Seduced by a Stable Boy (Preview)

Chapter One

The thunder rolls like billowing sheets over the sky

Lady Sarah Holden stopped speaking, her eyes upon the parchment, gazing critically at the line on the page. When she had written it only days ago, it had seemed like a powerful simile. Thunder did roll, didn’t it? But then…sheets didn’t. Rolling and billowing seemed somehow to match but not quite.

She sighed heavily, shutting the notebook with a decisive snap. Something was irritating her, and until she figured out what it was, she could not read the poem anymore. Besides, the hay that she was sitting upon within the stable was rough beneath her, seeming to penetrate the thin material of her gown, poking her sharply.

It had seemed like a good idea at the time to come there with her notebook. She had snuck away from the manor house just after luncheon, determined to find a private place where she could read her poems aloud without being disturbed. Even though Avon Manor was huge and sprawling, with many rooms, it seemed that there was always someone lurking in a corner wherever she went. A maid dusting the vases in the parlour. Another one dusting the books in the library. Or else one of her parents would seek her out and disturb her.

She had wandered aimlessly for a while in the gardens, notebook clutched tightly in hand, seeking that perfect spot. And then somehow her feet had ended up taking her to the stables. She had a yen to see her favourite horse and perhaps she might sit within his stall and have a secret place to herself. She knew that the stable master and most of the stable hands were at their lunch at this time of day. It would only be Spirit, her horse, and herself. Perfect.

But the stable was dim and dark, and it smelt. The hay beneath her was uncomfortable. Sarah wrinkled her nose.  It was not quite the poetry reading she had anticipated. Not romantic at all. Perhaps she would be better off dodging the gardeners and taking her book to the arbour or the folly within the grounds?

She sighed again. She didn’t know why she had it in her head that she must speak her poems aloud, but it had always been the way with her. Besides, she believed that poetry was made to be spoken and not just read. There was far more power within the words. One could hear the emotion behind it and pick up on anything that was not quite right.

Suddenly Spirit, her brown stallion, bent his head down, nuzzling her so fiercely that she almost tipped over into the hay. Sarah laughed, rubbing the horse’s velvety nose as she stared into his soft brown eyes.

“You want attention, do you not?” she whispered lovingly, scratching behind his ears. “I promise that I shall take you on a long ride once I am finished, Spirit. Perhaps, we may even go into the woods, and you can find your favourite apple tree.”

The horse neighed approvingly. Sarah laughed again. 

“But you must let me finish reading these poems first, my boy,” she said in a firm voice. “Poetry first and a ride later. I promise.”

Spirit harrumphed as if he perfectly understood her, flicking his tail. Within a minute, he drifted away, seemingly growing bored. Sarah opened her book again, staring at the poem that she had entitled “The Storm”.

She had written it quickly, after a sudden summer storm had battered the house just three nights ago. The fury and the majesty of it had quite taken her breath away. She had watched it rolling over the far hills from her chamber window, revelling in the wildness of nature. There had been booming thunder and flashing lightning followed by torrential rain. The whole spectacle had only lasted fifteen minutes, before it had continued past the house almost leaving it behind.

Alight with joy, she had sat down at her desk, opening her notebook and dipping the quill in the inkpot. The poem had seemed to spill out of her, fully formed. The quill had barely been able to keep up with the speed of her thoughts. It happened like that occasionally. Sometimes she laboured over her poems feeling as if she was dragging the words out of her, but sometimes it was as if a hand descended upon her from heaven, giving her a gift.

She took a deep breath, reading the poem from the beginning and trying to capture within her voice the wonder and majesty of the spectacle she had witnessed:

The storm arrives, clattering through the sky 

As if a chariot is descending from the clouds

As if Thor himself has decided to sprint across the sky on one of his midnight rambles

Forks of lightning slicing through it

The thunder rolls like billowing sheets over the sky

Sweeping and trumpeting, a splendid fury 

I cannot take my eyes away

I tremble as I watch it unfurl

As always, I am humbled

Who am I, beneath this majestic show?

