My Hero

by Camilla Kelly



“This is pretty unexpected,” I said, tying the belt of my dressing gown more tightly and sitting gingerly on the edge of the sofa. Now that the shock of his arrival was wearing off, it embarrassed me that my guest had found me while I wasn’t properly dressed.

He moved from his place in front of the fire to sit opposite me, on my new futon, arranging his rapier at his side as he did so. His riding boots sank into the deep pile carpet.

“I really must beg your forgiveness for the intrusion, miss,” he said, looking at me with such a sweetly apologetic expression that I melted a little.

I glanced at the regency romance I’d been reading – some literary comfort food after my row with Harry earlier in the evening. I’d left it face down on the coffee table while I’d nipped to the kitchen to make a cup of tea.

“But,” I said in a squeaky voice, “I only left it open a crack.”

“I couldn’t resist the opportunity,” he said. “In truth, I was looking for an escape.”

“Oh!” I said. “From the evil minions your jealous cousin sent to kidnap you.”

That’s where I’d been in the story.

My guest – whom I was coming to accept was Devlin McCawber, the dashing Duke of Reedford – shook his head and stretched out his legs, beginning to relax.

“Lord, no. They’re hardly worth troubling over.” He gave me a cocky smile.

The fact that he was so handsome and dashing and I’d practically fallen in love with him as I read his adventures went a long way to calming my initial hysteria when I’d returned, with a cup of tea in one hand and a chocolate biscuit in the other, to find him in my previously empty living room. Now I was just feeling amazed and more than a little excited.

A real romantic hero, sitting on my futon!

“No,” he went on, “I just needed a brief time away from Catherine.”

Lady Catherine?”

“Please don’t misunderstand me. She is, of course, everything that’s bright and good in the world and I love her madly. Only…sometimes…” He waved a hand, searching for the word, and gave up with a sigh. “You understand?”

I stared at him. It was shocking to think their relationship was less than perfect. But oddly consoling too.

“Yes,” I said. “I understand.”

He sank further into the soft furnishings, the point of his sword raising the corner of the rug.

“It becomes a little exhausting sometimes, everything so dramatic.”

“I can imagine…”

He looked at me earnestly. “You have a beau? Perhaps a husband?”

I thought about Harry.  His tousled hair and faded jeans. Was he a beau? The word didn’t seem to suit him. But he wasn’t a husband yet, either.

“Um…something like that.”

“Yes?” He glanced over my dressing gown and fluffy slippers. I blushed. “He’s not here?”

“He’s gone to the pub.”


He waited for me to continue. He really did have an excellent sense of intuition and attentiveness. And I’d never seen such lovely eyelashes on a man.

“We had a bit of a row,” I said. “He forgot our anniversary.”

“No wonder you were angry.”

“That’s right!” I was pleased he saw my point of view. “I mean, after two years together, that’s still early enough for me to expect the romance not to have gone out of our relationship –”

“And long enough to make your anniversary worth celebrating.”


He shook his head sadly. “It’s a terrible thing. Perhaps he had a good excuse.”

“No excuse,” I said. “None at all.”

“Catherine’s the same. She’ll never explain herself.”

“And then they make you feel you’re being unreasonable.”

“I know exactly what you mean.”

We fell into a companionable silence. He gazed into the electric fire wistfully.

“This is nice,” he said eventually. “Having someone to talk to.”

I felt it had helped me too.

“Lady Catherine doesn’t know how lucky she is,” I told him.

He gave me a mocking smile. It was the same smile I knew for a fact made Lady Catherine’s knees go weak. And she wasn’t the only one.

“Oh, I think she does,” he said. “In truth, I think we both know how lucky we are.”

See, despite it all, he knew they were destined to be together. But real life wasn’t so certain. Two years Harry and I had been together, and the marking of an anniversary was, to my mind, as much of a promise for the future as a celebration of the past. But Harry had only said he didn’t need a special day to show me how he felt.

I said that was the perfect excuse for someone who forgot his anniversary.

But did I really need flowers and chocolates to prove that he loved me? Or, like Lady Catherine, was it something I already knew?

“I think I’m lucky too,” I said eventually. “But a little romance would be nice.”

“Ah, everyone needs a little romance.”

He made a big sigh, then began to move, as if he were preparing to leave.

“You wouldn’t like a cup of tea before you go, would you?” I said, hoping for a few more minutes of his company.

His face lit up.

“That would be lovely. Must keep my strength up against my evil cousin.”

He followed me out towards the kitchen.

“This cousin of yours,” I said doubtfully, “he’s not likely to turn up in my living room, is he?”

Before he could answer, the front door opened. And there was Harry, only slightly drunk, with a huge bunch of tulips. My favourite.

“Oh, Harry!”

But the bashful sweetness Harry arrived with soon disappeared.

“Who’s this?” he demanded.

“This must be the scoundrel who jilted you this evening in favour of the drink,” Devlin said. And, when Harry couldn’t see, he winked at me.

“What on earth –?” Harry spluttered. He tossed the flowers aside. “What’s it got to do with you?”

“What do you think?” Devlin asked pleasantly.

Harry seemed to weigh his options. He blanked Devlin and turned to me. “Look, I’m sorry about earlier. You were right. I’ve made reservations at the Grand Hotel to make it up to you.”

“And you think that’s enough?” Devlin asked.

“Samantha,” Harry said, completely tuning Devlin out. He softened his voice. “I love you. You mean the world to me. Do you really need to hear me say it?”

I smiled. He was doing a fairly good job himself of making my knees go weak.

“Yes,” Devlin said before I could answer. “And often.”

Harry had had enough. He picked up the umbrella from the rack beside the front door and brandished it like a sword. “Right. Come on then, Captain Cavalier.”

Devlin raised an eyebrow. He didn’t seem particularly intimidated.

“Harry,” I cried. “Would you really fight for me?”

He glanced at his pink dotty umbrella, then at the Duke’s lethal-looking sword. He took a breath but didn’t falter. “Apparently.”

“Well, that’s enough to satisfy me,” Devlin said.

“Me too!” I cried. “I forgive you.”

I rushed towards Harry and leaped into his arms, kissing his face all over.

Devlin, grinning, withdrew to give us some privacy. “I should be getting back to the evil minions.”

“Good luck with that,” I called, as he went back to the living room.

“You too!” he replied.

“What on earth is going on?” Harry said.

He let go of me and followed Devlin into the living room. It was, of course, empty.

There was only my book, which had fallen to the carpet, its pages closed.

©2009 Camilla Kelly

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