Character Interview & Excerpt! My Favorite Modern Day Darcy! Stephen Calder Westing III

Character Interview & Excerpt!  My Favorite Modern Day Darcy! Stephen Calder Westing III

by Abigail Reynolds
Also by this author: , The Dracy Brothers, , Mr. Darcy's Journey: A Pride and Prejudice Variation

 

I have been in love with Stephen Calder Westing III for years!!  He lives in my favorite modern Pride and Prejudice adaption The Man Who Loved Pride and Prejudice. 

themanwholoved

A modern love story with a Jane Austen twist.. .

Marine biologist Cassie Boulton has no patience when a modern-day Mr. Darcy appears in her lab on Cape Cod. Proud, aloof Calder Westing III is the scion of a famous political family, while Cassie’s success is hard-won in spite of a shameful family history.

When their budding romance is brutally thwarted, both by his family and by hers, Calder tries to set things right by rewriting the two of them in the roles of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice…but will Cassie be willing to supply the happy ending?

Read my review of the audio book here

 I asked Abigail Reynolds if I could talk to Calder and ask a few questions. I miss him and am patiently looking forward to the third installment of this series.  Much to my surprise, Calder granted my interview and did graciously answer a few questions I asked.  If you have read the book, you know he is extremely private and does not like press or attention…so thank you Calder for doing this!!!

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Hello Mr. West or Mr. Westing…Which do you prefer?
You may call me Calder, of course.
How is The Senator these days? How is your mother?
My mother is quite well, thank you. My father, as you may have heard, has been in ill health, but in his typical manner, he refuses to concede defeat, even when faced with death.
Are you and Cassie enjoying the spring here in Woods Hole? It was a brutal winter.
It was quite a winter! It felt as if every other week we had to stay with Annie and Jeremy because our house is too dangerous to stay in during a massive Nor-easter. Or at least that’s what I think. Cassie is always ready to ride it out. But then there’s the question of our unplowed road under a foot of snow. So we’re delighted to see the spring after looking out on the Arctic landscape every day.
Are you now a certified lab assistant?
(laughs) My kind wife will tell you I’m a great help, but in truth I can’t be trusted with all that delicate glassware. I usually end up entering data, which is well within my skill set. Still, if it keeps me with Cassie in the lab, I’m happy to do it.
So, I need to ask, any thoughts of running for office? What about Cassie?
I’m a writer, not a politician (Cassie rolls her eyes in the background). As for Cassie… I don’t think I’d ever rule out any possibility for her. But I can tell you one thing for sure – she won’t run for office while my father is alive. It would please him far too much for her taste.

So in addition to a little Calder, Abigail gave me an excerpt for Uncharted Waters….RYAN’S STORY!!!  I CAN’T WAIT!!!!

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Uncharted Waters excerpt — Abigail Reynolds © 2010
Rachel dreaded going to class on Monday, expecting to see rejection or pity in Ryan’s eyes. She had been pretty obvious about her interest in him.

But Ryan seemed no different. He was just as friendly as ever, giving her those lazy smiles that made her knees weak, and leaning over to check her notes without any self-consciousness.

Rachel didn’t know whether he was being particularly kind in pretending nothing had happened or if she could possibly be so lucky that he hadn’t noticed. But why else would he have left the party so abruptly? She supposed she should be grateful he wasn’t avoiding her altogether.

After class she asked, “Want to get some lunch from the cafeteria?” It was their usual pattern.

He shook his head. “Sorry, I can’t.”

So much for that question. She had scared him off. “Whatever,” she said, trying to sound indifferent.

“Really. I’ve just got something else I have to do. Maybe another day.”

“Ryan, you don’t need a reason. I’ll see you Wednesday, maybe.”

“Look, my sister is in the hospital. She just had a baby, and I need to go see her.”

She smiled, and not just from relief that he wasn’t avoiding her. “So you’re an uncle. That’s cool. Boy or girl?”

He hesitated a fraction of a second, just long enough to make her wonder if he was telling the truth. “Boy.”

“Is she at Hyannis Hospital? They’ve got nice maternity suites. A couple of my friends had their babies there.”

“No, Falmouth Hospital.” He looked distinctly edgy.

“You may have trouble getting in to see her, then. There was something on the news this morning. The Westings just had their baby there, and the hospital is trying to keep out celebrity seekers.”

