooing Lady Repington (Preview)


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Chapter One

Somebody was sure to see the chicken leg she had stolen and wrapped in a cloth. The annoying thing kept bobbing about in her apron pocket although Catherine was walking as slowly as she possibly could. A snail could overtake her at this point!

She quickly covered the offending meat with her hand as a servant walked her way, pushing the drumstick closer to her body.

“My Lady.” The servant curtsied. “I have just placed fresh linen on your bed and given Captain a bath.”

This was the third time Captain had emptied the contents of his belly. Two of those times had been all over her bed. Catherine didn’t know what was causing the illness, but the dog was still eating and drinking water, so she wasn’t panicking. Yet.

“Did Mama see you?”

“No, My Lady. She has a guest with her in the parlour.”

A guest? It was likely Robert’s mother, Lady Russell. She had been coming around more often lately and was usually accompanied by her son. Catherine hoped he was not here today.

“Thank you, Nellie. That will be all.”

The maid curtsied and rushed off to finish her chores. Catherine had to pull the woman aside earlier and beg her to help clean up Captain’s mess without anyone knowing. The poor dog needed to stay inside where Catherine could keep a better eye on him, but if her mother found out he was throwing up on the linen, she would immediately put Captain in the stables with the other animals.

Catherine climbed the last flight of stairs to her bedchamber and sniffed the air for the tell-tale signs of sick. There wasn’t any. Nellie had done an excellent job of getting rid of the evidence and smell and deserved something for all her efforts.

Catherine had promised the young maid that she would paint her portrait and gift the painting to her as gratitude for keeping Captain’s secret. Nellie had been delighted and promised to clean up all Captain’s messes if Catherine made her look like a lady in the painting.

“I’ll make her look like Her Majesty, the Queen if I have to!” Catherine muttered.

She pushed open her door and found Captain curled up in a blanket and fast asleep. He always seemed tired these days, but it couldn’t be his age. Catherine had had him since she was fifteen, and she had just turned twenty-one several moons ago.

“Where is my handsome boy?” she cooed, drawing the chicken leg out of her pocket. “Look what I stole from the kitchen for you. Cook nearly caught me but thank goodness I kept my apron on.”

She had worn it while painting and forgot all about it when Captain suddenly started heaving and being sick all over the bed.

She unwrapped the drumstick, stroking the dog’s head as she held it in front of him. Captain took a brief sniff and promptly put his head down again.

“What? You do not want it? But you love chicken!”

Almost as much as she did. Catherine tried to coax him again by waving it around his nose, but the dog wasn’t interested. This wasn’t like Captain at all.

Setting the chicken aside, Catherine climbed the bed and drew the dog onto her lap. He didn’t feel like he had lost a significant amount of weight, and neither was he weak.

“What is the matter, Captain?” she asked him. “Are you in pain? Is your belly still upset? You were eating just fine yesterday.”

This morning as well. Catherine personally saw to Captain’s food, mixing meat, rice, and vegetables together and feeding him twice a day. A bowl of clean water could be found in all the rooms she frequented with him in case he grew thirsty. She also bathed him once or twice a month and took him for long walks around the property to avoid him running through the house.

Catherine took care of Captain as best she could, but she was undoubtedly failing somewhere because he was ill, and she didn’t know what was ailing him.

Perhaps it was time to call the veterinarian, although Catherine didn’t have the most tremendous confidence in Mr Boyle. The old man had done nothing to help their cow whose calf had breeched during pregnancy, leaving both mother and baby to eventually die. Two of their horses had also come down with an illness that the vet misdiagnosed, almost killing the horses. It had taken the intervention of a neighbouring farmer to save them.

“I’m a little apprehensive about calling Mr Boyles,” she told the dog. “But perhaps he will be able to help us this time.”

Catherine was willing to try anything to give Captain back his liveliness.

She made him more comfortable in his blanket and slipped off the bed, removing her apron. Her father was likely in his study pretending to be busy, so he didn’t have to sit with their guest. She didn’t blame him. Lady Russell could be a handful at times, and her persistent son was no better.

