Friday, May 15, 2020

The Spinster's Christmas - Chapter 19b #Christianfiction #Regency #romance

I’m posting my Regency romance, The Spinster's Christmas, so all my blog readers get a chance to read it! It’s the Prequel novel to my Lady Wynwood’s Spies series.

A Regency romantic mystery

Miranda Belmoore has never felt attuned to the rest of society. Her family has never understood her blunt speech and unwillingness to bow to conventional strictures, and so they have always made her feel that there is something wrong with her. Now as a poor relation in her cousin’s house, she makes plans to escape a life of drudgery and disdain from her own family members.

Naval Captain Gerard Foremont is having difficulty adjusting to life back on land, frustrated that his career has been cut short by his severely injured knee. Guilt haunts him as he sees the strain his long convalescence has had upon his parents. As they spend Christmastide with the Belmoores, he wants to help fulfill his mother’s wish to have her orphaned niece come to stay with them.

However, an enemy has infiltrated the family party, bent on revenge and determined that Twelfth Night will end in someone’s death …

All the posted parts are listed here.

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Chapter 19b

She landed hard on her shoulder, rolling on the ground and onto the side of the road. She hit the base of a tree hard enough to rattle her teeth, but she didn’t pause even for breath. She scrambled to her feet, ripping the scarf from her throat to fling it aside, and plunged into the woods.

Her cloak flapped behind her, and she reached back to grasp the cloth and hold it closer so it would not catch on any branches or bushes. The wind of her passing caught her bonnet, its ribbons pulling at her throat. She scrabbled at the ends and untied it, and it flew from her head. She would be colder, but she could see more clearly around her.

Behind her came the sound of thrashing through the underbrush. She darted around the trees along a twisting path, and slowly the thrashing grew fainter.

She had to find a way to hide. What could she do?

Oh, Gerard. But Gerard would not find her.

Dear God, help me!

She had not noticed the trees around her as she ran, but she suddenly spied one that looked familiar, an old rambling oak that she and her cousins had enjoyed climbing. They had been Robin Hood’s merry band, waiting to pounce on unwary travelers. They had liked the tree because although the lowest limb was above their reach, a large fallen tree trunk was nestled at the base that they could climb to reach the lowest branch.

She hiked up her skirt and scrambled up on of the fallen trunk, which was taller than a table. It had protruding sharp branches that thrust straight up into the air, which she used to pull herself up, gritting her teeth against the pain in her injured shoulder. Standing on the fallen trunk, she reached for the lowest limb of the ancient oak, which was now even with her chin, and with a little hop, pushed herself up. She was not as limber as she had been at twelve, trying to keep up with Gerard, and each movement sent shafts of pain through her shoulder, but she swung her legs up, hampered by heavy skirts, to straddle the branch. She stood and continued to climb.

The branches were thick, reaching outward from the massive trunk, and ice coated the smaller limbs like white leaves. The snow rained down as she climbed higher. She lay astride a large branch far above the ground, pulling her skirts and legs up, hoping the barrel-like circumference would mostly hide her from view from below. Gerard had once hidden from his playmates by laying on his back, but she was not so brave as to flip over and release her grip on the oak.

And then she waited.

A few clumps of snow drifted down, then all was still. She strained her ears to hear Harriet or the two men, but perhaps they had stopped to listen, as well.

Oh God, help me. She squeezed her eyes shut, resting her forehead against the cold rough bark.

But suddenly, all she could hear in her mind was Cousin Laura’s voice saying, “Thou God seest me.”

Why should God see her or help her? She had done a terrible thing to Harriet. She had not believed that God would care about her.

What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?

She had to believe. Thou God seest me.

Help me, please. Send help.

Steps picking their way slowly through the brush. Coming closer.

Miranda peeked down and realized that because the trees grew so thickly, the ground had very little snow, and was unable to give away her path through them. The steps came closer, but they were passing along the far side of the tree.

She risked another look, and her throat closed up.

Harriet was walking through the forest, one hand clutching her cloak, and the other holding a pistol.

***

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