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So here I am, a week later, still trying to get my brain out of SWORD. That’s always been an issue for me, particularly with books in this world. I slip into these characters’ heads far more easily… which means I’m far more sure of myself while writing, but it also means it takes far longer for me to move on when I hit THE END. Right now a familiar turn of phrase, or hearing one of the songs from my writing playlist, is enough to put me back into the ridiculous pitch of angst that pretty much defines the whole second half of that book.

Luckily, after a year of barely moving on anything, I have plenty of projects to fiddle with. 🙂 This one isn’t much more than a vague idea right now: something set in the same world, but kind of– sideways. I have no idea if it’s going to go anywhere, but it’s fun to play with.

***

“Be at ease,” Guy grunted, setting the saddlebag on the small table. “I thought you a spy, girl. I’d no notion Evrard was recruiting his couriers from the fields.”

Her chin lifted ever so slightly. So she had some pride.

“Tavern,” she shot back. It was almost comical under the circumstances.

“All the same to me,” Guy retorted, and as the girl ducked her head he reached and wound her hair in his fist, forcing her gaze to his. “What message?” he asked pleasantly, his other hand curling in the folds of her woolen skirt. She drew a breath, beginning to tremble. Her gaze was fierce and outraged, hinting at a strength possibly worth the effort of breaking… and that was very well. There was little else to hold his attention out here in the back of beyond. “No games now, girl: I’ll have your head as readily as feed you supper if you aren’t quick with your answers. The one’s less work than the other is all. Tell your message. Is the north mustering?”

“Nay, ain’t –o lord please–” Her breath caught. She shivered harder, teeth clenched.

“Aye, you might beg, little messenger girl. Beg me, and mayhap I’ll let you loose tomorrow: but tonight, you keep me warm.” He pulled her closer, his fingers finding chilled flesh under wool, her desperately trying to back away and having no luck at all. Guy brought her close enough to press his face to her neck and caught the surprising scent of lilacs on her skin. “Why else would my lord send me a girl for a courier, eh?”

She stopped shivering.

“He wouldn’t, Lord Elliott,” she said, right into his ear.

There was a second only, to register the sudden absence of a common accent, the utter fearlessness in flesh against his– then, too late, the quick thrust of her hand. He felt the blade slide up under his ribs, a sensation that at first was perceived only as a terrible invasion, and in the next instant turned to breathtaking pain.

She twisted it.

He sucked in a breath to scream but it bubbled in his chest, filling his mouth with the awful taste of blood. His hands wouldn’t obey him. His knees went, and the girl, with odd solicitousness, bore his weight down gently to the dirt. She stared. Her dark eyes were wide and wild. Her first, Guy understood, and couldn’t help a moment’s fleeting admiration. His men wouldn’t know until they came to bring the evening meal, which was at least an hour from now.

She would be long since gone by then, and so would he.

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