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Monday Puzzler > Conniptions - Puzzler May 4th

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message 1: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Hill | 487 comments I'm sure this is an easy one, but this part makes me laugh every time I read it!

“We’ll get brown,” Spring predicted, flopping onto a corner of the blanket with a pleasured sigh.
“And then Mama will have conniptions.”
“What are conniptions?” Summer asked, entertained by the American word. She dropped to the space beside Spring. “Do send for me if she has them— I’m curious to see what they look like.”
“Mama has them all the time,” Spring assured her. “Never fear, you’ll be well acquainted with conniptions before we all leave Hampshire.”

Spring scooped up the ball and threw it to Autumn, who snatched it from the air. “Stay at the third post, Summer,” Autumn called. “We’ll see if Winter can bring you back to Castle Rock.”
Looking nervous but determined, Winter took the bat and assumed a stance at the striker’s place.
“Pretend the ball is your Aunt Troll,” Summer advised, and a grin erupted on Winters’s face. Spring pitched a slow, easy ball, while Winter flailed with the bat. She missed, and the ball landed with a neat smack in Autumn’s palms. Throwing the ball back to Spring, Autumn repositioned Winter.
“Widen your stance and bend your knees a bit,” she murmured. “That’s a girl. Now watch the ball as it comes, and you won’t miss.”
Unfortunately Winter did miss, time and again, until her face was pink with frustration. “It’s t-too hard,” she said, her forehead puckered with worry. “Perhaps I should stop now and give someone else a turn.”
“Just a few more tries,” Summer said anxiously, determined that Winter should hit the ball at least once. “We’re in no hurry.”
“Don’t give up!” Spring chimed in. “It’s just that you’re trying too hard, Winter. Relax— and stop closing your eyes when you swing.”
“You can do it,” Autumn said, pushing a lock of silky dark hair away from her forehead and flexing
her slim, well-toned arms. “You almost connected with the last one. Just keep… watching …the ball.”
Sighing in resignation, Winter dragged the bat back to Castle Rock and lifted it once more. Her blue eyes narrowed as she stared at Spring, and she tensed in preparation for the next feed. “I’m ready.” Spring tossed the ball gamely, and Winter swung with grim determination. A thrill of satisfaction shot through Summer as she saw the bat strike the ball solidly. It soared into the air, far into the oak grove. They all whooped in jubilation at the splendid strike. Shocked at what she had done, Winter began to jump in the air, squealing, “I did it! I did it!”
“Run around the baskets!” Summer cried, and scampered back to Castle Rock. Gleefully Winter circled the makeshift Rounders field, her garments a blur of white. When she reached Castle Rock, the girls continued to jump and scream for no reason at all, other than the fact that they were young and healthy and quite pleased with themselves. Suddenly, Summer became aware of a dark figure rapidly ascending the hill. She fell abruptly silent as she ascertained that there was one— no, two— riders advancing to the dry meadow.
“Someone’s coming !” she said. “A pair of riders. Hurry, fetch your clothes!” Her low-voiced alarm cut through the girls’ jubilation. They stared at each other with wide eyes and burst into panicked action. Shrieking, Spring and Winter broke into a dead run toward the remains of the picnic, where they had left their dresses. Summer began to follow, then stopped and turned abruptly as the riders thundered to a halt just behind her. She faced them warily, trying to assess what danger they might present. Looking up at their faces, she felt a bolt of chilling dismay as she recognized them. Lord Autumn …and even worse… Summer’s Hero.