“Oh. Thanks for warning me.”

There was something distinctly odd about him today. The bitter taste of rejection burnt the back of her throat. “Well, have fun,” she said with a brightness she did not feel. “Maybe you’ll get lucky and catch a glimpse of the Westings or something.”

He shifted from one foot to another. “Yeah, maybe.”

It suddenly hit her. She was an idiot. Or at least he must think she was one. She felt oddly sick, and could not even look at him anymore. “Bye,” she said abruptly and turned to walk away.

He caught at her arm. “Rachel, what’s the matter?”

She wished for the thousandth time that she was better at hiding her feelings, or at least that she could tell polite little lies. “I’m a little slow, sorry. Cassie Boulton Westing. That’s why your name seemed familiar. She’s your sister, isn’t she, the one who’s paying your way through school?”

They were by an empty classroom, and he urged her inside. “I’m sorry,” he said as soon as they were alone. “I’m not trying to play games. I don’t like people thinking of me as Cassie Westing’s brother, like that’s the most important thing about me. I just want to be me, so I don’t tell anyone. Everybody thinks she’s this celebrity, but to me she’s just my sister, and I can’t help who she married.”

His earnest voice convinced her, and she nodded slowly. “I can understand that. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.”

“Thanks,” he said, sounding like his old self again.

She smiled at him. “I’m still jealous that you get to hold a new baby. I love newborns.”

“I’ll tell Cassie I know a good babysitter, then.”

“As if,” she said, her voice warm. “Go have fun.”

“Thanks,” he said. “And thanks for understanding.”

***

Ryan didn’t have any trouble getting into the hospital. His name was on a list of approved visitors – a very short list, from what he could see – and he didn’t make a fuss over having to show a picture ID to be able to see his sister.

Cassie was lying in a hospital bed, looking exhausted. Ryan went to her and kissed her cheek.

“So, you had to do this the hard way,” he said.

“Unfortunately. He’s pure Westing, this one. Stubborn as a mule.”

“How are you doing? Does it hurt a lot?”

“It’s no fun,” she said. “But at least I’m not pregnant anymore, and I’m grateful for that.”

“Where’s the baby?”

Cassie closed her eyes. “He was getting fussy, so Calder’s walking him around somewhere. He’ll be back soon.”

“How’s Calder dealing with fatherhood?”

Cassie gave a weak laugh. “Completely enamored of Jacob and totally traumatized by the C-section. I’m surprised they didn’t have to give him anesthesia.”

Before Ryan could reply, Calder himself walked in, carefully holding a swaddled baby against his shoulder. Looking almost as tired as Cassie, he greeted Ryan absently, then sat down heavily in the rocking chair by the bed. Almost immediately the baby began to fuss.

“Here, let me take him,” Ryan offered. “You look like you could use a break.”

Calder hesitated. “You have to support his head.”

“I know.” Ryan reached down and took the baby from Calder. He held Jacob out to look at him, but as he scrunched up his face again, Ryan cradled him in his arms, automatically swaying from side to side. “Hey, little guy, settle down. I may be ugly, but I’m your uncle and you’re stuck with me.”

Calder was already reaching over to clasp Cassie’s hand. Ryan shook his head at the two of them. He should be used to it by now.

Jacob was still whimpering. Automatically Ryan checked his bottom.

“No wonder you’re cranky, little guy. Your diaper needs changing.” Ryan spoke directly to Jacob.

Calder said, “I’ll call the nurse. They haven’t shown me how to do that yet.”

“I can manage,” Ryan said. He looked around and found the diapers underneath the bassinet. Unswaddling Jacob, he laid him down carefully. He quickly stripped off the old diaper and, holding the baby’s bottom up by his legs, wiped him clean and slipped a new one under him. “I know it’s undignified, guy, but even Westings need their diapers changed,” he said to Jacob as he taped the sides of the diaper. He wrapped up the old diaper and tossed it into the trash.

“How did you get so good at that?” Cassie asked a little sleepily.

Ryan, who was reswaddling Jacob, looked up at her in surprise. “Maria’s kids, of course. I took care of them whenever she didn’t bother coming home. Most of the time the first few years, in fact. Mom stayed with them during the day, and then when I got home I took over so she could go to work.”

