AUTHOR: Minnette Meador
MOOD: Frantic but getting better
WORKING ON: Keenan's Dilemma
I think this is still my favorite openings of all my novels. From The Edge of Honor. Enjoy! Minnette :o)
The ex-centurion knew if the Romans caught him, he was dead. Marius felt the horse strain under his thighs. The animal’s head split the air in front of them. Wind roared, mingling with the pounding of Marius’ heart and the jolting rumble of hooves against the forest floor. Blood flowed from a throbbing wound on his shoulder and spattered behind him, staining the horse’s rump. He tightened his grip on the reins, bowing his head low over the animal’s neck. The smell of horseflesh was stringent in his nose.
A grim thought flashed through his mind. He may never hold Delia again. Marius’ throat tightened. He dug his heels into Brutus and forced him to move faster. He would make it up to the horse later, if he survived.
The forest blurred around him. Brown, green, branches growing like twisted mirages charging at him out of the foggy morning. He dodged them, sometimes successfully–sometimes not. His head and good shoulder ached where they sliced him. The movement of the horse’s massive leg muscles deadened his thighs, making it difficult to manipulate the beast. Despite the speed, Brutus knew his master well and needed little guidance. Marius missed the Roman armor he had worn for twenty-five years, but the Celtic clothes gave him more freedom to manage the animal. He was slowly adjusting to being a citizen—very slowly.
Risking another glimpse over his shoulder, Marius saw nothing but the trees receding. The sound of jangling Roman horse tack, the shouts of Latin curses, and the frustrated bellows of General Suetonius had also faded. If he was lucky, the soldiers followed him into the woods, giving the refugees a chance to escape the blades or manacles of the governor’s revenge. A wave of satisfaction sent a bemused smile across his face knowing they had once again out maneuvered the general. Except for the unexpected pila that grazed his arm, he had done well. If they did not catch him, he would count this a success.
When it was safe, Marius stopped and examined the wound, wincing when the gap opened a little wider beneath his fingers. It would need a surgeon’s needle to close it properly. Delia was going to be furious. He could almost hear her voice; Not ONLY have your ruined the shirt I made for you, but they could have killed you. You have to be more careful! I will not raise this child on my own. Do you understand me?
Even seven months pregnant, Delia was still a fortune of fire, a passion of untamed spirit. Marius sighed. This would not improve her mood and another fight was inevitable. He sometimes forgot Delia was a Briton queen and leader of the Corieltauvi tribe. This always made their relationship interesting.
“You are going to have to be faster than that, liberatio.”
Marius drew his sword, forcing Brutus to rear onto his back legs when the voice bounced against the trees to his right. The armored figure emerged from the forest with seven Roman soldiers at his back. Marius swore.