Need a last minute gift idea? Look no further. When it comes to Christmas, nobody nailed it like the Victorians! They introduced us to Christmas cards. They popularized Christmas trees to the English speaking world. They even brought us Scrooge (not McDuck – that other one). When it comes to gifts, they’ve got you covered.
In an age where you can buy heroin and opium over the counter and you’re encouraged to rub mercury on yourself – really, what have you got to lose? Coming soon: Gullibility Pills
The Rocking Bath
What’s more fun than getting a few hundred gallons of water to eventually slosh back and forth, you ask? Mopping up hundreds of gallons of water! It’s a bath and a workout!
For the hipster in your life, who thinks that standard unicycles are just too mainstream. This little number is sure to get you noticed. And should you fall over, say from a slight breeze or a child’s nudge, you can escape with 50% of your dignity intact!
This stylish gentlemen is doffing his hat to the ladies as if to salute their superior taste in wheels and to encourage them to disregard whatever the hell he’s doing with his other hand.
Gun in a boIt’s like a Swiss army, but instead of scissors and tweezers, this features a gun and a lighter. For people who like to havee a smoke after a little gunplay.
For the dictator who has everything. Artillery that is sure to destroy all your enemies, your loved ones, yourself, etc.
Once the gifts are exchanged, it is time to party! And sometimes at parties even the best of us can overindulge. Below is an excerpt from my upcoming novel, “Not Quite Darcy.” Eliza has been sent on a mission – from 2015 to Victorian London to repair something that has gone wrong in the timeline. Her dream of living the life of a wealthy Lady is dashed, however, and she finds herself in the role of a maid. In this scene she’s found her employer – shy, sweet William – has gotten a little drunk at a ball. He’s trying his damnedest to deny his attraction to her, but all that whiskey has loosened his tongue considerably.
Not Quite Darcy
“You didn’t have a very good time at the party?” Eliza asked. “Did you meet anyone?” She hesitated, then forced herself to push on. It was her mission here, after all. “Any Americans, perhaps?”
“A few Americans, yes.” William rubbed his face. “A Miss Florence Shumway favored me with a dance.”
“That sounds nice.” Eliza had to think of something more substantial to say here. She’d been looking for clues about her mission for two long weeks. Now that an American had landed in her lap, with William attached, her mind was so flooded with jealousy she couldn’t find words.
“Does it sound nice?” He seemed genuinely perplexed. “Yes, I suppose it does.”
“You don’t like balls?” she asked.
“I find myself terribly flummoxed around these types.” He ran his fingers through his hair. “It’s all the witty banter and the ladies doing incomprehensible things with their fans. The dancing? I’m dreadful.”
“I bet you’re not. I think you’d be a fine dancer.”
He shot her a look of incredulity, then looked down at his hand. He seemed surprised by its empty condition. When he spied the whiskey bottle on the floor, he snatched it up and took another swig.
“For you dancing would be just like boxing,” Eliza said.
“God, I should hope I’m not so dreadful that ladies confuse my dancing for a fighting bout!” He looked more than a little crestfallen.
Eliza laughed. “No, William. I mean that if you have the ability to box, you have the ability to dance. You started out badly at boxing and you got better. Remember?”
She reached out to touch his non-liquor-filled hand. Lightly, she ghosted her fingertips across the knuckles where his boxing injuries were beginning to fade. At her touch, he inhaled sharply, his lips thinning to a line, eyes closed.
“How about you give the booze a rest and lie down for a while?” She carefully removed the bottle from his fingers and placed it on a side table.
“Yes, that sounds like a capital notion. I fear that the copious amounts of alcohol have made me—” He interrupted himself with a hiccup. “Not okay, as you put it in song earlier today. I’m not entirely certain what okay means, but I’ve a certainty that whatever the word means, I am not it.”
He’d let his mask slip before tonight, but never to this degree. He seemed an absolutely different creature, at once terrifying and thrilling.
“Even sober,” William said, “the things you say confound me. Simply being in your presence, I feel a strange dizziness. You are a mystery, wrapped in a puzzle, surrounded by a cryptic—did I say mystery yet?”
“William, the best thing for you right now is to sleep this one off.” She took his hand and tugged him toward the connecting door to his bedroom. He offered no resistance.
