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An Excerpt from BENTLEY GAL
Copyright (c) AMY RUTTAN 2012
All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.
Davina ran her hands over her small bob of blonde waves. She had managed to sneak back into the manor house without her father or any of the other servants seeing her dirty condition. It was largely in part to Dorothea’s help and Bertie distracting her father from spying her bedraggled state. Her maid Bette also knew of her secret and washed David’s clothes.
A soft rap sounded at her door. “Dav, it’s me, Dorothea.”
Dorothea quickly slipped inside the bedroom. In honor of the large summer party their father was hosting on the manor grounds, she was dressed to the nines in formal evening attire. From her window, Davina could see the large marquee in the garden and the soft glow from the strings of lanterns being lit as dusk settled.
Davina watched her sister’s reflection in the mirror as Dorothea perched on the edge of the bed, absently fingering the long strand of pearls around her neck.
“What are you thinking about, Dorothea?”
“I saw the way you were looking at him, Dav.”
Davina’s hand shook and she almost jabbed her eye with her eyeliner. “Excuse me?”
Dorothea smirked. “I used to look at Bertie the same way, when he was in uniform.”
“Oh, you mean before you eloped with a man going to war?”
Dorothea laughed. “I wanted to give him a reason to come home.”
Davina tsked, turning back to the mirror, trying to ignore her sister’s annoying laughter. Thinking of her brother made Davina’s heart sink. He had been so keen to fight when he turned eighteen in January 1918, the last year of the war. Only he didn’t come home.
“Maybe if Charles had a reason to come home, he would have fought harder.”
Dorothea hung her head. “I think the same way too.”
“I miss him so much.”
“So do I, Dav. So do I.”
“I just wish they’d sent him back to us…” She trailed off, thinking of Charles’ body lying somewhere, forgotten and broken on the bloody battlefields of Amiens. If she had seen his body, even a casket, she could accept his death—but there had been nothing. It was as if Charles Wentworth had been swallowed into the mists of time.
Sinjun and Bertie searched for a year. Bertie wanted to bring peace to the family, as he was a part of it. Sinjun searched for her, because of her broken heart. Another reason she felt she had to marry Sinjun. He loved Charles as much as she did. Charles would have been happy with her choice.
“Enough sad talk,” Dorothea said, with a waver in her voice as though she were holding back tears. “The American’s name is George Dyson,” she said, changing the subject.
“How do you know?”
“I have my ways.”
“Why are you so interested in the American? You’re a married woman.”
Dorothea grinned. “Who wouldn’t be interested in him? I may be married but I’m not blind. Besides, the ladies are starting to fawn over Mr. Dyson instead of Mr. Garr. Aren’t you heartbroken?”
Davina snorted and finished her beauty regimen. She stood and wandered over to the full-length mirror. She adored this dress, even though she was a tomboy at heart,
she had a weakness for designers and shopping. The silver beads sparkled against the black fabric, a special design by Patou. She turned sideways, admiring the way the back was cut almost down to her bottom. Though it was scandalous, she loved it.
“What is the Admiral going to say when he sees that dress?”
“Father won’t notice, besides I’m as good as married.” Her smile disappeared. Thinking of the American’s dimpled grin and twinkling blue eyes sent her pulse racing again. She spun around one more time; the door opened and Bertie, resplendent in his tux and white bow tie, came in. He whistled.
Davina chuckled. Dorothea sent her husband a venomous look, which instantly quelled him.
“Guests are starting to arrive and the Admiral is demanding his daughters be there to greet them.” Bertie held out his arm. Dorothea rose and linked arms with her husband.
“Are you coming, Dav?” she asked.
“I’ll be there in a moment.”
Dorothea nodded before exiting the room with Bertie. Davina sighed, heading once more to the window. Her room faced Brooklands, not that she could see the racetrack from her vantage point, but knowing it was there was just as good.
She wished she could have dinner in the club afterward, like all the other drivers. The first time she went to Brooklands, as Davina and not David, Bertie had taken her to lunch in the clubhouse. The treacle pie was the best she had ever eaten, while the smell of exhaust and the excitement of the races captured her imagination.
Racing as David, she couldn’t go to the clubhouse after a race. She knew from gossipmongers that David Garr was a reputed enigma. There were many rumors swirling about him, including one that said he was the illegitimate son of the late Kaiser Wilhelm, which made her chuckle because the man, who had started said rumor, was a
dastardly rake and a bit insane. Still, the rumors swirled about David, but no one suspected David of being a woman.
Sighing with resignation, she left her bedroom and made her way to the winding staircase. Her father, sister and Bertie stood in the entranceway greeting guests. As she came down the stairs, Sinjun glided out from behind her father and met her halfway up, proffering his arm.
His eyebrows rose as he looked her up and down, but he said nothing further about her attire. He did, however, kiss her hand more fervently than usual.
“I want you to meet someone, darling.” Sinjun’s voice had an overly excited edge to it. He led her over to where her father was talking to a tall man.
“Darling, this is the man I’m sponsoring at Brooklands. Mr. Dyson, may I present my fiancée, Davina Wentworth.”
The American turned around. Davina’s face heated when his strong, tanned hand grasped hers. The softness of his lips, as they brushed a hot kiss across her knuckles, accentuated the roughness of the calluses on his fingers, setting her nerve endings on fire.
“A pleasure to meet you, Miss Wentworth.”