Ever since Robert expressed his interest in her some months ago, he had not ceased to do what he could to sway her feelings in his favour. The baron was handsome and had wonderful manners, but Catherine saw him as nothing more than an acquaintance. Of course, her mother would love her to be more responsive to his advances, but Catherine couldn’t bring herself to do that.

If she were honest, she would admit that she disliked him and sensed a darker nature within him. No one would understand because Robert hadn’t done anything that warranted such an opinion, but Catherine was confident that accepting the baron’s advances would be a colossal mistake.

She briefly knocked on her father’s door, entering after she heard a muffled voice. Catherine assumed the earl had given her permission, but she hadn’t actually caught the words “come in.” Her father was nowhere to be seen, but he had to be somewhere because she had heard a voice.

“Papa?” she called out, searching the room.

Catherine’s nose wrinkled as the pungent smell of cigars hit her full-on. The scent would hang onto her clothes like an unwanted covering, forcing her to change her dress or later face a headache.

“Goodness!” she cried. “Why are the windows not open? How does one breathe in this room?”

Pushing aside the curtains, Catherine made a mental note to have Mrs Brown change them. The material was clogged with cigar smoke and slightly stained in some areas. The study was always the last room to be aired and cleaned because her father seldom left it, even sometimes sleeping at his desk. Was that a common practice with men, or was her father the only one?

I certainly would not want my husband falling asleep in his study when he should be beside me. How comfortable can a chair and desk be?

Inhaling several gulps of fresh air, Catherine turned to the room and looked around. Where was her father? Had she imagined the muffled noise?

“Papa? Are you here?”

She gave a little yelp of surprise when her father appeared from under his desk, sporting a brown substance on his moustache.

“Heavens, Papa! You frightened the ghost out of me.”

“I dropped my pen, dear,” he said, holding up the quill.

He had dropped his pen? Surely that would not have kept him from telling her that he was under the desk?

The earl looked rather sheepish as he arranged himself on his chair and wiped his mouth. He missed the brown substance hanging off the edge of his moustache, evidently not aware of it. What was that? It looked just about ready to fall.

Catherine tilted her head and pulled her lips to the side, regarding her father sternly.

“Is that all you were doing?”

“Of course, dear,” her father insisted. “What else could I have been doing?”

Catherine came closer, narrowing her eyes at what suspiciously looked like chocolate conserve.

“Papa!” she scolded. “You were eating chocolate!”

The physician had forbidden her father to eat the sweet treat more than twice a week, and to her knowledge, her father had already reached his quota three days ago.

“Do not tell your mother, please!” the earl pleaded. “It was only a little bit, and I made sure to ask the confectioner to add less sugar. It’s actually quite bitter and, therefore, good for me. Here,” he said, taking out a nearly empty box, “try it.”

Catherine lifted one dark brow. “Only a little bit? You have nearly finished the entire box, Papa. You know what the physician said. Do you wish to become sick again?”

The earl’s obsession with chocolate had given him severe indigestion that had had him convinced it was a heart attack. With a slight change to his diet, namely less chocolate, his indigestion went away and evidently, his willpower to resist the confectionery. It was a vicious cycle.

Her father hung his head. “I know, I know, but it’s one of my few pleasures in life.”

“Besides whisky–which you illegally import every three months–cigars, horses, jewel-crusted canes and pocket watches, gambling …”

“Yes, yes!” her father interrupted. “Very well, my argument makes no sense. But can you take pity on your father? I feel I cannot function unless I have some chocolate every day.”

Catherine sighed and took the box from him. “Where is the lid? I must dispose of them before Mama finds out. Best you remove the evidence from your moustache.”

She touched the side of her mouth, showing him where the mess was. Her father took his handkerchief out and wiped his mouth and jaw, ensuring that he didn’t leave any of the sticky substance behind.

“Is it all gone?” he asked.

“Yes. I still need the lid, Papa,” she reminded him. “I would hate one chocolate conserve to fall out of the box and have Mama find it. She will know it belongs to you.”

