Friday, May 20, 2011
Sometimes a character strolls on to the page and then won't leave your imagination or your heart...
From the Children of the Sea prequel "Sea Crossing" in the anthology SHIFTER
Emma's heart beat like a frightened rabbit's. She wrapped her arms around her waist, tucking her hands under her armpits to hide their trembling.
She was a teacher in a girls' school. She was not used to violence. Male violence. The men's casual assault and her rescuer's swift reprisal had shocked and shaken her.
The bigger man--the one who had grabbed her--led his limping companion away. Emma fought a shiver of reaction. Revulsion. They were no worse, really, than the men in the boarding house she had learned to lock her door against each night or the ones who called and whistled after her on the street. No worse than Paul.
They had not raped her.
Although they could have.
Another shudder shook her. Thank God she had been rescued. He had rescued her. Again.
He stood planted, unmoving, his eyes narrowed as the other two men staggered
from the hall. Emma's gaze slid over the hard slabs of his torso to the ridges of his abdomen and felt a clench in her stomach that might have been fear. He wasn't even breathing hard. If not for the dark hair covering his powerful chest, the breeches clinging to his thighs, he might have been a statue.
"You," he barked.
But his attention was on the boy, the one with the odd colored eyes. The
only one who hadn't run when those two men cornered her.
"What in Llyr's name were you doing?" the big man demanded.
Emma moved instinctively closer to the boy. He was only a child. He--
"She was all alone," the boy said with dignity. "I thought--"
"You did not think. Murdoc could swat you like a fly. Next time you see the prince's peace disturbed, you call me or one of the other Wardens, understand?"
Wardens? Emma shied at the word like a horse from the bite of a lash. What was this place? A jail? An orphanage?
Her chest hollowed. An asylum?
The boy's thin face flushed. "Yes, sir."
Emma's protective instincts roused. Orphaned or crazy, the child meant well. "He was only trying to help."
Her rescuer turned his dark, brooding gaze on her, and she felt again that quick clutch in her belly. Tension rose off him like steam.
Her mouth dried. She should not have come down. She was not safe here.
She lifted her chin, refusing to be cowed.
"You wanted to help," he said without expression.
He was speaking to the boy. Emma gathered she was irrelevant.
The child straightened his narrow shoulders. "I--Yes."
"Right. Make yourself useful, then. Fetch a girl to attend the lady."
The boy nodded and darted away.
"Wait!" Emma called after him.
The child paused, almost quivering in his desire to be gone.
"What is your name?"
He shifted his weight from foot to foot. "Iestyn."
"Thank you, Iestyn," she said gently. "I am Miss March."
"Yes." His smile flashed. "Thank you, miss."
He ran off.
Her Viking was still watching Emma with an intent, cat-at-a-mousehole look that made her palms grow damp.
Guess who's all grown up now and getting his own book? ;-)