Just a speck of life 

While the storm is ever eternal

Her voice faded away. She put the notebook on her lap. She wasn’t sure at all now if she had captured the beauty of those moments. The words seemed pale and wan; limp and lifeless. But then she always felt that way when she returned to a poem days after she had written it. The creative urge that gave birth to it was long gone, and she was critical in the cold light of day.

Suddenly, there was a cough, just behind her. A man’s cough, quickly suppressed. Sarah jumped to her feet in alarm, her heart hammering within her chest. She had thought she was quite alone in this stable. At least, she had been when she had entered it. 

“Hello?” she called out breathlessly. “Show yourself, please! It is rude to hide yourself away like this.”

Her words hung in the air. Spirit gazed at her curiously. Sarah’s heart hammered harder. Had she imagined the cough? Was she going a little crazy, paranoid that someone had invaded her personal space?

But no, she hadn’t imagined it. A man emerged from behind a thin partition, separating Spirit from one of the other horses. A tall, broad shouldered young man, with golden shaggy hair, almost surrounding his face like a lion’s mane. 

He stepped forward, towards her. Now she saw his face clearly. A handsome face, with a strong chiselled jaw and high cheekbones. His eyes were icy blue. He was dressed in slightly worn clothing, typical of a worker. Faded, patched trousers and a white shirt. At least, it must once have been white—it was now faded almost to a dull grey. His expression was sheepish.

“Beg your pardon, milady,” he said in a strong local Yorkshire dialect. “I did not mean to disturb you…”

“What…what are you doing in there?” she stammered, overwhelmed. “I thought all the stable workers were at lunch at this time of day!”

He smiled abruptly, a brilliant smile. His teeth were white and even, not at all like most of the workers around the estate.

“I am at lunch,” he said slowly, scratching his head. “I always take my lunch by myself in the stables. The others like to talk together, but I prefer some alone time. It is one of the few moments in my day when I can be by myself.”

Sarah raised her chin imperiously. “Well, that might be as it may, but you must have known straight away when I came in.” She took a deep, ragged breath. “Have you been sitting there listening to me the whole time?”

A hot flush of mortification heated her face. How appalling! This stable hand had been sitting there on the other side of the partition, listening to her read her poetry aloud this whole time. She squirmed, feeling her colour deepen. It was so very awkward she did not know how to proceed at all.

“I did not mean to make you uncomfortable, milady,” he said, scratching his head again. “I honestly did not know you were here until you started speaking. And then, it seemed rude to interrupt you. And the longer you were here, the harder it became. I meant no disrespect.”

Sarah kept staring at him, her chest rising and falling in mortification. She didn’t think that the man was lying. But it still didn’t change the fact he had been listening to her read her poetry for over twenty minutes now. Poetry that she had never shown to anyone. No one had heard these poems before. Sometimes she read her poetry to Papa and Mama in the drawing room after dinner but this batch that she had written over the past week were still so new.

“What is your name?” she asked suddenly to hide her mortification.

His smile widened. “Sean Smith, milady. Stable hand. At your service.”

She drew herself up to her full height. “Well, Sean Smith, you might not have meant any disrespect, but you should have made yourself known immediately. I thought I was alone. It is the only reason I would read aloud in such a way.”

“Begging your pardon, milady,” he said quickly. “But the stables are not a private place, even if you thought we were all at lunch. People come and go out of them all the time, you know.”

Sarah flushed deeper. “Well, yes, I do know that of course…”

“I like them,” he announced suddenly, his blue eyes twinkling with mirth. “Your poems I mean.” He hesitated, gazing straight at her as if he were looking into her very soul. “My favourite was the last one you read. The one about the storm. Did you write it after that wild storm the other night?”

Sarah bit her lip. “Yes, I did. It was quite a show, was it not? The way that it just swept over from the hills and then swept away again.”

Sean Smith nodded sagely. “They are called whirly winds in these parts. There are old ballads written about how they arrive and leave in the blink of an eye.” He paused. “You are a good writer, milady. I do not think I have ever heard a storm described in such a way before.”

