For the last day of my Under the Mistletoe series, I want to share one of my all-time favorite mistletoe scenes. It takes place between Cassie Boulton and Calder Westing in Abigail Reynolds's The Man who Loved Pride and Prejudice (formerly titled, Pemberley by the Sea). Anyone who has read Abigail's books knows just what a talented writer she is. She is queen of creating passion-filled, tension-filled scenes, and this one does not disappoint! I hope you enjoy this mistletoe scene between Cassie and Calder as much as I do! And if you have yet to read this Pride and Prejudice modern adaptation, I hope you soon will!
Excerpt from The Man Who Loved Pride and Prejudice by Abigail Reynolds
As Cassie moved into the next room she caught sight of a familiar form. She felt a lurch within her at the memory of Calder Westing, but it was just her overactive imagination at work. He couldn’t possibly be there. Still, she found herself glancing over in the direction of the unknown man until he turned enough that she could see his face. Her breath caught. It was him. A sudden memory of that night at the beach came to her, and she felt herself blushing.
Fortunately, he hadn’t seen her, and she began to edge away. She wasn’t precisely sure why she wanted to avoid him, beyond a vague thought he would question her presence there, or that somehow he might know just how often he had crossed her mind since their last meeting in August.
She made her escape successfully to the living room, but didn’t find Tim there, only a group of older women sitting close together and gossiping. Feeling out of place, she continued into the dining room, and then the hallway, where she found herself face to face with the very man she was trying to avoid.
The look on his face bespoke his astonishment at finding her there. Astonishment, and no particular pleasure, at least as far as she could see.
“Cassie Boulton,” he said slowly.
His deep voice stirred memories in her, but she wouldn’t be intimidated by his presence. Raising an eyebrow mockingly, she said, “Calder Westing. We both get full points for excellent memory for names.”
“What are you doing here?”
As if it was against the law for her to show up at a fancy party! “As it happens, I was invited. But you needn’t worry. I know how to mind my manners in polite company, and I even washed my hands before I came. You can always pretend not to know me if I commit some terrible faux pas. And what are you doing here?”
His eyes moved down her body, making her feel hot inside. “The Crowleys are old friends of mine. I’m spending Christmas here. Running away from home, if you like. Is your family from this area?”
“No, I’m just visiting. I don’t get done with work until just before Christmas, with grades being due. It’s too complicated to travel a long way on Christmas Eve, so I usually spend it with friends here.” She felt like she was babbling. She tried to ignore the part of her brain that wanted to find out if he still smelled like evergreens and dark spice, to feel his skin under her fingertips.
A well-dressed older man came past and nudged Calder in the arm. “Westing, you lucky devil, you managed to catch a pretty one! All I found under the mistletoe this year was Mildred Samuelson.” He pointed above them.
Cassie’s eyes traveled upwards to discover the sprig of mistletoe in the arch above them. She brought her hand up as if to hold Calder at bay, and said quickly, “There’s no need. It’s just an accident of timing.”
“Can’t break with tradition, can you, Westing?” the older man said with a broad wink.
Calder smiled slowly, and said in a tone of discovery, “You’re right. I am a lucky devil.”
She felt mesmerized as his fingers touched her cheek gently. Slowly he leaned toward her until his lips caressed hers gently, and in a rush of sensation she was transported back to the last time she felt his kiss. He took advantage of her moment of weakness to tease her lips apart with his tongue.
Desire raced through her as he gently explored her mouth, drawing an undeniable response from her. Nothing had changed. Despite everything, he still had that unique power to arouse her.
She was so caught up in the pleasure of his lips on hers that she hardly noticed his arms going around her. Nothing could be more natural than for her to slip her arms around his neck. He groaned softly against her mouth as their bodies finally met, and she understood perfectly. The feeling of his body against hers sent an electric current of desire through her, fueling the ache deep within her where she had felt empty for months. With a sigh of pleasure, she arched against him, luxuriating in the feeling of his body pressing against her breasts.
Their tongues danced in an age-old manner, familiar from memories she had replayed so often, but with a new life. Finally, he released her lips, leaving her looking at him breathlessly. His hand lightly caressed her lower back, each movement creating a greater need in her.It took an effort to remember where they were and how inappropriate this was. At least the older man had disappeared, probably embarrassed by their display. With a sense of shock, she realized how very close she was to giving him whatever he wanted, all for a kiss under the mistletoe she had tried to avoid.
*Excerpt provided by the author and used with author's permission
Mmm-mmm-mmm! Now you can see why I enjoy this story so much! If you have yet to read any of Reynolds's Woods Hole Quartet, you must. The Man Who Loves Pride and Prejudice remains one of my favorite modern adaptations.
A modern love story with a Jane Austen twist.. .
Marine biologist Cassie Boulton has no patience when a modern-day Mr. Darcy appears in her lab on Cape Cod. Proud, aloof Calder Westing III is the scion of a famous political family, while Cassie's success is hard-won in spite of a shameful family history.
When their budding romance is brutally thwarted, both by his family and by hers, Calder tries to set things right by rewriting the two of them in the roles of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice...but will Cassie be willing to supply the happy ending?
Abigail Reynolds is a great believer in taking detours. Originally from upstate New York, she studied Russian and theater at Bryn Mawr College and marine biology at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. After a stint in performing arts administration, she decided to attend medical school, and took up writing as a hobby during her years as a physician in private practice.
A life-long lover of Jane Austen’s novels, Abigail began writing variations on Pride & Prejudice in 2001, then expanded her repertoire to include a series of novels set on her beloved Cape Cod. Her most recent releases are MR. DARCY’S REFUGE, MR. DARCY’S LETTER, A PEMBERLEY MEDLEY, and MORNING LIGHT, and she is currently working on a new Pemberley Variation and the next novel in her Cape Cod series. A lifetime member of JASNA and a founder of the popular AUSTEN AUTHORS group blog, she lives in Wisconsin with her husband, two teenaged children, and a menagerie of animals. Her hobbies do not include sleeping or cleaning her house.
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