“But you would only have been, what, eleven, when Alicia was born,” Cassie said.

“Yeah. So what?” He washed his hands at the sink.

“They left her alone with you?” Cassie sounded scandalized.

“What other choice was there? Maria was pretty wild at that point. Besides, you did the same for me when you were that age.”

“And I remember it was pretty hard work for a kid.”

Ryan picked up the baby and cradled him in his arms. “True, but Maria didn’t have it easy either. It wasn’t any fun for her being the bad kid sandwiched between the two good kids. Of course, that was a couple of years before I decided to outdo her at making trouble.”

Jacob started to fuss again. When rocking did not seem to settle him, Ryan slipped the tip of his little finger into the baby’s mouth. After a moment of surprise, Jacob quieted and began to suck on it. Ryan was a little surprised how quickly it came back to him, dealing with a baby. It had been a long time.

“I’m sorry you were left with that responsibility.” Calder’s comment came as a surprise. Ryan had thought he wasn’t listening.

Unfortunately, Calder had also touched a sore spot. Ryan said sharply, “My mother did her best. I could count on the finger of one hand the number of my friends with mothers who stayed clean and sober, like mine did. She kept working, no matter how hard it got. She couldn’t do the impossible.”

There was a moment of silence. It was hard to tell who was more surprised by his outburst, Calder or Cassie. It was probably a different view of their family than Cassie espoused.

Calder said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to criticize.”

“It’s okay,” Ryan said. “I don’t expect you to know what it was like.” Calder’s upbringing had been as far from his as humanly possible. Sometimes Ryan wondered what he and Cassie had ever found in common.

***

“How’s the baby?” Rachel asked quietly as she sat down next to Ryan before class.

“He looks like a space alien, like every other newborn,” Ryan said, just for the pleasure of seeing her argue with him.

“He did not! I bet he’s totally adorable.”

“You’re cute when you’re indignant.”

“Ryan! You should be ashamed of yourself, making fun of a baby. So what’s his name?”

The professor came to the podium and shuffled his notes, a signal to the class to quiet down.

Ryan gave her a lazy smile and whispered, “Wasn’t that on TV, too?”

“You’re mean, you know that?”

“You say the nicest things.” He leaned over and said in her ear. “Jacob Fitzwilliam Westing.”

***

Cassie called Ryan two days later. “I’m throwing myself on your mercy,” she said. “If you don’t do something about Joe, I’m going to climb out of this bed and kill him.”

Ryan laughed, both at Cassie’s irritation and at the ridiculous notion that he had any power over Joe Westing. Still, he could probably distract him a little. “Can you restrain yourself until this afternoon, or should I cut classes?”

“Of course you can’t cut classes.” She sounded scandalized.

“Yes, Dr. Boulton,” he said, his tone mocking.

“Don’t you start, too! I get enough of that from Joe.”

Once classes were over, he drove the familiar route to Falmouth. Cassie’s hospital room had seemed spacious before, but that was before Calder’s parents had arrived. Now it felt crowded, but perhaps that was the addition of more chairs. Joe Westing, always larger than life, stood to greet Ryan with pleasure. His wife Caro gave Ryan an antiseptic kiss on the cheek.

“So, what do you think of our new arrival?” Joe asked. “Handsome devil, isn’t he? He looks just like Calder.”

Ryan peered into Jacob’s face as he slept in Calder’s arms. He certainly couldn’t perceive the sharp delineation of the Westing look under the baby cheeks and shock of black hair. “He looks like a Westing, but he has Cassie’s eyes,” he said in a quiet voice, not wanting to disturb him. “Hey, Cass. How are you feeling?”

His sister looked even paler than she had the two days earlier, and her mouth was tight. “I’m getting there. Jacob’s sleeping a little more, but it’s a struggle.”

“Well, it was a given that any child mixing your genes with Joe’s was likely to be the stubbornest baby in history,” Ryan said.

Joe guffawed. “There’s truth to that.”

“He’s a Westing, all right,” Cassie retorted. “He’s been giving me indigestion for months.”

“Now, now, take it easy,” Joe said, in what Ryan thought was probably the mildest rebuke ever to come out of his mouth. Cassie’s role in producing his grandson must have mellowed him.

Jacob woke up and immediately screwed up his face and started to cry. Cassie closed her eyes in exhaustion.

