Every book I write starts with a seemingly random scene, which piques my curiosity, and then I have to figure out what happens next, and what happened before. I knew Where Have All The Scoundrels Gone? would have three heroes and three stories, but I wasn't sure of much more than that.
This was the first scene that "appeared", and it's from the first story in the book. As it turns out, it's when Miles meets Gemma, who will be the one who steals his heart—not that he knows it here.
"Oh you blasted thing!"
Miles halted. That was not the language he expected to hear coming from the numerous rows of yellow rose bushes. Nor did he usually hear such heated words in a soft, melodious voice.
His gaze was instantly caught by a froth of white muslin, near the ground, wedged between two closely-planted rose bushes. He moved closer and saw the sheer fabric was draped over a woman's shapely bottom. It was the only thing visible, since it appeared she had been captured headfirst by the ferocious plants.
He grinned. "Allow me to assist, madam."
"Could you? I would be so grateful." She began to wriggle, which was not what he had anticipated, but he could not deny it was a delightful sight. "Drat! I should never have come through here."
Before he could question why she had chosen such a route, he heard a distressed mewling sound.
"There now," he rushed to reassure her, "no need to succumb to tears. We shall have you out of there in no time at all."
An enchanting round of giggles followed his words. "That was not me. That was Snowball, the reason I am caught in this predicament. Such a naughty kitten."
The young miss attempted once more to back away, but there was a distinct sound of tearing. He did not have to imagine the calamity that would ensue if they were caught together, her clothes in shreds.
"Madam, please." He approached her quickly. The thorns had managed to catch her from both sides, which made it impossible for her to retreat. "If you will permit me to remove the thorns from your ensemble, we can get you upright once more." He knelt to one side of her and began working on a large thorn embedded in the delicate muslin. "What possessed Snowball to choose this particular hiding place?"
"I have no idea. We were simply out for a walk—"
He could not contain his laughter. "I had no idea kittens enjoyed going for a stroll."
"This one is a bit unusual." Her laugh was as delightful as her voice. "Not to mention completely wicked. I can see the wretch reclining right in front of me, but can't quite reach…"
There was another determined wiggle, as she obviously tried to grab the instigator of this situation.
"I fear you will rend your dress if you continue—" Miles could not help but imagine such a sight, but it was so craven, he pushed it aside immediately. "Hold still while I disentangle you, and then I shall see about luring Snowball from her lair. Or his lair."
She giggled. "Her lair."
"Snowball is rather clever, for it appears she has lured you into the precise spot with the biggest thorns." He carefully extracted the barbs from the fabric on the left side, and then moved to the other side. "This one appears to be a bit more difficult."
"Why is that?"
"I cannot see where it has caught you. No, do not move about or you shall catch yourself on the one I have just removed."
"Can you attempt to reach it?"
"It would require some—" He swallowed with a bit of difficulty. "Uh, exploration."