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Sophia de la Cerda

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About Sophia de la Cerda

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    Lady Toledo

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  • Title
    Countess

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  1. Sophia de la Cerda

    Lyrical Persuasion | Wednesday, early afternoon

    “How could I know?” Sophia pouted melodramatically. “You never played for me.” Music had, of course, figured into their conversations when she was under Francis’ care, but she couldn’t remember him mentioning that he could play the violin. Then again, she had caused so much trouble during that time that maybe he had never gotten the chance. She had been quite a problematic ward, which she still felt guilty for. Maybe she would get to make it up to him someday. Lord Buckingham praised Francis’ musical skills, albeit in an indirect and humorous way. Her former guardian seemed more irritated than pleased. Perhaps he felt a bit like she had a moment ago, since the Duke had been talking about him as if he was not present at all. Watching Buckingham raise a brow, Sophia thought he was pleasantly surprised and might ask her to demonstrate her accomplishments on the pianoforte for him in the Music Room. Her ice-blue eyes widened in horror at his warning that she might wind up with muscular fingers and beefy hands. Was he teasing her or was he serious? Glancing over at Francis, she could glean nothing from his expression. As she had long been told she had a musician's hands, she assumed that the Duke was jesting Hopping down from the fountain, her ample bosom bouncing in its frame of lace, she walked over to the Duke. “Perhaps I should be careful then. It hasn’t affected me yet, has it?” Though her demeanor was serious, her eyes sparkled with amusement as she held up one small, slender hand for his perusal. “Oh it was a most magnificent triumph!” Sophia exclaimed. “I believe it was the first full-scale opera ever performed in London. It’s such a new art form here. In Venice …” Sophia spread her arms out to the side and twirled again. “There were opera houses on almost every corner and people from all walks of life could enjoy the performances.” She stopped and tilted her head to the side. “Did you attend operas often when you were in Italy, Your Grace?” she asked him. “Do you miss them as much as I do?”
  2. Sophia de la Cerda

    Lyrical Persuasion | Wednesday, early afternoon

    Sophia was trying to act more like an Englishwoman now that she understood some of their ways. But while you could take a young lady out of Germany, you couldn’t take Germany out of the young lady. Germans were blunt by nature, direct in their thinking and in their speech. Perhaps with time she would master the art of subtlety. Practice made perfect, after all, and the petite singer definitely needed a lot more practice. Naive and still innocent about many things, she thought the Lord Buckingham was impressed with her compliments. He certainly seemed amused about Francis’ ability to sing.Her former guardian blushed as if she had embarrassed him. Had he not wanted the Duke to know what a fantastic voice he had? Sophia anxiously bit her lower lip. She didn’t want to upset him. Maybe she should have said nothing at all. But after the initial surprise, he seemed to regain his sense of humor. “You’re welcome,” she replied to both gentlemen. She listened to the exchange between Duke and Baron and understood Francis’ reaction a bit better. Did he have to do everything Lord Buckingham said? It seemed a bit odd that one of the King’s gentleman was at the Duke’s beck and call, but it wasn’t her place to question. In fact, she was beginning to wonder if she even had a place here at all. They seemed more interested in conversing with each other than with her. If she slipped away, would they even notice? Sophia felt like an afterthought. Perhaps this whole idea had been a mistake. “Lord Kingston plays the violin?” she asked. Glancing over at Francis, she grinned teasingly. “And I thought I knew all your secrets. Perhaps we can play together someday.” Her full attention turned to Buckingham. “I’m learning to play the pianoforte, Your Grace, and I’ve been taking lessons for a little over a year.” Her legs kept swinging back and forth beneath her skirts. “But I don’t play nearly as well as I sing. I don’t think I ever thanked you for sponsoring Master Cole’s and Master Greyson’s opera last season. None of us could have pulled it off so successfully without you. His Majesty seemed to enjoy it and so did his guests"
  3. Shortly after Charles disappeared inside the house, Sophia’s carriage slowed and stopped. The driver helped her out and her bodyguard preceded her to the double doors and knocked (or rang the doorbell, if there was one). As she waited, her teeth worried hr lower lip and she wondered if she might get the chance to speak to Darlene alone after their adventure was concluded.
  4. Sophia de la Cerda

