Can’t wait until tomorrow? Want a little dose of Turnip right now? To tide you over those extra few hours, here’s the first page of Turnip’s amorous addendum, “Away in a Manger: A Very Turnip Wedding Night”.
“Joy to the world, and tra la la,” warbled Turnip as he set his bays on the road towards home. “Tra la la la la.”
The Christmas season might be over, but he was filled to the brim with joy to the whatsit, and he didn’t care how many hills and vales knew it.
This year, he’d been given the best gift of all—better even than the year that his sister Sally had given him those deuced fetching carnation-patterned slippers that had so perfectly matched his favorite waistcoat. The world was a happy, happy place, all because his wife of five hours, thirty-two minutes and approximately sixteen—no, seventeen—seconds sat beside him on the seat of the phaeton, one hand tucked in her muff, the other hand tucked in Turnip’s.
Even the snow beginning to drift down around them couldn’t mar the perfection of the moment.
“Tra la la la,” Turnip sang.
“La, la, la, la,” Arabella finished for him, and gave his hand a squeeze. He could feel the ring on her finger, the one he had placed there just hours before, pressing into his hand.
It gave him a particularly warm and happy feeling, knowing that, for the rest of their lives, he could always count on her to finish his verses for him, no matter how many times he forgot the words. Not that “la, la, la” were words, precisely. More like sounds, really. But the principle remained the same. From here on, they were two brains with one body; er, two bodies with one brain; er…. Something like that. Arabella was the one with the whatchamacallit in the brainbox; he was happy just to fetch things from high shelves and fight off the odd villain.
They’d been married that morning at Girdings House, by the Dowager Duchess of Dovedale’s private chaplain. Turnip’s sister Sally was going to be mad as fire when she heard she’d missed the wedding (Turnip made a private note to be far away when Sally got the news, preferably on a different continent, but at least in a different county), but Turnip had wanted to make sure Arabella was his wife in the sight of God, man, and the Dowager Duchess of Dovedale, because while men might dare to defy God, no sensible soul was going to defy the Dowager Duchess of Dovedale. That cane of hers was deuced pointy and she knew just where to point it.
Turnip snuck a glance sideways at his wife. Not that he’d really been afraid Arabella would cry off—the word “love” might have been mentioned a time or two or two dozen—but there’d been a certain amount of drama and confusion surrounding their courtship, involving spies and puddings and spies with puddings, and when it came right down to it, Turnip had wanted to make sure that the ring was firmly on her finger before Arabella had time to come to her senses.
Not to mention the whole matter of hastening the wedding night.
Since the wedding had been today…. Turnip engaged in some deep thought. If his calculations were correct, that meant, logically, the wedding night must be tonight. Ah, logic. They’d told him back at Eton that it would come in handy some day. He was only now beginning to appreciate how much.
Of course, right now, he’d appreciate anything that brought him closer to Arabella and a mattress. Or rather, to Arabella on a mattress.
“Shouldn’t be all that long to Parva Magna,” he said. “Only another three hours. You’re sure you’re warm enough?”
Arabella glanced down at the small edifice of rugs and furs piled on top of her legs, or, at least, the area where one might presume her legs ought to be. “The five lap rugs and fifteen hot bricks are keeping me quite toasty.” She tilted her head. “Not to mention the large, warm thing next to me.”
“The—oh, right!” Turnip wiggled closer to her, eager to do his duty as a warming implement. Not to mention that it felt good to feel her beside him, even with a shirt, a waistcoat, and a cloak between them on his end, and a pelisse, a dress, and various forms of unnecessarily complex female undergarments on hers.
Only three more hours, he reminded himself.
Three hours and then an extra hour to remove the unnecessarily complex female undergarments. Very, very slowly. Turnip shifted uncomfortably on the seat. Maybe not so very slowly after all. How quickly could one remove a corset? Was she wearing a corset? And why wouldn’t his horses trot any faster?
The snow was coming down harder now, and the horses picking their way more carefully.
“Perhaps we ought to have stayed at Girdings,” said Arabella uneasily.
“I’ll get us there, never fear,” said Turnip cheerfully, despite the fact that he was beginning to have trouble making out the road. “Can you read that sign?”
Arabella pulled her hood up over her head, so all that Turnip could see was a bit of nose sticking out. It was a deuced fetching nose, even if it was getting a bit red at the tip and beginning to drip. She leaned so far out that the carriage began to tilt ominously. Turnip hastily hauled her back.
“I’m sorry,” she said, snowflakes clinging to her eyelashes. “The snow was too thick.”
Turnip kissed her nose. “No matter,” he said cheerfully. “I’m sure this is the right way.”
Will Turnip’s wedding night be snowed out? Will Arabella’s nose lead them to safety? (Oh, wait. That’s Rudolph. Never mind.) Was the storm a cunning ploy caused by the French in their quest for domination of the world pudding market? Tune in tomorrow for the thrilling conclusion!
To find out what happens next, visit Smart Bitches, Trashy Books tomorrow. The entire chapter will be available as a free PDF download.