Tuesday Tales is a weekly blog featuring diverse authors who post excerpts from their WIPs based on word and picture prompts. Today our prompt is the word arm. The snippet is from a paranormal historical romance. The heroine is named Audrissa. Please visit the other fabulous authors at Tuesday Tales.
Sup at his lordship’s table? Audrissa swore she’d just been kicked in the stomach by a mule. She turned a horrified gaze on Old Tildy.
That elder’s gnarled hand clamped over thin lips as if to hold back a spate of swear words.
Rap rap rap! The man-at-arms’ voice boomed into the cottage. “Mistress Tewes, if you please, unbar the door. I am ordered to bring the girl.”
Audrissa raised a fist. “Nay! I will not go!”
The soldier’s voice lowered. “I must follow orders. I will split the wood if needed.”
Old Tildy inhaled a shaky breath. “No call for that, sir. Give us but a moment.” She enclosed Audrissa’s hands in her own. “Child, we have no choice. His lordship will not be naysaid. I thought I would have more time to prepare you.”
“Audrissa blinked. “Y-you knew of this? How?”
“Not of certainty, but I feared so. The signs were there.”
All the color had left the elderly woman’s face, and Audrissa worried she would topple over. She twisted her hands out of Old Tildy’s to press a reassuring pat onto the weathered cheek. “There, there, Ma’am. No need to worry. I shall simply…”
The man-at-arms had apparently lost his patience. “Open now, I say, Mistress Tewes!”
Her lips pressed tight, Old Tildy swung around toward the man’s voice as if he were a swarm of dust she would beat down with a broom.
A pang shot through Audrissa’s chest at the thought of harm coming to the woman who had taken her in. Sucking in a deep breath and setting her shoulders into a firm line, she marched the few steps to the door. With a quick upward push, she lifted the bar. She didn’t open her mouth to spew bilious words as she longed to. Instead, she glared at the well-seasoned soldier who stood before them.
He glanced from her to the elderwoman and then back again. Having two women shooting fire at him with their eyes seemed to abash the grizzled old warrior. He dipped his head a quarter of an inch. “Begging your pardon. My name is De’Carle, Lord Ramby’s man. The lord summons you to sup.”
She squared her jaw. “And if I refuse?”
He hesitated only for a moment. “Then I am to…bring you.”
Old Tildy spoke up. “As her guardian, am I not to accompany her?”
One foot twitched. “Nay.”
The woman’s lips tightened even more. “She shall obey the summons, but she must dress and make ready.”
Like a bull, he shook his massive head. “There is no time for that. When the old lord takes something into his head, it must be done of a moment.”
Audrissa glanced down at her plain everyday tunic with the immutable splotch staining the front. An unfortunate remnant of a prior bone casting. “I am to appear at his lordship’s table clad thusly?”
Audrissa tilted her head, emitting an incredulous grunt that ended in a trickle of a smile. “Then so shall it be. Far be it from me to naysay his lordship.” She turned to her elder. “Never fear, Ma’am, I shall be home before midnight.”
The old woman’s eyes narrowed, and she cast them at the soldier. “Shall she?”
He met her gaze. “So far as I know, she shall.”
Like a lady sashaying into a ballroom, Audrissa stepped from the cottage and onto the dirt path where the soldier’s horse was fastened to a bush. Odin’s balls would frost over before she’d give in to the panic churning in her belly.
The scent of night blooming jasmine flooded her senses. Her gaze lifted to the stars glittering on the horizon. One huge red one seemed to reach out for her. She couldn’t see any good coming from this summons, but she might as well take it as an adventure. Like one of the heroines in the stories Old Tildy told of a winter’s night.
De’Carle took the reins and mounted his steed. With a sinewy arm, he pulled her up behind him. “Hold atight.”
She put one hand to his side.
At a signal from De’Carle, the horse swiveled and ambled forward.
The unaccustomed movement jolted her backside. Hating to do so, she leaned against the old soldier, lessening some of the impact. Sliding a hand down the side of her garment, she traced the outline of an object gartered to her thigh. A sigh of satisfaction mewled from her lips at its slim shape and familiar heft.
She hadn’t come unarmed.
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Cheers & Happy Reading!
Flossie Benton Rogers, Conjuring the Magic with Paranormal Fantasy Romance