Saving Samantha – S. Cinders

“Freddy, I know you can hear me!” Samantha hissed rather loudly at her childhood playmate, Frederick Hangbottom . But Mr. Hangbottom was either experiencing partial deafness, or the cad was ignoring her. Samantha stamped her well-shod boot. She wrinkled her nose, “He always was a bit of nincompoop,” she grumbled. “I am not!” his double chin warbling in protest. “That’s just like you to call names, Sam! And I don’t want to me mixed up in whatever trouble you are mixed up in, that’s all!” Mr. Frederick Hangbottom shook his finger at Samantha, “You know that every time you come to see me in the middle of the night, bad things happen! You ought to take care of your reputation, Sam. Someone might think that you are after something quite different than what you honestly are. Oh, don’t make that face. I know that we are just friends. But someone else might take the wrong view and the next thing you know we could end up in a very tricky situation Samantha Shore.” Samantha rolled her eyes, for there was something vastly irritating about people that had known you since you were in leading strings. “I highly doubt, Freddy, that anyone would get the wrong impression. Especially since you are currently engaged to Miss Prissy Pants.

” Freddy scowled, “Her name is Miss Lucinda Pressmiser.” Samantha smiled innocently, “Right you are, my mistake—lovely girl. Anyhow, I only come to you in extreme emergencies, and Freddy this is terribly important!” Freddy was a rather large young man, so when he laughed, his girth tended to enjoy the joke with him, “Important you say! Much like when you came to me desperate to escape your mothers clutches because she was going to make you wear white?” Samantha sighed, “Do w e need to rehash every old grievance ? That was ages ago, and you know that I do not show well in stark white . I need more of an ivory or cream to truly shine. If you had come with me and convinced her, we could have prevailed. She always has liked you, Freddy. I don’t know why you have to be so stubborn at times.” Freddy rubbed his soft curly sideburns, “A young lady of quality does not visit a gentleman in his apartments in the middle of the night. Not for any reason, Sam, not because her mother is unreasonable. Not because she is running low on her allowance.

Not because the gentlemen that season are much too short. And certainly not for whatever reason you have shown up for tonight .” Samantha huffed, “Freddy, you used to be a whole lot more fun when we were children! What happened to you?” Freddy shrugged, “Everyone has to grow up sometime Sam, even you.” “I won’t do it, not even for you, Freddy. You can go on and marry Miss Prissy Pants. I am very happy for you. You know that. I am glad that you have found someone to love.” Freddy looked at his long time pal, “Don’t look so dejected Sammy. I am sure that you and Lucinda will be fast friends.

” Samantha smiled sadly, “I don’t think so, Freddy. I am not overly confident that she understands me.” Freddy blushed a little, “Don’t worry about that, Sam. She just thinks you hold a candle for me.” Samantha laughed, “I do like you, Freddy! Why do you think I come to you in the middle of the night with all of my problems?” His blush deepened, “No, Sam. Lucinda thinks you have a romantic interest in me.” Samantha’s eyes widened before she pointed to herself and then back again at him. He nodded slowly. She looked at him warily, he didn’t feel that way, did he? And then all of the sudden it hit her, she and Freddy were the best of friends, but they could never be lovers. She burst into gales of laughter, “She thought I wanted to marry you? That is famous! Lord above, now I have heard it all! No wonder Miss Prissy Pants is so prissy around me! I completely understand.

I would not care for myself either!” Freddy blew out a sigh of relief. This was the Sam he knew. “Once the wedding is over she will come to understand we are just mates, Sam. All will come to right, you will see.” Samantha’s smile dimmed a little. Things would be different though. Freddy would never be hers to run to at any time of the day or night. She couldn’t go to his married home like this. In point of fact, Freddy was right. If Lucinda knew she was visiting him like this, she would be outraged.

And in truth, she would have every right to be. “What’s wrong Sammy,” Freddy blew out a breath, “how much is it going to cost me? Do I need to draw a banknote?” Samantha felt a pinching behind her eyes but pushed the tears back , “No, you silly man, I will not be robbing you blind. I just wanted to wish you well with Lucinda. You have been an excellent best mate.” Freddy looked concerned, “We’ve been best friends forever, haven’t we, Sammy? Whatever you need, I will be there. You know that?” Samantha nodded, “I know, Freddy.” She turned and slipped out the window that she had climbed into earlier. Freddy cursed and walked over to it. But she was gone just as quickly as she came. “I could have gotten you out unnoticed!” His whispered words were lost to her as she raced away in the black of night.

CHAPTER 1 Mr. Henry Alexander Harris had an illustrious career working as a high ranking officer for the war office. Not only was he a Lieutenant-Colonel when he wasn’t working undercover, as he was currently, but Henry had a sharp mind and a keen wit that often helped him out of the trickiest of situations. So how he had managed to tangle himself so inexplicably with these unmarried ladies that were making a complete mess of his investigation, he would never know. Randall’s sisters had seemed rather harmless, as had the older woman Lady Genevieve. Henry tried to warn them away. He stressed the dangers surrounding them. Never had he thought it possible that the enemy would take them as a threat, but when Lady Lillian had been abducted from a London ballroom, he knew that he had to put this all to an end. “You understand my concerns, Lady Juliana?” Henry wanted to make sure that he was entirely clear. “I do, Mr.

Harris, I don’t agree with them, however,” Juliana sighed. “I do not want you, nor Lady Genevieve to pursue this case any further. Will you give me your word?” Juliana stared up at the handsome man. She was honest to a fault, and if she gave her word, she certainly could not go back on it. Thinking quickly Juliana remembered that if she didn’t pursue the case, Samantha certainly could. “Lady Juliana, I would hate to have to involve your brother, Lord Randall in this affair, but I fear that you are leaving me no choice in the matter.” Juliana scowled, that was a low blow. “Yes, Mr. Harris, you have my word that I will not pursue this case.” Henry felt her angry gaze but felt no remorse for it.

