Shocking – Two in One Week!

In between the stress of my full time day job and a 16 hour course load via SIU online, I am still plugging away at Fig and Rue’s story. Hopefully I’ll have time tomorrow to knock out at least one more chapter (about 3 scenes), even if just by hand and not in a document…
 
Alas, I have an exam (and an exam quiz??) plus a lab/lab quiz and a reflection paper. I can do some of it Sunday while pretending to watch the Superbowl, but not the exam, so time is limted…
 
Anyway, even as I plug away at Under the Mistletoe, I have thoughts of Sarah and Stratford (With This Kiss) swirling in the background. Well, today, I was listening to a song, and a sentence unfurled in my mind. I sat down tonight to sketch out some notes on the scene, and it just poured out of me, including notes for the following scene. Inspiration. Yes! 
So, I’m going to give you a special glimpse into the world of Sarah and Stratford, another fairy tale revisioning. Can you guess which one?
Silver moonlight flooded the worn path from the stone terrace, through the beds of hibiscus, and down the manicured lawn, but Sarah had no need of it. She knew the lawns and paths and gardens of Raven’s Nest as well as she knew her own, despite the passing of years. She could walk the land blindfolded, and she would know every step just by the scent hanging in the air. Her bare feet sank into the thick carpet of grass, blades tickling the bottom of her feet, when she veered to the left, heading through the canopy of wisteria, straight for the folly.
Built more than a century before she was even born, it was designed to mimic the the great house, down to the ornate door knocker. As children, they often escaped here to hide from the governess the boys allowed her to share. She snorted rather indelicately at the idea of being allowed the education the boys gladly shirked.
The snap of a branch close by caught her attention, and her head snapped up, memories forgotten. She froze, heart racing in her chest.
Was it a poacher?
Carefully she inched toward the stone building, glad to see it looming ahead of her, and not fallen into disrepair and ruin. Rupert had cared for it after all.
No, she reminded herself, he is home now. The responsibility lies at his feet.
She was just a few short feet shy of the thick door when a flash of movement at the corner of her eye alerted her that someone was close. She sucked in a large breath of air, head swinging to the sides as she sought escape. She needed to hide.
Or run. Yes, that would be…
Her thoughts trailed off as a figure stepped from the small copse of trees that led to the bond. Stratford. Her heart, that feckless creature within her chest, cried at the sight of him, drinking in every detail. She found herself unable to look away from the rigid muscles of his lean, bare chest; her eyes followed the trail of dark hair to where it disappeared in the falls of his trousers. The moon, full and bright above, cast a silver glow across his bronzed skin, and she swallowed, throat suddenly dry.
“Hello, Red.” He tossed her the cheeky grin she remembered so well from their youth.
“Do, do not call me that, my lord.” Her heart might be a traitorous beast, but at least her brain was sensible enough to put an icy distance between them.
He tsked. “When did we let such formalities grow between us, Red?” He came to a stop before her, cupping her chin with the hand not grasping his boots. She looked into the unfathomable depths of his muddy eyes, calling herself ten times a fool as she wished and hoped and prayed he would lean down and sweep his lips across hers.
Wrenching free of his grasp, she twisted away from him. “There is more than just formalities between us, my lord. There is time, and – and…” She trailed off, unable to finish the accusations her brain would fling.
“And? Time and – what, Sarah? Surely not time and distance. I am here, in the flesh. In the now.”
“You left me, damn you.” She hid her face, lest he think her tears caused by longing or anything akin to it. Lest he think them caused by anything other than the mounting frustration. “We had a deal, my lord. Crossed our hearts, and swore it would be forever.”
He closed the distance between them, and she felt the warmth of his flesh through the thin muslin of her nightrail as he enveloped her in his strong arms, crushing her to his chest. The whisper of his lips against her fevered brow sent a frisson of heat through her.
“I had no choice, Sarah. Surely you see that now?”
“I see nothing but the man who swore he would rather die than leave me. The man who slipped away in the dead of night just hours after leaving my bed. You left me with no one.”
“Rupert was -“
“At war, my lord. Rupert left the next morning, thinking you just sleeping off a hangover, and I was alone again.” She allowed herself the comfort he offered, resting her wet cheek against his chest. In a small voice, one she hoped he did not actually hear, she added, “It was never him anyway. Only you.”
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