    Lyrical Persuasion | Wednesday, early afternoon

    Though Sophia was not aware of either gentleman’s thoughts, they were both right, though they might have been shocked if they knew that the conventional and proper Toledo condoned the affair. Well, one of them anyway. His effervescent young wife basked in Buckingham’s attention and when he complimented her beauty, she smiled disarmingly and performed another twirl, this one ending in a graceful curtsy. “Thank you, Your Grace.” She said nothing about Esteban, knowing that most Englishmen did not trust Spaniards. So much depended on the success of this informal audience with the Duke. “Thank you as well, my lord,” she said to Francis. She had learned a lot during her first year at court, including the proper etiquette of addressing the highest ranking gentleman first. The young Countess beamed when he teased her. She considered dipping her hand in the water and splashing him playfully, but decided not to. It was possible a few errant droplets might land upon the Duke. “I promise you are safe from impromptu baths and ringing ears, at least from me.” Sophia hopped upon the lip of the fountain, swinging her legs back and forth beneath her skirts. Only the tips of her coral shoes, embroidered with yellow flowers, could be seen. Her nervousness was returning quickly but she tried her best to ignore it. “How fortunate I am to be in the company of two such handsome gentleman on this beautiful day, both of whom share my love of music.” She grinned at the Duke. “I have heard much of your musical genius, Your Grace, though I have never had the privilege of hearing your play. I do hope to receive that honor someday. As for Lord Kingston, have you heard him sing? He has a splendid tenor voice.” The petite blonde didn't want to embarrass Francis, but she had always been impressed with his ability to sing so well without any training.
  5. What did one wear when skulking around the docks looking for trouble? Sophia had no idea, and even if she did, she probably didn’t have the appropriate attire in her closet. Maybe Darlene had gathered some suitable clothing for them to dress in. Her new friend always thought of everything and the petite singer wished that she could be just like her. She did have a few peasant dresses she had used while disguising herself as a commoner during her first season in London. How long ago that seemed now, though barely a year had passed by. So much had happened during that time. She had impressed the King and Queen with her voice, she had made many friends, and she had fallen in love with her very own handsome Prince. Now she was the wife of the Spanish Ambassador and pregnant with his master’s child. Unless Henry was the father. She had been thinking about that possibility more often lately, and now believed that a plan should be made as how to handle that scenario should it occur. But she could forget that worry tonight and simply enjoy a forbidden adventure with Darlene and her dearest Eros. The thought of seeing Charles again made her tremble as Anna dressed her in a beautiful violet silk gown liberally trimmed with beaded Venetian lace. The hue was a bit darker than what she usually wore, and she was surprised that it didn’t make her porcelain complexion look even more pale. Then again, her cheeks had a rosy glow these days and her pale blue eyes sparkled with contentment. Sophia peered in her full-length mirror while Anna fastened her lavender silk stomacher in place and adorning it with a stomacher brooch that nearly covered it and was made of artfully-arranged pearls with a large amethyst set in silver filigree in the center. Her necklace, bracelets, earrings, rings, and hair ornaments matched the stomacher brooch perfectly. As the evenings were still cold for a lady who had spent so much time in Venice, she put on a white hooded cloak lined with fluffy fur before she stepped into the brisk night air. The young Countess nearly rolled her eyes when she saw Karl sitting with the driver of her carriage. At least her bodyguard would be confined to the servant’s quarters and would be unaware when she and Darlene left the house. She hummed softly to herself while the carriage moved down the streets. It wasn’t long before the Oakham residence came into view. What she could see of it was quite lovely. Perhaps Darlene would show her around during the day sometime soon. The most intriguing sight, however, was the fine figure of her Eros standing at the door waiting to be admitted. Sophia’s heart skipped a beat when she beheld him and delightful sensations rippled through her small form. The carriage slowed. He would probably be inside by the time she alighted. It was definitely best that way. Anna had warned her that Karl suspected that she was spending too much time with other gentleman and she didn't want those suspicions to fall upon Charles. She adored him beyond all reason and didn't think she would be able to bear it if they could no longer see each other again.