The earl pushed his seat back and disappeared for a moment under his desk before coming back up with the lid. Catherine shook her head at him as she took it, but no matter how displeased she was, she wasn’t going to tell on him.

“I’ll give it to the servants to eat instead of throwing it out,” she said. “Waste not, want not, yes?”

A very disappointed earl nodded his head. “Do as you see fit, my dear.”

Catherine was about to leave when the reason why she came spun her back to her father. How could she have forgotten about Captain?

“Papa, would you send for the vet? Captain is not feeling very well.”

“He is still not well? What is ailing him?”

“I’m not entirely certain. He has emptied his stomach contents three times already, and now he refuses his favourite treat. Fortunately, he still takes water and a little food, but I’m worried he will deteriorate if I leave his illness untreated.”

“That is unfortunate,” her father said. “He must have eaten something that did not agree with him. Is fetching the vet necessary?”

“Yes, Papa.”

“Very well,” he agreed, but reluctantly so. “I’ll send for Mr Boyles.”

“Thank you. I’ll bring Captain downstairs when the vet arrives. Before I leave, do you have any more chocolate in this room? Perhaps in your desk?”

The earl’s cheeks turned bright pink. “No. I have eaten the other confectionery.”

“Papa,” Catherine groaned. “You will be the death of us all. Give me your word that you will not hide it from us anymore. How can we keep you healthy and with us if you sneak behind our backs?”

“I know, and I promise never to do so again,” her father vowed. “May I have at least one more conserve before you take it away?”

Catherine’s mouth dropped open. “On top of all you have eaten? You might as well tell me to give you a knife to apply to your wrists!”

“A simple no would have done, dear,” her father admonished. “There is no need to be so dramatic.”

“There is nothing dramatic about needing to keep you well, Papa. Perhaps you do not care about your health, but I do. I suggest you ask Grandmama to fix you a tonic and dispel whatever harm you have done to your body.”

“I would rather have indigestion than ingest whatever your grandmother has to give me,” the earl retorted, but he had turned pale with fear.

Despite being a grown man, the earl still feared his mother and preferred to be on her good side. Finding out that her son had disobeyed the physician would not be taken lightly.

“As you wish, but you do need something to cleanse your body. I shall leave you to think about what I have said, and hopefully, you will take my advice.”

Catherine left her father to mull over her words and hurried back to Captain. The dog was still sound asleep in the same position, which would not have alarmed other pet owners, but it was a worrisome thing for Catherine.

The dog usually moved a lot during sleep, often changing positions and disrupting her own slumber. She must have been with her father for half an hour or so, giving Captain ample time to move about.

Catherine climbed onto the bed and lay down beside her dog. “Once we know what is wrong, we’ll get you strong and playing with the other animals soon. Would you like that?”

Captain’s big eyes sat on her briefly before he closed them, curling tighter into a ball. This was the most unresponsive he had been since Catherine picked up on his mysterious illness.

Stroking his silky ears, she blinked away the hot tears gathering in her eyes.

“I’m not prepared for you to leave me, Captain,” she gently sobbed. “You have to get well.”

The dog whimpered, nudging his head into her hand. It was a gesture of comfort that made her smile, but Catherine’s heart remained heavy. What if something serious was wrong with Captain? How would she handle it?

“I wouldn’t be able to,” she whispered.

Several Days Later

Catherine raised her head off the pillow when her mother walked into the room carrying a tray laden with food and tea.

“Up you get, dear,” the countess chirped, but it sounded false to Catherine’s ears. “Time to eat.”

“I am not hungry.”

A pained expression crossed her mother’s face. “But you have not eaten today, and you hardly touched your food yesterday.”

“I will eat when I am hungry, Mama.”

Why couldn’t everyone just let her be? Catherine’s main concern was Captain–why didn’t they understand that?

The dog stirred against her, raising his head out of the blanket. He sniffed the air before looking at the countess and the tray in her hands. Was he hungry? He hadn’t eaten either, but if he could eat, she would as well.

