Shannon here: YA author, Melanie Dickerson shares an excerpt from her latest release, The Merchant’s Daughter & a chance to win a copy. Every time you comment on any post dated Nov 28 or 30th, your name goes in the drawing. Deadline: Dec 7, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Melanie:
Annabel’s heart beat so hard it vibrated from within, but she refused to let him know she was afraid. “Get out of my way. Let go of me or I’ll raise the hue and cry. I’ll scream until every person in the village—”
The bailiff dug a finger into the underside of her wrist, sending shards of pain up her arm. “You think you’re too good for me, but who’s going to help you now? Do you think the new lord will not punish you, will not throw you out of your fine stone house? Eh?”
Anger surged through her. She gave a sudden tug at her arm and, managing to maneuver around Tom, she stood in the doorway. He let go with a shove, sending Annabel falling backward through the door. She struggled to right herself as she fell, and landed on her hip in the dusty street.
Hooves pounded toward her and a horse’s high-pitched whinny sounded above her head. Annabel raised her arm to protect herself.
Just inches away, the horse danced to a halt, snorting and throwing dirt into her face. The animal’s hot breath ruffled her hair. Dust clogged her nose and throat and made her cough.
The rider dismounted. “What are you doing?”
The man’s voice and accent were unfamiliar. Her hair had fallen in front of her eyes, making it difficult to see the hands that slipped under her arms and hauled her to her feet. She pulled away, looking around on the ground for her headscarf. Darting a glance at the butcher shop doorway, she saw Bailiff Tom lurking in the shadows. She wiped his vile saliva from her face with her sleeve.
“Throwing yourself in front of a galloping horse?” The stranger’s voice reminded her of a snarling animal in its pitch and intensity. “We could have both been killed.”
Shiny black boots waited beside her. Even his stance showed his irritation.
Finally seeing her scarf, she bent and snatched it from the dirt.
Her eyes traveled from his expensive leather boots to his broad chest. He wore the most elegant clothing she’d seen since the last time she visited London with her father—a red velvet doublet and gold-embroidered shirt sleeves—a vast departure from the dull gray and brown of the villagers’ coarse woolens.
She beat the dust from her skirt as anger boiled up inside her. It wasn’t her fault she’d fallen in front of his horse. Did he think she had tossed herself into the street? First that disgusting lecher, Bailiff Tom, and now this stranger … Her gaze finally met his face and she stifled a gasp.
A black patch covered his left eye, and a scar cut a pale line down his cheek, through his thick brown beard, all the way to his chin.
The back of her neck tingled. His expression demanded an answer as he glared at her from one brown eye.
Her surprise at his formidable appearance quickly turned to anger. She was determined to let him know she wasn’t a lack-wit and didn’t relish being treated like one.
“My lord.” Her voice was surprisingly steady. “My name is Annabel Chapman, and I am not in the habit of throwing myself in front of galloping horses. I was pushed.” She had to bite her tongue to keep from adding, And perhaps you shouldn’t gallop your horse through the village as though you’re the only person on the street.
She leaned down to continue beating the dust from her clothes.
“Who pushed you?” He shouted the question so thunderously, she forgot about her dusty clothes and stared up at him. “Where is the man who would push a woman into the street?”
Her gaze involuntarily shifted to the butcher shop’s doorway, where Bailiff Tom stood just inside. He immediately stepped back into the shadows.
The lord followed her gaze and then looked back at Annabel. “Wait here.”
His expression became even fiercer just before he turned from her and strode into the shop.
“Bailiff Tom? How dare you shove that maiden?” His booming voice easily carried into the street.
He reappeared in the doorway, clutching Bailiff Tom by the back of his neck.
Pushing Tom toward her, the stranger jerked him to a halt only an arm’s length away.
“My bailiff wishes to ask forgiveness for his behavior.”
Tom didn’t look her in the eye, but said in a strained voice, “Forgive me.”
She nodded, aware of the small group of wide-eyed villagers gathering to watch.
The man let go of Bailiff Tom’s neck. After straightening his elegant waistcoat, the lord stood tall, his back straight and his broad shoulders looming over the small group of villeins that now surrounded him. He held one arm tight against his midsection as he spoke. “I am Ranulf le Wyse, the lord of this village.”
The people immediately sank to one knee and bowed their heads before him.
“I will not tolerate loutish behavior from the men of my demesne.” The people lifted their heads. Lord le Wyse’s commanding tone riveted every eye. “And I warn you not to hope for preferential treatment. My father’s steward may have taken bribes, but I’m the lord now, and,” he fairly growled, “it isn’t in my nature.”
About Melanie: Melanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer’s Apprentice, a Christy Award finalist and winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award for Best First Book. Melanie earned a bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Alabama and has been a teacher and a missionary. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Huntsville, Alabama. Learn more at: http://www.MelanieDickerson.com
About the book: Genre: Young Adult, fairy-tale-retelling, Medieval Romance.
An unthinkable danger. An unexpected choice. Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf’s bailiff—a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past. Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff’s vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf. As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger. Ranulf’s future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.
Come back Dec 2 for historical romance author, Margaret Brownley.