From the jousting novel

Bitter disappointment swept Grace, though she tried not to allow it. She left Drake and refused to look over her shoulder to see how he had spoken to the lovely girl. Instead, she kept her eyes forward, scanning the crowd and looking for familiar faces. She found Elyne leaning against one of the railings, her face flushed and her hair fluttering around her face.

Mounted on his large steed, her brother practiced with the quintain. His young squire, Felton, handed him another lance and he kicked his horse into a gallop. Grace paused, held her breath, and watched as he readied the lance moments before smashing into the quintain. The lance shattered into a thousand pieces, the crosspiece revolving at full speed. Brian galloped out of the way, just missed by the sandbag by inches.

Elyne cheered and clapped as Brian galloped back toward Felton. Grace blew out her breath, then joined her maidservant at the railing. Grace couldn’t help but notice the adoring looks she gave her brother and suddenly, Grace understood a great deal more about Elyne.

“Good morrow,” Grace greeted.

“Aye, ‘tis a bonnie morning,” Elyne agreed. “Brian fares well with the quintain.”

“How is he feeling?” Grace glanced in his direction, watching him reach for another lance.

“A mite better,” she replied. “Seems as though he never ailed.”

“Oh, that’s good to hear, Ellie.”

“Aye, ‘tis true.” Elyne nodded in agreement.

Grace watched Elyne watching her brother. He charged the quintain again, his lance couched under his arm. Grace never could get used to watching it and she held her breath once again. The lance crashed and splintered, her brother galloped out of the way. Back to Felton, he handed the boy the remains of his lance.

He spied her then and whipped off his helm and waved. Even from this distance, Grace could see the sweat beading his face. He smiled broadly and galloped over, pausing at the railing to look down at the two of them.

“Good morrow, ladies.”

“Brian, it’s good to see you looking so well,” Grace said, eyeing her brother. But he eyed Elyne, never taking note of her. Her eyebrow quirked.

“Thank you, Gracie. I feel as though I will win today. I’m due in the lists momentarily.”

“I share your enthusiasm, my brother.” Grace smiled up at him and finally he noticed she stood there. “Ellie and I will cheer you from the gallery. Break a lance, my brother. Come along, Ellie.” She grasped her friend’s arm and dragged her away.

Once out of earshot, Grace leaned toward her friend. “You seem as though you fancy Brian.”

Surprise flickered in her blue eyes before they rounded and then she reined in her reaction. “Nay, my lady.”

“You don’t have to hide it from me.” Grace giggled, clutching her arm close to her and dropping her voice to a whisper. “I approve.”

Elyne’s shoulders slumped in defeat. She blew out a breath and glanced at Grace, giving her a sheepish look. “Aye, ‘tis true then. I fancy him.”

“Tell him, then,” she suggested.

“Nay.” She shook her head.

“Why not? It’s clear to me he fancies you just as much.”

“I cannot. I am Fae. Ye ken as I do—”

“Nonsense,” Grace interrupted. “You’re half Fae. And what I know is you and Brian make a dashing couple. Just tell him.”

“Mayhap,” Elyne said thoughtfully.

Although she wasn’t satisfied with the answer, she let it go for now. As they continued their jaunt toward the gallery, Grace saw him. Drake strode with a purposeful walk toward her and her heart lurched in her chest followed by her stomach clenching. She swallowed a lump that suddenly rose in her throat. How could this man illicit such a response from her? He was nothing more than a flirt.

Next to her, she heard Elyne’s sharp intake of breath as he paused in front of them, bowing slightly.

“My Lady Grace.”

“Your persistence is impressive, sir knight,” she smiled.

His blue eyes glinted. “I apologize for the interruption,” he said. “Mayhap you will forgive me?”

“Mayhap,” she heard herself say before her brain could stop her mouth.

“I trust your brother fares well enough to ride this morning?” His gaze flickered toward the practice lists.

“He does,” she confirmed with a nod.

His face broke into a smile. “Will I see you in the gallery then?”

“Yes.” She dipped a curtsy. “Good day, my lord.”

She dragged a gaping Elyne away, who shamelessly stared at the gorgeous knight. Grace kept her eyes forward, refusing to grant him another glance.

“Who was that?” Elyne breathed.

“Sir Drake Attenborough,” Grace said through clenched teeth.

“And a striking knight he is,” Elyne said appreciatively. “He hasna stopped looking at ye.”

“Let him look.” Grace snorted, annoyed that he continued to stare after her. “He’s been pursuing me since I stepped foot in Lichfield.”

“Ye dinna wish him to pursue ye, lass?”

“Nay!” She nearly snarled the word, then dropped her voice. “I am promised to Earl Litsonhire. I don’t wish to bring his wrath down upon us.”

“Aye,” Elyne agreed, nodding. She at last turned her gaze forward. “’Tis wise of ye to be wary of the skunk.”

“I couldn’t agree more, Ellie.”

© Michelle Miles 2005

By Michelle

I wish you all could be inside my head. The conversation is sparkling.