Wednesday, June 03, 2015

FREE Novella - Chapter One, Part Three

Chapter One
Part Three

“Where am I?” Melvin muttered as his eyelids fluttered open.  He was flat on his back and staring at a canvas ceiling. 
          “You’re in the tent for the wounded,” a familiar female voice replied. 
          He turned his head and sure enough, there was the serving wench with the lovely eyes sitting beside him, regarding him with a little smile playing about her full lips.  He also realized there were several more wounded men in the tent with them, some lying on the cots, others sitting, most with bandages around their limbs or heads. 
          Oh, God.  He remembered now.  The man with the broken leg.  The sound of the bone crunching.  The screech.  He’d swooned.  And now this calm, competent young woman would know what a shameful coward he was. 
He had to get out of there. 
          “Sorry to be a nuisance,” he said, starting to sit up.  Only then did he realize he wasn’t wearing either his surcoat or his chainmail.  He looked at her questioningly while patting his chest as if searching for them beneath his padded gambeson. 
          “Your squire helped us remove your surcoat and mail when you swooned,” she replied. 
          “Alphonse?”  Fool.  Who else would it be?  “Oh, I see.  Of course.”  He swung his legs over the side of the cot away from her.  That way, his back was to her and she wouldn’t see how ashamed he was.  “I’ll be going then.”
          “If you’re sure you’re up to it.”
          “Certainly.  Just a bit woozy.  Nothing serious.  Best free up the cot for someone who really needs it,” Melvin replied.  He hoisted himself to his feet.  “Sorry to be a nuisance when you’ve got such a lot to do.”
          “Oh, you weren’t much trouble,” she said.  “I wish all the men who needed help would be so easy to assist, and so kind to their squires.”
          She sounded so kind-hearted and sincere, he risked facing her.  Remarkably, she was still smiling and there was no mockery in her expression. 
          The blood rushed to his face and for once, he couldn’t think of a thing to say.
          “Good God, Melvin, what the devil are you doing here?”
          At the sound of his cousin’s voice, Melvin closed his eyes and silently uttered a curse at the unfairness of life. 

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Note:  This novella is PG13.  With the exception of GWYNETH ANDTHE THIEF and THE WASTREL, my books are usually steamier.  

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