Henry

Henry is a starving stray mastiff found wandering the grounds of Harte’s Folly, the pleasure garden in Sweetest Scoundrel. Eve, the heroine of the book, has a terrible incident in her past involving dogs and is afraid of them, but Henry wins her over with his gentle ways….

When Asa walked into his office that morning he nearly did a double take. 

Eve Dinwoody sat behind her desk, the mastiff’s huge head on her knees, and she was stroking him with slim fingers as she whispered to him. 

The dog was looking up at her as if she were his personal goddess, which, Asa supposed, she was.

Dear God, he hoped he didn’t have the same expression on his own face.

Jean-Marie entered behind him, holding a kettle.

Asa tilted his head toward the other man. “What happened?”

The footman said slowly, “What do you mean?”

Asa looked at him askance and then gestured a little wildly to the scene in front of them. “What do I mean? I leave last night with Miss Dinwoody still absolutely terrified by dogs—she refused to touch the animal even when the dove showed herself unafraid of it—and arrive this morning with her petting that beast. Something must have happened in the interval.”

“Henry walked over and put his head in my lap,” Eve said softly. “Isn’t he clever?”

For a moment Asa merely boggled. “Henry?”

“I’ve always liked the name Henry,” Eve said thoughtfully. “It seems a very kind name, don’t you think?”

“Ah…,” Asa began, because the only Henry he’d known in his life had been a small boy who’d enjoyed throwing stones at sparrows and picking his nose, but then Jean-Marie elbowed him rather hard in the side. “Oof.”

“Oui, ma petite,” Jean-Marie said loudly. “’Enry is a most lovely name.”

“It’s a nice name, I suppose,” Asa muttered, rubbing his bruised ribs. 

She looked up then, a smile spreading across her face, and Asa stilled, his blood heating, and he realized something. Eve Dinwoody would never be called pretty, but there was something alluring about her nonetheless. She had the sort of plainness that surpassed mere symmetry of feature, transcended simple beauty, and became quietly compelling.

And when she smiled at him like that? With joy and happiness and a sort of peace?

She was radiant.

–from Sweetest Scoundrel