Title: Letters from Home
Author: Regina Jeffers
Genre: Regency Romance Novella
She is the woman whose letters to another man kept Simon alive during the war. He is the English officer her late Scottish husband praised as being incomparable. Even without the spirit of Christmas, she stirs his soul; in her, his heart whispers of being "home." However, the lady wishes to remain invisible and in her place as her cousin's companion. Can Major Lord Simon Lanford claim Mrs. Faith Lamont as his wife or will his rise to the earldom and his family’s expectations keep them apart?
“Pardon, my lord. I was unaware the room was occupied. I shall leave you to your privacy.”
Simon sat up,but did not stand. His leg throbbed from so much exercise, and he had chosen to rest it before climbing the last flight of stairs to his quarters to dress for the evening. “Please, do not rush away.” He reached out as if to prevent her leaving. “I owe you an apology. I had hoped to speak to you in private.” She shot him an anxious look before her eyes returned to the door and her escape. “I promise I will not speak beyond the recognition of your husband’s service to the British cause.”
“You knew my husband?” she asked in curious tones.
“Not well,” Simon admitted, “but better than most, I would imagine.”
She took two tentative steps in his direction, before stumbling to a halt. Another quick glance to the door spoke to her uncertainty. “I...I...” she stammered.
“Please.” He gestured. “Come sit. I would like to tell you something of my observations of Lieutenant Lamont.” He watched her carefully as a myriad of emotions crossed her features. “I am certain they will provide you surcease.”
At length, she presented him a curt nod of agreement before circling the settee upon which he rested to assume the seat across from him. Simon used both hands to lift his injured leg to a foot stool so he might sit properly.
“Does it bother you much?” she asked in what sounded of concern.
“It will never respond as it once did,” he said with a deep sigh of relief once his booted foot settled upon the stool. “The surgeon cut away part of the calf muscle when infection set in, and the knee is not as straight as I would like, but I survived, where many did not.” He paused briefly. “Where your husband did not.”
“I prayed every day for Deorsa’s return.” She stopped suddenly, tears forming in her eyes.
“I knew Lieutenant Lamont as George,” he explained. “It took me more than a day to learn that Deorsa is the Gaelic version of George.”
“Despite his family’s disapproval, my husband was a Scot who did not despise the English. He preferred the Anglicized translation of his name. Ironically, it was the name he presented me when I first took his acquaintance.”
“But you still called him Deorsa?” he asked with a lift of his brows.
She stiffened, but she provided him a response. “My husband’s parents never approved of Deorsa’s acceptance of English ways. They strictly forbid me from using George. It was a difficult lesson to learn, but I did learn it.”
Simon wished to question her more regarding what she had encountered in her husband’s absence. It could not have been easy for an Englishwoman to live in a household where she was despised. He wondered how Lamont could leave her under such circumstances. It seemed the lady had repeatedly known rejection following the deaths of her parents. Yet, he swallowed his curiosity, for he sensed his questions would harm her—something he instinctively knew would also bring him pain.
“When did you marry the lieutenant?”
“In late January 1812.”
Simon frowned. “You were together but months. I recall Lamont as one of the new enlistments who returned with the 42nd after Badajoz.”
“A few days short of three months,” she admitted. “Is it terrible of me to say there are days I cannot recall the look of him.”
“Have you not a miniature or a sketch of him?” Simon inquired.
“At the keep there were two of Deorsa as a child, but they did not display the man who caught me up in his embrace when we first married. I did not ask for one when I departed Scotland, even if Mother Lamont would have agreed to my request, which she would not.”
“I am sorry for it. I am certain such would have given you comfort,” Simon said softly. Several elongated seconds passed before he suggested, “Perhaps I could return to my initial suggestion of sharing some of my interactions with Lieutenant Lamont.”
She smiled sadly. “I would be most grateful, my lord.”
A swift smile reclaimed his lips. “Actually, my tale involves you as much as it does your late husband.”
“Me? Oh my. What did Deorsa do?” Color rushed to her cheeks.
“Nothing that should bring you shame,” he assured. “Yet, I will tell you, in the camps we often referred to you as the ‘letter lady.’ There were many of us who celebrated when the mail caught up with our forces, for we knew Lieutenant Lamont would have another fistful of letters to share with those of us who rarely received a letter from home.”
“Share?” The color of her cheeks deepened.
“Oh, do not fret,” Simon pleaded. “You have no idea the succor you provided our forces. After the late day meal, we would gather—Englishman and Scot alike—and listen to Lamont read tales of the changes in the season and of village life and of Christmas and of family. We would sit—officer and enlisted together—and listen in awe, while hope rose in our chests of one day returning home to experience all you described. You have no idea—” He broke off, emotion swelling. “I can honestly say, Mrs. Lamont, many committed to Wellington held your words as reminders of what all we cherished and for what we fought.”
He wished to tell her more—tell her of her influence on him, but the sound of his servants outside the door had them both scrambling not to be caught alone together. Mrs. Lamont was on her feet faster than he. Half-risen, Simon pointed to a door in the corner, partially hidden by a large potted palm. “Through there and to the left,” he instructed as the latch to the double doors turned.
As the door to the library swung wide, he collapsed back upon the settee. He called out to his men to draw their attention away from her escape. “Thank, Goodness! I thought I must wait all day to claim assistance.” He noted from the corner of his eye how she slipped through the door. With a sigh of regret for what might have been, he said, “I fear I overworked my leg today. Might I have a hand to ease my way up?”
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Along with “Lady Joy and the Earl” and “One Minute Past Christmas,” “Letters from Home” appears in the print collection entitled Beautified by Love.
What I love most about the holiday season:
I adore the look of wonder on my grandchildren’s faces. I wish they could, as I still do, believe in the pure magic of Christmas.
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Regina Jeffers, an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels and retellings, as well as Regency era romances, has worn many hats over her lifetime: daughter, student, military brat, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, tax preparer, journalist, choreographer, Broadway dancer, theatre director, history buff, grant writer, media literacy consultant, and author. Living outside of Charlotte, NC, Jeffers writes novels that take the ordinary and adds a bit of mayhem, while mastering tension in her own life with a bit of gardening and the exuberance of her “grand joys.”
Social Media Links:
Every Woman Dreams: https://reginajeffers.wordpress.com
Austen Authors: http://austenauthors.net