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Excerpt from The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy

by Mackenzi Lee
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  • First Published:
  • Oct 2, 2018
  • Paperback:
  • May 2020
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I am tempted to ask after the paper I sent the previous month on homeopathy and the treatment of convulsive fits through quinine. But Percy looks drowsy and ill, and Monty will stop listening once I begin to talk of anything medical, so all I say instead is "Epilepsy is a son of a bitch."

"Oh my, but Scotland has made you vulgar," Monty says with delight. "What brings you down from those highlands to us? Not that this isn't a delightful surprise. But it is a surprise. Did you write? Because you reached us before the letter."

"No, this was ... unplanned." I look down at my shoes as a chunk of some unknown substance crumbles from the sole. I have never been good at asking things of others, and it sticks in my throat. "I was hoping you'd put me up for a bit."

"Are you all right?" Percy asks, which should have been my brother's first question, though I'm not shocked it wasn't.

"Oh, I'm fine." I try to make it sound sincere, for I am well in all the ways he's concerned for. I'm feeling rather trapped between the foot of the bed and the partition—when I try to scoot back, I nearly knock the screen over entirely. "I can find somewhere else to stay. A boardinghouse or something."

But Monty waves that away. "Don't be absurd. We can make room."

Where? I almost say, but they're both watching me with such a thick undercoat of concern it makes me look down again at my shoes. Eye contact in return somehow feels both too vulnerable and too invasive, so I mumble, "Sorry."

"What are you sorry for?" Monty asks.

I was sorry that my great plan hadn't worked out. Sorry I was here relying on my brother's Christian charity—what little he had to spare—because my plan for my future had lost its footing at every mile marker. Because I was born a girl but too stubborn to accept the lot that came with my sex.

"Felicity." Monty sits up and leans forward with his arms around his knees, looking very intently at me. "Apologize for nothing. It has been made clear in many a letter you are always welcome with us. I was anticipating if you ever took us up on that offer, there would be some notice, so you'll have to put up with our current states of invalidity and concern for said invalidity. But had you written, I swear to God our answer would have been 'board the first coach south.'"

Thank God—something I can be indignant about. It's far more comfortable than sentimentality. "Many a letter? Really?" When Monty gives me a quizzical look, I fill in, "You have not once written to me."

"I write!"

"No, Percy writes me long lovely letters in his very legible penmanship and then you scrawl something offensive at the bottom about Scottish men and their kilts." Monty grins, unsurprisingly, but Percy snorts as well. When I glare at him, he pulls the quilt up over his nose. "Don't encourage him."

Monty leans over and gives a gentle nip at Percy's jaw, then presses a kiss to the same spot. "Oh, he loves it when I'm filthy."

I look away, right at a pair of trousers tellingly discarded upon the floor, and resign myself to the fact that their affection is unavoidable. Particularly if I'm to be staying with them. "Are you two still nauseatingly obsessed with each other? I thought by now you'd have mellowed."

"We remain completely unbearable. Come here, my most dearest darling love of loves." Monty pulls Percy's face toward him and kisses him on the mouth this time, sloppy and showy, and somehow he manages to look at me the whole time as if to convey just how smug he is about making me uncomfortable. That initial fondness I felt toward him has already begun to rot like an overripe melon.

I can resist the eye roll no longer, though I fear for my vision as soon as I look to the ceiling—it seems to be peeling off in chalky lumps. If there is a piece of this flat that isn't playing skip rope with the line between habitable and condemned, I have yet to see it. "I will leave."

Excerpted from The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee. Copyright © 2018 by Mackenzi Lee. Excerpted by permission of Katherine Tegan Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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