Happy Harper Christmas – featuring author Jane Lark

By | December 8, 2015

I’m delighted today to be part of the Happy Harper Christmas event – an event organised by Kate Beeden, otherwise known as Katey Lovell, author of the lovely Meet Cute series I reviewed here last month, and published by those lovely people at Harper Impulse

I’m welcoming author Jane Lark to Being Anne, with something a little bit different… over to you Jane!

A great story game for the dinner table, or even to play over a drink, in your Christmas break. 

In the period I write my historical books of course there was no TV or computers for people to entertain themselves, and so they made up their own entertainments, and telling stories was one of those ways. So here is a suggestion for a game that will get people laughing without the need to for a mobile phone, a tablet or an Xbox.

Have you ever played that old game using a piece of paper where you make up funny characters, by drawing a section, then folding over the paper to hide it, and let someone else draw the next bit, then they cover their bit up and pass it on again. Well, it works a little like that. 

Hand out pieces of paper (it makes it more fun but you could do it without the paper), and then get everyone to write down something they want to appear in a story, they fold the paper and pass it on to the next person who writes something else to appear in the story, and they fold that over and pass it on. Keep going for as long as you decide in the group, it’ll depend on the size of the group. 

The next step then is obvious… When you get to the point you are either at the person before the first person to write something, so people don’t get to add things to their own story, or if it’s a large group, at the end of however many people you want to go around, then get them to open up the piece of paper, and then they have to read out the things they have to include and make up a story including every one! 

If it’s played with adults, you might want to be mean and only let them open the piece of paper when it’s their turn to tell a story. 

If the game is with young children then I’d keep the number of things to four or five, and when you tell them to write something you might want to help them have an easier plot by asking people to write down a character, a place where the character lived, a friend for the character, a thing that happened to the character, a place the character went… 

I guess you get the idea though, so play with it, you can make it what you want really 🙂 

Have a good Christmas full of fun and games! 

My historical character Ellen in The Lost Love of a Soldier had other things to do over Christmas, though, but after all, she had only just been married on Christmas Eve… 

“I will only be a moment.” Ellen looked at the blacksmith. “May I purchase some paper?”

The man nodded, looking at Paul to complete the deal. Wareham turned away again as Paul walked inside with Ellen and the blacksmith.

It did not take her long to write three separate letters and fold them. The first she wrote to her father as Paul watched, asking for his forgiveness. The second she addressed to her mother asking for understanding. The third was to her sister, Penny, expressing regret over leaving her behind. 

The weight of her youth and innocence hovered over his own youth and experience. He remembered writing letters home when he’d joined the regiment. They’d been full of light and hope as hers were. He’d given up writing after he’d been posted abroad. Who at home wished to hear of his desperate need to keep his men fed, and alive, and how many men had been killed in battle, or how far they’d marched? Ellen would lose her naivety when she learned his life and the hope would die from her words. 

Selfish fool. But he refused to think of consequence or future now. This was their wedding day, their wedding night, and tomorrow was Christmas, the first day of the twelve days of feasting; a time to count blessings.

Ellen woke in a silent room as daylight peaked about the curtains. She’d curled up against Paul who’d turned on to his side. It was Christmas. Her sisters would be waking. They’d have come to her room if she’d been at home. She presumed Sylvia and Rebecca would go to Penny instead. They’d attend mass and eat an informal luncheon with her mother, then dine formally in the afternoon with her father too, and there would be guests invited from local families.

“Good morning.”

Paul turned to face her. 

“Hello. Good tidings,” she whispered her seasonal greeting, embarrassment sweeping over her. 

His fingers stroked her hair back from her face as a smile curved his lips.

“Merry Christmas.” He kissed her for a while, then the weight of his hips rolled her backwards, and he was between her legs once more and pressing into her. She lost her breath.

He did delicious things, moving within her, the soft hair on his chest brushing against her breasts as he did so. 

Her fingers gripped his nape as she held his gaze. He was so steady and strong. Her fingers slid down his back, exploring. 