“What do you have there, Mama?”

Hope entered the woman’s eyes. “Le potage printannier, la poularde à la Montmorencie, la fricassée de poulets aux champignons et le soufflé au citron.”

Catherine smiled. Her mother always reverted to her native tongue when she was stressed or talking about food. In this case, it was both.

Captain must have smelt the chicken. It’s his favourite meat.

“That sounds like a lot of food, Mama. I do not think I can eat it all.”

“I wanted to bring you a selection of your favourite foods, dear. Will you eat something? I personally prepared the fricassée for you.”

That wasn’t something the countess would so readily admit in the company of outsiders. No one knew that she had been an impoverished baron’s daughter in France, forced to seek work in an aristocrat’s house where she learned the fine art of French cuisine. Catherine’s father had fallen in love with her mother upon first sight and whisked her away to England, where he married her. Their love story read like a faerie tale.

“I will have a little of each, Mama.”

Bon!” her mother exclaimed, carefully setting the tray on the bed and sitting down. “Which will you try first? The soup is still hot–I had Cook make it last.”

Truthfully, Catherine wasn’t at all hungry, but Captain might be tempted to eat something if she did.

“Perhaps a spoonful or two of the soup.”

The countess picked up a spoon and filled it with the soup before bringing it to Catherine’s lips.

“I can feed myself.”

“Humour me, ma fille,” her mother begged. “Let me see you eat something with my own two eyes.”

Catherine sighed and nodded, opening her mouth. Her mother trickled in the warm soup, using her finger to wipe away a little that had caught on the side of Catherine’s mouth. The soup was good, if but a little more heavily seasoned than she liked.

“Two more spoonfuls?” her mother asked. “Then I shall leave you to eat your meal in peace.”

Catherine agreed, eager to have her mother leave so she could feed Captain.

The countess included a piece of carrot and boiled chicken in the next mouthful, undoubtedly ensuring that Catherine got in some nutrients.

“Enough, Mama,” Catherine insisted when her mother tried to go past the agreed three. “I will feed myself from now on.”

The countess nodded, getting to her feet. “Please eat as much as you can, dear. You are already such a small thing.”

As soon as her mother left, Catherine cut a piece of chicken and tried to feed it to Captain.

“Please, boy,” she begged. “Eat something.”

Whether it was the desperation in her voice, or his nose telling him the food was good, Captain licked at the sauce first and then pulled the meat into his mouth. Catherine nearly collapsed on the bed as the tension left her body.

“Would you like another piece?” she asked, cutting from the thigh.

Captain took that piece as well, but he refused to take any more after that. Disappointed, she pushed the tray away to the foot of the bed and curled up beside her dog once more.

When Mr Boyle eventually came, he was no help at all, only instructing them to make Captain as comfortable as possible. Who wanted to hear that their beloved dog was dying? Captain was not old enough to die from age, and he had been perfectly healthy until very recently. Catherine was convinced something else was wrong, but no one believed her. She had ended up taking the dog back to her room, demanding she be left alone.

“They do not know you as I do,” she told Captain. “Something is making you ill, and I have no clue how to help you. I feel so useless.”

Tucking her feet in to ensure she didn’t knock the food tray that still lay at the foot of her bed, Catherine fell asleep next to her pet. When she awoke sometime later, it was to find Captain retching on the bed. She quickly rolled away from the mess and ran to the other side, where she patted him on his back.

“What is wrong, Captain? You did not eat much at all!”

There wasn’t much to bring up, and finally, the dog stopped and whimpered before collapsing.

“Captain!” she cried.

Catherine’s heart pumped vigorously as her blood thundered in her ears. The world appeared to have slowed down and become silent as she looked down at her pet. Was he still breathing? She was too scared to find out, but she was also too frightened not to know.

Finally, concern won over her cowardice, and she touched Captain’s body, putting a finger by his nose. A warm gust of air covered the finger, bringing instant relief. He was still alive, but something was horribly wrong.

Catherine ran to her parents in the drawing room, hoping against hope that they would help her dog.