“Thank you,” she muttered, clutching her notebook tighter. “It came upon me very suddenly. It was almost as if my hand could not keep up with it. As if it were already alive and just waiting for me to pin it down onto the paper.”

He tilted his head, gazing at her quizzically. She blushed harder. Of course, he would not understand anything that she had just said. He was only a stable hand, a manual worker with probably little education. What would he know about the process of creative writing? She may as well have started speaking in Hindustani or some such thing.

But then he completely shocked her with his next words.

“My Pa says the same thing,” he said slowly. “He writes poetry too. He often reads it to my family after dinner or else he chooses other poems or old ballads and folktales.” His face grew wistful. “Often it is the highlight of my day when I can settle back and listen to him.”

“Your…your father writes poetry?” Her voice held a thread of doubt.

His blue eyes flashed. “Aye he does, milady. He had a decent amount of book learning before he was sent to work in the coal mines. His own father was a vicar, you see, and before my grandfather died, he taught my father well.” His voice grew sorrowful. “The family lost their position and fortune, and my father was forced to work to go out and make a living in any way he could. But that does not mean he is not a learned man in many ways.”

Sarah felt ashamed of herself. She had offended this young man with her thoughtless words. And she always tried so hard not to put on airs and graces and act in a patronising manner towards those beneath her on the social ladder. Just because she was a lady, and the daughter of a marquis did not make her any better than anyone else. She had always fervently believed that.

“I am sorry,” she said quickly, biting her lip. “I did not mean to imply that your father was unable to write poetry. Please, forget I said it.”

He looked amused. “You do not need to apologise to me, milady. You can think and say anything you want. I do work for your family you know.”

“Indeed,” said Sarah, a bit desperately. All she wanted to do was escape now. This conversation was so very awkward, and it was just getting more so by the minute. And at any second the other stable hands would return from their lunch to get back to work. It was time for her to leave well and truly.

“Well, it was nice to meet you, Sean Smith,” she said, forcing a smile onto her face. “But my mother shall be wondering where I am. I should go back to the house.”

He nodded. For a moment it looked like he was about to say something else. But then he just tipped his cap at her before brushing past her on his way out of the stable. He smelt like hay and sweat and a dozen other things she could not identify.

Sarah waited until her heart had stopped hammering before she walked out of the stables back towards the gardens. The other workers were all drifting towards the stables now, talking amongst themselves, with an occasional burst of laughter. Sean Smith was already hard at work shovelling hay into one of the stables, his back bent over his labour.

As she entered the house, she couldn’t stop the smile that spread over her face. He liked her poem about the storm. She felt strangely aglow in a way that she had never felt before. Quickly she dismissed it. It was only because someone had praised her work, that was all. And he had probably only said it to be polite.

                                                                           ***

After dinner that evening, as her family drifted towards the parlour, the handsome stable hand was still on her mind. It was odd, indeed. Sarah was suddenly glad that they were not entertaining this evening. She could sit and just mindlessly embroider while she pondered the strange encounter in the stables.

They settled in their usual chairs for the evening next to the fire. Her father Lord Holden, the Marquis of Lansdowne, already had his latest book in hand, opening it at the bookmarked page. Her mother, Lady Holden, was picking up her own embroidery patch with a faraway look in her eyes.

This was the usual configuration of an evening. Sarah was an only child, her parent’s precious only daughter. It was always just the three of them. And if the Marquis and Marchioness of Lansdowne regretted that their only child was a girl rather than an heir to the vast estate, they never insinuated it. Sarah was the most loved and cossetted of ladies. 

“Where did you vanish to after luncheon today, Sarah?” barked her father suddenly. “I was looking for you, but you were nowhere to be found.”

Sarah’s face started to burn. She didn’t know why. It wasn’t as if her father knew about her rather surprisingly intimate conversation with one of the stable hands. 

“I just went for a walk through the grounds, Papa,” she said quickly, biting her lip. “I did not think you needed me for anything.”

