Medieval Monday! Ending of First Encounter!

It’s Medieval Monday! Today, I’m finishing up our First Encounter in The Angel and the Prince! I hope you’ve been following along! Don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a signed paperback of The Angel and the Prince! Don’t forget to leave your email so I can contact the winner!

Here it is! The final excerpt for the first encounter from The Angel and the Prince!

 

“He’s only planning on taking back the lands that rightfully belong to England,” Bryce stated blandly.

“So he is going to attack!  When?  Tell me when!”

“I don’t know,” he replied.

For an instant, Ryen thought she saw a flicker of light behind his dark eyes.  She frowned.  A moment of doubt attacked her reasoning.  Is the powder strong enough?  Is it working?  She wiped her thoughts free of uncertainty.  The powder had never failed before.  She had no reason to distrust it now.  But she was sure that it would not last much longer.

Ryen studied her prisoner.  His eyes were dark and unfathomable, mysterious.  Strangely, they reminded her of a wolf’s.  But she knew it must be his legend throwing shadows over her thoughts.  His unruly hair gleamed in the light of the candles, giving him the aura of a wild animal.  A pang of guilt touched Ryen’s heart as she saw that a lock of his black mane was caught in the moist blood on his cheek.  How could I have cut his face?  It was so flawless, so perfect…

She reached up to brush the hair from his wound, but her hand froze in mid-air.  What am I doing?  He’s the enemy!  He deserves far worse than a simple cut!  She whirled away, sickened by the feelings he stirred within her, incensed at her weakness.  Anger stabbed at her.  How could he make her want to touch him?  How could he soften her heart when his words were full of hate?  The devil!  The rogue!  She stood with her back to him for a moment, clenching and unclenching her hands.  When she turned back, she was ready to explode, to strike out at him, for making her soft, for making her feel like a helpless woman!

A wind whipped up from outside, blowing the tent flap aside and swirling in around Ryen, flinging her hair wildly about her shoulders and face.  The fire in her soul reddened her cheeks, caused her blue eyes to sparkle.

His eyes widened and he gasped.

Ryen stopped, confused at seeing a wondrous expression on his face.  She brushed an annoying lock of hair away from her eyes.  “What?” she demanded.

“You’re beautiful,” he whispered.

Shock immediately replaced her anger as she stood dumbfounded, gaping at Bryce.  “What did you say?”

Bryce looked away from her.

Ryen had clearly heard his words, but her mind was refusing to acknowledge them.  ‘Beautiful’ was not a word men used to describe her.  The Angel of Death, Ice Queen, Black-hearted Bitch.  These were the phrases men used to portray her.

She was so astonished by his declaration that she was unsure how to proceed.  Ryen became flustered by her hesitancy.  She was losing valuable seconds.  She had to think of a question.  A question…

Beautiful.  He said I was beautiful.  She felt herself softening, looking at him not as an enemy, but as…

No!

She burst out of the tent into the night air, racing past a group of men rolling dice.  In her mind, Bryce’s voice softly repeated the words of praise.  She ran around a spit of smoking duck as the bird was being basted by the cook, almost knocking the man down.  Beautiful.  The word was like a plague, spreading through her body, infesting her thoughts.  She reached her tent and barely paused long enough to tell the guard who stood like a statue before the flap, “I am not to be disturbed,” before disappearing inside.

Ryen stopped just inside her quarters, her eyes sweeping the tent until they came to rest on a wooden chest bound by great bands of silver metal.  She remember what she had been given by her aunt about five year ago, in hopes that she would become more ladylike.  Ryen had never used it.  She kept it hidden in the chest with her dresses and fancy undergarments, elaborate combs and jewelry, embarrassed by the femaleness of it all.

Ryen flung open the chest.  After years of disuse, it squeaked with objection.  She fell to her knees and thrust her hands into the mounds of clothes, digging through lacy night clothes, bolts of silk fabric, a necklace of pearls, ruby earrings, jeweled rings…all the items that she had accumulated through the years, rummaging for the one object that she wanted, until finally she found it.

It was a hand mirror made of gold with diamonds set into its intricately sculptured metal.  She clasped it with both hands and stared at the person she found looking back at her.  She was not the child she remembered from five years ago.

Her face was slender and soft, her cheekbones high.  Her eyes were the blue of the deepest ocean.

Ryen tilted the mirror, trying to see her profile.  She could see nothing that made her attractive, nothing that made her different.  Yet he had said she was beautiful.  She had never thought of herself like that.  No one had ever told her she was.  Not ever.

She was inspecting herself when she saw, in the glass, the flap of the tent open and Lucien ducking inside.

“What did you find out?” Lucien asked, excitement barely hidden under his words.

Ryen ignored him, staring hard at herself in the mirror, twisting her head to try to see what Bryce had seen.

“Ryen?” Lucien’s brow wrinkled with momentary confusion, then darkened with rage.  “Did he hurt you?  What did he do?  I told you I should have been there with you!”

“Lucien,” Ryen said, and turned to face him with a trusting look.  “Do you think I’m beautiful?”

Surprise was written all over his boyish face, and for a moment he could not move.  Suddenly, he threw his head back, laughter bubbling from his throat like a spring.

Ryen’s face turned a deep red, her eyes going from a light blue innocence to the deep blue of an angry sea.  Slowly, she replaced the hand mirror and closed the lid on the heavy wooden chest, her jaw clenched.

Lucien ceased his laughter when he caught Ryen’s murderous glare.  He chuckled a bit and looked away from her.  “Oh, Ryen.  I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to laugh at you.  It just that…well, if I had even suggested the possibility, you would have cut out my tongue.”

Her jaw was still set like stone.  No one laughed at her.

“Please, Ryen,” Lucien said sincerely.  “Forgive me.”

Ryen whirled away from Lucien.  “Get out.”

“What?”  He stared at her with surprised eyes.

“Get out before I say something I will regret,” Ryen clarified.

Lucien studied her for a moment, then whirled and departed from her tent.  After her brother’s footsteps faded away, Ryen chastised herself.  You are not beautiful.  You are a warrior, a knight.  Knights are not beautiful.  They are strong, rugged, relentless.  I have never been pretty.

Still…in the eyes of the mightiest of legends, the fiercest of English knights, she was beautiful.

The truth powder never lied.

 

Hope you enjoyed this Medieval Monday! Don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a signed copy of The Angel and the Prince.

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