Today the weather looks like this (yes, it’s over a foot and still coming. SNOW DAY TOMORROW ARE YOU LISTENING GOD?!?!?!!):
So I’m staying inside like this (because yes, Sam, it’s -7 degrees):
While hopefully writing in this (since, well, I’m a writer):
Following lunch with my London roomie
and some homework of course.
Root for me, fellow bloggers/readers/writers! I haven’t written much more of Laura’s Letters since my departure to London LAST SEPTEMBER and that atrocity must be rectified! Posting chapters of it has gotten me back into the swing of things though. I’m excited about it again, brewing new ideas for edits thanks to your lovely comments and pumped because many of the comments were so lovely. Thank you 🙂
Speaking of, I present to you Chapter Five! It’s a long one, so I hope you’ve got your reading caps on!
Yes, I know I skipped around, and not that the intervening Chapters Two-Four are boring, I just think Chapter Five is more exciting. What has happened in them is: Laura’s life as servant to her town’s religious leader, The Shepherd, is shown and quite frankly, it’s terrible. Thomas reluctantly agrees to remain in the storage room since he very much wishes to stay alive and avoid capture. He’s not pleased with this situation, being accustomed to life’s every luxury. He is however, quite pleased with the servant girl 😉 They plan his escape but before they can, the Shepherd’s daughter Karissa discovers him …
Blood poured in rivers down her face, in her eyes, her mouth. She couldn’t see. She couldn’t breathe. Pain exploded everywhere, clogged her throat, choked her.
“A strange man! In my stable! How dare you!“
Laura had made the Shepherd angry over the years, but nothing like this. He raised his belt over his head and heaved it down on her back. A strangled cry escaped her. She darted behind his recliner. Crouched on her trembling hands and knees, she managed only a few short breaths before he grabbed her hair and flung her against the stone fireplace. Her spine contorted.
Where could she hide? The living room offered no shelter: the Shepherd’s recliner, the sofa, one other chair. Nothing could shield her and keep him from reaching her.
More voices joined his shouting. Had the Shepherd’s three sons come to assist him pummeling her? They’d dragged Thomas off somewhere. Had they finished him and come to finish her? The Shepherd’s shoe collided with her stomach. She threw her arms over her head, the little protection she had.
“Get out of my way!” The Shepherd hollered. “I will not leave a harlot unpunished!”
“If you want her, you’ll have to go through me first. And I guarantee I can take all of you.”
Her head cleared some. The stars flitting around before her receded enough for her to make out a tall, dark shape wielding the fire poker, crouched and read for combat. Who … ? Her stomach lurched and she retched in the fireplace.
“I don’t know who you are or where you came from, but you have no right to hinder me disciplining my servants,” growled the Shepherd at her savior.
The man replied, his deep, regal voice filled the house, commanding all to bow to his authority. “I am a soldier of Taneia. And it is my duty to protect my people. Do not – any of you – touch Laura again.”
Thomas. Thomas came to her rescue, even though he was grossly outnumbered. He’d come for her. He’d come back. He hadn’t left her.
After a coughing spasm, when she could once again breathe and focus, she lifted her head and saw two of the Shepherd’s sons moaning on the floor, the other completely out cold. On Thomas, she saw nary a scratch.
“I said don’t touch her.”
Laura rested her pounding head against the cool flagstone hearth. There would be no more beatings.
“Explain yourself, young man,” the Shepherd’s snakelike voice demanded.
“Yes, do explain. I am extremely intrigued.”
Laura’s empty stomach heaved at the sight of Karissa in the doorway, flanked by a squadron of Schelt soldiers.
Shit, shit, shit, fuck! That little blonde chit turned him in. Damn, now what? He couldn’t leave Laura alone with the creeps, but if the Schelts hauled him off …
The leader of the Schelt pack stepped forward. This wiry captain would be the downfall of the Crown Prince. He’d be receiving a promotion and a hefty raise. If only Nathan was here, they could take this twit.
The reminder of his brother planted hope in him. He and Nathan had sweet-talked themselves out of a score of jams throughout their childhood. And the High King of Taneia was a hard man to hoodwink. Thomas could handle this Schelt puppy.
“Who are you, sir?” the captain inquired in broken Taneian.
“This man is an intruder!” the Shepherd bellowed before Thomas even opened his mouth. “He has been hiding in my stable waiting for the opportune moment to assault my family. See what he has done to my sons!”
Damn. Thomas could handle this Schelt puppy if the Shepherd and his family would keep their traps shut. At present all were yammering against him, crying for his immediate arrest. Fantastic. Now what? A little help here, Nathan. Or God. Whichever.
“H-he’s my fiance.”
All incredulous eyes turned their stares to Laura. She struggled to her feet and stood swaying with one hand against the wall. Nearly her entire body was some shade of black and blue, yet she still boldly met the captain’s gaze.
“What?” he, the Shepherd and Thomas said simultaneously.
“Thomas is my fiance,” she asserted. She took a small step but her knees failed her. Thomas surged forward and caught her before she crashed to the floor.
“Fiance?” he hissed in her ear. What synapse in her brain sprang that plan? What made her believe entangling herself more would assist the situation?
“Would you rather be dead?” she hissed back.
“We’ll both be dead if this -“
“Shh!” She righted herself, leaning heavily on Thomas. He kept an arm securely tucked around her waist. She needed to eat something, she would benefit from a little fat on her frame.
“I’m sure you don’t know this, major,” she began with a smile.
“Captain, ma’am,” he corrected, but puffed his chest, pleased with her promotional misconception.
She waved her hand at her own silliness. “Well, I was not born here in this town, but came later as a child after being separated from my family. Thomas here was my childhood b-best fr-fr-friend -” she broke off to cough. Thomas glared at the Shepherd.
Laura regained her composure. “Excuse me. Thomas was not only my dear friend, but our parents also arranged our marriage. He never stopped looking for me, and he just found me when the fighting broke out last month.”
Hell, but the woman spun a good yarn! She explained how Thomas had been injured (wounded, he mentally amended) after being caught in the battle and how she offered him shelter and nursed him in the barn. Now that they’d found each other again, they were ready to take their marriage vows.
“So of course, he would rough up these goons a bit,” she concluded. “Look at me. He was only protecting me.”
Indecision warred on the captain’s face. Laura’s tale made sense, but he – being Schelt – was disinclined to trust any Taneian by nature.
The Shepherd took a threatening step towards Laura. Thomas instinctively placed his body between them.
“Is any of that true?” the repulsive man asked her.
Her body shook beneath Thomas’s arm, but she did not falter when she answered, “Every word.”
“You have no memory of your life before you came to us,” he insisted, eyes narrowing into slits.
“Seeing Thomas brought it all back. My mother’s name was Cecelia, my father, Alan. They died in a car crash which is what drove my memory away -“
“Prove yourselves.” This from the captain.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Prove yourselves. You claim you’re ready to now take your marriage vows. And how convenient to have the town’s religious leader right here in this very room. Get married.”
Copyright Rosemary O’Connor. All rights reserved.