Welcome to Tuesday Teasers with ZA Maxfield! This week we have author Charlie Cochrane joining us!
Fans of Teaser Tuesdays know what’s going to happen here:
I’ll post a snippet from one of Charlie’s books with the character names asterisked out.
Your mission is to guess which of Charlie’s books the excerpt comes from! Email your answer to William at AuthorAssistants (at) gmail DOT com. Please be sure to put “Teaser Tuesday” in the subject line! I’ll draw a random winner each week. It’s that simple! Come play along… If you guess correctly, you’ll be entered to win a prize!
Last week’s winner is ! You should be receiving an email shortly!
As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. She lives in England, but has yet to use her local town Romsey as a setting for her stories.
She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, International Thriller Writers Inc and is on the organising team for UK Meet. She regularly appears with The Deadly Dames.
HERE’s the snippet:
The knock on the dressing room (what passed for a dressing room) door was answered with a velvety, “Come in.”
Captain Xxxx popped his head round the door and said, “There’s quite a gang of us.”
“That’s fine. So long as you don’t mind it being cramped.”
The little knot of officers, some of them still making a vain attempt to look presentable, squeezed in through the doorway, to find Xxxx at her dressing table, still in the red costume she’d worn for the final number, although her shoes had been discarded to reveal a pair of long, neatly stockinged dancer’s feet and another flash of those ankles.
“Welcome, gentlemen. So nice to see you again, Captain.” She offered Xxxx her hand—he bent over it, lips hovering just above the knuckles.
“And you, too, my dear. I hope your sister is well?”
“She is, thank you. Doing some nursing work. We all have to play our part.”
“Indeed.” Xxxx grinned.
“And how’s Elizabeth?” Xxxx asked, gently wafting herself with an improvised fan. Apparently it wasn’t just the young officers who were getting overheated.
“She’s keeping well. Being brave for the sake of the boys.” Xxxx’s smile softened as he spoke of his wife and family. “Now, may I introduce some of our men? Xxxx, this is Lieutenant Xxxx.”
“Delighted.” Xxxx delicately shook the hand presented to him, then slipped back as the other two jostled for position, Xxxx being bold enough to kiss the redgloved fingers.
“You sang so beautifully. Like an angel,” Xxxx said when it was his turn, blushing from neck to hairline.
“Thank you, although I mustn’t take the credit. It’s an excellent company.” Xxxx turned her deep blue gaze on Xxxx. “What did you think of the tenor? Such a fine voice. He was in the West End, of course, before he signed up.”
“Um. Yes. Very good,” Xxxx stammered, looking like a nervous schoolboy. The flower of King George’s army rendered helpless by a pair of sparkling eyes and a dress which had slipped to show just a touch too much shoulder. Maybe it had been deliberately arranged that way.
“I saw him in The Mikado when Noah was a boy.”
Xxxx laughed. “Are they allowing them to sign up at his age?”
“That was his father, as well you know, you naughty boy.” Xxxx slapped the captain on his arm with her fan. “I shall have to report back to Elizabeth.”
“Heavens!” Xxxx raised his hands in mock surrender. “No mentions in one of your dispatches, please. She’ll have my guts for garters.”
Xxxx smiled, then inclined her head regally. “Now, tell me about yourselves, lads. Have you got sweethearts at home?” She winked at Xxxx again, the pair of them evidently enjoying the discomfort of the younger men. “Or would it be wrong to mention them? I understand a lady’s name should never be mentioned in the mess. We should adhere to that rule.”
The conversation turned to a gentle probing of where the officers came from. Gradually they lost their unease, opening up their hearts to pour into Xxxx’s willing ear—to the extent that they became bold, bolder than was perhaps wise, in the circumstances.
“Sorry if we’re being forward, but we wondered if you would join us for a drink, afterwards? There’s a little estaminet…” Xxxx’s words petered out under Xxxx’s piercing blue gaze.
“But of course. Once I’ve changed out of my working clothes.”
“Oh, yes. Come on chaps, let’s leave the lady to it.” Whether Xxxx was in a hurry to leave the room to spare Xxxx’s modesty or hide his own blush, who could tell. The blush deepened to an ugly red at her reply.
“Oh, no need for that.” She favoured Xxxx with a wink. “Stay and keep me company.”
“I…ah…we…oh!” Xxxx’s eyebrows shot up as Madeline unpinned her wig and removed it, to reveal short cropped hair, a couple of shades darker than his, dark auburn with sweat. She smiled, but not her usual coquettish smile; this one was masculine, the lines of the mouth suddenly hardened.
The illusion had been broken.
“Lieutenant Xxxxuel Xxxx, gentlemen. Female impersonator extraordinaire. And a very old friend of the family,” Xxxx added, maybe in case his officers thought he spent all his off duty hours hanging around with men wearing lipstick.
“Not so much of the old,” Xxxx replied in a voice which had gone down an octave since he’d last spoken. He began to wipe the make-up off his face. “Sorry to shatter any illusions,” he said, addressing Xxxx, who was clearly trying to give the impression he’d known all along. “Better you know now before we get to the estaminet. A bit of footsie under the table might have ended up with you getting your shins raked.”
Xxxx laughed. “You should have seen Xxxx on the rugby pitch. Usually played hard but fair, except when the ref wasn’t looking!”
“That’s the point of the game, surely?” Xxxx said. “Always used to be the point at Rosslyn Park, anyway.”
“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” Xxxx—Xxxx—smiled at him. They’d barely shared a sentence or a look, apart from the usual stuff that surrounded introductions, so maybe this officer wasn’t so easily swayed by femmes fatales as the rest of them. And maybe he’d spent so much time being fawned on, he now expected it as of right; that would have to stop. All this admiration could go to a man’s head.
Xxxx swung one leg over the other, revealing a silkstockinged calf which might have been described as beautifully Junoesque had its observers not known better now. Still, plenty of women might have envied him his pins. “Right. My mouth feels like the underside of a dromedary’s saddle. Oh come on, don’t look so shocked. I’m not a girl, remember?” He laughed at Xxxx’s horrified reaction, soon smothered, but not soon enough.
“You’re forgetting that he’s only Miss Xxxx onstage,” Xxxx said, cuffing Xxxx’s arm. “This is the real man talking.”
“Sorry sir, sorry Ma…Lieutenant. It’s just…”
“Forget it,” Xxxx said. “It happens all the time. People don’t expect lips which wear lipstick to utter crudities. Talking of which, let me get this muck off or we’ll never get the beers in. As I said, I’m gagging.”
~ * ~ * ~
Thanks for joining us, Charlie!
If you think you know what book this excerpt came from, don’t forget to email William at AuthorAssistants (at) gmail DOT com with your guess!