I might have to cut some of this down once I finish the whole story. It’s already 3K and I haven’t reached the big finale yet, if you know what I mean. But I’m having entirely too much fun to worry about length right now. First draft only, subject to revision.
Conn caught his friend’s sword on his blade and shoved Mason stumbling back. Despite the approach of Halloween, the days were still warm and golden. His shirt stuck to him, and with the setting sun, began to chill on his back.
Just as sweaty, Mason gave him a disgusted look. “You were supposed to take it easy on me. I have a date tonight!”
Giving him a sweeping bow to end their demonstration, Conn laughed. “What are you complaining about? Every night is date night for me.”
“Yeah, but you can take a shower,” Mason grumbled. He sheathed his sword and glumly swiped a hand through his dark curly hair that was just as plastered as Conn’s shirt. “Do you mind if I hit the shower at your place before driving down to Joplin?”
They both bowed to the cheering onlookers. “Make yourself at home.”
“I won’t be long,” Mason promised. “I told Tess I’d pick her up by eight o’clock.”
Conn glanced at his watch and winced. “You know it’s at least an hour and a half drive, right?”
Mason tossed a grin back over his shoulder. “Only if I follow the speed limit.”
Shaking his head, Conn sheathed the sword on his hip and started to unbuckle the heavy leather belt.
“Don’t,” Rae whispered, wrapping her arms around him from behind. “I think the sword is sexy.”
Simple white linen sleeves covered her arms, tapering to delicate points over her wrists. His heartbeat quickened and he started to turn around to get a good look at her costume, but she tightened her grip on him. “I’m sweaty, darlin’.”
“I don’t care,” she mumbled, rubbing her face against his shirt. “In fact, I like it. I like it a lot.”
“Well, I certainly don’t want to stink up your lovely costume, so let me get a good look at you.”
Reluctantly, she loosened her arms so he could turn around.
She was dressed in a kirtle that would do any Ren Faire maiden proud. A heavy red brocade overskirt split down the front to show the fine snowy linen beneath, accented with tiny pearls and golden embroidery. A matching cloth covered her hair, giving him just a glimpse of a braid curled around her head and dotted with pearls.
“You look like you stepped out of a fairy tale.”
“Is it right?” Rae smoothed the skirt and tugged absently on the left sleeve. “Mom’s been sewing this for weeks. I wanted it to be as historically accurate as possible, so there’s no buttons or grommets and she sewed everything by hand. The only thing we did compromise on was the corset; we used synthetic whalebone.”
“It’s gorgeous, darlin’. I know several period fanatics who’ll want your mom’s phone number. They’d pay handsomely for this kind of hand stitching.”
Smiling with relief, she wrapped her arms around his waist. “Well, you know history was never my favorite subject, not when I had you for my English professor.”
His chest felt tight and it was all he could do not to throw her over his shoulder and race Mason to the cottage. He knew she’d never had any interest in Elizabethan clothing before they’d started dating. “Does this mean you’ll dress up the next time we hit the Ren Faire circuit?”
“As long as you wear a codpiece and tights.”
Wincing, Conn leaned down and brushed his mouth against hers. “My maiden’s wish is my command, but I heartily hope you change your mind.”
“I’m kidding,” Rae whispered. “You know I love your warrior garb too much to make you wear something else.”
The soft little catch in her voice sent his blood pressure rocketing up another notch.
She pressed something into his hand and leaned up to whisper directly into his ear. “Do you think we can escape Miss Belle’s party in the next thirty minutes or so?”
He wrapped his hands around her upper arms and pulled her closer. Her gown rustled against him and he suddenly wondered exactly how historically correct she might be dressed. For instance, if she’d chosen to wear drawers…or nothing beneath the heavy skirt. “We can escape now.”
“Isn’t Mason going to take a shower?”
He growled out a curse and released her. Laughing softly, she turned away. Her skirt swirled about her ankles, giving him a glimpse of the delicate linen stockings she wore. Damn it all to hell, she knew what white did to him. The thought of her lying in his bed with chemise flung back to show her incredible legs encased in those stockings–
“My, my, Dr. Connagher, such language! Perhaps I should have brought Miss Belle’s pink parasol, even though it clashed horribly with my skirt. It sounds like you might need me to whack you a couple of times.”
“Thirty minutes,” he growled out. “Mason should be gone. Then bring out that parasol, darlin’.”
Her refusal shot through him as though she’d dumped a bucket of icy water over his head. Straightening, he knew he must be glaring at her, but she merely shook her head, peeking at him over her shoulder, and kept right on walking. “I’ve got something else planned, Dr. Connagher. In thirty minutes, read my note. Then find me. I’ll be waiting for you.”
Thirty minutes my ass, he thought, unfolding her note.
Damaetas: Take me. Love, Ozymandias
He had to brace himself against the porch while he concentrated on breathing. In five little words, she’d managed to convey her wish to play out his forbidden fantasy and also assured him of her love and her ability to stop him. Dear Lord, she wasn’t terrified of this fantasy; in fact, she’d set the whole thing up. She’d even waited until he was dressed appropriately, sweaty and jacked up after fighting with Mason.
Conn whipped his head up, searching for her, but Rae had disappeared into the gaily-dressed partygoers. Taking a firm grip on his control, he strode into the crowd.
This warrior is going on the rampage.