Thursday, October 4, 2012

Southern Belles, Skirt Hooks, and 504 Jeans


 When I was a young teen Levis 504 button fly jeans were the hip item, which meant I naturally had to have a pair. Those pants made a short trip to Goodwill after I wrestled with opening and closing the fly. Why did it have to be so difficult to unbutton those stiff metal buttons? Zippers I knew, and until that time totally underappreciated. After that disastrous experience, I thought about what women willing endure in the name of fashion such as foot crippling platform shoes. Of course, we basically choose to wear these fashions, but what if you had no alternate.

In researching my newest release, Undercover Rebel, Emily, my smitten belle, trades in her hoop skirts and corset to go undercover and crosses enemy lines to rescue her fiancé. Things don’t go all that well, but she rejoices in her stolen boy clothes. Life is so much easier when you don’t have to flatten your hoops to sit or even go through a door. If I thought 504 jeans slowed down a trip to the bathroom, imagine having to hook up your skirts on a metal hook that was installed for that purpose, as you tried to balance yourself over a chamber pot.

If you thought things were simpler in the past, you’d be surprised. There are a boatload of rules for women of good breeding that my incredibly wise editor, Larriane helped me navigate.

Here’s an excerpt from Undercover Rebel, the first book in Rebel Hearts Series.

 Gray’s lips curved upward. “All the Sewells are good looking. It’s commonplace to hear your family mentioned as one of the most comely of the county.”

Emily’s heart took a nosedive like a crow spying a piece of corn. Sure, she heard they were a comely family, but never thought much of it. Comely could mean there were no hunchbacks or cross-eyed cousins. She’d thought perhaps he only commented on her, especially wearing the green satin. No, such praise was too much to hope for.

“Hey there, sugah, what’s with the long face?” Gray raised his hand to place two fingers under her chin, tilting it upwards toward his gaze.

His unexpected action caused her fingers to loosen on her fan and it slipped from her hand. He called her sugar. Mother would hate it and call it common, inappropriate at any time. If only she could grab the word, the look in his eyes, and the feeling inside her, and wrap it, all in cotton batting to store away like a precious keepsake. If only this moment, wait, his lips moved, could it get any better?

“You’ve always been a delightful sprite following your brother and me around. Townsend called you a nuisance, but I never minded. Your high spirits, your curiosity, your courage always impressed me.” Gray ended with a wink.

“It did?” Emily squeaked. She didn’t sound like the belle of the ball. More like her nine-year-old cousin than a femme fatale. Maybe Eileen could get her money back on the potion. Still, Gray called her beautiful, winked at her, and touched her. So far, he brought to life almost every one of her romantic daydreams, except one. His face grew larger. Oh my, he was going to kiss her. Her heart beat double time, making it hard to breathe. Inadvertently, she squeezed her eyes shut, but opened them again, not wanting to miss a second.

Voices getting closer broke through Emily’s rapt contemplation of Gray’s lips. Whirling, tugging on his arm, she urged him down the gravel path.

“Let’s check out the gazebo down by the river,” she commented, hoping Gray could read her unspoken message. The gazebo stood isolated at the edge of the property.

As they walked, greeting people casually, Emily worried Gray wouldn’t kiss her at all. Her skirt bumped against an azalea bush, scattering the deep pink blossoms and releasing their fragrance into the air. Maybe he wasn’t going to kiss her. Maybe she imagined it all. What would she say to Gray? How could she extract herself from this embarrassing situation? A woman they passed teased Gray about how handsome he looked in his uniform. Shaking off her internal monologue, Emily spotted the offender, Elizabeth Anne, and bestowed upon her one of Eileen’s specialties - the gimlet glare with the smug smile. Elizabeth stumbled back a step, obviously interpreting the message correctly. The potion just kicked in.

The people thinned out, and they managed a few more steps without any interruptions. The gazebo with its fresh coat of white paint gleamed like a beacon. Gray walked by her side in a companionable silence. What was he thinking? Looking up at him, furrowing her brow, Gray laughed and dropped a kiss on her brow.

Without thinking, she said, “You kissed me.”

“No, not a kiss. I was just trying to smooth out those worry lines in your forehead. Would you like for me to kiss you?” Waiting for her response, his eyes twinkled.

“Oh yes,” Emily sighed the words, giving voice to her most ardent wish. Gray swept her into his arms, causing her to stumble backwards. He only held her tighter. His lips swooped down on hers. My goodness his lips were soft, yet firm. He smelled so good. The sandalwood aroma wrapped around her along with his arms. The length of his muscular body pressed up against hers, causing her hoop skirt to bell out behind her.

The kiss ended too soon. Staring into Gray’s darkened eyes; the thought of another kiss drew her up on her toes closer to his lips when voices rounding the path corner caused them both to move apart. Emily murmured under her breath. “Damn people.”

It must have been loud enough for Gray to hear because he laughed and attempted to cover it with a cough. Angling his head in her direction, away from the approaching people, he winked, mouthing words she couldn’t quite make out. He turned to greet the group of people. Joseph Calhoun stepped forward in his Confederacy uniform and began pontificating about the strength of the Southern States. Emily caught the eye of Virginia Hammer, who looked supremely bored with her beau’s choice of topic. She’d probably heard Joseph’s impassioned speech more than a few times already.

 Want to read more? Leave a comment indicating you’d like to read more, or even find out what the potion is. I am giving away three free books.


Dawn Marie Hamilron said...

Enjoyed your post, Morgan. I remember reclining flat on the bed, exhaling, and buttoning my jeans. :) Although it might be fun to dress-up in hoop skirts for a gathering, I'm glad they are part of a bygone era.

morgan said...

Dawn Marie,
I am not sure I could even dress in hoop skirts for a party. All thought I did don some crazy bridesmaid dresses.:)

Josie said...

Of course I'd like to read more, Morgan. :)
We always think that long ago was a simpler time, but in many ways it was not.

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