Once she’d led him to the bed, he sank down onto it, legs dangling over the side. It wouldn’t do to undress him, even partially. No matter how drunk he was, his Victorian sensibilities would sound a full alarm should she do anything so scandalous.
She figured the least she could do was to remove his shoes. She slid them off and then swung his legs up onto the bed. Since he was lying on top of the covers, she retrieved the spare quilt from the wardrobe and tucked it around his still frame.
“I’m so dreadfully sorry, Elisha.” He looked up at her, embarrassment written plainly on his face.
“You’ve absolutely nothing to be sorry for, William. You got wasted and went a little emo. You’re human. It’s allowed.” She leaned over to remove his eyeglasses and place them on his bedside table. Without their usual glass barrier, his blue gaze was shockingly intense.
“I’m behaving like a perfect ass.” His unruly hair had fallen into his eyes again and he tugged it out of the way.
Eliza looked down at him, resisting the urge to soothe him. To smooth out his tangled mess of curls. To run her fingers along his cheeks and whisper that everything was going to be all right. She couldn’t.
She balled her hands into fists and tucked them to her sides.
“William, I have to ask you something and I hope very much that you’ll be honest with me. I’d like to know—is there a secret you’re hiding from me?”
“A secret?” He blinked. “You know my secret, Elisha.” He held his fists up in a boxing position and grinned at her shyly.
Even wasted and miserable, he was absolutely charming. She couldn’t help but laugh out loud. And she hated to take advantage of his drunken state, she really did. But if he was her key to this mysterious American and her mission here—this might be her only way of finding out what he knew. “I mean—another secret.”
He dropped his gaze in that typical way of his and tugged on his hair.
“It’s just that,” she continued, “I get the feeling you’re hiding something from me. There’s times when you won’t look at me and just…if there’s anything you want to talk about…”
“There is nothing I can speak with you about, Elisha.” He kept his gaze on his bedspread. “Even in fan language, I could not say it.”
She couldn’t fathom what he meant. He was too drunk. She knew the wisest thing to do would be to go to bed and she turned toward the door. “Good night then, William.”
He sat up suddenly, and leaned toward her. “Do you consider me to be a good man? Am I a gentleman, do you think?”
His expression was heartbreakingly earnest and she had to answer with raw honesty. “I have never met a gentler one.”
“I try to be a gentleman. I do what I ought and not what I desire. ’Tis the mark of a gentleman, Mother says.”
He startled her by reaching out as if to hold her hand. Her fist unclenched in anticipation of his touch, but he pulled away suddenly, tucking his hands under the quilt. “Am I a gentleman to you, Elisha?” He looked up at her, blue eyes blazing behind a curtain of too-long lashes. “Is my behavior correct?”
“It’s imperative to me that I am a gentleman to you. That I behave honorably. I cannot long to touch your hair, so vibrant. When I’m near you my hands tremble, longing to feel the strands slide between my fingers like a velvet curtain.”
His hand slid out from the covers and began pulling nervously on his hair. “If you state something as true, with enough conviction, perhaps that thing really would become true. If I told you that I didn’t think of you at the ball tonight, perhaps you’d believe me. And that I did not imagine you, gowned and resplendent. You belong there, you know. More than any of those other females, ruddy peahens. When you speak, I would never consider your mouth nor think of your lips, how soft they appear. How those lips would feel upon my mouth, upon my skin. They can’t feel as soft as they look, can they?”
Tears filling her eyes, Eliza could only look at him.
“A gentleman would never think these thoughts and so I—never think them.” He tilted his head and gave her a quizzical look. “Do you expect I will remember this in the morning? With all your strange accumulation of knowledge from the place that you come from that is not Yorkshire, nor do I think is entirely America—what do you know of drunkards and what they can remember?”
“I’m pretty sure you’ll forget most of it, William.” She hoped she sounded more certain than she felt.
He sank into his bed, his eyelids falling down like window shades. “Thank Christ for small favors then. I should think I would be mortified if I were to recall being so honest with you. To say nothing of all the fucking swearing I’ve engaged in.”
Quietly, she turned and let herself into the hall. She felt her way back to her room down the darkened hall. The world seemed to have turned on one end with William’s words. Torn between elation and fear, a thousand unanswerable questions filled her mind. She had no answers, none at all, and only hoped that come morning he’d remember little of the night’s confession.