Her father smiled indulgently. “I am sure your battered notebook was your companion on the walk, my dear. You never seem to go anywhere without it.” He paused. “I was just wanting to know whether you would like to attend afternoon tea at the Burk’s house this Saturday. I received an invitation in today’s post and need to respond quickly.”

Before Sarah could open her mouth, her mother rushed in, staring at her with glittering eyes. “Oh, yes, Sarah, do go! There shall be a lot of very eligible gentlemen there! Lady Burk was telling me that Lord Coombs is up from London, and he is bringing a friend of equal stature! A Lord Hatcher…”

“Lord Benedict Hatcher?” asked her father, his grey bushy eyebrows rising. “He is a rogue, my dear. He frequents the gambling dens of London and other places that I shall not mention in the company of ladies. He is not fit to wipe our Sarah’s shoes, I am afraid.”

Lady Holden’s smile faded. “Oh, that is unfortunate!” But then she brightened again. “But there are still many others, Sarah! So very many! And with your high position, you should not have a worry in the world.”

They both looked at her with expectant expressions upon their faces.

Sarah sighed heavily. Ever since the date had been arranged for her upcoming debut, they had been harping on about eligible gentleman to court. They harangued her almost daily about it. It was most tiresome.

“I am still only one and seven,” she said, trying to keep the irritation out of her voice. “There is a lot of time to find a suitable husband. Why must you both pressure me in such a manner?”

“No one is pressuring you, dearest,” said her mother quickly, looking offended. “It is just what parents do for their daughters, after all. I thought you would be chomping at the bit to go to all the balls and parties and afternoon teas on offer after you make your debut. I know that I was at your age.”

Sarah smiled tightly. Her mother, the former Lady Mary Dowding, had been a famed local beauty when she was young, and very popular.  A veritable social butterfly. Apparently, five gentlemen had asked for her hand by the time she twenty before she accepted John Holden. And her mother could not understand in the least that perhaps her own daughter was not cut from the same cloth. That, perhaps, Sarah wanted something different from her own life—that she was not a social butterfly and never would be.

She stared down at the embroidery patch on her lap. Sometimes, she caught her mother looking at her in a speculative manner. As if she did not understand this daughter at all. Why didn’t Sarah just want to socialise and flirt and have court paid to her like all the other young ladies?

But Sarah knew she would never be like the other young ladies. She never had been. She had always liked her own company more than being with others. She had excelled at her lessons with her governess, avidly devouring any book she encountered. And when she had discovered poetry, it was as if a candle had suddenly been lit within her.

She didn’t care for the latest fashions, or gossip, or tea at fashionable tearooms. She was sure she wouldn’t care about balls and parties once she was going to them either. She didn’t care about eligible young men. As long as she could read and write she was happy.

She knew that she bewildered her father too. Lord Holden just wanted his beloved daughter to be happy, but he had never bargained on a bluestocking in his home. It was as if two swans had suddenly discovered a duck within the nest. How did they persuade her to think and behave in a way befitting a young lady of her class?

“I will think about afternoon tea at the Burk’s,” she said slowly. “I will let you know by the morning, Papa. Will that suffice?”

“Of course, dearest,” said her father, looking slightly disappointed. Her mother gazed down at her embroidery patch. There was an awkward silence.

Sarah closed her eyes for a moment. And was surprised that a vision of the stable hand was there. A vivid vision of a mane haired handsome man, talking to her earnestly about poetry.

Chapter Two

Sarah walked towards the stables, reaching a hand onto her head to stop her riding hat flying off entirely. It was an extremely windy day. She had almost been blown over twice on her walk through the gardens. Not for the first time, she debated whether it was a good day to take Spirit for a ride.

She bit her lip, watching the branches of the trees swaying mightily, scattering leaves onto the lawn. Perhaps, it would settle down. Determinedly, she marched towards the stables.

Her heart started hammering hard. There he was. Sean Smith. He was bent over a horse’s leg examining the hoof. His mane of golden hair obscured his face but that did not matter. She had almost committed his face to memory. The chiselled jaw, the sweep of his cheekbones, those icy blue eyes.