  6. Volary Garden Between the Privy Stairs and the location of the old Privy Gallery lay the Volary Garden, the aviary of King Charles II. On the other side it opened to the Kings Apartment, most particularly to the Kings Closet, also known as his Laboratory. Four large statues representing ancient Greek goddesses graced the corners of the garden, which was filled with all matter of cages, filled with fowl. Pheasants, singing birds, peacocks, the most interesting amount of exotic birds, including parrots. Previously it was the site of the Kings Little Garden, which was the retreat of Charles I and forbidden to other nobles. Now however all were invited to share in the joy of the exotic, most especially the Maids of Honour, many of whom had their rooms open up to this private garden. Sophia tried her best not to look at the water as she sat in the boat that would take her to the palace. She could feel it sloshing against the sides and moving underneath her, but she was accustomed to that after several trips to Madrid. Whether it was the rocky motion or her anxiety, she felt a bit queasy and placed one hand on her stomach. Quiet down, little one, she whispered. Again, she felt one of those soft little flutters in her belly. She liked to think that it was the baby kicking, but it was a bit early for that and was probably only her imagination. It was a pleasant sensation and she smiled as the boat pulled up to the landing. Her ever-present bodyguard disembarked first and helped his mistress out of the boat. Sometimes Sophia wondered if Karl knew that she was pregnant. Would Esteban have spoken of such intimate matters with him? Probably not, but Anna might have told him. It wasn’t a secret. She assumed he was unaware of her arrangement with Juan and would believe the baby to be her husband’s. Anna was aware of the truth, but the middle-aged maidservant treated her mistress like a daughter and would never say anything to endanger her. Anna was one of the few people that Sophia trusted completely. The young Countess had taken Davina’s advice and worn sturdy boots and a warm cloak. The hood was pulled up to conceal her face. It was better that nobody saw the Queen’s maid-of-honor meeting with the wife of the Spanish Ambassador. Beneath the cloak was the same outfit she had worn earlier when meeting with Buckingham and Francis … a lovely gown of coral silk, embroidered all over with pale yellow flowers. It was trimmed in Venetian lace around the moderately cut neckline, beneath the each of the four puffs of her long sleeves and around the elongated bottom of her corset, forming a peplum. The sides of the skirt were pulled back with white lace bows so that her yellow silk underskirt, embroidered in pink flowers, could be seen. Her white-gold hair was arranged in its usual cascade of curls, held in place by combs featuring coral fabric flowers. Most of her jewelry was comprised of pearls, but around her neck she wore the cameo Juan had given her on a coral ribbon. It had seemed a bit odd to leave the gardens and go home just to take a boat back, but had she stayed, she might have been seen wandering around killing time. Sophia had wanted to check on her pets anyway. Her new puppy was adjusting well to her cat and monkey companions and they accepted her among them. Juliet and her kittens had been moved to another room so that the mama cat didn’t attack the new addition to her menagerie. The walk to the Volary garden was not far, and Sophia enjoyed the exercise. Just because she was pregnant didn’t mean that she had to sit around all day and be coddled. She believed it important to remain active for as long as possible. She smiled as the sound of birdsong reached her. Will Mistress Wellsley be waiting for me or will I have time to visit the parrots and see if they remember what I taught them? With that thought, she stepped into the garden.
  7. Sophia de la Cerda

