My tale of love and passion in a fictional medieval setting continues. Hope you enjoy today's excerpt. I'm having a lot of fun playing with the fashion and social attitudes of the time and at the same time building a world of my very own.
Today's hunky knight is Gerard Butler from TIMELINE. *drool*
Two years later
Struggling against the smile that tugged at his lips, Ahron watched the lady-thief mill about amongst the commoners. Her burlap robe with hood up, unwashed hair and face devoid of makeup helped with her charade, but the shoes were a dead giveaway. Her cloak was long enough that her satin and wooden chopines barely peeked out from underneath and no one else had seemed to notice, but little escaped Ahron’s watchful eye.
He came most mornings to the marketplace to observe the guards who worked for him, but also to catch the latest gossip from the townsfolk. They were more valuable than gold when it came to information gathering. Three mornings ago, he’d noticed the thief. Not only because she wasn’t terribly skilled at her new trade, but also because—despite her best efforts—he recognized her. Most thieves he would throw in the castle dungeon without a second thought, but he knew why she was stealing and his heart went out to her. Now he came each day to keep an eye on her. Inevitably, a vendor or guard would catch her.
Shout from the owner of a fruit cart proved him right. One of his men trotted toward the unrest, hand on sword, but Ahron intercepted him, stepping out of the shadow of an awning.
“Allow me, Pelot,” said Ahron.
Surprise registered on the man’s face. “Yes, sire. I had no idea you were here.”
“You’ve reacted swiftly to the crisis. I shall make note your fine performance.”
“I am most grateful.” The young knight dropped Ahron’s gaze and backed away.
Sauntering over to the site of the quarrel, Ahron shook his head. The thief wore an expression of utter indignation, declaring her innocence.
“Unhand me!” she insisted, twisting in the wiry merchant’s grasp.
“Not until you unhand my apples.” The man with a pockmarked face tried to reach beneath her robes. The thief squealed like a trapped animal.
“What’s all this about?” Ahron demanded.
“Lord High Constable.” The man released the thief and dropped to one knee. “This girl stole from me. I want to search her robes and skirts, if it pleases ye.”
“Is what this man says true?” Ahron walked around the young woman.
“I have no idea what he’s talking about and I’ll die before I let him use this false accusation as an excuse to violate me.”
“Your speech is much finer than your clothing,” replied Ahron. “Are you of nobility?”
“No.” The woman hesitated, seeming to choose her words carefully. “But I was educated in the castle.”
“My apples, sire?” asked the man.
“Yes, of course.” Ahron noticed the vendor still genuflect and added hastily, “You may rise.”
The man struggled to his feet.
Ahron let his gaze wander over the woman’s form. “I shall search the lady in question.”
“I must object—” she started to complain, but Ahron silenced her with a look.
Turning her away from the merchant, Ahron instructed her to open her robes, then ran his hands over her skirts. Though he struggled to keep base impulses under control at all times, he couldn’t help but notice the swell of her hips and breasts. She jiggled ever so slightly as he put on a show of frisking her.
“Alas, there is no fruit in her dress. At least none that shouldn’t be there.” Ahron winked at the man who gave a forced laugh. Fishing two copper cugats from his money pouch, he tossed them to the vendor.
“Someone else must have absconded with them. Here’s recompense for your loss.”
“Th-thank you, sire.” The vendor dropped to his knees and snatched the coins from the dirt.
The woman, face scarlet with either embarrassment or ire, began to storm away, but Ahron caught her by her arm. “Walk with me.”
“I’d rather not.”
Dropping his voice, he spoke through clenched teeth, his lips a hairsbreadth away from her ear. “It was not a request.”