She felt a flush creeping up her neck. It had been three weeks since she had discovered him eavesdropping on her poetry reading in the stables. Since then, she had amazed herself by going back to the stables at exactly the same time during the day on three occasions. She was counting on the fact that he always took his lunch alone in Spirit’s stable. And he never disappointed her. He was always sitting behind the petition with a wedge of cheese, a hunk of coarse bread and an apple.

The first time he had been surprised, springing hastily to his feet. But she had reassured him that she did not wish him to leave. Then she had screwed up her courage and asked if he would like to hear more of her poetry.

His mouth had dropped open, but he had quickly nodded. She had sat down opposite him opening her notebook. And while Sean Smith ate his lunch, she read what she had written that week, her voice thready with nerves. When she finished, her mouth was so dry that she could barely squeak another word. He had gazed at her with those impossibly pale blue eyes.

“You have a knack with words, milady,” he said slowly. “Your poems are lovely, so they are. When you read, I picture myself in the places you describe. It is a rare talent that you have.”

Sarah had been so pleased, she could barely speak. Instead, she had jumped to her feet, blushing deeply. She had muttered farewell before rushing away, vowing that she would never do that again. There was something intimate in the scene and she knew her parents would not approve if they knew. 

But the very next week, it was as if something was luring her back. With a fresh batch of poems in her notebook, she had headed to the stables. This time Sean Smith had almost finished his lunch. He had gazed up at her steadily, not quite so surprised to see her.

“I was wondering when you might come again, milady,” he had said. “Have you written much?”

Quickly, she nodded, her heart racing. He had not said another word. She had merely flicked through her notebook, reading her current creations. She had rushed through them on account that his lunch break was clearly almost over. And when she finished, he had been equally as generous in his praise as before. It was only Tuesday when she had last been here. Only three days ago. And now she was back on the pretext of taking Spirit for a ride. But her notebook was tucked into the pocket of her jacket…. just in case.

Sarah kept staring at him, almost transfixed. She had never seen a handsomer man in her life. Sean Smith put to shame all the preening local dandies in her acquaintance. They almost seemed effeminate by comparison, as if they were not real men at all. Sean Smith had a masculine vitality about him that made something strange rush through her bloodstream. She couldn’t fathom it at all, but it seemed to be luring her back to the stables.

Suddenly he looked up, seeing her. He broke into a wide grin.

“Milady,” he said, tipping his cap. “You look windblown. It is blowing a gale out there.”

Sarah took a deep breath. “Indeed. But I am quite committed to taking Spirit for a short ride. Could you saddle him for me?”

Sean frowned. “It might not be the weather for riding alone, milady. A branch could fall upon you as you pass beneath a tree. It is quite dangerous conditions even for a short ride.”

At that moment, Mr Connolly, the stable master, walked by. He tipped his cap at Sarah before approaching.

“I couldn’t help overhearing, milady,” he said. “Smith is right. It is dangerous conditions. Perhaps, you should postpone your ride until the wind settles a bit.”

Sarah’s face dropped in dismay. “Oh, but I was so looking forward to it! I am careful. I would not go into the woods. I was only planning a brief gallop across the moors.” She hesitated, staring at the stable master. “I promise I shall not take any risks.”

Mr Connolly scratched his head. “Aye, well, perhaps young Smith here could accompany you, if you have your heart set on it. Just in case you get into any difficulty. It would be the responsible thing to do, and I know your father would be pleased you are accompanied.”

Sarah hesitated, staring at Sean Smith. The stable hand didn’t look surprised or at all put out by what Mr Connolly had just suggested. But then, he was used to following orders, wasn’t he? And they might even find a moment to stop somewhere and read her latest poem. She had only written it last night.

“Of course,” said Sarah quickly. “I do not wish to cause any inconvenience, though. Can you spare him?”

Mr Connolly smiled. “Aye. He was just mucking out the stables and that can wait until later. I will find a horse for him.” He tipped his cap again, walking off.

Sarah stared at Sean. He was smiling in that maddeningly angelic way he had. She had no idea whether he wanted to go on the ride with her or not. Her heart started to race. The thought of being alone with Sean Smith out of the stables was an unexpected bonus.

