"Nah gawp ah missen," the driver muttered darkly.
"W-what? Are you talking to me?" Lesley stammered, confused at his sudden flash of glowering anger. What had she done wrong? What the hell was he saying?
"Yer claht'ead, Ah'll skelp yer arse!" He leaned his massive bulk over her as a huge gauntleted hand seized her by the shoulder, shook her, and then released her, tossing her backwards a few feet.
Lesley stumbled but did not fall. She stood her ground as he came to her again. He pulled back his arm to deal her a blow. When he struck out at her, she ducked out and away, and the momentum took him stumbling awkwardly past her.
When he turned to face her again, his sword was drawn, his face fixed on hers mottled with rage. He slyly glanced about the yard, to be certain that there was no one else about. Lesley felt a drop in her stomach that had little to do with her brain-pounding hangover nor the aching soreness she felt with every move. It became obvious in an instant the man was foul-tempered and a bully. But, he was slow and his movements clumsy and he was too confident in his bigger size and strength. She eyed the lethal sword as he waved it around with a distinct lack of finesse, threatening her, expecting fear to cow her before him. But, her years of training with Gilles galvanized her instincts. She knew how to protect herself.
"Is this a blood sugar problem or are you just this incredibly stupid?" Lesley commented drily as she backed off even more, her eyes flickering from side to side, looking for something she could use to defend herself. Making him angrier would actually work in her favor.
The man gave an enraged roar, and lunged at her with the sword. Lesley spun away much as a bullfighter, and reached out with one hand for a long pole that rested against the Inn building. She flipped the pole with a flourish into en garde and when he came for her again, she parried the blow away with authority, and then twirled the pole to answer with a riposte that caught him with an audible crack on the side of his head. He staggered slightly to the side, shaking his head.
They stood there frozen, each watching the other. Dazed, he brought his hand up to the place where Lesley had struck her blow. He stared at the smudge of blood and then snarled at her.
She broadened her stance and stood ready to defend herself again. She felt as though she were one throbbing hurt, and the only thing keeping her up, keeping her going, was the shock of adrenaline surging through her body. Fight or flight. Only this was real. She swallowed, realizing that this fight had serious consequences; she was not playing. She trusted in her years of training with Gilles. They would serve her well here. She could not lose.
"Lesley!" Mick called out and her attention was diverted momentarily as she saw Mick running from one of the smaller outbuildings. Following closely behind was a shorter, slim, dark-haired young man.
The driver took advantage of the distraction and came in again with the sword. Lesley instinctively parried with authority, returning a sharp blow to his substantial belly.
"How do you like that, you great hulking pile of shit?" Lesley spat at him. Her pain and frustration were propelling her to places she should not have been going, making her say things she should not have been saying, and doing things she should not have been doing.
Mick stopped short, and could do nothing more than watch as the huge man came in once again. Lesley sidestepped, angling the pole much as a lance, driving the end sharply up into his solar plexus, his own weight and momentum doing most of the work for her, pulling the pole from her hands. With a great surge of effort she twisted, extending a long leg to boot him in the small of the back, at the same time, wresting his sword from his grasp, disarming him as he went down.
When he rolled heavily over onto his back to face her again, she stood there above him, his own sword held raised in both her hands, pointed directly between his eyes.
"What is your name?" she asked of him softly. The man muttered something indistinct. "Your name?"
She took a step closer swinging her boot up to rest lightly on his broad barrel chest. The man's eyes grew wider as the point advanced even closer, mere inches from his eyes.
"Albert Quince," he replied in a sullen whisper.
"Listen to me well, Albert Quince, and take heed of what I say," Lesley went on quietly, pressing her boot a bit further into him for emphasis. "I think that you would do well to consider before you decide to take on someone who is so obviously smaller and weaker than yourself. For as you can see you never know just who you might be dealing with. Do I make myself clear?"
The man gawped at her in shock for a few long seconds and then glanced over to Mick, who could only stand there staring at the two of them.
"Do I make myself clear?" she asked again, softly enunciating each word. She felt as though she had taken on a character in one of her own books. She then realized that she could make good use of some of the dialogue as well.
"Aye," he grunted reluctantly.
"Good." Lesley stepped back as she re-directed the sword, driving the point into the soft ground just south of the man's crotch. "For if there be a next time, I'll make damned sure that you are qualified as a gelding."
Brookes grew up in Los Angeles, California, but lived in Jamaica for three
years when she was a Peace Corps Volunteer. She moved to San Francisco and
studied at the California Culinary Academy, and went on to become a private
chef to a well-known L.A. based television production company.
an early age Elle was a voracious reader of adventure stories and from
elementary school through high school, she started writing her own stories of
places foreign and exotic. She studied
Art History and continued writing in college, focusing on short stories.
dedicated and passionate traveler, Elle has explored river caves in Jamaica and
Costa Rica, hiked glaciers in New Zealand and Iceland, and done dogsledding in
Greenland and Iceland. She's danced a fa'a Samoan haka and slept in a fale on
the island of Savai'i in Samoa, hiked in the northern mountains of Thailand
along the border with Myanmar in the Golden Triangle, and in Haiti, she
witnessed a white goat ceremonially sacrificed to Erzuli Freda by a powerful
Houngan. For a time she did Performance Driving in Southern California, and has
years of study and experience dedicated to fencing, theatrical combat, archery,
currently lives in the central highlands of Costa Rica with her dog Pixie, and
her hedgehog, Quiller.Website:
A dedicated and passionate traveler, Elle has explored river caves in Jamaica and Costa Rica, hiked glaciers in New Zealand and Iceland, and done dogsledding in Greenland and Iceland. She's danced a fa'a Samoan haka and slept in a fale on the island of Savai'i in Samoa, hiked in the northern mountains of Thailand along the border with Myanmar in the Golden Triangle, and in Haiti, she witnessed a white goat ceremonially sacrificed to Erzuli Freda by a powerful Houngan. For a time she did Performance Driving in Southern California, and has years of study and experience dedicated to fencing, theatrical combat, archery, and horsemanship.
Elle currently lives in the central highlands of Costa Rica with her dog Pixie, and her hedgehog, Quiller.Website: www.tymslyder.com
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