I’ve just returned from spending ten days at a ranch in remote southern Utah, sequestered to write. As a result of that cloistering, I am now within striking distance of finishing the rough draft of Project Alpha, and in a week or so I hope to hand that baton off to my co-writer.
I have some thoughts to share as a result of my writing retreat, but here, first, is an excerpt from Alpha. Our protagonist, Ash, is being courted by King Henry. Warning: some mild sauciness!
* * *
One of the King’s companions brought forward another courser, ribbon-festooned and saddled.
My heart sank.
“What ails you?” Henry barked, when he saw me hesitating.
“Why do you not mount?”
I hate riding sidesaddle. “Your Majesty,” I curtseyed again, fumbling for some way to get Henry to put me on a different horse. Make him laugh, I thought. Make him think you’re interested. Hint that he’ll get what he wants, but do not promise it. “I confess to disappointment in the manner of the saddle. It is but that I had so longed to have something between my thighs.”
“At last, an honest woman!” the King thundered, and laughed like an act of nature.
Uh oh, I thought. Have I dug too deep a hole for myself? I have to flirt and hint, but not commit to anything I’d… rather not do.
“Mistress,” Daniel asked, and I realized he had been standing behind me, bowing.
“Shall I saddle two horses?”
“No, by Luther’s ponderous buttocks!” Henry shouted.
He cast a glaring, wheedling eye upon me.
“Do you still require a chaperone, Mistress Symonds?”
“No,” I said, “just a good saddle.”
Henry looked irritated and I worried I might have pushed him too far.
I was about to retreat from my position when he turned to address his companion leading the horse, a stocky man with large shoulders and a thin, dark beard.
“Charles!” he demanded.
“Did you saddle that hunter with a good saddle?”
“I did, Your Majesty,” Charles answered jovially.
“Is it, indeed, a fine saddle, a superior saddle?”
“It is, Your Majesty, a most excellent saddle.”
“Do you believe that saddle to be beneath supporting the posterior of any person in the realm?” Henry wanted to know.
“That saddle is of sufficient quality and virtue that any person in Your Majesty’s kingdom should ride upon it with pride,” Charles assured his King, a smug, bantering look upon his face.
“It is beneath the posterior of no one, in that it could be beneath of the posterior of anyone.”
“Perfect,” Henry said.
“Charles, you sit in the side-saddle. Give the lady yours.”
“What?” Charles spluttered.
“But you can’t… but…”
“I can’t what?” Henry shouted, spraying his companion with spit. “Charles, give her your horse!”