    Lyrical Persuasion | Wednesday, early afternoon

    As she sang, Sophia noticed a butterfly light upon the edge of the fountain. She watched it flutter it’s beautiful wings. Had it been attracted to her song? The petite blonde adored butterflies and took its presence as sign that things would go well this afternoon. She was still a bit anxious, like she always was before a performance, but that was good. Being overconfident always led to failure, whether one was performing or trying to persuade someone into a certain course of action. The delicate creature suddenly took wing, and she turned to observe it flying away. It soared over the blond heads of Lord Buckingham and Lord Kingston, alerting Sophia to their imminent arrival. She relaxed a bit when she saw Francis. He was like a brother to her and his presence would give her encouragement and moral support, whether he knew it or not. Her voice stilled, the last perfect note hovering in the air as if reluctant to disappear completely. Immediately she dropped the Duke a perfect curtsy and then did the same to Francis. “That is why I sang, Your Grace,” she replied with a disarming smile. “I knew you would be able to follow my voice. “And I have a lot to sing about. It is such a beautiful day, is it not? Spring is my favorite season.” Sophia twirled with her usual youthful exuberance, her coral skirts billowing about her legs. When she stopped, she placed one hand on her belly. “This year new life is not only growing around me but within me as well.” She winked playfully. “But I promise I will not sing loud enough to shatter the fountain like I did to that vase full of roses.”
  8. Fountain In the middle of the Privy Garden there was a fountain. It was a simple thing... a wide round of water with a single statue in the middle, sprouting water. Unlike last year both the garden and the fountain had been well tended to, and as a result the fountain itself almost sparkled. Around it sit benches, nearly hidden by rose bushes, both red and white. So nervous that standing still was impossible, Sophia paced back and forth in front of the fountain. She had been looking forward to this moment since the Duke of Buckingham had agreed to meet with her, but now she wondered if she was up to the challenge. What if she failed? This was the only chance she was going to get to convince him to build an opera house in London. If he dismissed the idea as too risky or too expensive, there would be nothing else she could do. However, he loved music and the surprise she had promised him at her concert had pleased him. Those things could work in her favor. And Francis would accompany him. He must know what she hoped to accomplish today. Sophia had spoken of it often enough when she had been his ward. He had influence with the Duke which might be able to help her. Most of all, she wanted him here for moral support and because she didn’t feel comfortable being alone with Buckingham. Oh, he was charming and she loved to banter playfully with him, but he was formidable as well. Butterflies fluttered furiously in her stomach. They felt different than they usually did, a bit stronger and more erratic. She had been feeling them for a few days now, and not only when she was anxious. At first, she thought it might be the baby kicking, but it was much too early in her pregnancy for that. Wasn’t it? Juan’s child was making its presence known in other ways too. Her clothes seemed to fit more tightly every day and her belly was no longer completely flat. If it kept expanding at this rate, she would need her maternity gowns soon. For now, it was enough to just loosen her corset a bit. Sophia wanted to look her best today and was wearing a confection of coral silk, embroidered all over with pale yellow flowers. It was trimmed in Venetian lace around the moderately cut neckline, beneath the each of the four puffs of her long sleeves and around the elongated bottom of her corset, forming a peplum. The sides of the skirt were pulled back with white lace bows so that her yellow silk underskirt, embroidered in pink flowers, could be seen. Her white-gold hair was arranged in its usual cascade of curls, held in place by combs featuring coral fabric flowers. Most of her jewelry was comprised of pearls, but around her neck she wore the cameo Juan had given her on a coral ribbon. Hopefully, it would bring her luck. I’m going to need it, she sighed as she turned to look at the fountain spraying its liquid diamonds into the basin. The rhythmic bubbling usually soothed her and she breathed deeply and tried to concentrate on it. Singing calmed her as well, and perhaps her voice lifted in song would captivate the musically-inclined Duke and make him more amenable to her plan. At the very least, it would lead both gentlemen to her location. Closing her eyes, Sophia began to sing an aria from one of her favorite Italian operas, her sweet soprano voice soaring through the air on wings of exquisite and ethereal beauty.
  9. Sophia de la Cerda

