When I start to write a new story, I flesh out my characters to see what makes them tick. In my latest story, my heroine had a terrible past. She was told at a young age while she was in school that her family had died in a house fire. The man who told her this devastating news then ruined her life by selling her to the villain - Richard Macgregor who taught orphans how to pick-pocket. These orphans ranged from seven or eight years of age to sixteen or seventeen. He controlled them and they were afraid of making him upset because he'd whip them.
The Industrial Revolution became notorious for employing children in factories and mines and as chimney sweeps. In fact...did you know that Charles Dickens worked at the age of twelve in a blacking factory because his family was in debtors' prison?
Orphans weren't as lucky to work in factories, which is why most of them joined gangs and would steal to survive. Oliver Twist (written by Charles Dickens) is the story of an orphaned boy who was in one of these gangs. While writing my story, I wanted my heroine to remember the struggles she had in the ten years she was with Richard Macgregor and the other orphans. There were times while writing this story that I got emotional just thinking about the way of life for these poor waifs. Researching this definitely helped my story!!
I'd like to share with you a part of my story. In the beginning, the readers know my heroine (Louisa) is a pick-pocket. But within a couple pages, she's in an accident and loses her memory. The hero (Trevor) is the one who hit her with his curricle, and feels like he should keep her at his home working as a servant. Soon, she's gets the task of being the hero's children's nursemaid. At this point in the story she still does not remember her past. In this scene, heroine, hero and his children, are walking up the street to a pastry shop.
Trevor glanced at Louisa to ask if she would like a pastry, but she wasn’t looking toward the window. She focused on something behind him. Instead of her shy smile he’d watched for the past little while, a suspicious frown tugged on her lips.
Just as he turned to see what bothered her, another person bumped into him, making him stumble. “Forgive me for not seeing—” he began to say, but the vagabond didn’t stop.
Louisa gasped and jumped in the stranger’s path. As the young lad skirted around to avoid her, Louisa’s hand slipped in the boy’s pocket quick as a flash. The vagabond pushed her shoulder, aiming his glare right at her, opened his mouth to speak…but then stopped. Wide eyes stared at Louisa for a few seconds, before he sprinted into a run.
Shock washed over Trevor as he witnessed the scene. Her movement was so quick—so precise—he wondered if he’d actually seen what he had.
Louisa stood still, staring at the object in her hand. Her face void of color.
“What in heaven’s name—” Trevor snapped, but then noticed what she held out to him. My pocket watch? He dug inside his pocket—the same place he always kept his watch—but it wasn’t there. Words choked in his throat. The thief.
“Your Grace,” Louisa said in a shaky voice. “I could not allow him to steal from you.” She handed him the watch.
Still in shock, he shook his head. “How did you know he was stealing from me?”
“I…” She turned her head and stared at the direction the lad had run. “I saw him take your watch, and I knew I had to get it back.”
“But, Louisa,” Trevor stepped closer. “You took my watch right out of his pocket and he didn’t even notice.”
She gave a faint, emotionless chuckle. “I know.”
“How…” Trevor shook his head. Her wide eyes and colorless face told him this had been a mystery to her as well.
“Well,” he said, expelling his breath, “shall we venture into the shop and get some pastries for our drive home?”
Nodding, she folded her shaking arms. “Yes. That is a splendid idea.” She hurried to the twins and held their hand.
Trevor opened the door for the three before entering the shop. His mind whirled with unanswered questions but more with the fear that he knew what the answers were all along. By Louisa’s quick actions as she retrieved his watch, Trevor now realized what her past had been. The realization left a bitter taste to his mouth that no pastry would be able to remove.
"The Sweetest Touch" book #2 in my Regency Romance series.
Marie Higgins is a multi-published author of romance; from refined bad-boy heroes who makes your heart melt to the feisty heroines who somehow manage to love them regardless of their faults. Visit her website / blog to discover more about her – http://mariehiggins84302.blogspot.com