His job was to protect people, even if it was from themselves. “Very good then,” Henry bowed, “If you would like to return?” Juliana nodded, “You are right, we should join the others. Good luck on your case, Mr. Harris.” Henry nodded, “Of course, I will follow in a few moments.” They had slipped into the gardens at the Reeder’s Ball. Henry walked about the hedges for a few minutes before stumbling across one of the most beautiful sights he had ever beheld. The woman was one he was somewhat familiar with. It was Lord Shore’s younger sister, Lady Samantha. She was sitting with her back facing him, trailing her fingers in the tepid water of the fountain.

Her chocolate brown strands were perfectly positioned as if her ladies maid had just attended her. However, there were one or two small wisps that had escaped against her neck that danced in the breeze. Her gown was a deep pink, almost orange in hue. It complimented the creamy tone to her skin that was not at all the stark white which was in fashion. Lady Samantha was all womanly curves, and she stood almost as tall as any man. Henry felt a stirring in his gut. There was something primal about her that made him want to do—well, something not very gentlemanly, that was of a certainty. “Lady Samantha,” Henry hated to disturb her, but being out here alone wasn’t terribly safe. “Oh!” Samantha startled. The hand that had been supporting her slipped and for a horrified second Henry could picture her falling straight into the fountain.

Moving faster than he ever had before in his life, he scooped Samantha up into his arms and whirled her away to safety. Samantha’s heart was galloping in her chest. She felt certain that it would break free from its cage and race away at any moment. How has Mr. Harris saved her? More importantly, how had Mr. Harris been robust enough to lift her? He was nary an inch or two taller than she was although granted his shoulders were far broader. And she wasn’t the first to admire how well he wore his pantaloons. “Thank you, Mr. Harris,” her voice was breathier than she liked. But Mr.

Harris had failed to release her. And Samantha was feeling all sorts of new feelings, having never been this close to a male before. She didn’t include her brother Benjamin or Freddy— T hey were family. Henry stared at Samantha’s golden brown eyes. Their innocent confusion was wreaking havoc with his male need to protect and dominate. What was it about her? Why was her skin so soft? There was a throbbing vein on her throat that Henry longed to press his lips against. This was insane. He needed to let her go. “Sam, dear, are you still out here?” A voice called out from beyond the hedge. Samantha started squirming in his arms, “Just a moment, Freddy!” Henry’s arms stiffened around her.

He wasn’t ready to let her go. Baron Reeder’s full name was Frederick Vaughn Hangbottom. Was she possibly carrying on an affair? “Sammy, you cannot stay out here all night. Your mother sent me to find you.” Freddy’s tall, portly frame came into view. His bright blond curls shining in the lamp light, and his blue eyes huge behind his thick spectacles. “Oh, honestly, Sam,” Freddy shook his head, “Mr. Harris, do put her down. Whatever she has told you is most likely a fabrication. Samantha most certainly can stand of her own accord!” Henry flushed and immediately put her down in a ruffle of pink flounces.

Samantha’s mouth dropped open, “How dare you! I will have you know, Freddy, that I didn’t do anything wrong!” Freddy rolled his eyes at her, “You never do, dearest.” And then turned censorious ones on Henry, “Mr. Harris, I must insist that you do not meet Lady Samantha without a proper chaperone. It isn’t done. Especially not in my gardens, surely you know this. Henry was gobsmacked, “Is that not a bit of the pot calling the kettle black, Reeder?” “Sam?” Another voice joined the fray, “Freddy? People are asking about the both of you. Whatever is going on out here?” Lady Reeder came around the hedge, not at all concerned to see Samantha and her husband together. “Lucy, I am sorry. I was sitting by the fountain and almost fell in. Mr.

Harris here saved me from a rather unfortunate dunking. And then Freddy showed up and started to read him the riot act. I think his latest reducing diet is causing ill-humors .” Lady Lucinda Reeder, Freddy’s wife of the past four years, couldn’t keep her lips from twitching. “I have told him that he need not go on all those silly reducing diets of his.” Freddy frowned, “It wouldn’t do for you to find me unattractive, Lucy. I just want to be the same person you fell in love with.” “Oh, Freddy,” Lucy sighed lovingly at her husband. Samantha looked at Henry, “They are always like this. A bit nauseating if you ask me, but nobody asks me.

” Lucy laughed, “That reminds me! Samantha, your mother, is looking everywhere for you.” Samantha made a face, “I need a better hiding place!” Suddenly they heard voices coming from the other direction. There wasn’t any place to hide. It was time to face the music. Henry had no desire to stay and participate in this family affair. “If you would excuse me, I must be off. I feel a strong desire to stretch my legs.” However it wasn’t her mother as Samantha had feared, but a group of young blades that often had cutting things to say about other members of the Ton. “I say,” the one in the puce coat called out, “Did you just hear Harris give the most appropriate sobriquet to the Shore girl? Whyever didn’t we think of it before,” Looking directly at Samantha he called out, “How is the weather, Lady Stretch ?” The other foppish gentleman laughed at his witticism while Henry saw red. He went directly to the young man.

It wasn’t moments before he was upon him. “How dare you accost a young woman? I should call you out,” Henry was livid. The young gentleman didn’t look nearly as daring now that his friends had deserted him. “I am sorry, sir. I didn’t mean anything. It was only a jest.” “You will apologize to the lady,” Henry insisted. “I will, immediately,” he swallowed in fear. They returned to where Samantha had previously been standing. But she was gone.

Before the night was through t he nickname Stretch traveled throughout the ton like wildfire.

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