But Mr Boyle was not able to do a thing. What can they do?

She shook the thought away, not wanting to give up just yet. She was willing to do anything to save her dog at this point, even if it meant feeding him Grandmama’s vile concoctions.

“Mama! Papa!” she cried as she entered the room. “Please, come quick.”

Both her parents shot to their feet. “What is the matter, child?” her father asked.

“Captain has just collapsed. Please, help him.”

The earl and countess looked at each other before the earl nodded and turned to Catherine.

“The vet warned us that Captain would worsen, dear. This is just his time.”

“No, it is not! He still has a few more good years, Papa. Please, just come up and see him.”

Her parents sighed and nodded, following behind her. Catherine ran ahead of them, praying that Captain was still alive. The smell of sick hit her nostrils, but she didn’t care. Her dog was more important than the undigested contents of his stomach.

“What is that awful smell?” her mother asked.

“Captain had an accident,” Catherine explained.

“He was sick all over the bedsheets?” her mother cried, aghast at the very thought.

“Yes, but it can be cleaned. Please, just look at Captain.”

Catherine stopped by the bed and motioned for her parents to come closer. Her mother was reluctant, but her father braved the sickly stench to briefly inspect the dog.

“He is not doing well at all, dear,” he concluded.

“I know, Papa, but is there anything you can do for him? What if he ingested poison?”

“From where, dear?” her father asked. “We do not keep anything dangerous at a level for any of our animals to eat or drink. Perhaps ’tis old age just as Mr Boyle said.”

Catherine slowly sunk onto her bed, forgetting the tray until she heard the teapot topple over. She leapt away and promptly burst into tears. Her parents tried to comfort her, but she refused to accept their words of death.

At her mother’s insistence, Captain was put in the stables to protect the bed linen. Catherine had been too miserable to even protest, but she had followed behind the dog and stayed with him throughout the days that passed by, only entering the house when necessary.

Tommy, their stablehand, had been kind enough to make a comfortable and warm place for the dog and watched over him when Catherine couldn’t. He could even coax Captain to take a little dry food and water, but not much else. It pained Catherine to look into her dog’s eyes and see his pain and misery and not be able to do a thing about it. Wasn’t there anyone with the knowledge to help him?

Several days later, Catherine was sitting out of sight and flat on the stable floor, helplessly watching Captain suffer when she heard Nellie call out to her. Should she answer? No, they probably wanted her to eat, but she wasn’t hungry and hadn’t been for some time.

“My Lady!” Nellie cried. “I know you are in here. Please, do not get me into trouble with Cook. I cannot return unless you come with me.”

Catherine rolled her eyes and sighed. The household had resorted to blackmailing her because they knew she would never trouble anyone.

Stroking Captain’s head, Catherine wondered what she should do. She didn’t want to leave him because he had been restless lately and had a habit of moving around before collapsing. She couldn’t stop the dog without distressing him, so she simply followed him around and tried her best to keep him away from the horses.

The giant creatures were gentle and liked Captain, but accidents could happen, and Catherine would never forgive herself if Captain was hurt due to her negligence.

“Lady Repington?” Nellie wailed. “Please!”

“Oh, very well,” Catherine muttered, rising stiffly to her feet. “Stay right here, Captain. I’ll call Tommy to watch over you.”

The stablehand would just have to leave whatever he was doing. He could blame her if anyone questioned his absence.

Catherine took a step forward and paused when her world began to spin, rapidly picking up speed. She shut her eyes against it but couldn’t stop her body from swaying. Blindly putting her hands out for anything to latch onto, Catherine’s fingers found a shelf and hung on tight. Unfortunately, the shelf was not nailed to the wall and slid off, taking her down with it. She uttered a frightened cry as her body connected with the floor, momentarily stunned before she felt an object hit the side of her head. Blackness descended and enveloped her in a cloying shroud, cutting her off from the world.

Catherine awoke to hushed voices arguing and the blurry images of three adults. She immediately recognised her parents, but the white-haired man was not part of the household. Catherine vaguely recalled that their physician had brilliant white hair, but why would he be here? He didn’t deal with animals.

