For this challenge I've selected a snippet from my latest historical novella:
"The Highwayman's Mistress".
Brief: Richard Courtenay Viscount Somerton, gallant as heroes come, has agreed to see Miss Diamonta Whitaker, safely delivered to the Palace of Versailles. Half French by birth and daughter of a once French countess, Diamonta has more than one reason for accepting a gracious invite to stay at the Royal Court at Versailles. Her heart lies at court, with Francois de Boviere, Count of Saint Mont Marche. But, tide of Revolution has swept from Paris to Versailles. Heads of French aristocrats are seriously under threat of Madame Guillotine and Diamonta's coche is still en route to Versailles!
Believe it, nothing is as it seems, and Richard has a dark secret, too.
Over word count. Ahem, not telling: code NCCO.
The coche suddenly slewed to the right, as though in avoidance of something or someone on the roadside. It then began to slow until finally the wheels ground to a standstill. Richard opened the door, and about to call out to the coachman he held his tongue, for a pistol came level with his face. They both looked up at masked face of man on horseback, and brief moment of agonised silence hung in the air.
“As you can see, I have the advantage,” broke the silence, the rider’s French tongue proffered with cool aplomb. “You will stay where you are and give forth possessions of value.”
About to reply in her mother’s native tongue and declare herself devoid of valuables of any merit, and assured her jewels secret hidden aplenty within her luggage, Richard said in polite English, “We are English and of modest means. We have little of value between us, with exception of silver snuffbox and gold fob watch.”
The highwayman, for he was without doubt a vagabond of the highways, either understood fully the English tongue or had guessed Richard’s declaration, for he pressed to see Richard’s offerings by waving the pistol in manner most impatient. Afraid of the rider’s commanding position and in realisation Richard did not want her to utter a word, she felt him to be sacrificing his valuables to save hers. But would this villain be satisfied with what her companion had to offer?
Once handed over, the rider barely glanced at the snuffbox or fob watch and secreted them within his gauntlet. He glanced at her then, and leaned forward and indicated for Richard to move to the far side of the coche. Richard did as bid, and the highwayman’s interest fell solely upon her. His scrutiny disturbed her, his dark eyes as though boring into her very soul.
“Remove your gloves and show me your hands, young miss,” he said, in perfect English with refined French lilt.”
He obviously suspected rings on her fingers. Well, he was soon to be disappointed. She removed her gloves in haste, and displayed ring-less fingers and not a jewelled bracelet did she have upon her person. She sensed no disappointment, and he even chuckled as though it was all a game.
“Give me your hand,” he said, holding his right hand forth, his pistol held in left hand, and reins loose about his horse’ withers.Why request her hand when no jewels to wrench from her fingers? Though once her hand cupped in his gauntlet-clad hand he leaned forward and placed a kiss upon her fingers, his eyes so close and intense in scrutiny her heart stopped.
As a special treat: the book trailer for - The Highwayman's Mistress. What do you think?
However, the book won't be on Kindle for a few days.
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