Rebecca Cohen’s Saving Crofton Hall
Y’all know how much I love Rebecca Cohen’s books. Which means I’m so excited to have her here today. Since Rebecca has been here before I wanted to do something other than another interview (you can see her previous times joining me here). So I had her write a little scene about six months after the book ends. Let me tell you I love what she gave me. You can only read this scene here so read and enjoy! After the scene, read all about the book. At the very bottom enter for a chance to win a copy of the book.
From the window of his office, Ben watched Karen, the new wedding coordinator, show a prospective couple one of the areas of the grounds that had become a popular backdrop for wedding photographs. A knock quickly followed by the soft snick of the door handle made him turn to see Ashley enter.
“And to what do I owe the pleasure? I thought you had a meeting with a new wine merchant.”
“That’s tomorrow. I told you this morning before we got up.”
Ben crossed the room and stole a kiss. “How am I supposed to concentrate on what I’m being told when I’ve a naked Ashley Niven by my side?”
“Your excuses are getting worse, Ben. Like the time you said you didn’t remember you had to meet the mayor because I’d given you a blow job and sucked your brains out through your cock.”
“And I maintain that was a perfectly valid excuse.”
“You would.” Ashley snorted. “Anyway, I’m not here to distract you with memories of bedroom antics.”
“That was a desk antic,” interrupted Ben with a waggle of his eyebrows.
“I would apologize, but it would be empty and meaningless.”
Ashley ignored him. “Did you see Sir Gruesolot was back his rightful place?”
“Yes, marvelous, isn’t it? I spoke to the restorer this morning when he dropped him off. I daresay that suit of armor hasn’t looked that good since it was made.”
“I was amazed he was able to get the dent out of the visor.”
“I don’t know who your father found him with, and I don’t wait to,” Ben added quickly, the less he knew about the shady dealings of Ashley’s father the better. “But they made a right mess of Sir Gruesolot.”
“I don’t know who had him, but Dad said something about him being using for batting practice.”
Ben tutted. “Some people have no sense of history.”
“Well, no one can accuse you of that.”
Ben pulled Ashley closed. “Fancy sneaking away to make some more special memories for our own personal history?”
“I’m sure there must be one or two rooms we’ve not … explored in our unique manner.”
Ben grinned and headed for the door leading a willing Ashley. He was pretty sure the fourth guest room was in desperate need of exploration.
Benjamin Redbourn, Earl of Crofton, has no intention of giving up his beloved ancestral home without a fight. Faced with his mother’s gambling debts, forgery, and the possibility of foreclosure by the bank, Ben vows to make Crofton Hall pay for herself. But opening an Elizabethan manor house to the public isn’t a one man job. With time running out, Ben needs help—and fast.
Ashley Niven has experience managing events, and he also loves history. Being in charge of opening Crofton Hall is a dream come true. As he works with Ben to prepare the house as a venue for lavish weddings and receptions, Ashley finds himself drawn not just to the charm of the house but to the dashing Earl of Crofton. Even if Ashley can look past Ben’s playboy reputation, he fears an affair could prove too much of a distraction.
But Crofton Hall has many secrets, and something hidden for over four hundred years is about to change all their lives.
She wouldn’t meet his eye.
“Just short of five million to the bank.”
Ben lost his balance and landed heavily on his arse in a nearby chair.
“How the hell did you manage that? I only agreed to borrow five hundred thousand, and that was for essential repairs, and the estate could easily repay the loan in ten years.”
“I approached the bank with a business case for a visitor attraction.
They were very enthusiastic.”
“What gave you the right?”
“Your father left us both in charge of Crofton Hall, Benjamin,” she said sharply.
He glowered at her and she deflated.
“I needed the money, and the only way I could get it was to tell the bank I wanted to open Crofton Hall to the public.”
“And they agreed to lend the money without my permission?” he asked carefully, hardly believing his mother’s audacity, but getting the feeling he knew what she was going to say next.
“They might have been under the impression that you’d agreed to it, and I was acting on both our behalves.”
“Really. And how would they have thought that?”
“Your signature isn’t exactly hard to copy.”
Ben covered his face with his hands, understanding what his mother had done.
“I know I shouldn’t have, not without your permission, but I was desperate. And the bank thought our business plan was excellent.”
He looked up at her. Elena’s eyes were red from crying, but there was still an edge of defiance in her face. “How much is left?”
She shrugged. “A few thousand, maybe.”
“And you used Crofton Hall as security?”
The anger flashed through him, burning through his usual amicable nature. “How could you have been so stupid? Were you even thinking past your own selfishness?”
Elena cowered in her seat.
“You’ve ruined us, destroyed this family!”
“I didn’t mean—”
Ben didn’t want to hear her feeble excuses. “Oh, that’s all right, then.
We’ll tell the bank, you didn’t mean it, and they’ll forget all about it.”
Ben reined in his anger. Taking deep, slow breaths, he clenched and unclenched his fists as he regained his calm. He watched Catlin pace up and down. Harry stood slumped against the fireplace, shell-shocked. Now was not the time to panic. He needed to know exactly how much trouble they were in and deal with it. “Get me the paperwork.”
Without argument, Elena jumped to her feet and scurried over to the writing bureau in the corner. From the folds of frills and ruffles of her blouse, she fished out a key on a chain and unlocked the bureau. She drew out a sheaf of paper. “It’s all here.”
“Right, let’s hope my economics degree wasn’t for nothing.” Ben snatched the papers. “I suggest you all keep your distance until I’ve finished reading.”
He sank into a chair by the unlit fireplace, blocking out the angry thoughts as he scanned sheet after sheet. The figures danced before his eyes, and he saw the terms and conditions his mother had agreed to. The interest, compound interest, and payback terms were listed and categorized in black and white with no way of denying the facts. They were in deep shit, the bank would be at the door within weeks, and Ben seethed internally at his mother’s gall.
The effort she’d put into defrauding the bank was amazing, the business case had been full of fine details and promised an excellent return, but little help would that do them now.
Ben stared around the sitting room; generations of Redbourns had sat in here. Men who’d fought at Blenheim, Waterloo, and El Alamein —they would never have given in and surrendered Crofton Hall in the face of adversity. And it wasn’t about to happen while Ben was Earl of Crofton either. As much as he wanted to rail against it, their only hope was to convince the bank they were following through with the idea of opening the house to the public.
“We can probably sell the London apartment. That’ll raise around two million. Our trust funds are protected, so we can’t release the equity from those. If we’ve any hope of holding on to her, Crofton Hall is going have to earn her keep.”
Rebecca Cohen is a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, she has left London behind and now lives with her husband and baby son in Basel, Switzerland. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.
Dreamspinner Press eBook: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5725
Dreamspinner Press Paperback: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5726
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/
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Oh, such a neat idea. Crofton Hall in the modern world!
Loved the excerpt!!!
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