Work in Progress: The Lady and the Sword, week seven

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The Lady and the Sword
Swords of Charlemagne, Book 2

Just about a third of a book. Still fussing a little with the format — where in time should it start, how much time should I spend in one era before we go to the other. Things are pretty fluid right now.

I’m trying to keep that other thing in mind and get a handle on that while working on this one — still not idea what that OTHER thing is. All I know so far is that the hero is a merman, you can tell by looking at him because you can see the marks of where his gills are on his throat when he’s in his human form, and that firemice live in the blacksmith’s forge.

All of this has nothing to do with Charlemagne. I know.

Right. Excerpt time.


He reached up and took her hands, drawing them down to where he could kiss both of her palms. “Margaret. My Margaret. D’ye know what your name is, in Gaelic?”

She smiled. “No, I don’t.”

“Marsaili,” he answered. “It means pearl.”

“I knew that,” Margaret told him. “It’s from the Greek, I think.”

“You don’t care for Maisie, and I understand that.” Douglas sat back on his heels, not letting go of her hands. “Might I call you Marsaili? When we’re alone?”

She moved to perch on the edge of the chair. “You may call me Marsaili whenever you like. I like it, and I like the sound of you saying it. Just between us?”

“A secret name. Just for us.”

She giggled. “All right. Do I get a secret name just for you?”

He looked thoughtful. “I can’t think of another name I’d answer to, other than Doogie.”

“Do you have a second name?”

He blinked. “Do you? I never asked. And I don’t remember if you wrote it on the marriage certificate.”

“I do, but I’ve never cared for it at all,” Margaret answered. “It’s Winifred.”

Douglas nodded slowly. “So… I don’t get to call you Winnie, then?”

“No, you do not. I like Marsaili. What do I call you?”

“My second name is Malcolm, but I’d rather you didn’t use it,” he shifted, letting her hands go and sitting tailor fashion on the floor in front of her. “My son was Malcolm.”

“I remember,” Margaret said. “Calling you Doctor seems very impersonal.” She frowned. “You have a clan, don’t you? Since you’re a Scot?”

“Of course. Clan Keith.”

“And don’t the clans all have animals associated with them? I should know this now, shouldn’t I? Since I’m Clan Keith by marriage?”

“Clan Keith has a badger,” Douglas answered. “Where are you going with this?”

Margaret laughed. “A badger? That’s perfect. And the Scottish word for badger is what?”

Douglas smiled. “It’s broc. Is that what you’ll be calling me now?”

“Broc? If you like it. I think it suits you.” Margaret smiled.

“How so?” Douglas asked.

“In the stories of Reynard the Fox, Badger is Reynard’s cousin. He’s a philistine, which doesn’t suit you at all. But he also loves his home, his family, and he loves his comforts. And don’t surprise him, because he can be quite dangerous.” Margaret was rewarded with a real smile.

“I think I like it.” He shifted around until he was kneeling once more. “We’ve a day or two, don’t we?”

“That’s what Yael said,” Margaret answered.

“They, my lovely Marsaili,we’re going to use that time to our advantage,” Douglas said. He got to his feet and held his hand out to Margaret. “Go dress to go out,” Douglas said. He got to his feet and held his hand out to Margaret.

“Out? Out where?” She took his hand and let him pull her to her feet. To her surprise, he pulled her closer, holding her to him with one arm while he brushed her hair back with his other hand.

“Well, I’m realizing that I barely know you,” Douglas said. “And, since hope that we’ll be married for a very long time, I should get to know you better. And you should know me. So I want you to show me Paris, the way you see it. You’ve spent a lot of time in this city, yes?”

“Yes,” Margaret agreed. She rested her hand on Douglas’ chest. “Does that mean we’re courting?”

“We’re a little backwards, but yes. We should have done it sooner, but we were distracted. Now, he’ll call us in a day or two, and until then, we’ll come to know each other.” He looked so earnest, so eager for her approval, that she had to smile. She went onto her toes and kissed Douglas gently on the lips.

“I like that. Let me go change.”

They took supper in a restaurant near the Louvre that Margaret had always gone to with her father, then she took him walking along the Seine.

“Tomorrow, we’ll see the Louvre,” she told him, taking his arm. “And anything else you want to see. The Tower, perhaps?”

“You decide,” Douglas answered.

That set the tone for the next day, and the day after that. They toured the Louvre, and had coffee and pastries in the pâtisserie in the Eiffel Tower. As they strolled through the Champ de Mars, Douglas flagged down a flower seller, and presented Margaret with a single red rose.

“I like this courting business,” Margaret said, taking his arm. He laughed, and she marveled at how relaxed he seemed.

“I’m enjoying it,” he said. “Shall we do this often, Marsaili?”

“Courting?” Margaret sniffed her rose. “Yes, please. I’m feeling very spoiled right now.”

“Shall I spoil you further?” he asked. She smiled, and he led her toward the street and one of the many horse-drawn carts for hire there.

They entered their suite, and no sooner had Margaret locked the door behind them then Douglas had come up behind her and wrapped his arms around her.

“Shall I spoil you further?” he repeated. “In the bedroom?”



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