Calder started to rock him. “Do you suppose he wants to nurse?”

“He nursed half an hour ago,” Cassie said. “Maybe you could try walking him.”

“I can do that,” Ryan said, taking the baby and holding him to his shoulder. “Joe, there are some reporters out front who would probably sell their souls to get a picture of you with this little guy. Why don’t we go down and let these two rest a little?”

Caro Westing spoke up. “That’s a fine idea. I could use some air.”

Ryan was certain Caro understood exactly what he was up to. “That okay with you, Cass?”

“Yes. Go. Get out of here. Tell them to take lots of pictures.”

Joe led the way to the elevator. Ryan expected Caro to ask to hold the baby, but she seemed perfectly happy to leave Ryan in charge of him. He wondered if it was because Jacob was still fussy. It was easy enough to calm him by keeping him moving. Ryan rocked back and forth on his heels as they rode down to the ground floor.

At the edge of the lobby, Joe reached out his hands for the baby. “Ryan, you can get the reporters,” he said. Caro arranged the baby in his arms, freeing his tiny hands from the swaddling and smoothing his hair.

Ryan knew an order when he heard one. He went out the front door and over to a group of a dozen reporters and photographers who were taking their ease in portable chairs. They seemed completely disinterested in him. He spoke to a gangly young man standing on the periphery. “Senator Westing and his grandson are in the lobby. He’s willing to have pictures taken.”

That caught their attention. The reporters jostled each other in their hurry to get inside. Ryan hung back. They would have no trouble finding Joe and Caro, and he wanted to fade from their attention as quickly as possible. He found a place in the lobby where he could lounge inobtrusively, yet still keep an eye on Jacob. Cassie would expect that of him.

Joe and Caro slipped smoothly into their public roles. They played to the cameras, posing in different combinations. Jacob cooperated remarkably well, blinking his eyes at the flashes and waving his hands.

Ryan wondered what Rachel would think of all this. If she were here, she would no doubt be wide-eyed with amazement. The thought made him smile. Perhaps he would tell her about it later. No, on second thought, revealing his relationship with the glamorous elder Westings would not be a good idea. Rachel was already far too impressed by Cassie being his sister, and Cassie and Calder were known primarily for their reclusiveness.

It was too bad he was going to miss the study group tonight. He would have enjoyed spending time with Rachel, pretending to a normalcy he didn’t possess.

***

Ryan did not make it back to his apartment until late. Joe and Caro had taken him out to dinner, a suggestion Cassie had seconded with relief. Eating at an elegant restaurant was still a stressful experience for him, but he could at least hold his own now.

Over dinner Joe had quizzed him about his classes and his future plans. “You should look at the University of Virginia. It’s a fine school.”

It was a good enough school that it would never consider him without Joe’s patronage, but if Joe wanted him to come to Virginia, he clearly intended to keep an eye on him. Cassie would have fits.

The light on his answering machine was blinking. Three messages. He was surprised. He rarely received phone calls. He pressed the button.

The first was Cassie. She must have called as soon as he had left with Joe for dinner. “You’re a life-saver, Ryan. Joe’s life, of course. Thanks for keeping him out of my hair. If I have to hear one more time about Jacob being a true Westing, I’m going to scream.”

Next was Josh, with a question about homework. The third was from Rachel. “I just saw Jacob on the news. He does not look like a space alien. He’s cute as a button.”

Ryan threw his coat over a chair. It felt good to come home to messages from friends. It gave him a sense of belonging he hadn’t known for a long time.

OH I LOVE IT!!!  Now I really can’t wait!!! Thank you so much Abigail!!!

 

 


Comments

  1. I adored “The Man who Loved Pride and Prejudice,” too, Margie!. Thanks for the excerpt, Calder. Love your smoulder. Looking forward to another Woods Hole story soon!

    • Margiesmustreads says

      Thank you for stopping by Suzan! I am so excited for the third Woods Hole Book!! I want it now!!!

  2. Loved the excerpt! Thank you Margie, for getting that reclusive Calder to talk to us 🙂

  3. Love the interview with Calder and the excerpt. I really enjoyed “The Man who Loved Pride and Prejudice”.

  4. Barbiewp says

    Great interview, thank you Calder and Margie. Can’t wait for the next book!

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