Still, I couldn't not post a Teaser, so here's another one from 'The Man in the Reeds' (Working title only)
“Mistress, can you come here, please?”
Angharad, seeking refuge from the rainy September day in her chamber, glanced up from her sewing. “What’s wrong now?”
“If I must.” She set the sewing down with a sigh. She didn’t want to leave her refuge. It was a foul day. The west wind hurled the rain against the house and the hall was alive with draughts, which sent the smoke from the fire all over the place.
Angharad followed Hilde to the door. Rain drummed on the soil, turning it to a sea of mud. A cart, piled high and covered with hides, rolled through the gate, pulled by an ox. A man on a horse stood beside it and dozen sheep milled absently around the horse’s legs. Angharad wasn’t looking at the cart, the horse or the sheep, she looked at the man, his hair plastered to his skin by the relentless rain.
She watched him slide from the saddle. One of the carls ran out and took the horse, sending sheep scattering indignantly in his wake.
“Hilde, put some water on to boil, and put the basin in my chamber.”
Angharad waited in the doorway and watched Fin walk across the yard. His boots squelched through the mud and his clothes were soaked. She hoped she wasn’t going to have to nurse him through another fever.
“This is unexpected,” she said when he stepped into the hall.
“I’m sorry.” He didn’t sound like he meant it.
She glanced past him at the laden cart and the sheep. “You had best come in out of the rain. I’ll get the carls to put your animals and cart away.”
“You need to get out of those wet clothes. I’ll find something for you, somewhere.”
“There’s no need. My clothes are in a chest on that cart.”
“I’ll have one of the carls bring it in.”
“Lady, can we talk in private?” He shivered. His hair was plastered to his face, his cheekbones stood out in stark relief.
“Come to my chamber. Hilde is fetching hot water for you. Would you like a drink?”
“Something hot, please.”
Angharad led him to the chamber. She sorted through the chest while he struggled out of his clothes.
“Here, take this.” She averted her gaze and handed him a woolen blanket. “This will keep you warm until we find your clothes.”
Hilde hurried in with a basin of steaming water.
“Hilde, could you bring our guest a hot drink?”
“Yes, mistress.” There were questions all over her face.
Fin took the cloth and soaked it in the water. Angharad watched him bathe his face and neck. He closed his eyes and inhaled the steam.
Angharad sat in her chair and waited. The rain hammered against the walls and on the roof. When he had finished, Fin wrung out the cloth and set it on the edge of the basin. He wrapped the blanket around his shoulders and looked at her. His eyes were dark and unreadable.
“I have a proposal for you,” he said.
“Yes.” Her mind was a tangle of questions.
“Is that bastard still bothering you?”
She thought of Athelwulf’s last visit. “Not at the moment. His last visit was less than cordial.” She looked up at the ceiling. “He tried…” Angharad inhaled and, then, exhaled slowly. “I kneed him in the groin and threatened him with a knife. He hasn’t been back since.”
“Bastard.” He spat. “Then, perhaps my proposal will meet with your consent.”
“I can’t consent if I don’t know what you want.”“Marry me.”