Today I continue with my excerpt of Fatal Fortune, my historical romance set in England, 1508.
Hope you enjoy it!
The man released Yolanda and she fell to the ground. He reversed his strides and bolted toward Valentina.
“We need to ask you some questions,” he said.
“Nay, I shall not answer.” Undeterred, she lunged for the nameless attacker, and threw the hot water at him before backing away.
“Halt! We are not here to harm you.” He stumbled, hot water dripping down his ruddy cheeks and scruffy white beard. Steam rose from the red welts on his face.
His startled expression bolstered Valentina’s courage. “You monster!” Her lips tightened. She swung the pot and beat his helmet, clanging the metals together.
Yolanda scrabbled up off the dirt. Ever conscious of her appearance, she smoothed her skirt over her bare legs before kicking him in the shins.
“Good God!” the unsuspecting attacker bellowed. He tried to protect his legs and his face at the same time. His wool cloak fell back revealing grimy plate armor and a long sword at his side. Valentina blinked several times, unable to believe what she saw. She could not be seeing an apparition at this dark hour, but the intruder was a . . . knight. Here. In the caravan.
Another brawny man in plate armor appeared from the shadows. “Sir Geoffrey, are you all right? Which woman shall I take?” His cold brown eyes followed Sir Geoffrey’s gaze to Valentina.
“She may be the one. Finally, the woman Lord Norwich has been searching for,” Sir Geoffrey said.
Valentina froze. Sir Roland reached her in two giant strides and clamped his gnarled hand over her mouth. She dropped the pot and kicked at him.
“Nay! Do not touch me!” she screamed and sunk her teeth into his hand. He yelped and let her go. The respite gave her enough time to grab Yolanda. Gasping, Valentina tugged her sister toward the group of saucer-eyed mourners hiding in the forest’s undergrowth, not stopping until they were safely alongside them.
Everyone belonging to the tribe hid. Everyone except Luca.
He launched himself up into the heavy branches of a tree. The brittle limbs cracked under his weight as he braced his bare feet on either side of the trunk and balanced with ease. Raw-boned and dark, he coiled, rage dripping off his skin. He gazed down from his elevated stance, and raised his forearm, preparing to strike.
Valentina tried not to glance at him, afraid she might ruin his ambush, hoping the knights underestimated how fast he was.
“The women look the right age,” Sir Roland shouted. “I shall take them both.”
“Nay.” Luca’s black eyes glittered. He vaulted to the ground behind Sir Roland, yanked a short knife from his belt, and wound his arm around Sir Roland’s neck. “No one takes our women without my permission.”
“We have searched for months, under orders,” Sir Geoffrey said, approaching Luca and Sir Roland warily. “We are searching for Valentina.”
These men were searching for . . . her? Why? Because she had stolen? Aye, she had coins and jewels to trade for food, but the English would not let her. They hoarded everything for themselves. Her tribe needed to eat. She had to steal.
Certainly her desperate crime was not bad enough to warrant knights coming for them, or to risk Luca’s life. In any case, she would not be answering any questions a despicable English man might ask. A cruel noble could punish her by a loss of a hand.