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Excerpt From The Promise of Change





He smiled at Mick as he spoke. His charming British lilt carried the cadence of the British upper class, not unlike that of Prince William or Prince Harry, in a voice smooth as satin against silk. 


Dimples framed an engaging smile. Casually tousled, his dark wavy hair evoked thoughts of discarded clothes, rumpled bed sheets, and whispered promises. Sarah realized the bed she pictured in her juicy little imagination was hers. She looked down as he glanced at her, mortified at the direction of her thoughts.


She risked another glance, and found his attention directed at Mick once again, giving her an opportunity to further examine his features. A clean shaven face stretched taut over a strong, square jaw enhanced all the aforementioned male beauty.


Her attention returned to the conversation when Alex said something about filming a BBC adaptation of one of the many so-called Darcy novels, which re-imagines Pride and Prejudice, from the perspective of Mr. Darcy.


“I’m sorry I don’t recognize you. You’re an actor?”


“Yes, and no apologies, please.”


His polished manners were out of place in the decidedly unpolished atmosphere of the pub, and seemed more fitting for a waistcoat and trousers, rather than the blue jeans and navy T-shirt he wore.


“My work hasn’t made it across the pond as yet. But to answer your question, I have been in three BBC adaptations of somewhat obscure literary works. Rather stodgy plots by today’s standards.”


“What is obscure to some may not be obscure to others. Are we talking really obscure works like Abelard and Heloise, or just mildly obscure works like Middlemarch?” She’d recovered her footing now that they talked literature.


Alex was pleasantly surprised to find such erudite conversation in his favorite pub. The large student-population notwithstanding, the conversation of even the most educated in Oxford often turned to more base topics when alcohol was involved.


Who was this beautiful American, and what was she doing in an Oxford pub discussing literature as if she were an academic? She was a far cry from the bookish tutors with whom he was familiar.


Her hair fell in mink-colored waves around her shoulders, and he imagined they were just as soft and silky. He longed to brush the heavy locks back so he could catch a glimpse of that lovely neck. Her green eyes sparkled like emeralds that changed with her emotions. First fiery when she’d turned to deliver a set-down at his now-fortuitous collision then, warm as the conversation turned to literature.


No. He was sure he’d never felt this attraction for any of his female tutors.


“Well, my first role was as Jude Fawley in Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure,”—he grinned and shrugged when he said ‘obscure’—“followed by Angel Clare in Tess of the d’Ubervilles, also by Hardy. But my most recent role was in a remake of Mansfield Park, in which I played Edmund Bertram.”


She raised a neatly trimmed brow. “I gather you enjoy period pieces.”


“Certainly. It gives me an opportunity to explore history and culture in a way my imagination never could. I get to live it, if only for a short time. I enjoy the experience of being transported to a world that no longer exists.”


“Everything okay Sarah?” The burly, tattooed man next to her asked. Her boyfriend perhaps? He didn’t seem at all her type.


“I’m fine Sean, thank you.”


She turned back to face him. No. Their body language wasn’t that of a romantic couple, and his interest appeared to be on the young woman sitting to her right.


Taking a sip of his beer, he continued the discussion, hoping to satisfy his curiosity. “So, obscurity is in the eye of the beholder, to butcher an old cliché. What is it you do that Jude Fawley is, well, not so obscure?”


“I’m a lawyer, er, well, currently I’m an out-of-work lawyer.”


He raised his eyebrows, not expecting that response, neither the fact that she was a lawyer and not some literary scholar, nor the fact that she was unemployed. The light in her eyes momentarily dimmed when she mentioned her employment status.


“But I majored in literature in college, and love to read books with stodgy plots,” she said, eyes bright again.


“What brings you to Oxford?”


“I’m here studying at Christ Church. These are some of my classmates.” She waved her hand, indicating her friends gathered at the bar.


Ah yes, of course. Spending much of his time in London, he forgot about the summer educational programs offered by the various colleges.


“Sarah, we’re leaving. You coming, then?” the burly guy asked as Sarah’s classmates paid for their drinks and vacated their spots at the bar. He gave Alex the once-over that seemed to indicate he wasn’t leaving without Sarah. 


“Sure.” As much as she enjoyed talking with Alex, it was rather late.


As she reached for her wallet, Alex touched her wrist stopping her, “I’ve got it. I owe you a drink after making you wear your other one.”


“That’s not necessary, but thank you.” She looked up into his laughing eyes. “I enjoyed our conversation.” She was reluctant to leave, but it was probably for the best. 


He didn’t know why, but he couldn’t let her just walk away. “Would you like to go to dinner tomorrow evening?”


She certainly hadn’t expected that. “Thanks, but I have plans. Besides, I have a rule . . . I don’t date strangers.” The brilliant smile tempered any offense her words might have caused.


She threw one last look over her shoulder before exiting the pub.


Didn’t date strangers. He grinned as he fished money out of his pocket. He could solve that.


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