                                                                       ***

The ride was just as invigorating as she had anticipated. They headed out of the grounds through the fields and into the moors. Purple heather carpeted the landscape, and the sky was a dull, almost leaden grey. In some ways, it was more stunning than if it was a perfectly clear, blue and gold day. 

Sarah smiled, feeling the wind whipping stray tendrils of her hair out from beneath her riding hat. And then in one sudden strong gust the hat flew off, twirling and dancing in the wind before vanishing entirely from view. The last of her hairpins were dislodged and her hair came tumbling down, flying in streaks behind her.

Sean stopped his horse, gazing back at her. “Do you want to follow the hat and try to find it?” he called, the wind snatching his voice.

She shook her head. “No,” she called back. “It is long gone, and it would be a fool’s errand in this weather. We might be following it out to sea!”

He laughed, tipping his cap. “Very well, milady.”

She smiled as she adjusted Spirit’s reins, spurring the horse on again. They were galloping across the moor. In the corner of her eye, she saw Sean Smith straining to keep up with her. He was a better rider than she had thought he would be. She was enjoying this immensely. It was as if the strong wind heightened the experience.

They kept riding across another moor and past the ruins of a crumbling old castle. Then she strained the horse towards the top of a small hill with Sean Smith by her side. Once at the top she pulled in the reins, breathing fast. She felt exhilarated beyond words.

She gazed beyond the hill. In the valley below was nestled the small village of Silkwitch. The tall church spire rose above the thatched cottages. It was the nearest village to Avon Manor, and where her family attended church service every Sunday. But there wasn’t much there beyond that. Only a small local store where the villagers could buy supplies, and a small tavern serving the local ale.

Sean Smith pulled up his horse beside her gazing down at the village as well. He had a half smile upon his face.

“Are you from Silkwitch?” asked Sarah, turning to him curiously. She had never thought to ask where he lived. She hadn’t asked anything about his life at all. The only personal thing he had shared with her was on that very first day when he had surprised her by telling her that his father wrote poetry too.

He nodded slowly. “Aye. I live with my family in one of those yonder cottages.” He pointed in the direction. “My pa works in the mine two miles to the east. He must get up in the dark to walk there to start just after first light.”

Sarah smiled tentatively. It sounded like a hard life being a coal miner. But it was what a lot of men did in this area of Yorkshire. The mine Sean talked about had opened only five years prior and kept this village and others afloat.

“Do you have any brothers or sisters?” she asked, the wind catching her voice.

“Aye,” he replied, his smile widening. “I am the eldest and only son. I have two little sisters. Ann and Sally. They keep our parents on their toes.” He paused. “They attend the local school. But Sally will be leaving as soon as she turns fifteen in three months. My ma has lined up a position as a scullery maid with a local family for her.”

Sarah bit her lip. “That is such a shame! Does she wish to leave school?”

Sean looked surprised. “It is not a question of whether she wishes to or not, milady. It is just the way things are for us. Sally must work to support the family just as I do. We have no choice in the matter.” He paused. “I am grateful that I got the position at Avon Manor. My pa tried hard to get me work there, so I wouldn’t have to go down into the mines. He said he wouldn’t wish that life on me if he could help it.”

Sarah turned away, gazing back out over the village. It was a hard life for most people. She didn’t even realise how hard. She was very privileged. She must remember that the next time she was tempted to feel sorry for herself, bemoaning her lack of choice as a lady. Some people had no choices at all and fought to just survive every day of their lives.

“We should head back,” called Sean. 

Sarah nodded reluctantly. She knew they had been out long enough. But the strange, wild beauty of the day seemed to have seeped into her very bones. She felt as if she could stay out here forever riding amongst the moors with the furious wind beneath a leaden sky. And with Sean Smith as her only companion.

                                                                         ***

They had entered the grounds on their way towards the stables when Sarah remembered her notebook. The poem she had written just last night seemed to be burning a hole in her pocket. Did they have time for her to read it to him?