When his end came this time he growled, his eyes shutting again as he ground against her for a moment, then stilled. 

He sighed when he rolled off her. 

“We will stay here today,” he said, after a moment. “I’ll order breakfast. I’m starving, and then I’ll ask for a bath and we can bathe together.” 

That sounded naughty and decadent. She was certain no married couples she knew bathed together. She laughed with happiness. 

She missed her sisters and her mother, but she was with Paul and she was his wife.

They spent the rest of the day doing as he’d said; relaxing. They ate breakfast in their room, she back in her habit for propriety’s sake as he sat in his pantaloons and shirt. Then the inn’s attendants brought up a copper bath, and pails and pails of steaming water along with some lavender water to scent it. It was a tight squeeze for them both to fit in it. But Paul sat behind her with his legs bent and parted, and she draped her shins over the edge of the tub. They lay in the water for an age as he ran the soap across her skin and brushed the water over her breasts.

They made love again when they got out, and stayed in bed until he was hungry once more and wanted supper. Then they returned to bed and languished there without sleeping for hours.

She was happy.   

“It is a shame you have to endure another long journey so soon, Ellen.” A look of tiredness caught in her eyes. He’d kept her awake half the night. He smiled. She did too. She did not look unhappy about it. 

The inn’s grooms were readying their carriage behind her.

“It doesn’t matter. I knew it would be so.”

He nodded and tapped her under the chin. 

The snow had melted yesterday, the tracks would now be slush and mud, and it would be a much slower journey to Portsmouth. Travelling was a game of endurance she was going to have to become used to. 

It took five days. Five days of dull inactivity within a carriage. Five days in which he was unable to fully appreciate the beauty of his wife. Although, on two occasions as they’d travelled through the night, he had persuaded her to sit astride him and lift her skirts. She’d blushed both times he’d asked, so he’d tamped the lamp to save her embarrassment. He praised God for her precious innocence, yet a part of him knew such moments would often be hurried and stolen when they joined the regiment – she’d have to adjust. 

The carriage pulled into the courtyard of an inn near the docks in Portsmouth. The time for her innocence and carefree living was at an end.

Once it came to a halt, he opened the door, climbed down and handed her out. “I’ll settle you into a room, then leave you while I find the Lieutenant Colonel. I need to tell him I’m here and find my men. I’ll come back afterwards.” Lifting his fob watch from his pocket he flicked it open to check the time. It was two after midday. “I should return for dinner. But if I have not, order a meal and eat in our room.” 

She nodded, but he could see she was nervous. She caught her lower lip between her teeth, as if holding back the words, don’t go. He did not wish to leave. Yet this was his life, many times she would be left alone. 

She smiled. It trembled a little. “I know you must go, it is your duty.” Her answer implied she’d read his mind, and he thanked God she was brave enough to override the words her heart wished to say.

At least she understood. “Come then.”

He settled her into a room, which looked out onto the busy street, although to the far right you could glimpse the sea, then said, “Goodbye,” after kissing her lips. 

He wished to stay, but her words were true – he had a duty. That came first and pleasure afterwards. 

To discover all of my free short stories find me on Amazon, and to make sure you don’t miss any new release click follow on my Amazon page.

Jane is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional historical and contemporary romances and a kindle bestselling author, who has been shortlisted twice for the UK’s readers’ romance awards. She began her first novel at sixteen, but fate derailed her. She has Ankylosing Spondylitis yet continues to have a reputation as a prolific writer. When she completed her first novel at thirty-five it was because she was determined not to reach forty still saying, I’d like to write a novel. 

Now Jane is thrilled to be giving her characters life in others’ imaginations. She is also a Chartered Member of the Institute of Personnel and Development and uses her knowledge of psychology to bring her characters to life. 

“Basically I love two things, history and I’m a sucker for a love story. I love the feeling of falling in love; it’s wonderful being able to do it time and time again in fiction, and my understanding of people helps me create the intense relationships that capture the mind and the heart.”

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