    Easter 1678 | Easter Monday (11th all day)

    It seemed that all they could say to each other was ‘thank you,’ which was much preferable to telling each other where to go and what to do when they got there. John had every right to hate her, but nothing in his voice, expression, or body language indicated that he did. He was polite and courteous, and her opinion of him improved immensely. I shall speak well of him to my unmarried friends. Perhaps one of them will be fascinated enough seek out his company. She hoped her rejection had not turned him away from the notion of marriage altogether. Darlene and George seemed to be faring much better. They looked like they were flirting, and Sophia smiled when he kissed her new friend. Turning back to John, she cursed the blush that colored her cheeks. If John had seen, he chose not to say anything about it, once more rising in her estimation. “Your good wishes mean a lot to me,” she said. “I hope you enjoy the rest of your day.” In an attempt at levity, she added: “At least we don’t have to go to church again tomorrow.” With a respectful nod, she turned away from him and walked toward her carriage, expecting Karl to follow her. She remembered what Anna had told her about her bodyguard’s suspicions. Maybe he would tell Esteban he thought she was interested in John. That would definitely hurt his credibility, for she had told both her husband and Juan that she feared her guardian would choose John over Esteban. And they had both been there when she had boldly stated that she wished to marry Esteban.
  10. Sophia de la Cerda

    Easter 1678 | Easter Monday (11th all day)

    John looked as awkward as Sophia. At least he didn’t notice the naughty novel in her hand. Perhaps he thought it was a book of prayers. “Thank you,” she acknowledged when he complimented her on her marriage. “We will be …” Her voice trailed off. She had been about to say that they would be blessed with a child in early autumn, but stopped herself before she made him feel even worse. He was probably over her after all this time, but he had wanted to marry her last spring. If she had been amenable, the child might have been his. Or it could still possibly be Juan’s or Arundel’s. Sophia had already surrendered her virginity to Juan before she knew John was interested in her. He asked her if he could escort her to her carriage, and commented on Esteban’s absence. “My lord husband is Catholic,” she informed him. Spain was a Catholic country and its Ambassador did not have to hide his faith the way English Catholics did. Sophia was glad he didn’t attend church with her. It was one of the few occasions where she didn’t have to watch everything she said or did. Karl didn’t accompany her inside. “Thank you for the offer, but there is no need to walk me to my carriage. My bodyguard is waiting for me.” Sophia nodded toward Karl. “I’m glad that we ran into each other, though.” After a short contemplative pause, she added: “You are a good man, Sir John. I wish you all the happiness that you would never have been able to find with me.” (OOC: I’m also fine with wrapping this thread up.)
  11. Sophia de la Cerda

    Easter 1678 | Easter Monday (11th all day)

    George Churchill introduced her to John Burgoyne as if they had never met before. Sophia wasn’t surprised that he had not mentioned her, even to a very good friend. She did like the way George introduced her as a singer. After that amazing feat with the vase, perhaps she would become famous for her voice and be asked to sing at court events and private parties. She just hoped nobody expected her to shatter glass again. It was doubtful she would to be able to do it a second time, though she wouldn't give up attempting it during her morning practice. So far, she's had no luck. The blonde Countess curtsied to John and favored him with a winsome smile, hoping that he had forgiven her for what she had done last year. She expected that they would all converse together for awhile, but Darlene looped her arm through Churchill’s and reminded him of the promise she had recently told Sophia about. With the two of them occupied with each other, that left Sophia standing awkwardly with John. Would he ask her to stroll with him or would he tell her he needed to clean out his stocking drawer and flee? Realizing that the bawdy book was still clutched in one hand, she tried to ignore it, hoping that John wouldn’t ask her about it. However would she explain it? If only there was a nearby bush that she could toss it in. A soft rose blush colored her cheeks. She had to say something before he noticed the novel. “I have been hoping for an opportunity to speak to you again," she ventured shyly.
  12. Sophia de la Cerda