She spied the folly in the distance. It was a small mock castle which her grandfather had built over fifty years ago from bluestone. It would be the perfect place to sit and rest for a moment and read him the poem.

He looked at her questioningly as she led Spirit over to it, but he didn’t say a word. He simply followed her. She dismounted quickly and tethered the horse. He hesitated for only a moment before doing the same.

They wandered through the folly before she sat down against a bluestone wall, taking out her notebook.

“I wrote a new poem last night,” she said shyly. “Would you like to hear it?”

He hesitated again before nodding, sitting down beside her. She opened the notebook, clearing her throat and speaking in a slightly trembling voice.

Sometimes at night when the moon hangs in the sky

And the stars nestle into the cosmos like flickering fireflies

I stand alone and simply breathe

It surrounds and envelops me like a cloak of velvet

Drawing and pulling me into its mysterious folds

And suddenly I realise that I am the merest dot on this stage

It shall keep going, pulsing and vibrating, long after I am gone

This does not sadden me

Instead, I breathe deeply, grateful that I am in this moment

Fully alive to the wonder and majesty of the night sky

Sarah closed the notebook, unable to look at him. She always felt exceedingly shy after she read a poem aloud to someone for the first time.

“That is beautiful, milady,” he said in a ragged voice. “I do not think I have ever heard anything so beautiful.” He paused. “I often feel like that when I gaze at the night sky as well. Amazed and humbled by the sheer size of it.”

Sarah turned to him, her heart beating hard. “I knew you would feel the same way. I just knew it.”

“How?” he asked, frowning slightly. He looked perplexed.

Sarah shrugged her shoulders. She couldn’t explain. She didn’t have the words. She just felt instinctively that Sean Smith, stable hand, was a kindred spirit. That he saw the world in the same way that she did. The way he reacted to her poetry told her that. Not everyone understood her vision of the world. In fact, most people did not.

“I look forward to hearing your poems, milady,” he said slowly. “It is becoming one of the highlights of my week.”

Sarah gazed at him, quivering. There was a rush of emotion between them. But suddenly they jumped at the sound of a loud voice, in the distance.

“Sarah!” It was her mother, hard and strident. “Sarah!”

They scrambled hastily to their feet. Sarah put the notebook in her pocket. They gazed at each other for a moment.

Sarah took a deep breath. “My mother wants me,” she said slowly. “Can you take Spirit back to the stables for me?”

He nodded, tipping his cap, and walking quickly away.

Sarah took another deep breath, smoothing out the creases in her gown before leaving the folly. Her mother was standing just at the entrance, frowning as she gazed at Sean, leading the two horses away.

Lady Holden turned back to her daughter. “What were you doing?”

Sarah flushed. “Nothing, Mama. We just stopped for a short rest after a ride over the moors. We were just about to take the horses back to the stables…”

Her mother looked thunderous. She held out her hand. “Give it to me.”

Sarah’s jaw gaped. “What do you mean?”

Her mother looked pained. “That infernal notebook, child. I heard you reading aloud from it to that stable hand. Really, Sarah, it is most unseemly! You are a young lady now. You cannot be tearing around the countryside and reading your poetry to all and sundry. That poor lad being subjected to it!”

Sarah’s flush deepened. “He did not mind, Mama! He liked it!”

Her mother shook her head crossly. “Sarah, this is intolerable. You should be preparing for your debut. You need to grow up. You are not a poet and never will be.” She wrinkled her nose fastidiously. “Who would want such a life, anyway? You need to focus on your other accomplishments and prepare for society and your future life with a good husband, my girl. Not riding out over the moors and absorbing yourself in that silly notebook.”

Sarah raised her chin, turning away, staring defiantly. She felt a vein throbbing in her right temple.

Her mother sighed heavily. “The notebook, Sarah. I am waiting.”

Sarah swivelled around, her heart hammering. “Please, Mama! I promise I shall do all that you ask of me! But do not take it away.”