Once Summer met Hero’s stunned gaze, she could not seem to look away. It was like one of those nightmares that one always awoke from with a sense of relief, knowing that something so dreadful could never really happen. Were the situation not so completely to her disadvantage, she might have enjoyed the prospect of Summer’s Hero rendered absolutely speechless. At first his face was blank, as if he was having tremendous difficulty absorbing the fact that she was standing before him dressed only in a chemise, corset, and drawers. His gaze slid over her, slowly coming to rest on her flushed face. Another moment or two of suffocated silence, and Hero swallowed hard before speaking in a rusty-sounding voice.
“I probably shouldn’t ask. But what the hell are you doing?”
The words unlocked Summer from her paralysis. She certainly could not stand there and converse with him while she was clad in her undergarments . But her dignity— or the threads that remained of it— demanded that she not screech idiotically and dash for her clothes the way Winter and Spring were doing. Settling for a compromise, she strode briskly to her discarded gown and clasped it to her front as she turned to face Hero once more.
“We’re playing Rounders,” she said, her voice far higher-pitched than usual. Hero glanced around the scene before settling on her again.
“Why did you—”
“One can’t run properly in skirts,” Summer interrupted. “I should think that would be obvious.”
Absorbing that, Hero averted his face swiftly, but not before she saw the sudden flash of his
“Never having tried it, I’ll have to take your word on that.”
Behind her, Summer heard Spring say to Autumn accusingly, “I thought you said that no one ever comes to this meadow!”
“That’s what I was told,” Autumn replied, her voice muffled as she stepped into the circle of her gown and bent to jerk it upward. The earl, who had been mute until that point, spoke with his gaze trained studiously on the distant scenery .
“Your information was correct, Miss Autumn,” he said in a controlled manner. “This field is usually unfrequented.”
“Well, then, why are you here?” Autumn demanded accusingly, as if she, and not Lord Autumn, was the owner of the estate. The question caused the earl’s head to whip around. He gave the American girl an incredulous glance before he dragged his gaze away once more.
“Our presence here is purely coincidental,” he said coldly. “I wished to have a look at the northwest section of my estate today.” He gave the word my a subtle but distinct emphasis. “While Mr. Hero and I were traveling along the lane, we heard your screaming. We thought it best to investigate , and came with the intention of rendering aid, if necessary. Little did I realize that you would be using this field for… for…” “Rounders-in-knickers,” Autumn supplied helpfully, sliding her arms into her sleeves. The earl seemed incapable of repeating the ridiculous phrase. He turned his horse away and spoke curtly over his shoulder .
“I plan to develop a case of amnesia within the next five minutes. Before I do so, I would suggest that you refrain from any future activities involving nudity outdoors, as the next passersby who discover you may not prove to be as indifferent as Mr. Hero and I.” Despite Summer’s mortification, she had to repress a skeptical snort at the earl’s claim of indifference on Hero’s behalf, not to mention his own. Hero had certainly managed to get quite an eyeful of her. And though Lord Autumn’s scrutiny had been far more subtle, it had not escaped her that he had stolen a quick but thorough glance at Autumn before he had veered his horse away. However, in light of her current state of undress, it was hardly the time to deflate Lord Autumn’s holier-than-thou demeanor.
“Thank you, my lord,” Summer said with a calmness that pleased her immensely. “And now, having dispensed such excellent advice, I would ask that you allow us some privacy to restore ourselves.”

“With pleasure,” he growled. Before Hero departed, he could not seem to keep from looking back at Summer as she stood clutching her gown across her chest. Despite his apparent composure, it seemed to her that his color had heightened… and there was no mistaking the smoldering of his jet-black eyes. Summer longed for the self-possession to stare at him with cool disregard, but instead she felt flushed and disheveled and thoroughly off-balance. He seemed on the verge of saying something to her, then checked himself and muttered beneath his breath with a self-derisive smile. His horse stomped and snorted impatiently, pivoting eagerly as Hero guided him to gallop after Lord Autumn, who was already halfway across the field. Mortified, Summer turned to Autumn, who was blushing but admirably self-possessed.
“Of all men to discover us like this,” Summer said in disgust, “it would have to be those two.”
“You have to admire such arrogance,” Autumn commented dryly. “It must have taken years to cultivate.”
“Which man are you referring to? …Mr. Hero or Lord Autumn?”
“Both. Although the earl’s arrogance just may edge out Mr. Hero’s— which I call a truly impressive feat.”
They stared at each other in shared disdain for their departed visitors, and suddenly Summer laughed irrepressibly. “They were surprised, weren’t they?”
“Not nearly as surprised as we were,” Autumn rejoined. “The question is, how are we to face them again?”
“How are they to face us?” Summer countered. “We were minding our own business— they were the intruders!”
“How right you…” Autumn began, and stopped as she became aware of a violent choking noise coming from their picnic spot. Winter was writhing on the blanket, while Spring stood over her with arms akimbo. Hurrying to the pair, Summer asked Spring in consternation, “What is it?”
“The embarrassment was too much for her to endure,” Spring said. “It sent her into fits.” Winter rolled on the blanket, a napkin concealing her face, while one exposed ear had turned the color of pickled beets. The more she tried to control her giggles, the worse they became, until she gasped frantically for air in between yelps. Somehow she managed to squeak out a few words. “What a s-s-smashing introduction to lawn sports!” And then she was snorting with more spasms
of helpless laughter, while the other three stood over her. Spring threw Sunner a significant glance. “Those,” she informed her, “are conniptions.”