    Emerging-morning 13th of April (open)

    At least the lady was not angry at Diva. She seemed a bit wary of Aurora, but most people were when they saw the golden lion tamarin for the first time. In Italy, monkeys were common pets, but they were practically unheard of in London. Sophia had hoped to start a trend with Aurora but it had not worked out. Perhaps it was for the best. She could never be ignored with the brightly colored creature sitting on her shoulder or scampering ahead of her on her golden leash. “She’s perfectly tame.” She reached up and stroked Aurora’s soft fur. “And much less energetic than my puppy. You have nothing to fear from her.” The other blonde was quite good with dogs, scooping the little spaniel expertly into her arms. Sophia chuckled when she peeked underneath to see if she was a boy or a girl. It was so much easier to tell with dogs than with cats. “His Majesty presented her to me only yesterday,” she informed the woman. “I’ve ordered a collar and leash for her, but they won’t be ready until Thursday.” Her ice-blue eyes widened at the lady’s suggestion. “How clever! I wish I had thought of that. I don’t want to deprive you of your jewelry, though. If Diva pulls too hard, it might break. But I can use my own.” Turning to Anna, she instructed her to bring the pieces she would need. “Will you help me make it, my lady?” Remembering her manners, she smiled warmly. “I’m Lady Sophia de la Cerda, the Countess of Toledo and wife of the Spanish Ambassador.”
  13. Sophia de la Cerda

    Emerging-morning 13th of April (open)

    So far so good. Except for the stares. Sophia didn’t mind them, though. She would stare too if she saw a lady walking a puppy and a monkey at the same time. With Aurora’s leash in one hand and Diva’s ribbon wrapped around the other, she strolled down the path toward the duck pond. She was curious as to whether she would be able to handle the sight of water now that she was on her way to overcoming her fear of it. The last time she had been there was last spring and she had been so terrified that she had nearly fainted long before the pond came into view. This time would be different. She felt that it was important to expose herself to water more often so that eventually it would not scare her at all. It would probably be close to two years before she traveled to Spain again. There was plenty of time to completely conquer her fear. She would have a child then and it was imperative that she was no longer anxious around large bodies of water. If possible, she needed to learn to swim, so that her fate would not be the same as her poor mother's. And today she would be distracted by her two pets. Since both of them needed walking, why not take them out together? Diva’s collar and leash was not ready yet, but the braided ribbon she had brought when the King had given the spaniel to her would suffice until then. It was tied securely around the puppy’s neck, but not so tight it would choke her if she pulled at the end of it. The petite singer would not let her go like she had done yesterday, giving her no opportunity for mischief. Sophia kept them on either side of her, not yet trusting them to interact. She had only received Diva two days ago and Aurora was a bit wary of her barking and boundless energy. The golden lion tamarind spent most of her time up high, generally perched upon the beams of her canopy bed, cautiously surveying the newcomer. They had both behaved themselves in the carriage. Diva had sat on Anna’s lap while Aurora draped herself around her mistress’ shoulders. Her maidservant walked behind her now, ready to take one of the leashes if either puppy or monkey got out of hand. It was a slow walk, as she had to stop when either animal found something interesting to sniff. The young Countess smiled at the people who passed her. Some of them looked at her instead of her pets, hopefully admiring her sense of fashion. Today she wore a gown of lavender and blue striped silk, adorned with pink fabric flowers around the neckline, the bottom of her elongated bodice, and below each of the three puffs of her long sleeves. A wide pink ribbon encircled her expanding waist, tied into a bow with its ends trailing to her hemline. Atop her flaxen curls, she wore a cream-colored wide-brimmed hat, decorated with pink flowers and blue and lavender feathers. A simple necklace of pearls and a pair of matching earrings comprised her jewelry. Hanging from the center of the necklace was the cameo featuring her own profile that Juan had commissioned for her last year. A lady and a gentlemen on horseback galloped past them, startling both animals. Aurora hissed and leapt to her shoulder. Diva slipped out of her collar and darted ahead, running straight into a blonde lady wearing a gray dress. The spaniel landed on her butt, gazing up at the woman with big bright eyes. Sophia hurried over. “I’m sorry, my lady. I hope my puppy did not cause you harm.”
  14. Sophia de la Cerda

