Welcome to the 8LW 25 Days of Stories. Today we’ve got a mischievous dowager duchess and a reluctant widower earl in 1870s England, along with some pesky mistletoe. This “Christmas Week Short Story Challenge” — a holiday version of our Friday Writing Sprints — features (some if not all) of the following words: snuggle, impress, mask, collapse, icicle, regret, famous, sneeze, scandalous, spark, impulse, and fantasy.
So here, courtesy of 8L Nancy, is today’s story.
The Duchess’s Christmas Wish
Bennett Fairbank, Earl of Sandalwood, stood in front of the newly-stoked hearth in the study of his son-in-law’s country house and hoped very hard he had not allowed his beloved daughter Lucinda to marry badly. He’d been about to ask her about the inattentiveness and slowness of the servants in her new home when the maid had finally arrived with tea service.
“I’m so sorry.” Lucinda reached for his hands as soon as the maid had left the room and finally stood still long enough for Bennett to kiss her cheek. “We’ve had to hire so many new staff so quickly, what with fifteen guests arriving for the weekend, and Christmas preparations well underway.”
“I’d have thought your husband would have had a full staff ready for his new bride.”
Lucinda squeezed his hands. “Daddy, don’t—”
“Lady Lucinda, here you are!” A familiar voice grated on Bennett’s ears.
The Dowager Duchess of Bridgehampton sailed into the room, bringing with her a blast of cold air from the hallway that reminded Bennett of the long icicles hanging from the eaves, one more task unattended. He might have to take the new servants in hand himself. Continue reading