As promised, I have an excerpt of Northern Rain, kindly shared by author, Nicole Clarkston.
Enjoy reading, Nicole's playful Mr Thornton!
~Northern Rain Excerpt~
Margaret’s eyes darted to Thornton, just behind the doctor, hoping his more familiar face might yield some clues about the doctor’s findings. “My father will recover, will he not?”
“In a manner of speaking, Miss Hale. He has been growing steadily more frail of late, has he not? Short of breath and confused, I shouldn’t wonder.”
“Yes, that is true,” she admitted.
“I thought as much. I believe his heart is weak. The blood is not traveling well to his head or his lungs, Miss Hale. I suspect that, combined with his recent emotional distress, could account for the delusions you say he experiences from time to time. I do not have a cure, I am sorry to say, but I have left a compound which should help. I have seen it prolong lives some years. Without it,” he admonished, “he would not be with us by the summer, so take care that he receives the correct dosage every day.”
She nodded vigourously. “I will see to it myself, Doctor!”
“There’s a good lass, I knew you would.” The doctor smiled kindly.
“Is there anything else I can do for him?” she asked anxiously.
“Oh, yes, keep him well rested. Light walks once or twice a week should not trouble him, but no more, Miss Hale. He should wait a couple of weeks, at least, before resuming his public lectures. Also, some of that excellent bone broth your woman Dixon makes might do wonders for his blood.” Margaret smiled. “Dixon will be pleased to hear it. Thank you, Doctor.” She bent her head to peer into a purse she had already collected. “How much….”
“Oh, no, please! It is nothing, Miss Hale,” Donaldson waved his hands as he slid into his coat. Margaret shot a suspicious gaze to Thornton, but he shook his head innocently.
“Think of it,” Donaldson insisted, “as my way of honouring your late mother. I could do so little for her, and it pleases me that I can do something for your father. Take care of him, Miss Hale. I will return next week to check in on him.” Donaldson collected his hat and saw himself out.
“Well!” she huffed in surprise at his departure.
Thornton grinned. “That was always the way with Donaldson. Don’t worry, Miss Hale, we will see to it that he is adequately recompensed for his trouble.”
She shook her head in wonder. “I do not like being indebted to anyone.” She then turned her eyes up to him. “I find myself once again in your debt as well.”
“Not at all, Miss Hale. My motives were purely selfish. Your father is very dear to me.”
“Of course.” A sceptical smile played at her mouth. “Thank you, Mr Thornton, I could not have persuaded him to- what are you doing?”
“Taking off my coat,” he answered reasonably, draping that article over a chair back. He began to unbutton the cuffs of his shirt sleeves to roll them up.
She narrowed her eyes, mystified. “I can see that, but for what purpose?” “Well, you do not expect me to wash up dressed like that, do you? Come, I see that you have already cleaned up the mess that I was responsible for, so it is only right that I should return the favour.”
“Wash up? What are you- you cannot go into the kitchen!” she cried in dismay, following his determined strides. “You think I do not know my way around a kitchen?” he teased over his shoulder. “I am a very good cook, Miss Hale, as long as you only care for porridge.”
“Yes, but this is not your-”
Thornton pushed the swinging door aside, cutting off her objection. “Now, let me see- ah, yes, the kettle, I remember,” he muttered to himself, rather ignoring Margaret’s affronted pleas. He lifted the heavy kettle and poured the hot water into a basin. “You must dry, Miss Hale, for I do not know where everything goes once it is clean.”
“Mr Thornton, this is quite out of line!” Margaret cried.
He made a face into his basin as he reached for the cake of soap. “‘Mr Thornton’ sounds so formal for a kitchen. I have taken off my coat! You must call me John.”
“Mr Thornton,” she repeated in baffled annoyance, “let us be done with this foolishness! I cannot allow you to work in my house like-”
“Like you do?” he shot over his shoulder with a probing gaze.
The words died in her throat. Her face went ashen. “How did you know?” she whispered in abject mortification.
He turned and crossed the room in one long stride. He took her hand in both of his own and spread her palm before her face. “Here,” he murmured gently, touching his fingers over the hardened ridges of her hand. “And here,” he turned her hand over, brushing across the firm muscle above her thumb. Margaret snatched her hand back and stared at the offending appendage in betrayal and angst. She swallowed her hurt and snapped, “I might say it is most ungentlemanly of you to mention it!”
He sighed, smiling, and took her hand back. “I do not think the less of you, you must understand. On the contrary, it shows your true character. It proves you are not afraid to do what must be done. This,” he squeezed her hand gently, testing her strength, “is a badge of honour. It is evidence of your courage and your fortitude. You have learned resourcefulness and your own ability, and the value of honest labour. Not one in a hundred ladies will ever discover what you already know, Miss Hale.”
“I…” the word came out garbled. His fingers, tracing so intimately over the lines of her palm, wrought havoc with her ability to speak. Gamely she tried again. “I only help. It is nothing so very remarkable,” she mumbled. For a second she thought of reclaiming her hand, but his touch was… distractingly pleasant.
“That is your natural modesty speaking. I think I know exactly how much you do. You are the glue which holds this household together.” He gazed long into her eyes, searching to discover if she believed his words.
Margaret gazed back in stunned silence. She tugged softly and he allowed her hand to slip from his grasp. She brushed it self-consciously over her skirts, recollecting that she had earlier donned one of her nicer dresses. She ought not to ruin this one. Her brow furrowed in thought, she turned from him to pluck an apron down from its hook.
Looping it over her head, she reached behind herself to tie it, but her nervous fingers fumbled. Without a word, Thornton stepped behind her and, taking the ties from her hands, knotted them himself. Her breath came quick and ragged as a pit of awareness tingled through her core. She turned again to look curiously up at him for a moment.
“The china is not going to wash itself,” he winked with a sly smile.
She let out a small laugh, relenting. “Very well, Mr Thornton. I would welcome your help.”
“John, or I will not help you,” he grinned recklessly.
Margaret blushed deeply, fighting a smile. “John, then.” - Nicole Clarkston
Northern Rain Blog Tour Schedule
7/8-9: Launch Vignette, Excerpt & Giveaway at Fly High
7/ 10: Guest Post & Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm
7/11: Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride & Prejudice
7/12: Author Interview at More Than Thornton
7/14: Review & Giveaway at Just Jane 1813
7/16: Excerpt & Giveaway at Half Agony, Half Hope
7/17: Vignette & Giveaway at Laughing With Lizzie
7/18: Author/Character Interview & Giveaway at From Pemberley to Milton
7/19: Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway at So little time…
7/20: Vignette & Giveaway at Stories from the Past
7/21: Vignette & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
7/24: Review, Excerpt & Giveaway at Margie’s Must Reads
7/26: Guest Post & Giveaway at A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life
9/10: Review & Giveaway at The Calico Critic
I hope you enjoy the rest of the blog tour!
I hope you enjoy the rest of the blog tour!