Growing up with a Southern father was an interesting experience. When I tell Northerners and East coasts folks about my dad-isms they chuckle and do not believe my description of my father until they meet him and see that he is, in fact, like Walter from my previous Sweet & Steamy novella THE WINTER TRIANGLE.
In my series the little fictional town of Stubborn is tucked into the Appalachian Mountains and is big enough to have its own Airship hangar, but still has a small town charm. Southern folks always seem to have the ability to make even the introverted person feel at home; well, at least the townsfolk of Stubborn seem to, especially Frank.
I had decided to write a Steampunk fairy tale story and had my characters already set in place, but Frank came out of nowhere and, though his scene is short, he made me laugh. He was the embodiment of this town in his friendliness, inability to follow traditional etiquette rules, but only because of eagerness to greet Simon, my British trade envoy, and Henri, his very uptight assistant.
EXCERPT: “You’re gonna love my nuts!”
Simon and Henri turned to the smiling leathery face of a man behind a cart. “I’ve got the best nuts in town.” The smiling man looked from one face to the next.
“Pardon me?” Henri sputtered.
The vendor’s smile wavered. “My doughnuts. Haven’t you heard?” The vendor held out a plate of the sugar-dusted fried concoction for the men to try.
Simon gave a side glance to his assistant and stifled a laugh. “I shall have a taste of your sweet treats.” Simon took a bite of the confection and smiled. “Indeed, sir, you are right. These are delicious. I shall take a dozen. No, my dear sir, make that two dozen.”
The vendor smiled as he placed the treats in two bags. “You fellas aren’t from around here are ya?”
“What gave it away?” Simon playfully asked.
The vendor looked from Henri to Simon. Recognition crossed his face. “Oh my word. You’re that fancy fella from England come to do business with our podunk town. Well, would you look at that? I have royalty at my booth, eatin’ my here doughnuts!”
Henri sputtered, but Simon interrupted him before he could continue, “Tell me, what is your name?”
“Frank,” the vendor said.
Simon shook the man’s hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Frank.”
“I say, Your Excellency,” Henri interjected, placing several coins in the man’s hand that far exceeded the cost, “We must be going.”
The vendor handed Henri the bags. He tried to give back two coins and opened his purse to make change for the one he kept.
“Keep the difference, my dear sir. Your delicacies are worth it,” Simon said as he allowed Henri to lead him away.
“Thank you!” Frank called out behind them. “Imagine that!”
The two men walked into the crowded Stubborn Market filled with people selling their goods and wares a week before the Summer Solstice. Ripe harvest and happy hearts abounded in the festivities.
“Your Excellency,” Henri said. “There are still preparations to be made before next week’s festivities.”
Simon waved a hand. “My dear, Herrison, we are no longer in London. I insist that you stop calling me by my honorific.” The smartly dressed envoy took one of the bags of warm doughnuts his assistant held. He placed one in his mouth in a most ungentlemanly fashion and ate it, smiling as he chewed.
“No,” Simon interrupted wiping the corner of his mouth with a finger.
“Herrison, we have known each other for years. I consider you a friend. If you wish the people of Stubborn to stop calling me ‘majesty’ then you must show them what is proper.”
“No.” Simon placed another doughnut in his mouth. He watched the tension build in his assistant, but he knew that in order for them to succeed in their new lives in the States, it was imperative that Henri loosen his attachment to British etiquette.
“Fine.” His shoulders tight, his hands in fists around the bag he held, his cheeks becoming quite pink and his mustache sticking forward like an irritated hedgehog; Henri broke the rules he held dear and growled, “Leatherby.”
“Very good!” Simon patted Henri on the back and they commenced their walk. “Now, Herrison,” he said chuckling, “Please, stop crushing my nuts.”
As you can imagine Frank makes quite an impression on the two gentlemen as does the entire town. I wrote a love story between two men, but wound up falling in love with the town too.
Author Bio: Nikki Woolfolk grew up with her southern father’s good cooking and tall-tales and her mother’s science fiction loving influence early Silicon Valley. In 2013, a friend challenged her to mix her two loves, science and writing, to create a romance novella. Considering herself more nerd than a romantic, Nikki wrote her version of a romance in which she gets to “have a parkour chase scene, blow sh*t up, and make sure the good guy and gal get the girl” with food on the side when the adventures work up an appetite.
Nikki lives in New England with her son and her partner and is working on the next book with more original recipes for the Steampunk Romance Sweet & Steamy series. For more details go to HER BLOG or find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads!
So thinks British trade envoy Simon Leatherby as he settles into his temporary home in the mountains of Stubborn, West Virginia, to negotiate an equitable export trade agreement. As the guest of honor at the annual Midsummer Night’s Dream Costume Ball, Simon is charmed by the beauty of this rugged country and matchmaking townsfolk, but only business is on his mind.
Ashland “Ash” Gottschalk, a sweet tempered glassblower, is caught up in a horrible set of circumstances, no thanks to an evil manager and his two wicked assistants heaping abuse on all the downtrodden workers of the Pantoufle Glass Factory. With a clever plan, borrowed items, and a touch of magic, Ash’s friends transform the kind cinderfella into a proper gentleman for one stolen evening at the ball.
A chance meeting at the celebration turns into a magical evening to remember as Ash and Simon meet their match. When the clock strikes midnight and the mysterious Ash disappears as suddenly as he appeared, Simon moves heaven and earth to seek out the keeper of the glass trinket left behind on that starry night.
Will Simon find his ‘prince’ before time runs out or will the evil management’s last cruel trick destroy his happy ending with Ash?
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