Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors !
This week I’m continuing my current WIP, Almost a Countess , book 2 of my new series, Captivating Countesses.
Exiled to a lonely estate in north Yorkshire, Dora Harper finds life satisfying, if appallingly routine—until an escaped Scottish prisoner begs for her help. Despite her misgivings, Dora takes him in, feeds and clothes him, and is amazed at his transformation into a very handsome, virile gentleman, who claims he is an earl. No matter who he really is, his very presence in her house could ruin her reputation for good. Trouble is, Dora might not mind that at all.
Phineas “Finn” MacDonald, the Earl of Aberfoyle, is on the run from a troop of soldiers bent on hauling him to London to be transported for a criminal act. Dora’s miraculous appearance is a godsend for him, in more ways than one. The pretty young English woman is kind, compassionate, and willing to help him in his attempt to seek justice and evade the troop that is quickly closing in on him.
With their close proximity over several days, Finn’s desire to escape wanes, even as thoughts of Dora fill his mind. So when Dora suggests she pose as his wife to throw the soldiers off Finn’s trail, Finn wonders if he can persuade her to make the ruse a reality—before the army finds him and banishes him from Britain forever.
We’re starting this week where we left off last week. Dora is out riding and has been told British soldiers are roaming the countryside searching for an escaped prisoner. Dora is reflecting on her folly of riding out alone.
She hadn’t thought about it in the months since she’d come to Yorkshire–the countryside had been calm, even boring all summer long. With so few servants to attend to the tasks of the estate, she’d begun riding out in the mornings alone either for the sheer pleasure of the ride or, as with today’s outing, to care for her father’s tenants or the people in the village. Seldom had she ever seen another soul, save the ones she visited or occasionally a man and his sons working in the fields. It had seemed perfectly safe for her to go about by herself.
Now she had never felt so alone.
Steering Gretchen under the trees, Dora started her mount to walking beside a small creek, where the air was appreciably cooler. Gazing about again, Dora breathed a small sigh of relief–there was nothing and no one stirring. The trees provided some cover and Gretchen could follow the stream for the next two miles for it would lead straight to the lane that fronted the manor house.
Though she hated to admit it, from now on she must take Alfred with her when she rode. Today’s scare had taught her that much.
And a little more for good measure…
No sooner had the thought crossed her mind than Gretchen neighed and shied away from the creek bed.
“Whoa, girl.” Dora controlled the frightened horse with sure hands on the reins. “What was it? A snake?” She glanced down, but could see nothing alarming save a splash of red flowers against the near bank. “Are you afraid of roses now, my dear?” Grinning, Dora looked closer. They weren’t flowers though. What she’d taken for red blooms on closer inspection was some kind of red fabric. She peered at it and cocked her head. What on earth was it?
Gretchen danced toward it and the fabric moved.
Dora gasped as the brown grass beside the “roses” stirred, then rose up, becoming the head of a man, his face streaked with mud and blood. He blinked then stared into her eyes. “Please, lass, can you help me?”