“How is she, Dr Watson?”

“She has suffered a mild concussion, but with rest, she should recover soon enough,” the physician replied. “I must emphasise the need for calm and peace. Nothing must affect her recovery.”

Why was everyone worried about her when it was Captain who was ill? Catherine tried to sit up, but a searing pain shot up and over her head. Her mother must have noticed the movement because she came running to the bed.

“You’re awake, ma fille!” the countess cried. “Do not try to get up.”

“Captain?” Catherine croaked.

The countess briefly looked behind her before she turned back to answer. “He is still in the stables. Tommy is looking after him.”

“I must see him,” Catherine insisted, trying to move.

Non, non, ma fille,” her mother begged. “Tu es malade.”

“A head injury is not an illness, Mama. Let me see Captain.”

“Do not be stubborn, child,” the physician said, coming to her bedside. “I hear you have not been eating, which accounts for your weakness. What use can you be to your pet if you cannot be strong for him? Now, you must rest and heal from your head injury, or you will only grow worse.”

Not see Captain? “But–”

“Please, Catherine,” her father begged, also coming to the bed. “Dr Watson has told me of a veterinarian several towns over who might be able to help us. If I go and bring him here, do you promise to rest and start eating again?”

Catherine’s eyes lit up. “Indeed? When will you go?”

“First thing tomorrow morning,” her father promised. “But you must listen to Dr Watson. Will you give me your word?”

Catherine nodded, soon wincing at the painful heaviness that forced her to close her eyes.

“Yes,” she said, cracking one eye open. “But will someone at least bring Captain to me so I can see him?”

Her mother agreed and left the room to send a servant to the stables without argument.

It had taken an injury for her parents to finally listen to her. Catherine hadn’t done it on purpose, but it certainly was useful. She could weather any pain if it meant getting Captain well again and looked forward to hearing what the veterinarian would say.

He will make Captain better; I just feel it.

“Wooing Lady Repington” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Lady Catherine Repington falls into despair when Captain, her beloved dog, grows ill seemingly overnight. Unwilling to accept the diagnosis of Captain’s fatal illness, she begs her father to find some specialist to cure him. When a handsome veterinarian walks through her door, Catherine will be taken aback by his kindness and passion for animals. From that moment on, the young lady will be losing her heart to him, while he works to restore Captain to health…

Will Catherine find the courage to confess her growing feelings to the most charming and compassionate man she has ever met?

Staying with Catherine’s family was exactly the kind of life change that Hugh Scriven needed.. What he didn’t expect was that Catherine Repington would be the woman who would manage to fill the void in his heart… However, after finding himself unable to cure Captain despite his best efforts, he is convinced that he will only bring sorrow to the enchanting lady. Will the charming veterinarian manage to heal Captain and find the way to Catherine’s heart?

If only their blossoming romance wasn’t about to go through a threatening storm…

While Hugh and Catherine are plagued with challenge after challenge, they are not discouraged from dreaming of a life by each other’s side. When Hugh realises that behind Captain’s incurable illness might be something completely else, he will do whatever it takes to solve this unexpected mystery. Will Hugh and Catherine’s love survive amidst the endless troubles? Or will they be doomed to a miserable life that neither of them desire?

“Wooing Lady Repington” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Get your copy from Amazon!


Grab my new series, "Noble Gentlemen of the Ton", and get 2 FREE novels as a gift! Have a look here!

8 thoughts on “Wooing Lady Repington (Preview)”

  1. I am already caught up with Captain`s illness, and what is causing it. You can`t help but feel anxious about the cause, and hope for a rescue from a handsome Vet. The parents are endearing with a chocoholic Father, and a frantic French Mother. I look forward to the rest of this story.

  2. Oh My Gosh…. Catherine is the perfect pet parent. It just a shame that she didn’t take care of herself in the process of caring for Captain. I can’t wait to find out what it plaguing that poor baby dog. I have so many ideas of what could be going on and can’t wait to see if any of them are right…

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