Her mother stared at her grimly. “Mr Dean is here for your dancing lesson. It is the reason I came searching for you. If you promise to attend all your lessons and get this silly nonsense out of your head, then you may keep the notebook.” She paused. “But if I see you careering around ignoring your duties and tormenting poor servants to listen to your poetry, then I shall confiscate it. Do I make myself clear?”

Sarah’s eyes filled with tears. “Yes, Mama. Perfectly.”

Her mother drew a deep breath. “Good. And now we must make haste. Mr Dean will not wait forever. He has other young ladies in the district who are preparing for their debut, after all.”

They started walking back to the house. Sarah hung her head, trailing after her mother. She felt like a chastened servant. 

Had she really done anything that wrong? She had only gone for a quick ride, after all. And what was the harm in reading her poetry to someone who liked to hear it? Her mother was overreacting, as she always did. But she knew she must at least appear to be toeing the line to get her off her back.

She sighed heavily. She wasn’t looking forward to this dancing lesson. She had no aptitude for dance and always felt like a graceless clod. And she wasn’t looking forward to her debut at all. She didn’t like the gown that she was going to wear to it, a gown which was still being made at a local dressmaker’s. She looked like a prissy, overdone hen in it. Lady Holden had spared no expense, of course. But the heavy lace of the gown, the ostentatious headdress, and large jewellery her mother was insisting she wear for it was not her style at all.

She glanced quickly towards the stables as they passed. Sean Smith was already there, brushing Spirit’s glossy coat. He glanced up and met her eye, giving her a sympathetic smile. She didn’t dare smile back. Her mother would probably turn around and notice. And then she would get another tongue lashing.

Her heart lurched. The stable hand was so very tall and handsome with that mane of golden hair. The most beautiful man. And he was intelligent and sensitive as well. 

How she fervently wished she could meet a proper gentleman just like him.

Her heart sank. No young gentlemen in their district were like him at all. It was like comparing day to night, or the light of the sun to the illumination of a weak lantern. And they were all the same. They just wanted a prissy young lady who did the usual things and listened to them drone on about themselves.

Sean Smith was different.

She walked into the house, trying to push him out of her mind. She knew that she was playing with fire. Sean Smith was a servant, and she shouldn’t even be speaking to him in the way she had been at all. He could never be her friend or anything else. It truly was as simple as that.

He was a stable hand, and she was a lady. Their worlds were far apart and there was no bridge high enough to connect them. She should stop seeking him out. It would be the best thing for them both.



“Seduced by a Stable Boy” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Lady Sarah Holden, the enticing daughter of a marquis, is soon to make her debut. However, Sarah cares nothing for the world of fancy gowns, balls and eligible gentlemen, she just wants to write poetry. When a seductive young man secretly listens to her poems, her world will never be the same again… What will happen to their affair when her parents insist that she must marry a wicked Duke twenty years older than her?

If only fighting for a forbidden love was not such a cruel path…

Sean Smith knows he is lucky to have secured a position in the stables at Avon Manor, even if it is not the life he dreamt for himself. However one fateful day, he overhears Sarah, the ravishing lady of the manor, reading her enchanting poetry aloud and she awakens his lustful desire. How can he resist the beautiful, captivating Sarah who sets his heart on fire and invites him to play a dangerous game? As if their class difference was not enough, the evil schemes of a sly and manipulative Duke are stealing her away…

Will he fight for her or will fate tear them apart forever?

An encounter between the unconventional lady and the seductive stable boy is about to turn both their worlds upside down. Even though both of them know that it can lead nowhere, Sarah and Sean refuse to do one thing: give up. Will they resist each other, when the flaming passion and the connection between them grow stronger every time they meet? Or will they retaliate, submitting to their sinful desires after all?

“Seduced by a Stable Boy” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Get your copy from Amazon!

6 thoughts on “Seduced by a Stable Boy (Preview)”

    1. I love it!!! First story I recall reading about a female poet. Looking forward to reading the entire book.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and support, dear Gwen. I truly appreciate it!

      So glad you enjoyed the story! Make sure to stay tuned because I have more coming!

      Thank you again and have a lovely day!

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