Stacey is Sassy (staceyissassy) | 1229 comments Know it, love it and love your name changes. Good one Rachel :-)

message 3: by Dls (new)

Dls | 2065 comments Mod
Agree on all three fronts.

message 4: by Manda (new)

Manda Collins (manda_collins) | 1886 comments Mod

message 5: by Okie (new)

Okie (okieb) | 2052 comments Mod
Good one, Rachel.

message 6: by Charlene (new)

Charlene (charlenethestickler) | 320 comments I know I've read this one, but can't remember title or author.

message 7: by Daniellegn (new)

Daniellegn | 199 comments Love the author and all of her books I've read :) just re-read winter's story a couple months back, my favorite from this series.

message 8: by Susan (new)

Susan (susaninaz) | 992 comments Fabulous aliases! I loved this scene.

message 9: by Janga (new)

Janga | 1070 comments Mod
Great choice! Wonderful series!

message 10: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Hill | 487 comments Daniellegn- Winter is probably my favorite book ever, I even got all nerdy and pinned what I thought they looked like

message 11: by Dls (new)

Dls | 2065 comments Mod
Ok Rachel you can post the answer!

message 12: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Hill | 487 comments I'm sure this isn't a surprise at all but it's Lisa Kleypas Secrets of a Summer Night (:

message 13: by Charlene (new)

Charlene (charlenethestickler) | 320 comments Of course it was -- thanks for letting us know, and yes, I did read it some time ago!

message 14: by Daniellegn (new)

Daniellegn | 199 comments Rachel-yes, Devil in Winter is one of my all time faves (I re-read it to help get me over a rough patch, and it definitely helped!)

message 15: by Marita (new)

Marita (bluestockingandproud) | 43 comments Genuinely read the title "Conniptions" in my notifications and instantly thought of this scene from SoaSN before even reading the puzzler. It's amazing how some scenes stay with you, isn't it? One of all-time favourite HR series, and also the series I re-read far more often than I'd want to admit :)

message 16: by Stacey is Sassy (new)

Stacey is Sassy (staceyissassy) | 1229 comments Marita wrote: "Genuinely read the title "Conniptions" in my notifications and instantly thought of this scene from SoaSN before even reading the puzzler. It's amazing how some scenes stay with you, isn't it? One ..."

Definitely agree Marita. I pick up the first two books (my favourites of the series) and read them regularly. Can't help but love all of the characters :-)

message 17: by Marita (new)

Marita (bluestockingandproud) | 43 comments Stacey, it's the middle two for me, very, very closely followed by the first, that I re-read the most. In culinary terms, I end up reading these as sort of palate cleansers when I've hit a run of disappointing books and I need a reminder to keep going :D

message 18: by Stacey is Sassy (last edited May 08, 2015 04:00PM) (new)

Stacey is Sassy (staceyissassy) | 1229 comments Marita wrote: "Stacey, it's the middle two for me, very, very closely followed by the first, that I re-read the most. In culinary terms, I end up reading these as sort of palate cleansers when I've hit a run of d..."

Exactly the same for me. I love that I know that I will always end them with a smile on my face. Kristen Ashley re-reads do the same thing for me. Depends on my mood :-)

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