As I said, Thursdays are now Thesaurus Thursday. The word we were given is egotistical. I chose to incorporate it into my current work-in-progress, although only for the blog and group – egotistical seems to have popped up somewhere between 1855 to 1860, while my story occurs in 1816.

I do hope you enjoy. I chose not to write a scene about someone being egotistical. Rather, the word is used to describe the actions of someone. I believe it fits.

Leaning against the terrace wall, Helena massaged her temples. A bed of night gladiolus erupted behind her, the spicy fragrance driving away the lingering stench of unwashed bodies and too strong perfume. One stalk crept up the side of the stone wall, the buds open to the bright light of the full moon, tempting her. Leaning over the terrace wall, Helena reached out to pluck one lonely bud.

“Have you taken to stealing flowers now, princess? Not satisfied with hearts?” Duncan’s deep voice slid over her, quickening her pulse.

She tried to turn, but got caught in the heavy skirts of her costume. Pitching forward, she flailed wildly, attempting to avoid tumbling over the edge.

A tingle crept up her spine as Duncan grabbed the gold braided belt about her waist, hauling her back onto her feet. “Careful princess, else you’ll be face down in the flowers.”

“I’m surprised you didn’t leave me to fall over, Lord Blacke. You seem to have a knack for leaving me in the middle of rather salacious gossip.” Helena could not believe the man had followed her out here.

“Tsk. You cut deep, Helena. I had no idea gossip was being spread.” Duncan dusted off the top of the wall, motioning for her to sit.

“You’d no idea? How is that possible? I hadn’t gone more than ten yards before the gossip hit. And you ju – just disappeared into the horizon.” Helena hitched in a breath, her words coming out in a whimper.

Duncan reached for her, but she held up a hand to ward him off. “I trusted you, Duncan. How could you let this happen?”

Duncan pulled her close, sending a jolt of electricity down Helena’s spine. “I promise you, it wasn’t me. I’ve been looking for the source of the – “

The window next to them was shoved open, a thin light trailing through.

“What – “ Helena was cut off as Duncan put a finger to her lips, cutting her off. “Shh. Someone is in there,” he whispered.

Voices drifted out to them very quickly.

“Do – do you love Lord Blacke? Even a little?” Someone asked.

“Love? Don’t be absurd, Lissy. I can barely tolerate the man.” The response came quickly, the tone condescending.

“Then why trap him into marriage? Will it not just lead to disaster?”

The other female snorted before saying, “Don’t be daft, Lissandra. I will not be pawned off on some lesser son.”

“What about love?” The question was high-pitched, almost feverish. Duncan looked at Helena. He only knew one Lissandra – the orphaned niece of Jefferson Pourchart.

“For the peasants. The poor can marry for love. I will marry for title, or nothing.” The speaker became derisive, dismissive. “Now go. Lord Blacke will be here shortly. Join mama. She will ensure he is caught with his hands upon my bosom.”

Duncan quietly pulled Helena away from the window, moving her down the terrace steps to the manicured lawn.

“Do you know who that was, Lord Blacke?” Helena asked, trailing her hand across the profusion of moon flowers, the petals unfurling before her.

“I do. I suppose this explains the note I received earlier,” Duncan said. Removing the note from his pocket, he read it one more time.

“What’s going on, Lord Blacke? Who is this girl?” Helena asked.

“My business manager’s spoiled, willful daughter,” Duncan replied, moving to stand in front of Helena, wrapping his hands around hers.

“Have you given her any cause to expect a proposal from you, my lord?” The question cut deep. What would she do if he said yes?

“You wound me, Helena. I will never marry. Not anyone, not for any reason.”

Helena’s knees went weak. Not for any reason? “I – I see. Does this girl not know this?

“She does. Everyone knows, yet this girl thinks she can manipulate me to get what she wants. Of all the egotistical, selfish… Damn it, the girl will be lucky if her father keeps his job,” Duncan said.

“Should you not tell him what his daughter has been up to? Or do you suppose it was his idea?”

“I doubt he would risk his career, his reputation. Come Helena, I believe I am owed some answers.” Duncan walked back into the ballroom, Helena trailing quietly behind him.

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