Happy New Year! I hope everyone is having a fabulous festive season so far, and that 2016 brings all we might hope for. And of course, welcome to my blog, and to the final crop of WIP It Up Wednesday snippets for 2015.
In case you wandered in here by accident, this is the blog hop where authors share excerpts from their works in progress. Please feel free to comment – we’re needy types and we love feedback, and it’s great to know if we’re on the right track.
My snippet for this week comes from my current WIP, a story as yet untitled but almost finished which features an 18th century-style bad lad. Gray is a highwayman who thinks nothing of relieving wealthy travelers of their valuables. His occupation is somewhat unpredictable, but when he holds up a coach on a lonely road and orders the occupants to stand and deliver, he is astonished to find a woman fighting for her life inside the carriage. Gray is no knight on a white charger, far from it, so when she begs him to help her what will he demand in return?
Here’s the snippet. No editing yet, so please be gentle.
“Sidney, the rats in your cellar are too good for you.”
I should have guarded my tongue. I realise that the moment after the words are out as he lets out a shriek of rage and pounces on me. I roll onto the floor, curling up into a ball in a vain attempt to evade his slaps, his kicks, his murderous punches. The blows rain down on my body as I bury my head under my arms, convinced he is finally going to kill me and wondering if perhaps that is preferable to the fate worse than death he had in mind.
Just as I am convinced matters could get no worse, they do.
“Stand and deliver.” The curt command rings out, sending dark terror into my already despairing soul. I cringe, dreading the harsh retort of a pistol, perhaps the scream of our coachman as he tumbles from his perch.
Instead, the carriage lumbers to a halt. Sidney, amazingly, seems oblivious to the turn of events. He continues to punch me, cursing my very existence as he lays in with boots and fists. I manage to scramble partly under the seat and thus gain some measure of protection. Sidney is intent on dragging me back out, presumably in order to continue his beating. He kneels on the floor, and yet again wraps my hair around his fist and yanks it hard. I let out a scream but am powerless to avoid being dragged back within his reach.
The click of a pistol being cocked penetrates Sidney’s red mist of pure rage. The sound is not loud, but somehow reverberates around the enclosed space of the carriage. My step-brother loosens his grip on my hair and scramble the few inches I am able to cower in the coroner of the coach, expecting every breath I draw to be my last.
“You appear not to have heard me. I said, get out of the coach.” The soft highland brogue is an incongruous surprise, but it is a tone I know will brook no argument. I nod and reach for where I suspect the door handle might be.
“Not you, miss. You may remain where you are for now. You sir, out. Now!”
If I am to die, at least I may not do so in such close proximity to Sidney. I offer up thanks for that mercy as I gasp for air, willing the agony in my ribs to subside enough that I might at least regain my seat and some shred of dignity. Meanwhile our assailant has grabbed Sidney by the collar and hauled him from the coach. A loud thump follows his exit, and a muffled curse as he bounces the couple of feet to the ground, the highwayman not having deemed it needful to first position the small set of steps usually employed to avoid such mishaps.
I take a perverse pleasure in his discomfort and likely demise. Highway robbery and murder could not befall a more deserving character.