Work In Progress

I feel a little like I’m cheating at my daily challenge again, and it’s only the fourth day. But it’s not really. It’s a draft I’ve been working on for a while. I am working on a manuscript for my second novel, a companion to the first, and my heroine (Mimi) is also a budding writer. She has been toying with a historical novel – something I wouldn’t mind doing except that it takes entirely too much research. And somehow, she’s roped me into writing one with her. Maddening woman! Here is an excerpt of something she’s been bugging me to put down for her. (Somehow I got stuck doing all the typing!) This segment of her book may or not make it into my book, but writing is never wasted, and we’re killing two birds with one stone. (Thanks, Mimi!)

Grace stood helplessly by, constrained by the hands of ladies who were doing their best to protect her. She could hear the voice of her beloved, screaming at the top of his lungs as he was dragged away, “I am the King’s man! I am the King’s man! I am-” His voice was silenced, whether by a blow or by a gag, she didn’t know. Robin! Her heart cried out to him even as she struggled to maintain her composure. She couldn’t let this monster see how much she cared, for he would surely use it against her.

The monster had turned his attention to her. He stroked his beard as he studied her, much as a predator would study its prey before pouncing. She kept her eyes lowered and displayed the modesty of a properly obedient lady. As he approached her, she lowered herself into a graceful curtsey, maintaining it until he drew her up with a gentle hand. How can a monster display such gentleness? She knew she’d have to guard herself, for he was a sly and wily predator.

Cyril and Hugh were having a hushed conversation in the corner of the great hall. Grace did her best to look occupied as she strained her ears to hear the quiet words. She heard her name once or twice, but try as she might she couldn’t understand what they said. She hoped it wasn’t her death they were plotting. It had become clear almost from the start that Cyril was only interested in the land and the keep, but he seemed to be holding her out as a prize. For Hugh? It had also become evident that Hugh and Cyril were thick as thieves – Hugh’s sworn fealty to Robin either a ruse or a long forgotten inconvenience. His sharp regard settled once again on Grace. She could feel his stare like arrows burning into her shoulder blades. She could see him in the reflection of the silver plate she was polishing. Hugh said her name once more, emphatically. Dear Mother Mary, she was his prize. How could he so completely betray dear Robin – to give over the castle to Cyril and then to covet, perhaps steal, his bride? Grace left them behind in the hall to return the silver to its place in the cupboard. She was not so timid as they might think, and she had schemes of her own to put in motion. Instead of a lamb, they would find a she-wolf.

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