I’m in the process of working through revisions for my second manuscript so thought I’d share the first meeting of my heroine and hero as I said I would share an excerpt when I had more Facebook likes.
‘The horseman cursed and wheeled his mount around. He galloped away from the water’s edge then turned. With a sudden bellow he cracked the reins sharply and sped back towards the river. As the horse reached the edge, the rider spurred it forward. The horse leapt through the air with ease to land on the deck alongside Eleanor. The ferry bucked, the far end almost rising from the water. Hooves clattered on the slippery wood and the animal gave a high-pitched whinny of alarm. It was not going to stop!
As a cumbersome looking saddlebag swung towards her Eleanor threw herself out of its way. The railing caught her behind the knees and she stumbled backwards, her ankle turning beneath her. Cursing, she flailed her arms helplessly, unable to regain her balance as the river came up to meet her.
The soaking never happened. Something stopped Eleanor with a jerk. Her feet slid on the deck and her head snapped back. Cold spray splashed over her face, her plait dipping below the surface of the water. Blinking rapidly, she raised her head to see what had stopped her fall.
The horseman, still mounted, had twisted across his saddle at what seamed an impossible angle. He leaned almost horizontally over the platform, the neck of Eleanor’s cloak bundled in one gloved hand. Eleanor found herself staring up into a pair of blue eyes half hidden in the depths of his hood.
With ease the man pulled Eleanor back to her feet. Still holding her he threw his leg back across the saddle and dismounted gracefully. As she stood upright a spear of pain shot through Eleanor’s ankle. She gave an involuntary gasp and her knees buckled. With the same speed as his initial rescue, the rider’s arms found their way round Eleanor’s waist, catching her tight and clasping her to him before she slipped to the ground.
“I’ve got you. Don’t wriggle!”
The man’s hood fell back and Eleanor saw him clearly for the first time. He was younger than his voice had suggested. A long scar ran from the outside corner of his eye and across his cheek, disappearing beneath a shaggy growth of beard at his jaw. A second ran parallel from below his eye to his top lip. His corn-coloured hair fell in loose tangles to his shoulder. Close up his eyes were startlingly blue.
Footsteps thundered on the deck as Eleanor’s coachman appeared. It struck Eleanor suddenly that the man was still holding her close, much closer than was necessary, in fact. She because conscious of the rise and fall of his chest, moving rhythmically against her own. Her heart was thumping so heavily she was sure he would be able to feel it through her clothing. As to why it was beating so rapidly she refused to think about.
“You can let go of me now,” she muttered.
The horseman’s eyes crinkled. “I could,” he said, “though I just saved your life. There must be some benefits to rescuing a beautiful maiden in distress, and holding her until she stops shaking is one of them. I suppose a kiss of gratitude is out of the question?”
“You didn’t save my life. I can swim,” Eleanor cried indignantly. It was true she was trembling, but now it was from anger. “I am most certainly not kissing you!”
The man’s forehead crinkled in disbelief. “Even though I saved you from a cold bath?”
Eleanor’s cheeks flamed. “It was your fault in the first instance, you reckless fool. You could have capsized us all. Your horse might have missed completely.”
The horseman laughed. “Nonsense, it was perfectly safe. Tobias could have cleared twice that distance. If you had stood still none of this would have happened. You panicked.”
With an irritated snort Eleanor pushed herself from the man’s grip, contriving to elbow him sharply in the stomach as she did so. She heard a satisfying grunt as she turned her back. She headed to the carriage but her ankle gave a sharp stab of pain. She stopped, balling her fists in irritation. The horseman leaned round beside her. “Allow me,” he said. Before Eleanor could object he had lifted her into his arms and strode the three paces to the coach. With one hand on the door-handle he cocked his head. “Still no kiss? Ah well, it’s a cruel day!”
“There are no circumstances under which I would kiss you!” Eleanor said haughtily, sweeping her gaze up and down him.
His face darkened and Eleanor took the opportunity to wriggle from his arms. Biting her lip to distract herself from the throbbing in her ankle she swung the door open herself and climbed in, slamming it loudly behind her.’
What do you think?