    Easter 1678 | Easter Monday (11th all day)

    Oakham and Toledo approaching Churchill and Burgoyne Sophia wrinkled her nose. She had been studying politics lately because she thought she needed to be informed now that she was an Ambassador’s wife, but she didn’t understand half of what she read. “It sounds boring to me.” Lifting her eyes from the bench of the pew, she grinned at Darlene. “But I’m sure you will liven things up. They will probably invite you back again and again.” As for the love letters: “Yes, the bawdier the better. Oooh, maybe they could even be written in another language and he will have to find somebody to translate them for him.” Though she was fluent in German and Italian and adequate in Spanish and French, she couldn’t write the letter herself. Her handwriting might be recognized and then Esteban would think she was having an affair with some random gentleman she had actually never met. After she discovered the racy book, her friend declared that the game bored her. Sophia joined Darlene as she moved toward the exit. In front of them was the gentleman that they had just been talking about and the gentleman that she had publicly embarrassed at a ball last year. She had nothing to fear from John Burgoyne now that she was married. He probably had no idea why she chose a Spaniard over him. Or maybe he did. She was a Countess now and most young ladies loved titles. They seemed to be discussing ladies. Darlene made a saucy comment, probably hoping to impress George. Sophia smiled at both of them, wondering how he would answer. What if they really had been talking about them? She didn't realize that the naughty novel was still clutched in one hand.
  15. Sophia de la Cerda

    Easter 1678 | Easter Monday (11th all day)

    Oakham and Toledo “Yes, we should keep looking, But first …” Memorizing how the pins were arranged and exactly what part of the bench they were embedded in, Sophia removed them and moved to the pew on the other side of the aisle, sticking them in the back of the bench in exactly the same pattern. “When they come looking for them, they will expect to find them where they left them and will discover them in this pew instead. Perhaps they will believe that they forgot which side of the aisle they were sitting on.” It was a subtle prank, but would definitely cause the culprit a bit of confusion. Moving to another one, she listened to Darlene’s suggestion. Of course she would come up with a better idea. A frog would be hard to smuggle into a search. Its croaking would give it away. Unlike most ladies, she had no qualms about catching one of the slimy creatures. She had caught quite a few as a lonely little girl growing up in a castle with a moat around it to keep others out. Entertainment often came in unusual forms. “See?” she asked with a grin. “You are much better at this than I. A love letter is a much better choice, the bawdier the better. We should do it next Sunday. I feel sorry for the gentlemen who sit in front of us.” Sophia had no idea what the Green Ribbon Club was, but the way Darlene described it, it must be an exclusive gentleman’s club. “Ooooh. He does sound daring and adventurous. Just be wary. He might want something in return that you’re not willing to give.” The petite blonde didn’t want to ruin her friend’s anticipation, but some gentlemen did not indulge ladies out of the goodness of their hearts. Then again, Darlene was a widow. Maybe she fancied George Churchill. There was nothing of interest in the pew she was searching, and she moved to yet another. "I hate to sound ignorant, but what is the Green Ribbon Club?"The cushion looked a bit lumpy, so she felt underneath it. Her fingers came in contact with a book and she pulled it out, glanced at the cover, and held it up. “Look … a racy novel! Someone wasn’t listening to the sermon today.”
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